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Lauren ran her hand over the cold window frame. She leaned towards the glass, meeting her reflection. The moon beamed in the velvet night like a lantern of comfort for the earth. The resting city lay before her, breathing to the dim whir of the midnight train.
She gently unlocked the window and pushed it out into the solemn night. Her hair unravelled and tousled in her eyes as she peered to the moon again. Her soul could not help but to yearn for its peace and stillness. She blinked and hoped that it would see her brimming eyes struggling to see in the chill loneliness.
Her heart craved comfort. Her art desired companionship. Somewhere, the moonlight was gazing down on another dreamer. He and Lauren were linked by the moon, by art. Oh moonlight, cease your wise silence and pull me closer to him, she thought.
She pulled away from the window and slumped into her creaking chair. She stared at the floor, tapped the ground with her ivy tail and searched the darkness for some means of comfort. The green curled imprint on her cheek glowed and illuminated the corner of the room with a subtle light.
Laurens's devastation seeped from her heart onto her apartment walls. Trails of ghostly ink flourished from her chest and onto the wallpaper. The poetic symbols and phrases swirled randomly, arranging themselves in such a manner that would not only be pleasing to the eye, but also to the soul. Each trail of purple and cyan ink perfected its last words and sunk back into Lauren's heart.
Drained, she looked up at the array of lettering dribbled across her apartment. Why does this always happen? she thought as she got up to wipe her self-expression off the walls. Why can't I just yell out my emotions like everyone else?
As she sullenly lifted a wet cloth from her sink, she read her fresco poetry one more time.
"Devastation is in the eye of the beholder," one lyric read. Lauren threw the cloth back into the sink angrily. She hated how her words would always stop her from destroying her art.
They say a writer's voice is found in the art they make. For Lauren, this was all too true. She bit her lip worryingly as her eyes glazed over the sign language leaflet that lay next to the sink. Yes, art was her voice, but it was her only voice. The only voice that could explain why she had an ivy tail. The only voice that could stop her from falling into a bottomless hole of self-deprivation and self-doubt. The only voice that helped her barely survive in this world. Her speech had been permanently extinguished, yet her words still remained. Her struggle to survive had been both emotional and physical.
Now Lauren looked inside herself for a breakthrough for that struggle, a way of coping with this world without feeling deeply worthless. She knew her curse would last forever, but she just needed to find a way to turn that unfortunate spell into a gift.
She reread her lonely echoes splattered on the walls. It was obvious that her soul yearned for a companion. But how would she find him in this labyrinth of a world?
Lauren wandered over to her windowsill one more time. The moonlight that glistened in her eyes reached the ink in her heart. The moon told her that she was not alone.
Lauren awoke the next morning to the foul smell of aged ink seeping from last night's poetry. She groaned and threw the mangled covers off her bed. Green eyes drained and weary, she stumbled out her apartment door with dripping wet hair and a shaking cup of coffee.
After she cascaded down the spiral stairs, Lauren exited the building and flinched in the sharp sunlight. When all energy and emotion had been drained from her, even a walk to the bagel shop seemed like a gruelling journey.
As soon as she entered the store, however, her alertness switched on. Lauren quickly tucked her ivy tail into her khakis and made her way to the bagel counter. As she waited in line, she listened to the conversation of the customers in front of her.
"Blueberry or cinnamon?" The boy asked.
"Not sure. I like blueberry, but you like cinnamon," the girl replied.
"Blueberry or cinnamon?"
Lauren rolled her eyes in irritation. A thin orange trail of ink flowed from her chest and delicately wrote on the wall: "There are tougher decisions in life than deciding which freaking bagel to buy." The ink was cautious and the letters it formed were small so that only the over-observant could see it. She smirked at her sentence and then instantly jumped as a green line of paint joined onto her words.
"I know how you feel," it wrote. "These people can't decide when there's not enough on their minds."
Lauren blushed and searched around the room. "Where are you?" She wrote.
"Meet me by the exit," the green paint responded.
She smiled uncontrollably as she paid for her bagel. She nodded to the cashier in thanks and rushed to the door.
Lauren first saw his stinging nettle tail before he quickly tucked it into his coat. She knew he meant trouble, but she just couldn't pull herself away from his black hair grazing his azure eyes. She smiled and waved as she wrote her name on the tile floor. The green ink swirled down from his chest and interlaced "Aaron" with hers. The colours swirled and the two gazed up at each other, tails flickering inside their clothing.
Aaron motioned his head to the door and led her outside with his hand on her back. They took three steps and the alarm blared throughout the store. Aaron was holding a bottle of orange juice and the cashier's religious tree statue that had been lying on the counter. He panicked and ran out the door, dragging Lauren with him.
"Hey! Hey, you! You in the leather jacket! Get back here!" the cashier yelled from the door. "I'm calling the cops on ya!"
"Really, for a bottle of orange juice?" a customer dryly remarked.
"No, for my grandfather's statue they took as well. My only religious ornament. I can't let it be stolen," the cashier grimly replied as he dialled the police's number.
