Category Archives: Biographical

Excerpt from my memoir

I’m currently working on my memoir, one of two, possibly, for NaNoWriMo this year. It isn’t conventional to say the least when it comes to a life story, but it’s mine — well, ours — and it’s the only way I can tell it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to gloss over certain experiences and things I deal with on a daily basis, mostly because it’s not been well received in the past. I’ve been met with disbelief or brushed off as an overactive imagination, which is the worst feeling not only for me, but for those I share this strange version of reality with. My alters and spirit guides, of which only I can see unless I draw them or agree to a switch, feel the brunt of the sting when they’re dismissed as much as I do.

My memoir isn’t just my story alone, but theirs as well as they live my life with me. This is a moment from it, edited for readability, but ultimately, it’s how it happened in what I call our ‘headspace,’ which is a difficult thing to explain. It not only takes place here in the reality we live in during actual events from my life, but upstairs in the space we share as well, which combines to create what I know and see of this reality. In this case, pertaining to a spirit guide, the lines become much more blurred.


I sat trembling internally in an uncomfortable institutional chair. The waiting room was almost empty save for one other person and the receptionist, and the clock was the only sound besides my own nervous breathing. I had made an appointment to discuss some issues I was having with the manager of my apartment building, but my best option was to just show up where her office was. Any calls would undoubtedly have gone unanswered and any other method to solve the problem was ineffective. I was down to one solution that left me with sweaty palms and quaking bones — heart hammering so loud that I’m sure others would have heard it if they paid any mind. My anxiety was my biggest hindrance in life, but this time, I wouldn’t allow it to get the best of me.

My breath caught in my throat as goosebumps traveled up my arms and a shiver ran up my spine. I felt the presence of something but I couldn’t quite place it, yet instinctively my eyes drifted over to the elevator. When the metal doors opened, I made eye contact with a very familiar figure. “Daro?” The name barely left my lips in a whisper as he smiled, approaching me with as much elegance as he always had before. My cheeks burned. He wasn’t in his usual attire. He wore small, rectangular wire-rimmed glasses with a white button-up shirt tucked neatly into a pair of black dress pants, a black tie, and a shiny pair of black dress shoes. His silver horns were visible, and his eyes shone with a light pink hue that reflected a hint of deviousness. My blood pressure rose for an entirely different reason than my anxiety. “Wow.”

“Yes, this does…” he paused for a moment before huffing and closing his eyes. “Suit me, does it not?”

“Did you just make a pun?”

“Perhaps. I do have a sense of humor from time to time. Humans have worn off on me, it seems.” He ‘tsked’ as he looked around, spotting the door to the offices around back. “Excuse me.”

“Wait!” The urge hit me to grab his sleeve and pull him back, but I realized quickly that it wasn’t possible to do.

“Dear Shane, I have some business to attend to.”

“Business? You’re not actually… now?! But you said—”

“I’d help you set that woman straight. A bit of fear can go a long way, can it not?”

“Well, yeah, but…” Someone cleared their throat loudly and I looked to see the receptionist opening the door to the back rooms where she disappeared. “Please don’t do anything irreparable.”

“I have much more class than that. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I cannot allow this to continue any longer.”

I fell back into my chair more comfortably knowing that Daro was nearby. I felt safe as my anxiety ebbed away, although I looked to the other waiting room guest out of self-consciousness. They seemed to be absorbed in a magazine and hadn’t realized anything was amiss with me. All I had to do then was wait.

* * *

After quite some time, Daro stepped back into the room, pausing to tuck his glasses into his shirt pocket. Oh dear. So the glasses had come off.

He approached me and invited me to stand, then led me to the stairs. “Shall we go for a walk? The weather is lovely and I believe there is an ice cream shop down the alley.”

“You — you want to get ice cream? Do you eat that stuff?”

“I enjoy things comprised mostly of sugar.” He smirked as we descended the stairs. “Although I am anything but sweet myself.”

“Besides that, can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?”

“Are you, um…” My heart skipped a beat. “Are you going to keep wearing that outfit?”

Daro hummed with amusement as we left the building. “If you like.”

As we sat outside with waffle cones, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful weather. There was a slight breeze and it was in the low seventies, and the sun was out shining brightly. It strained my eyes, but it seemed to cause Daro’s to glisten even brighter. It was almost as if his eyes had a catlike ability to reflect the light.

He paused and stared right back at me, for I had apparently been gazing at him longer than was considered polite. I quickly busied myself with my ice cream and averted my eyes to the metaphysics shop across the way.

His baritone voice interrupted my buzzing mind. “Aren’t you curious?”

“Curious? About what?”

“What I accomplished in the back room with that woman?”

My face burned. “When you say it like that, it sounds kind of messed up.”

“Oh, dear.” He cringed. “Not with her.”

“I’d hope not.” I laughed and focused back on his eyes. “You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

“Of course not.” He tilted his head slightly to the side. “I can tell you one thing about that woman, and it is that she is highly miserable in her life. She does not hide it well. She wears it openly with her lack of care for her own image — it seeps forth from her very skin. I could taste it.”

“Really? I guess it’s kind of obvious.”

“You have more ability to see these things than you think.” Daro’s eyes drifted up to look at the sun, and then back to his ice cream. “It’s melting.”

“Yeah, heat does that.” I smiled as I finished my waffle cone, Daro’s still half-eaten in his hand, the ice cream dripping down his wrist to stain his white button-up. There was something strangely erotic about it that made my blood pressure rise again. He watched me curiously as I tried to hide my red face. As if to taunt me, he lifted his hand to unbutton the cuff around his wrist, rolling the sleeve up and then doing the same to the other. He then lifted his wrist to lick the ice cream dripping down his brown skin. My ears burned as I tried to look away. He knew what he was doing.

“You seem troubled.” The knowing smirk on his face widened. “Is the heat too much for you today?”

“It’s not even hot out. I mean, it’s hot — not what you just did, I mean. Oh god, it’s just the sun is—”

“Shall we carry on? The lakefront may do well to calm your nerves.”

“Yeah, and to get away from this crowd.” I stood up and began to panic. “Not that I want to be alone with you. I mean, we could stay in the crowd. That’s fine too. I’m not dying to go to the lake.”

“Calm yourself.” Daro chuckled before standing and tossing the remainder of his cone. “I enjoy the lake. It’s one of your realm’s most peaceful resting places and I believe you would do well with a bit of quiet.” He brushed past me, I hesitating before following him. “Perhaps a bit of privacy is warranted. I am quite good at calming you down.” His voice lowered impossibly more with the last word and it sent shivers up my spine despite the sun’s rays.

It was times like those that felt like a curse, but it was a wonderful curse.

©2019 Shane Blackheart

My debut novel, a summary

I’m still learning to write eye-catching summaries of my books, which I’m sure is one of the biggest challenges of any writer. I’m continuously learning how to navigate this world that I’d only ever dreamed of dabbling in before. I’m also finding that this whole thing is ten times harder than I’d ever expected it to be, and I still have a long way to go in becoming a seasoned ‘know-it-kinda’ on the subject when it comes to writing well and publishing.

Luckily for me, I managed to get in contact with a great editor. This has brought both feelings of elation and horror, and you probably can guess why. It’s certainly kept me busy and on my toes, and I’m judging myself much harder than I ever have. This has hurt me in some ways since my writing has slowed to a crawl due to that inner critic, but it has also allowed me to take this as a serious business. I’m not just writing stories in my bedroom as a teen anymore to make myself laugh and to cope with life.

