The following retrospective builds on my May 2002 “What Stories Are For” and imagines “classic” Xena & Gabrielle discovering themselves in all manner of scrolls long after their life-altering experiences in Japa.  Inspired by and dedicated to XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS bards and such enduring fiction sites as the AUSXIP Bard’s Corner, Royal Academy of Bards, Tom’s Xena Page and Athenaeum.  -- IQ 





By IseQween

February 2023


“Stories are only as good as the person telling them.” – Gabrielle, in “The Sad One,” by Verrath


“I do still have imagination. All those words I savored once -- now bittersweet and insufficient. They will do, as they always have, in time. So much time, and nothing to stop me from spending it also honoring my own wish: To remember I was with her. That we closed this chapter of our lives together. That my hands, my voice were the ones to send her on her way. That she lives in the flames lighting my nights, in smoky wisps that take my breath at dawn, in the ever-smoldering embers I stoke to rekindle my days. Isn’t that, after all, what stories are for?”

Gabrielle lightly traced her lines on the delicate but miraculously resilient scroll, which somehow seemed as fresh as the dawning day.  She closed her eyes, inhaling the scents of the forest, listening to the sounds of its creatures, leaves whispering in the breeze, the crackling of their campfire.  Beginnings. Familiar, whether harbingers of good or bad, of endings or continuations.  Like nature itself, comforting in predictabilities, stunning and stirring with surprise.  


Feeling a warm pressure on her shoulder, she opened her eyes to a shadow hovering over the parchment.  Xena.  Gabrielle sighed in contentment at yet more reminders of how life changed and stayed the same. 


"Whatcha got there?  Not like you to be late for breakfast."


Gabrielle smiled up at her soulmate.  "Mm.  Just revisiting one of my old scrolls."


"Hmmm."  Xena gestured toward the piles surrounding the bard.  "Looks like a lot of hindsight on tap for today.  Planning on rewriting?"


"Uh, no, not really.  Most aren't mine.  Musings by other bards I've collected during our travels."


“Huh.  What about?”


Gabrielle patted the hand resting on her shoulder.  “Us.”


The corner of Xena’s mouth quirked.  “What else.”  She headed back to their fire.  “Never thought you’d have an appetite bigger for anything than food.  Well,” she threw over her shoulder, winking, “except for me, of course.”


“Uh huh.”  Gabrielle glanced thoughtfully at the scrolls.  “These feed my hunger in a lot of ways. For insights, ideas, precious memories.”  Exhaling a long breath, she rose to join Xena at the firepit.  “Aren’t you ever curious about the whys or what ifs?”


“Sure.”  Xena glowered at the spitted fish.  “Why’re these taking so blasted long?  What if I’d caught smaller ones instead?”




“What?  You know I’m more an ‘in the moment’ kinda gal.”  Xena stoked the fire.  “Especially with my past,” she muttered. “Thought you’d be happy I wasn’t stuck in old news.”


Gabrielle lowered the spit a bit closer to the flames.  “Don’t worry.  They won’t burn.  The size is perfect.”  She sprinkled the fish with herbs.  “In the meantime ….”  She left to sort through one of her scroll piles, then rejoined Xena.  “Here.  New news for while you’re waiting.”  At the warrior’s dour expression, she assured, “Won’t kill you.”


∞ ∞


Finished with her breakfast, the bard bemusedly observed her companion, who absentmindedly munched on the remainders of her fish, alternately chortling, growling, frowning, blushing and/or nodding her head during her reading assignment. Finally, the warrior looked up.




“Not bad.  Different.  Fanciful weapons. Fast metal vehicles and healing equipment.  Reminded me of my trip to the far distant future to fight Ares.” Xena snickered.  “Except, I don’t recall buckets of bodily fluids exchanged.”  She raised a brow.  “Thought you said these … musings … were about us.”


“That wasn’t?”


“We ain’t the only petite green-eyed blonde and tall blue-eyed brunette in herstory, ya know.”


“Those the only similarities you noticed?”


“Well, sure, one of ‘em moaned about doing bad stuff she wasn’t proud of.  The blonde in this instance.  She was impressive.  Strong, fast, able to leap hurdles in a single bound.  The brunette ….”  Xena waggled her hand.  “Eh, she was okay.  Patient, kind-hearted.  A bit dorky. Not exactly a WP prototype.”


“Huh.  Sound a little like those women you described from your journey to that other timeline -- Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas?”