Aaron flashed a glance at Lauren who was loudly puffing behind him. She furrowed her eyebrows and motioned at him to stop. Eyes rolling, he turned around and gave her a reassuring glance. His smile dropped when he met the eyes of two approaching police guards. Lauren silently argued with Aaron until he was pulled back by one of the officers. She looked at him in desperation until she too was cuffed and thrown into the nearby car. Aaron struggled to assure the guards that Lauren was not the criminal, but they could not hear his silent cries. He held onto the tree statue tightly and held her cuffed hand even tighter as the car rumbled forward.
Twenty minutes later, the metal door slammed and a cloudy light flickered on. The officer's face emerged out of the darkness in time with his hollow footsteps.
"So!" He leaned over the table, peering into the frightened eyes of Lauren and Aaron.
"Why'd you do it? You do know that stealing is a crime, right?"
The two slowly nodded their heads.
"I'm not just focusing on the orange juice--I'm focusing on that statue. You had no right to rob people of their religious ornaments, especially if they're antique."
They stared at the floor.
"So why'd you do it?"
There was a long pause. Lauren failed to motion something in sign language as her hands were cuffed.
"Have you been planning this?" Did you have something against that shopkeeper? Fess up."
"Not talkers, huh? Well, you can either give me the ornament and confess as to why you stole, or you can sit there and let Steve do the talking."
Another pause. There was a murmur and a prison guard entered the room. He coldly looked at the two captives.
"You do know it's against federal law not to answer an officer when instructed," he boomed.
Lauren opened her mouth to speak but merely echoed a breath.
"Answer now and we'll let you go. Keep your mouth shut and you'll get time not only for stealing, but for failure to comply with federal regulations," Steve warned.
Aaron bit his lip in embarrassment for dragging Lauren into this. She flashed an empty glance at him.
"Time it is then. Come on, you two."
As they stood up, the police officer snatched the ornament from Aaron's hand. He didn't even try to fight back; his guilt completely drained him of energy.
"Room 401, Block A. Meal times are every 6 hours. You'll be given more details in the morning," Steve mumbled as he undid Lauren and Aaron's cuffs and locked them in the damp cell. Lauren folded her arms and rushed to the corner. Aaron ran his fingers down the chill metal bars.
"Why'd you drag me here?" she wrote in blue ink on the dead concrete.
"I couldn't control myself," he solemnly replied, dribbling over her ink in green.
"That's your excuse?"
"Yeah. Look, I'm really sorry."
"I--I just love the rush."
"You have problems."
Aaron gently slumped against the wall in the corner and watched their conversation creep up the wall. "I don't know what to say to that."
"You do, trust me."
"How would you know?"
"I have problems of my own."
"Oh, like what?" He edged closer to her.
"You wouldn't understand." She stared at the wall.
"Yeah, I would, actually." His stinging nettle tail gently unravelled from under his coat. Her ivy tail uncontrollably tumbled out of her jeans. There was a satisfying pause. The two tails tangled and Aaron smiled.
Lauren sighed and rested her head delicately on his shoulder. Their words had swirled up the wall and now framed the barred window. They watched the moonlight gaze down on two dreamers.
Aaron awoke to the heavy clunking of metal bars sounding from the hallway. He gently leaned sleeping Lauren down on the floor and looked up at the array of words strewn on the wall from last night. Somehow the letters seemed raw and meaningful, despite their abstract appearance. He froze when he heard the creaking of footsteps edge towards the cell.
"Yes, yes, I saw these two last night. Their words on the wall really amazed me. Such heart," uttered a perky voice.
"Are you sure this is a legit cause? You don't have any relation to these people?" Steve boomed.
"Not one bit," the other responded. "Let me introduce myself to them."
He drew his hand from his khaki trench coat pocket and knocked on the cell bars. Aaron stood up and tightened his grip on Lauren's tail, pulling her up with him. She awoke annoyed, but dropped all emotion when she saw a curly-haired man emerge from the darkness.
"My name is Xavier Dhilversten, but call me Mr. D. I work at the New Museum of Modern Art down off Central Avenue. I'm doing a project involving criminal art and society's effects on prisoners. Would you two work for me in favour of me bailing you out?" he asked.
They looked at each other in awe. Lauren's mind raced with thoughts that dribbled on Aaron's palm.
"I want to get out, but I don't want to be used as a tool," she wrote.
"But then we'll finally have purpose," he responded.
"I know...but it's going to feel forced."
"It'll be fine." Aaron turned to Mr. D and nodded.
The idea of making art for a living initially intimidated Lauren, and she thought about it the whole time she and Aaron's papers were being processed. She was lost in a daze, but finally broke from that deliriousness when Aaron grabbed her hand as they exited the prison. He looked at her with excitement. Lauren met his eyes and realized that this was her calling from the moon: someone with a thirst for adventure.
It was a balmy night and Lauren remained fixed to the view from her windowsill. She ran her fingers over the crusted ink that had been frustratingly sprayed on the walls a few weeks before. Her fingertips were joined by Aaron's and she leaned into his chest. She wrapped her ivy tail around him and thought to the moonlight, "I have found my place."