Category Archives: Short Stories


There was no ginger in the cupboard. It didn’t come as a surprise because, come to think of it, I wasn’t sure that ginger was sold crushed in bottles like nutmeg or cinnamon, but it was disappointing. The lukewarm water in my mug hadn’t been hot enough to really steep the tea bag, so it tasted more like water than anything. In acceptance of the absence of ginger in the pantry, I settled for a meager drop of honey, so as not to overpower what little flavor the bag had succeeded in instilling. I tried not to make the way it settled at the bottom, unmoving, ineffective, any sort of metaphor. Instead, I picked up the mug and took as sip, seeking the nonexistent comfort a hot cup of tea had promised from my mug of tangy water.
Everything’s a metaphor, I remember telling someone once, eyes bright, heart racing, having just read a striking poem, and maybe it is. Maybe the honey does reflect my limp hair, my pale eyes, my arms, trembling at the thought of stirring the nectar in with a spoon. But that drop of honey has no control; it can’t stir itself, and I’m sure that if I put in any effort, I could change my surroundings. However, I’m painfully aware that there’s a clear distinction between power and strength, and I know that they drive each other, and there’s a sinking feeling brought on by the knowledge that somewhere in me, that connection is lost. How can it be that in a world of is and isn’t, in a sea of black and white, on a channel of yes and no, everything is might be and grey and maybe?
And the only comfort that I’ve found in my cup of tea, I realize with a tired smile, is the hollow memory of a metaphorical perspective. The honey at the bottom of the mug is gone when I check, and maybe that’s another metaphor altogether.

Rest In Peace

Clara had been happy with her life for nearly seventy years. She’d spent her time doing good things, doing all of the right things, and now, suddenly, there was a world of missed opportunities before her. She would never, ever, get the chance to know them now. Clara’s skin ached for the feel of a sea that she’d never touched, her eyes strained to know the sunsets that she’d been to busy for, and her tongue watered suddenly at the unfamiliar idea of authentic escargot.
Even as her breath came more quickly, less satisfyingly, a gust of air filtered in.
“Mom,” Clara’s mind registered that there should be face attached to that voice, but she wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t see it. Instead, she closed her useless eyes and remembered.
Tiny pink hands reached up to grab her greasy new-mother hair, brown and messy, not grey and wispy like Clara felt it should be.
Watery green eyes stared into her own, begging not to be forced onto the school bus. Clara watched young, strong, hands pass her daughter off to the bus driver, and she wondered if she would be able to lift a child like that now.
A dry voice informed Clara that her daughter was in jail for shoplifting, and the deepest disappointment of her life weighed heavily in her chest again.
“I love you, Mom,” she was choking on her own throat, by the sound of it.
A lifetime ago, Clara filled up on the irreplaceable scent of her mother’s neck. “I love you, Clara.”
Three quarters of a life ago, Clara stared into lying eyes and believed every word that came out of the matching mouth. “I love you, Clara.”
Half of a life ago, Howard’s smooth voice sang along to the song that had played as she walked down the aisle, just moments after the night of concentrated passion that had followed, and he switched out the last words with, “I love you, Clara.”
“Stay strong, mama,” her daughter’s voice sounded alien, and Clara wondered how long it would last.
Clara could barely see her mother’s floating face through her tears, but when she looked down, she could clearly see the red splattering on the sidewalk from her knee. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Clara should’ve known better than to put her faith in someone so untrustworthy, and it was her fault that she was sobbing on the couch now, but her sister didn’t seem to care. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Everything was black and frosted thick with pity; Howard’s glassy eyes stared past her for the last time, and the hand on her shoulder was all that kept her up. “Stay strong, Clara.”
“I’ll see you soon, mom,” Her daughter tells her, and Clara wants so badly to tell her that that had better not be true. Instead, she wheezes and spit clings to her chin. She settled for opening her heavy eyelids to give the illusion of staring into her daughter eyes. She wonders if she’s looking in the right direction, but she knows she is when a warm hand encases her papery fingers.
“Goodbye, mama.”
Clara forfeits her last breath in favor of pressing all of the love in her life into her daughter’s palm. Her skin is so young, so soft, that it absorbs all of the Looks and Smells and Feelings and I Love Yous and the Stay Strongs with little effort.
She didn’t need ocean water, or scenic nature, or expensive food. Without any of that, she rests in peace.