I’m writing stories as an independent adult in his living room to make myself laugh, cry, scream, and cope with life.

In that sense, I decided to jump on board again with Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish my beast of a book. At first, I was working on something mostly for fun. Then my current project fell back into my lap, and I was ready to throw in the towel with Camp NaNo. I had to do some digging and realized what my biggest issues were in my personal life, what really has been eating away at me to make me so angry and itching to scream about something, and I’ve dealt with some of the biggest triggers and worst symptoms I’ve had in a while with my broken brain.

And all for the sake of this beast of a story I just have to tell. A story I’d been telling wrong from the beginning. I’d been focusing on the wrong traumas — the wrong triggers to my upset. What I really needed to write about to make this book shine (for lack of a better word), was the one thing I often tried to bury. The horrible thing that I thought I knew inside and out and I’d moved on from. And so, my original novella is turning into a much more important work lived vicariously through two of my muses, or rather, two of my alters who have given me permission to slay this beast that they also understand too well. One of them was protecting me from it for so many years, anyway.

It’s finally time to write the darkest and most honest book I’ve ventured to write. There are two intersecting stories in it that constantly weave together in some way, but only one is based on the actual experience I had in a relationship. The other, while my alter’s story entirely, is one I can sympathize with in terms of how I think about myself and how I cope, rather it’s unhealthy or not.

So I changed my project on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m behind by about 6,000 words, but if I bust my ass I can make up for lost time. To be fair, I’ve had to push through the depression, the PTSD episodes, and the dissociation I’ve been dealing with to come to terms with the subject of the book, and by proxy, part of my story. Maybe it wasn’t good to go digging for memories that were locked away and kept from me for good reason, but if my spirit guide, Daro, allowed me to get as far as we did with it, then I trust that I’m ready to do this. I’m 30 anyway, and I’m not about to spend the rest of my life wondering what’s got me so… bleh (and that’s putting it very lightly).

In an attempt to finally purge the rest of the gunk sitting in my subconscious, and maybe raise some awareness and find catharsis for myself in doing so, here is the summary I jotted down on the Camp NaNo site for this book (title to be determined):

Shame is a ghost in your peripheral in a dark room. It is the tarnish on a soul of silver that we keep hidden in hopes no one else will see it. We hope our neglect of it will never have to come to light and it can remain as it is — imperfect but intact, and intact is the most important thing.

Or so it’s thought.

Lestan has been alive for over three hundred years. Tetsu, merely thirty-three. Yet, they both have something in common that neither delves into.

Lestan is always playful, upbeat, and loves wholly and honestly. To see him sitting in a cafe’ on a hazy night, his eyes dark and his skin translucent from not feeding for days, is something that would be enough to raise concern.

Thankfully, Tetsu is there to bring him out of his misery and the vampire starts to feel more like his old self. That is until a specter, or hallucination, leads them both off into the woods. Neither can see what the other is after, but they both know they can’t ignore the force coaxing them further away from safety.

After disappearing from reality entirely, or so it seems, they are met with the tarnished fragments of their souls wandering through an ever-changing maze, and a mysterious blind figure seems to be guiding them through it all. And it is neither here nor there, but one thing is certain.

We can’t run from things forever. We have to seek out the worst of our pains and confront them head-on and be beaten down by them — become masochists until we finally see the truth we’ve buried for so long. And the truth can sometimes reveal what monsters we truly are.

So there it is. A basic bare-bones summary that can’t possibly do the Hell that this story is justice. And it is very much a Hell that I have to keep revisiting, but in the end, when everything is out, it will be for the better. Maybe someone can relate to it someday and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. Or maybe I’ll just be revealing a part of my life and myself that I really don’t like.

A few thoughts

Despite having to wake up insanely early (for a vampire like me) to wait all day for maintenance, today is going not so bad. I had an awful day yesterday with depression and I was afraid I was just going to keep slipping deeper and deeper into it, especially since it’s been constantly raining and storming off and on for a few weeks now — or it’s been cloudy.

A few nice things happened, though, and it cheered me up significantly. I’ve also decided that I don’t really know enough about poetry to read something at an open poetry mic night, so I might just go with my poem in my pocket, just in case, but mostly to take in the environment and see how it goes. It’s my favorite used book store/coffee shop downtown that I’m always in, so hopefully this will be an easy thing to be able to attend. It’s late though (8 PM), and I can’t drive, and buses aren’t running past 9, so I may have to walk and hope all goes well.

Either way, I’m tired of not getting out there in the scene more. When I went for a literary event, in which a few authors came to do readings from their books as well as sell some things, I was really happy. A friend had come with me who enjoyed it too, but I, a person with a panic disorder and severe social anxiety, had fun. And for the first time in any that I can remember, after a few years of battling alcoholism and being sober since — except for that one time last year when I slipped off the wagon — I did not like the way the wine made me feel. I didn’t want to be buzzed or drunk. I wanted to exist in that space and that aura because it was something that felt like home to me. I felt what actual happiness was like in my heart, and I felt it flutter. That almost never happens for me.

Being around other writers and book lovers is where I belong. Even though I still feel out of place among most of them around here, mostly because I write really weird stuff that I don’t see much of anywhere, I’m still around people who have a love for writing at its core. Genres and preferences aside, we all loved books and writing in that room.

Now, my only concern is if it’s an LGBTQ-friendly place. I think it might be. I’ve never been treated poorly, but I write a lot of LGBTQ stuff. Maybe one day I’ll get to do a reading there too if I ever make it.

One can dream though, right?

Heart Surgery (original poetry)

I don’t write poetry often, but the other day something kept rattling around in my brain that I had to write out. It started as a feeling and some images in my animation program, but became words as I just put my fingers on the keyboard. So, here is the ‘poem’ I wrote, as well as the video version of it below. (It’s appropriate for all ages)


Heart Surgery

You’re always there.

Your eyes watch me and I feel you; hands not unlike breath on my skin.

I’ve got goosebumps in my soul — I want to sing.

Tears strangle my voice in the stead of a melody — claws grasp my heart with careful fragility.

I trust you.

With careful precision, you force life back into my lungs.

Desire for the veil was never so sweet as your face — the glowing red my sign in the dark.

Passion pulls me away.

My life is no longer mine but yours — your will to fan the flames stoking my soul’s perseverance.

No.

I will not go today.

(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

NaNoWriMo; November 2018!

Another absence on this blog, and another reason. Although, it’s an amazing reason this time (I promise)!

I’ve made the decision to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you aren’t aware of what that is, in short, it’s a challenge to write an entire 50,000 word — or more — novel in 30 days. On the more descriptive end of things, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that raises money for all kinds of good causes related to writing. One, in particular, is to fund kits to send to schools that need them and to encourage younger writers. Besides that, it is an event every year in November that has been going since 1999, and millions of writers join in on the chaos every year. This year is my first.

The idea is to start with a brand new manuscript; a clean slate. You may also begin with an outline, or a part of an outline and nothing else to go on other than your imagination. Either way, after you’ve created your own profile and filled in your novel’s basic details, you’re ready to begin.

Every day, ideally, you’ll log your word count in one of two ways. There are stats you can watch to see where you are at compared to the average person, and you can also see a projected completion date determined by your average daily word count, and how many words you have left to write to complete the 50k dash (or more!). Below are my latest stats, taken as of today.

