Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Elegant, Mysterious, and Beautiful"

This poem came out of the May 7, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "Seven of Arrows - Insecurity" square in my 4-30-19 card for the Tarot Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This features the aftermath of a raid on a mad science compound, with assorted challenges, but deals primarily with emotional fallout rather than active mayhem.


"Elegant, Mysterious, and Beautiful"

[Friday, April 17, 2015]

The injured centaurs had been
tucked into their new tent with
assorted food and amusements,
at least the ones who would
go inside even cloth walls.

For those who needed
more freedom, a pavilion
had been erected over
another set of stall mats.

Ansel had talked with
his grandfather and
secured a place for
the centaurs to stay.

"How are they doing,
really?" he asked Kedric.

"Pretty well, all things considered,"
Kedric said. "They're all traumatized,
of course, but they have already gotten
enough emotional first aid that they're ...
coping. All injuries have been treated,
at least for everyone willing to let
someone take care of them."

"We've distributed the supplies
from Frank's Farm and Home Store,"
Filly said. "That's helping a lot. Frank
just headed back there in case we
need to send for more stuff later."

"He didn't set a limit, did he?"
Ansel said, shaking his head.
"Most people do, even with
reimbursement promised for it."

"Nope," Filly said. "Frank told me
that he wants to do whatever he can
to help the survivors. He feels bad
that he didn't notice this shit sooner."

"We all do," Kedric said, nodding.

"But it wasn't your fault," Turq said.
"Those nutjobs -- they're good at hiding.
It's not your job to deal with stuff like that."

"Guys, you're not from Ava," Kedric said gently.
"Those of us who live here are freaked out
about having a nest of crooks right under
our noses. Even if we seem calm on
the outside, inside we're really not."

Filly nodded. "I'm a cop," she said.
"It actually is my job to find and stop
this kind of thing, and I didn't see it.
That makes me very uncomfortable,
and I'm going to need more than
a little EFA to deal with it."

"You'll get it," Ansel promised,
feathering his fingertips over
her shoulder. "If your counselor
isn't all that great, ours is, and
we'd be happy to share."

"We don't have one,"
Filly said. "I mean, not
a dedicated person just for
that. Those of us trained in
EFA take care of each other."

"Talk to the mental health team,"
Kedric suggested. "I heard they
brought in a bunch of personnel
to look after the community."

"Good idea," Filly said, making
a note on her smartphone. "It's just ...
we had this wonderful community,
with parks and equestrian events
and the aviary at the Avis Mall, but
now all anyone will think about
when they hear 'Ava, Missouri' is
this hellhole full of supervillains."

"Yeah, I know," Kedric said.
"It's eating me up, too, and I
don't know what to do about it.
Now that the combat is over,
it's getting harder and harder
not to think of things like that."

They had touched on that earlier,
a little, and now Ansel worried that
his new friends might be getting worse.

"You guys notice how I smell?" Turq said,
scooching between Filly and Kedric.

"Yes, your cologne is amazing," Filly said.
"I've never smelled anything like that."

"It's not cologne, it's just me,"
Turq said quietly. "My body makes
this scent. It helps people feel calmer.
So if you two want to snuggle up, you can."

Filly and Kedric looked at each other,
then cuddled on either side of Turq.

"Thanks," Kedric said. "It is helping."

"Put your head on my shoulder, and
get your face in my hair if you want to,"
Turq said. "Just don't try to grab me."

Ansel knew how soothing Turq's scent
could be, and he could see the effects
as the other two relaxed a little more.

"When I'm trying to sort through
my memories, or deal with hard things,
sometimes it helps me to lay them out
in words or pictures," Turq said. "Maybe
you could collect things about your town,
so that people would know more about it
than just what happened here today."

"That's a good idea," Filly said.
"I have plenty of pictures."

"I'm better with words, myself,"
Kedric said. "I can build rapport
pretty fast -- I have to, at work."

"So tell us about your town,"
Ansel said. "My brother-in-law
is a journalist. I could suggest
doing a feature on Ava, but that
would be a much easier sell if I have
something to pique his interest with first."

"My family has lived here for generations,"
Filly said. "You know we raise trail horses.
My brother Waylon lives at the auxiliary section,
Prairie Creek Farm, while he takes classes at
Missouri State University-West Plains. There's
even a trail-riding club in Douglas County."

"It was very kind of you to offer to lead
the centaurs who want to walk out to
my grandfather's farm instead of riding,"
said Ansel. "That's a pretty long ride."

Filly laughed. "Not to me and Altair,"
she said. "For us, it's a paid vacation!"

"Trail riding sounds nice," Turq said.
"That's something you could tell people
about. I bet they'd remember it."

