My name is Isa Mercy, I want to share a story about my life which is more like a mystery. I was born from a family of seven, and I'm the second born child, and my parent were very poor; The Isa family is a very happy family except from the fact that we lack money, money was a major problem for us. My parent lived opposite my maternal grandmother , most of the time I get to stay with her. My grandma was not happy about how we were living, so she wanted us to live a good life,go to good schools and become something better in future My grandma has a lot of niece in the city that are doing well, so she talked to my parent about it and encouraged me to go live with them, which I eventually did; though it wasn't easy for us all. Few months later I started living with my mom's cousin in the city with her two children, and I was 10 years of age then. Before I started living with my aunty, I noticed that there was something that was different, I was different from my siblings,besides in terms of behavior, attitude, complexion and even with the food they eat, and I was a weakling besides even my grandma calls me air in her native language because I have no energy in my body, and most of the time I always feel that I was picked from the bush cause everything about me was totally different from the rest of my siblings; even though it never really borders my parents besides I was more like their favorite child. But my dad's best friends didn't like me much and I didn't like them either because whenever they come around they will always tease me of being different from my siblings, and they don't know where my parent picked me from and they keep saying that whenever they come and my dad will just laugh about it that is all a joke even though I didn't see it as one. So whenever they leave I will ask my dad why I'm I so different from the rest of my siblings and he will always say,is the things that make you different from others that makes you special; so whenever he says that I will feel happy and special again. But when I was with my parent I always feel that one of them was not my biological parent especially my dad. Years past I stopped thinking about who my biological father was actually, I didn't care anymore but I started praying to be adopted by a rich parent; besides all my life I've always wish I had a rich parent, I always get jealous whenever I see rich dad's and mom with their kids, I will always wish I was their child. In Nigeria children without rich parent are regarded as worthless, their like a nobody,a lot of people look so down on them, besides these were one of the things I suffered from living with people. I've lived with people for years besides I even got a middle name which is "somebody whose father does not have money" . which is very painful and that's why I will always wish of being adopted by a rich parent. Living with people is very hard especially when your parent has nothing to offer, you "I'll suffer all your life . One of the things that have made life easy and fun for me is imagination, I always imagine having a rich parent and living a good life and what I want to become in future. Besides whenever I'm not thinking about those things I'm never happy. years passed; I was still praying and hopping to be adopted a rich parent, until May 10th 2020, when I got a shocking revelation. I've lived with my aunt for years, I'm very familiar with her and her siblings, and all her siblings are are doing well like her, but out of all her siblings,is only her younger sister that married a rich man, the man is known as the riches in-law in the family, and his very friendly and lively with people and his name is Bobby and he owns a very big house that can accommodate allot of people. So every holiday we'll always wish to go there, until it became a routine,every holiday we'll always go there and spend like two weeks there with his wife and three children, and whenever we go there I always admire him and wish I had a rich dad like him; until may 10,2020 , when I had a dream that Bobby was my biological father and not Isa . The next day I prayed to God to prove it to me if Bobby was actually my biological father, and God did and not just once but in several occasions God proved it to me that he was my biological father. Months past I went deep into the case and I discovered that Bobby and my mom with my aunty and her siblings were all neighbors until he got married to my aunt's younger sister and moved to the city. The shocking part of it is that he knows that he has a daughter somewhere else but never border to go look for her and all this while I've been praying of having a rich dad not knowing that I actually have one, but it's so sad that he never even try coming to me and I also don't wish to go to him either .