Xena squinted in thought.  “I suppose ….” 


“Mind you, sometimes the brunette is shorter and the blonde imposingly statuesque.  Or, they don’t look much like us at all, in wildly different universes that might exist centuries from now.  But the yin-yang soulmate thing seems standard. Their battles together against something or other, discoveries about themselves.”


“Peachy.”   The warrior stretched and swiveled her torso. “Nice to learn we left footprints. Ready to move on?  Leave some more?”


“Are we in a rush?”




“Someplace we have to be right away?”


Xena’s brow creased.  “Since when do we always know?  We wake up, eat, move on.  Find out where we’re supposed to be when we get there.”  She sauntered toward Argo II, surreptitiously snatching a scroll from one of the bard’s piles on the way.


Gabrielle shook her head.  “Okay.”  She began breaking camp.  “We can continue this while we’re heading to wherever we’re supposed to be.”


“What ‘this?’” Xena asked, saddling the Palomino.


“Our discussion about stories.”


Xena sucked in her cheeks.  “Wake.  Eat.  Move on.  You telling stories could be on the list.  Us chatting about them usually isn’t.”  She felt a hand caressing her back, glanced behind to see an innocently irresistible eye bat.  “Not fair. You’re not supposed to cheat.”


“Sure I am, when I’m with you, where I’m supposed to be.  I charm.  You sneak.  You’d know that if you read the stories.”


∞ ∞ ∞


A sudden rainstorm dampened the day’s journey to wherever the companions were supposed to be.  They spent most of it seeking suitable shelter. 


“I’m sure you’ll find the perfect site.”


“I don’t know every nook and cranny, everywhere we go,” Xena huffed, as usual secretly pleased by the bard’s enduring confidence.  “I may have traveled over most of ….  Hey, wouldya look at that!  A cave.  Sufficiently protected. Big enough for Argo!”  Inside, they discovered a stream, hot springs and good ventilation for their fire. 


Gabrielle hummed as she sharpened weapons, seeing Xena otherwise occupied with a scroll.


“Why did I even bother?” the warrior muttered disgustedly.




Xena waved parchment in the bard’s direction.  “Rampaging, raping and mowing down innocents for the fun of it, betraying friends.  A soulless bitch mercilessly ruling the whole known world from one end to the other!  Pfft. The Destroyer of Nations was never that good.  Or bad in this case.”  Her head dropped.  “So much for your version of the Warrior Princess.”


“Oh.”  Gabrielle winced.  “You would grab one from my ‘save for last’ pile. The, uh, so-called Conqueror genre.”


“More like the ‘Xena’s Good Deeds Mean A Load of Crap’ genre, if you ask me.”


The bard scooted next to her deflated companion.  “They conjure an alternate reality, no Hercules to jump start your path to redemption.  Still, in most, I show up to somehow help you become better.”


“By crucifying you?  Breaking your legs?  Beating you? Enslaving you to perfect my skills as a sexual predator?  Yeah, that’d show my better side.”


Gabrielle grimaced.  “Our connection usually prevails. I become your advisor, beloved confidante or royal consort.  Maybe meet you on more equal terms when I’m already Amazon Queen.  We eventually do good together.”


The warrior was silent a long moment.  “They may exaggerate, but the truth’s the same.  Without Hercules or you or some other saving grace, I’d have continued being a very bad girl.”


“Xena, remember, we’re talking about a ‘what if’ scenario different than actuality.  Even when depicted at your worst, there’s recognition you started with a well-intentioned heart.”


“A heart I allowed to darken.  Regardless of the reason.”


“Does the Conqueror acknowledge that?  In what you just read?”


Xena considered this.  “She takes responsibility, if that’s what you mean.  Expresses regrets. Expects, accepts the bad consequences.”




“Apologizes?  Begs forgiveness?  Yeah, this time.  Pfft.  As if ‘I’m sorry’ counts for anything against the countless ‘kill ‘em alls.’”


“It does in most of the universes you’ll read about.  It appears ‘tortured’ souls interest audiences more than spotless ones.”  Gabrielle pursed her lips.  “If how I’m treated is any example.”


“Except your heart only darkened because of me.”


“Don’t give yourself too much credit,” Gabrielle chided, patting Xena’s arm.  “I had that spark, if not from rage.  Curiosity, openness, stubbornness, my desire to please and do good made me vulnerable to the bad.  Even to being the Conqueror.”