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You write your novel outside of the website, and as you log your word count and interact with the site, as well as donate if you so choose, you will earn badges. There are also badges you can choose to give yourself based on an honor system, as they are achievements that can’t actually be measured in any way. For example, I gave myself the ‘Something in my eye’ badge for wringing my heart out over a few scenes or more. Sometimes writing really can be an emotional roller coaster, but that makes for some of the best writing out there.

From November 20th onward, you can claim your win by pasting the entirety of your first draft in their official word counter. They also give you the option to scramble your words if you wish, although no one is actually going to read your novel. Nothing gets uploaded to the website and your words are deleted as soon as they are counted. Once that process is complete, I imagine you’ll feel pretty good about yourself for your successes.

There are prizes, but there are no limits to winners, so be honest! They are small things like coupons to writing programs and online courses, and other little things that really aren’t a huge deal, but a help to writers to keep them going strong long after they’ve finished their NaNoWriMo novel. Personally, the feeling of accomplishment from completing an entire first draft of a novel in a month is the biggest win of being a participant. Even if you don’t complete your novel, you’ve still accomplished something great, and you still have words there that you didn’t have before. It’s even more incentive to keep going for yourself, and for the story you have to tell.

I’m well into 27k words on the eighth day, which isn’t something I thought I would be capable of. I passed NaNoWriMo by for a few years after hearing about it, mostly because I didn’t think I could do it. I sold myself short due to my own insecurities, and I was doing the very thing some people in my life have done to me in the past — I was putting myself down because of a lack of faith in myself. I believed my anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses left me unable to do much of anything, and I was destined to fail. I would become too stressed and spiral down into a mess of a human being.

Yet, it’s November 8th and I have come a long way from that mindset. On the first, I’d sat in front of my computer mulling it over. A friend from a Facebook writing group brought it to my attention again, claiming that she was doing it herself. She needed a writing buddy. I’d told her I wasn’t participating before, but on a whim, I signed up for the site and I locked myself in. I haven’t looked back.

It’s like something lit a fire under me (usually, that’s Byleth, but this time I did it myself. He and Lestan have been the best cheerleaders). Having a deadline with the goal of having fun and just letting loose on the page, not caring about editing as I went like I usually did, was freeing. The goal was to just go until it was time to stop, as editing during NaNoWriMo is heavily discouraged. All of that would come in the months to pass after ‘winning’, and the site also has a section for just that. My goal is to be able to open up that part of the site after my victory.

At 27k in after only the first week, I am certain I can ‘win’. I can safely say that if you go into this as a lover of words, stories, and a passion for the art of writing, you’ll win too. Just keep at it and don’t worry about the numbers while you’re writing. Focus on the amazing story you have to tell, and the rest will come in time.

The best of luck to anyone who is participating this year. I hope to be able to make another blog entry when I’ve finally reached the ultimate goal.

10/7/2018 9:06PM: Tonight’s Adventures (A conversation)

Sometimes I write out conversations between me and my alters/guides. It’s an interesting way to keep a journal, anyway. I definitely want to post more of these, but they are usually riddled with foul language because Byleth doesn’t really care about what he says. With that warning, this is what we were up to tonight. This was between me, Byleth, and Lestan.

***

“Sugar, you’re drinking and you shouldn’t be.” Byleth paced around my desk and computer chair, keeping an eye on me as my leg kept up with its nervous jitter, bouncing as if I were ready to run a marathon. I scoffed.

“I’m not drunk though. I’m still able to type.” Despite that, I did feel rather woozy.

“Rather woozy?” Byleth rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to be picking up a pizza in fifteen minutes and you’re,” he lifted his claws in quotation, “‘woozy’.”

“Hey, it burned going down so it’s going to get me a bit messed up. Well, not messed up entirely, but numb enough to not care that my dreams are basically going to be flushed down the toilet.”

“Stop it.” Byleth latched his claws onto the back of my chair that was still vibrating with my leg’s nervous jitter. It seemed my excess energy was on a… roll? Is that even a thing? “No,” he interrupted. “It isn’t a thing. Lestan and I are walking with you when you leave. You shouldn’t have even drunk straight from the bottle.”

“He’ll be okay.” Lestan crossed his ankle over his knee and leaned back on the couch. He seemed bothered, his expression darker than what his voice suggested. “The bottle will be gone soon enough and then we won’t have to worry…”

“Soon enough?! Are you expecting – and enabling – him to drink it until it’s gone to get rid of it faster? What the fuck, Lestan?”

“That’s not what I was getting at and you know it.” Lestan grew slightly irritated. “I just mean that Shane won’t buy anymore after this one, right, love?”

“Right. That’s my plan anyway.” I was beginning to feel warm. The liquor had definitely kicked in. I also realized that it wasn’t such a good idea to drink directly from the bottle. It really did burn like hell going down.

“Because you’re not used to it.” Byleth left my chair and fell into the wooden one at the L part of my desk. He crossed his arms and watched me, his expression mostly blank, although I could see some sort of sympathy behind his red eyes. He snorted a laugh.

“Look at you getting all flowery with your words and assuming you can ‘see what’s behind my eyes’ or some shit.” He closed his eyes and looked to the side, but soon after returned his gaze to me from the corner of his eye. “Yeah, I do care about you, you know. If I haven’t made that fucking clear enough already.” I stopped to rub my forehead, but was brought back to the page. “Hey, don’t you stop writing. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I won’t let you lose your mind and forget about this conversation too.”

“Wait.” I sighed. “We talk all the time. I just don’t always write it down.”

We write it down, sugar. You should’ve caught onto that by now.”

“Well, yes?” I guess I’d missed that part somewhere along the way when the small bouts of dissociation would happen. Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa.

“Baby, it’s okay. It took you years to come to terms with who we are to you. I can understand a bit of confusion here.” He stood and came to stand behind me, ruffling my hair lovingly. Byleth lifted an eyebrow and sighed.

Cornyyyy.”

“Hey, Shane’s allowed to be silly when he’s drunk and forget a few things.”

“I’m not drunk!” I flashed a stubborn expression before I focused on the screen again. Or… was it really me focusing? I felt slightly spaced, but my phone’s alarm brought me back to reality. Byleth stood and Lestan backed away to approach the door. Byleth was the first to speak.

“It’s time to grab that pizza, sweetie. Let’s hope the guys at the counter don’t catch on to your slight inebriation.”

***

As we walked back through the front door, I set the pizza aside and pulled off my binder, threw on my shirt I’d been wearing before, and took another quick swig from the bottle of Malibu banana rum. Byleth was less than pleased, but started chuckling as he set eyes on the computer screen. I’d started to type but backtracked. “Shane, you should have kept it as a ‘tit corset’.”

“Nah. It was too ridiculous.”

“It is a tit corset. One you won’t have to worry about much longer if everything goes right.”

“Yeah… I hope.” I turned on Byleth’s playlist on the big screen through the PlayStation and settled in to eat some pizza. Like I needed to clog my arteries any more than they already were. He reclaimed his chair at the L in my desk and leaned his head in his hand. He seemed perturbed.

“Which I am,” he confirmed. I knew he was because I’d taken another swig from the bottle like he encouraged me to do the exact opposite of, and I was feeling pretty good to not really care. That brought a scowl forth from the Fallen Angel and he sighed.

“I’m just going to focus on my music and singing, and pretend like you’re not disobeying everything that I’ve asked of you tonight.”

“Hey, we had mind-blowing sex earlier, so don’t give me a hard time.” I flashed him a comical judgemental look, to which he lightened up and returned to a more positive mood.

