The Castle

Original, 2017

This piece was composed in response to the resurgence of "ace discourse" that was happening on Tumblr at the time. (For those unfamiliar, first of all: I deeply envy you, secondly: basically just people were arguing over whether asexuals are Allowed™ to be part of the queer community. The argument against this amounts to "Aces aren't gay, which means they're straight, and we can't associate with straight people!" This work argues that that argument fucking sucks.)

Life is not good in the castle. It may appear nice to the outside observer, with all the lavish clothes and delectable foods and such it contains. And, yes, those things are nice. But there is a critical flaw. One that, for many, is not a price worth paying for luxury.

In the castle, your entire life is set before you are even born. Any deviation from the plan others have made for you is met with harsh punishment. Day after day is you are stuffed into clothing so tight you cannot breathe. The arbiters' hands are omnipresent, constantly lain on you to ensure that you do not deviate from your mold, and they keep touching you and touching you and touching you.

Until perhaps, one day, you cannot stand it any longer. And you leave.

You are not the first to leave the castle, of course. Not a day could go by without overhearing whispers of them. Deviants, they are sometimes called, and many things far crueller. Names spoken with such disgust, with no knowledge of the seeds they could plant in the proper ears.

When you flee, it is not with the hope of finding these people. No, what you ride upon is simply the hope that survival in the wilds is possible. But, after trekking through the rain for lord-only-knows how long, you spot buildings through the fog. You take off running, feet unaccustomed to the mud but with drive in your heart, and do not stop until you arrive.

The people in the buildings see you as you stand panting at the entrance. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they see your clothes. Those wretched garments, as torn and stained and loosened as they have become, are still clearly recognizable, and are clearly considered cause for these residents to distrust you.

A man walks out of a building and approaches you. "You are from the castle," he states simply.

You do not respond, for you are still catching your breath, and would not know how to respond to this were you not.

"Why have you come here?"

"I have fled," you cough out, trying to compose yourself. "I have heard tales of your people, and left in search of freedom."

"You are from the castle. Those from the castle have hurt us before."

"The castle has hurt me as well. I have been hurt in ways I could not even begin to describe!"

"You are from the castle. We cannot trust those from the castle." With this, he turns and faces away from you.

"Please!" you cry, grabbing for but narrowly missing his arm, and falling to the ground in the process. "I am on my own, and know of no other place to turn!"

"You are from the castle. Go back to the castle."

You stare at him aghast. "Return to the castle? Never. I do not believe I would survive a single night more under their rules!"

"If you cannot go back to the castle, then forge a place on your own. There is no place for you here." And with that, he walks back into his home and closes the door.

You continue to stare at the point in space which the man used to occupy for several moments. You then collapse into the mud and quietly sob for a while more. It is certainly true that the castle is harsh, but pure wilderness is equally unforgiving, and when you saw a community, you had been hoping to find friends and allies amongst them.

You begin to fear that returning could in fact be the better option. The limitations imposed upon you may have been a living hell, but you were at least living, and that may not continue to be the case should you strike out on your own. You sit up straight, no longer crying, and begin to seriously consider your options moving forwards.

You stand. And you continue walking.