Raritan

Raritan

Raritan, written by Edwina Joe-Kamara

Raritan

I shouldn’t have stopped there. I had too much to do rather than sit at the lake for an hour or so, pondering at the possible twists and turns life would throw at me that week. But the sashaying waves and its positivity reached its arms out to embrace my negative thoughts, begging to comfort them.

I pulled my bright red 2004 Nissan Sentra onto the blue gravel that served as a makeshift parking lot. Then shifted the gear to the soft orange glowing P, wriggled my gray beanie over my head, and forced the zipper of my black long-bodied coat all the way up to my chin to protect from the cold. I wrenched my keys from the ignition and jostled them around in my dry palms to hear their song before stepping out of the car’s bubble of warmth.

My worn sneakers hit the gravel, crunching the small rocks underfoot. I thought I was completely sealed in my jacket’s warmth, save for my hands and ankles, but the wind managed to infiltrate the boundaries that were set. Its cool whistle set my body to vibrate, and my teeth became well acquainted in their incessant dancing.

The sun started its descent and sent its streaks of pink, yellow, and blood orange stretching across the sky’s blue canvas. These same drops of color spilled onto the lake’s body. I stiffly began my short march to the water’s edge where a lone metal bleacher stood unevenly on the terrain, unoccupied.

I lowered myself onto the bottom row of the stand, wincing at the sharp chill that shot through my exposed fingers gripping its edge to gain my balance. Once settled, I tucked my hands under my armpits as an attempt to reduce the numbing that began to crawl up my poor extremities.

I looked out at the landscape. There were patches of green grass attempting to thrive amongst the wilted browns that took over most of the ground.

The infrequent days of warmth really confused them into thinking spring was coming sooner. March’s indecision to be either warm or frigid was at fault. In the same confusion, the trees were half dead, lurching over the opaque water as if its gray limbs scattered with leaves of green suffered from kyphosis.

On the farther side of the lake, the murmuring of couples, so captivated by themselves rather than the view, drifted into my area. I’ve sat in that exact spot of the bleacher many times before, hoping one day to be lost in eyes of honey or emerald. But then, on days like this, I see the golden streams of light waving their last goodbyes.

The water rolls and waves back softly in return until the moon’s slow arrival excites it into a flash mob of reflecting white light. And I realize I don’t want to trade this show for another’s performance. At least not for a while.

Indigo splashed over the horizon and soon it was hard to see anything but the dark shadows of the dead trying to emulate the living.

The cold had nearly left me embalmed, so I rose with difficulty. My blood ran its race through my limbs as I took each step stiffly back to my small car.

The handle of the driver’s door and my hand were the same temperatures, so I pulled it upward with ease and slid into the seat, quickly pulling my coat tail in after so the wind could do the work of shutting my door with such chivalry.

I couldn’t tell you what else I thought of while witnessing the day’s finale. But when I sat in the car, twisted the key in the ignition, and listened to my car wheeze a few times before rumbling to life, I had come to accept nature as being a comfort from my solitary.

Maybe that’s what the wind was trying to convince me of the entire time it whispered its piercing trill in my ear.

<strong>Edwina Joe-Kamara</strong>
Edwina Joe-Kamara

Edwina Joe-Kamara is a first-generation Sierra-Leonean American. She is currently earning her B.A. for English at The College of New Jersey.

Her poetry and artwork were recently published in her university’s literary magazine, Lion’s Eye. She finds inspiration for her poetry and short stories from her faith, nature, music, and battles with mental health.

She aspires to be a full-time writer/illustrator and hopes to travel the world. She is currently working on a manuscript for an unnamed chapbook. She resides in South Brunswick, NJ with her mother, Justina.

Follow her poetry account on Instagram for regular content: @e.j.kamara

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here. 

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In Sickness and in Health

In Sickness and in Health

In Sickness and in Health by Kristi Jeansonne

I remember staring at him from across the room wondering how I could love him more than he loved me. How could any God in this universe allow that? I remember how I unzipped my chest and took out my bloody, naïve heart and handed it to him… while he lounged on the sofa and counted ceiling tiles.

My 20-year-old self needed a prince, a knight, or at least a man who just would tell me how enchanting I was. I wanted him to burn down buildings and then walk through the fire to rescue me. I wanted him to see me in slow motion… to be his muse and his motivation for breathing. He should shed his masculinity but still, be a man. I thought I needed him to take me to rooftops and compare my eyes to stare. Or tell me that all the magic in the world is contained in the small space found between his palms and mine.

Love was matching tattoos and anniversaries of trivial firsts. Love was catching me off guard, taking my picture, and remembering me this young forever. Love was walking away just to feel the crushing devastation of missing each other.

I didn’t get that love. I didn’t get that man.

I discovered that love isn’t made of expectations or time lines. Love isn’t a cheap postcard.
Love isn’t a heart….. love is a backbone.

Instead, I got a man who sat near my hospital bed counting the seconds until I woke. A man who could list all my medications like ingredients in a recipe. A man who knows I am broken but never tries to fix me; only discovers a more delicate way to hold me. A man who isn’t afraid of words like cancer or recurrence because we take each day as its own. One day at a time… sometimes one minute at a time.

What I got was a man who lets me unfold myself into his arms when I’m having a bad day and celebrates the major achievement of having a good day. And I realized that rooftops and sad songs and romantic ideals Do Not Matter.

All the magic in the world is really contained in his hands as they hold my face and he looks into my tired eyes to whisper, “It’s you and me.”

The Beginning of Ugly

Written by Kristi Jeansonne

Here I am. I sit here in the dark curtains drawn together tightly with the edges tacked with clear plastic pins shoved almost horizontally into the drywall. I run to lock my door and in a panic; I tuck a blanket into the tiny gap under the door. No light is to breakthrough.

The pain is coming. Sitting on the floor isn’t enough. I must be more hidden, more isolated. I need to crawl into the closet and shut the door behind me. My back is against the wall and my head in my hands. This is where the pain comes. This is where the pain lives…. here in my hands.

