Pain Study

The doctors look at you and ask you that dread question.

They asked it before. You answered it before. It never gets easier.

They look at you, while you try to find the right words, and the idea that you sit down and write stuff with any kind of eloquence but can’t tell this story to save your life leaves you flapping your hands in despair.

It’s not hard, surely?

Tell your story. Explain your pain. Do so in as few words as possible but in a way that has you taken seriously as a patient.

Right.

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The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March: Welcome

Tes Alden, collector of words, rescuer of books and counter of objects, knows ze isn’t like everyone else. This wouldn’t be such a problem if everybody else didn’t struggle with it. Hir mother prays a run-down school in the middle of nowhere may be the best place to stow hir brand of peculiarity, and Tes has nowhere better to go.

Darius Liviu lost a limb and his lover in the hell of Mul Dura. He spent the last three months as a guest of the Greensward, crafting a jointed hand from elf-sung wood and trying to ignore the mutterings of the ghost that haunts him. Now, he returns to the College to take up the second-most dangerous job open to a magician: teaching.

Tes just might be a magician in the making, if ze can survive adventures in alliterative magic and hir own lethal curiosity. Darius, though, keeps a secret that makes the usual problems of overgrown rhubarb, basilisk hordes, verbose eldritch objects, shrieking purple monkeys and cauliflower explosions look like nothing at all.

The elves are coming, and nobody fears elves more than Kit March.

Black and white sketch image of a wooden-post sign behind grass. A small bird rests on the sign. The sign reads, "No assassins, no elves, no dictionaries. Please bring bacon."

Master Post | First: Welcome | Next: Introduction

Welcome: Tes Alden arrives at a school impaled by giant rhubarb, faces the bacon test and finds an ally in the College’s headmaster.

Chapter count: 7, 400 words

Content advisory: Tes’s allistic (non-autistic) mother repeatedly dismisses her adult offspring’s stims and movements and responses as childish behaviour. “Hands down” is this universe’s equivalent of the dreaded “quiet hands”. General autism-specific ableism. Shutdown/quasi-verbal moment. Use of the word “normal” to describe allistic people (on account of autistic narrator’s present lack of language).

Note the first: I want genre stories about autistic queer and trans (especially trans) adults. (Surprise, surprise, it’s hard to find this outside of fanfiction and internet-form writing.) While all my novels feature autistic trans protagonists with the benefit of hindsight, they need rewriting to make this purposeful, not accidental. So I’m writing this in order that something exists in the interim. It will be far from polished and it’ll suffer all the plot holes and editing failures of a serial work written on the fly, I’m sure, but it’ll exist. Right now, I believe representation to be more important than perfection. So I’m writing a horde of autistic, trans characters travelling different paths in adulthood, just to make my heart happy.

Note the second: The College, March and Darius, among other characters we later meet, are featured or referenced in my Crooked Words short stories ‘Certain Eldritch Artefacts’ and ‘Old-Fashioned’, set in the same universe, but I don’t think they’re required reading at this point.

Magic rests in the space between what you are and what you should be, if you’re willing to look at the should and dismiss it to the dark where it belongs.

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The Age of Mindfulness

Today I found a half-size water bottle. I bought it because my full-size water bottles (one green, one purple) are too heavy for me to carry in my satchel, because it was only a dollar fifty, and because it was green and purple. This bottle also just happened to have the coolest spin-up twist top, at which point I stood in front of the heater for a few moments just twisting the top open and closed, so I now own an item that is both useful for reasons unrelated to the attraction of the spinning top and a colourful stealth stim toy. Thank you, Sistema. If your stuff weren’t so ridiculously expensive most of the time, I’d buy more of it.

So I’m standing in front of the heater twisting this top in wild joy at the discovery that this water bottle top is an ideal out-of-the-house fidget nobody will take askance because I’m always that person with a water bottle … and also just because it’s really fun to see the purple nozzle pop up out of the green base.

