Mutilation- Horror Flash Fiction

Content Warnings: graphic descriptions of cannibalism

Her face is the prettiest when rusted with blood. 

She’s wearing a clear raincoat, the cadaver within like meat bleeding out of a plastic bag, folds of fat and lumps of muscle seared with wounds cut against the grain. Her teeth peek behind her crusted lips craned in a smile, her breath the smell of pennies as I put my fingers on her chest and monitor her pulse. Her heartbeat is slow, stagnant, staccato. A red sonatina orchestrates around her as I lap her up, notes of silver on my black tongue. 

I am an ugly man. My hair is an oil spill, my eyes are shadows without brows and my high cheekbones are riddled with acne. My image is a descendant of a Chippewa chieftain, but my skin is pale and rather sickly. The shirt I am wearing is of a metal band since I was unable to find Mozart in the thrift shop, and my jeans have the texture of bandaids ripped off the skin. The fabrics loosely clothe my rotten skeleton underneath, stripped bare of any muscle. I say this all objectively; my bathroom mirror cannot lie. 

Before I depart my city-suburban home, I slide into my mother’s heeled boots and clomp out of the building. I am 207 centimeters with them, a behemoth to be revered as I march down the Tittabawassee and as the homeless saltines snap their necks to watch. If they can admire me, they can also cower before me. But when? 

I dream of the day when the sun ripens into strawberries over the humble buildings and melts the mud-drifted snow, and when I can write stories about Saginaw instead of detailing the abandoned buildings and businesses, and when an ugly beast crawls into this empty husk and devours the bodies of all people inside. When blood rains from the sky and the citizens enter a dancing plague to entertain him. And of course, the beast shall be me. 

Someday. 

I go to the local Walmart and trudge my cart through the parking lot, wheels trilling upon the patches of brown ice on the pavement. The people are vacant souls, any shred of personality being frostbitten by the blistering cold, yet are oddly proportioned just like me. It is off putting. To remember that the wrinkled middle aged Bump-It wearing blonde barbies aren’t satire, that the men who are insanely obese bean bags aren’t Hollywood actors in fatsuits, and the children wailing aren’t in a fire, although I would very much like them to be. 

The pretty people are even weirder; I am convinced they come here to look at us like zoo animals. I know that the white girls with tattoos on their lower backs and their waffle fried boyfriends slung around their waists aren’t here for groceries. They are here for Youtube videos and plan to film us like Animal Planet, taking turns riding in the carts and licking ice cream from their compartments and putting them back. 

Those are the people I would like to eat the most. Their meat is moist and tender, young and soft like baby goats and when spiced and well done they are the most satisfactory. Especially when watching television. They provide a healthy change to the programming: the star football player absent from an integral game or the prom queen going missing at midnight. Anything to get this drab Midwestern town to show any signs of color. 

However, I shall hold off for today. 

There is a meal awaiting me at the rear end of the store, next to a dumpster filled with the remains of what people don’t want to buy. Marked down Ben and Jerry’s, holy pantyhose, paperback classics and a dead body. 

I will name this one Sheila in my mind, but will never say it aloud. The moment the sound comes from my lips, the taste leaves my tongue. It would be such a waste. Her parts look delicious. 

~

There is blood on my chin. The police have arrested me and the news is filming me like a movie star on the red carpet. They survey every detail: my pale skin, the band Death Grips on my t-shirt, my skeletal figure and construct a bildungsroman of my wretched character- the perfect outcast to villain story. I smile with red crusted teeth and make sure they get a good look.

They ignore the girl behind me, don’t even bother to say her real name and keep crying Shattered Sheila- a marketable catchphrase for the media. The moment the killer comes on screen, they don’t care about the victim. 

They only see the ribbons of blood pooling, the lacework of guts on the concrete, the object of their fear. They only see their mutilation. 

Cameras flash and snap like the jaws of Dobermans, silhouettes of reporters behind them as the cops cuff me and show me off like I’m their prey.  Ironic.

I take a bite of Officer McKinley, his name and taste on my tongue, teeth digging into his buff upper arm. Red cascades down his skin and flattens his grey body hairs as he lets out a howl under the full moon. He faints and aches in pain, the wound revealing the ivory shimmer of bone. The reporters back away: click, click, click, snap, snap, snap- eating up seconds of the scene before the other policemen can restrain me and stuff me into their childish metal contraption. I wave bye bye and imagine how fearsome I shall soon be.

The dancing plague shall begin on TV screens, all of them watching me. Watching me as I feast. I know…

My face is the handsomest when rusted with blood. 

Honey Cataracts- Poetry

honey cataracts 

syrup glazed morning

my sweetened perception 

it stings

ouch. 

converses in daisy fields

copper tinged sun

ambrosia on our tongues

as we both 

never revealed 

what was of us 

the crumbles of our hopes 

hum with the carnage of insects

the foundation underneath

rumbles our honeycomb prison 

barefoot in daisy fields 

boys on the run 

icarus, fly to the sun 

as we both 

burn

what was left of us

honey cataracts 

sunshine in my glasses 

your sweetened deception 

it stings

ouch. 

Running Out of Time

God of Time, if you’re following TheWebWeavers, could you slow down, for me?


Just two minutes ago, three months of summer stretched out hazy and infinite in front of me. Now, it’s ending, it’s over—the happiest summer of my life.

I’m not ready for college to start.

I’m not ready for summer to end.

How am I supposed to let go of my friends? When it feels like I just found them again and I need to cling on for dear life?

At least there’s Instagram.

Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels

McDonald’s Soda- Horror Flash Fiction

You slump down my throat as my taste buds pop with your frigid snakeskin. Shangri La.

Well, not exactly that. You’re an ice-tuned McDonald’s soda, diluted ichor of the gods on this hot as hell day. My solace as the deviled sun blazes onto the field and stilts the freckled dry wheat-grass. My solace as I drive along this lonely road, to escape the fires before me. 

“Ah-”, I pant like a dog, “the weatherman wasn’t kidding when he said 115 degrees, huh?”  

I’m in a navy pickup, one out of country songs, and today the radio twangs a sour melody. The seats are muggy leather and the steering wheel is a lava stone, my clammy hands upon it. My sweat beads upon my brow and gashes my underarms. Heat sears through the window and threatens to set fire to the carcasses of fast food amassed at the bottom of the car, to send me hurdling into an abyss of crop circles, but to my dismay, it doesn’t happen. 

I continue to drive away, hot coals in my throat, as my eyes dart to the empty street behind me. No one is there. Not yet. 

I take another sip. 

Your delicate plastic orifice is bristled against my thinning mustache. You’ll make it grow again, right? Thick and bushy as it once was? 

I drink you more and continue down the long wandering pathway, you occupied in my left hand in a warm bear hug. My fingers oscillate upon your cardboard skin as my wide cuticles divot your golden arches. I sigh in delight. 

You are cold. Ice Christ cold. You take me away from the barrel bodies in the trunk, from the raw flesh-acetone scent and their bones that click together, tick tock tick tock. Time ceases when I am with you. When I take another sip. 

I swear I’m not crazy. But you know that. I am just a common man, overweight with fried foods and existential thoughts. I swear it. 

“Would you like another kiss?” I look behind us again, to make sure no blue clad men are looking in. None. 

“I love you.” I confess, “There is a fire in me; the heat of the sun.” 

I gulp you down. The liquid stops. You let out a dehydrated croak. 

Of course, I crush you under my boot, Just like the rest of them. 

Ice cracks. Blood seeps out. 

An Ending Before New Beginnings

I’ve moved on, I swear I have. Just, it still hurts and I’d like to say this one thing:

On rejection letters


When you unzip your chest and put your soul on display and it’s poured in a beaker like honey and measured and they find it’s not enough, it’s a slap in the face, a slamming of doors. A closing of paths and an erasing of futures.

You’re not good enough.

Maybe it’s a slap well-deserved.

How could you ever think you were good enough?

Maybe it’s a taste, like a dewdrop of pepper juice on your tongue, of the real world. Maybe the encouragement, the belief, the expectation, piled on higher and heavier, were fake and this—this is reality.

I could’ve done more, I could’ve been more, if only I knew I was supposed to. What should have I done? How else should have I molded myself, pressed myself, like the clay I am to your expectation, to the expectation that became mine? (Your expectation that I folded like a love letter and stuck in my chest where it prickeld and prickled until eventually it fused with my heart.)

It was a really competitive application pool this year.

I couldn’t compete.

We had limited space.

There wasn’t space for me.

On Writing (and Not Writing)

Writing after so long, my joints feel rusted and achy. Sitting down to write even this took the effort of climbing a mountain (or at least a really tall hill) and the procrastination of a month. 

I hope that I can slide into my voice again like a pair of well-worn gloves, or find a new one that’s suitable. I hope my writing muscles haven’t atrophied and I’ll find my way again with some stretching, but for now, I feel adrift, and scared that I can no longer do the thing I used to do. That I can no longer claim my love of reading and writing when I no longer read and write.

Not writing has made writing terrifying. This document sat blank for weeks as I sat steeped in my terror before I could make myself mar the white sheet.

Before putting pen to paper, my pages of ideas are just beautiful potential swirling around in my head. Realizing them would mean to make them imperfect. What if I find I’m a worse writer than I used to be, after gathering dust? What if I am no better after all this time? I don’t feel very funny anymore.

Other things are just so much easier than creation. I’m learning Python and I have a job. During the school year I studied and did STEM. For all these things, I just follow the instructions, or memorize, or use the problem to find the solution. Writing and drawing is creating from scratch, and that’s harder and scarier. It means pulling things out of my own brain and examining them and I’m not sure I’ll like what I find. I read instead of write, and I don’t have to use my brain for that, I can just fall in love over and over.

Writing feels like a luxury of time that I’ve convinced myself I don’t have. In the race to go to the college I want, to get the grades I want, to be the living version of STEM, writing seems like a waste of time when I could be doing something “productive”. But when I know I will have time in the future, writing is the thing I look forward to. The dream of writing feeds me through the bleak months of the grind, but when I have time (like now, in this easy breezy summer), I don’t, because there are easier things, because I still feel like, I always feel like, I’m running out of time. 

And still I have a hunger for writing. It fills a space in me that has been empty for too long.

And still I feel written out. After writing essay after essay after essay for colleges and scholarships that all amounted to nothing, after the exhaustion of writing and building a version of myself that wasn’t a lie but felt too shiny, the dings and dents glossed over, I feel written out and dry. But I guess that writing isn’t this writing. This writing feeds, it doesn’t drain, even if it’s scary.

I think I need to make time to write.

South of the Border, West of the Sun- Book Review

South of the Border, West of the Sun is a short novel by Haruki Murakami.

Growing up in the suburbs of post-war Japan, it seemed to Hajime that everyone but him had brothers and sisters. His sole companion was Shimamoto, also an only child. Together they spent long afternoons listening to her father’s record collection. But when his family moved away, the two lost touch. Now Hajime is in his thirties. After a decade of drifting he has found happiness with his loving wife and two daughters, and success running a jazz bar. Then Shimamoto reappears. She is beautiful, intense, enveloped in mystery. Hajime is catapulted into the past, putting at risk all he has in the present.

~

This book put me under a spell. I read it in a day, with the constant sound of the engine speeding me through the pages as a car drove me to a far off location. Haruki Murakami is known for the dream-like quality in his works, much like the endless stretch of the road that expanded in front of me, something I failed to see in the surrealist narrative of Kafka on the Shore and instead saw in this much more realistic novel.

Honestly, reading this book was such a smooth experience. The language was simple, the story was too, and the characters were so real. I didn’t even notice that I liked them, since they were so natural, like everyday people I would see on the street and how the things that would be revealed about them came in such a seamless way.

First of all, Hajime is a only child, a trait I share. I think this trait defines him well, as he dwells on how people may think he is entitled and he does end up being selfish throughout his life by cheating on women he is in relationships with. He first does this with a lover he had in high school, Izumi with her own cousin, then circles back around to cheating with Yukiko (his wife) with his childhood best friend. He laments that this inner selfishness can’t be changed.

I know. How the hell do I like a dolt who cheats on women?

Well, in my defense, the book spends numerous chapters building up on the nuances of this character, of how, with his restaurant business he has the ability of the seeking out the most passionate people in their jobs. Or how he still keeps on swimming laps after high school every morning because he is dedicated to his health. Or how he cares for his family over business, only keeping two bars as to not forget about them. So, I don’t only like a dolt who cheats on women; I like Hajime.

Shimamoto’s character development is opposite to Hajime’s and instead of building up her life story too, the author shrouds her life with smoke, so the only glimmer we can see is the lit end of her cigarette. We barely know anything about her- only how she displays herself in conversation. She keeps herself secret.

And intends to set that secret aflame.

So, Hajime seeks to illuminate the rest of her, to find the light at the end of the tunnel, to dive back into the past when they both shared their childhood, South of the Border and West of the Sun. The metaphors of the title are perfect; haunting even, South of the Border being from a song by Nat King Cole they both listened to when they were younger and the West of the Sun referring to a disease that Siberian farmers get with the repetitive seasons- when they get tired of life. It is the equation of Hajime’s mid-life crisis, in how he tries to run back to the times before and makes ripples through the life he has now.

The other characters serve as examples to Hajime, as signs of where he can stay or go. Yukiko is practical- someone who is a signal of stability and of the present day. Izumi is a broken girl who cannot move on from her heartbreak, who warns Hajime just by her wretched appearance in a taxi not to pursue Shimamoto once she’s gone.

I don’t like how Izumi’s cousin was written though; she seemed to be there just to push the plot forward. She is just a woman who has a lot of sex with Hajime during his years at college and is a minor character.

One gripe I do have with Haruki Murakami’s writing in general is that he does this weird thing where like in maybe two pages into a female character getting introduced he writes about their breasts. It makes me question his respect for women and his reasons for characterizing women this way. Why would he write them around the male character like that?

Despite his reasons, I received the women as being important people influencing Hajime, independent in their own lives, lost in their own circles of the past and future. It is just Hajime’s fatal flaw- his selfishness- that ropes them all together and his need for the past that makes him remember them again.

“The sad truth is that certain types of things can’t go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can’t go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that’s how it will stay forever.”

Even if that message isn’t very uplifting, Hajime still has hope for the future of himself and his daughters, visualizing rain on the deep blue sea at the end. This book is whirlpool of different realities throughout time and how they culminate in one’s mind, how when they become overwhelming it is best to focus on the present time and day, and just keep swimming.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Butterfly Effect

Warnings: mental illness, animal and child abuse, graphic gore

~

I examine the butterfly pinned on the table: stained glass window membranes, mushy eggplant guts and midnight seaweed skin. Its legs still writhe. My fingernails sear the edges of its wings, cuts them fresh off. Its legs still writhe. I pluck the antennas like eyelashes, squish the eyes like globs of ink-oil, and tear the body segments apart onto the rough-soft paper towel. Disseminated. Dead. Its legs are still. 

One day, I’ll do the same to you.

~

I am a mother. I live in a cottage. There are rolling hills of sweet grass, hair dried willow trees, and kids whose imaginations have run far away. Schizophrenics- that’s what the doctors call them, but I call them the Lost Boys. Perhaps, that makes me Peter Pan, to lead them through their fantasies, or Wendy to sing their delusions to sleep. 

I don’t know. I’m not familiar with fairytales. Can you tell me one? 

~

I asked you that on the morning you arrived on my doorstep. 

You were a pale faced child who took on the spirit of a butterfly- the same ink-oil eyes, delicate antenna lashes and a mosaic of a mind behind the flapping six-year old arms. You have your hair pulled in a tight blonde braid and you wear a sky blue dress as you prance about. Your lips flutter with teensy giggles. I want to catch them in the air. 