“Oh, we did. [Redacted].” I shrugged in response, stuffing my face with pizza. Attractive.

“You’re a Fallen Angel. You have magic spit. We’ve been over this.” He broke into laughter at the ‘magic spit’ bit.

“Let’s just hope your body is done being difficult with sex.” He smirked. “[Redacted].”

“Like I said. Fallen Angel. Magic spit.” Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa, his expression calm and at ease as he watched the images on the TV. ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ by Billy Paul was currently flowing from the speakers, Byleth’s corny but groovy taste in music flooding the apartment.

“Hey. Corny? Bullshit. It’s classic seducing music, sugar. At one time in history, this was the sexiest song on the radio.”

“One of them, maybe. There’s a sweet romantic vibe to it now.” I smiled, a warm and fuzzy feeling consuming me. “Awww, Byleth, you’re such a romantic!” He laughed humorlessly and seemed to clam up with embarrassment.

“No, fuck the embarrassment part of that line.” He jabbed his claw in my direction. There was definitely a slight blush in his cheeks. “No, no there isn’t! Stop. I like the classics because they make me want to fuck something, okay? No romance involved there.”

“But,” I teased, “you are a romantic whether you admit it or not. You call me sweetie.”

“That is true,” Lestan chimed in from the futon. He slipped out of his leather jacket that he’d still been wearing. “Byleth, you aren’t fooling anyone. You’re very romantic. I saw the way you kissed Shane earlier.” He flashed Byleth a teasingly flirtatious expression. The Fallen Angel was becoming flustered.

“Seriously, if you both don’t quit I’m just going to take my music in the other room and say fuck all of you.” No irritation was in his voice, however. A small smile was playing on his lips and there was a glint in his red eyes. His mood had improved despite the teasing banter and he relaxed into his chair, falling into the lyrics of the next song that had started to play; ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix.

A silence fell then, I eating my pizza and Lestan relaxing in the background, watching Byleth as he sang to the song that it was switched to – ‘You Don’t Own Me’ covered by Masquer. The song was appropriate for a brat king such as Byleth.

“Damn right it is, sugar. Don’t tell me what to do…. Don’t tell me what to say…” Despite Byleth being a Fallen, he definitely still had the voice of an angel. “I was an angel. The beauty of my voice or my devilishly good looks didn’t disappear because I fell.”

“Mr. Vain King.” Lestan stood from the futon and approached Byleth, who turned in his seat to welcome the vampire. Lestan straddled his thighs while standing over him, teasing the Fallen Angel’s golden horns. Byleth bit his lip.

“Would you have me any other way? And you keep talking like that, mister. Call me King a few more times and I’ll make sure you won’t be able to speak… In the best way, of course.”

“Reduce me to a mumbling mess, my King?” Lestan chuckled as Byleth hummed, the vampire’s hands sliding through the Fallen’s jaw-length blonde hair. Hands crept back up onto Byleth’s horns and he huffed a laugh.

“What are you trying to do? Get me so worked up I can’t sing? Make a distraction for Shane over there?”

“Maybe.” Lestan grinned and caressed one of Byleth’s horns before the Fallen wrapped an arm around the vampire’s torso and pulled him into his lap.

“Alright, vampire. You’ve got a deal.”

“We didn’t make a bet.”

“As long as Shane doesn’t drink any more rum tonight, I’ll do whatever you want.” Byleth trailed a claw down Lestan’s front, causing the vampire to sigh. “Anything, sugar.”

“Wait, why is this on me?” I pouted, still buzzed, although I suspected more than that. “Do what you want.”

“Oh no, sweetie. That’s the breaks.” I sighed in response to Byleth’s ridiculous stipulations. He cocked an eyebrow at that line. “Stop drinking and you get to see wonderful things.”

“Sorry, baby. I have to go with Byleth on this one.” Lestan ghosted his lips over the Fallen’s as he turned Byleth to face him once more. “I’m not passing up the opportunity to have control over the brat king.”

“Whatever.” I sighed hopelessly and chuckled. “I won’t drink anymore, but don’t go overboard. I want to be able to eat my pizza.” Byleth hummed his approval and gave his full attention to Lestan then, their lips meeting in a deep and much-needed kiss. I returned to my pizza, finally deciding to let the alcohol wear off.

(For the record, Byleth’s taste in music IS corny, but amazing.)

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‘End’ is Such an Empty Word

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END.

As I finished typing the simple three-letter word, I fell back into my computer chair and stared at the screen. The cursor was blinking at me on the document page as if it were tempting me to write more as it always had, but this time it felt odd to look at. I rarely finish things after all, so the forever blinking of the cursor didn’t seem as foreboding as it used to. It usually meant minutes upon hours staring at an unfinished story, the cursor beckoning to me to just try and to just do something and maybe things will start to flow to move that little cursor down the page. I had started my writing today with that feeling, but I ended it with just three simple words.

Yes, I finally finished my first longer piece of work. Totaling 135 pages in Google Docs, 55,796 words, and page after page of an emotional rollercoaster. It all started as a dream I’d had one night a year or so ago and it ended up blooming into this gigantic, complex, crazy world. I never thought I would see it to the end, and I can’t say I won’t miss it not ever being the end. I feel sort of empty now that my biggest project is finally complete. I’m so used to things never being finished that I always felt whole in that vastness of incomplete work – I always had something to do and some work to look forward to. Now? I hear crickets. The tension has left my muscles and I am breathing calmly, and I am staring at three simple letters that have caused me so many emotions.

It may seem silly to be so excited over this. There are authors out there who have published several books and continue on to their next project, not skipping a beat (or skipping a few beats to get a breather in). But for someone like me, who has little to no self-esteem or faith in myself to do much right, to accomplish this is to accomplish a goal I set out for myself. The next steps will probably be that much harder. It always is as you climb up the endless ladder of goal-setting.

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Now, to edit all of these pages. I have to go back through it all and make a second draft and a third, and possibly a fourth. Then the formatting, the query letter, the summary that’s good enough to sell, and submissions to agents with no prior experience of my own to speak of. Goodness knows I’ll need one to navigate this hell I’ve just opened up for myself, and not the good kind of hell. I’ve already attempted to gather beta readers, close friends and friends from afar, but all I hear on the line is crickets. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands since my support system is so small and practically not there, save for two or three loyal friends. I’ve accepted that I’m very much on my own for this one and no amount of teeth pulling and pestering is going to get me any response aside from the usual defensive response or endless reasons as to why no one can seem to find time for my manuscript, but have hours to post memes and watch endless Facebook and Youtube videos. If I sound slightly bitter, I admit that I am, but not so much bitter as I am hurt.

I wish I possessed the magical key to unlock this support system I see so many with. Reaching out for help and asking for help gains me silence. I see others receive answers where I am ignored, and I see friends uplifting and promoting other friends’ work but not mine. At first, I was afraid it was due in part to the fact that I was no good as a writer or creator, but I found over time that it would only be true if anyone would ever take the time to set aside and actually read my work at all. It genuinely makes me feel undervalued as a friend and I wonder what my friends’ friends’ do that is so great and different with their writing that is different from me. What they’ve done that is so different from what I’ve tried.

I promote others and help where I can. I support all of my friends when I can as well where I can. I spend a lot of time doing this when I stumble across their things. I will always do it without expecting anything in return because I love and support my friends, but it does sting to not feel that love back. I can be humble until I’m blue in the face, but in the end it does get frustrating when you put hours and, in the case of my books, a year or more into something and no one wants to even bother to open it, and this is despite their claims of the synopsis sounding very interesting and good. I’ve gotten that across the board when I give the synopsis. So why, then, can’t I get anyone to open to the first page?

