Pulling out another canvas and some paints, I begin my work. I start with three areas. A black segment, a white segment, and a grey segment, each covering an equal part of the canvas. I paint myself in the center in color, wearing one of those Long Beach academy t-shirts over a Luminescent military uniform and with streaks of black still dripping from my chest. One girl caught between three worlds.


I set that painting aside, and grab another canvas. I start in a similar way to the first one, but this time, half is black and half is white. Then I paint in Natya. She’s crouched down, arms wrapped around her head. She’s wearing a blazer and slacks. On the black side, her clothes are white. On the white side, black. Grey tears are splattered by her feet.


When I’m finished with that, I grab another canvas. Painting it white, grey, and black, like with mine, I paint Ed in the middle. I draw him wearing the same thing I am, the LBAotFA shirt over the uniform. But over his face is a menagerie of black question marks. I hope he’s okay, but part of me just… knows. Part of me just knows he isn’t.


Another canvas. This time, I break my pattern. I paint Kal and Kass, separated by a glass wall. A thriving Dark city is behind Kass, and a crumbling Republic one behind Kal. White tears are sliding down the Dark girl’s face, black ones on the Light’s.


(Quickly want to say, the 7th was the FIVE MONTH anniversary of this thread. Five months!)


Another canvas. Than another. And another. A General Vynr who doesn’t know that his daughter is alive. An Ernest who couldn’t figure out what happened to Ed. A Natya who doesn’t know the ramifications of her actions and a Kassandra who doesn’t care. A Kal who has lost her girlfriend to the darkness and a Mesa who may have lost Ed to it. I paint until my hands shake and I can’t feel anything anymore. I pant until my hands are caked in acrylics. I Just. Keep. Painting. Letting the world forget me, letting the tears fall. Not knowing how many seconds or minutes or hours it’s been since I entered this room and refusing to let myself know. Making my art the only reason I can remember anything out side of right here, right now.

And then I hear a knock at the door. It’s Ernest.
“Mesa, you okay in there? You hungry or tired or something? It’s been five hours, Mesa, five hours. I think it’s time you come out.”


(This is the longest CTS I’ve ever been in by a long shot. Nothing else even comes CLOSE. Also, in less than a month we will have been doing this for half of an entire year.)


(Yeah. It’s crazy)

He comes inside, and looks at what I’ve been doing. “Oh my god Mes.”


There are piles and piles of paintings. Twenty paintings, and that’s a low estimate. I can tell how shocked he is just by the tone of his voice. “Do you need therapy or something?” he asks, concerned.

“I need to find out whether Ed Terrell is dead or not. I can’t stand not knowing. I have to know.” I say, in a tone that I don’t even realize sounds dead and angry.


Taking me by surprise, Ernest pulls me into a hug, burying my head into his shoulder. “We’ll find out Mes. I promise you, we will.”


I cry into his shoulder, thinking, god, I want to find out, please, god… I just… I just want to find out…

“If you’re hungry, I made some food,” he says. “I’m sorry if it’s insensitive, but I have some movies. They might help you get your mind off him.”


I step back a bit, out of his arms. “Yeah… yeah that sounds nice.”


“Most of what we have is old Luminescent propoganda flicks and Darkling avant-garde crap, but I found some stuff that came here from Earth after the Breach. Apparently they’re called superhero movies? Oh, and there are these movies with lots of singing,” Ernest says.

“Read me the titles.” I said.

“uh… Dark Knight Rises, Black Panther, Avengers 2, those are the superhero ones, and there’s, like, West Side Story, Rent, La La Land… There are some others, too, like this one called Star Trek… I don’t really know.” Ernest says, trying to remember all the movies he has.


I can hardly retain my laughter, hearing him read off the movies from Earth. Sure, we both grew up there, but were hardly exposed to those kinds of things.


“Just read me the descriptions,” I said, laughing.

“Okay!” Ernest says, running into the living room.


I chase after him and see he has a stack of like ten movies on the floor.


He starts reading off the descriptions awkwardly, stumbling over words he doesn’t know or our parents didn’t tell us were things. It takes him five minutes to read the back of RENT because he keeps getting confused about what HIV is.


After nearly twenty minutes of insanely ridiculous description reading, we end up picking Black Panther. Ernest, thoroughly embarrassed from what just happened, asks me to get the movie started while he gets food.


After trying to figure out how to load up the movie and use the remote, I finally get to start watching it. The intro’s talking about this thing called “vibrantanium” or whatever when Ernest shows up in the living room with what looks like those little takeout Chinese food boxes.

“They have takeout in the Dark Realms?” I ask.

“No,” Ernest says, laughing. “Like I’d eat any Darkling crap. This is from the Underground’s cafeteria. Pretty bland, but I got this!” Ernest shakes a bottle of hot sauce clearly stolen from beyond one of the Breaches.


He sits down next to me, and hands me one of the boxes, drizzling some of the sauce on it.