And pin them to the wall. 

~

Junonia almana

The peacock pansy, with fuzzy mustard wings and those cocoa hue owl eyes that watch me through the glass. It is framed on the basement drywall, in a new place, rearranged with the others for a new blank space- approximately 50 by 150 square inches in area. There are larger pins. Bolts. And rope. 

Just like your pretty little braids.

~

I comb your frayed locks, free from those little ginger roots. You gaze into the mirror, bite your nails and curl up in your seat so your knees pillow your chin. A cocoon. I tug on your longest lock, what you think is a silkworm shaving.  

“Don’t-” I say, “we’ll go to bed soon.” 

You water your eyes at me, lips in a red larvae pout.

I yank the hair from your head. The wailing takes a while to settle.

~

I sew your silk back on the next morning. Your glass eyes are beading with crystal, and your nose blushes with rosy sniffles as you wince at every prick of the needle. In, out, in, out- skin and blood and dandruff and tousles of rope thread hair. 

“It hurts,” your tears pool on your cheeks, “Can you stop, Miss?” 

“No,” My lips thin into a straight line. 

I can’t let the doctors know. 

~

The doctors flood into the cottage. They take the lost boys one by one, cultivating caterpillars into their nests. Some are bribed with leaves, others simply slink in, and all of them leave slimy paths behind. Good riddance. 

I only think of the white coat, white mask doctors, and their syringe slits of eyes that scan us with pinpoint precision. I clench your hand tight. 

I’ll never let them have you. 

~

We run down the dark stairway, slipper flats and baby bare feet tip-tap against the ashwood. We spill out into the basement- the clothes I scrimmied off you splayed on the tile floor. You shiver under my touch, as my cuticles indicate lines upon your back. 

I drag out my butterfly canopies from the closet. Layered blankets: monarchs, swallowtails, painted ladies, buckeyes, blue sulphurs all weaved together. 

Remember the fairytale you told me? What if I said I could make it come true?

~

“Miss, I-” 

“Hush.” 

I sew the quilts onto your back, stitching them to the skin with black thread. In, out, in, out. My needle is diligent, but my eyes are disorderly. They look at places they shouldn’t. They linger as I work. In, out, in, out- eggplant mush and seaweed skin and a set of prismatic wings, spread before me like Neverland. 

~

My butterfly.

Teeth- A Short Story

So, I’m back after a long time of school hell! Piles of homework, AP tests and an (almost!) failing grade in Calculus later I survived the perilous trials of school and now I am ready to embrace the summer. I wrote a gothic short story a couple months ago, and I thought it would be a good thing to start consistently blogging again with a spooky tale.

~

The true form is long and slender, a crimson string serpentine within a cage of flesh and fanged ivory. It is tweezed from the set of marble gargoyles in her mouth as scarlet blood drivels down her chin.

Raven is the cathedral. Her body is arranged on the bleached lily sheets, rigid in a boned corset as her stained-glass eyes dilate at the sight of her messiah’s altar –a cluttered rosewood desk. Upon it are scalpels, knives, blades, pliers, needles, and scrapers, all crusted with remnants of red. The tooth in question is gutted out with a minuscule wrench, two millimeters of metal budding a pinprick of torment.

Tears touch Raven’s irises and yet, her body refuses to writhe. She is chain locked, trapped under the rule of her new god: Scarlett Stone.

The woman is a wraith in a gentleman’s lab coat, with bladed eyes under a pair of silver spectacles. A cheshire smirk emerges beneath the lacquer of her lips, crooked as she places the ivory into a frosted glass vial.

Despite her pained position, Raven sips at the dripping nectar of her own hollowed tooth slot, taking pleasure in it like a foolish child. Her tongue silks around the space as it agitates in pursuance of the holy hotbed of bare flesh. She finds the sweet spot, and sucks it, answering Scarlett’s violent tooth-picking plea in ecstasy.

“Release them,” Raven refers to the rest of her canines, whine-whispering her words, “Take me away, my dearest Scarlett. Let me feel numb.”

“Shall I?” Scarlett asks, not for the judgment of her beloved, but rather her taxidermized “friends” in the midnight suite.

A red-eyed raven on the dresser. A two-tongued snake on the windowsill. A wolf who growls, gums expanding in an unruly garden of dentition. There are roses and violets of teeth, ivory blooming into different shapes with each consecutive set. It is a hundred-tooth monster; Scarlett’s life work on a macabre mural, angel fangs, and devilish flats upon sinews of meat, a gaping vortex parting its shadows for a spindly tongue, oozing with sticky spit.

All the creatures are animated in the moonlight, yet only the rugged black fur beast dares to howl to the crescent of the scientist’s mad mind, declaring his fate: a smile with Raven’s perfect teeth, strung with the other rows, seated sparkling in the front. The finishing touch to his collection, the smooth ivories of a human. That shall be my victory.

“What do they foretell?” Raven asks.

“To continue,” Scarlett murmurs, teasing Raven with her scalpel, “I would love to do so, but your pain hurts my heart.”

“The pain keeps this damn carcass of mine alive.”

“May I alleviate it?”

“I intend to be awake.”

“No,” Scarlett leans closer, summoning her puppet to rise with a soft indication of her hand, “My care is a selfish desire; it is for my lips to be upon yours in your last moments with a mortal mouth. I am sorry, for my love threatens to tear the seam of our promise, for you are so-”

“Shh…” Raven takes her request, tongue brimming underlip, “I have apprehended your taste.”

Their kiss is deep, a melting candle wax tryst, the reassurance of those crystalline whispers they had of their twisted passions before. The atmosphere is sweltering, flames in their chests as ashes cobweb their lips in the heat of the endless embrace. Their hands paralyze, holding hair in tangled clumps, as Scarlett bites the skin and Raven sucks the saliva, romance fluttering away to reveal the scorched image of lust. Raven steals the last affirmation and severs the neck of her prey with blistering lipstick, a headhunter as she yanks Scarlett’s raven locks and places a tiny peck upon her chest.

With the action, Scarlett is either engulfed in flowers or flesh; it is impossible to tell if it was a virtuous kiss or a violent scar upon her sternum. Her heart stings yet swells with overwhelming senses she cannot even begin to place. All she could ponder in this abyss was Raven.

“Love… will it be forgotten amid this cursed night? Will it not fade from your memories once all is complete?” Scarlett questions.

“I will miss you,” says Raven, “Nevermore, we are broken souls. Nothing will be fixed until we uncover ourselves, despite our perversions.”

Perversions– the statement pangs in Scarlett’s psyche. This is not love. Their affections are nothing but a mirage, a chain-linked deal gilded with roses that sought to puncture their skins with thorns. Tangles of lust, a thread of flirtation, and nothing more.

“May you take out the left molar next?” Raven inquires, “Leave the right one for last.”

“Oh… yes.”

The taxidermist retrieves her scalpel, this time sporting a blade of four millimeters instead of the usual two.

“Open wide, tongue down, and for the love of our blessed Father, do not move again.” She says.

Scarlett’s gloved hands shake as the scalpel uncovers the mysteries of the cavern. Her tongue was snaking inside it seconds prior, but she had sparing experience with live specimens. Raven is also uneasy, her tender skin blush-warm under the facade of her rigid-cold expression.

The bladed sharp-edge roots itself at the end of the set of top teeth, provoking the molar into submission. Raven squeaks, her tongue quivers, and she is scarred by the knife, red tears lining her cheeks. She bites her lip, ravaged by the kisses they fancied before.

Scarlett mumbles, pulling out the tool, “My apologies.”

“It is simply the punishment of your scalpel.” Her syllables crawl around the loose tooth of hers, clunky in execution, “You are impartial to it, I know.”

“Well,” Scarlett picks up the pliers, a brute set meant for declawing wildebeests and mauling the fangs of foxes, “I enjoy these more. They are therapeutic, my savior for when I must slay a beast.”

“What beasts?”

“My wolf. He was not always so kind to me,” Scarlett’s voice cracks, crumpled paper around the edges, “but I tamed him.”

“Shall you do the same for me-?”

Clearing her throat, Scarlett drives the two tools into her mouth, targeting the precious molar. The pliers clutch the tooth and the scalpel pushes it from the side. Raven blinks when it is pulled, numb at first, but then it erupts with aching pain. It is out. A smile and frown fight at her lips; she is not sure which one wins out until her lover regards her.

“Was that better?” Scarlett asks, the tooth pristine in her hand. It is as long as the last had been, but now the base is larger, the muscled ivory bumps amusing to Raven as it was too weak to stand the tiny metallic tools her “dentist” had at her disposal.

“Yes,” She chuckles, blood teasing her gums, “I will take delight in sucking it dry. Perhaps, we can exchange another kiss?”

“Of course.”

“My mouth will be a redesigned creature, a new experience every time.”

“Are you asking for-”

“A softer staircase to my demise?” She is giddy.

Scarlett kisses Raven’s nose, trailing to her lips in quick succession. Her tongue flicks the space of the left molar, causing her lover to laugh once again.

Time whirls, teeth clicking into glass jars, and kisses being shared to numb the scars. With each passing extraction, the two grow lighter, drunk on the dead hours of the night and due to the lust-love they carve out, their passionate blood shadows dancing on the green woodland walls. They are overgrown, unruly as the teeth on the wolf-beast, strung to each other in a twisted tsunami, a blossoming daze they have yet to awaken from. Emerging from the cyclone, they are a quarter-way finished, the calcium tops of Raven’s mouth half gone, revealing a zip of the jagged bottom teeth.

Scarlett releases her love from another kiss, skin matted with sweat, and says, “I miss your smile.”

“Already?” Raven asks, “I do not.”

“I desire to see it again… It was so lovely.”

Raven’s teeth sink into the upper gums, as they gush with aches, carving the flesh with fingernail imprints. The white edges magnetize to the pink, pain not allowing her to pull them apart. Akin to the sensation is her chest convulsing, ripping as the pages of a secret diary. I love her, but she loves someone else; she loves an image of stolen beauty, not the wretch I truly am.

Scarlett is supposed to be her solace -her Romeo romantics are comforting- but, she always sees her teeth first, then her face- God knows if she even sees her beating heart. Downtrodden, Raven turns to quit the suite, her lover questioning her departure.

“Why must you leave? We are not finished.”

“I must think,” Raven’s voice is muffled, “I will be back.” She takes a long jacket off a hanger- a long black cat crossdress.

“Alright…” Scarlett is a whimper of a wolf pup, slumped on the bed with her ghost of a lab coat. Her lips quiver and Raven angles around, tempted to give one last kiss, but she lets go, plodding into the thunderous night.

Lightning cracks onto the backbone of the black boulevard as rain patters down into the edges of soil between the brick. The atmosphere is weighty, curls of must and worm-wash lapping the air as Raven is at a standstill, considering her heavy thoughts. Her eyes wander through the willows of the gothic church houses and mansions, ardent in searching for an answer to her dilemma. They dart to the intricately designed bedroom windows of the higher class, importance on the frames rather than the people sleeping away within, wishing to target a sight, but nothing provides her solace. Nothing but her loving Scarlett two floors up.

Temptation riddles within Raven as she dares to run upstairs and confess her love, to mangle with her morals once again. Her slender hands cradle her face and she imagines her dearest Scarlett placing a delicate kiss on her lips, repeating “I love your smile.”

The lie tears into her, perverted thoughts of keeping her beloved close injecting her blood with doubt.

This should be my death, right?

She gazes at her reflection in the puddles, a calm vision of her beautiful expression. It is not so true to life.

Then why am I so infatuated with my noose?

An electric bolt seizes the sky. The rains gollup, distorting her image in the flanks of filth-water.

Her true form feathers in the liquid, her skin bone-white and cracked, her eyes sunken vortexes punctured with stabs of red. Her horns are those of a ram, twisted fangs of scarlet sewn onto her forehead and her teeth are those of a wolf with long, slender canines under the pulp of her lips. Raven is a demonic creature to be sent back to hell, to burn for an eternity, to die as a wretch who attempted to masquerade as a mortal. She is to be stuffed, never loved, and forgotten in the endless galvanized monsoon.

~

New moon.

Scarlett’s teeth are sprawled upon the hardwood floor. She is unaware of how it happened. Her tools are clean.

The rattlesnake splatters as the window shakes. Thunder rumbles outside, a furious white and grey jumble of gauze in the sky, a riff-raff as the fabric rubs against itself. Lightning lashes as a whip, between the low trenches of whale-sound and the graveyard spirits of grey cumulus clouds. A coward in the storm, Scarlett retreats into her coat carapace. She retreats into the image of Raven.

Scarlett remembers the stormy night when she retreated into the cathedral, her senses a blur when she tumbled in, the red glow of the hollowed church bowing under the other woman’s silhouette. She had an exodus of raven billowed hair, with a divine ink-black dress, a simple figure underneath swimming layers of caged fabrics. The tresses were gaudy, golden designs of roses upon the weighty velvet as the structured wall of the gown blocked the altar, the ruffles upon her chest fluffed like a bird’s plume. All the towering stained glass windows stood on guard of their queen and signaled Scarlett red in their reflections.

Despite their warnings, Raven twirled around.

Her countenance was blinding, her blistering eyes, the slope of her nose, and her apple-tinged lips in perfect proportion, for she was an idol in the marrows of the church. A red sea carpet connected the two of them, and a fire erupted in Scarlett’s soul, flames wilted as she dared to take a look. The goddess was too powerful; her everlasting stare buried the mere taxidermist in an abyss of unknowns, an endless valley that pricked in the realm of her tired mind. Raven was an ideal Renaissance painting, but she was uncanny, too good to be true.

Scarlett’s fingers wrung together with sweat. “M-may I draw you?” she asked.

“You are an artist?” Raven questioned, a polite façade, “My, that is grand. Go ahead, dear.”

“Yes,” Scarlett flushed, sitting upon the benches. Her heartbeat hands carried her supplies out of her leather satchel, as Raven posed mimics of poised style journals. A side profile. A curtsy. A hand that lifts her skirt.

The artist furrowed her brow, “Be natural. Do as you please.”

“Oh,” Raven scuttled down on all fours and bit a nail, “Is this adequate?”

Scarlett gazed upon her, absolutely horrified. “Perfect,” she said.

Currently, in the realm of the present thunder, the recluse hugs her four-pawed wolf within the womb of her ghastly cloak. Her digits tremble on the warm tufts of fur, his skin breathing underneath her fingerprints, her arms imprisoning the unmoving relic as the downpour heightens. The rains roar like the jittery woods, like a cry for help, and her lip bleeds with worry.

“Will Raven be alright?”

The girl never drowns. You know that. The wolf murmurs.

Despite his reassurance, Scarlett peers outside at her beloved’s silhouette, her cloak blending in with the midnight hue of the setting. She is consumed by rain.

More teeth on the floor. Ivory cherubs.

~

Waning crescent.

The cloaked figure is the storm. Her guilt drowns the landscape, damp and humid under the endless waves of rainfall. She burrows into her heavy rain jacket, pulling it over her head to protect her raven locks. A gut reaction to preserve her beauty, shackling the beast inside. Was she a monster or an innocent girl of dreams?

Her existence came in two phases.

Raven was born in insectile netting, an irritant to the skin; it was gauze that attracted termites, dirt, and decay. A spider web.

Her home was a wooden hobbit, a blemish upon a rich family estate which was centered around a colossal mansion with magnums of Corinthian columns, statues of Romans in every garden, and fragrant flowers thriving in empires of manicured hedges. They were given care and tended to under the breezy whistles of wind and the canary blanket of the afternoon sun.