I remember the first time I thought about taking my own life. I was 8 years old and under my bed, at the bottom of the heavy bedpost, I carved ‘I want to die.’

The words were simplistic; the writing was primitive, and mostly, the statement was powerful. I had no concept of death and dying, of beating hearts or failing organs. I had no conceptual ideas of heaven and hell. I didn’t realize the extreme permanence of making my words into actions. What I did know is that dying meant disappearing. And above all, I wanted to vanish.

I can’t remember the first time I was insulted or the first time I was hit. But I do know where ugly begins. I know where ugly lives, right here in the palms of my hands.

I used to feel heartbroken until I realized that my heart was fine. It’s my mind that’s broken. In this closet, in this darkness, I begin to release the victim inside of me. victim. victim. victim. victim. ugly. ugly. ugly. The words must be said to begin letting go. Say the words with mevictim. ugly. Repeat the word, write the word, stare at the word. The more you say it, the more you see it, the more foreign it feels.

Cradling back and forth, I can think. I’m unable to hear or see. All is numb except for the intense pain in the pit of my gut. The pain crawls from the center of me, up through my aching heart and erupts out through my eyes. The pain carries my memories through this well-worn path.

The wave of emotion knocks me down and washes over me. This closet is like the ocean. I’m drowning in this salty, polluted water while the broken, sandy ground below me does little to help. My body is aching, and my soul is crying out to return to dry land. I can do this: I can save myself. I can stand up and save myself from drowning. Then, I manage to pull myself up and gasp for air.

Breathe. Focus. Walk three steps. Collapse.

Falling onto the wooden floor grasping at splinters and following the worn-in, destructive path of hard times. This is who I am. A broken person, sick with some sort of mental pain. Violently drunk with desperation, my eyelids crush together to force out tears and mildly ease my blurred vision.

I see a glass atop my desk. In a reversed-crippled fashion, I stumble upwards to tower over my cluttered belongings. In one massive sweep, I clear all from my sight, revealing an ivory desktop smeared with ink and makeup stains.

I needed to hear the crash. I took a breath of relief as I felt some anxiety waning. With the tears still streaming, I flash over to the mess below, neighboring my bare feet.

With zero hesitation, I fall to my knees and dig my palms into the millions of shards of glass. My hands and mind all ache with relief.

The sight of blood soothes my mental state as if I tricked myself into believing this was why I was flooding myself in tears in the first place. With trembling fingers, I scoop the salty puddles from between my lips. I prop my limp bag of blood and bones against the wall and begin to feel peace.

It’s as if I was at war with my imaginary self and reluctantly I won.
I curl my blood-soaked fingers together and tighten my fist. It’ll soon be time for my hands to open wide and expose this pain once again.

Kristi Jeansonne

Kristi is a mother of two, a two time cancer survivor, and no-nonsense kind of gal from Lafayette, Louisiana. She is an avid coffee drinker, counts frequent eye rolling as cardio, and loves a comfy cardigan.

She also loves to write about deeply personal experiences and uses writing as therapy. If you’d like to read more writing, you can check out her Instagram page @yellow.house.artandpoetry

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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Rosie

Rosie

Rosie by Tanya Kochar

He came home feeling exhausted, as if someone extracted vim and vigour out of his youthful enthusiasm.

“How long would I be able to hide her?” his mind whispered.

His profound thought bubble ruptured as soon as he heard her voice! He moved silently towards the bathroom and began to peep through the door gap.

There she was, lying on the floor. Struggling all by herself to save her weary half body.

She saw him having a peek at her, and just then she shouted, “How could you do this to someone? You have no rights to treat me like this!”

Her voice expressed lividness just like her bruised half body.

“I bought you. I can use you, cut you,” he replied.

She looked at him with wrath as he blabbered.

“I can smell you, touch you.” He continued to speak as he moved towards her.

She looked away from his disgust.

“Save me, I’ll melt in you, or crush me and kill me,” she begged.

He twisted the tap knob and left the premises.

The water came gushing out, touching her body. She started to dissolve into the speeding water and she moved out swiftly through the floor drain.

Her smell was hard to diminish, just like she said.

Rosie Soap, with extra rose petal fragrance.

<strong>Tanya Kochar</strong>
Tanya Kochar

I am commonly known as the woman with a quill.
Who lives in the paradise of tales.
Inhaling imaginations.
Creativity is what I exhale.

I am a writer by passion and a brand strategist by choice. Successfully striking a balance between sipping wine and deadlines! I’m based out of Mumbai, commonly known as the “city of dreams.”  Thereby, living the dream of bringing all my ideas into words and finally converting them into realities.

Writing has always been my serious passion. Be it for brands or just a casual fictional write up for open mics across Mumbai’s storytelling and poetry communities.

Want to know more about my life?
Here’s me Instagram handle – @the_sinskaari
Happy sneak peak!

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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Sunshine by Liza Rose

Sunshine by Liza Rose

Sunshine by Liza Rose

Her life began in a beige and green grass field. A headfirst tumble into existence. A soft thud as the earth accepted the weight of her. A soft sound from my mouth as the wait for her ended. Then silence.

Nine months of carrying life in my swollen stomach lead to this moment: her, a tangle of dark limbs in the grass; me, a tangle of every emotion beneath the summer sky. What more was there to do? What was there to say? Me, just standing. Me, a deer in headlights. Warm sun above. Big dark eyes below. A baby. Sunshine. 

I wanted to apologize. Wanted to kneel down and tell her how sorry I was. I’m sorry that you exist. I had no choice. But she didn’t speak the language that lied like thick milk on my tongue. She spoke only the language that exists between mother and child. The language of milk and mouth. A hungry cry. A clumsy attempt to nurse. Me still sorry, but trying to give her what I could.

I was one of the lucky ones, they said. Some aren’t so lucky. Some don’t even get to see the baby.They put her head in a cage, I heard. Kept her eyes straight ahead. I heard the baby was born male. Poor mother, poor baby. Up the road, they tie their necks to posts. That’s a little better, I guess. Do you think you’ll get to see your baby? 