“Oh, yeah.  Not nearly as often as you, but almost as much blood and guts.  I usually warm up to you, though, treat you well enough, depending on the circumstances.”  Gabrielle peered up with hooded eyes. “Or, lead you around on a leash.  Make you do my bidding.”


“Really.”  Xena chewed her lip.  “In bed too?”


“Why else be the Conqueror?”


The two fell out laughing, hit the hot springs and explored a bit of the bard’s … storied … dark side.


∞ ∞ ∞


Once again on the road, the pair strolled side by side next to Argo.     


“Something else, those scrolls.  Different times, bodies, places, but always together, eh?” Xena bumped shoulders with her bard. 




“Great.  Another variation?”  The warrior scowled.  “One I probably won’t like.”


“Every now and then we’re not … together.”


“Perdicus?  Borias?  Marcus?”  Xena ducked her head, murmuring, “M’Lila? Lao Ma?”  She shuddered.  “Callisto?  Alti?”


“Um, not so much the actual …”  Gabrielle cut her eyes at Xena … “or possibly actual ... dalliances.”


“Made up people?”


“A few.  Some … not.  More altered realities.”


“Like …?”


Gabrielle rubbed her nose.  “Mainly Amazons.”


Xena came to an abrupt halt.  “Ephiny?!  I knew it!  Phantes was her red shirt, just like your boyfriends.  She may not have liked you in the beginning, but I could tell –”


“Not just me.  You too.”

“Say what?!”


“Supposedly the Amazons lusted after us both.  Avidly.  Competitively.  Tirelessly.”


“Well, I’m not reading those versions.  I’d like to keep my fond memories of our featherhead friends … fond … thank you very much.”  Xena sneered.  “At least it wasn’t Caesar.”


Gabrielle coughed.  “He did play a role in our fates.  Only logical bards played with that, just like he did.”   


“Oh, please.  I decorate his bed again?  As opposed to a cross?” 


“Seldom willingly, like when he sentenced you to fight in the Coliseum instead.”  Gabrielle shivered.  “You’d probably prefer the alternative where you are indeed crucified, but decide with Borias to join Lao Ma.  You hook up with both.”  Gabrielle grinned smugly.  “Until a fetchingly bedraggled, morose, lethal slave gladiator enters the scene.”


“Ooo ooo, let me guess?” Xena entreated, raising her hand. “A petite green-eyed blonde?”




“Gabrielle?” The warrior had resumed walking, but Gabrielle had not. Xena sensed her partner’s uncharacteristic hesitation about continuing an illuminating chat.  “What else?” she inquired suspiciously.


Gabrielle took a deep breath and caught up to Xena.  “After your death in Japa?  Quite a few tales are only about me.  Alone.”


Xena swallowed.  “No ghost me?  Resurrected me?  Just … gone?  Forever?”


“There’s ghost you sometimes.  You in my memory, of course.   I tend to appear as a crazy person talking to the air.”  Gabrielle grasped Xena’s hand.  “Without you, I carry the chakram, fight battles to further our legacy.  Yours.  Mine.  Meet people who help me deal with your physical loss.”


Xena squeezed the hand holding hers.  “Of everything, all the mistakes, I regret Japa most.”  She held Gabrielle’s eyes.  “You know that, right?”


“I do.”  Gabrielle tilted her head.  “Honestly, though?  I kind of like some portrayals of your … presence then … or … lack thereof.  Contemplating the opportunities, so to speak.”


Xena focused on adjusting one of her bracers.  “Better than having me around?  The physical me?”


“Sometimes.”  Laughing at Xena’s pout, Gabrielle swatted her across the midsection.  “No, silly.  It’s just, I get to see myself in a new light. Doing things I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of.  Fulfilling dreams in different ways.  I also get to imagine what peace might’ve looked like for you.”


“Riiight.  If I hadn’t been so eager to come back and haunt you for real.”


“And me more than eager to make that happen.”  Gabrielle bumped shoulders with her partner.  “Your resurrection is depicted in interesting ways too.  In one scenario, I’m who’s world weary, from years of grief.  A legendary warrior doubly burdened by expectations of me as a legendary ex-bard.  I meet a teenager who could be you … reborn.  Have the chance to teach her what you taught me.  To see what you valued in the ‘baby’ me.  Sort of full circle.”