They were unlike her, who lived in the dark, discarded like a forgotten bloom as she wilted away. She was a rose, crusted dry petals and brandished thorns, as she hunted for dead rodents under the rickets of the floor. Blood upon her cursed claws signified a feast, but when retracted it was a signal of hunger- gentle calloused fingers, almost human, but uncanny.

Her eyes scanned the rackety walls, spotting a miniature chink in the locked door. Sometimes it would be white- a hollow circle etched on a floor with a claw, other times it would be black- a void filled in. Six pairs of these moons were sketched in, with no one to retrieve her from this vat of murky dark.

On the seventh day, light poured into the shack and quenched Raven’s thirst. The whiteness was pierced by a feminine silhouette, her voice a sing-song hum as she tumbled in. Her countenance was even brighter than the sun outside. She was encased in what Raven regarded as an oddly beautiful cocoon, black mats, and frills as she presented a plate of dinner scraps to the demon and smiled.

Raven grinned back.

The maid recoiled.

“Take it,” She said, plate shaking. The monster did not comprehend.

The foodstuffs were neatly arranged, almost as a proper meal, but the discarded chicken bones, the halves of vegetables, and the butter-water mush of eve-eaten potatoes proved otherwise. With caution, Raven stabbed a piece of chicken, her teeth grating against her talons as she consumed it.

She spat it out, tasting blood. The vomit was a wad of wet meat, with a greasy brown membrane and hacksaws of calcium that protruded from it. Disgusting.

Her company made some more noises, ripping away her frill-skin to remedy the demon’s bleeding tongue. The maid patted it, the fabric soft and lush as it soaked red saliva, her fingers trembling in the jaws of the beast. Raven knew not to bite down. She instead opened her mouth wider, revealing another set of tiny layered canines as she steadied her caretaker’s hand.

“Thanks,” The maid smiled as she found the cut.

The cloth blushed, as did Raven.

~

Half moon.

The cloth blushed, as did Scarlett.

She is washing up a puddle of blood on her desk, chagrin by her foolish actions as barbed wires of hurt tangle into her mandibles. The ichor was equally unpleasant, leaking constantly as a poor man’s shack on a rainy day. She fails to understand Raven’s pleasure in these extractions; how could she simply do away with her ivories?

Teeth are a symbol of power; they are Romans in Trojan horses and they are a Stone family crest. She came from a long heritage of dentists, tough men in white coats that promised to preserve the smiles of millions. Scarlett could not fulfill that promise.

Instead, she plucked the teeth out, selfish as she followed her senses, searching far and wide for a creature she could call her own. She found it in Raven.

She gazes at the portraits of her beloved on the wall, melancholy as the storm rattles their cracked surfaces. It is a timeline of their love, a collection of captured moments as she tracked the hunt. The artworks had frantic energy with the playdates of light and color, surreal on the canvas as her depictions danced from scene to scene. They were flat dabs of paint, yet caught the day-to-day realities of Raven- as she ate a croissant, or tightened her corset, or bit her nails at a dinner party- all through intricately designed windows, importance on the girl within rather than the frames.

With every canvas, Scarlett would chip away at her mystery, convinced she found the answer, but the clues still sat idle on the wall without conclusion.

One painting crashes on the floor- the only artwork of her lovely muse in silks. With tremulous hands, Scarlett clutches it. Her cuticles pin the frame and in seconds, she guts it out, eating the paints in a fit of rage.

Why did I tie the rope?

She destroys the canvas with her knee, leaving a violent gash of paper and oil paint between the wooden frame.

To fucking hang myself?

Her teeth secure themselves on the painting’s skeleton, bloody as they attempt to splinter through it. She is a lunatic who lost her way, hiding in a woodland madhouse as her teeth imprint themselves in the wood. They are stuck on the frame rather than to the gums. With the hideous pain, she whirls towards her wolf, pulling her cloak over her cranium.

“I caught you, I caught you, I c-caught you…” She repeats it as a holy chant, as an old man with his wrinkled hands in prayer, “I killed your wr-retched soul, but why do you still haunt m-me?”

I desire my victory, He growls, not your love story.

In her delirium, Scarlett looks out the window again, spotting her love in the same area as before. She would be the key to end all of this, to end the nightmares and the self-inflicted pain. Irene was an angel, a savior, and her only smiling hope in this twisted world. Her teeth were pearls, perfect shells in the sand, and she was the innocence the devil would prey on to finally get his fill as he did with her family long ago. Perhaps, that would grant her solace.

The sea salts Scarlett’s under eyes and the echoes of those she missed lull her to sleep.

~

Waning Gibbous.

The sea roared, waking Raven up to a lukewarm summer night. Her caretaker was the boundless ocean, for she had frills of waves, the smile of a seashell, and the ticklish manner of the bubbly suds of saltwater dashing onto the ankles. However, the two were not on a beach; they were on the steps to the estate mansion, having explored the red velvet guts of the expensive palace. Despite its gilded guise, nature was what brought them both solace, the eye of the three-quarter crescent just waiting to reveal itself in its full grandeur.

“Do you feel alone?” The maid asked. It was a sudden blip in conversation.

Raven nodded yes, but answered, “Not when I with you.”

“I like that answer.” A cheeky smile.

“Not true. I am monster.”

“Oh?”

“There is no one like me.”

“Well, I feel the same. My family regards me as nothing but a housekeeper, as a maid. They have me make their beds, unclog the toilets and do all the chores while my sister studies away. They even forgot me on our forest vacation!”

“Hmmm.”

“Am I cursed because I was born to a different mother? Are you cursed because you are a monster?” The maid declares.

“Yes. I am cursed with love for your beauty.”

“Aww…” she ruffles the demon’s hair, giggly again.

Raven leaned upon the maid, holding her hand tight in the cold breeze. It was warm as her silk cocoon, but it was not an irritant for it was smooth and graceful, fingers delicately wrapped around hers as they enjoyed a sleepy haze. The human’s amethyst necklace glinted in the limelight, as did her countenance, everlasting in its pale appearance- the full moon.

~

Raven stole her mask the next morning.

Fabric frills, clack-click buttons, oily plaits, and a sweet apple scent. She was the only human who regarded her form with kindness, only to be repaid with killing kisses as Raven ate her corpse.

They were both in a marbella lavatory, speckled red peels of blood seeping into the faint grey veins of the washtub as she consumed her core. The maiden’s cries reverberated upon the walls, but no one could hear as the monster devoured her body, limb by limb, organ by organ, shriek by a shriek. She was tenderloin muscle, flabs of fat and scurries of flesh, delicious livers Raven had craved and nothing more. Her jowl lurched upon the skin, red spritz upon the stone as she bit into the human, the lacework of her tethered gores being holed and ripped by the treacherous demon. The screams haunted the succubus, but she could not halt; her love was too much.

At last, Raven leaned into her sweetheart and her wolfine canines dug into the vellum of her tender head, hooking the undereye bags with the juicy pop of eyeballs. She extracted the gums and teeth, kissing her love before she slit the tongue.

She placed the jaws on her head like a crown. Her victim’s teeth were dominos, the calcium forming the monster’s renewed appearance as she pulled them out one by one with metallic spiral claws. She counted:

“1…2…3…

Her horns shrunk and her skin warmed.

“14…15…16…”

Her eyes emerged from the blackness.

“30…31…32…”

Raven’s newborn countenance was the most divine. She was sculpted yet organic, sun-kissed porcelain dressed in a butcher’s bedgown, a gentle dove who had just eaten the innards of a raucous rat. Her ivories were unsharp, her features a delight in the mirror ten steps afar. The maid was a tousle of skin, blood and bone, a deformed wretch of meat as a lamb at the slaughter.

She hung her victim on the door. The body was a martyr, for the father, son, and holy spirit of Raven’s eyes, nose, and lips.

Now, drenched in rain, she looks at her stolen reflection in the wine-water. It is perfectly human. No wrinkles, no pores, no imperfections, but it is unnerving. Her form is an eternal nightmare. She is not a cathedral, but a tombstone, holding a lost life.

~

Scarlett lays on the bed.

Her mind is a blood moon night, the stubble of evergreens and a thick fog coursing through the dark expanse of the forest. Blooms of blood color the campground, arms, legs, and heads severed. Her sister’s pretty doll dress soaks up strawberries, and her father’s rich cloak is shredded at the tips, cotton edges like parchment, hardened with grime. The grass beneath her is an itch, needles into her goosebumps as the woodland shadows close in.

Her eyes skitter in panic, and she winces at every slight sound, at the creak of twigs, the howl of the wind and the wretched growlings of the monster rippling through the trees. Her family is faceless, nameless, massacred, and she is the only one left alive, shackled in her mental tortures.

She does not know what it is- only that it assumes the form of a wolf and that it has extracted their mandibles, leaving them intact with the gums. The jaws are crowns on the grass, perfectly donned upon nature’s unruly kingdom.

They grin.

Scarlett recoils.

The wolf bustles through the timbers again and she tastes copper as her survival instincts kick in. For a flash, the beast morphs into a silk demon, a dash of white-silver before it changes into a charcoal black.

Wind dashes her hair. Fur touches her skin.

All the teeth of her family vanished. Scarlett bites down to assure hers are still there and they ping with pain at the pressure. She grits them, the nails-on-chalkboard sensation being the only comfort she can manage to provide herself. Despite it, her fear amounts as the beast circles around one more time, waiting to pounce at any given moment.

The body parts disappear.

Scarlett takes that as her cue to run, dashing through the barbarous trees, bone-cracking leaves under every step. Her father’s cloak soars upon her shoulders as the shadows of the forest intertwine, ropes of the forgotten ghosts trying to force her into the black cauldron of death, to poison her limbs with acute soreness, but she instead speeds quicker than ever before. To halt is not an option.

She reaches the estate. The marbella house flashes with a strike of lightning, the first thunderous orchestra hit before the rain downpours in a sheet over Scarlett’s locks. She cannot discern her tears from the weather, and panics in search of a place to hide.

In the end, she finds the blemished shack. Rains trickle from the roof like blood from an old open wound, thick and mud-caked, as they threaten to ruin the only memory of her father. She is warm in the lab coat, warm in scientific certainty. This did not happen, it is all a dream, right?

Scarlett examines the cobwebs of silk in the corner, which crawl with termites eating away at the plastic strings. Their pincers suck at the thin ropes and nibble on the minuscule cilia upon them, the bedbugs squirming in her psyche as she recalls the warning her dad had given her prior. Reason critters away to a bedtime story:

The m-monster lives inside the s-shack. Never go in there.

The door pounds. Her heart as well.

No. No. No.

It creaks open.

“Ms. Stone?”

The taxidermist heaves a sigh. Raven.

“Are you alright? You look very pale.”

“I am fine- unfine… I have awakened from the most frightening of dreams– an endless nightmare.”

“Tell me everything. You may hold your fears with me.” Raven takes Scarlett’s hands, thumb gleaning over the skin. Her nail nicks the knuckles.

“Ah- I shall not worry you. Your mind must be tangled with thoughts, walking down the spiral staircase of your goodbyes,” Scarlett leaves the wound unattended, “My dream does not matter.”

“What is yours to burden is mine as well-” Raven sees her missing ivories and pauses, “and are you alright?”

“Please, rest! You already have much to burden.” Seulgi commands, soft when caressing her lover’s cheek, “You look terribly ill.”

Ill?

Raven takes a peek at her image in Scarlett’s dresser mirror, gazing at her wilted white skin- reminiscent of that devil’s appearance. There are gullies under her eyes, which are tempted to erupt with fire at any given time. Her nose is a crooked beak, her hair is disheveled, and her wolfine teeth are beginning to bud from the tops of her gums.

A line of rose blood marks where Scarlett touched her, and her hideous appearance blushes. She tries her finger upon it, and sucks her nail, intoxicated with the appetizer. Terribly ill, the concern echoes in her consciousness, She cares for me too much.

“Do go to bed. I will extract your teeth tomorrow morning.” Scarlett says.

Raven refutes, “No, finish. Be quick before I starve.”

“Starve?”

“Of your love, darling.”

Scarlett grins, holes in her bridgework like the floorboards of the hobbit Raven lived in prior. She imagines insects crawling out and she wants to crush them all red, to devour their sweet taste. As had been done with the illustration on the wall… probably one of her fits again.

“Say aah-!” The taxidermist was glad to have her angel back.

Raven chuckles, “Do not baby me; I am not a child for you to pander. Tug them with no mercy. Let me feel pain.”

“Then why are you so lit-“

The wolf girl targets her.

Scarlett shifts to her desk and retrieves her tools, quickly hacking out four ivories without any hesitation. She is focused on her work, dry of emotion as she clears out the mandibles, in a flow state. Raven is just another animal, a bear, a bird, or a wolf and is close to death, haggard and lifeless as her eyes wrinkle in the twilight hours of the night. Scarlett can see the prick of each extraction, the peculiar chaos in her subject’s mouth, but the taxidermist refuses to halt. Panic suffocates her.

21..22…23…

“I am eshaaausted,” Raven is a neanderthal with her words.

“Do you want to go to bed?”

“Yesh.”

“Whatever you say,” Scarlett gives her a wistful smile.

Her love takes bedrest and buries herself under the frost tipped sheets, pulling them close as they embrace her with warm passionate spirits. The pillow is a feathered icebox, cold comfort and raindrops as she dozes off into a peaceful slumber.

Scarlett watches her in the marble bath, head bobbing upon the water as her eyes roll back. Her porcelain surface chipped and the water roiled of pearl dust fog. Raven was an oyster, to be hacked open, to drown in the poison of her sins, but she never had been.

The taxidermist was present at the ritual drowning this afternoon, when sun prismed and thin shadows twined upon the open washroom. Her love was a divine sight behind her canvas, a glass girl in the ocean, fading away in her web of lies. Impressions of light and shadow cascaded her form, dignifying her as a classic. Venus of Urbino. An honor to paint, and in the near future, an honor to stuff.

Of course, what Raven was doing was an oddity, mysterious as usual. Sister Joyce had said it was baptism, a refreshing daily routine, and Sister Yvette had said it was a curse, one that she always had to clean up after. The artist saw it for what it was behind the curtains of courtesy: a suicide attempt.

Raven had always counted to thirty-two twice; it was an odd even number, double of the sixteen lustrous parties she hosted this month, half of the sixty-four gowns the guests wore to each and the exact number of human teeth in their fake smiles. In a way, the water was her own fancy, gossips whispered from the tendrils of hair that floated above. Her nose was strangled in a liquid choke of soap murmurs, mouth silenced in fear of the ocean’s inquisition. She kept her eyes open, bitter and burning, to gaze at the chandelier above, crystals of color that blurred under the sea. Was this what she saw when she died? Was this her god?

Raven never answered the question.

She would always rise from the water in a fit of coughs, a flop in her loose drapery of silk, but on that day she arose to see Scarlett staring. Her eyes were mirrors, her presence like a gentle tide during forceful winds, Irene’s appearance a haze within them. Paradoxical.

“You did it again,” Scarlett whimpered.

“Why are you here, my love? Do you not have some other fucking shit to do other than stalk me?” Raven’s rude words scribbled across her canvas.

Scarlett went cold, skin prickled with goosebumps.

“Sorry, I was harsh…” Raven attempted to thread through them. Needles. “This is typically a private time.”

“Should I leave?” Scarlett asked.

“Join me.”

Scarlett shed her lab coat like a snakeskin, slithering into the bath, water drained to the ankles. Like the beach. Like the waves that threaten to swallow me whole.

