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once upon a time there was a house with thirty-four bottles of bleach lined up underneath the bathroom sink.

tiles white and walls washed over, the windows were blanked with newspaper rubbish-- a white jugged mosaic crossed with blue plastic labels dominating the walls of the tiny living room that a reclused boy and his cadaver of a sister called home.

he stocked them stoic, set them in line-- the forty-seven bottles under the kitchen sink proving three short for the week.

"one more hour today," he'd always say. "and then you'll be better tomorrow."

laid up and tied down by her very longlived specimenship, she counted.  the bottles and the hours, the cramps and cringes, every day accounting different numbers to the attributes of her illness.  she kept track, indelible by way of needle points and chemical burns, so that every single day, she could tell him.

it was the closest thing to truth she could still feel.

"thank you," she would always say, between her shivers. "thank you for taking care of me."

and if she could smile without crying, she smiled just for him.

with every drop of winter down the porcelain peel of her avian spine, he marveled more-- so far gone with the love of a sister that he couldn't see that


than his meagre means could breach.

whitewashed hands circling the breadth of a twenty inch waist, he dried her delicately and loved her to sleep, laid her out to rest before the next day's holistic treatment would tear at the seams of his grievous faith for the fifth week counting.

"tell me you're almost there," he begged from her, desperate in all his unforsaken folly. "you'll get better, won't you?"

a slaughterhouse brand in all force of conjecture.

closer and quicker than the chemical burns across her synapses, she told him what would make him happy, because she couldn't bear to see him cry.

"i'll get better. i promise."

her oath leaked from her eyes, brushing against his lips in timid contamination.

"even though it hurts, sometimes. i'll get better for you."

& he believed
& he believed
& he believed

above all
in her


of every truth and every retraction, every frayed and displaced reaction

he believed in her truth & his folly
and turned a blind eye to all faults otherwise.

because she wouldn't lie
and she wouldn't leave

so confident he was in the power of the good in this unrequited farce.

her sincerity sunk to the bottom of the bathtub, making drainage rings and leaving its soaked debris.  her processes were irreversible, complete in their putrefaction.

she was his pestilence, culture, & vaccine. stripped paint and promises and everything but well.

and when her voice swarmed out of her in infested creaks, she only told him of the hope her view from the window gave her, and nothing deeper than the skin he sought to purge.

to love and to live and to breathe and to follow
every day and every hour that he breathed her in,
sugarsoak sweet in her chloroform water,

he forgot that the water was clouded when he brought her out to dry.

"you seem thinner today," he murmured in doubt-- a hole in his blindness finding his fist closed around her thigh. "i wonder why."

her body was becoming an empty statement.  in his cautious hands she stilled herself, dizzy and evaporating.  

the sharp air,
her fading heartbeat,
even his hands
in their quiet inspections,
muffled by the echoes
of their movements,
reverberating through the tiles -

it hurt.

and she said with every intention to blind him against his misplaced convictions,

"don't worry.
you're imagining things.
i'll be well again."

in the deadened night of their toiled rest, he held her, tighter than ever, to the rigid hollow of his half starved chest.

their count was down to twenty-two total-- diminishing numbers in the full bottle lining of their bathroom cabinets. twenty-two to go before

she'd be well again
she'd be his again

and then all would be well and the newspaper blackout would fade and burn away.

burn away.

he woke up with her body caked to his but he smiled anyways, wiping away the sputum from her perfect porcelain cheek.

"today we'll go a little longer," he said as he kissed her. "i can't wait-- i need you."

& he loved
& he loved
& he loved

above all else

every her
and every part
he could see

which was
that wasn't
could be.

when he took her to her bath, she dripped like water,
and he thought it was a funny trick that his mind played
on the selfsame sacrifice he pitied to call his own.

but oh, she was his own,
his very own,
his only.

when her crooked bonescape collided with the porcelain, every vertebrae, his every promise and her every consent, her every wish, their only hope, the exact sensation that coursed through her sterile blood, encompassed by her reassurance and her

that it was the best for both of them.

she couldn't bear to look at her seeping skin, and so she stared into the ceiling's cracks.

"i'll be strong."

she promised and promised and promised.

"i want to be clean for you again. yours again. please-- help me."

when he licked away her tears, swallowed them whole, he spat up his heart, his fearless sense, for all the burning glazed across the surface of his tongue.

it stained the water red and slipslow faded away, forgotten means for all the pain left asunder.

"i'll help you," he promised and promised and promised, breaching the rim of the tub she'd learned to breathe in. he promised, "i'm here-- i'm yours and i'm helping."

she was cold when he kissed her and she was acid on his tongue, but still he loved her and loved her and loved her

for all the wrongs he'd never truly done.

for all the rights she could never overlook, she moved her lips, her jaw, her self, fingers working their rot across his shoulders, and cried because she was so, so happy that she couldn't stop pretending.

for that distempered spin out on the ruins of her body, she was there and she was his and he was ripping her apart.

"...and it makes me feel so much better."

to feel

to be a woman and not an experiment.

to be a lover, a brother, and every self sufficient step between the shambles.

a selfless cry and a tapered drawl, fingers clutched around a dwindling twenty inch waist that registered silver soft in negated fault,

so happy to breathe chemicals underwater.

love would salvage the remains. surely, it would--

for the sake of
a lover, a sister, and every unadulterated fissure between their skins.

finally, there was nothing there.

between them.

between her fingers.

between her and walking free. standing tall.

her stirring was mechanical, her eyes creedless.

and when she looked into the mirror, she saw herself and him behind her.  expectant.

"are you better now?" he asked, high on the fumes and her hypermasked scent, the tepid intoxicant feeling of her fingers in his hair. he leaned over the edge of the basin to watch her move, watch her walk, watch her pride take root. "i've washed the sickness out, haven't i? you'll live now... for me... won't you?"

she was crumbling alive, statuesque and perfect.

"i will."

she promised
and promised
and lied,

one last time

"i'll live because i love you."

one last time,

she told the truth,
and then her strings were cut,

tangled in her hair across the bathroom floor.
written by me and ~gloombox. i wrote for the guy, starke, and she wrote for the girl, sylph.

the text for PUREWATER. this story's really sad. ]:

this seems to be one of the popular ones for the fanart contest. i'm really excited to see what people come up with.
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rainonsunday Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012
I read this 5 years ago and I still haven't forgotten about this. This is still just amazing.
DezzyRaelynn Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011
this made me cry harded than I have in a very long time
S-I-O-N-E Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2011
This is absolutely amazing.
dreamsketcher4ever Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2010
what a heartbreaking strory.

i like it though the way you wrote it.
secret-vampire Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2009
Incredible. So ultimately moving..
thebeautifulali Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2009
Amazingly written. I absolutely adore the entire piece. The idea behind it is simply wonderful. Your art is extremely beautiful as well. You are very talented.
DragonLady159 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2008  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I absolutly love this, i think its so powerful and its so sad! I actually have been wanting to add this to my favourites for ages, as i first heard it read aloud by a friend of mine, who has also favourited it, which is how i have found it now by looking through her favourites! Muchly in awe at this..
Revenir Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2008

I-I think I'm going to cry.....


dammit! be a man, revenir! Be a man!

I don't quite get the main story, but the language is so beautiful. Such emotion! It's nothing short of Amazing.
mcgabby1994 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
when i finished this the first time,i felt it was about love and devotion.i read it again and got the same thing,but also,was she scared maybe?that even though his atempts to save her werent working,she was as afraid to tell him as she was afraid to die?
retromortis Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
yes, that's the idea. :3
mcgabby1994 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
well,yay!: D
Hectic-Heathen Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2008
I got so immersed in the setting while reading this; I actually felt a little queasy, like I was actually overcome by strong fumes. I feel a little self-conscious commenting on this because I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to poetry, but I just had to compliment you on your way with words! :)
kecen Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2008
I can't sumise what it's truly about, only what they're feeling, how they're manipulating each other. Allusions to anorexia?
retromortis Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
not anorexia, no, and that's a first for me. *laughs* if you want to construe it that way, it's possible-- it's about dependency, more than anything, i think.
loveandhateisme Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2008  Student
This story was nothing short of astounding. It was truly touching and beautiful. I loved it. Very well done. I also loved the cover you did for this. truly talented.
bearerofnaraithas Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2008
Well, wow. My speechlessness is showing.

I'm amazed at how the method you use to form your flow and such is so consistent with your art. That was so profoundly sad....
aestheticirony Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Completely amazing. :O
nohmaskofoblivion Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
I liked this a lot. Unfortunately I suck at reading anything poetic soooo... she died right?
gunshotlolita Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2007
sorry to have not called yet, I am a shy one. I must say, you have such a way with words.
twilight-woods Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2007
Unbelievable. The imagery is fantastic and the
rainberry Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2007
it's so beautiful :'D
obsidiansea Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2007
Still trying to decide if I like this or your visual stuff better... your imagery is amazing. I love how you break lines and then repeat them.
skimSKGASM Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2007
Sylph's intelligence in this matter is to live for nothing else?

Is that why she keeps lying though she knows?

. . . So well written, you inspire me in my concept of " our chemicals shouldn't be mixing"
though that's entirely different. : [
Amethystana Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2007
I can't start to tell you how magnificent I think this poem is. When I first saw how long it was I was like "Why isn't this in prose?" But after I read it, it makes more sense.

The words all seem chosen so carefully and thought of their place. I do think you overdid a few parts a bit, still it really struck me in the heart. The story is sad but with such beauty.

I've now read it once and I'll probably read it a couple of dozen more times.
ERES13 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2007   Traditional Artist
I'm almost done with it now...
Its kinda strange but Sylph's face and hair is the
only part I have left even though it was the
first thing i saw when I began to draw it...
any who...I'l try to post it in the next day or two!
I hope you like it!!
afiJadePuget Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2007
Beautiful, as always.

I don't know why, but this is my favorite line;
"sugarsoak sweet in her chloroform water,"

It just sounds so.....I don't know how to describe it.
CloverWay Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2007
Amazing piece of work. Great writing.
ink-and-saliva Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
you broke my heart T_T
but that was so beautiful.
KinaMorii Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

It's so terribly beautiful.
It makes me cry inside.
complexxx Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007
i probably shouldn't be admitting this, but incest is kinda touching in its own way.

the way you write is with such strange imagery that it just floors me, wondering how you come up with most of it, especially spin it so well.
and it reminds me of a schizophrenic a little bit.
and i was gonna do something for the contest with this story, but after reading it, i think all my confidence dropped through the floor. D:
i bet you'll get wonderful submissions for this one.
retromortis Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
i wouldn't be so worried about it-- you know, if there's some heart in it, it's more than worth it.
complexxx Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2007
you'll probably get as much response as house of leaves, i bet.
Kagitsune Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Professional Interface Designer
One of the saddest stories I've ever read. When I saw the synopsis in your news article, I couldn't get it out of my head. O_O
japanesque Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Student General Artist

At least she loves him o_0

Anyway, your writing (and yes I acknowledge gloombox's help-- I could actually somehow tell her lines were written by someone else) makes me feel a relentless weight in the pit of my stomach-- very powerful! I'm excited to see the story put to your illustrations.
katymoon05 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
*standing ovation!* Okay i have a site for you that i think you'll enjoy. they will love you there! check it out!!
henre Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007
Your style is amazing... And I liked "sugarsoak". :)

BlueFairy-07 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Wow.. so sad, but touching. :heart:
ERES13 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007   Traditional Artist
I really love this..
Its the first thing I've actually read one deviantart
....and it was hella-long but
I loved every second.

I will prolly attempt to illustrate this...then
fail and tuck it away in the dark recesses of my
rainbowsaur Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Student General Artist
Beautiful. :heart:

I'm defianately going to so something for this one too. :3 Normally I pass by contests, but I really love this.
hortaux Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007
That's true love, right there. Real, true, love.

TheSpotlight Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007
this is so sad...but at the same time really very beautiful.
coldestofflames Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
So sad, but so beautiful. I love it.

One thing, though. Where you do the <s></s> html thing, it's <strike></strike> on deviantART.
retromortis Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
thanks. I was looking at it like... "... ]:" because i didn't want to putz around trying to fix it. xDD *fixes it now*
coldestofflames Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
Yes, I had the same problem. It took me a few tries.
BlackHeartBeloved Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
it may be sad, but was written AMAZINGLY!!!!!! you ROCK!!!!! X3
moofestgirl Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
on the verge of tears
i was
very sad
but very good
Piyo-chan Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007
i just love your style.. this is so sad...
Akita-san Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007   Interface Designer
I could feel the burns. Beautifully done.
fishlemons Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007
oh gods :( that was so sad. so beautiful. i love it so much
Nimil-Art Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
the words here are gorgeous, i'm sure the images will magnify it even more.
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