Sidney Times Two

I live two very different lives
Sunday through Wednesday
And Thursday through Saturday

I live my lives in two very different houses
And they look different, and they smell different
But I get to come home twice a week

I have three whole families
Two little ones and a big one
And all three are different shapes and sizes

I have two different schedules
And two different senses of humor
And two different personalities
And two different beds, and dressers, and toothbrushes

I have three families, two houses, and two very different lives
And I’m the luckiest person on Earth times two
Because some love might look and smell different
But it all feels the same.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Applause rings through the room like gunshots, ricocheting off of the invisible but indubitably solid walls, hitting arms and chests and heads. People scream, but they laugh, too, and there are even a few people crying. And nearly every person in the darkness, if they were asked, would say that they want to be there, and nearly every person in this room tonight is willing to become a liar. Behind every clap is a clap of proverbial thunder, and it’s common knowledge what accompanies thunder.
The applause dies down and the people are waiting,
Finally, the poet speaks, asks the question that they’ve all been dreading.
“Are we all having fun tonight?”
The people aren’t poets, and they can’t speak, so again, they scream and cry laugh and clap, clap, clap.
“Fantastic,” the voice is velvet rubbed the wrong way, scraping people’s ears.
“Alice,” Alice is the crier, somewhere near the back right corner,
“Dad’s not home,
But neither are you,
And you’re mom,
You’re made to live for two,
Dad tells you it’s your job,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, laughter, gunshot applause, and wrenching sobs.
“Marty,” Marty’s laughing, but his tears look just like Alice’s,
“Your roommate’s dead,
You almost are, too,
And you can’t stop,
Your world is crushing you,
Trust me, you’re not on top,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, wrenching sobs, gunshot applause, and hysterical laughter.
“Sophie,” Sophie screams,
“Your parents aren’t home,
They haven’t texted,
And they promised they would,
Especially when you get arrested,
You haven’t called them, you know you should,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Wrenching sobs, hysterical laughter, gunshot applause, and sickening screams.
“This cacophony of noise is agony by choice,
And you’re all cowards,” the poet’s mouth is too close to the microphone,
“Go home,
Or as close as you can get,
You’re like dogs with cones,
Like you’ve just been snipped.
I don’t recognize one face in this crowd,
Though, ladies and gentlemen, I can see in the dark.
You’re all too loud,
Too ready to spark,
Ladies and gentlemen,” the poet pauses, but nobody claps, there’s more, and the tension builds,
“Wake up.”

El Espejo

Sara despertó durante las horas más oscuras de la noche, entre las dos y las cuatro, con un grito atrapado entre los dientes. Los detalles de un sueño extraño y escalofriante escaparon de su mente como agua deslizándose entre los dedos. Sara lanzó una mirada rápida alrededor del cuarto, insegura de qué esperaba encontrar; ni sonido, ni luz, ni persona atrevía a romper el silencio de la oscuridad profunda. Con una irrompible manta de inquietud en los hombros, Sara sacudió la cabeza para limpiar los recuerdos de la pesadilla y salió de la cama.
Sus pies descalzos hicieron un crujido familiar al hacer contacto con la madera del piso. Sara caminó lentamente hacía la cocina, donde llenó un vaso con agua y se apoyó contra la mesa del comedor. Sólo ha sido una pesadilla, Sara aseguró a si mismo, pero justo en este momento, un movimiento a su derecha la sobresaltó tanto que su vaso echó por el suelo. Otra vez buscó algo en el cuarto, y otra vez no encontró nada. Sara respiró profundamente y tomó una toalla de la mesa para limpiar el vidrio del piso. Agachado en el suelo, podía ver su reflexión en los fragmentos dispersados por el suelo, pero de repente tambaleó hacia atrás.
Con el corazón latiendo como tambor en su pecho, Sara volteó para enfrentar la criatura horrorosa que había visto en el vidrio, pero no esperaba verla tan cerca.
Una cara estaba casi tan cerca que su nariz la tocaba. Sara sentía que sus pies estaban pegados al suelo. Su cerebro le gritaba que debería correr, esconderse, llamar la policia, pero algo la prevenía de hacerlo. Había una familiaridad morbosa en la cara sin forma; Sara tenía un sentido fuerte de déjà vu. Como si estuviera afuera mirando su propio cuerpo moviéndose, Sara vio su mano se extenderse para tocar esta cara tan repulsiva.
El tiempo se suspendió el momento que tocó la piel de la criatura, y Sara tenía la sensación inescapable de que ya no estaba en casa. No recordaba cerrar los ojos, pero estaban cerrados, y cuando Sara finalmente reunió la valentía para abrirlos, estaba enfrentado con una escena más hermoso y más horrible que jamás podría imaginar.
El cuarto estaba vacío con la excepción de un espejo con el imagen de una criatura sin forma.