She huddled into Raven’s side, nose buried in the cape of her neck, the cold metal of her spectacles grazing her beloved’s chin as she stole a kiss. Raven chuckled, gazing down at her as the Virgin Mary. Their love yawned with steam, humid as they pulled closer, faces sculpted by the early morning light. They ate breakfast, impolite, mouths open rather than closed, their affections muted chews with the sudden ivory scratches of silverware, jousting as they motioned against each other. Scarlett hummed, sun on her tongue as she burned bright with Raven’s love. Their delirious dream of love.

Silks fluttered by Scarlett’s wet fabrics, mopped upon her pillowcase shirt and tight black pants as Irene laughed, splashing vapors onto her cheeks.

“I want to die,” Raven said, “My happiness, my luxury, my -you…” she caressed her lover’s countenance, “is not deserved.”

Scarlett squeezed her arm, “Why is it not?”

“You hope for a lie,” Raven declares, “A lie that would take the universe to unwind. A lie that has seeped into every kiss I have given you. No matter how I try to run away, to claw, to waltz, to drown, I will never be free. Unless you release me.”

“Raven-” Scarlett let go of her.

“I want you to accept this,” She whispered, handing her a tube. Cyanide.

The silver vial now rests in Scarlett’s palm as she lays by her sleeping beauty, unsure of what to do. She is encapsulated in tangled locks, damp with bathwater sweat as she gazes towards the eve of Raven’s back. A bite is what the artist desires, but she shall not make haste. She instead reverts to her duty and takes the tweezers, sliding the vial onto her bedside table. Slowly, she parts Raven’s lips. Her metallic pinchers click upon the last tiles of teeth as a mallet to a xylophone as she plays an ominous tune. She is ripped between two options: Either keep her teeth until the morning, or pull them out, right at this moment.

Scarlett’s mind crawls with termites, Her death will be soon. You will keep the promise this time.

She eyes the vial again and grabs it off her desk. The poison roils within the glass upon her heartbeat hands. Her whole body is in a tremor and her brows furrow in the earthquake, a tremendous force that only affects her in the aftermath of the rainstorm weaving away. She is sick; there is a certain canine trying to claw his way in again. She tries to breathe, to stay calm, but her breaths only suffocate her, as she inhales hacks of sharp air into her fragile lungs.

The vial crashes upon the floor, glass splintered as her teeth before. Or the other way around. He knocks on the door, a constant beating in Scarlett’s tell tale heart. Louder. Louder.

The beast ripples through the trees. Louder. Louder. Louder.

Thunder booms once more, strings of the rains in a rising crescendo, her heart fluttering as a flautist’s trill as thousands of faint reflections stare at Scarlett through the shards. The teeth are in crooked grins, cascading by the frosts of cyanide.

Louder. Louder. He howls in her head. The beast circles around her legs and snarls at her, soap frost poison burbling upon his jaws. His canines remind her of the forest again, the rows of evergreens as the shadowy sinews close in. She runs. Louder. Louder. Louder. She shutters towards the mirror, knuckles gasping at the edges of the dresser as she takes in her being- cracked chalk skin, voracious gullies beneath her florid eyes, and the canines that once belonged to her wolf.

I am terribly ill. Terribly, terribly…

She is choked in the noose of her own identity- a mangled sketch of her “sister” and “father” whom she barely knew but only stalked in the night, rippling through the trees.

Silence. All is still and Raven is coddled up in the bedchamber, undead.

Scarlett makes haste over to her lover’s side, brushing away the bothersome flings of hair to reveal her forehead. Her pinky nicks the skin.

“I must tell you of my deformity,” She leans over Raven’s skull and gifts her a small kiss on the scar. A crescent moon cut.

Raven awakens, soft despite the irritation, and gazes at her lover’s blood lined lips. Her eyes trail up Scarlett’s jagged claws, the glints of her fangs and the bog willows of her ruffled locks, only to find her own reflection staring back at her. She repositions herself to sit on the bed, the last of her canine teeth jutting out. The only copper words Irene dares to whisper are, “You have the illness…”

“Indeed. I am an untrained medic,” Scarlett laughs bitterly at her own joke.

Irene cries, “Why did you keep this away?” Tears sting her lashes, as a single ashen droplet slivers down her sunken cheek. Her weeps morph to howls, “Why?”

“Why did you?”

“I-I- …I am so sorry.”

“Give me no apology,” Scarlett quotes her, “After all, a lie takes the universe unwind.”

“And once it is unwound, what is left?”

Raven gnashes her teeth, and bites into her beloved’s crimson lips as she finishes the sentiment. Scarlett snaps back.

They both bloom like roses, blurred maroons and blood moons shifting over them as they parse out each other’s bodices and eat the tender flesh inside. Fangs line their multiple layers of jaws and spike the canals of midnight-hued gums, spiral stairways to endless dark. Scarlett hooks her prey onto the sheets, as she capers away at chunks of flesh. Corpa, venter, pectus, humerus, collum, oculus… She memorizes her and ravages her body, part by part, preserving the delicate center for last.

Raven snaps hellfire. Her teeth sink into Scarlett’s stomach, gouging her way up the torso as her sabers plunge into her body and scratch the skeleton. Raven’s scissorhands sever the skin with scars as the membranes swivel around her lover’s bare-bones, organs juiced and devoured in her jaws. The fruit of her love.

Blood stains the bed, now weighty with the liquid, mattress sloshing in the rickety wooden frame. The monsters are kneeling upon it, talons at each other’s cigarette scarred chests.

Scarlett croaks, “Ms. Wick…”

“What is left?” Raven guts her beloved and holds her heart, “Answer me!”

“Are you hurt?” Scarlett rambles. She carves out her lover’s heart with soft gestures, her scalpel like pinky claw imprinting the skin.

Raven’s eye widens, since the other was holed, “I am. It hurts, but it is the truth- my heart on your rosewood desk.” The organ flops onto Scarlett’s claws.

“But, now that we are wretched beings… what is left for us?” Raven asks.

“Love is left.” Scarlett grins.

Raven grins back.

Neither of them recoil.

~

The dawn breaks and sunlight filters through the window onto their human figures. It outlines them, their forms dipping in light and shadow, defined yet blurry in the midsummer’s rays. They are in a soft embrace, as Raven’s lips smile into Scarlett’s shoulders and the warm lily bleached sheets blanket them together. Their scalps both share a single pillow as their hair sprawls and swirls upon the bed, lashes crusted before the birdcall of a new day.

“Stoneeee…” Raven yawns, hot air upon her collarbone, “Morning?”

The sheets fold a “yes” as Scarlett nods. She takes hold of Raven’s small hand, kisses the fingertips, and bites the cuticles, hungry from last night. The moon scar still marks her hand, now an ashen symbol as she motions for a peck. Irene delivers, and it glows red around the edges and she gets up, stretching. Scarlett watches as the muscle of her tender back expands, corset loose around her ribcage.

Raven gazes back at her love, face painted by shadow. “Come,” she says, “Embrace me some more.”

“Here you go…” Scarlett’s voice is gruff as she wraps Raven in a bear hug.

“Go on,” Raven dares her to come close, “I bite.”

Scarlett takes her request and kisses her lips once more. It is not grandiose nor explosive- it simply is. Blissfully light, as the flower petals in the wind, as the light cascading upon the dewdrop mansions outdoors, and as the people inside unaware of the thunderous storm the previous night. It foreshadows the white heavens which would welcome them as the sand does the sea.

Raven pulls away, giddy as a child as she takes Scarlett’s hand and says, “We can go outside, if you desire to. If you are not afraid or-”

“I can,” Scarlett puffs out her chest in a juvenile show of bravery.

They button up angel wing coats before Raven tugs Scarlett away and clicks the door to a close. The martyr is hung upon it, bloody remains and organs as the forgotten body threatens to wither away. Scarlett follows her as they pass through the hall and stairway, blooms of blood upon the floor, arms and legs obstructing the path. The outdoors are breathless, clouds whipping the sky in light strokes, a graphite sketch of churches upon the street under a pale moon-sun. All of the gothic cityscape is drawled out on white parchment as the light consumes them.

Their white dusted figures flock to the cathedral nearby, hands interlocked as they look upon the building. The stained glass windows beckon them to hurry inside, a curious eye watching over them, eloquent rays of light casting illustrative designs upon their faces. Raven and Scarlett look at each other, at once agreeing to proceed.

They flutter through the barracks of benches and bibles to the altar, to see the Savior upon the Catholic cross. A gruesome sight- rose thorn crown, bolts in the palms, and the expression of anguish on his countenance as he bears the weight of all of humanity’s sins. The shadows flank him, and squares of light illuminate the girls in the ultimate reversal. The two devils smirk; he was not going to rise up any time soon. Judea had won.

Raven and Scarlett embrace each other, in a reverie, gazing longingly into the crystal twilights of each others’ irises. Their eyes are orbs of glass.

~

A tooth is not the stubby stump a child finds under a pillow.

Its true form is long and slender, two of them strung upon a serpentine string of endless lies. Two of them mangled corpses, bloodied, bruised, and feasted on, drunk on saltwater cyanide.

Gideon the Ninth | Book Review

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.


It took me two months to read this book, but through no fault of its own. It just so happened I had just started Gideon the Ninth when exam season hit me. I read this in starts and stops, usually only reading a paragraph or a page a day, until I finished the last third in a few days after exams. It was not a good reading experience because of exams—I kept forgetting what had happened earlier in the chapter—but I had a lot of fun nonetheless.

This book is a wild ride. The writing is beautiful, but really dense and hard to read. It was thorny and hard to decipher, but still gorgeous. It did get easier as I continued the book, but I don’t know if I got used to it or if truly got easier.

The characters are magnificent, but there are over twenty and it was hard to keep track of them at first. I did learn them eventually, with much flipping to the guide at the beginning. The non-POV main characters are amazing (Harrow is my favorite) and the rest are mysterious and intriguing and unique. Despite having so many characters, they were all fleshed out and unique.

The plot meanders and we barely know anything about the world, which was frustrating, but you could tell that the reader only gets a taste of what’s really happening. We see only the surface of the plot for most of the book, but the pieces all move before coming together in a beautiful painting at the end. Similarly, the reader knows precious little about the world, but it is not underdeveloped; you can tell that there is so much she isn’t telling us. I want to know more about the other worlds and the history. I hope we get some answers in the next book.

The ending was perfect, devastating, and inevitable.

It was a really interesting choice to use Gideon as the main character (also the perfect choice). She’s not a key player in the plot, more of an observer. She doesn’t know what’s going on or anything about the world (which is why the plot meandered and the worldbuilding appears thin). It was breathtaking at the end when everything came together into a coherent plot and we saw the puzzle pieces of the book come together. But if it was a puzzle, we didn’t know we were even supposed to solve a puzzle when we started, so it was frustrating to read in the process, but beautiful when you finish.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Debbie and the Large Pumpkin

Once upon a time, there lived two mice who were the very best of friends. Debbie and Gwenie were inseparable. They did everything together: the mundane and the exciting. They would talk and laugh endlessly and it was said they even breathed in time. It would be surprising if someone thought they didn’t have a telepathic connection.

They were the very best of friends at birth, and to all it seemed they would continue to be the very best of friends until they were buried side-by-side. That is, until last September, when the annual city-wide pumpkin-growing competition began. Debbie decided she’d enter because it could be fun. Gwenie didn’t think it was worth the effort, but as any good friend, she encouraged Debbie. Neither of them expected this pumpkin-growing competition to be the end.

***

Debbie wanted to win this competition. She needed to be the Pumpkin Champion. She didn’t know why, but the title seemed more important than life itself. So she gave her life to the pumpkin. She watered it and gave it fertilizer. She put the pot on wheels and rolled it around the yard to follow the sun across the sky, her little mouse muscles straining as the wheels forced their way through the grass. She whispered to the pumpkin, loved it. At night, she stood on top of it and wielded her rake to fight off any animals that might come to devour it.

Debbie did not eat, she did not sleep. Gwenie brought her food like clockwork, but she never smiled. Debbie now breathed in time with the pumpkin, not Gwenie. Debbie was snappish and skittish, never allowing Gwenie near the pumpkin and never straying far from it. After a few weeks of this, Gwenie stopped trying to speak to Debbie at all. She left the food on the back porch and vanished.

Debbie was not always with her pumpkin. Everyday, at a random time (to throw off sabotagers), Debbie set a crate over her pumpkin to protect it and left the garden. She peered over her neighbor’s fences, scoping out the competition. As she watched the pumpkins, a sense of victory filled her. Her pumpkin was significantly larger than any of these ants. Except for Tessie’s pumpkin. Tessie was outside at all hours, polishing her pumpkin. Her pumpkin appeared as large as Debbie’s.

***

The day before the Ultimate Public Pumpkin Weighing, Debbie was pacing circles around her pumpkin. Most of the pumpkins weren’t even a quarter of the size of Debbie’s. Debbie’s pumpkin had outgrown four pots and she could barely push it around the yard anymore. But still, she was not guaranteed the Pumpkin Championship. Tessie’s pumpkin was just as large. Debbie just might get second. Debbie could not lose everything she had worked toward, everything she had ever wanted.

That night, Debbie drilled a small hole in the top of her pumpkin and dropped pebbles inside. The pumpkin was halfway full when she ran out of pebbles in her yard, so, in the middle of the night, Debbie took a wheelbarrow to Gwenie’s house and stole all her rocks. Gwenie did not see.

***

Debbie won the Pumpkin Championship by a large margin. Her pumpkin was nearly five times as massive as Tessie’s (thanks to the rocks). Tessie ran from the competition sobbing as Debbie accepted her ribbon. Nothing had ever felt so good.

The next day, Debbie invited Gwenie over for pumpkin pie in celebration.

“Congratulations,” Gwenie said when they were seated at the table.

“It was nothing.” Debbie shrugged like it was actually nothing.

Gwenie gestured to the pie with her fork before taking a bite and saying, “We’re eating your pumpkin.” It pleased Gwenie to eat the horrid pumpkin.

“I had nothing else to do with it.”
“I thought you loved your pumpkin,” Gwenie exclaimed. Debbie had chosen the pumpkin over Gwenie, so it must be worth something.

“Meh.”

“You’re not wearing your ribbon…,” Gwenie observed.

Debbie laughed. “I’m not going to brag about winning a dumb ribbon for having the biggest pumpkin. What would people think of me?”

Gwenie blinked in surprise. “We haven’t spoken in months because of this pumpkin! You broke our friendship for the pumpkin and you don’t even care about it anymore?”

Debbie cocked her head. “We’re friends.”

“Are we? I’ve been talking to Katie down the street lately.”

Debbie frowned. “Oh. Well.”

“I’ll forgive you if you say you regret it,” Gwenie said. She wanted to salvage their friendship.

“I could say that, but it wouldn’t be true.” Debbie shrugged.

The Cat Lady | Short Story

November 28

To My Dearest Diary,

I thought Emperor Mozzarella loved me, at least as much as my other cats do, but clearly, I was wrong. He vomited all over my most cherished rug and completely ruined it! I can’t believe the Emperor would do such a horrible thing! I thought he respected me. I suspect it was revenge for giving Cherry the Cheshire the fancy cat food instead of him. But Cherry the Cheshire, the poor dear, is at the end of her life, and she needs a little coddling in these last months.

It really was a marvelous rug: very plush and very beautiful and very white. I inherited it from my mother. I was pleased when that abhorrent woman died because it meant I could have such a wonderful rug. 

I wanted to publicly shame the Emperor for destroying that magnificent rug by forcing him to give a stand-up comedy routine in front of the other cats. I expected him to embarrass himself, and I even gave the other cats permission to fling rotting vegetables at him. But he once again disappointed. He’s surprisingly skilled with cat puns, and the bucket of rotting vegetables remained unflung. Even I couldn’t prevent a small chuckle from escaping. My punishment was a failure. I’m afraid the Emperor rather enjoyed it. But don’t worry, I’m still holding a grudge. I will eventually have my revenge.