“Mm.  Heavy stuff.”  Xena scratched her jaw.  “Simple girl that I am, I prefer both of us in the here and now.  Flesh and blood.  I already know what I valued in your many phases.  What I see in you this moment.”  She batted her eyes seductively.  “Would like to see of you again tonight?”


Gabrielle raised a brow.  “Typical.  As it happens, us is all we do see in many of those stories, regardless of the genre. You’d be surprised at how strands of hair, ear lobes, scars and more obvious body parts can fill in for scenery.  ‘Bucketloads,’ as you so delicately put it.”


“Hmm.  Another … ‘standard?’”  Xena pulled out her boot knife.  She pensively tapped it against her chin, as she’d seen her bard do with a quill.  “Soooo,” she concluded, scanning their surroundings, “peaks and valleys could be ….”




“Bushes or pebbles become ….”


“Uh huh.  Flat, hard but cushy plains ….”




“Yes, Xena?”


“I’m thinking we should find a camp spot soon.”


“While there’s good light for scrolling?”


“Among other things.”


∞ ∞ ∞


The companions lay relaxing together, gazing at the stars, completely satiated from reading and … other things.


“Has our real life been that boring?”




“All those variations. As if what you described wasn’t enough?”


“Oh, I don’t see it that way,” Gabrielle countered, rolling to face Xena.  “Most tales do reflect our life based on my scrolls.  What we might’ve been thinking or feeling then.  Imagining us as kids, settled down, in other situations.  Mmm…. The first times?   So romantic.”


“First times?”  Xena frowned.  “Like when I taught you to catch fish with your hands?  Yeah, I guess that was kinda ….”  She noted the bard’s silence and a slight lessening of her companion’s otherwise dreamy expression.  “What ….  Wait….”  The warrior sat up, eyes narrowed.  “Is there a secret scroll out there you neglected to share with me?”


“No, dear.”  Gabrielle gently tugged her partner back down, curling on top sufficiently to keep her living mattress in place. “I merely wrote about snuggles, cuddles. Loving caresses or glances. Kisses to foreheads and cheeks. To lips, quite understandably, if presumed dead or dying. Necessary mouth-to-mouth resuscitations. Therapeutic massages. Crawling up or over each other -- perfectly natural physical entanglements to escape danger. Maybe sexy teasing and double meanings here or there. Especially when skinny dipping in … um ….”  Gabrielle paused to bring her musings back on track. She cleared her throat.  “My point is, rest assured I always left out certain … private matters.”


“Humph. No wonder those bards couldn’t resist.  Nothing like filling in holes to get their juices going.”  Xena sucked in her cheeks.  “So, when was it?  According to conventional wisdom.”


“No consensus.  Infinite possibilities. From never ever, to a few candle marks after we met, to any time between then and after your death in Japa.”  Gabrielle caressed her partner’s cheek.  “Initial ‘zug zug’ usually depending on signals from the innocent sidekick.  You know, convincing the angsty ex-warlord that full-on intimacy wouldn’t somehow punish said sidekick? Or be an undeserved reward for said ex-warlord?”


“Mm.”  Xena smiled wryly.  “Fair enough.”


“Plus, we get a first date.  You bring me flowers, take me to a play.”  Gabrielle chuckled.  “Despite that probably occurring long after presumed consummation.”


“Bumping into you outside Poteidaia doesn’t qualify?” 


“I didn’t see any bouquet.” 


“Was kinda busy, saving your butt at the time.”  Xena blew on her fingernails.  “Warrior foreplay.”


Gabrielle rolled her eyes.  “Incorrigible.  Okay.  I’ll concede different strokes for different folks.  And that we were preoccupied mostly saving our and everybody else’s butts.  Not much time for ….”


“Courting?”  Xena smiled shyly.  “That day we celebrated your birthday?  When I gave you Sappho’s poem ….”


“Yes.”  Gabrielle returned the warrior’s shy smile.  “That could qualify.  In my humble opinion.”


“Um, out of curiosity, do bards ever make you the wooer?”


“Not generally.”  Gabrielle regarded the warrior a moment. “Would you like to be the wooee?  For real?  In this life?”


“I wouldn’t object.  No flowers, though.”


“I think that can be arranged.  Seems we have plenty of time.”  Gabrielle giggled.  “One tale’s titled, ‘Old Warriors Never Die, They Just ….’  We survive to be ancient crones in a home for the aged.  You’re as malevolent as ever, whipping out a cane from your scabbard.”


“And you?”


