Our Lives in These Empty Spaces Aside
Our Lives in These Empty Spaces Aside is a story written by shukyou and illustrated by Tamago. It ran in Issue 52 at http://s2b2.livejournal.com/294307.html, and is mirrored at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/our-lives-in-these-empty-spaces-aside/.
Bitter adolescent rivals reconnect as adults.
My name is Rainer, and I'm an alcoholic.
This story is available for download/purchase on Smashwords.
There's a fandom origin to this, but it's some moldy old fandom -- as in, well over a decade old. Nonetheless, Tsukizubon Saruko gets much credit for the ideas behind Rainer and Lydia, as well as for nudging me in the direction of SSBB-ing up this old chunk of fanon we talked about a lot but never got around to writing up.
I fought this story tooth and claw every step of the way, sometimes for uncomfortably autobiographical reasons, and sometimes just because, ugh, two people talking and talking and talking, and then another two people talking, and ... well, if you've read the story, you know basically nothing happens in it. That's what you get, apparently, when your two main characters are deeply emotionally troubled dudes, and one is a taciturn bastard even on the best of days. Bless Takiguchi Aiko for helping to convince me not to give up on it -- even if it is, as she put it, a lot of arranging matchsticks.
The title comes from what is one of my favorite songs ever, Sort of a Protest Song by the Matthew Good Band (off one of my favorite albums ever, The Audio of Being). You can listen to it here and read the full lyrics here. It's not so much that the line I picked for the title is the most relevant bit, but it's kind of the most excerptable bit. "I'm tired of walking around with my hand on my gun" is the more accurate sentiment, but it makes for a crappy title. You see my problem. But you should listen to that song during Rainer's sections, because the song itself is so clearly Rainer's voice.
And speaking of Rainer's voice: I know the format of the story is a little weird. I wanted there to be some better way to indicate Rainer's sections than just putting them in italics, but given the technical confines of LJ and Wordpress, there really wasn't. I thought about deleting them, too, but no, there are some important chunks of Rainer's story that only make sense if he's the one telling it, and they're things more confessional than conversational. But I couldn't take the story out of Galen's POV, because you'd miss Lydia, and I love Lydia! More than that, even, Galen and Lydia's relationship is an integral part of the story. Behold, a happy little tale about how making your old rival your new boyfriend can make you a better husband.
I wanted to leave the end pretty ambiguous, so you can mentally write in whatever resolution makes you happiest. The only thing I didn't want to leave ambiguous is that Rainer and Lydia do reconcile. But go on and assume whatever poly/plural/open relationship you think the four of them should come to, because as far as this story goes, the specifics aren't as important as the fact that whatever they choose, they're all talking about it.
Finally, the art is just spectacular. Tamago really knocked this one out of the park. When we first started talking about illustrations, she told me that she was more of an animator, and asked if that would be all right? Given the final product, I think I have been proven correct in saying yes.
Early character sketches by Tamago
- fairyninjas.wordpress.com: "In three parts. A dark tale of a guy, or his childhood bully, and their reunion. Fairly well-written and intense, and hot, but a little…I don’t know. Worth reading."
- http://frogs-of-war.livejournal.com/149126.html: "One point of view is in italics, but what he's saying (difficult things) meshes well with the harder to read font. Although the ending is solid, just who (how many of them) end up as lovers is left to the reader. "