November 29

To My Dearest Diary,

James called and that good-for-nothing son-of-mine said he’s coming over tomorrow evening, despite the fact that I told him I’d rather he didn’t. He’s so inconsiderate. But the child said he’s “worried about me” and that I need “human companionship.” What did I do to make him think he’s worthy of my companionship? He’s not worthy of the floor I walk on, and I thought I’d made that clear. I don’t understand why he can’t be more like his sister. Even when they were kids, I always told James to be more like Mary Sue, but he never did listen to me. And now look where they are. Mary Sue lives in The Big City and is the CEO of Really Fancy Tech Company. James, on the other hand, has done zilch with his life. He’s a failure. A nothing living in an average suburban home with an average job and an average wife and horrid children that shower him with their sickly love. But Mary Sue. She’s made it in this world. Her name is known. She has power. She’s successful, and I’m proud of her.

At this point of my speech, James usually rolls his eyes and points out that Mary Sue is unhappy, goes through men like normal people go through waffles, and she hasn’t called me in five years, while James, the angel, has checked up on me nearly every day and “actually cares.” However, his points don’t make any sense and his argument is as stupid as he is. I’ll concede that Mary Sue is unhappy, but happiness doesn’t relate to success and is therefore unimportant; I am allergic to waffles (I do love a good pancake though) and therefore I do not eat waffles (because they would kill me and I rather like life) and therefore Mary Sue’s relationship with men is perfectly healthy; and she hasn’t called because she’s successful and successful people are often too busy to call their mothers. I’m so proud of my little girl.

James, though… I do not appreciate it when he calls. If anything, it only inconveniences and irritates me. James fully knows this and calls only to spite me for loving Mary Sue more when they were children (and now). And I know for a fact that he does not “actually care.” If he did “actually care” he would blindly follow whatever I say, wouldn’t he? This is why I prefer cats to people. (And diaries to cats.)

November 30

To My Dearest Diary,

I’ve been thinking about what James said yesterday, about how I need more friends. After a significant amount of thought (I wasted thirty seconds of my life thinking about what James said. I can’t believe myself), I’ve come to the conclusion that he has once again proved himself to be incompetent.

I’m anything but lonely. I have so many friends! There’s Cherry the Cheshire, Sweet Milly, Tibby the Tabby, Colby and Jack, Margaret, Cheddar the Yellow, Emperor Mozzarella, Tommy—I haven’t seen the poor dear in ages. I wonder where he’s gone—, Reina the Yellow, Raisin the Bald, etc. So many friends! Except for Emperor Mozzarella. We’re currently not on speaking terms.

James, that filthy clod, repetitively commands me to find friends. He doesn’t think my precious cats count. He says I should “be friends with things that can speak.” That narrow-minded lump can’t comprehend the fact that my cats can speak, at least to me, and are the only friends I need. What more could I want? Other than Emperor Mozzarella, they are doting and kind and so, so sweet—qualities that he himself does not possess! And he insults my friends?

And I have you, Dearest, as well, don’t I? You’re my best friend, and even better than the cats (don’t tell them I said that). I do love the cats, but sometimes on the longer days, it becomes all about me, me, me, and it becomes tiring to pretend to care about all their yowling. Raisin the Bald, especially, is quite narcissistic. Sometimes they don’t worship me the way I want them to. But you, Dearest, are wonderful in ways the cats could only dream to be. You listen so well. I can tell you all my secrets and never will a word of it reach the others. I confided in Tibby and Tommy once, but the poor things love to gossip. I gave Tibby and Tommy the silent treatment for three days. They learned their place after that.

Dearest, you understand me like no other can. You love me like no other can. You never want anything from me. Oh, the cats are good company, but they don’t compare. It’s constantly feed me, change my litter, love me. They expect so much from me! Is it wrong to sometimes take instead of give? Is it wrong to sometimes want things for me instead of always living for others?

November 31

To My Dearest Diary,

James visited yesterday. It was rather unpleasant, and his voice provoked a terrible ache in my left ear. He brought hot chocolate, which was nice. I made some for myself, but when I sat down on the couch across from him, he eyed my hot chocolate like I should have made him some. The nerve! If he had wanted hot chocolate, he should have kept it at his house. He gave it to me as a gift, and since it’s a gift, I have the right to do with it what I please. And I’d rather not waste hot chocolate on ungrateful little urchins.

James kept trying to make small talk. I detest small talk. I remained silent and glared at him until he left. That made me feel successful.

Then I had to go lie down because of my ear.

Wait a moment, Dearest, would you? The phone is ringing. It must be my darling Mary Sue.

November 31,

To My Dearest Diary,

Dearest, I’ve returned! Did you miss me?

James called again. I apologize once more for giving birth to such a barbaric son.

He sounded horrendous. I’ve always told him to enunciate, but that boy never did listen to his wise mother. And he wonders why I think he’s stupid. 

He seemed worried. About Mary Sue of all people. I don’t understand why anyone would even think to be worried about her. She’s perfect! There’s no aspect of her life and/or personality that could be any cause for concern.

He said she’s lonely and upset. I told him he was speaking nonsense and to get off the phone. That arrogant child ignored my command and stayed on the phone. He said he’d tried inviting her for dinner, but she refused to come over because she didn’t want to see James’s wife because she gave Mary Sue a ceramic catfish for James’s half-birthday three years ago. Which is absurd because Mary Sue has never held a grudge. I suppose she hasn’t talked to me since I gave her a glass flounder for Christmas five years ago, and I suppose other people would call that a grudge, but I promise it’s not a grudge. I don’t know what it is, precisely, but I assure you it’s not a grudge. She has always been such a sweet-tempered girl. She was frequently nice to the other children and she was so funny! She’d make her classmates weep with tears of joy. The teachers said she was aggressive, but they didn’t understand. My Mary Sue is an angel.

Anyway, I’ll send her a cat to keep her company. It’s worked so well for me. Probably Emperor Mozzarella. It’s a brilliant plan. I won’t have to deal with the Emperor anymore and James can’t pester me about Mary Sue’s supposed loneliness either because at least I tried.

Emperor Mozzarella is getting out of hand. On top of defecating on treasured rugs, he is now picking fights with the other cats. He ate all of Cherry the Cheshire’s fancy cat food and has sparked a war between the two of them. I usually stay neutral in my cats’ affairs (to keep up appearances as I supposedly love them all equally), but, due to prior infractions, I find myself inclined to support Cherry the Cheshire in her endeavors. All the cats will say their goodbyes to Emperor Mozzarella tomorrow. Personally, I will be saying good riddance.

November 32

To My Dearest Diary,

Everyone said their goodbyes to Emperor Mozzarella today. It was a sad occasion for the cats. There was much weeping. Despite their differences, the cats love the Emperor. I don’t understand them. How can they forgive his faults and choose to love an inconvenience?

I was planning to cut Emperor Mozzarella from our family. I wasn’t going to give him a way to contact us again, but Sweet Milly begged me with tears in her feline eyes to give him a stationary set. Either Sweet Milly is kind to everyone, or she and Emperor Mozzarella are in a secret relationship. I can’t wait to give the announcement to all the cats! (You can’t tell because you can’t see because you’re a book and therefore don’t have eyes, but I’m waggling my eyebrows suggestively.)

November 35

To My Dearest Diary,

Mary Sue, the darling, sent me a letter today.


To My Dearest Mother,

I know I’m currently not speaking to you because of that atrocious glass flounder you gave me for Christmas a while ago. Don’t let this letter deceive you because I’m still not speaking to you, and I’m definitely not forgiving you.

You have angered me and I know it was revenge for cutting ties with you. I’m scolding you because how can a mother so gruesomely spite their own favorite child? It’s cruel. You are a horrible woman and I hate you.

I got a box in the mail from you the other day. I thought you were finally making up for that failure of a Christmas present. I thought you were finally considering my feelings. And then I opened it and you know what I found? NOTHING.

You were seeking revenge against your own daughter and you toyed with my emotions.

I don’t appreciate that. How many times do I have to tell you? You never listen.

You know, it was always like this when we were children and you were middle-aged. You were always making promises and never following through. For example, that &$@%ing parent-teacher conference. You promised you’d be a good mother and be quiet and not embarrass me, and what did you do? YOU YELLED AT THE &$@%ING TEACHER and made the rest of the year #*$$ for me. You embarrassed me. Precisely what I told you not to do.

You’re a disgrace of a mother and I am ashamed of you.

With Love,

Mary Sue


To My Dearest Daughter,

You are such a sweetheart. You bring excitement to my dull, cat-filled world. I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments. Take pride in the knowledge that I love you more than James.

I am so sorry that the box arrived empty. It was not my intention to spite you. When I originally mailed it, there was a lovely cat in there, Emperor Mozzarella, who was sent to be your friend. I love my cats so much and I wanted to send you my love in the form of a cat. He must have run away. He always did want to conquer kingdoms and form his own empire. It’s why he demands that everyone call him the “Emperor.” It’s really quite pretentious, isn’t it?

Love Always,

Your Mother


Emperor Mozzarella must have run away (and—oh, dear—Tommy, too). I’m so disappointed in him for disappearing. I thought he was better than that. Maybe I went too far when I forced him into the stand-up comedy routine. He must have been angrier than I thought.

I haven’t seen Sweet Milly for a few days either. She most likely ran away, as well. Probably because I refused to give Emperor Mozzarella a stationary set. She always did have a stubborn streak. This is unfortunate. She was my favorite, but don’t tell the other cats that.

November 41

To My Dearest Diary,

I’m far angrier than what’s considered an acceptable level of angriness. I’m angry at James, angry at myself, angry at my cats. &$%@, I’m even angry at Mary Sue. And now I’ve written “angry” so many times it’s lost all meaning, and I’m angry at that too.

Mary Sue has left already, but James is still in my living room like a cloud of stink you just can’t get rid of. I left him alone. He’d better not ruin the coffee table.

Margaret died just now. I am sad. 

It makes me feel melancholy. I have the strongest desire to constantly sigh gloomily. I’m upset with Mary Sue. She made me feel this way.

It was awful, darling. She was a hurricane. She stormed in and you could see the smoke pouring out of her pores. The world shrunk in her presence, like she took up more space than she should (despite being a relatively short person). And she brought the box.

The one I sent Emperor Mozzarella in.

And then she started screaming absurd things. She claimed that I’m an awful mother, that I sent her an empty box to toy with her emotions, and that I mailed her a letter afterward to mock her. I strongly disagree with all of these accusations. I am an amazing mother, just ask any of my cats or my children. I sent her a cat to make her happy, as if that can be considered “toying with her emotions,” and the letter I sent was completely honest.

I took offense.

James, that disgusting sea lamprey of a son, just sat there, letting his dear mother absorb insult after curse after insult, and did absolutely nothing to defend my pride. I blame him entirely.

Mary Sue, in a final display of dramatics, flung the box at my feet. It tipped on its side and spilled tens or hundreds of decorative fish, clearly revenge for my supposed allegations. Margaret, the poor dear, happened to be napping on the floor when the box fell on her and crushed the life out of the poor thing.

She’s dead now.

I, as any sane person would when their cat has just unexpectedly been crushed to death by a large box of decorative fish, both screamed and generally panicked.

James, of course, reacted in turn by unnecessarily demanding that I tell him what was wrong. As if I owe him an explanation for anything.

Mary Sue just stood there looking stunned and a little bit peeved at my ruining of all her theatrics. The poor darling was always a bit delicate. Endearing most of the time, but never good in a crisis.

I don’t quite remember if I told them that Margaret had died, or if they intuitively guessed, or if they’re secretly psychics and they read my mind. But either way, this lead to the most absurd accusation of the night.

Mary Sue began to speak. “&$@%, Mom. What are you—”

James, that rude little boy, cut her off with a glare. He faced me and said with a strange look on his face, “Mother, you know your cats aren’t real. You have allergies.”

Dearest, can you believe it?

They’re so silly. Of course my cats are real. I’ve had them for years. Children do tend to weave the most fanciful lies, don’t they? Lies so absurd they couldn’t possibly pass for the truth. And besides, I’ve had my cats for years! They can’t be implying that I’ve been imagining them for years, can they? That means they must be real, doesn’t it? They are real, aren’t they? I’ve had them for years… Are they real? Tell me they’re real, Dearest. Dearest? Answer me! Don’t ignore me!

Dearest… You’re real, right?


Photo by Immortal shots from Pexels

The Keyboard

To create a story is to create a world and characters so vivid that the reader cannot bear to accept it as only fiction. To create a story is to allow the reader to breach a space that fundamentally belongs to the writer, and as they peer into its depths, it becomes its own reality. I’m awed that it is me who lurks behind a keyboard and builds worlds, that it is me who toys with the nonexistent reader’s emotions and plays god to my characters. Despite being wholly unqualified, I try to create stories that will entrance readers and lure them into the make-believe.

The story’s foundation is built in the writer’s imagination, in isolation and darkness, hidden and inaccessible. It begins as an idea that is so easily blown beyond reach. The barest brush at the edge of one’s consciousness and then nothing at all, a wisp of smoke, a dying flame, a final breath. The idea is sneaky, a small mouse hiding and darting across the edges of vision when no one’s looking. To capture the idea, one must be constantly vigilant, hunting and prepared to pounce. The pen sets the trap. At the briefest whisper of an idea floating by, the pen is touched to paper. It rips across the page. It constructs an inescapable prison to store the idea so it will never be forgotten. The keyboard bides its time in the background, preparing for the war it anticipates.

Once captured, the idea is welcomed into the brain. In the mind, the idea festers. It swelters and parasitically feeds on thoughts, leaving no space for anything else. It grows like a fungus, and you allow it, nurture it, cherish it. The idea is a needy infant. It requires constant care and attention to grow. The mind is the mother, willingly throwing all of herself to the idea. It soon eats too many thoughts and is too large to contain within the mind anymore. Pieces of the idea overflow and escape and the mind frantically tries to recapture them, but there is too much. The idea can no longer be contained. It demands to be free, yet the keyboard continues to lie patiently in wait. Brief notes are scribbled, but the keyboard remains mostly untouched as the idea grows into something worthy of it.

Pen cannot keep pace with the flood of ideas that pours from the mind during the exodus. Something always escapes while the pen is preoccupied with decadent flourishes. One must turn to the keyboard to find what the pen lacks: speed. There is something beautiful about the pen, about thoughts flowing in one’s own hand, but as speed increases, legibility is sacrificed. Even the most perfect words are worthless if they cannot be deciphered. The keyboard is cold and mechanical, but endearing, as it never once falters at the barrage of letters that spill from the fingers in a hurricane of story. Every flailing limb of the idea struggles and pushes to escape first. They tug and demand and pull the consciousness every which way. The keyboard is attacked, the fingers venomously striking the letters, matching the speed of the rushing ideas and the keyboard’s hunger for words. Clicking fills the air and becomes music.

The idea is sloppily captured on the page in the rush. Word vomit is splattered to the edges of the sheet, contradictory and directionless and pointless. There are ugly words and cloudy images that must be refined or excised. My mind changes from a loving mother to a soulless surgeon. The love I felt for the leaching idea becomes clinical detachment as I appraise the words with a critical eye. With cold efficiency, I slice into my story, butcher it, maim it, the backspace pummeled, even as my heart cracks and shrivels. I raze my story, decimating the contradictory, the directionless, the pointless, with knives and guns and bombs and keys blazing. It becomes a war zone. Unrecognizable. I assault the keys, my anger expressed through the ferocity of the frantic strokes. The keyboard finds a cruel joy in the vicious destruction of all the words it ever loved.

