With Those We Love Alive by “Porpentine” Charity Heartscape is a Twine Game created in 2014. The piece begins with a left-pointing angle bracket and a number 3, more commonly known as the original heart emoji. A couple of screens later, a message displays that is obviously meant to reassure the audience: “Please remember: nothing you can do is wrong.” The author begins her story by assuring her audience can do no wrong. However, the story very quickly takes a mysterious and dark turn. This reassurance was warranted.
This story is filled with people and objects that make the reader question where, exactly, they are. After exploring, there is a queen who rises out of slime and muck after completing her larval stage. Her doting followers licking the filth off of her skin. The reader is dismissed until further notice. After exploring, there are dead creatures everywhere, including a dead person that is sitting and swinging their legs on the balcony. There are all manner of creepy hybrid creatures in the canal. In the temple, there are jars of ancient arms and hands suspended in green fluid, which are covered in sigils. These items and more lead to a remarkably creepy atmosphere.
One question that I asked myself through reading this piece was why the author is asking readers to write on their skin. I think that this has a lot to do with a quote from the beginning of the story, “Before living this life…”
Heartscape wants her audience to do more than just experience this story. She wants them to own it, to make it theirs. By asking readers to draw on themselves as the story progresses, she is essentially “branding” them. She also wants her readers to own their decisions within the story, because in life you cannot undo what has been done.
The initial summary that I read before starting the reading mentions that this story is related to self-harm. I feel as if asking readers to write on themselves brings attention to that issue. The author’s Tumblr page backs up this theory. Some people wrote their sigils on the back of their arms, hands, or legs. However, a large majority of people wrote their sigils on the inside of their wrists, or the inside of their forearm. Is it coincidence that this is also the place where people tend to cut themselves when performing self-harm? I think not. However, thankfully, I did not notice scars from the pictures that were available. I never performed an act of self-harm, but I have a close friend that has struggled with her demons for many years. The dark, grotesque nature of this piece can relate to the dark, lonely feeling of someone who self-harms.
Because of the dark nature of this piece as well as because of the relation to self-harm, my interpretation of this piece is that the main character (for myself, Langloss Azidet) has committed suicide. I feel as if there is strong evidence to support this theory in one particular scene. In this scene, Azidet is standing on the balcony and receives a letter, “from people who share her blood.”
“Why don’t you come home?” It asks. Your choices of answers are only, “Paralyzing Anger” or “Unbearable Longing.” It continues, “We miss our -” However, the letter doesn’t finish as Azidet is expected to release it to the wind or bury it in a chest in the bedroom. To me, this signals that Azidet is no longer living, and has thus committed suicide.
I do have one discussion question, though of course the entire post is only one opinion and of course up for debate.But is there a significance to pink/purple contrast? Why did the author use those colors if she was going to have to go through the trouble of making a color-blind version? Does it have anything to do with the author’s tumblr account?