Fiction: The Mundane Progression of Premortem Colloquy, Part One

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After a night of revelations to her dead aunt Rosie and her living brother Esher, Mara Hill must dare another with Benjamin Lisbet. If she’s truly the woman Mara hopes, surely Benjamin will be receptive to a conversation of the “I love you and want to be with you, just not romantically” sort? Surely this afternoon won’t stray beyond Mara’s preparations of a picnic basket, chives, rehearsed speeches and less-rumpled clothing?

Yet her months of searching for magic to refresh her fading love means there’s too much she doesn’t know about Benjamin. Too much Mara needs to know to hold this conversation without losing Benjamin’s friendship.

Mara thought speaking of her fading love under cover of dark difficult enough … but speaking of romance in daylight is another challenge entirely.

Contains: A sapphic, lithromantic trans witch making a misstep in the quest to build a love that honours her nature; an autistic, idemromantic schoolmarm with coeliac revealing her struggles in building romantic relationships with allistic women; and a conversation concluding in utterances of the word “when”.

Setting: Marchverse. Please don’t read this without having first perused The Sorcerous Compendium of Postmortem Query (available on WordPress, Patreon and in the When Quiver Meets Quill collection).

Content Advisory: This story contains non-explicit references to sex and sex acts by two allosexual aromantic-spectrum women. These references are more integral to the story and their relationship than in my other pieces, in that I’m not relying on mentions of sex as something these characters have or desire to convey their allosexuality.

It should be noted that this piece contains discussions about romance, romantic relationships and sexual relationships, along with the ways these intersect with autistic-targeted ableism and reflections on ways to navigate sexual non-romantic relationships. I don’t recommend this story for people who experience severe sexual and/or romantic repulsion.

Length: 3, 241 words (part one of two).

In so long fearing her inability to stay in love, she has donned fear’s cloaking veil of abstraction and self-obsession. 

Continue reading “Fiction: The Mundane Progression of Premortem Colloquy, Part One”

Fiction: What Makes Us Human, Part Two

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

Moll of Sirenne needs prompts in their girdle book to navigate casual conversations, struggles to master facial expressions and feels safest weeding the monastery’s vegetable gardens. Following their call to service, however, means offering wanderers in need a priest’s support and guidance. A life free of social expectation to court, wed and befriend does outweigh their fear of causing harm—until forgetting the date of a holiday provokes a guest’s ire and three cutting words: lifeless and loveless.

A priest must expand a guest’s sense of human worth, but what do they do when their own comes under question? Can an autistic, aromantic priest ever expect to serve outside the garden? And what day is it…?

Contains: A middle-aged, agender priest set on defying social norms around love; an alloromantic guest with a journey to undergo in conquering her amatonormativity and ableism; and an elderly aromantic priest providing irascible reassurance.

Setting: Marchverse. This story obliquely nods at events referenced in Love is the Reckoning, but it can be read entirely on its own. No prior knowledge of my other stories is needed.

Content Advisory: Depictions and discussions of ableism, amatonormativity and dehumanisation, particularly with regards to autism and aromanticism. Please expect additional background references to partner abuse and dysfunctional relationships, along with a side mention of magic causing harm to animals. This piece also includes reflections on non-romantic love’s being pushed as a second-best “humanising” quality on non-partnerning, aplatonic and neurodiverse aros.

Length: 3, 116 words (part two of two).

Will you ignore their need of someone their own to reassure them that they are so wonderfully and deservedly human?

Continue reading “Fiction: What Makes Us Human, Part Two”

Fiction: What Makes Us Human, Part One

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

Moll of Sirenne needs prompts in their girdle book to navigate casual conversations, struggles to master facial expressions and feels safest weeding the monastery’s vegetable gardens. Following their call to service, however, means offering wanderers in need a priest’s support and guidance. A life free of social expectation to court, wed and befriend does outweigh their fear of causing harm—until forgetting the date of a holiday provokes a guest’s ire and three cutting words: lifeless and loveless.

A priest must expand a guest’s sense of human worth, but what do they do when their own comes under question? Can an autistic, aromantic priest ever expect to serve outside the garden? And what day is it…?

Contains: A middle-aged, agender priest set on defying social norms around love; an alloromantic guest with a journey to undergo in conquering her amatonormativity and ableism; and an elderly aromantic priest providing irascible reassurance.

Setting: Marchverse. This story obliquely nods at events referenced in Love is the Reckoning, but it can be read entirely on its own. No prior knowledge of my other stories is needed.

Content Advisory: Depictions and discussions of ableism, amatonormativity and dehumanisation, particularly with regards to autism and aromanticism. Please expect additional background references to partner abuse and dysfunctional relationships, along with a side mention of magic causing harm to animals. This piece also includes reflections on non-romantic love’s being pushed as a second-best “humanising” quality on non-partnerning, aplatonic and neurodiverse aros.

Length: 4, 946 words (part one of two).

You think love is what makes us human, if you must choose one quality?

Continue reading “Fiction: What Makes Us Human, Part One”

Pride Patch Tutorial: Basic Stripes

Six handsewn cross stitch patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include aromantic and allo-aro in zigzag patterns, nebulaquoi and arovague in plain stripes, a text patch reading Allo Aro and an arrow design in allo-aro colours.

This is a tutorial for a cross-stitched pride-flag patch in a simple stripe design. Please first read the Beginner’s Guide at Red Gate Stitchery if you’re unfamiliar with cross stitch, as this tutorial is about the construction of the patches, not a comprehensive guide to cross stitch itself.

You’ll also need to know how to sew a closed blanket/buttonhole stitch or over/whip stitch. Either works, as long as you can keep each new stitch close beside the previous one. Red Ted Art has a series of videos on basic hand stitches, including over stitch and blanket stitch. My preference is for buttonhole stitch (a closed blanket stitch), as I sew through the twists/knots at the top of each stitch when attaching the patch to my bag.

I recommend practising your chosen stitch on the edges of scrap fabric before starting your first patch.

It should be noted that I am Australian, all items come from Australian vendors, and all prices cited are in AUD. Mentioned products/brands may not be available in your region.

Components

  • Photo of two sheets of white aida in 11 and 14 count, two pairs of small scissors, one embroidery needle, one tapestry needle, a 1.5 mm crochet hook, a red stitch ripper and embroidery floss arranged in the colours of the aromantic pride flag: dark green, light green, white, grey and black.Embroidery floss in the colours of your chosen flag
  • Embroidery floss in an additional matching or contrasting colour for the patch’s border
  • Aida fabric (11-count or 14-count is best)
  • Scissors (I use small embroidery scissors for trimming thread and a larger pair for cutting the aida)
  • Blunt-ended tapestry needle (see below for sizes)
  • Sharp-ended embroidery or chenille needle (of similar diameter or gauge to your tapestry needle)

Optional but Recommended:

  • Stitch ripper (for unpicking the inevitable mistakes)
  • Small crochet hook (I use a 1.5 mm hook from the dollar shop)
  • Fray Check, fabric stiffener or clear nail polish for coating edges, especially if your aida is prone to fraying (not pictured)

Continue reading “Pride Patch Tutorial: Basic Stripes”

Fiction: The Pride Conspiracy, Part Two

Banner image for The Pride Conspiracy. Banner features black handwritten type on a mottled green background with two green feathers and a black pencil. A translucent overlay of the dark green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic flag sits underneath the text. Text, feather and pencil images are boldly outlined in various shades of green and white.

December isn’t the best time of year for a trans aromantic like Rowan Ross, although—unlike his relatives—his co-workers probably won’t give him gift cards to women’s clothing shops. How does he explain to cis people that while golf balls don’t trigger his dysphoria, he wants to be seen as more than a masculine stereotype? Nonetheless, he thinks he has this teeth-gritted endurance thing figured out: cissexism means he needn’t fear his relatives asking him about dating, and he has the perfect idea for Melanie in the office gift exchange. He can survive gifts and kin, right? Isn’t playing along with expectation better than enduring unexpected consequences?

Rowan, however, isn’t the only aromantic in the office planning to surprise a co-worker. To survive the onslaught of ribbon and cellophane, Rowan’s going to have to get comfortable with embracing the unknown.

Contains: A trans allo-frayro trying to grit his teeth through the holidays, scheming aro co-workers, a whole lot of cross-stitch, another moment of aromantic discovery, and many, many mugs.