And then I slow and melt from the violence-starved butcher to the artist. I paint over the fractures with beautiful words. The keys are pressed slowly, gently, each letter carefully considered and caressed. The furious typing is replaced with a graceful dance as the story grows. I nurture the story, feed it and love it once more with beautiful words until it blooms into something lovely, but this time my love is requited. The story sheds its ravenous hunger. It is content and complete. It no longer impedes on my every thought. It settles, finally placated. I breathe a sigh of relief, the battle over and casualties counted.

All throughout the creating and expelling and destroying and rebuilding of the story, the keys clatter. It’s deafening. It’s a wild dance of only the hands. A key is pressed lightly and the finger moves on. There is no proof that the key ever changed except for the letter that has burst into existence like a firework. The letter’s moment of glory is immediately surpassed by the next letter that appears, then the next and next, like bullets fired in quick succession. It quickly becomes nothing on its own, insignificant, but powerful taken in tandem with the other letters. The keyboard hungers for these words. It will become enamored with a beautiful turn of phrase, a romantic. It will encourage a mediocre one to flower, a friend. It will ruthlessly slaughter an inadequate one, a slayer.

The keyboard, a thin, unassuming sheet of squares, is so much more than what it seems. It houses the twenty-six letters, a meaningless jumble of symbols that combine into an innumerable number of words, which are combined in endless, infinitely different sentences and paragraphs and pages and stories. The keyboard allows stories to be told, to exist. It allows worlds to be created and demolished. It is the conduit through which stories can leave a writer’s mind and come alive. And yet, unlike the story, the keyboard does not gloat nor posture. It elegantly accepts praise and continues to work, bearing the vicious tirade of punching fingers as it destroys and creates from ruins.


Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver.

Want to lose weight this New Year? Introducing the new calorie-free diet

Do you want to succeed in your New Year’s resolution of losing weight? Look no further than the calorie-free diet. Forget keto and intermittent fasting. Calorie-free dieting is the fastest way to lose lots of weight and keep it off. What’s more, the diet is naturally free of sodium, sugar, fat, artificial flavors or colors, and other toxic substances! There’s no catch. The calorie-free diet will make you happy and healthy.

The best part about this diet is that you don’t have to exercise and you can eat whatever you want. Want to watch Netflix all day and eat only chocolate cake? Go ahead! We won’t judge. We’ll join you.

What to do

Calorie-free dieting is super easy. Just set the table like you usually do; play a recording of clinking silverware, chewing, and muffled conversation (available for download on our website); and imagine eating whatever you want by reading a detailed description of the experience (found in our cookbook).

Our cookbook, The Calorie-Free Lifestyle for the Trendy, is stuffed with delicious recipes for our signature calorie-free food. We’ve included an exclusive excerpt here.

The Apple

Your teeth skate against the waxy surface of the apple before finding purchase and breaking the skin with a mild popping sensation. You savor the resistance from the fruit as your teeth move through the flesh. With a sudden release of pressure, the bite is in your mouth and no longer attached to the fruit. You use your tongue to push the bite to the left side of your mouth and secure it between your teeth. As your teeth come together, you can feel the fruit collapse beneath the force, condensing. The apple bleeds. It tastes sweet and tart. You pulverize the bite and drink the juice, then swallow the fruit. You can feel it slide down your throat.

You take a second bite. It doesn’t taste as interesting, the memory of the last bite still fresh in your mouth. It becomes less of a pleasure and more of a way to satisfy your hunger. You rotate the apple and chew around it counter-clockwise. When you are left with only the core, you turn it so the bottom faces you and bite into it. It’s wasteful to not eat the core. You reach the center of the core; it’s studded with seeds. After a moment of deliberation, you bite into it. The seeds are hard pellets in your mouth. The contrast between the texture of the seeds and the fruit interests you. You are not bothered enough to spit out the seeds. You crush them between your teeth and a bitter, fruity taste coats your mouth. It is not entirely unpleasant. You quite enjoy it. You think about the amygdalin in the seeds turning into cyanide inside your body. You wonder how many seeds you’d need to eat for it to kill you. You reach the stem of the apple. You look at it for a moment then put it in your mouth. You chew vigorously but fail to break the rubbery stem. You spit it out and put it in the pile of chewed apple stems in the corner that you’ve been meaning to clean out.

Warning: The calorie-free diet may lead to malnutrition, starvation, and death.


Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver


Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

A Study of High School | Fiction

Today’s lesson will cover the fascinating human subculture of ‘high school’ in our continuing study of life on Earth. In the geographical location labeled “America” on your Earth maps, high school is a rite of passage for offspring. Through extensive observation, we have recorded many intriguing behaviors in this collection of young humans.

A Study in Self Destruction

A near-universal element of high school life is the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism, known as the ‘cell phone’ on Earth. The Prism is a rudimentary enhancement meant to compensate for the shortcomings of the human body, which include limited knowledge and an inability to receive or transmit telepathic communication. The Prism appears to be permanently attached to these young humans’ hands. Removal of a Prism is possible but excruciating, so it rarely occurs.

This is a beautiful example of a species causing its own demise. Giving a human creation the power to destroy humanity was the greatest mistake in human history.

Exhibit A: The Death of Social Interaction

The Prism limits social interaction, which is apparently necessary for continued human existence. We noticed that during the scheduled Feeding and Watering of young humans, many interact with their Prisms instead of each other. Prisms are clever in their thievery. Like consuming ash that looks and tastes like food, Prisms trick humans into believing that texting (which is pseudo-telepathy with written language and pictograms) and Snapchat (the details of which our anthropologists have yet to discover) are filling their daily quota for social interaction while the void of loneliness leisurely devours them. Dissections of young humans have shown there are miniature black holes inside many of them.

Exhibit B: A Scarcity of Self Esteem

The parasitic Prism has an efficient energy source: the self-esteem of its hosts. Self-esteem is the inflated idea humans hold of themselves. It often overestimates self-importance and underestimates or denies the uncaring nature of the universe, but self-esteem may be a kind fantasy. It has been found that high levels of self-esteem are necessary for continued human existence. The Pseudo-Telepathic Prism drains self-esteem. Humans use Prisms in a misguided attempt to fulfill their requirement for social interaction, but the more they use the Prism, the more their self-esteem level drops, removing natural protections and allowing the Prism to siphon self-esteem at exponential rates, making itself more vibrant and attractive and further absorbing the human in a vicious, inescapable cycle. It has been found that lower self-esteem levels correlate with more massive interior black holes.

Exhibit C: Oblivion

The use of Prisms leaves humans in a state we call ‘Oblivion’ where all consciousness is absorbed by the Prism, leaving them weak and vulnerable to any outside factors. This can lead to some amusing situations. For example, one of our anthropologists witnessed one young human so absorbed in their Prism while walking in the high school’s transport channel that they unknowingly stepped in a repulsive bodily fluid that recently exited the feeding hole of another nearby young human. The anthropologists wrote an exciting paper about this particular situation, which I am assigning for tonight’s reading. The Prism frequently leads to more deadly scenarios as well. Death by transport vehicle is a common occurrence among young humans. Even unfettered by the Prism, humans lack the concentration necessary to properly control these unwieldy high-speed beasts, but they still usually arrive at their destinations unscathed and unaware of the fragility of life. When focus is crippled by Prisms, however, humans are overconfident in their control and infantile in their ability to steer. The transport vehicle is piloted only by the blind hands of chance.

Anthropologists predict that it will be the individual destruction caused by the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism that will lead to the inevitable doom of the human race, not climate change or nuclear warfare or asteroids or any other event of mass destruction that humans are so concerned about. Destruction by Prism is slow and stealthy. It leaves its victims existing, but not alive. We watch raptly as humans tear themselves apart. Let them be a reminder of why we minimize self-destructive behaviors through careful surveillance.

A student has just telepathically asked why humans are worried about climate change since it isn’t real. For those of you not taking Interterrestrial Studies, we will provide context: we are certain that climate change will not destroy Earth because it is actually a conspiracy begun by our subterranean allies, the Martians, to persuade humans to flee their planet, giving the Martians an easy invasion. In contrast to popular human belief, Mars is a wasteland not because of climate change, but because of nuclear warfare prompted by mass destruction caused by a stray asteroid. We are, of course, very supportive of the Martians’ endeavor and encourage their quest for a new home because we are tired of them leeching our resources.

The College Admissions Committee and Competitive Bubble-Filling

The humans of high school live under the glaring eyes and iron fists of the College Admissions Committee (CAC). CAC is similar to The Dictator of the Highly Advanced Alien Species in this way. (Long rule The Dictator with a brutal, merciful hand. May many flowers bloom under her rule and may she crush the airways of all who oppose her.)

The anthropologists discovered that CAC lives in the clouds at the peak of a mountain in an ominous castle. They scrutinize and judge the behavior of human youth through their ‘college applications,’ which is a document that contains the essence of a human in various numerical measures of competency and brief written statements that measure the adequacy of one’s personality. CAC uses these “apps” to determine whether human youth are worthy of a successful life. With a bored wave of their hands, the fates of humans are charted, their destinies immutable. With their futures resting in the unpredictable hands of the committee, human youth accordingly conduct every thought and action with CAC at the forefront of their minds to increase their probability of completing the predetermined course to success.

Unlike our Supreme Leader, CAC cannot directly control the thoughts or behaviors of their subjects. Nonetheless, they exert heavy influence. Humans will often choose to study subjects that will “look good on their college apps” instead of something they are passionate about or join many extracurriculars they do not like to increase the value of the numerical measures of competency on their college applications. The All-Powerful Overlord endorses this influence because it stimulates altruistic volunteerism and encourages mind-expanding behaviors. Some anthropologists meekly argue that the oversight of CAC results in a dispassionate generation of humans, floating half-asleep through life doing what is expected and eager for short-cuts. We must pray that the Mighty Ruler has enough forgiveness for these divergent anthropologists and their airways remain minimally intact.

An important numerical measure of competency on college applications is one’s proficiency in competitive bubble-filling. Multiple times during an Earth year, human high schoolers around the country gather in grand, drafty chambers to participate in the national bubble-filling competition. This competition appears to be a test of which humans can sit silently for the longest time and arbitrarily fill the most bubbles on a paper array of circles. Humans who fill the most bubbles correctly according to a predetermined pattern are deemed to be more competent and more likely to be successful than their peers who were not able to properly color in the correct bubbles.

Suggestions for human improvement: Monitor thoughts carefully with telepathy to determine the most competent humans, not the most successful bubble-fillers.

Worship of the Educational Institution

Worship of the Educational Institution, or ‘school spirit,’ is the subtle process of fostering solidarity among humans of one high school and encouraging animosity between different high schools (especially with ‘rivals,’ which require more animosity than what’s typically needed). Worship of the Educational Institution, however, is not as volatile as other manifestations of blind devotion because it is theoretically contained to competitive activities, especially organized physical exertion, or ‘sports.’

Humans are very emotionally invested in organized physical exertion. It usually consists of two globs of humans fighting over a sometimes-spherical object that is not useful, cannot be eaten, and has no monetary value. If one glob succeeds in moving the object to a specific location despite the attempts of the opposing glob to prevent this event, then one-half of the spectators will scream wildly to expel their extreme positive emotions. Our anthropologists are uncertain why chasing spherical objects elicits such a massive response among humans who are not directly involved in the success of the glob in the pointless exercise of moving a sometimes-spherical object to a particular location. We have no plausible hypothesis either.

Because victory of a chosen glob in organized physical exertion is so important to human happiness, humans enjoy proving their devotion to their chosen sports glob. Dedication to a young human’s high school is intertwined with dedication to their high school’s sports globs. This leads to the concept of ‘pep’ or ‘spirit,’ which is the outward demonstration of devotion to a high school and their sports globs. Pep often takes the form of coordinating daily color variations in skin coverings, loudly expelling positive emotion, participating in embarrassing games, or other normally socially unacceptable activities. Pep is a “voluntary” behavior, as humans who choose not to participate are seen as disloyal, uncommitted, or an outsider.

The Great Leader seeks to implement pep among our species in global pep assemblies so we may better display our unwavering loyalty to her Mightiness. Please open your telepathy to Global Communications in one week for further details.

A Sense of Doom

Our anthropologists noticed that humans in high school tend to be very ‘stressed.’ This is a human emotional state that could be described as a buzzing background tone of constant low-grade fear. It is akin to the feeling of increased pressure when our arm-vents are submerged in water. In human youth, stress results in raised pitch in verbal communication, frantic arm flapping, restlessness, a shortening of the distance between the eyebrows, a deficiency in logical reasoning, etc.

Anthropologists hypothesized that stress is highly contagious because it is a widespread condition among humans and the frantic hand waving and raised pitch seemed to jump from person to person. To confirm their hypothesis, anthropologists worked with botanists to create the Human Emotion Detecting Flower by modifying the Highly Advanced Alien Emotion Detecting Flower (used to monitor our species for adequate emotion levels). The anthropologists dispersed this microscopic feat of biological engineering in the air, free to be breathed in by humans and to send all data to the anthropologists telepathically. The results were fascinating. The plants not ingested by humans, the ones left floating in the air, also detected high levels of stress. This means that stress does not go neatly through undetectable threads, like verbal communication; instead, humans exude stress in clouds from their pores. These clouds are then absorbed by other humans, causing them to discharge more stress, perpetuating this cycle.

As stress is such an unpleasant feeling, humans expend a great deal of energy attempting to alleviate it. There are generally two methods to do so. The first method evolves from the hypothesis that stress can be assuaged by removing the source of stress. In practice, this involves attempts to frantically complete all work before enjoying oneself. However, to-do lists stretch indefinitely and work is never complete. In fact, the amount of work increases with available time so there is rarely excess time for enjoyable activities. This method of relieving stress tends to increase it; however, humans who follow this method of constant efficiency and vigilance are deemed to have a ‘strong work ethic’ are applauded for their stress-perpetuating behaviors. The second method, ‘procrastination,’ involves spending maximum time doing enjoyable activities before completing work frantically in a brief window of time. In theory, this minimizes stress most of the time at the cost of enduring incomprehensible amounts of stress for relatively short periods. However, it has been found that procrastination actually induces more stress on account of the procrastination itself, resulting in stress all the time regardless. This is because procrastination is generally seen as socially unacceptable and irresponsible. As both methods of reducing stress are ineffective, we conclude that stress is unavoidable.

Homework

Adult humans are encouraged not to bring work home and to not let work interfere with their “actual” lives (we are uncertain if this is merely a myth or if people truly follow this suggestion). Young humans, in contrast, are required to bring their school work home. Human youth will frequently spend all of their “free time” frenziedly completing their homework and drowning in a sea of paper. Homework often causes sleep deprivation and stimulates the expansion of stress clouds. There are no detectable health benefits to homework.

Anthropologists hypothesize that the discrepancy in ideology between the homework of adult humans and young humans is due to the common belief that unoccupied human youth will entertain their bored minds with unscrupulous behaviors, such as defacing property, throwing raucous parties, absorbing toxic substances, being public nuisances, committing petty theft, or participating in other general misdemeanors. Incredible amounts of homework are assigned to human youth in order to protect the world from their undeveloped moral compasses (which are literal compasses located in the left ankle of fully-grown humans) until they can tentatively be released into the world as adults responsible enough to correctly select socially acceptable behaviors for their free time.

A similar concept is expressed in our species in the grueling thirty-six hours a day feral criminals spend painting rocks to look like beetles for the Earth collection of the World Museums in our behavioral reeducation program. Without any time to conduct illegal or immoral acts, our global crime rate has become almost nonexistent and our World Museums are overflowing with delightful fake beetles.