She lay sprawled on the couch as sunlight slowly warmed her body. For Agnes, it didn't get any better than that. Everyone told her that she was gorgeous, and she knew she was: one foot tall, piercing copper eyes with the softest black hair imaginable that covered her entire body, and a resting facial expression that can only be described as a person impatiently waiting to speak with the manager. Gorgeous was the only word that made sense. The humans, or staff to Agnes, shouldn't be back to the office until later so she planned her day: napping until whenever the hell she felt like getting up, eat some food, and wait to glare at her staff when they walk in the door. “DING DONG!” Agnes jumped and stared. She knew that sound. That sound came from somewhere above and usually indicated that her staff was arriving. Why are they here? She didn't even get a chance to take a nap or have her fourth breakfast. Agnes rolled over, sat back on her legs, and glared at the front door. The door slowly opened and one of the humans walked in. They walked over to her and Agnes, a gracious host, allowed three (only three) strokes of her hair before she needed to get on with her day. Shortly after, the other human came home. What the hell is going on?! Why are they both here?! Both seemed frantic which was amusing to Agnes. She kept hearing “COVID” and “stay at home”, but Agnes isn't bilingual, so she ignored the words while purring at the chaos. Time went on and Agnes saw the days getting longer. WHY ARE THEY STILL HERE?! Everything is all wrong! Agnes is unable to sun herself in her favorite spots because one of the stupid humans put something called “desk” in her morning nap spot, the other is on the phone CONSTANTLY, and both are here…. every…freaking…day. What did she do to deserve this?! Agnes acknowledged that she could have been nicer, allowed for more hair strokes (employees deserve bonuses), and could have encouraged autonomy but damn it she had a schedule! While she did her share of complaining, she did notice some perks with them being there. She was able to get her favorite snacks throughout the ENTIRE day, began a rigorous cardio routine because the humans released the very fast red bug from the small silver tube that flies along the floor while Agnes sprinted to keep up, and she finally trained them to stroke her hair in a way that was enjoyable for both parties. One of the humans also made space on the thing called “desk” which has now become her primary napping spot. Agnes missed her alone time, but she started to see the benefit of working with her employees. As time went on, Agnes noticed the humans weren't as annoying as they were before. In fact, she enjoyed their presence! She greeted them when they walked into the room, allowed for them to pet her as many times as they wanted, and couldn't wait to nap with her staff on “desk”. Subtly, her staff would be away from the office for periods of time which worried her, but they were still at the office most of the time. This changed when the word “vaccine” started to creep into her ears. Being the most intelligent of her kind, Agnes learned that “vaccine” was going to allow her employees to leave the office for longer periods of time. She became frantic. Does this mean that the one named “Ben” won't be talking to her while they are both at “desk”? Will the one called “Michael” not be giving Agnes snacks throughout the day? What's going to happen to the little red bug in the tube if they are not released? She needed to know and was determined to keep her staff at the office indefinitely. Agnes created a three-step mission that would interfere with anyone attempting to leave. First, she planned to throw her entire body weight on their clothes before they change. There was NO WAY they would be able to move her. Next, she would sit in front of the kitchen counter where her humans get something to drink. Clearly, they wouldn't dare to move past. If all else failed, she would rub her hair against their legs while purring to emotionally manipulate her staff. The staff loved the silkiness of her hair. Unfortunately for Agnes, her plans haven't worked, but she is hopeful and consistent. Each day, Agnes continues her efforts to keep her staff at the office, and each day her staff thwarts her plans. While this may be defeating for some, it is not for Agnes. She knows that they will be coming home and knows that they will be so happy to see her when they walk through the door. Agnes fondly remembers playing video games with her staff, weaving between their legs while they are cooking, watching movies that scare the one called “Michael” while making the one called “Ben” laugh, and waking up from her many naps to see her staff working away. Today, Agnes sits on “desk” and watches her humans walk out of sight. She knows that they will be back, tomorrow is another day, and her plan will work. But right now, Agnes can't help but wish that they were still here.
