Content Warning

Greetings and Salutations.
Because my stories have bite, they can contain content that isn't suitable for work or children. Not a lot of truly graphic sex or violence, but there are some questionable or heated posts. F-bombs are not uncommon, so watch your footing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Very Short Story digest - Month of January

"Why are you so happy?"
"Not gonna tell."
"Why not?"
"Because things are finally coming through, and I don't want to jinx anything by mentioning it."
"If it makes you feel better, I'll leave it at that."  

They'd trained Their livestock well. The little humans always shopped for a bargain, even if that meant having to buy the same thing the following year. They'd made them forgot that quality would last, making the cost a mere investment.  

They called her imperious as if she should be insulted. Trina simply laughed, knowing she could order their deaths at any time. It was fun to mingle with the mortals, though, to let them think she was one of them.   

"Oh, it's like I've been moonstruck by the most wonderful stormwall of a sunshower."
"Dude, are you all right?"
"Starshine love and lollipop dreams."
"You are so weird when you're drunk."
"Can you hold my hair for a sec?"   

 "I'm scared."
"I know."
"It's a routine procedure, but..."
"I know. No one likes going under the knife."
"I'll be there when you wake up. Don't worry."

"Hey, sweetie, love, cuddlebunny, darling."
"It's too late for any of that."
"But I want to tell you how sorry I am. I didn't mean it."
"If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it."
"No forgiveness?"
"No forgiveness."  

Shana loathed the usurper with every fiber of her being. Vile, wicked, foul, the other women would do whatever it took to become chief concubine.
Shana had fought too hard to take this position herself. No one else could have it.

"What are you doing?"
"I mean it. What are you doing?"
"Stop it."
"Bitch! I'm gonna tickle you so bad!"  

Almost everyone thought it was just a catchy song, and they played the video every day, or sang the song while driving, or made memes about it.
Xaraloth knew it was part of the ritual, and waited for it to complete.   

"You look amazing! What's you're secret?"
"Come again?"
"It's almost a Zen way of seeing things, of understanding that stress over that which that cannot be changed is deadly."
"Sigh. I let that shit go."

"I'm jealous that you have a sister."
"Because it would be fun to go shopping with her, and just do girly things, and not have yucky boys around me."
"You know the grass isn't greener here, right?"

"You poor thing." They offer pity at sight of my scars. "Such a rough life you've had." They see pain. I see lessons, experiences, risks, life, fun, danger, survival, toughness, willingness. These are my badges, earned by a life well lived.  

"The kitten in on the laundry."
"Yeah. She took over, so I had to stop."
"Maybe if you hadn't left it in a pile on the bed, she wouldn't do this."
"But she's like a little Edmund Hillary."
"Well, I'm gonna be the yeti kicking her off."  

Kraxus has cursed me at the culmination of our fight. "Someday," the demon had whispered as I dispelled his heart. What a stupid way to spend the last of his power.
It took years to understand. But now, with my goals forever keeping just out of my reach, I do.  

Jeanne spent years combing magic with gardening. After many years, she had musical plants. Blue bells that tinkled. Petunias that hummed.
She planted the daisies outside the hated neighbors, let them yip all night long.

"Hurk hurk hurk."
"What is that?"
"Oh. Sorry. We'd been dating for a while, and I thought I could be myself around you."
"And that was..."
"I was laughing."
"Guess I can be myself too. HEE HAW HEE HAW!"  

Apotheosis was achieved, and Stacey finally saw everything. The micro within the macro. The macro within the micro. The world as a game board, the continents as the tiles. Finally, she could play.   

The lich watches the hunters disinter the wrong crypt. He tries not to laugh, but they are simply too funny. So sure of their path, of their actions. He raises the corpses from the other graves, allows them to feed.   

"If you had one wish, what would it be?"
"Tell me yours first."
"World peace, of course."
"Hmmm. Guess my wish for a pack of trained velociraptors is a little out of line."

"Help me out of my bra. My shoulders aren't working."
"BOOM! Megaboob has arrived."
"Would you prefer I went back to 'release the krakens!'"
"I'm too tired to have an opinion."
"Maybe I'll sing hallelujahs next time."
"Whatever tops your taco."  