Sleep Deprivation and Exhaustion

A common condition among human high schoolers, usually caused by homework, is sleep deprivation. Unlike ourselves, humans are required to spend a third of their day in unproductive unconsciousness. Humans seem to despise sleep for its hefty time requirement and love it for staving off sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is an unpleasant state where a human’s sight organs droop closed against their will, their limbs flop about limply, they drift into stupors, and they cannot focus. We believe that humans need the quiet darkness of sleep for a plant, a type of moss, to grow in their sight organs, limbs, and cognitive structures. This symbiotic relationship between moss and human provides the support necessary for humans to function properly. However, it wears down over the day with use, resulting in sagging sight organs, noodly limbs, and a lagging thought process. Even so, the moss theory is a hot topic in the anthropology world. It has not yet been proven by our dissections, although we think that the state of death may inhibit humans’ ability to produce the plants. We plan to conduct live dissections next month to settle this debate.

Sleep deprivation often results in sub-par productivity. Human youth appear to be trapped in a self-sabotaging cycle of skipping sleep to complete homework, reducing their efficiency the following day so they must once more stay up late, perpetuating sleep deprivation. They seem to have a silly notion that one can “catch up” on sleep later as if it were a ‘television show.’ However, one cannot shore up their moss past maximum moss levels to save for a busy day. Moss restoration is required every day and is good for the following day only.

Sleep-deprived humans often crave coffee and tea, which contain a stimulant called ‘caffeine’ that protects against sleep deprivation. We hypothesize that caffeine masks sleep deprivation by temporarily buffering the plant scaffolding in humans. Our anthropologists experimented with caffeine and found that dousing our skin in caffeine may cause pleasant hallucinations of unknown, indescribable colors diffusing through the atmosphere and drifting clumps of puffy fluff because of its unique interactions with our Highly Advanced Alien physiology. This discovery, while fascinating in the realm of science, has had devastating effects on our species as a whole. With the increased popularity of caffeine among our population, there has been rampant smuggling of tea and coffee from Earth since we have not yet been able to synthesize the compound in our labs. The smugglers risk exposure and the endangerment of our entire race. In addition, caffeine may be dangerous. With this mysterious Earthly compound being so new, its long-term effects on our health have not been adequately studied. We cannot confirm whether or not caffeine is safe for Highly Advanced Aliens. We insist you avoid any contact with caffeine before research is complete and to report any caffeine users in your family or community to trusted officials for immediate nutritional reeducation.

Suggestions for human improvement: Hire another human to sleep for oneself, then surgically transplant their moss stores to one’s own body, eliminating the need for sleep.

Agenda for Future Lessons

We will continue our discussion of these fascinating creatures for the following month, after which we will move on to the microscopic civilized societies of Europa’s oceans in our ongoing study of other lifeforms in the Milky Way galaxy. Please get your permission slips for the human dissection next week signed. We will identify liquid stress, the source of gaseous stress clouds. For tonight’s homework, in addition to the reading, please prepare two suggestions for human improvement and reflect on what our species can learn from humanity’s errors.


Image by Pixabay on Pexels

Connect with me on Twitter @arachnid_weaver

All I Want for Christmas is a Salmon-Pink Chainsaw | Satire

On Christmas morning, Margarine skipped down the steps in her Disney princess pajamas, pink fairy wings on her back and plastic wand in her hand. She raced into the living room, gasping at sight of the overwhelming mountains of wrapped presents. They were heaped underneath the four Christmas trees necessary to contain them all. The branches of the trees sagged against the boxes, their boughs heavy with ornaments. Margarine’s seven stockings, strung across the mantel, were overflowing with sweets and flowers.

Margarine’s parents stood next to the fireplace. Her mother’s face was glossy with sweat. A bead rolled down her forehead and dripped off her nose. Her father was wringing his hands and slightly bouncing on his feet. They were trembling.

“We hope you are satisfied with your presents this year, Margarine,” her mother tentatively said.

“We’ll see,” Margarine replied vaguely.

Her parents’ terror was audible.

Margarine set to the meticulous work of shredding wrapping paper and carefully checking her gifts against her twelve-foot long wish list. Dresses, hoverboard, dolls, knives, etc. Her parents watched the procedure with wide eyes, clutching each other. Their fate was in little Margarine’s hands.

It was going surprisingly well. Some hours later, Margarine unwrapped the final present underneath the fourth Christmas tree and her parents released the tension in their chests when she showed no reaction. It was over. Against all odds, they had survived their fifth Christmas with Margarine.

She squinted at the last gift, her head tilted in contemplation. “This,” Margarine said quietly, chillingly, “is a peach-pink chainsaw. I wanted a salmon-pink chainsaw.”

Her father’s face grew pale. He sweated profusely. “I—I thought it was salmon…”

“This is not a salmon-pink chainsaw.”

Her mother began sobbing, her arms wrapped around herself. Her father dropped to his knees and crawled to Margarine to beg. She was repulsed by the tears splashing on her bunny-slippered feet.

His hands enveloped hers. “Sweet Margarine, darling Margarine, I will get you a salmon-pink chainsaw. Dear girl, I will mortgage my house to do it.”

“It is too late. You have failed.”

“Please, give me another chance.”

“No.”

“Margarine, please.”

Margarine walked to the peach-pink chainsaw, flicked it on, the sound deafening, and decapitated each of the four trees. The glass ornaments shattered as the tops of the trees crashed to the ground and the floor sparkled with the fragments.

She turned off the chainsaw and returned to her father, still on his knees, his hands at his throat. She pressed the chainsaw against his chest and shrieked, “You ruined Christmas!”

Photo by Giftpundits.com from Pexels

The Money Tree | Satire

Greetings, creatures of the universe!

About two weeks ago, I entered a writing contest. *Bites nails nervously.* I’m really proud of the piece so crossed fingers. *Hides beneath bed, anxiously waiting for the results in February.*

I’ve used the occasion to dust off some old files and I’ve found the piece that I wrote last year for the same contest. I am usually too afraid to read my old work, but after two cups of tea and some procrastination, I worked up the courage to read “The Money Tree”.

*Cringes.*

Looking at old work is a good way to demonstrate improvement.

Despite not really liking this piece, I’m going to post it anyway. Next time, I’ll show you guys the one I entered this year, and hopefully we’ll all agree that it’s a smidge better.

Enough stalling. Here we go. *Tosses “The Money Tree” at you and runs far, far away.*


Dear Lucky Future Customer Who Also Happens To Be My Favorite Human Being In The Universe, Which Is No Small Feat Because I Generally Dislike Human Beings,

Congratulations!

Now, you may be sitting there, scratching your head because you have no idea why I’m congratulating you. You don’t remember doing anything noteworthy recently. You suppose you took out the trash without anyone yelling at you. But only the person who usually yells at you actually cares that you took out the trash without being yelled at, so why would I, a random stranger, be congratulating you for taking out the trash if I’m not the person who usually yells at you and therefore do not care if you took out the trash without being yelled at?

Good question. I will answer it in a moment, after a brief dramatic pause. *Dramatic pause* I’m not the person who usually yells at you to take out the trash.

And now I’ll answer the question you didn’t ask. Why am I congratulating you, you ask? (You didn’t ask but I’ll answer anyway). Because you are the proud, future owner of the grand, the amazing, the patent-pending, totally legitimate, completely functional, original *Dramatic pause* MONEY TREE™. *Cue confetti, infinite happiness, and fireworks*

Yes, that’s right, you read the previous statement correctly. You are the future owner of a real-life MONEY TREE™.

Our professional team of professional scientists at Totally Not Working From the Basement Co. has done the impossible. We’ve turned fiction into fact. We’ve grown a MONEY TREE™, and now it’s your chance to own one.

Through the careful use of sciencey stuff, we’ve managed to alter the DNA of the uselessly average cedar tree that generally does nothing but create oxygen so it can grow money. That’s right, our MONEY TREE™ grows legitimate, totally functional, and definitely not counterfeit money. And the amazing MONEY TREE™ will grow any type of currency! To make your MONEY TREE™ grow the currency of a particular nation, all you have to do is plant your MONEY TREE™ seed within the borders of that particular nation and your MONEY TREE™ will do the rest. Is it magic, you might ask? No, it’s not, dear [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE], it’s our simple and effective Legitimate Science. Each seed is preprogrammed with comprehensive maps, which allows it to select the proper form of currency from its built-in currency catalog upon sprouting.

So what does this all mean? Free money! That’s right, I said FREE MONEY! Shout it from the rooftops and add as many exclamation points as you want because it’s FREE MONEY!!!!

Have you ever heard such a delightful phrase? It makes me giddy, like I’ve just won the lottery, or my friend, who I’ve been in love with for the past twenty-four years, has just confessed her feelings for me, or I’ve just murdered someone.

However, don’t actually shout it from the rooftops, because if everyone had a MONEY TREE™, it would cause serious inflation.

BUT. You are a generous person, aren’t you, dear customer? You want to share this gift with all your friends and family so they can marinate in the awesomeness that is the MONEY TREE™ (At no cost to yourself, of course. They can have their own MONEY TREE™. It won’t be your money they’re leeching). And we’ll make it even easier for you. Every time you recommend us to someone, you get a 10% discount! (For a maximum of 10% off).

And what does that mean? It means you can get your very own MONEY TREE™ for A LOT OF PERCENTS off your already low, low cost and you get to have group marination sessions swimming in money with all of your favorite friends and family! You’ll get to live the MONEY TREE Lifestyle™ and not be terribly lonely, isolated from all of humanity as a result of your sudden wealth and your former friends’ and family’s bitter jealousy.

Still not convinced? The MONEY TREE™ could be yours for only a few monthly payments of $99.99 for an indefinite amount of time. Less than a hundred dollars a month for your very own MONEY TREE™! Talk about a good investment. (And I’ll remind you that the MONEY TREE™ will be producing money as soon as it hits puberty.)

You’re My Favorite Customer™, so as an exclusive offer Just. For. You. I’m going to give you 50% off, that’s right, you heard me, 50% off, if you do me an itty bitty favor. I know you’re just itching to get your hands on that MONEY TREE™, especially with that super special, extra exclusive discount I’m only offering you, [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. Let me scratch that itch for you.

The small, little favor you need to do for me.

The favor that will get you the MONEY TREE™ half-off.

Is.

*Cue drumroll*

*Cue dramatic music*

So, [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]. I’m going to be candid for a second. I’m not supposed to tell you this, but EVERYONE’s itching for a MONEY TREE™, not just you. Everyone’s greedy. It’s not a particularly rare trait.

And not only is everyone greedy, but they’re also lazy. They want their money fast and easy, and nothing makes it faster or easier than a MONEY TREE™. The only thing you have to do is place an order online and plop a seed in a hole. And bam. Free money. Easy. Simple. No reason to get your hands dirty or *shudders* do hard work.

I’m sure you can imagine why our product is so popular.

We can’t keep up with the demand. It’s a long, complicated, sciencey process to produce even one MONEY TREE™, and our production rate is uncharacteristically low for such a large, legitimate company.

Millions of people will order their MONEY TREEs™ and wait. And wait. And wait. And pay us. And pay us some more. There simply aren’t enough to go around.

So what can you do to get a MONEY TREE™ when it’s oh so difficult to get ahold of one? Because honestly, the only people who get MONEY TREEs™ are celebrities and other powerful people that already have way more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime. And these already-rich people view the MONEY TREE™ as a novelty, don’t they? For you it means so much more. It’s the ticket to your dreams! You need it so much more than them, don’t you? You deserve it so much more.

And let’s face it. You want one. You really want one. You’ve never wanted anything more. Think of everything the MONEY TREE™ would entail. No more backbreaking, mind-numbing work. No more running to the clock’s whims and passing fancies. No more taking orders from someone you secretly loathe and imagine murdering through various gruesome means as you drift off into sleep every night. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted. You can do everything you’ve ever dreamed of. You can make bigger, better dreams once you grow tired of the ones you chase now.

It’s tantalizing, isn’t it? You can taste that future. You can feel it at your fingertips.

There’s only one way to guarantee it. And that’s my final offer.

And it’s the small favor.

But before we get into what the favor is, let me tell you a story. My story. And let me warn you, it’s a classic sob story. In fact, a lot of people think I made it up to gain sympathy, and nothing hurts my heart more. To take my suffering and pretend it never happened. But you wouldn’t do that, would you? Because you’re a Decent Human Being™.

My life was full of death before it even began. My father died in a car accident before I was born. I never met him. He never met me. I only ever saw pictures. And I don’t imagine it’s the same, is it? But I wouldn’t know.

My mother was an amazing woman. She raised me and my adopted younger sister on her own. She never fell in love again and she never remarried.

She did, however, die. It was a car accident. I was thirteen. My sister was six.

We were put in foster care and bounced around from house to house. We never had a home. Nobody wanted to take siblings, and no one wanted an older child, especially a boy. They did want my sister, though. It was just me they didn’t want. We decided that even if we had to be separated, it would be better for her to have a home and a family.

My sister died less than three months later in a car crash on the way to the hospital to visit her adoptive grandma, who was dying of severe injuries she had sustained from a traumatic car accident.

And then I was alone.

No one ever adopted me. But I graduated high school and went to college. I studied science, and as soon as I was out of college, I helped create the MONEY TREE™.

But while I was in college, I found out that my mother’s diamond wedding ring, her most prized possession, the ring she never took off, had gone to her parents. I knew it wasn’t what my mother would’ve wanted. She despised her parents, and her parents despised her. They never wanted her to be happy, and they never supported her dreams of becoming a professional mime. So she ran away with my father as soon as she could and she never spoke to her parents again. For her only remaining token from her love to go to the parents that hated her, that is atrocious.

I know she’d want her ring to go to her children. I wrote a letter to my grandparents, begging for the ring. They refused.

As it turns out, my grandparents live in [INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR TOWN HERE]. They live in that large, generic brick house. I’m sure you recognize it. And if you return my mother’s ring to me, I will guarantee you a MONEY TREE™, and your dreams.

If you want to help a sad orphan and receive a MONEY TREE™ for your efforts, please send an envelope with your name, address, date of birth, and social security number along with your banking information (and my mother’s ring if you want that super special, extra exclusive offer) to the same address you send donations to your estranged distant relative the Nigerian Prince. (No returns or refunds available.)

Customer Reviews

Fred Doeson

★☆☆☆☆ || Unreliable Delivery

I’d give this negative stars if I could! At first, I was simply irritated with their delivery. It took five months. But I was like, “Okay. They did say they have super high demand. Five months isn’t that long.” So I got this seed, and I waited for it to grow. After about a year, it wasn’t growing any money. And then I was like, “Uhh… This looks like a normal cedar tree.” So I called them, and the dude was like, “Yes, yes. We get calls like this all the time from impatient customers. Your tree just hasn’t reached puberty yet. It will soon, I assure you, and you’ll have all the money you could imagine.” So I went with it. Waited another year. Still nothing. I called again. They said they’d replace it. Must’ve been a malfunction, they said.

Well. It’s been six years since I originally ordered it, and I still don’t have one. I occasionally call them, and they keep making excuses. Oh, they have too many orders. Oh, they have to prioritize people in poverty. Oh, they have to get through the orders of the rich and powerful. I’m telling you they’re against the middle class!

And, oh yeah. I’ve been giving them $99.99 every month for the last six years! They won’t let me cancel. Whenever I try, they tell me they’re working on my order and there’s no reason to cancel, especially since I’ll recover all the money I’ve lost once the money tree arrives. And whenever I try to get more forceful with them, they just hang up!