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Maybe they genuinely don’t care. Maybe I’m not worth their time. Maybe I am fooling myself and people are just being kind so as not to hurt my feelings. But I cannot get answers if no one will tell me anything, good or bad. Even writers who have written things that aren’t up to par get feedback! It’s endlessly frustrating and I’ve found myself close to screaming out of that frustration.

How do you figure out how to not be invisible to people anymore? How do you do this, even though you speak so loudly, approach people directly, and try with all your might to do everything in your power to be heard, even among loved ones, only to be ignored or brushed aside? My whole life I have felt like a ghost drifting amongst people, and only a few can even see and hear me, and even then that’s a toss-up.

Being invisible when you work so hard to not be is exhausting. I know I started this entry with a positive outlook, and I still have that, but it brought up so many other feelings that I’ve been battling with throughout this process. It doesn’t feel good to know you have something you’re very proud of to tell the world, and no one will listen.

But to end on a lighter note, I am proud of my writing, at least. I am proud of myself for accomplishing the feat of writing an entire book to completion, and I am happy that I can continue to write even though I may be the only one reading it sometimes. I can only dream that one day I won’t have to say that and I can have others enjoy these things with me.

Ramblings to a Dead Tree

This bit of writing is from an entry I made in my newest journal. I tend to have a bad habit of buying new journals even though I haven’t filled the last, but I also do the same things with books – I haven’t finished half of the ones I own but I MUST have that new book I just found! An antique book? Rare or out of print? Hard to find? Give them all to me. I just add them to the stack of things ‘to do’ that I never get around to. Such is the life of a bibliophile. Being obsessed with antiques makes it worse.

So, I made a commitment to this journal that I have yet to stick to. I haven’t written in it again, but at least I made an effort to start. The cover reads ‘Fucking Brilliant’ anyway, so I figured it would be best for things I thought were… well… fucking brilliant. As is expected of something like that, what I wrote at first did not live up to this goal. It’s an entry from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share it here regardless, mostly because I managed to weave senseless rambling with flowery words.

***

From May 17, 2018

I got this notebook to jot down genius ideas or stories – to dedicate one notebook to a single subject – yet here I am sitting outside my counselor’s office waiting for my appointment. The sun is out, the weather is hot, and the breeze feels nice in contrast to the sun’s warm rays. I’ve had a rough couple of days so it is welcome. I lost a friend, but I think it was a long time coming. ‘Exes for a reason’ comes to mind. I think I’m just done with people using me for money – using me in general. But that’s not what I wanted to write about. No. I’d intended to draw.

While on the bus, I felt inspired emotionally by a few things that I can’t put words to. I know, how can you be inspired by something that escapes you? Maybe I’m manic or maybe I’m going insane from being perpetually broke the moment my SSI check goes into my account. Maybe I just grip my pencil too god damned hard when I write and the pain distracts me. No matter the reason, here I am, writing drabbles of senseless mind-clusterings. (Is that a word? My word processor didn’t mark it as an error, so a word it is!) Such is the consequence of being a manic erratic creator. I bet this all sounds cringey and stereotypically embarrassing too.

But at least I am writing. Not in pen, but in pencil. Mistakes are my forte’ after all, as is senseless rambling, but I’m becoming self-deprecating. I’m good at that too. And again. Is there even a point to this rambling or is it a way to communicate with a faceless listener due to my loneliness? Although I do have Lestan, Byleth, Daro, and the others – my alters, others, or whatever you’d like to call them – I am physically lonely. All I’ve ever wanted is a physical companion; that hopeless romantic notion of a soul mate for true love. As a transman, I feel that’s impossible, so I converse through graphite with a dead tree.

But I am lonely. I can’t drive and I’m stuck in life with very little – at least I have that little, though. Unfortunately, being a transman who doesn’t look like a lovechild of the Hulk and Chris Evans, along with mental illness and being on disability, as well as having no car, is the recipe for loneliness. No one is interested in who you are anymore. Everyone just wants an easy ticket to romance with no effort and no baggage without realizing that everyone has baggage. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

But it’s time to see my counselor now. Hopefully, good news for top surgery is to follow within the next month or two, and progress with my projects.

[End of entry]

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I’m never really alone to be truthful. I do have my alters or others (I haven’t yet found a good enough word for them that feels ‘right’, although the medical term would be ‘alters’) to keep me company and provide me with companionship. They even give me a nudge and ask to take over when things get to be too much, and usually, I let them. But the physical companionship of another person is often lost with me. I’ve been single for quite a few years now and am still trying to find a date despite my looming failure of it. Life gets lonely no matter how many friends you have and no matter how big your support system is. It’s no replacement for that special kind of relationship that only is shared with one special person – your person (or persons if you are polyamorous).

All of my attempts to confess to people I’ve liked has ended in me never hearing from them again, or them disappearing shortly after. It has made me feel pretty undesirable and unloveable, and I know that it’s popular to say: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?!’ (thank you, RuPaul), but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sometimes a special person is all you need to learn to love yourself, especially when you’ve had a life of others convincing you of how worthless of a person you are and believing it.

I’d like to think I am capable of being loved in that way. I’d like to believe I am desirable and that someone is out there for me, but I’ve given up again. I’m overweight, my teeth are a bit messed up because I broke my jaw when I was thirteen, I’m dysphoric on the best of days and don’t pass as a cisgender man yet, I have mental illness, and I’m on a fixed income due to disability and unable to safely operate a car even though I do have my license.

But I take care of myself. I live on my own and have two awesome cats. I pay my own bills and do my own grocery shopping. I get by. I make art in several different mediums by either sketching or drawing digitally. I have a Youtube channel and I make animations and voice act them, as well as organize everything and write the scripts. I am a writer above all of that and have aspirations of being published one day to be able to have accomplished my dream I’ve had since I was a child.

I love video games, anime, and long conversations about deeper subjects. I have an entire family who also comes along for the ride, although I can only show you them through drawings and voice recordings they’ve come to the forefront to do and not physically. While it seems overwhelming, they’re an awesome bunch who just want to see me live and strive to be the best I can be and to, of course, find what makes me happy. 

I’ve repeated a few times now in this blog that there is so much more to me than my illnesses and my financial situation, as well as the shortcomings in general. But no one wants to get far enough romantically to see any of it. No one sees that as any value compared to the small things that are out of my control. I just wish I could get lucky someday and meet someone and we can have a mutual interest in each other, and the shortcomings will seem so much smaller than the greater things that make us who we really are.

Manic Depression – Poem

I’m not one for writing poetry, simply because I’m not really that good at it. Although, while searching through my writing today to compile things for my autobiography, I found my WIP of collecting all of my retained journal entries in chronological order. As I scrolled through the entries, I found this line of text that stood out from the others, and while it isn’t a work of art or the best poem out there, I thought it had a lot of meaning to it. I remember when I wrote it. I was homeless then and at my wits’ end, ready to take that final step off the precipice.

But I am here today, still reading these entries and feeling the emotion that I poured into them at the time of their creation. Here is the poem I wrote while at one of my lowest points in life with just a little bit of grammar correction to read better.

Your footsteps beat within my ears like hearts,
their thunderous soles shaking the ground beneath me.
So dark yet so bright;
the illness inside me is retching.