I spent days watching the sun rise and fall. Waiting. Waiting for them to take her. But soon she was walking. Soon the leaves were changing and crunching beneath her clumsy steps. We walked together along the fence, stopping here and there to watch the horses through the slats. She tried to talk to them sometimes like I did when I was young.

In the Spring of one exceptionally wet year in my youth, I watched a boy race around on a great white horse. It had been raining that morning, and I could feel the slickness of the earth beneath my own body. So it was no surprise when the horse crashed onto its side, taking the boy with it. Both let out primal screams. A gray-haired man scooped the child up in his arms. The horse, however, stayed there on its side for two days, grunting. Then, on that second day, the man came out into the field again. I watched him watch the creature. Run his long fingers over its snout. Pull something shiny from his waist. Watched the way it fit against his skin like an extension of the human hand. Boom. A sound like a quick bolt of lightning striking a tree. A soft echo. Silence.

I told her this, my baby, so she would know of both acts of kindness and of cruelty and how sometimes they had to overlap. I loved her, despite not wanting to. I loved her, and that’s why I did what I did. The night they pierced her ear, I knew that time was running out. I knew her future was approaching, the one I had lived, the one my mother had lived, one of chronic pregnancy and pain and babies being taken from you just to live in the same purgatory. Until death. And so I fell asleep on top of her.

Her life ended in a beige and green grass field, and I was alone again. Soon, I was growing another inside of me. I felt so empty for such a swollen creature. The spring was cold and wet, and I missed the feeling of sunshine upon my skin, of the warmth of a baby next to me. But I didn’t wish to feel it again.

I wished that a wolf had found us that day in the field. Wished that he would have torn her throat out. Because a wolf knows no cruelty, just survival. Humans are worse. I hope that they tie my neck to a post when I give birth to the life growing inside of me now. It would be an act of kindness. I can’t raise another and feel what I feel now. And they can’t even see my sorrow, hear my cries. All because I have four legs and hooves. Because I was born a cow. Because my baby was, too. 

I Bare My Teeth

by Liza Rose

I am fighting 
to feel, 
fighting 
to not feel 
as much.

I long to be 
a house cat
content 
in watching birds 
through a dusty window;
content 
in finding a patch of sunlight 
whose heat I can curl up in;
content 
in sinking my claws into carpeting,
yawning, flicking my tail,
stretching my back
to the crescent moon.

I long to be 
a house cat.
I long to be 
content.

But I am not. 

I am fighting 
to feel, 
fighting 
to not feel 
as much.

I am an animal
blessed with intelligence,
cursed with intelligence.
blessed with emotion.
cursed with awareness.

My self defense
lies not in claws or jaws 
but in pretending.

And so
I bare my teeth
in the form 
of a smile
and pretend
to be 
content.

<strong>Liza Rose</strong>
Liza Rose

Liza Rose is a student at The Pennsylvania State University studying English. We can find her work in the poetry anthologies “War Crimes Against the Uterus” by Wide Eyes Publishing, and “Foraging” by Globalage Poetry. 

She enjoys tennis, coffee, horror films, poetry, and everything else that makes her feel utterly alive.
Connect with her on Instagram @Lizarosepoetry & @Liza.lies.alot!

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Vedran Tomsic

Vedran Tomsic

In True Love for a Brief Moment

Flash Fiction by Vedran Tomsic

I picked you up on a summer bluebird afternoon. We decided to leave it all behind for a day and indulge in whatever. 

You see other guys; I live other lives, neither of us minds. Both our hearts, guts and souls were once ripped apart and torn, that’s what makes us strong. We already know our dirty secrets from way before, missing open intimacy, not the score.

You put on a badass song and squeezed my right hand resting in your lap; I kissed the back of yours. A tear of joy started to flood the corner of my left eye. I welcomed it. Your smile outshined the sunset behind us.

We cherished that serene moment of true level, seeing that if there is anything we know is that moments get gone. I am a patient man unlike those boys you like to play; you get me harder than a diamond and I understand drama so I know how buildup can turn a bedroom into a sauna.

But it isn’t imperative for us to fuck as it’s fundamental that we are in each other’s lives and that we protect it at all costs. That much we know. The day was going way too good, close to kitsch. So when we stopped at that one gas station where the bathrooms were working, I just had to try to tongue kiss you in the car because I knew you wouldn’t let me, it made the day perfect.

We laughed about it. Moments are hitchhikers and I picked up one more at the end of the road, gently kissed your lips and squeezed you hard around the waist before I deployed for my personal holy war. As I pulled away, I peered at your silhouette in the rearview.

You never looked back. That’s why I respect you.

On Raphael

Poetry by Vedran Tomsic

Default set to childlike wonder
transcending age and time
globes of silent thunder
lowly and sublime.


Consuming in parallax
the madness that is world
shifted perspective syntax
from baked to raw to served.


Two things we truly own
man’s angel wings of soul
trapped in glass domes
where the wonder child can grow,


forever.

Meet Vedran

<strong>Vedran Tomsic </strong>
Vedran Tomsic

Vedran is a photographer from Slovenia. During a week off in New York in January he went around town collecting feedback on a photo book dummy and got the advice to think about including some writing instead of just photographs.

Six months later he did. It started as a project of combining photography and poetry. Since then, it went from writing poetry and short stories to becoming an integral part of his creative process with more and more serious aspirations with the medium. As a newcomer to shuffling words, he is yet to publish a book, but you can find his writing on Instagram @pencutsandpaperstains

This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn advertising/referral fees if you make a purchase through my link, with no extra cost to you. It helps to keep this little magazine afloat. Thanks for your support. Read full disclosure here.

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Pastel Dress

Pastel Dress

Pastel Dress by Aysha Nasrin

It was a warm Sunday morning in the mid of summer. Aiden had already overworked and worn out after a frantic week at his office. He slept through the night like a rock. The morning light glistened in his tan skin. Aiden was six feet tall with messy brunet hair and deep chocolate brown eyes. He was rational and earnest in the works he did. Aiden woke up from his bed and looked through his mail.