The Monster

Ruby has stepped foot in a church exactly one time before today. She remembers the scratch of lace at her ankles and her wrists. She remembers her grandmother’s weathered face, solemn and intent on her prayer. She remembers the judgmental eyes of statues cold on the back of her neck when she bowed her head. That year hadn’t felt like Christmas, she recalled.

Today, she feels much the same. The door is a gaping mouth, opening wide to swallow her whole, and she steps in willingly. Ruby isn’t seven anymore, and she fears more than anything that this Monster will spit her out, but the first stone step may be the solidest thing she’s felt in years. The monster exhales a gust of air before it swallows Ruby Peters, and she finds that it’s warmer than the arms of her Someone Back Home. She finds herself relying on the Monster’s breath to fill her lungs all through the service; Ruby seems to have lost her own to the revelation that Georgia’s arms have become so cold. It takes hours of warmth and solidity for her to regain her breath, and only then does she stand up from the pew at the back of the chapel.

Leaning against the flank of the monster, Ruby pulls out her cell phone and dials an distantly familiar number.

“Hey, Mom?” the Monster applies an equal and opposite pressure on her shoulder blades, “I need to come home.”

The silence on the other end of the line is petrifying only momentarily, and then Mrs. Peters’ voice crackles back.

“Okay, baby. I’ll set up the couch and make you some tea. We’ll talk.”

“Yeah,” Ruby echoes, “let’s talk.”

Ruby’s car seems to autopilot to Georgia’s house, and her mouth still speaks the Monster’s words when she breaks the news.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m suffocating here, Georgia.” Ruby waves off a tearful interruption with an abstract goodbye: “I need to be where I can breathe.”

The torn brown box is overflowing with her things, with bras, and a toothbrush, and a hairdryer, when she rescues it and drop it into the safety of the backseat.

Any doubts that she feels are quickly dispelled by an unexpected breeze at the back of Ruby’s neck. She’ll never forget how the sound of her tires on asphalt today emulate the screams, breaking glass, the hollow apologies that have little by little replaced Georgia. In fact, every sound registers differently today; the world sounds softer in the wake of the Monster.

Ruby’s mom has lived here forever, and Ruby knows just how to step so that she doesn’t step on the sidewalk cracks heading inside. As promised, Ruby sips tea, and she talks to her mother.

The feeling that here’s far more than familiarity to this comfort keeps her sane until she feels the Monster’s breath again one week later.

There’s no lace on her dress this time, because it’s borrowed, and the statues’ eyes feel so warm this time, but when Ruby glances sideways during prayer, her mother’s face has adopted so many of the lines and wrinkles that left with Grandmother. Ruby breathes in another breath of the Monster, and this time, she doesn’t let it out.

Nuestra Iglesia

Te conocí en la iglesia, en un domingo frío y seco. Tu nariz estaba rojo como tus labios, y seguro que la mía también. Cada abuelita de la ciudad estaba en esta iglesia, en este día, y quedaban dos asientos cuando llegué; preguntaba en mi cabeza qué habrías hecho para que las abuelitas dejarían los dos sitios a tus lados abiertos.
Paré al fondo de la iglesia por dos horas este domingo.
Que injusto.
Una de las abuelitas fue mi abuelita, por algún suerte, y no gasto tiempo después del servicio para susurrar:
“¿La ves? Su existencia es un pecado.”
No fue la primera vez que había escuchado estas palabras.
• • •
Les conté en un sábado, en la cocina, mirando una mosca en la mesa.
Nadie río, y nadie gritó, pero mi madre hizo el signo del cruz, y mi abuela susurró:
“Tu existencia es un pecado.”
No lo mencionamos.
• • •
En este domingo como hielo, quedábamos hablando afuera por dos horas. Me dolían las piernas, y me dolían las orejas, y me dolía la corazón.
Esta noche, me quedé despierta rezando hasta que me saludaba el sol.
• • •
Precisamente una semana después, me dolían las piernas otra vez, y en el bolsillo de mi abrigo escondió tu número de teléfono. Esta noche apagué mi teléfono, y me quedé despierto rezando hasta que brillaba el sol.
• • •
La mañana siguiente, a las ocho, pensé en tus labios, y en tu nariz, y te llamé.
Reír contigo es la toca de alas en mi estómago, y en este lunes, ya sabía que las alas que me tocaban pertenecían a un ángel.
Cuando colgué el teléfono, me dolía la garganta.
• • •
Hoy me duelen los pulmones, que luchan para respirar,
Porque estamos en nuestra iglesia, a punto de casar
Me funcionan de maravilla las piernas, y así seguiré
Porque no hay nada tan sagrado que el amor atado a la fe.


You’re running
She’s cunning
There’s nowhere to go but up
You’re fighting
She’s screaming
You’re digging into bedrock
Mom doesn’t want you home
But there’s nowhere else to go
So you’re gone
Until two months ago
The day that you called me and told me
I was angry
Simple as that
The kind of rage that could hold me at a distance
Far away
I swore, I swore that’s where I would stay
And I’m not one to break my promises
So here I am today
I’m wearing black
The kind of black that’s vast and will block my view
I’m crying again
The kind of tears that are there when the day is through
I’m calling
I’m screaming
Mom’s begging me to stop
I’m running
She’s coming
There’s nowhere to go but up.

The Puppeteer

The Puppeteer

He was nothing more than a puppet. A marionette, strings pulled by the merciless hands of his years. But what a puppet he was! Oh, how elegantly his false arms and legs and body swept across the stage. Meanwhile, in the audience, a lady. She was anything but a puppet. Beyond undeniably breathtaking beauty, behind the scenes…another world.

The puppet stared at her with unseeing eyes, oblivious to everything that took place behind her fair skin and her dark hair. What a puppet he was, filled with desire as his part commanded.

Eric’s pace quickened to catch up with his prey – not prey? – on her slender legs. The skin of her wrist was warm and soft, and as creamy as it looked. His hand were soft, as well. A prince, he was. A prince did not callus his skin.

Desire, sang the puppeteer, desire.

“Do pardon me, ma’am, for intruding on your life. (But I should someday like for you to be my wife) But I’ve been halted by your allure.”

Aurora’s eyes flashed at the sudden approach, but her high cheekbones contradicted her. His eye were soft and brown, and as material as the gown she wore. Behind the scenes, a cart tipped. Wheat, good wheat, was strewn about the dirty lane of Tractus. A peasant parallel of Aurora turned and stared. That was the first time.


Later, all eyes are turned to them at the table. Eric’s mother, the queen, had demanded to see the thief who stole her son’s heart, – not heart? – and the queen always got what she wanted. A rumor had wormed its way into the queen’s mind. Aurora’s mother, at the passing of her beloved, had found herself with the blessing (Read: Curse) of wealth in a kingdom that crumbled as they ate.

“I know it’s rude, my dear, but I’m the queen, you see, and I just happened to hear a word. (Your family’s well-off. How absurd.) You have money, I see. Let’s discuss.”

In a cottage behind her eyes, a young boy writhed. His body was so painfully deprived. What a shame. The previous (Molasses) week, his father had dropped a cart of wheat.

The boy didn’t bother to close his eyes when he fell asleep. Aurora frowned from the street.

“Marry him! You’ll see what joy it brings you. (For the time until your fortune is consumed.) We welcome you to our family, Aurora. Forever.”
Aurora fought a tear for the boy on Tractus Lane, and fed hungry a woman an absent nod. That was the second time.

Then again, at the wedding, she left this world. She attended a funeral. Her white dress was gone. She did not long for it as she drowned in a sea of black. She watched a box lowered into the ground. When she turned her gaze to the sky, and saw nothing but earth. To her left: a box of mistakes, and to her right, an empty box. Her wrists burned as the puppeteer tied the strings.