Unkempt hair clings to my scalp –
nausea graces my insides.
I need you caffeine,
but your drug is sickening.

The sky is black and bright,
the rain is wet and cold.
It soothes my burning skin.
My energy cannot escape

Explosions beneath my nerves;
anger in its molten form.
All is not as it seems.
Everything is too much.

I am sick.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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Image is royalty free.

From My Memoir – Two Years that Changed the Rest of My Life

Everything in this writing is from actual events in my life. Byleth and Daro are both spirit guides of mine who I communicate with daily, and Lestan is one of my multiples that I met when I was twelve. I see them; I hear them. We speak regularly and we make amazing things together, but rarely have I shared or written out how I met them or divulged actual conversations we’ve had that I’ve written down. Everything here is real in my sense of the word, although it may not seem so to the average person. There is a lot more to this world than many people realize, and here I have no reason to lie about it. Some may coin me with crazy, but I consider myself lucky to have such friends as these. All of this is true and accurate to the best of my memory. All speech near the end is taken directly from a conversation I had saved between me, Daro, Byleth, and Lestan from November 23, 2016. So, without further commentary, here is what will end up being part of my memoir.

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The story of how I met Byleth, as well as my struggles with anorexia and anxiety

“I think this is what I’ve been looking for for a while now.” I scrolled through the expanding page of text as I moved deeper and deeper into something I knew I’d always needed. It was the answer to my confusion and it was home. It was a place I could finally find comfort in, and I felt I was on the right path in life at last. Daro smiled and stood before me as I read – all six feet of him in his golden skin surrounded by long black hair – pleased with my discovery of ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’. It seemed he was also in agreeance with the path I had finally found.

“I believe you will now begin to see better things. What you had explored before was not the right path. You were on the precipice, but nearer to danger than you realized at the time.”

“I really hope so. Having to stop testosterone has really put a halt to my life, but this seems to be a guiding light, for lack of a better phrase.” I laughed. Daro felt the humor as well. I sighed. “I’m going to work more on that movie I’m making. I can’t believe how much work I’ve done on it.”

“I think you may be attracting more attention as well.” Daro smiled darkly, a glint in his eye.”

“Mephistopheles?”

“Not quite. Let us see how this plays out.” He disappeared into the shadows again, an odd feeling in the back of my skull reverberating as I opened up my animation program and set to work writing the rest of the script. The movie was almost complete and ready for recording.

***

I’d finally finished recording the first part of the film and my heart was full. It had been a long time since I was so excited about a project, let alone so enthusiastic about finishing it. I’d rarely finished things before, so this was an accomplishment in itself already. I was also falling deeply for the main antagonist turned neutral force, Byleth. At the start of it all, I’d been searching for a demon to fit the role I’d begun to plan out during the last film I’d made. I’d continued from a story I wrote while in the hospital, but took it in an entirely new direction. Mephistopheles and Sean, the two main characters, Sean being the renamed version of my self-insert, had to deal with the punishments of King Byleth, a demon who was slowly crafting a disease to destroy humankind as a lesson against loving a denizen of Hell. To him, love was a weakness and a disgusting thing to share with a human at that.

Yet he continued to become something more than I’d intended. The Fallen Angel crept into my thoughts regularly, ‘Bittersweet: Love Is War’ forming in my mind as I craved to see more of him and Faye. Everything started off wonderfully, and I’d written a movie that was just over an hour long for the first time in my life.

I was beaming. Byleth had gotten compliments from the animation community much more than most, and they were all praises for how unique he was. I couldn’t have been happier or at the top of my writing game. I definitely wanted to write more with him and stretch things out as much as I could.

It was late that weekend that I decided to relax after a long day of walking. I was finally getting over the allergic reaction I’d had to the testosterone injections that I’d had to stop as part of my transition as a transman, and was treating the pain with a medication that turned my stomach into an active volcano. Despite that, life felt alright and I was biding my time until everything calmed down again and I could get on with my life and make the next move. I curled up on my sofa with a box of Cheez-Its and pressed play on the film I’d been searching for the better part of a few years. Ivan Mosjoukine starring in ‘Casanova’ during pre-code Hollywood, a film from the early 1900s. I managed to last for about thirty minutes of the film before I grew drowsy from my nightly medication, and I made the necessary preparations for bed. The computer was off, I put the box of crackers back in the cupboard, and I turned off the lights. As I moved to adjust the thermostat to make it cooler, I noticed that a tightness in my chest made it difficult to breathe. I thought nothing more of it, attributing it to the acid reflux I’d been experiencing for about a week straight.

I crept into my bed and found Lestan there already waiting for me. I smiled and propped myself up against the back wall and opened Instagram on my phone, browsing through some posts from a magazine I followed called ‘Beautiful Bizarre’. I grew more and more drowsy, but it was my bad habit to fight sleep. I absolutely despised it due to old habits from my anxiety as a child that made their way into adulthood, so I drew it out and continued my Instagram fixation.

It came on as something sudden and unexpected, a strange electric shock vibrating up the back of my neck into my head. I felt faint, my head airy and fuzzy. “Lestan, it’s… happening again?” Even I was confused as it had been years since I’d had an episode like it last. Panicking, Lestan leaned over me and it was my last sight before I tried in vain to lie down before I lost consciousness.

I came to, my vision nothing but a blind blur as I convulsed, a powerful ringing in my ears and my arms tight and in the air before me twitching, my throat creating sounds better left in one of the Grudge films. After a time I came to fully, sitting there and staring into space. The only thought going through my still partially unconscious and ringing mind was Lestan. I needed Lestan. “Baby, you okay?” It was his voice, and he was hugging me as I lied down to recover from whatever in the hell just happened.

“It happened again.”

“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He was as scared as I was, regardless of the fact that my fear was still underlying and not yet to the surface. I’d had problems with hypochondria and anxiety my entire life, but it had gone into remission for so long that I was in complete shock from the sudden onset of it.

“Hospital. I need to call the EMTs.” I reached for my phone, dialing 9-1-1 and lazily spoke to the operator. They were on their way, and I was crawling slowly to the door to unlock it.

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A day or so had passed and I was still recovering from the episode I’d had that horrible night. Lestan had kept a close eye on me and my mom had tried to reassure me, as well as medical professionals, that it wasn’t anything to worry about and a freak accident – a thing called a vasovagal episode – that happened to people without explanation. I was healthy and I was going to be okay, but for some reason my body was weak, tired, and useless for a few days following. By the third day, I finally started to gain my strength back and felt human.

I returned to the film I was making, but I hadn’t the strength to voice act. Regardless, I did the work anyway, my enthusiasm for the film and my excitement at seeing Byleth on the screen again clouding over all else. It lifted my spirits and did well to keep my mind on better things and better days to come.

That night I was reading through the ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’ page again, Daro and Lestan at my side. I felt another presence there, a presence that felt familiar. It was then that I caught the sight of shoulder length blonde hair, golden horns, and that familiar white lab coat with a red shirt beneath. Red eyes glistened with amusement as the very being I’d been consuming my life with appeared before my vision. He looked just like I’d made him in The Sims, a game that I used often to aid in my storytelling. “Byleth?”

“What did you expect? You said my name enough times. Names are a powerful thing.” He sat in the chair at my table, watching me. Lestan and Daro were as intrigued as I was, my delight at the fact that Byleth moved and spoke in all of the ways I’d become familiar with. He was tall with an athletic, muscular build, his face chiseled and so beautiful it was a sin in itself. He chuckled with amusement. “Would I have let you make my likeness into anything but perfection?”