“God! NOT AGAIN,” he said, groaning in distress and pulled the blanket over his head as he dashed the phone back and closed his eyes again.  Aiden couldn’t sleep as his stomach growled. He stood up and raided the entire refrigerator, but couldn’t find anything to eat. He put on his shirt and track and went out to get breakfast.

It was 8 AM on Sunday morning.  The diner looked calmer than usual because no one would wake up at 8 on a weekend. He had the usual breakfast with coffee and felt alive after the dose of caffeine in his blood. 
“Thank you.” He greeted the waitress and left the place.

On his way back home, unlikely the whole street looked composed and the vacant roads seemed bizarre. Suddenly, he saw an odd building in the opposite lane of the street.  “It was never here before. Was it?”  He gaped, then crossed the road and took a closed look at the board outside of the shop, which read ‘object d’ art’. It was a bookstore in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe I didn’t see it before,” he thought to himself.

The whole facet of the book store looked distinctive.  The interior of the store enthralled Aiden.  He saw people reading the books here and there, who had a confused expression about the existence of the bookstore as him.  It had a collection of vintage books and he loved the place as it reminded him of one of his favorite horror movies. He flipped through book after book in the entire history section. The smell of the book simplified the value of it. Every book was a limited edition. The history of the English monarchy had always fascinated him.

His cell phone rang. “Shhhh.”  Someone from the back of the book rack shushed him. 
“Sorry,” he whispered. “Hey! Call you later.”  He hung up the phone abruptly. “Do you have another copy of this?”

He heard a distant mellow voice asking him a question, and he turned around.  It was a girl.  A beautiful girl in a pastel-colored dress.  Overdressed for the morning.  Her auburn curly hair cautiously curled. Her hazel eyes twinkled in the morning light and her chiseled face gleamed in the vintage bookstore. She looked surreal and Aiden couldn’t take his eyes off her.  She held an amused reaction as her beauty stumbled him.

“Excuse me!”
She waved back at him. “Me? No, you’re mistaken.  I don’t work here.”  That the most stunning girl in the world thought of him as ‘A guy who works in a weird bookstore’ embarrassed him.  
She blushed and said. “Well I know.”
“You know?” Aiden beamed. 
She nodded and flushed again.
“Man!”  Aiden murmured.  She is blushing for you, he thought to himself.

She looked straight into his chocolate brown eyes. Their eyes met.  Aiden never felt like this with anyone. He has been with many girls before, but he wasn’t in love with anyone. His relationships flickered like rain in a tropical country. He looked at her again, her wide hazel eyes were already looking into his.

When four eyes met, love was born. 

“And you are…?” Aiden prompted the conversation, but a loud bang interrupted. 

People screamed.  He couldn’t understand what was going on. It happened before he could realize it. A bullet punched through the girl’s right temple.  A stranger shot her.  She fell down on the floor and blood streamed from her head. 

“Oh my God,” Aiden cried.  “Why? God!!! Why?” he screamed in agony. He looked at the shooter in despair but the shooter looked disturbed as he wasn’t sure why he shot the girl from the bookstore.

Aiden couldn’t save the girl or the people who were running here and there. He looked around, and they flooded the bookstore with blood. 
At last, the gunman pointed the gun at Aiden as he was the last one standing and he panicked before he even moved.

Crack.

AIDEN WAS SHOT

Aiden found his love and death at the same time and at the same place. 

It was unbearable. He howled in pain, he couldn’t breathe nor move. He felt like someone had tied his entire body with a cord.  He heard his own pulse, and it was fading slowly. His legs were ice cold, and the coldness had spread into his entire body. He couldn’t bear the pain. 

In the mayhem’s midst, he heard a distant voice from the radio, “Local gunman shot the people like it was a video game. People posted it online. And the police reported that the gunman was mentally unstable.” The news anchor reported.  Confused, Aiden rested his head down as he closed his eyes. Finally, he let go of himself.

iPhone’s ringtone screeched. 

“Oh my God,” Aiden gasped. He couldn’t breathe. He opened his eyes and searched for the phone that rang a minute ago. He held his chest. He couldn’t move. But he didn’t feel the cold anymore. “Oh my God! I’m alive,” he screamed with joy.  He looked around and realized he was in his home not in the bookstore. He found his phone and checked the time.

8 AM

He rubbed his eyes harder. He couldn’t believe it.

“Argh! It was a dream,” he sighed. “Thank God.” He stood up from his bed and sat down for a while as he recollected his dream again. “It wasn’t a dream. It was a Nightmare.”  He was glad that it wasn’t real. But it felt real to him in every sense.  His stomach growled as he was hungry. He raided through his entire refrigerator, as he couldn’t find anything. 
He put on his tees and tracks to get his breakfast.

He went to the diner where he usually eats. Unlike in the dream, he saw people having their breakfast in the diner. He sighed in relief and sat down in his seat. 

“So, what’s your order, sir?.” “The usual,” he replied. “No, wait..” He heard the same mellow voice before.  He looked up to see the face of that voice. 
It shook Aiden. “Usual? Sorry, I’m new here. Can you repeat your order, please?” she asked. 

Aiden trembled and stuttered as he stood up to leave. “No I’m not hungry.”  He hurried to the exit and left the place. He ran as fast as he could.  He couldn’t breathe as he stopped.

“The same girl with the pastel dress.  Same hazel eyes,” he murmured.  He didn’t know if the dream haunted him or the girl.  “Both,” he mumbled.  “Love is my nightmare.” He sighed in relief and ran for his life.  But how far could he go?  He would never know. 

Meet Aysha

<strong>Aysha Nasrin </strong>
Aysha Nasrin

My name is Aysha Nasrin and I go by pen name A. N. Born and brought up from a small town in the southern part of India. My physical age is 27, but my mind hasn’t aged in the last 7 years. I’m a homemaker and mother of two beautiful boys who never fail to make my day.