Rainy Sky Eyes

I stare at the smoldering remnants of the bakery, a mixture of sorrow and wonder swirling through my head.
Why? Who would find the spite in their heart to ignite what is, by extension, the food on my table and the clothes on my back? Granted, the building is insured, but it’s still distressing. My eyes scan the crowd, looking each of those people right in the face. They’re sad, sure, but it doesn’t cut them to the core like it does me, my family. I feel that cut widening, and slimy goop inside of me oozes out, into the grimy street. It splatters in time with the water from the fire hoses.
“You okay, Parker?” Dad wraps a solid arm around my shoulder, squeezing tightly so that I can’t tell he’s shaking. I can tell.
“I’m okay, dad,” I stare down at my insides on the ground, the ones that dad doesn’t see, “are you okay?”
Guilt flashes in his rushing river eyes, the way it always does when he lies, “I’m okay.”
Dad definitely isn’t okay. He poured his whole life into that bakery, including his heart and soul. I’m pretty sure that insurance won’t cover that.
He steps with his feet all evening. I don’t know what he used to step with, but it sure wasn’t those.
I kiss him goodnight on his scratchy cheek, and then retreat to my bedroom, but I have no intention of sleeping – How could I? I tie my thick amber hair back into a braid, pull on dark jeans, black high-tops, and a black sweater, and then press my ear against my door. As expected, dad’s loud snoring is audible from his bedroom. I stare in the mirror, right into my own rushing river eyes, straighten my sweater, and then turn away.
The police, the fireman, they’ve hauled away all of the evidence, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll find dad’s heart and soul. Then, before I can change my mind, I climb out the window. The bakery’s a five minute walk, silent, save for the crunching of feet on asphalt and my thoughts.
What am I trying to accomplish? As poetic as it is – and I am a poet – I know that I can’t find his literal heart as soul.
I almost turn back, but then, as I approach the bakery, something changes. A figure crouched in the rubble, with long black hair. She’s facing away from me until a stick pops under my foot, and she whirls around. I’m not sure what exactly it is in her blue sky eyes – the guilt, the regret, the pain – but I immediately know who she is.
“It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you,” I assure her, and approach, stretching out a hand, “what’s your name?”
She tentatively reaches out to grasp my hand. Hers are papery and cold, smooth and creamy. Not the hands of an arsonist, I think.
“Aidan,” she supplies, and her voice is as delicate as her features.
I’m reminded of Snow White, “Hi, Aidan, I’m Parker, and you’re strange. I don’t think most arsonists return to the scene of the crime.”
Those sky eyes widen and she turns to run, but I still have her by the hand. When she finally stops struggling, I sit, dragging her down with me.
“You don’t get to go. Not until you explain,” her frightened eyes close momentarily, and she sits, nodding.
“Okay,” a strand of Aidan’s silky hair settles behind her ear, “It’s not a good explanation, though. Don’t expect anything.”
I nod, and she continues.
“Because I wanted to watch the world burn,” she says with finality, eyes cast downward.
I know now what I saw in her eyes; I saw poetry. Broken poetry, scrawled into her irises, twisted into the blood vessels.
“Wanted. Why past tense? What changed?” She looks at me, surprised.
“I thought I wanted to watch the world burn. But not anymore; Not after watching flames overtake this place,” she takes in a shaky lungful of air, “Because that’s what fire does, it spreads. I’ve been burnt, and the last thing that I need is revenge – I know that now. What I need is a cure.”
Her eyes aren’t full of fire, not like they must have been when she burnt down my second home. On the contrary, they’re watery.
Skies rain.
I wonder for a moment whether her tears could put out the fires that she started; whether they could wash away my insides from the pavement.
“You don’t need a cure,” I voice my earlier thoughts, “you could put out your fires with those tears.”
It’s poetic, it’s cheesy, and it’s not literal or logical. My dad would scoff, but I don’t care.
“Help people, Aidan. Don’t hurt them,” I advise, and then push off of the ground, dusting off my pants, “There’s a volunteer cleanup here tomorrow. Be there, if you can.”
When I’m home, I sleep, and I dream of Aidan’s rainy sky eyes.