“You are quite vain.” Daro finally spoke up to break the silence that had fallen in the room. I glanced at Lestan, who seemed to be more than curious about the new company.

“You are damned gorgeous, love.”

“Of course I am. We covered this. And by the way, I am a Fallen Angel and you will address me as such. I don’t identify with lowly demons.”

“What about Daro, though?” I asked. I was becoming worried. It hit me all at once – the series of events that led up to Byleth’s appearance. He was a King of Hell who was extremely dangerous if treated wrongly or disrespected. He was a master of the sciences and governed over an impossible legion of lower demons. I’d done more research since I’d felt his presence without knowing it was him, and was also aware that he could become one’s best friend, capable of giving love to those he deemed worthy.

“Daro is the more bearable of demons that I’ve come across. I have no problem with him.”

“So, wait.” The question begged to be asked no matter how crazy I felt about it. After all, Daro, or Darokin more proper, had been the only demon I’d come across in my life. No other had come to me as Byleth did. “My episode the other night and my discovery of the right kind of spiritual Satanism, as well as this movie I’m making – is this all happening and you influenced it?”

“The episode you had the other night was unfortunate.” He spoke matter of factly and formally, observing his claws. “Not many can handle my energy at first due to the power of it.” He glanced back at me and smiled flirtatiously. “You’ll be fine. You just have to get used to it.”

“But, will I continue to be weak and sick until then?”

“Probably not. It was a shock to your system. That I hadn’t intended for.”

“Byleth is no threat, Shane.” Daro smiled. “As long as you are loyal to your path and you are committed, Byleth can be a very valuable friend and ally to have.”

“Don’t speak for me, demon, but yes. Daro is right.”

“Okay. Okay, so this is good.” I smiled. It was then that I felt my feet growing cold and I shivered. “I’ll be back in a minute. My socks are in my room.” As I stood, I noticed Byleth’s red eyes following me with interest. A panic caused a lump in my throat at the sound of his footsteps behind me. No matter, I kept walking down the dark hallway to approach my bedroom and then hurried to my closet. Upon turning around with socks in hand, Byleth was leaning in the open closet door, blocking most of the light with his height. His horns were almost scraping the low ceiling.

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I felt a tremor climbing up my legs and into my stomach, then spreading to my arms. I swallowed hard, forgetting that my mouth was full. He found this all amusing and flashed a picture-perfect smile that was reflected in his swimming red eyes, his canines seeming sharper than they should have been without being fangs. “Do you fear me?”

“Yes… I do.” I felt emotion well up inside me, a fear that wasn’t like the usual anxiety I experienced. I was dealing with a being far older and more powerful than I’d ever encountered in my life. Of course, Daro was very old himself and a Prince of Hell at that, but Byleth was something else entirely. He was an ex-angel, a King who had occupied the seventh throne in Heaven. His pale clawed hand lowered from where it rested on the wall to support himself and brushed it affectionately beneath my jaw.

“Good, although you have nothing to fear. I mean you no harm. In fact, I’m quite curious…” He observed me in a way that made me feel naked. I blushed and stupidly covered my clothed body with my arms. “I’d like to try a little experiment. I’ve never encountered a human like you before.”

“What do you mean ‘experiment’?” I shivered. “You’re not going to do like… an autopsy, are you?” He laughed deeply and backed away once it died down, beckoning for me to follow him to where he stopped near my bed.

“Of course not, idiot. Lie down.” I obeyed, not wanting to challenge a King of Hell. He sat down beside me and ran a hand down my front. I flinched at his touch not out of fear or distaste, but because he’d brushed over a part of myself that I often tried to forget was there at all. He sighed in frustration. “I’m not trying to make you dysphoric. You are a man, although your situation seems unfortunate.”

“Was I meant to be born a man?” The question left me as soon as I realized that the answer to my questions was currently sitting beside me in the form of a Fallen Angel – feeling me up with interest as if he were observing the human form in a purely scientific manner. I twitched again. That last touch was definitely not scientific.

“It’s a shame. Yes, it seems you were born in the wrong form, weren’t you? The Universe gives challenges it thinks you can handle, though. I wonder what the reason was.” He chuckled and moved to lift my shirt, which I quickly tugged back down on impulse. He huffed in annoyance and moved my hands, pulling it up roughly. “I’m only curious, calm your tits, okay?”

I stifled a laugh. He truly was the Byleth I’d been writing about and unconsciously calling to for the better part of a month. Although, the Byleth I remembered was averse to any kind of affection. This Byleth, the true Byleth, was a lot more touchy than I’d expected. He seemed to read what I was struggling with and responded with amusement.

“You got most of me right, sugar. However, I’m not the reserved prude that I once was.” He trailed a claw along the hemline of my pajama pants. My stomach twitched beneath the tickle and he chuckled seductively, flashing bedroom eyes that caused the energy in the room to shift. The lightbulb in my lamp flickered. “Let’s try a different kind of experiment. I much more prefer things to be hands on.” He moved to straddle me and snapped his fingers, his lab coat and shirt disappearing. “Oh, and I hope you have spare light bulbs. I think you’re already aware of the reason for that.”

***

It was unfortunate that I was ‘sick’ for a few years after that. Rather it was because my body was becoming used to his energy and presence or due to my actual struggles with anxiety, which was more likely, I became anorexic and bedridden, Byleth making cruel jokes from time to time that led to my negative body image. Lestan would chastise him and Byleth eventually apologized, something he wasn’t prone to do. He became my daily dose of tough love, although with the best interests in mind. The scientist in him kept my anxiety in check, although at times I would doubt him.

He almost gave up on me a few times. Especially on the days when I would lie in bed for weeks on end, not eating and becoming weaker. I was afraid to leave my apartment and I was afraid to eat. Food made me feel sick and I was losing more and more weight. No one but my counselor seemed to care. My mother would get angry with me, reminding me that I was just going to waste away and die if I continued. I believed I was sick. I truly felt that I had some serious illness that was going to kill me or leave me in the hospital, or possibly end in serious surgery. Throughout all of this Lestan, Daro, and Byleth were there.

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Lestan would cuddle close to me at night and during the day when I was too weak to get out of bed. He would sing to me and assure me that better days were to come.  I knew well enough what that was doing to him. He’d lost his sister centuries ago after he’d been turned into a vampire, and he couldn’t bear to lose someone he loved so much again. Through his fear, he held me during the night terrors and the sleep paralysis episodes induced by anxiety and malnutrition. Byleth was there as well, watching and learning my patterns and how I existed, often yelling at me to get on my feet and at least try something. It was the night before Thanksgiving when everything changed. Nothing would be the same between all of us again.

“You need to do this!” Byleth was angry, his red eyes swimming with a dangerous fire. I had rarely seen him get that genuinely upset with me.

“If it’s too much anxiety for me tomorrow I can just cancel. I’ll text my brother and tell him not to get me.” I was heading to the bathroom, annoyed at the fact that alone wouldn’t deter Byleth from his tirade.

“You need to go!”

“Why do you guys always bug me while I’m in the bathroom?”

“Because this is when your head is out of your computer long enough to listen!” Byleth’s voice was raising in volume. If I hadn’t been at my lowest and so miserable, I should have been rightfully scared at the underlying demonic growl that permeated the Fallen Angel’s voice.