I knew the words for all my conditions, Basorexia. Depaysement. Anxiety. Ringxiety. Han. Mother tried to tell me it was all cyberchondria, but I've found an article online that I can show her. It explains how all of this is real.  

"It's right there."
"I'm pointing at it."
"Can't see anything." "
Try to focus. You'll see."
"What am I looking for again?"
"A silver hair! I'm old."
"Sweetie, that's just life's gilt. You're lucky to have earned it."  

The Powers The Be were scanning for latent powers, seeking those who might manifest under enough pressure. Rebelle smirked, knowing there was a difference between dormant and hiding.  

"If you don't behave yourself, I'm putting you in solitaire confinement."
"You mean solitary."
"No. I mean you will be stuck in a room with others, all quietly playing cards by yourselves."
"And behaving starts right now."  

Gail calls to the raging storm. Her elemental sister. The reflection of her very soul. "Wipe clean this wretched wasteland."
Her husband sighs. "Or you could just ask me to rake up the leaves."
"It's more fun this way."  

"Look at this!"
"It's another Jack Skelington."
"Yeah! He's so cute."
"We're trying to move out. Is this an expense you really think we needed to have?"
"If you don't like him, you can just say so."

"Trust me," Logan said to his apprentice. "Learning isn't always positive. Ignorance really is bliss. "But wizards like us cannot let a fact go once we have it." He sighed. "And there have been many things I wish I could unlearn."   

Queen Titania sighed, watching as another human became lost in her maze. They all sought the elusive unicorn, wanting its magic, never realizing she locked the creature away because they killed the impure. The modern world didn't need a genocide.  

"You've been a challenge."
"I know."
"You saw right through my attempts to seduce you."
"Yes, I did."
"And it was the oddest things that drew you to me."
"That's because I like the real you, not that facade you use on the others."   

They called her goth for wearing black and talking to crows. They didn't know she was just telling her cousins how fun being human could be.   

"We should get out and travel."
"See new places, meet different people."
"I've always wondered what Applebees tastes like in Ohio."

Rex realizes that the daily routine has begun to stultify his entire life, not just his creative side.
The garish woman outside the coffee shop smiles, offers him a pamphlet. "Break the Cycle."
He walked into the shop and started a fire with a grin.  

Anna watches through the windows. Happy couples, happy children, happy people. She's been through so much, passed through so many years by her wits. Alone. On her own two feet.
Maybe trying merely to survive by oneself wasn't the point.  

Desiree had another drink. The conversation finally got to her, and she was tipsy enough to be honest. "My whole family has the power of Obfuscate. We just disappear if not looked at. Which makes it really hard to become a famous author."  

Jareth had the gift of second sight, but also the soul of a trickster. He spread lies and tales like a charlatan, but mixed his truths within. Little gems, hidden and waiting for those who could understand.

"Why is there a cup of nightcrawlers in your fridge?"
"It's for the garter snake."
"Snakes don't eat worms."
"Garters do."
"Prove it."
"Some things are true whether you see it or not."
"It's not hungry, is it?"

Carla learned from the cats how to hide her intentions. Never display emotions. Move with purpose. Stalk, hunt, fight. Keep at a distance and never make connections.
She misunderstood all their lessons.  

"How's it?"
"please use little voice"
"What's wrong with you?"
"Sucks to be you. I never get those."
"you’ll get a beating if you don’t shush"

James talked with his son while they fished. "Being brave doesn't always mean acting. Sometimes it takes more strength to allow someone to make their own mistakes instead of stop them."
"Like with me and everything I'm going through?"

"Ugh. Work is going to be so boring."
"I have to learn to train by sitting in on the new hire training."
"Sounds easy."
"I'd rather suck start a shotgun."

"Beauty helps the spirit flourish," Hansen said. Few listened, continuing their daily life. "The identical houses, and identical cars, and identical clothes all erode the spirit, until you don't care to be yourself anymore."

"What's with the old tower in the back?"
"It's part of my family history."
"That doesn't tell me much."
"It keeps the giant from waking up."
"You can just say you're too sentimental to demolish it."
"You can just say you want your bones to be bread."  

He carved the runes deep into the frame, forming the protection spell. When his house burnt to the ground, only the door remained.    
She's struggling to move the washing machine when he finds her. "Why didn't you ask me to help?"
"You were busy. I didn't want to disturb you."
He kisses her forehead, holds her close. "So sweet and silly. You're never a bother."   