"We can hope," Filly said.

"There are other things that
stick out," Kedric said. "Have
you seen the purple cat that
hangs around in town?"

"I don't know," Filly said.
"I've heard of it, and glimpsed
a cat that looked purple, but
that might have just been
a trick of the light."

Turq's head came up.
"Kedric, what did you see?"
he asked intensely.

"Just a regular cat, but
it's a pretty bright shade of
violet," Kedric said. "At first,
I thought that it had gotten into
some dye, but it's been around
for a while now and hasn't faded."

"Someone might be dyeing it
on purpose," Filly pointed out.

"No, it's doesn't seem to belong
to anyone," Kedric said. "It won't
let people get too close, either."

"So maybe a stray, or maybe
something else," Ansel said. "Turq,
does any of this sound familiar?"

Turq nodded. "Yeah, everyone in
my cohort changed color," he said.

"Were any of your friends purple?"
Kedric asked, leaning forward.
"I could try to reach out ..."

"Yeah, but I'd rather not
say any more than that,"
Turq replied. "We don't
like people trying to find us.
After what we've been through,
too much attention is scary."

"That fits my observations,"
Kedric said. "What if I just
introduce myself, offer to help,
and promise not to chase?
Would that be okay?"

"Maybe?" Turq said.
"Being around people
can be ... hard. It took me
a while to get used to Ansel,
and he was being friendly,
even when I stole his lunch."

Ansel chuckled. "You're worth
losing a few sandwiches, Turq."

"Thanks," Turq said, then turned
back to Kedric. "Don't mention
the purple cat when you're trying
to share your town's highlights,
though. Even if it's just a cat,
it doesn't need that hassle."

"Oh, I know better than that,"
Kedric said. "Cats are elegant,
mysterious, and beautiful. They
are also ruthless and selfish
when they have to be."

"They are that," Ansel said.
"My grandmother raises barn cats
to be as smart as possible. She
has some wild stories about them!"

Turq smiled. "I think they're great."

"Okay, we have a few ideas for ways
to salvage Ava's reputation," Kedric said.
"That includes one thing not to use, and
we can gently discourage anyone else
from advertising the purple cat, too.

"Thank you," Turq said. "Being
on the run is hard. It's less awful
if you have a regular place to be,
where you don't have to run."

"There's something else we
could do," Filly said. "Put out
shelter boxes for stray cats."

"I've seen those," Kedric said.
"Easy afternoon project, and it
will help all the cats around,
not just the purple one."

"Right, that's a plan,"
Filly said. "I've got
a spare tub I can use."

They sounded more hopeful
and less insecure now. That
was certainly a good sign.

Ansel knew that helplessness
was a big factor in traumatic stress.
If you could get people doing something
constructive about their problems, then
they were less likely to flounder.

"I can keep an eye out too,
as long as I'm in town," Turq said.
"If it really is ... someone I knew,
then just seeing me might make
them willing to approach us."

"And if they don't?" Ansel said.

"Well, at least they'll know I'm
alive, if they care," Turq said. "We
tried to take care of each other, but
things got pretty messed up."

"You're free now," Ansel said,
brushing a hand over Turq.
"That's what matters."

"Yeah," Turq said.
"Everyone's free now.
I'll call that a win."

* * *

Notes:

"Cats are elegant, mysterious, and beautiful. They are also ruthless and selfish when they have to be."
-- Writers Write

Communal trauma occurs when mayhem affects a large group of people together. It goes by various names including collective trauma and cultural trauma. I use communal trauma to refer to harm affecting a community such as a neighborhood or a town. Learn how to cope with it.

Emotional first aid helps people get through difficult experiences. Here are some ways to promote it. Terramagne-America also offers emotional trauma care, which local-America generally does not. Know how to handle stressful situations and emotional drop with appropriate self-care. T-America provides much more support for employees after job-related trauma and citizens after traumatic events in a community, so talking about who needs what help and where to find it is normal for them.

Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other materials for emotional regulation among other purposes. Explore some relaxing ideas.

Like foxes, the caney has a violet gland, and while the scent is much stronger in caney form it carries over into the others including human. Most of Turq's cohort have similar traits in this regard. Turq's personal scent falls into the fougere family with overtones of violet and lavender followed by musky and woodsy undertones. Most people find it pleasant and deeply soothing. He just always smells like he's rolled in the world's best cologne. It's a type of subclinical Pheromone power, because it doesn't seem to change; it only does the one thing, but that's not something humans can typically do.

Small shelters help feral cats survive. This one is insulated for winter. This lighter style is for summer, and works nicely as a feeding station.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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