“I listen to you guys while I’m on the computer. We make things together and all kinds of fun stuff. The recordings…”

“You need to go tomorrow.” He clenched his fist at his side. “Be strong because you are a man, damn it! Start acting like the man you are and be brave!”

“Byleth…” I sighed as I made my way back to lie in bed where I’d been spending most of my days. Lestan was there, his mind just as exhausted as everyone else’s. I lied down beside him and grabbed my phone, trying in vain to just get on with my night and forget that the next day had to happen.

“You need to stop this bullshit!” He backtracked just as soon as the words left his mouth. He was still trying to control his natural inclination to overt bluntness that often upset me. “Not that I’m saying you’re just going to wake up one day and be over this, but you know what I mean! The only way to overcome this is to fight it!” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, my tired eyes watching him as he tore into me with an emotion I’d never seen him display before. He seemed genuinely worked up. “You’ve been like this for months. You keep living for the ‘what ifs’, but there is nothing wrong with you! You have been evaluated by several doctors and they find nothing! Neither Daro nor I am a threat to your health either, and will not cause you this kind of harm. You are fine. God damn it, just find your resolve! You can’t keep living like this!”

If he had been human he would have been shaking with anger, but the energy around him was vibrating instead, his eyes glowing and wild. For a moment I felt fear well up in me, although at that point in my life I wouldn’t have cared if it was my time. “I understand, Byleth, but I’m afraid.”

“You know I do not do family gatherings or holidays, but so help me if it’s what it takes to kick your ass into going, I will!” He looked off to the side, his control returning. “And then I will give you even more Hell about that.” Daro smirked from where he sat in the old retro rocking chair in the corner of my bedroom, his pale pink eyes glimmering. It seemed that he knew something that no one else could have possibly picked up on, but it was in his nature to sit and be silent – simply observing and letting matters play out to the eventual end. I sighed.

“Can’t I just stay home and cook my own turkey while we finish our project from tonight? Maybe fuck a few times and forget the rest of the world exists?” Byleth wouldn’t budge.

“As enticing as that sounds, no. You are going.”

Daro finally broke his silence. “Perhaps it would be best to let him decide, Byleth. He knows his anxiety better than any other. We may be demons but we cannot truly feel what any human may be feeling at any given time.”

“FALLEN. ANGEL. I am a Fallen Angel!” Byleth’s ethereal blood pressure rose again to the boiling point. A tiger-like growl from deep within his chest reverberated throughout the room. Daro tried in vain to neutralize the situation.

“You are upset. Please, try to calm yourself.”

“Of course I’m upset!” Byleth roared. “I wouldn’t just choose any human to be worthy of my presence, let alone my friendship. I chose him because he is strong. He has proven himself to be resilient at the worst of times. I refuse to accept any less!”

“Why do you care so much?” Tears threatened at the corner of my eyes. I was exhausted and no amount of further fighting was going to solve anything. “Why do you care about me?”

“I…!” He paused, his finger raised in a threatening gesture before he withdrew, words escaping him. This seemed to irritate him worse than anything as a loss of words wasn’t something he often experienced. He huffed angrily instead of continuing. Daro chuckled, amused at his Fallen King.

“Do you like our dear Shane more than you let on?”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Byleth became defensive, the words falling from his lips like pure venom.

“It’s okay, Daro,” I lamented. “I understand the limitations that the Fallen and demons have when it comes to human emotions. While you may care for me in a way that wasn’t natural to you at first, which I am grateful for every day, Byleth is a King of Hell. He could never care that much for me.”

“Are you deaf, you fucking imbecile?” Byleth punched the wall behind him. “What do you call this, then? My bitching you out for the last few minutes wasn’t enough for you to see it?!” That tiger-like growl permeated every word as it rose from deep in his chest, that demonic growl of warning that promised danger to anyone who dared entice it.

The moment his fist hit the wall my heart was in my throat. The growl brought my fear to the surface, my pulse rising as I’d realized just how angry I’d made this Fallen King. I had been careless and selfish, and I’d lost sight due to the familiarity of who I was truly dealing with. Byleth didn’t have to remain – he didn’t even have to entertain me for as long as he had. I was being thankless and pitiful while he got himself so worked up with anger, no doubt trying his best to contain what he truly wanted to do. The fact that he’d held so much back for me should have been a sign of what he truly felt despite what he tried so hard to avoid. The tears spilled over. I was, for the first time since I’d met him, truly afraid. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad or speak for you.” I stumbled over my words trying to fix whatever damage I had done, and in turn, ended up sputtering out the very thing I had been afraid to admit to him. “I love you, Byleth. Don’t go – don’t hate me.”

He sobered instantly and raised a questioning eyebrow, his fist falling to his side once more where it had been like a vice grip against the wall. Every muscle seemed to relax at once as he spoke. “You what?”

“I don’t want you to leave me, please.” I felt Lestan rubbing my back then, his silence due in part to not wanting to escalate what had already been tumultuous.

“No, no the other thing.” Byleth made an impatient gesture with his hand in the air. My tears stopped and I watched him, realizing that he hadn’t reacted as horribly as I’d feared.

“Um, I’m sorry? Don’t hate me?” He huffed in response.

One more thing you’re missing.”

“I…” I searched for the words again, my nerves all on display as I tried to force myself to say them once more. When they finally left me, they were shaky and uncertain. No one should ever admit such a thing to a being of Hell and I knew that, but I also knew that Byleth was different. “I said I love you.”

“You… love me?” He was caught off guard, his body language uncertain as to what emotion to display. Surely, he also knew how stupid it was for a human to give such words power to a being like him.

“Yes, like I do the others.” The words came braver now, my confidence coming back to me as I watched Byleth’s unease. “Like I do Lestan, Daro, and everyone else you haven’t met yet. I love you, Byleth.” He shifted where he stood and leaned back against the wall, his eyes shifting to find something to look at other than me.

“That’s a new one.” He huffed a laugh. “You’re not supposed to love an entity from Hell.”

“But I do,” I continued. “I love you and I love Daro.” He looked at me fully then, focusing on my tired brown eyes with his dark crimson.

“You really mean that?” The warning that accompanied those words did not escape me. Somewhere inside I knew I had just made a decision I couldn’t take back, but I knew then at such a low point in my life, I didn’t care. I knew where I belonged and who I belonged with.

“Yes.” As soon as the simple word left my lips, he crossed the room and climbed over me, pinning me down with a kiss that had more meaning behind it than any other he’d given me before. This wasn’t a moment of pure lust or objectification of the act itself for pleasure – it was with the intent that there would be many more like it and that everything had shifted. Nothing would be the same again, and both Lestan and Daro knew that very well as all tension finally left the room.

As soon as I was able to breathe again, Byleth smiled down at me, ghosting his words over my lips. “Love is the highest form of flattery, sugar.”

***

Ever since that night, Byleth hasn’t left my side. With Lestan and Daro along with him, they have all been a constant presence in my life, any of the others popping in at random times to let me know they’re there as well. Tetsu, the elf, seems to come around more often as he always had, but in the end, I’ve definitely learned one important thing that I always seem to forget.

I’m never truly alone. I have an amazing support system right here that is just as important regardless of anyone else’s ability to see or sense them. I see them, I hear them, and I know they are there. It’s the purest form of love that not many people experience with each other, but it’s a connection that I’ve had in one way or another since I’d first met Lestan when I was twelve years old. It’s something special, and I truly think they are all a gift that was given to me to help me walk this path of life that seems to be more than bumpy at the best of times.

©2018 Shane Blackheart