Periodically I wrote in the notepads of the phone, it started off as an escape from reality, then it turned into a hobby and now it became a part of me. I was part of three published anthologies and I got an Instagram account to connect with other writers.  Instagram Id @whenshewrites_an 

This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn advertising/referral fees if you make a purchase through my link, with no extra cost to you. It helps to keep this little magazine afloat. Thanks for your support. Read full disclosure here.

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That Summer Day

That Summer Day

That Summer Day by Perry Kornbluh

Summer days in Louisiana are not quite the picture of fun.  On that day the temperature reached above ninety but that didn’t stop our family from venturing out for our weekly barbeque.  I was probably the only sixteen-year-old in my neighborhood that stayed behind that year, while all my friends attended summer camp.

“Jane,” said my dad when I broached the subject, “When I was your age, we didn’t go to summer camp.” 

Personally, I think he was just scared to see me go. I tried arguing, cajoling, even threatening but nothing helped. So, I spent my summer roasting under the sun during the day, and at night, getting bitten by a thousand blood-sucking mosquitos while I watched the stars and asked God questions that he never answered.

“Janie dear, we’re leaving to the lake in five minutes. If you don’t get down here by then, you’ll have to pedal all the way there yourself.”

I grunted.  “Nobody needs these stupid barbecues.” 

But tradition was the tradition in our family.  I didn’t bother changing out my pajamas, or fixing my messy bun.  I just grabbed my iPod and headphones and ran outside.

Grandpa and dad were piling boxes full of food into the back of the pickup truck, as Grandma admired herself in her little pocket mirror. “Here she is, my little teenager,” she said as she reached out to fluff my hair. 

I rolled my eyes at her and pulled away, wincing slightly when I noticed her shoulder sag. I’m not cold or heartless, but sometimes I feel like I have no control over the raging hormones in me.  Dad revved up the motor of his pickup truck as we all piled inside. I plugged myself into my earphones, trying to drown out the noise of Grandma’s fake teeth chewing on bubble gum. It was a useless attempt. 

After riding in the rickety mess of a vehicle for seemingly an eternity we got to the lake. It was a small secluded reservoir surrounded by a dense forest. We’ve been having our weekly barbecues here ever since I can remember. We never stopped, except when Mom died last July.  We were all too stricken with grief to sit around, listening to music, and eating roasted marshmallows.

But then, everyone moved on it seemed. The music was back on in the house, and the laughter resumed as if it had never stopped. And me?  Still stuck in the past.  I still stayed up night after night, nose pressed against the window, waiting for her.  She never came back and deep inside I know she never will. But I was not ready to make peace with that reality yet.

“Jane, whatcha thinkin bout?” said Dad, growling.  He had come back to fetch me from the car where I sat lost in thought. 

“Um, nothing.” I lied. 

“Come on, babe. Cheer up.” Dad looked away as he said those words. I knew it was hard for him to show emotion.  He was a tough guy, but under that veneer he had a heart made of marshmallow fluff. 

I choked back a cry and forced a smile. “I’m happy, see?” I pointed to my face and saw Dad’s shoulders visibly relax. ‘Why can’t you see through that?’ I silently yelled.  And once again my pleads fell on deaf ears.

With a sigh I collected myself, not that anyone would notice anyway, and joined my family hard at work trying to set the barbecue up. 

Before long, Uncle Harry’s jeep pulled to a stop beside us, music blaring. Dad waved as all his kids piled out of the van. 

“Hey Jane, you look so beautiful.” Aunt Lee showed up beside me and smiled that condescending smile of hers at me.  I wanted to punch her in the face. I was wearing pajamas, but was owning it with pride. 

“Thank you, it’s actually pajamas, and I got it in Target.  But I appreciate you trying so hard.” I smiled back as Lee walked off looking miffed. 

I took a can of diet coke out of the cooler and perched myself on the edge of a bench where I got to watch the sun setting over the lake. My cousin Olivia, followed me and plopped down beside me. I turned to look at her, searched her entire face for a sign of pity but found none. “Hi,” I mumbled, gazing off into the distance. 

“How are you holding up?” she asked genuinely. 

I looked down at my fingers wrapped around the perspiring can of Coke; they were trembling violently. I was tired of holding it all in. Tired of lying. The worst part, I wasn’t even pretending but everyone just attributed my misery to me being a teenager. 

“Jane.” Olivia ventured gently. 

And then the dam burst. The tears flooded for the first time since Mom’s passing. Olivia put her arms around me and rocked me gently while I cried. I couldn’t stop. All the restrained pain came gushing at me forcefully. I felt like I was drowning in them.  Desperately, I gasped for air and coughed on the smoke that entered my lungs. 

“It’s okay, Jane.  Just remember to breathe,” Olivia whispered into my ears. 
It was as if I was back in Mom’s arms. As if she was holding me again after I got a bad grade or a kid said something nasty. It was as if she hugged me after I told her the first boy that loved me dumped me.  As if she was protecting me from the bad world out there. As if she was here again, right by my side. Loving me.

I looked up to the sky which had turned to pitch black. The tall trees spread out above me.  I used to think of them as menacing claws, now I saw them as fierce protectors. Olivia was still beside me now holding my hand as my crying turned into sobbing.

The stars twinkled, and I saw Dad approaching me with open arms. I ran towards him and collapsed in his arms. And from the heavens I swear I heard Mom whisper “You’ll be alright.”

<strong>Perry K</strong>ornbluh
Perry Kornbluh

Perry K. is a freelance writer who breathes poetry. Besides for writing, she also has a passion for drawing, ballet, and photography. Her greatest inspiration for her writings are life and humanity. 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

The Mega Typography Bundle

From the Paper Crane

From the Paper Crane

A Short Story by Denelyn Catbagan

Light spilled into the darkness as a little girl opened the package, a smile breaking through her face like she had just found a treasure. She picked me up and gazed at me warmly.

“Papa! I found it!” she said.

A man appeared next to her beaming with pride–I recognized him. He was my creator. He had folded me and shaped me. Made my paper wings and beak with such care and love.

“Make her happy, my friend,” he whispered, as he hid me in a box.