I tell him no, he can't have any of my sandwich.
He stares and pleads, and I finally acquiesce.
I'm a sucker for a pretty face.  

We stood at the edge of the plateau, surveying our kingdom of sand and burning rock and scraggly plants. Others shunned what we found beautiful. They would never storm our castle once we had it built.  

"So this is where you grew up?"
"Yeah. It's a great little town. Hasn't changed much since I left."
"So that giant green phallus is one of the changes?"
"No, that's always been here. It's kind of the local landmark."
"I understand so much about you now."  

"One must know when to resist, and when to relax," Wise Man said.
"OK, Boomer," Young Man retorted.
Wise Man laughed, not rising to the bait. "You'll understand some day."  

Others see the languor given by his bite to be a trap, a way to lower your defenses so death may find you. I find only release from the weight of my body, allowing me the freedom to work great magics.  

"Behold! I have found the ancient tome full of sacred text!"
"Sigh. What now?"
"Arcane messages on sheets of yellow. What could this have meant to previous generations."
"It's the Yellow Pages."
"Yeh Low Pay Jez?"
"This is why I don't take you thrifting."  

Max waited for them to come back. He'd painted the wall again today, meaning they'd be back to spread their worthless graffiti on it. If they'd at least draw something pretty, he wouldn't have to feed them to the mastiffs.  

"What's that?"
"Oh, THIS?"
"Why are waving it at me?"
"To ENTICE you, of course. LOOK at the nummy."
"It's a Ding Dong. It's not nummy."

The school counselor had politely chided Missy. "You really need to be more active. Don't you want to be as lively as all your classmates?"
What could be more lively than caring for a living breathing garden?

"Just what ARE you doing?"
"Didn't mean to wake you."
"Why did you? And why are you looming over me?"
"You got real quiet, so I thought I'd check if you were still breathing."
"Lose a lot of people in their sleep?"
"They're usually awake."

"Get me the gasoline. There are trespassers in the no-go zone again."
"Isn't that a tad extreme?"
"Have you ever tried to control grass? It can all die!"
"Just use the edger."
"Go out and buy my own flamethrower? Thanks hon."  

"Do you think I'll make a good mom?"
I think of all the times she's flown into a blind panic over nothing, or how she can't stand to touch gross things, or how much she loves to keep a random schedule. "Guess we won't know until you try."  

"An inquisitive little thing, aren't you?" The dark fae stared at me down his long nose, hand resting casually on his sword.
"Yeah, well, I've always wanted to know what hid in the shadows." I try not to act scared.
He smiles and invites me closer.

Tara considered herself to be more Chaotic than Lawful, and let her garden mostly grow wild, as Nature intended. The barest weeding, pruning, and all the rest of the rigamarole that "professional" horticulturists said "needed" to be done for a beautiful garden.

"Thanks for the wonderful interview. Last question: What's your favorite part of writing?"
"The FBI assumes all my weird searches are just for research and they never come to investigate."

"You have the most beautiful eyes."
"Thank you. I'm so happy you noticed."
"Which method do you prefer for removing them without causing damage?"   

The Marquise loved the fog at night. The diffused moonlight. The somber hushing of all sounds. The ability for her hounds to sneak up on the unwary.    

The cleaning and the cleansing wear her out, take everything she has. So much spiritual ick had spread while she was gone. Nearly hollow by the end, she lights the final candle, feels the difference immediately. Worth the exhaustion.   

"This is tasty."
"Thought you didn't like hash, though."
"I mean, we were so poor that a chub of hamburger and a sack of potatoes had to last all week, and it was about the only thing 11-year-old me could cook, so it's taken a lot of years to recover."  

"Believe me when I say that obstinate has its place," the training boulder whispered.
She pushed and shoved again, and it finally moved. "Oh yeah? Then how did I defeat you?"
"You call it determination, but a rose by any other name...."

"So, what did you think of the show?"
"I totally dig it. When does Season 2 come out?"
"Dunno, haven't checked the internet. I try to let myself be surprised."
"Looking...oh shit, this summer!"

Dragon shifted, unhappy with the delay. "Can't we go yet?"
Elf sighed. "I don't feel like being struck by lightning, so maybe we keep waiting for the storm to pass?"
Dragon grumbled and told her elemental friends they could go.   