Content Advisory: A story that focuses on some of the ways Western gift-giving culture enables cissexism and a rigid gender binary, taking place in the context of commercialised, secular-but-with-very-Christian-underpinnings Christmas. Please expect many references to said holiday in an office where Damien hasn’t figured out how to run a gift exchange without subjecting everyone to Santa, along with characters who have work to do in recognising that not everybody celebrates Christmas.

There are no depictions or mentions of sexual attraction beyond the words “allosexual” and “bisexual” and a passing reference to allo-aro antagonism, but there are non-detailed references to Rowan’s previous experiences with and attitudes towards romance and romantic attraction as a frayromantic. Please also expect casual references to amatonormativity and other shapes of cissexism.

This section contains multiple depictions of platonic physical intimacy.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 4, 789 words (part two of two)

I’ll have a pride coat! And nobody will have the least idea what it means!

Continue reading “Fiction: The Pride Conspiracy, Part Two”

Fiction: The Pride Conspiracy, Part One

Banner image for The Pride Conspiracy. Banner features black handwritten type on a mottled green background with two green feathers and a black pencil. A translucent overlay of the dark green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic flag sits underneath the text. Text, feather and pencil images are boldly outlined in various shades of green and white.

December isn’t the best time of year for a trans aromantic like Rowan Ross, although—unlike his relatives—his co-workers probably won’t give him gift cards to women’s clothing shops. How does he explain to cis people that while golf balls don’t trigger his dysphoria, he wants to be seen as more than a masculine stereotype? Nonetheless, he thinks he has this teeth-gritted endurance thing figured out: cissexism means he needn’t fear his relatives asking him about dating, and he has the perfect idea for Melanie in the office gift exchange. He can survive gifts and kin, right? Isn’t playing along with expectation better than enduring unexpected consequences?

Rowan, however, isn’t the only aromantic in the office planning to surprise a co-worker. To survive the onslaught of ribbon and cellophane, Rowan’s going to have to get comfortable with embracing the unknown.

Contains: A trans allo-frayro trying to grit his teeth through the holidays, scheming aro co-workers, a whole lot of cross-stitch, another moment of aromantic discovery, and many, many mugs.

Content Advisory: A story that focuses on some of the ways Western gift-giving culture enables cissexism and a rigid gender binary, taking place in the context of commercialised, secular-but-with-very-Christian-underpinnings Christmas. Please expect many references to said holiday in an office where Damien hasn’t figured out how to run a gift exchange without subjecting everyone to Santa, along with characters who have work to do in recognising that not everybody celebrates Christmas.

There are no depictions or mentions of sexual attraction beyond the words “allosexual” and “bisexual” and a passing reference to allo-aro antagonism, but there are non-detailed references to Rowan’s previous experiences with and attitudes towards romance and romantic attraction as a frayromantic. Please also expect casual references to amatonormativity and other shapes of cissexism.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 4, 914 words (part one of two).

Note: You’ll need to have read The Vampire Conspiracy for this to make sense. Available on WordPress or in PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats on Patreon!

Rowan should be assumed an Australian character in an Australian city. Our Christmas, therefore, involves hot weather, short sleeves, barbecues and confusion at certain holiday traditions common in the Northern Hemisphere.

They’re aromantic. How isn’t he obligated to help decorate her desk in as many pride-related ways as possible?

Continue reading “Fiction: The Pride Conspiracy, Part One”

Carnival of Aros: Aro Community Wishlists

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Sennkestra on Next Step Cake asked this question for November’s Carnival of Aros, with specific mention of allo-aros in the explanatory post:

What kind of community spaces and resources do you want to see more of, as an aro-spec person?

My wishlist as an allo-aro who must interact with the a-spec and aromantic communities is singular: an a-spec audience. A supportive, responsive audience that recognises the a-spec community’s current tendency to overlook, disregard or paraphrase allo-aro expression, and will make a concerted effort to promote and support the creating of allo-aro content, resources and communities.

That’s it, done. The shortest essay I will ever write.

Not so much.

The problem is that this well-intended question encapsulates the challenge I face as an allo-aro interacting with the aromantic and a-spec communities.

I can answer it as it’s meant. I don’t need to start from scratch; I can rework several old posts into a new essay. This isn’t novel to me, given that this post about allo-aros in the aromantic community is a rework of this post about a-spec community inclusion for allo-aros (which was a rework of an earlier @alloaroworlds post). I can dredge up the answers scattered across two blogs and piece them together anew in the hope my needs will be better acknowledged by asexual a-specs. This is the spirit in which the question is asked and in which most people will and are expected to answer.

How many more times must I repeat myself?

Continue reading “Carnival of Aros: Aro Community Wishlists”

When Quiver Meets Quill: Collected Aromantic Fiction

Banner image for When Quiver Meets Quill. Banner features black handwritten type on a mottled green background with two green feathers and a black pencil. A translucent overlay of the dark green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic flag sits underneath the text. Text, feather and pencil images are boldly outlined in various shades of green and white.

Cover image for When Quiver Meets Quill: Collected Aromantic Fiction by K. A. Cook. Cover depicts a frame border in the stripes of the aromantic pride flag against a mottled green background, title text arranged around images of pencils and feathers. Text is in black handdrawn type outlined in different shades of greens, greys and whites.Jessie’s casing an art gallery affords an opportunity to discuss a queerplatonic relationship. The phrase “I don’t love” encompasses more than a prince’s lack of romantic attraction. A gay aromantic makes a game of his alloromantic co-workers’ inability to accept him. Alida finds an accomplice in petty revenge after hir friend sets hir up on a date. An aro-ace wanderer invents their own fairy tales free of weddings as a happily ever after. And a demiromantic witch learns about aromanticism from her allo-aro cousin after an escapade with an unwanted romantic admirer.

When Quiver Meets Quill collects fourteen fantasy and contemporary aromantic stories about amatonormativity, friendship and connection.

Contains: Asexual aros; allosexual aros; aros without reference to sexual attraction identities; transgender and non-binary aros; queer aros; autistic aros; neurodiverse aros; and a genderless aro dragon.

Links: PDF (read in browser) | Patreon

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 45, 000 words / 149 PDF pages.

Continue reading “When Quiver Meets Quill: Collected Aromantic Fiction”

How to Ally: Discussing Allo-Aros in the Aro Community

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

It’s a common allo-aro experience to see well-meaning allies defending us by the use of discussion points that reinforce the erasure and othering they’re meant to counteract. Allies signal-boosting allo-aro works by arguing that they’re also useful for aro-ace understandings of aromanticism, for example, looks like a positive action at first glimpse but continues to contextualise allo-aros in terms of our relationship to asexuality.

How should folks discuss us, then? How should folks discuss the reality that allo-aros are not always regarded as a fundamental part of our shared community or fully supported within it? What words do we use if allo-aros are going to get upset when we’re just trying to be helpful?

So please find a list of discussion points, goals and shapes of activism that are more likely to make us feel that we do have allies willing to acknowledge our experiences and feelings.

Continue reading “How to Ally: Discussing Allo-Aros in the Aro Community”

Fiction: The Vampire Conundrum, Part Two

Banner image for The Vampire Conundrum. Banner features black handwritten type on a mottled green background with two green feathers and a black pencil. A translucent overlay of the dark green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic flag sits underneath the text. Text, feather and pencil images are boldly outlined in various shades of green and white.

When Rowan Ross is pressured into placing an aromantic pride mug on his desk, he doesn’t know how to react when his co-workers don’t notice it. Don’t they realise he spent a weekend rehearsing answers for questions unasked? Then again, if nobody knows what aromanticism is, can’t he display a growing collection of pride merch without a repeat of his coming out as trans? Be visible with impunity through their ignorance?

He can endure their thinking him a fan of archery, comic-book superheroes and glittery vampire movies. It’s not like anyone in the office is an archer. (Are they?) But when a patch on his bag results in a massive misconception, correcting it means doing the one thing he most fears: making a scene.

After all, his name isn’t Aro.

Contains: One trans, bisexual frayromantic alongside an office of well-meaning cis co-workers who think they’re being supportive and inclusive.

Content Advisory: This story hinges on the way most cishet alloromantic people know nothing about aromanticism and the ways many trans-accepting cis people fail to best communicate their acceptance. In other words, expect a series of queer, trans and aro microaggressions. There are no depictions or mentions of sexual attraction beyond the words “allosexual” and “bisexual”, but there are non-detailed references to Rowan’s previous experiences with romance.

Links: PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 3, 737 words (part two of two).

Romance, too, feels like one of the mechanisms by which a dangerous trans body can be rendered more acceptable to cis folks.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Vampire Conundrum, Part Two”