I don’t know why he would talk like that to me. I was useless, a paper crane incapable of doing anything. Protect a smile? How could I do that? Yet, now, as she held me in her hands. I felt like my life suddenly had a purpose. She carried me and played with me as her father watched, delighted with her happiness. My world became colorful with her by my side. 

But as the days go by, so do the happy times. Her father had gone, and she succumbed to her loneliness.

“You didn’t keep your promise!” She cried out. She hid me in a trunk, forgotten and decrepit.

They left there me. I kept wondering and wondering if there was something, anything I had done wrong. I was as useless as I had thought, and I felt guilt weigh heavy in my fragile heart.

Did I not keep my promise? 

I waited and waited, even as my body started to mold, even when I start to lose my vivid color. I kept believing that she’ll be back.

One night, I had a dream–a memory of when he had made me. I could remember him writing something in my body, but I couldn’t read it. Black ink seeped into my paper body; the ink felt cold, yet; I felt honesty and love within these symbols. I wish I could speak and ask him about it, but I can’t speak or talk for I’m just a mere origami that he made for his daughter.

The next day, the trunk opened, and I saw her face again.  She had changed.  She became a beautiful lady now.

She scavenged the trunk for a phone, long forgotten like the rest of its contents. She continued to search until she finally noticed me, a small paper crane in the trunk’s corner. She picked me up and examined me. She, at first, thought of me like nothing and was about to throw me away again.

I panicked at first and tried to calm down. With the little strength inside me, I tried to move and shake until one of my folds became undone.

That was when she noticed the strange symbols inside me. She unfolded me revealing the writing inside. Tears began to form in her eyes as she saw the strange characters.

That when it dawned on me–I made her cry. I began to blame myself as she cried, thinking I was useless and terrible. Her hands held me tightly, and she ran out of the open doorway.

A woman saw her and hugged her, but I couldn’t care. I kept thinking I was terrible. Maybe I shouldn’t exist. Maybe I was just a mistake. I wish I could have stopped him.

Epilogue

The girl cried, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother reassured her and said, “I see that you found it. Don’t worry, your father loved you too. I know he has already forgiven you.”

They held each other for a while as she held the handmade origami crane her father made. Though the little paper crane thought of itself as useless, it accomplished something of great relevance to her life.

<strong>Denelyn </strong>C<strong>atbagan </strong>
Denelyn Catbagan

I’m Denelyn and I am residing in the City of Manila, Philippines. I live with my family and pets. A cat and a dog, respectively. I like to travel and have been to places such as Europe, Asia, and Australia.
At first, I wrote poetry to express my mental illness in a safe way. Then, I began to enjoy writing and reading poetry books. I’m fascinated by how writers could tell stories so effectively that I now wish to pursue a career in writing. I still continue to write poetry and short stories and share them on my Instagram and Blog: Thoughtful Wisps.
And I am very thankful for this chance to share this with you all!

(This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure about affiliate links here.)

Halloween Scene Creators

The Blotted Truth

A short story by Leena Auckel

She glanced at the paintings hanging on the wall. Some abstracts and some landscapes. It was a pleasant sight! When Henry wasn’t busy analysing enzymes and DNA in his lab, he used to paint in his studio. In the corner, she saw a sturdy shelf containing thick books. She trailed her fingers along the titles on the book spine. Secrets of the Chemists, DNA Demystified, and after more interesting titles. She reached his easel. On the canvas was a majestic swan gliding in a blue lake, that part was freshly painted with different shades of blue, which rendered it very vivid, she could almost catch the faintest ripple on the lake. She liked how the sky pigment sculpted the contours of the conifers around the lake.

It was amazing how he could handle electron microscopes and his paintbrush with the same finesse. She came near his table, a white mug contained water he had rinsed his paintbrushes in and the pots of cobalt blue and navy blue pots of paint he used to paint the lake lay next to it.

Cassandra had a passion for painting too but the sands of time wanted otherwise. Each time she started to draw something she was discouraged by her partner’s harsh comments.

Somehow seeing colours always brought back her childhood memories for those were the only colourful phase of her life. Unlike the last 2 years which were only a bleak black and white. She had been under constant psychological and moral abuse by her partner Jake, which had eroded her cheery personality and rendered her stoic. She was being dragged in the swirling vortex of manipulation without even realising it.

Henry had been abroad for some years. It was only two months ago that he came to Hamilton. At first, Cassandra plainly refused for the meet-up, like she had been doing for many other reunions and outings lately because Jake did not see it with a good eye.

In the beginning, she used to feel bad about not being able to meet her friends and relatives, but with time she changed. She started spinning a cocoon of low-esteem around her, and she showed no interest in sharing laughter with happy people.

Cassandra gave in only when her other two friends told her they would pick her up from work and meet over lunch. She would have been swallowed in a depressive tornado by now, if it was not for Henry, who saw how drastically she had changed from the happy-go-lucky girl he had known as a classmate to a forlorn girl with wrinkles of worry.

She went so far back in time that she inadvertently knocked over the cup of water which tipped over the pots of the navy blue and royal blue paint. A navy blue river started to form its way on the table sinuously until it reached Cassandra’s finger, which was lingering on the table. The cold water stimulated the thermoreceptors on her fingertips and flipped Cassandra back to reality. She stared at the mess in horror. She quickly picked up the cup and grabbed hold of some tissue paper and stopped the water from flowing from the edge of the table. Just in time before it reached the floor!

There was still some paint residue on the table. She reached for the tissue roll to wipe the rest of the paint only to find that it was over. She heard the garage door opening. Henry was back! Oh my god, what do I do now?! I created such a mess. It’s always me. Wherever I go things go wrong!

Her heart was pounding as she looked frantically around the room for something to clean the mess. Luckily, she found a bunch of filter papers lying on the bookshelf. She grabbed one of them and lunged towards the table. The knob of the door clicked and Henry’s shadow flooded the doorway.

“Am-am so sorry Henry, I didn’t mean to. I mean it’s my mistake, ev, everything just toppled over. I am cleaning it!” she muttered.