My mistake lies in mentioning my enjoyment to the person in the lounge room with me.

“You’re just a big kid, aren’t you?”

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Know Me for a Little: The Heroic Protagonist

I’ve been trying to articulate, for a friend, the problem I’m finding in the depiction of a protagonist who does not appear, some sixty thousand words in, to be on the path of personal change.

This is a vague accusation to be levelling. I’d be heartbroken, though, if someone told me that, after sixty thousand words, my characters still read as the same people they were at the beginning of the story. (Heartbroken, and then looking at what I can do to fix that, but heartbroken nonetheless.) How can I not be, when I spent so much time with these fictional people, when they are different facets of me, when I breathed life into the words that comprise them?

I’ve heard, many times, that a good heroic protagonist doesn’t end the story the way they began it.

What does that even mean, though? Why is it important?

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Not Only the Label

Before I came back to writing and posting it here (for me a profoundly terrifying thing) I was considering whether or not I should just build a new website from scratch. I’ve got a lot more .org experience now, thanks to my work on the Twilight School website, and I would definitely have fun building my own self-hosted blog where the CMS allows me more control over certain elements and I’m not constrained by a client’s finances and design requirements.

There were two reasons why I was contemplating this.

One was that the Twilight School is sponsored by the Salesian College Sunbury, and I’m so far out of the closet I’ve lost the way back to Narnia. Maybe it would be safer to have an online identity that’s a teensy bit less, well, queer?

This is now irrelevant, since I’ve outed myself to the Twilight School community and the world hasn’t imploded. In point of fact, I experienced the entirely underwhelming reaction of … nothing. Man, when I’m steeling myself up to cop homophobia that might even extend to the loss of my job, it’s bewildering to then experience silence. Good, certainly, and I hope this is the beginning of interactions with people of Christian faith who are, if not accepting, at least considerate enough to keep their beliefs about my legitimacy as a human being to themselves, but bewildering.

(I’ve also been sitting on a post about how community does in fact comprise those of us who dare to be queer, and any school promoting their community outreach initiatives doesn’t get to pick and choose which parts of the community are welcome, which is something like being all dressed up with nowhere to go.)

The other was … well, most of the things I’m feeling and exploring right now aren’t all that queer, taken in a separatist/isolationist view that denies the importance and relevance of intersectionality. I’ve been asked to write a piece about turning points for a publication, and while my first thought was to write about the subtlety of turning points, I’m actually thinking that what I’m feeling right now is the turning point encapsulated in the word “autism”.

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Space for Accessibility

I went with a friend (B.R. Kyle) to a Magic the Gathering Eldritch Moon prerelease event at another store this weekend. I’ve played there, to the point where we’re quasi-regular casual players, but I’ve never prereleased there, and it was an interesting experience in ways unrelated to the anxiety of playing with new cards with new people.

It made me think, a lot, about the physical space of a store and what this means for my accessibility needs.

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Experience Atypical: Sound

I dread customers who inquire about our Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

I’d sooner deal with ignorant customers who look at my body and decide that I don’t know anything because girls don’t game. I’d sooner tell the teenage boys on the computers to stop using “gay” as a slur for the five millionth time. I’d sooner scrub the toilet, wipe down the keyboards and sweep the floor, even after the day a bunch of boys, for some reason, broke up, scattered, stuck, dropped and flushed jelly beans everywhere.

The customer will say something like “Can I get that Zygarde?”, sometimes with “please” inserted somewhere and sometimes without, and then look at me as though they’ve asked me to do the simplest thing in the world. I mean, it’s not hard, right? They name a card, I pull that card out, I register the transaction, they pay. Job done. People who have never worked retail make unfair, unrealistic and uneducated comments about unskilled labour, but the process is not assumed to be difficult, at least in theory and with an assumption of non-disability.

What I hear, though, is something closer to “Nn uh get th Aard?”

This is when I start to panic, because I don’t know the names of any Pokémon that aren’t Pikachu, Charizard and Mewtwo.

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