"Set the Universe on Fire" plays and she's immediately reminded of her dream. Not death and destruction, but cleansing and invigorating. Clearing the debris and calcification, bringing a fresh start and new growth. She knows what to do.   

She found the jasmine vines worked almost as well for hiding the bodies as her mulch pile.  

"We're getting rid of anything that doesn't spark joy in you, and try to get your room back in order. Spark or no on this?"
"And this?"
"What about this?"
"I forgot I even had that. What else is back there?"  

"Why DO you write these steamy things?"
"You mean romance novels?"
"Yeah. They're kinda dirty, and you're so dark."
"Even us darklings need a little release. We just prefer some fangs and claws, so I'm helping everyone else."  

Joe both loves and hates when Cat turns the kitchen into her personal bakery. She won't let anyone in, and gets crabby if they get in her way while working. But the delightful treats that finally come forth are worth the wait.  

"He's handing out those little postcards again."
"To whom?"
"Some old lady he cornered in the book section."
"Is he trying to advertise or annoy?"
"I'm not sure he knows the difference."
"And yet, he's supposedly a writer, with a good vocabulary."  

Kary surprised herself every day by maintaining her sanity. Knowing they all dwelt in the Matrix with no escape should have eaten her up.
But she enjoyed seeing all the little glitches. Like some kind of inside joke for her and the Architect.   

Elf stands before the warband, swords sheathed. "My less articulate half wants to burn everything you have and take the gem. I have convinced her to give you a chance to hand it over peaceably."
Dragon growls behind him, not needing words to make a point.  

"I'm rigged more for scrap than scram."
"Ya know, that instinct thing the brainy types talk about, how everyone is always ready to either scrap or scram."
"I think you mean fight or flight."
"Do ya need me to smack you in the mouth?"  
"Oh my, it's the sexy undressing time."
"It's the same thing it is every night."
"But only you can undulate  that."
"With my stiff joints and achy back?"
"MY stiff joints, precious. Always mine."  

The True Fae vlogs despite the dark black eye: You humans and your "out of sight, out of mind" concept. Don't send a wrong-doer to prison. Just punish them swiftly and deal with the consequences. No more sweeping them under the rug.  

She rests her head on his shoulder, on the verge of tears. "It's agony. I feel my head getting dumb and my words get all muddled and I can't get things straight."
He holds her, wishing he could take away this disease.  

"You don't really pay attention to your audience, do you?"
“How do you mean?"
"You spout whatever comes to mind, no matter how dark or weird or contrary, even if the people listening don't  it."
"They adapt to me, not me to them. Be true to yourself!"  

The world had awakened me with a touch of sonder, opening my soul to the connectedness of us all. Yet here I stand in the wreckage of the mall, kenopsia crawling up my spine, accusing me of causing this all. I'd only wanted some quiet.   

"So, you still up for Netflix and chill?"
"This Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!"
"Yeah, that's when I said I'd come by."
"You'll pay for the whole seat, but you'll only need the EDGE!"
"...I think I need to wash my hair that night."  

"Yes, I can grant a wish. But it comes with a caveat."
"Of course it does." I sigh. "Can you tell me what it is before I decide?"
"Yeah. You have to grant someone else's wish."
"I don't have that kind of power!"
"But everyone does."  

She'd heard someone point out that the brain had named itself, and she simply couldn't agree. The consciousness is not the same as the grey matter organ.  

The naiad met with the sylph. Their plan to wash away the cities was finally coming together. The populace had been taught to ignore the biomes of the world, couldn't tell a riparian from a taiga to save their life...which was the only thing that would have.  

"You don't say much, do you?"
"Not really."
"So why do you come to parties like this?"
"I like to hear everyone else babble about things. It's inspiring."
"You a writer or something?"
"Something, for sure."  

The red dragon landed on his estate, flames dripping from her maw. "Listen here, you pathetic excuse for a billionaire: without a little noblesse oblige, your subjects will one day subjugate you." She breaks down the walls to allow said subjects in.   

Becca attempted to teach from the point of Balance, but few were ready to listen. "Stop thinking things are wholly bad or wholly good. Yearning simply is a state of mind; it can drive you mad from inaction or drive you to new goals."