Henry just stood there staring at her. This made her even more uncomfortable. She wondered how will he react, will he brood? Will he scold? Or worst, will he beat me? This was how Jake used to react during disputes, with time she had been conditioned into walking on eggshells.

“Am almost done,” she said heading towards the table her cheeks turning crimson. By now the filter paper had absorbed most of the residual paint. She reached for it and started to crumple it.

“Wait!”

She froze. She closed her eyes. It’s coming. She closed her eyes harder, conditioning herself to bear the pain.

She waited. Nothing.

“Cassandra …Cassandra!” he said in a soft voice.

Henry held her shoulders and turned her around and looked into her eyes.
“It’s fine!” he said. “it’s just some paint,why are you getting so worked up?”

He picked up the filter paper and admired it,  the blue colours which had seeped in had taken different hues of blue.

“This is beautiful,” he whispered.

He bent down took his paintbrush and dipped in the the navy blue pot of paint and brushed a few strokes on the blotting paper. Cassandra peered to see what he was doing but she could only make out a blue blob of paint at the rim of the paper. He dipped the brush in black paint now and painted few more strokes and placed it back.

Now she could make it out. He had drawn a woman figure on the filter paper.

“For you this might be a wasted filter paper meant to be discarded. But the artist in me sees a sky on that paper. And that’s you with all the sky stretched in front of you showing you that possibilities are infinite.
Even if you soaked up all the mess that doesn’t make you less valuable, Cassandra. What you have endured does not put you to a disadvantage instead it has built you and armoured you with shields that will help you face harder days with ease.”

He stared at Cassandra’s awe-filled eyes and continued. “Don’t make yourself a victim of what you have undergone, you are more than just a sufferer. You are a Warrior! This sky is just waiting for You to open your wings and fly. Yes, Cassandra fly! Fly and conquer new horizons!”

<strong>Leena Auckel</strong>
Leena Auckel

I am from Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean.  Presently, I’m working as a lecturer in a Medical University.  I started writing as a hobby back in college and gradually, written words became my lifebuoy.  With life becoming more of a whirlpool, writing keeps me afloat and helps me reach out to people.

During my journey from medical student to tutor, I have come across many students with difficulty to cope at both academic and psychological levels hence my purpose to write motivational quotes.  My other hobbies include cooking, drawing and painting. My current project is to bring together my paintbrush and pen to promote mental and physical health.

Find me on my Facebook Page: Sun-Kissed Ink

(This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure about affiliate links here.)

It Was She

It Was She

By Robin LeOra Anderson

The woman in the reflection was unknown to her, a stranger. The figure sat poised and proper at the cherry wood vanity. Her ample breasts spilling out of her strapless black lace bra. Red lipstick clasped in her newly manicured fingers. Her petite hand, adorned with a 1/2 carat diamond on her ring finger, catching the reflective light of the setting sun.

The rays casting through the French doors that led to the perfectly tended yard. Her long golden locks, portraying the perfect illusion, whilst hiding the $500 extensions. She didn’t seem real. Who had she become? This version of herself masked the reality of what she felt. Was she a trophy wife? Is that what one would call it? If so, it was she that had allowed herself to obtain such a title.

Over the years she has given permission for her old self to die away and for the new model to be on display. Disgusted by what stared back at her, she stood, tossing the makeup into the vanity drawer. She sauntered to her closet where her gown for the evening’s festivities hung. Still covered in plastic from being picked up from the dry cleaners earlier in the day. Gently removing the plastic covering, she carefully wiggled her tiny frame into the crimson velvet dress, squeezing her $8,000 bust into it as best she could. She pulled at its ends, causing the fabric to form even more fittingly, hugging her small curves. She slipped her toes into the black Louis Vuitton’s, and took a step back to take a gander at the presentable finished product. She was indeed quite the most beautiful specimen.

But in that moment, it didn’t matter. Her beauty. The big 5,800 square foot home. The gun metal Maserati in the garage, or the crystal flute etched with a golden rim that housed the sparkling Veuve Clicquot. She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip of the delectable liquid. She took one last look in the mirror, raised her free hand and matching the gesture of the pristine red nail of the middle finger, uttered aloud, “Fuck you!” For, It was all a facade.

In a moment she would make her grand entrance. The guests would “ooh and ah” with hushed tones upon her arrival and she would elegantly walk towards her husband and he’d kiss her on the cheek. He would gawk and gush, exaggerating his delight with a plethora of compliments; all the while his gaze straying towards another beauty that stands nearby with smiles of adoration. It was all a game. Lies and falsifications disguised with laughter and grins. Yet, she knew she would play the part, wear the smile, for how could anyone with “all this” be unhappy. One should be grateful for all that they have, and to turn a blind eye to his adulterous ways…was understood, was acceptable, and she would be crazy to give it all up.

She turned away from the reflective image, and she began her walk down the hall to embrace the insignificant faces of the evening. His colleagues, long-life friends, those he had added to the list last minute to simply rub his success and blissful life in their faces. She was his to show off, right along with the cognac that they had brought back from their trip to France, they were all on display. She could hear the chatter and clinking of glasses, and with one last sip and one deep breath (causing her bosom an attempted escape from the constricting dress) and a smile…entre’!

Suit and ties filled the room, various scents (colognes and perfumes clashing) filling her nostrils causing them to flare. In efforts of disguising the overwhelming fragrance, she delicately brought her glass to her lips, taking another gulp whilst holding her breath.

As she walked about the room, greeting her guests with nods, smiles, and hellos, the men’s eyes followed with each sway of her hips. All filled with lust and longing and some aglow with jealousy. The women were dressed to the nines, with various shades of their black and gray splattered about, yet unable to compare to her.

She caught a server by the elbow, trading her empty flute for another crisp cold bubbly, this one embellished with three pomegranates floating at the top, grazing her plump lips as she brought it to her mouth, quenching her thirst.