Gabrielle smirked.  “Gracious, as always.  Tempering your temper.  Generous enough to share my medications with you.” 


“Huh.”  Xena shook her head.  “I get folks wanting to remember us.  It’s an honor.  But why so … obsessed … with every detail?  Our personality quirks. Habits. Food preferences.”


“You know, I wonder if many see themselves in us. Or would like to? Projecting their own experiences, how they’d face challenges?  I mean, not much we didn’t confront. Love, hate, grief, joy, tangled relationships. Betrayal.  Forgiveness.  People not accepting someone can be different and just as okay.”


“Not to mention gods, demons, angels, death, reincarnation, impossible odds.”


“Amnesia.  Mustn’t forget that,” Gabrielle reminded teasingly.  “Your kiss when you as ‘Walthea’ brought me as the Sleeping Princess back to ourselves?  During the Rheingold escapade?  Simplistic, compared to what other scrolls envision if one or both of us lose our memory.”  Her eyes glazed.  “Intriguing reintroductions.  Like me believing I’m somebody else and don’t know you.  You, forced to court me, without the old assumptions.  Once I’m ‘restored,’ I – we – have become more than before.  Fascinating, don’t you think?”    


“Uh, I’ll take your word for it.  Still, whatever these variant tales might inflict on us must pale against all we really did go through.  Why anyone else would want to picture themselves dealing with it is beyond me. Hard enough to duplicate.”  Xena rubbed her chin, an appreciative grin forming. “Let alone top,” she finished, punctuated with a subtle fist pump. 


Gabrielle ground her teeth.  “It’s not a competition, Xena.  I’m talking about a few experiences ordinary mortals might encounter in their everyday lives.”


“Yeah, yeah.  Just sayin’ I can see why our lives could be particularly hard to forget.”


“Fine. I’ll give you that. People certainly remembered us after our 25 years frozen in that ice cave.”  Gabrielle brushed her finger across a scar above Xena’s breast.  “Our followers tend to ignore your demise in Japa or to resurrect you somehow.”  She shrugged.  “For whatever reason, fear of our extinction has inspired tales to keep us going for another quarter century.  Maybe longer.” 




“Funny, this one bard pictured us as simply characters in other people’s imaginations.”


“Heh.  Like Joxer’s idiotic ‘what if’ explanation for why that day kept repeating?”


“Say again?”


“Oh, right, you wouldn’t remember that.  He suggested maybe we only existed in somebody else’s head.  Them making us up, pulling our strings like puppets.”


“Ah. Yes. Same idea. Rather thought provoking to me now, as a bard.”


Xena tweaked her partner’s nose, chuckling at the indignant look provoked.  “Hey, just checking.  As a warrior, gotta test you’re really here, not just some cutie conjured up for a tale.” 


Cheeks sucked in, the bard squeezed her eyes closed. “Hades,” she cursed, upon opening them, appraising the warrior.  “You didn’t disappear.  Guess I can scratch that idea off my list.” 


“Ha ha.”


“Anywho, these imagined characters?  They meet up in their own private sanctuary when nobody’s thinking about them.  Free to make up whatever they want.”


“Now that’s a story I can relate to.” Xena snuggled Gabrielle closer.  “No gods or bards or anybody else messin’ with us.  Present company excepted, of course.”


“Like creating our world, each other, in our own eyes?”  Gabrielle nodded.  “That would be nice.”


“Whaddya mean ‘would be?’  I’ve been doin’ it since I witnessed this spunky village girl standing up to slavers.  Details were kinda fuzzy, but the beginnings of an outline I could work with.”


Gabrielle gaped at Xena.  “Me too!  The moment I gazed upon a magnificent hero come to save me from those very slavers. Oh, Xena,” she exclaimed, fiercely hugging the warrior, “Don’t ever let anyone say you haven’t the heart of a bard.” 


A comfortable silence ensued.






“Was I the same?  The me created in your eyes and the me you actually saw?  The real me?”  Gabrielle’s face scrunched.  “At least, the me I thought I was.  Or was trying to become?  Hmmm.  Or you weren’t aware of at first?  Pfft.  Me, either, for that matter.  Talk about a head with lots of me’s floating around in it, I’m your girl.  Hard to define which me --”




“Xena, this seemed so simple, so beautiful – us creating each other.  What if ….  Such a conundrum!   Don’t you see?”