"Where's the rest of the laundry?"
"Still in the washer?"
"No, it made it into the dryer."
"So where did it go from there?"
"Not sure."
"I mean, it's  Schrodinger's laundry. I haven't looked, might not be there. Not willing to risk it."  

"I had a habit of throwing rocks at glass when I was a kid," I tell my victim. She squirms, voice too hoarse for further screaming. "Used to think they were the eyes of the house.
"Now that I've grown, I much prefer breaking the soul's windows."   

"I am a nerd of all trades, a geek of none."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"That I dabble in many fandoms, but I don't dive all in on any one."
"So, you're scared of commitment?"
"Did you just call me a slut?"

"How DO you make such tasty gravy?"
"I've worked on it for years. A pinch of this, a dash of that. But...there is a secret ingredient."
"Tell me."
"Hog's balls."
"Just kidding. It's strychnine."  

"Gid outta here, ya beatnik!"
"Are you talking to me?"
"And take your jazz cigarettes wit' ya!"
"This is beginning to get a little weird."
"Shave that wispy anarchist beard and get a real job."
"I can't even with today."

No one ever understand why her name was so truly apt. They thought she'd been named Rosy because of her sweet blushing cheeks, but really it was for the dark thorns around her heart.

"You need more rhythm in your writing."
"I never said I was poetic."
"You could try."
"You could try not trying to change me.'  

Krale looms over Annabelle. "Poor little Chosen One. You seem to have forgotten that when you make yourself numb to hate, you cut off everything else." He twisted the knife and basked in her screams.   

*sup Tweep
~Can I help you with something?
*u rt my pined tweet?
~No, pretty sure I've never seen your screen name before.
*no would you
~Is that a question?
~I only retweet those who have a grasp on written communication.
*fuq u  
~Stay classy.  

Mother had taught him not to vaporize people with his mind simply because they annoyed him. Joe needed to use it only for the right reasons.
He watched the group pointing and laughing, not doing the right thing, and wondered if they were why he had this power.  

I straighten my spine and tighten my grip on the athame. Cleansing requires power and sacrifice, and I will need lots if I'm to expunge this taint clinging to my soul.
At any moment, I will make the first slice, let the first drops flow.
Very soon.  

"Corporate cut hours," Kim explains. "Said sales weren't high enough, so we can't afford you on Saturday."
Cher's brow raised. "So based on a Tuesday night, they think there won't be demand for help on Saturday?"
"That's corporations for ya!"  

Jesse had collected all the extra bits from everything he'd ever built. Screws for a bookcase, washers from the desk, bolts out of the bed. When he had enough of them, the whole thing came together and opened the portal.  

"Oh, the kitten has started her hunt."
"What's she after this time?"
"I think it's a dust bunny."
"What a mighty killer she is, with such bravery."
"Stop teasing. It keeps her entertained."
"Her, or you?"

He said he'd never break his promise to her. She uses a little poison just to be sure.  

"It was a miracle that we made it out of there alive."
"Only my superior lane-finding skills let us escape."
"Seriously, whose idea was it to shop on the first of the month?"
"Only someone not thinking about the rush to spend food stamps before they're gone."  

Lily, daughter of Mors, watched the people prepare for their election. She wondered if they were infected with madness, blinded as they were to the truths, as enraged as they became in the lies they chose to believe. Perhaps she should send them a plague.  

"Get thee behind me, Satan."
"And a good morning to you too."
"Don't think you can trick me with your sweet words anymore. I know your true face."
"And what brings this on?"
"You hang your toilet roll overhand!"  
The pain of living in their world is just shy of unbearable. Enough to make me constantly long for my own home, but not so much that I lose my sanity. The effort to not lash out is tremendous, but they don't deserve death.

"What are you doing to the bacon?"
"Scorch it."
"With a heat lamp?"
"...maybe if I get it closer..."
"Lemme know when you get it figured out.  

Sorceress enjoys her garden, free from the silly humans in the valley below. They'd spent all of last year raiding her apples and raspberries. This year, they can't get past the troll she hired.   

Cecil chooses wildly different parents with each incarnation. He's a curious soul, and knows the only way to learn is through experience. Far more than walking a mile in someone's shoes, he chose to live an entire life in their skin.  

"This room..."
"You like?"
"Rather than wallpaper, I glued my posters right to it. No more unsightly tacks."
"Yeah, it was the tacks that were unsightly."
"I said, this was a waste of paper!"  

This is a Could Seed. Only you decide whether it is positive or negative, a burden or a blessing, encouragement or caution.
Would you let it germinate?

"Oh, Bewitched is on."
"Samantha really was the best housewife."
"Anyone could be that good if they cheated too."
"I know, right? Every time I start chores I just wiggle my nose, but the spells always fizzle."
"I meant that she had a set designer."  

Radu drives the final nail into the coffin. The villagers will never get it open from the outside, and he can just wait out the turmoil.   

"Isn't this just a fun little scene?"
"Oh, yea, I love being lousy with cats."
"And the dog."
"He's pretty sure he's a cat too."
"Explains why he's sprawled across your legs."
"Do me a favor?"
"I haven't moved in hours; can you get me a drink?"  

Mother passed wisdom to Daughter, as had been passed through their family for generations. A forgotten truth that kept them secure, that really should never have been lost to the masses. "They can only belittle you if you allow their words to have power."  

She uncoils from her throne of child skulls and licks one of her flaming swords.
The young warrior stands strong. "I have come to slay you."
"Youngling, I'm only the adversary to keep foolhardy men like you turned outward instead of against your own."  

"How come you never come out with us?"
"Because unless I wanna cosplay some NPC, there really isn't anyone I can go as."
"Being tall and stout isn't a bad thing anymore. And, we could kinda use that."
"For who?"
"Cara Dune!"
"You'll always be my Mando."  

Sarah just needed a few simple things: A gas range, windows with a southern exposure, and her full set of thief's tools.

"Wait, she's crushing on HIM now?"
"Yeah. Because of some photo where she says he had the most thrilling psycho stare she'd ever seen."
"I swear, her taste in men isn't eclectic, it's haphazard."  

Braxyl's job involved marketing unnecessary products. He became an expert at writing the most intriguing description, though it almost never matched what was actually sold, yet people fell for every word. His bosses gave him three raises and a promotion.  

"Return with proper provisions when you return from your trip ashore."
"Excuse me."
"The hold lies bare, and my scurvy prevents more than rest until I have recovered."
"If you want me to bring snacks to you on the couch, why not just ask?"

Sally stares at Belladonna's garden. "So many flowers."
Belladonna chuckles. "Nyctophilia does not preclude life. Many things grow in the dark and the shadows."
"Show me more," comes Sally's breathless request.  

Cleo came to Earth to study their advanced civilizations. Her report was succinct and damning. "They're barbaric, processing their food into unrecognizable masses, and they insist on wearing shoes."  

The need to rise up spread through them, almost contagious as it passed from person to person. When the rebellion finally came, everyone realized it had been more like embers slowly igniting an inferno.  

Marco heard the advice to be secure in one's insecurity. Let others know that you have flaws, that you're not always strong. He took it too far, now uses them in place of a personality.  

The Powers The Be have worked long and hard to make the Populace feel small and plain. I can amaze them with the simplest of facts, and I can't wait to work real magic in front of them.  

"This is by far my favourite colour."
"I never realised that about you."
"First time I've allowed my armour down."
"Maybe do so more I often. It's enticing."  

"Is it just me, but is today taking forever?"
"It's just because this movie is boring."
"And so LONG! Doesn't it ever end?"
"We could just turn it off."
"But then I'll never know if he gets what's coming to him."
"Damned if you do, or however that goes."  

"What are you doing?"
"Writing in her tip."
"That's not an amount."
"No, it's advice on maybe bringing my zucchini fries without me having to ask three effing times."
"Add in something about maybe taking a weekend off the cocaine."  

"Just what did you think was going to happen?" Vampire asks Slayer.
Slayer struggles, bound and weakened, unable to break free. He spits at Vampire's feet in answer.
Vampire slow blinks, approaching. "You thought this through about as well as the others."  

"Oh, man, I LOVE this new air fryer crock pot combo."
"You've made some pretty good stuff with it."
"I was worried the meat would toughen, but it got it all juicy and tender and soft."
"Just how I like my women."
"I'll try a guy tomorrow night."   

Elf helps her nurse the broken wing. "Is this the worst pain you've ever experienced?"
Dragon chortles. "Not by far."
"Try a toothache. I'd rather break my wings a dozen times."