In that moment, just as she had assumed, her husband, began his approach to her. With much chagrin leaving the side of his muse, but not before whispering sweet nothings into her ear, causing her eyes to sparkle. Anger stung at the corner of her eyes, which then transformed into shame. She felt embarrassed by her husband and his mistress’ cavalier attitude. Their behavior wasn’t blatant, flaunting was even to crass of a word, however; they certainly didn’t disguise their relationship. It was such a ridiculous ruse, and it was expected that she would swallow her pride, her dignity, her value, her worth. She deviated her eyes away from the spectacle. In response and perfect self deprecating fashion, she finished her champagne, and found the server grabbing another.

Much to her dismay, he had chosen to wear his gray Armani suit. Upon purchasing it, weeks prior, she had mentioned that the suit was simply too small. The areas that it hugged and accentuated were not flattering by any means. Yet, he disagreed claiming that it was his exact size, a 42L (in reality a 46 would have sufficed perfectly). But, as he paraded across the room, his red velvety tie caught the flickering of the ambient candlelight that decorated the large room.

It was an intentional choice (the tie) to match her formal wear. His gait was proud, slow and steady, even with his confidence accentuated in each step, he was still unable to hide his middle-age bulge, that was so desperate to be released from the restraint of the single button of his suit. It was laughable really. How ridiculous he looked, yet the compliments and validation he received was all that he required, and of course it was given. The pats on his shoulder, the hand-shakes as he walked by, the nods of approval…the superficial confirmation filling his ego.

She could feel her stomach churn at the idea. The visualization of of the figures filled with greed and envy was more than she could bear. She could see the hunger in their eyes instilled with complete idolization towards this man. Her man. Her husband. She envisioned the gnawing and gnashing of their teeth diving into his flesh in ravenous frenzy in efforts to fulfill their gluttonous adoration. It was sickening. Vile. She had to clear her throat to stifle the bile that was journeying upwards from her belly. 

“You look ravishing, my dear,” he muttered under his breath, along with a tooth-filled smile kissing her hand. She nodded in response, her eyes catching the envious stare of his Jezebel from across the room. She then tapped her glass with the base of her ring finger, creating a high clanking, grabbing the attention of the visitors. 

“Would you all please raise your glasses?”

The room complied with her bidding. She scoped the great room, a large Christmas tree stood tall and stoic in the corner. Decorated to its absolute perfection. Ribbons and wreaths were strewn above the window and fireplace; the atmosphere so breathtaking that one could easily find themselves agape at its elegance. 

“I want to thank you all for being here this evening,” her voice as soothing as the trill of a songbird. “As we celebrate the passing year for all its triumphs and downfalls, I hope we are all able to reflect on our journey with positivity and continue to grow and learn. I do hope that the coming year brings good fortune, enlightenment, and an opportunity of discovery as we move towards a brighter and more satisfying future.” 

She paused for a moment, lowering her raised hand, scanning the faces of all those surrounding her. She could feel their piercing eyes of judgement, their smiles of false truths, burning deep into her core, and she could feel the loneliness rising within her depths. It was a room of strangers who desired to be called friends. A room filled with beings that knew nothing of her soul. 

With an escape of a small chuckle, she raised her glass and continued, “So, fill your ravenous appetites, indulge on the flowing cocktails, taste all the delicacies proffered within these walls, TAKE what is given, and appease your voracious sinful souls! here’s to you!” The room, in automated response echoed, “Cheers!” She then locked eyes with her spouse, as they each took their sip in response to toasting tradition.

His brow furrowed, as he stood quizzical and confused. She gave him a sly smile and a devilish wink, then ventured towards his muse.

The young woman began to shift and stir in her bargain heels, nervously fidgeting with the diamond earrings that hung loosely from her lobe.

A gift for being, “Such an amazing assistant, a godsend really,” or at least that’s what she was told when she found the bill from the jewelers, that had accidentally fallen from her husband’s pants pocket earlier that morning.

As she reached her destination, the young woman attempted a smile, all the while with quivering lips and her eyes darting sporadically in the direction where her husband still stood watching. She leaned in towards the girl, she placed her lips upon the girl’s cheek, giving a delicate peck, slowly she moved her red lips towards the girl’s ear, and whispered HER sweet nothings.

“He’s all yours, dear.” She placed her empty flute down on the glass coffee table, exited the room, fully aware of the whispers, gossip, and giggles.

Upon returning to her bedroom, she closed the door and fastened the lock behind her. Safe within her solitude. She went before her mirror, freeing her feet from the three inches of height and began unzipping her dress. The red velvet fell to the floor, and with the unsnapping of her bra, her breasts were now liberated. Her nipples stood erect from the sudden exposure of the air. She then removed her underwear, tossing them to the side. She stood before her image. Naked. Susceptible to judgement; her own. She was vulnerable and she was frightened. As she looked about the clothing scattered on the floor, she removed all her jewelry, adding them to pile at her feet. Lastly, her ring. The last materialistic item that connected her to him. The identifier that allowed the world to see that she was taken, that she was a Mrs., that she was still his. She held it in the palm of her hand, feeling its weight. She then chucked it across the room, hitting the wall above their bed frame, dropping to the hardwood floor, giving a thud of finality. 

Her skin had been shed. And she could feel a rising fire growing from within her belly. She could feel a new strength flowing throughout her veins. Her heart raced. With one inhale, deeply filling up her lungs, awakening all senses, electrifying her soul and setting her eyes ablaze. 

She had been reborn. 

About the Author

Robin LeOra Anderson

My name is Robin LeOra Andersen, I am 43, married for 20 years, and have 4 beautiful children. I am a stay at home mom, but do help my hubby and older son (when needed) with our family business. I am located in Northern California, I am a classically trained pianist, I home schooled my children (an incredible blessing and adventure), and have always dabbled here and there (as a hobby) with writing. This past year, and as my children are getting older, I find I have more time for myself.  I am taking my writing more seriously and am currently working on completing my first novel. It’s an exciting new journey for me, and I am eager to see where it leads. My poetry can be found on Instagram: @leoras_beautiful_chaos_poetry 

(This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure about affiliate links here.)