“Gabrielllle.”  Xena put a finger over the bard’s lips.  “Yes.  I do.  Precisely.”  She grinned smugly at feeling the lips pucker.  “I saw someone I wanted, needed, hoped for better than I could ever imagine.”


Gabrielle stared skeptically at the warrior.  “Even now?”




“Wow.”  Gabrielle unconsciously drummed her fingers against her soulmate’s side.  “Wonder what I saw in you?”


Xena chuckled. “Not really.”


“Xeenaaa.”  Gabrielle thumped the warrior’s side.  “Don’t you care?”


“Listen, my bard.  Whoever you created, saw, or thought you saw, proved good enough for me -- to be better, to live, with you at my side.  Reflected in your faith, your words, your touches.”  Anticipating Gabrielle’s probing curiosity, Xena admitted, “Yes, I questioned, was it believable?  Right?  Just dumb luck?”  She shrugged. “After the battle, a win is a win. For me, beats wondering any day.”


“Ah, the practical warrior spirit speaks.  Not to be outdone by your expressive bard heart.”  Gabrielle perused the twinkling lights above. Nodding to herself, she raised up.  “I want to hold you for a change tonight.” 


“Ahhh.  Bard foreplay?” Xena inquired as the two repositioned, reclining so the warrior’s cheek now lay against Gabrielle’s shoulder, with the bard’s chin resting atop the warrior’s head.


“Mmm.” Gabrielle yawned.  “More a prelude to our first date tomorrow.”


“Ooowee!  I’m the wooee?  Gifts too?”


Gabrielle’s laughter stirred Xena’s hair.  “Nothing with petals.  Or metal.”  She tightened her arms around the warrior’s substantial frame.  “I’ll see what’s available in the immediate vicinity.”


“Mm.  Sounds good. I have every confidence in you.”  Xena got more comfortable, gently scrubbing her nose across her partner’s bosom. “Nuzzling,” she explained at Gabrielle’s surprised gasp.




“That’s permissible, right?  If you happen to record today’s activities for public consumption?”


“I suppose,” Gabrielle concurred dryly.  “Borderline, perhaps, though not a concern for a ‘my life is an open scroll’ bard.  Assuming the more secretive, mushy-averse, ‘It’s none of their business’ subject remembers who said it first.”  


Xena nuzzled again. “My pleasure.”  She yawned.  “We good?  At least for now?”


“We’re good.  Always.”  Gabrielle kissed Xena’s forehead, sighing contentedly.  “Mmm. I love you so much.”


 Xena sighed, at peace with the small body she nestled against.  “Love you too, Gabrielle.  Always.” 


And so, under heaven’s blanket, the soulmates drifted off to sleep in each other’s embrace.  Aware of, but not too disturbed by, their lives being spun, hanging in the balance, at the whim of strangers -- earthbound Fates apparently determined to keep this legendary duo alive by any means, as long as rooster crows somewhere herald another sunrise. 


∞ ∞ ∞


“So this wildness is all mine, newly minted, not a ghostly echo from a borrowed past.  And the thought that I exist – apart from the shadow life of Gabrielle – gives me a new sense of weight and substance.” – Gabrielle, in “The Tavern Keeper’s Sister,” by Ella Quince


“’Little one,’ I hear her saying to the girl, ‘I think you need a friend right now. I present to you Xena, Warrior Princess of Chin. You may stay with her and she will be your guardian until you figure out where you want to go and what you want to do.’” – Xena, in “The House of Lao,” by Xena's Little Bitch


“At some point, Xena had become a real person to me. I could hate the Conqueror, the inhuman beast who had crucified me. I could hate evil and injustice personified. But the body in front of me was not the Conqueror or the Destroyer of Nations. It was simply a woman in pain. And, unfortunately, that made me care.” – Gabrielle, in “Conquered,” by Leslie Ann Miller


“Gayle sat in the darkness of her living room, staring at a blank television screen that mirrored nothing but her own dim reflection.  She was able to find solace in watching herself sit there, waiting for the minutes to pass into hours and the night to pass into day [….]  She could only imagine Sandra alone in a brightly lit cell, counting the minutes to the end of her life.” – “Lost Soul Walking,” by DJWP


“I know from experience that because we are yoked together in our toil, our rest times often coincide. So far, I have been fortunate that she has chosen to join me when she can. She comes here, where we can enjoy the seaside and – as best we can – create ourselves in each other’s eyes.” – Xena, in “Fiction,” by Ana Ortiz




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