John Johnson

★★★★★ || The anticipation is killing me

I just got my seed and I’m so excited for my life to ooze with money that doesn’t require effort! I planted it yesterday and I can’t wait for it to grow! Obviously, as it hasn’t sprouted yet, I haven’t gotten any money from it, but I’m sure it will make me a millionaire once it hits puberty!

I saw Fred Doeson’s review up there, but I’m pretty sure his case was a fluke. The packaging seemed legitimate, so I know the company is real. Packaging never lies. And they said themselves they’re legitimate!

I also participated in the Extra Special Offer for 50% off, and I don’t know what you were talking about, man, but your grandparents are the sweetest! They invited me in for hot chocolate and wine and we talked for hours. It was so much fun! And your grandma is amazing at drinking games! Afterward, I asked for the ring, and she just agreed. Slipped it right off her finger and handed it to me. Lovely woman.

They seemed like terrific people to me. Maybe they just have a thing against mimes.

Ruby Delawareson

★★★☆☆ || Meh

Eh. The MONEY TREE isn’t as life-changing as they imply. It’s pretty much a standard cedar tree.

Kélly Jaysón

★★★★☆ || Pretty good!

I’m hard to impress, but I’m moderately pleased with this product. It looks very seed-like.

I also participated in the Exclusive Offer, but I disagree with John Johnson’s claim that the grandparents are nice people. And I would know. I’ve been their next-door-neighbor for almost seven years.

When you talked about how awful your grandparents are and how they live in a generic brick house, I knew precisely who you were talking about. My neighbors fit that exact description.

They constantly complain that my parties are too “rowdy,” and they went so far as to call the cops on one of my parties, actually! Parties must be loud to be spectacular, and I throw the spectacularist of parties. They’re also horribly picky. I baked them muffins once, and they refused to accept them because of a so-called “gluten allergy.” Can you believe them? Making up allergies in order to insult my baking! Like, what even is gluten?

They’re exactly the kind of people to disown their own daughter who only wants a chance to reach her dreams.

So I decided to do the right thing and correct an injustice (and get a 50% discount). So I broke in and stole the diamond, just like you wanted me to, random internet stranger (The cost to ship something to Nigeria is ridiculous. Good thing I have a Money Tree to cover the expenses ;). Well, as soon as it hatches). I also might’ve trashed the place to get revenge on that party incident.

Patty Thompson

★★☆☆☆ || Navigational issues

I got one. Turned out to be a regular tree. Called. They replaced it. Regular tree again. I still have hope. I also have a forest, and I’m having trouble navigating my tiny NYC apartment.

Knotte A. Skammer

★★★★★★ || Marvelous! Spectacular! You should get this life-changing tree!

My life is divided into two parts. Before the MONEY TREE™, and after the MONEY TREE™. Before, I was a miserable human. I worked in a factory, canning beans from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I hated my job and my life. When I was young, I thought I was going to be something. I thought was going to change the world. I thought I was going to have color and excitement and pizzazz in my life. I thought I was going to be that one in a million. But I was wrong. 

The canning factory sucked the life out of you. I wasn’t a person anymore. I was a shell. Or an empty can.

After I got the MONEY TREE™, my life changed. It was even better than what I dreamed of as a kid. I quit my job at the factory and I got my life back! It was like taking a breath of fresh air after being stuck inside a bean canning factory. It was like I finally existed. I now spend my days doing things I actually like. I live in a mansion. I get to eat in expensive restaurants whenever I want. If I wake up one day and I feel like doing nothing, I’ll do nothing. There’s no mind-numbing job that I’m required to go to no matter what. I’m happy. I’m free from the clutches of the heinous 9-to-5 job.

It’s turned my life around and made it what I’ve always wanted it to be. And the MONEY TREE™ grew so much more money than what I paid for it. Honestly, this is the best investment I’ve ever made. They say money’s the key to happiness, but really, it’s not. It’s the MONEY TREE™.

Image by Snapwire

How to Bake an American

Another week, another odd post stolen from English class. The topic was “the American Experience.” There was no other context and I was very confused. This is what I came up with:


Easy-to-Follow Recipe for an American Human

Ingredients

  • 4 sticks of butter
  • 6 square yards of pretzel dough
  • 7 brussel sprouts
  • 1 watermelon, chunked
  • 20 oz. of sparkling flavored water. Any flavor will work.
  • An assortment of caramel hard candies
  • 6 gallons of cranberry juice
  • 5 wads of pre-chewed gum. Cinnamon.

Directions

First, roll out 6 square yards of pretzel dough. Use it to line your human mold. Molds are typically found in the baking section of your local supermarket if you don’t already have one. Then, use human organ molds (also found at your local supermarket) to shape the watermelon chunks. Chill these in the freezer for twelve hours then place the organs in anatomically correct locations (consult an anatomy textbook if you need to refresh your memory).
You may have noticed that there is no mold for the heart. This is because we will use brussel sprouts instead. Brussel sprouts will give your American human its characteristic sense of rebellion. Americans have rebellion ingrained in their souls, having once been children who knew ice cream was better for dinner than brussel sprouts despite their parents’ disagreement (and also like history and the founding of the country and stuff). These brussel sprouts will make your American buck under anyone else’s reins, including yours. Your human will value independence and self-reliance and think that it is a solitary pillar that does not need any support. Americans walk alone. It is a weakness to want or accept help. Your American human will think itself a closed system perfectly capable of surviving on its own. This will be very frustrating and is why people usually prefer baking cats. Americans covet independence because they want control of their lives. Accordingly, Americans ignore the collective mind of the Great Brussel Sprout compelling them to maintain their mundane routines and instead believe they are choosing to live consistently. They feed their rebellious brussel sprouts by breaking minor rules and being moderately spontaneous. Do not worry about your American human creating anarchy. Do worry about it terrorizing your life.

After inserting the brussel sprouts in the correct location, create the brain by softening four sticks of butter and placing it in the head of your mold. Next, douse your human in cranberry juice.

To add the competitive American spirit, add 20 oz. of sparkling flavored water to the cranberry juice. Americans strive for improvement, like how flavored water improved boring, tasteless water. American humans are industrious people, like ants, always coming up with a new and better thing. Instead of sticking with the traditional way, Americans search for the efficient way. This competitive nature often carries over to Americans themselves. Self-improvement turns to a cut-throat competition to be the best because in merit-based America the best succeed. Encourage your American human to constantly perform better. This competitive environment should persist until retirement or consumption. Remember that the flavor and quality of your American human depend on its ability to succeed.

For the final cultural ingredient, thoroughly chew fives pieces of gum until the flavor disappears. This will give your human materialistic values because, like materialism, gum tastes okay but has no real nutritional value. Americans like stuff a lot. It is proof of their hard work and competitive prowess. Surrounded by other people with a lot of stuff, Americans tend to accumulate things to give off the perception of wealth. Since the quantity and quality of possessions reflect an American’s success, and since success reflects the quality of a human, prepare for your human to acquire more things and require more space as it ages. This may be irritating at the time, but remember that a human with more things is a happier, better quality human and that it will be worth it in the end. As the Bishop of Digne puts, “those who have managed to avail themselves of this admirable materialism have the joy of feeling totally irresponsible and of imagining they can devour everything without a worry… and they’ll go to their grave, having digested the lot. How sweet it is!” (Hugo 28). And how sweet your materialistic American human will be.

Combine the five wads of gum into one large cubic shape, then attach the assorted caramel hard candies to it so it resembles a porcupine. This candy will form the teeth. Submerge the wad in the cranberry juice. The location does not matter.

Allow your human to chill in the fridge for 48 hours, then remove and bake on low heat for nine months. Be careful when removing from the oven, it may be hot. You may be concerned by any screaming or crying, but do not worry, this is normal. Allow your American human to mature for at least twenty years, then serve with dairy or fruit.

Photo by Ana Rocha from Pexels

So I’ve Been Gone…

Sorry, I’ve been gone for a long time. A LOOOOOOOOONG time.

I was fingerless after the keyboard amoebas ate my hands. It was quite the predicament. The injury hurt so much that I couldn’t eat my favourite cereal with my hands soaking in milk anymore, I was unable to draw, unable blog, and did I mention, I couldn’t consume the tastiest, liquidy cereal barehanded any longer? It was insane, spiders!

I tried to find a solution. I went to all the palm readers, tattooists and mimes I could find, but they all stayed silent despite my troubles. It was my life’s quest to get my hands back. Then it hit me!

After a long time of thinking, and a long time of panicking, I decided to go find a unicorn slave.

But then I realized they had hooves. Not fingers.

Now, I have a fish typing for me. It’s much more efficient, since, you know, everyone knows that fish have eight typing tentacles which they crawl with.

Wait a minute…

My slave has informed me that she is my pet spider. I am sincerely sorry; I don’t live around too many species.

XglsiruwIRsor

She just angrily jumped on the keyboard, while claiming that I’ve been with her for about ten years or so.

Oh! She just told me this is a private matter and to not have me dictate any about anymore. “A blog should be a connection between the author and reader,” she says, “without a MIDDLE MAN.”

I don’t know what she’s talking about. Men with average heights are great! Women are too.

So readers, if you have painfully average height, it’s not as painful as my late onset shortness. (I had carpet amoebas the other day.)

And remember, dear blog scanners, stay away from amoebas!

 

The Garden of (American) Dreams

Greetings, humans. I’m going to steal another post from English class because it’s just so easy. I will most likely continue to do this. Therefore, expect uncharacteristic, serious topics like this because that’s what we do in English, though I will attempt to make them lighthearted and entertaining because that’s what I do always.

This week’s topic was the American Dream. (We’re reading The Great Gatsby.) Background: The American Dream is the idea that in America is the land of opportunity, that anyone can achieve their dreams no matter where they start if they work hard. However, the American Dream appears to be an ideal that’s not real for many.


Let us imagine a garden. This garden is imaginary because as we established in the last post, I am a terrible gardener and any real garden of mine would surely turn to either a field of gravel or a luscious plastic paradise. This imaginary garden is actually where my last remaining cactus now lives.

So let us imagine this garden together. There’s a fence. In fact, it is a white picket fence. The garden is a predictable and neat rectangle. As this garden is imaginary, there are many different microbiomes and the plants are semi-sentient. Predictably, every fresh-faced, dewy young plant has the exact same dream: to grow in the sun-warmed soil, to spread their leaves, to photosynthesize, to exist, to be. But often to be the greenest, to outgrow and outcompete all the other plants, to spread their roots the widest and spread their seeds the farthest, to be the most beautiful plant, the most useful, to live in luxury, to be glorious, to have more.

In the center of the garden, we have the prime spot. There’s a tree that provides shade for those snobbish plants that need something like three hours of full sun and an hour and thirty-eight minutes of partial shade. The center of the garden has the most fertile soil. It’s a deep chocolate, like crumbled, moist brownies. It’s imported from an earth-like exoplanet that has far superior soil, untouched by human pollution. The center plants require vintage wine and hand-fed grapes every six hours. In addition to exquisite wine, the plants are fed melted ice water only from the purest snow of the Arctic. It’s a lovely place to be, but it’s rather small and exclusive. All the plants there have been there for generations, and when they die and rot in the chocolate soil, their seeds take root and grow where they died. As they will always grow and die in the center patch. Life is good in the center; sure, they have their problems, like everyone else, but it’s hard not to envy the center. The center patch of the garden is what all the other plants want, what we work towards, but the plants in the center just had the luck to grow there, I suppose, just like any other plant had the luck to grow where they grew. And we can’t really blame the center plants for being center plants; they didn’t choose for their seeds to be there, just like the plants in the desert didn’t choose to be there. But that doesn’t stop us from hating them, or at least the idea of them, a little bit. Their vintage wine and Arctic snow-melt and imported dirt…. Jealousy and a sense of entitlement are a bitter mix.
Most of the plants grow in the area encircling the center. Life’s pretty good for us. We don’t have the purest water, but it’s still clean, human-grade drinking water that rains down on us like clockwork from the sprinklers. Sometimes we’re thirsty, but most of the time we’re not. There are no shade plants, and the sun sometimes burns, but most of the time it’s warm. The dirt isn’t great, but it’s good. We don’t have imported soil, but we do get store-bought, eutrophying nitrogen fertilizer occasionally. Life’s pretty amazing actually, and yet we moan and envy the center patch. It’s only natural. After a plant’s grown some, reached its old plant dreams, it isn’t usually satisfied. It makes new dreams. It doesn’t stop growing, it wants more. It’s only plant nature. We can’t really blame ourselves for wanting, but we can’t help but be a little disgusted.

There are also other areas in which plants struggle but where it’s not quite so bad as the desert, such as the bog and the mud pits and the marsh and the patch of eternal darkness in the corner. However, we will only mention them in passing because this is already far too long and there’s still much more gardening to be done.

The desert is the worst of the worst place to be, Supreme Cactus help those who end up there. It only gets water when the fickle clouds feel like it, and even then it falls from the gutter. The only other source of water is when a stray cat bothers to urinate on it. The sun burns, an inescapable oppression; the “soil” is cracked and dry, indistinguishable from the rock of the moon, where no plant dares grow. Contrary to expectations, there are plants in these inhospitable wastelands, where the days are brutal and the nights are brutal and where no plant belongs. There are a few plants, my cactus, for instance, who grew up in the desert and thrived. We point at these exceptions and exclaim, “Look! It is possible to reach the dream, even from the desert with nothing to begin. The other desert plants must not be trying hard enough. They must be irresponsible or unintelligent to not have beaten the impossible odds. In this garden, all you need is hard work to reach the dream, not luck or good soil or anything else. Those other plants must have gotten what they deserve.” The desert is spreading, you know, mingling with the middle patch as we erode our lands with unsustainable agriculture. This terrifies us. It makes our soil all the more precious. Oh, we care. We sympathize. We toss the desert our excess water, some fertilizer, to soothe our consciences. We worry and talk and read and write stupid articles about gardening, but at the same time, we clutch our soil all the tighter because Can you imagine living in the desert? and watch the center patch like hungry cats. We shrug and think, “Well, there isn’t enough space here for everyone. Someone needs to live in the desert.” But most of the time we don’t think about the desert at all. It’s only at the fringes of the garden. We can barely even see it. And the plants in the desert? They can barely see us. The desert is infinite, all-consuming, inescapable. The “dream” belongs in quotation marks for the desert. It is a joke. A whisper of a possibility you’d need a microscope to see. As Langston Hughes, an eloquent shrub, put it, “America never was America to me.” (To make this quote work, we’re going to pretend I named my garden “America,” even though I would never name a garden, let alone such an idyllic name, the pessimist that I am. Note that I don’t like metaphors and that this is absolutely not a metaphor for anything. It is simply an imaginary garden that I have to replace the real garden I failed to sustain.)

We must also mention the weeds: the dandelion seeds that float over the fence, the clover that crops up from nowhere. We see them as ugly. We spray them with weed-killer (poisoning nature). We call them “foreign,” “invaders,” “aliens,” like the little green imposters from Mars who plant themselves among us. We think they’re taking our space, that we somehow deserve the garden more because we were here first, like petulant children claiming toys (The native grasses were here first anyway. Kentucky Bluegrass is actually from Europe). We believe our dreams of glorious plant life are somehow worth more than theirs, even though we all dream the same dreams at night. We will correct this error here: dandelion and clover are beautiful and these “weeds” are flowers, actually.

That is all I have to say. I have no profound conclusion. But I am a mere semi-sentient plant and can therefore barely have thoughts, let alone profound ones. Goodbye, humans. Dream of gardens tonight.

Note: Maybe I won’t kill this garden. Since it’s not real, it shouldn’t die unless I want it too, right?

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels