A few years ago, I got into writing weird literature. At the same time, I discovered a word I had never encountered before: "Limerence."
Limerence occurs when a person has a strong attraction or obsession toward another coupled with a strong desire for reciprocation that never materializes. A limerent is an individual caught up in this state.
Limerence is a state of mind that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. I experienced my first state of limerence in second grade with my school teacher Ms. Reidelheuper. She was a twenty-something beauty of magnificent proportions, as I recall, whose only interest in me was to instruct me on the proper use of Play-Doh and to ensure I didn't yank my wanker out at inopportune moments. I was just another student in her eyes.
At any rate, I got the bright idea to tell a story where a limerent relationship was formalized, something similar to a wedding ceremony except, well, it's not a marriage. It's a limerence. And what would it look like for a limerent and his non-reciprocating acquaintance to formalize that relationship? I pondered.
In that fit of absurd monstrosity, I sat down and wrote "Limerents in the Bog." I don't claim it's a good story nor do I claim that it does the idea of limerence any justice. I simply claim I wrote it. The below few hundred words are the opening of this fantabulous tale of Lohir, who is forced out of the comfortable bog of which he is all too familiar to search for his lost limerent Thymbril.
Limerents in the Bog
Lohir dragged his tendrils across his father's bogyard, drawing in a medley of onyx stones. His wiry green hands coiled around the pile of stones as he shaped them into a pyramid with his rubberflesh fingers. Satisfied, he turned and tossed his tendrils out again as far as they could go and pulled in more stones. The tendrils grew from his palms and extended beyond his fingertips, twenty feet at their longest.
Down the slope, the bogyard was covered with more onyx stones. Below the machete trees, the stones refracted light from the gamma lamps, sending out a prismatic array of colors in every direction. Attracted by the display, Lohir walked down the slope to the trees dragging his tendrils behind.
Webbed feet ensured he could walk on the muddy bog without sinking. His bogboots were perfectly contoured to match the shape of his feet and served as adequate support for his ankles. Quotidian bogpants tightly clung to his rubberflesh skin and were tucked into his bogboots comfortably just below the knees. His bogshirt hung loosely over his neck covering his torso, exposing his ribs and the webbing under his arm pits.
The shade down the slope was a welcome relief. At the top of the slope the heat from the sun bore down on Lohir's rubberflesh with a rash temperament.
Around the perimeter of the bogyard, a clay dike separated it from the forest beyond. Gamma lamps, twelve in all, were planted along the dike around the bogyard. A lean-to stood in the center.
Lohir strolled toward the machete trees and stopped in the midst of them. They stood in a triangular formation with the tallest one in the middle. He unfurled his tendrils down the slope and raked in a pile of onyx stones. The stones clung to his tendrils when he tried to release them. Frustrated, he banged his tendrils on the muddy bogyard to knock the onyx stones loose. A few of the stones stuck to his muddy tendrils, so he stomped on them until the stones shook loose.
The variety of hues of the quarterseason reflected light from the gamma lamps. A kaleidoscope of colors reminded Lohir of his limerent's beautiful hair.
Thymbril was her name. Three quarterdays before, she had called on the bogphone to say good-bye. When Lohir asked where she was going, she evaded the question. She simply said, "This is forever-bye."
He didn't understand. Why had she gone so quickly, and without notice? Was it by force or choice? Where was she now? He looked back toward the lean-to. Its ramshackle frame looked as if it might fall at any moment, like his limerence had. He felt like burying himself in the bogyard and covering his body with onyx stones. He raked another pile of stones from higher up the slope, noting how much easier they were to pull down rather than up from the clay dike.
He heard a twig break overhead. He looked up and saw a small man dancing on a branch.
"Hey," he gasped. "Who are you?"
The man didn't answer. Instead, he scurried along the branch to the tree closest to the lean-to and hid behind the trunk.
That's odd, thought Lohir, and went back to his raking.
A few quarterminutes later he heard another twig. He paused, letting his tendrils rest limply on the bogyard, onyx stones still clinging to them. When another twig broke, he dropped the stones and turned, catching sight of the little man sitting on the branch laughing. The man tumbled backwards and crooked his knees on the branch like a trapeze artist.
"Watch it!" yelled Lohir.
The man spun around the branch twice. On the first spin, his brown derby fell off his little head and he caught it in his hands. As his head pointed toward the sky on the second trip around the branch, the little man straightened his legs and landed with the heels of his cowboy boots snagged firmly on the branch. He flipped his hat in the air and landed it on his head with a screech so loud it hurt Lohir's ears.
Lohir threw his arms in the air. His tendrils splayed out in all directions, he huffed up the slope toward the lean-to stretching his legs as far as they would go. When he reached the top, he turned and glared at the midget man.
"What do you want with me?" he shouted.
The man stood silently. He flicked his fingers on his cheeks and crossed his legs in an odd stance that made Lohir think the man was mocking him.
Lohir saw a machete sticking up out of the bogyard. It had fallen from the tree above it. He grabbed the machete and fingered its hilt. The acrobat man stood unmoving, unflinching, mockingly. Before he could stop himself, Lohir drew back his arm and the machete went flying through the air toward the midget.
The midget didn't move. The blade slapped the little man flatly on the side of the head. He toppled backwards and fell to the ground, his hat landing on the bogyard with a gentle fluff. The acrobat pounded into the mud with a solid thump on his rear. The machete landed point down between his legs. Without missing a beat, he jumped into the air, scooped up his hat, and placed it on his head as he sprinted to the bottom of the slope. When he reached the clay dike, he stopped, turned toward Lohir, and pointed his finger at the bog boy.
Lohir's heart thumped. The little man motioned with his finger, suggesting Lohir should follow him.
Lohir hesitated, pulling his hand across his chin, his moisturized tendrils sliming his face with mud and bogginess. He second-guessed himself and took a step forward.
"Why am I doing this?"
He sleeked down the slope and yanked the machete out of the mud on his way to meet the little man near the clay dike.
Driven by curiosity, Lohir followed the midget man over the clay dike. He slid between two of the gamma lamps burning dimmer than when he had started his daily chore. As he dangled his feet from the clay dike, he looked back toward the lean-to in his father's bogyard and said what he thought might be his last prayer. He dropped off the dike wondering when and if he would ever return.
The moment Lohir's feet hit the ground he felt a hard solid surface beneath them. It was quite different from the soft mud of his father's bogyard. When he turned around, the midget man had moved on through the first group of trees in the forest. Lohir could barely see the little man as he hurried to catch up.
He had never been beyond the clay dike. He wasn't sure anyone had. His father had warned him never to go into the forest. He had never seen anyone enter or leave it. He was certain he had never heard of anyone being in the forest. He was just as certain he didn't want to go there now, but he found himself wondering if perhaps this was where Thymbril had gone.
Once he'd entered the forest, Lohir looked back to catch a final glimpse of his father's bogyard and the lean-to, but he could see nothing but trees. Had he gone that far into the forest? Or was the forest so dark and thick that he could see nothing beyond a few feet in either direction? He wasn't sure, but just as he turned toward the direction he thought he should be going he heard a voice.
The voice echoed through the trees and rang in Lohir's ears. Lohir couldn't see who was shouting at him, but he thought it must be the midget. The voice was gruff and low, much lower than Lohir's father's voice. From the same direction he saw a small flickering light. He walked toward the light.
"Follow me," the midget said gruffly when his shadow became visible.
Lohir followed, reluctantly. There were no gamma lamps, and no sun, though it was still a time of the quarterday when the sun should have been visible. Lohir could see no light source other than a small flickering up ahead. When Lohir reached it, he realized the light was a firenail in the midget man's tiny hand. The flickering firenail reflected the man's face in such a way that it made him look older, paler, and more gruesome.
"Under no circumstances," the man said through the flickering umbras all around them, "should you separate from me. Nothing on two legs has ever come out of Deadeye Forest alive without a guide. I am your guide."
"What are you?" asked Lohir. "A leprechaun, or something?"
"I am Falladarm." After a pause, the midget added, "A forest gnome."
Falladarm handed Lohir the firenail.
"You'll need this. Got your machete?"
"Good. Lose it and you'll lose your life. It is your salvation. Take care of it and it will serve you well"
Lohir pondered those words as Falladarm lit another firenail for himself.
"Why are you talking now? You weren't talking in the bogyard."
"My voice doesn't carry well except in the forest. Something about these trees." Falladarm pointed at the branches. "Follow me." He took a few steps deeper into the forest, turned back toward Lohir, and whispered. "Remember, stay with me at all costs."
Lohir swallowed. His throat was dry, and he still didn't know where he was or where he was going. He had never heard of Deadeye Forest though he and his father had lived near it his entire life. He saw Falladarm's firenail glide through the forest ahead of him. He pushed his feet forward, trying to keep up. When he got up the nerve, he shoutwhispered to Falladarm, "Where are we going, anyway?"
Through the dark, Falladarm answered. "To Kismet."
At that, the forest fell deathly silent.
Lohir wondered where this Kismet place was and how long it would take to get there. Is that where Thymbril had gone?, he wondered.
The forest grew thicker. The trees were closing in. The only movement visible to Lohir was the dancing light he held in his hand and Falladarm's shadow, which Lohir could see clearly against the backdrop of trees ahead. Every now and then Falladarm turned just enough so Lohir caught a glimpse of the midget acrobat's face illuminated by his firenail. As they walked along, Lohir's mind drifted. He knew Thymbril would never love him.
She had said as much on many occasions. But he loved her and couldn't deny it. He hoped he'd have the opportunity again to see her and formalize their limerence. As things were looking, it wasn't likely.
There was no way to tell how far he and Falladarm had traveled. The forest was perpetually dark and Lohir's legs grew more exhausted by the quarterminute. He was sweating beyond profuse, and his mouth was parched.
The forest became so thick he had to squeeze between the trees. They had left the bogyard far behind and the forest floor had become harder—so hard it felt like cement. The roots of the trees seemed to move beneath his feet. He looked to see if he could watch their undulations, but his firenail wasn't strong enough. Then he felt something wrap around his ankle. He continued to walk, hoping it would release when he stepped out of range. Instead, it snapped him off his feet. In an instant, he was dangling upside down in the air.
Lohir yelped. His firenail hit the ground and went out. Reflexes took over and he beat his machete against whatever it was that had tangled itself around his ankle, chopping at it in hopes of cutting himself loose. That something tightened its grip. The more Lohir chopped, the tighter the thin grasp of something he couldn't see cut through his bogboot into rubberflesh.
As fast as his firenail could flicker, Falladarm was there, nose to nose with Lohir.
"Don't move," the midget man ordered. "Stay perfectly still."
Lohir kept chopping, growing more and more exhausted with each swing of his machete.
"Stop it! Stop!" The acrobat shouted.
Finally, out of energy, Lohir stopped beating. Slowly, the grip around his ankle released and he fell to the ground. His head hit the forest floor with a thunderous crack.
He kneaded the rubberflesh where a bruise was forming and brushed himself free of forest dust.
"What the demons was that?"
Falladarm lit another firenail and handed it to Lohir.
"That," he said, "was a tigervine. They look for movement and seize upon it. They're harmless really. All they do is hold you until you stop thrashing. Then they drop you like a hotstone."
"Why didn't it grab you?" Lohir's frustration sounded like insolence and he was sure it partly was. "You went first."
"Oh, they don't attack forest guides. They like unsuspecting neophytes."
"Terrific," Lohir sighed. "I always hated being the new kid on the bog."
"Well, let's continue before you attract the Fuzzies."
Get Limerents for Pennies on the Dollar
You can, of course, order a copy of "Limerents in the Bog" from Amazon in both print and digital editions. The print book is only $9.99, and the Kindle version is 99 cents. It won't break the bank.
However, if you send me 1 STEEM, a value of only $0.392077 as of this writing (see the below chart from CoinMarketCap, then I'll send you a PDF copy of the novella. That's less than 40% of the normal price of this prized piece of literature. Be sure, when you order, that you include your email address in the Note section of your transfer.
If you prefer not to make your email address public, you can find me in the Speculative Fiction Writers of Steemit Discord community, or send me a private message on Discord at blockurator#7537.
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