My new year's resolution was to set aside at least one afternoon for writing per week. I love submitting to short story and flash fiction competitions! ✍️ So far I've kept my resolution but we're only two weeks into the year! You can check out a selection of my work here: https://ko-fi.com/carrieonwriting and of course I've entered the Biopage contest! 😀 https://www.biopage.com/post/de-dahlification
She was abruptly awakened from a rare sleep by what sounded like a crash under her bed. She hid under the covers, which provided a warm, protected feeling, as she froze in fear. She was still curious as to what caused such a bang despite the intense fear coursing through her. It didn't help that she'd been having terrible nightmares lately about monsters under her bed. Childish, she realised. She felt a bolt of courage strike through her like a flurry of lightning, and she nudged her covers—her safety—away and set her feet on the chilly wooden floor. Her double bed was spacious enough for people to sleep underneath it; a large monster could easily do the same. She quickly ducked and peered under the bed after taking a deep breath. She backed away, breathing deeply, sliding under her duvet covers. She shook and shivered under the sheets. Meredith whimpered as her mother flicked the light switch; darkness consuming the room. Meredith turned her head to see a shadow when a large hand grabbed her mouth. No one will hear you scream, and nobody can help you right now, a muffled cry rang out throughout the spotless space. It resembled a hospital ward the most. Her knees were hit in the back by a chair. Under the large hand, she barricaded her teeth in an effort to free herself from their hold. When Meredith unintentionally fell into it, it laughed menacingly. She made no attempt to stand because she knew she would lose this battle. She was thrown to the ground, her eyes welling up with tears. Finally, with fists raised, the shadow moved to step into the light. Meredith woke up with a yelp and a jump. The worst part was probably that. To her mother, Meredith exclaimed. "The dream always comes to an abrupt end!" Meredith became irritated with her mother's lack of interest and stormed back to her bedroom as she simply nodded and busied herself around the office. She sighed as she sat on the bed. The monster's laughter. She is positive that she just heard it next to her. She clenched her hair in agony and cried, "I'm not crazy, am I? She mumbled. It responded, "certainly not," as a giggle broke out. Meredith spun around in surprise to find nothing there. Even as months passed, Meredith's "insanity" only grew worse. She even missed weeks of school because it was so frustrating. Her mother expressed surprise and even concern. Meredith murmured to herself as she held her dry lips in front of her coffee mug. She sighed as the mug became empty. Her head shook and her eyes fluttered shut, disrupting her sleep. The TV's glowing light illuminated the tiny space as she fumbled with her fingers and nibbled at the couch. Meredith slipped into a deep sleep and a nightmare in less than a minute. Meredith was bound to a chair by a rope around her back and her legs were fastened to the chair's feet. The thing said with amusement, "You're back." Meredith's lips quivered with a sob. “don't …. I beg you not to hurt me. Meredith pushed herself further into the back of the seat as the monster began to claw her. Her abdomen was freed when the monster's claws tore the ropes holding her body together. In the light next to her, a knife shone. She picked up the blade after covertly lowering her hand. The monster was preoccupied looking in the opposite direction, muttering quietly to themselves. She slowly pushed the knife against the monsters back, the tip slightly grazing their clothing. A whimper escaped the monster's mouth, “don't please don't.. Hurt me” it sounded like herself, she thought. Meredith had had enough with this madness and insanity. Although she has never considered herself to be a murderer, this situation could influence anyone. The monster's knees were thrown to the ground when she kicked the backs of them. She turned the monster over so that, but for the darkness of the space, she could see the monster's face. Meredith inserted the knife into their chest because it was too dark for her to see anything other than the outline of the body. The monster's muscles tightened around the blade, making it difficult for her to pull the knife out again. She kept slicing and stabbing the body. The stomach, legs, face, chest, and throat were completely dismembered. As she stood over the lifeless body below her, Meredith trembled in terror. The shaky breathing had stopped, and the squelching of the blade being pressed through her skin had also stopped. She gasped and woke up only to witness the end of her own life. She lay motionless, nearly dead, with a knife next to her and identical cuts and gashes all over her body. Her surroundings were covered in blood, and the metallic smell made her feel even queasy. She tried moving and screaming. She had no chance. All this time, she was the monster. She knew she would lose the battle.
When I noticed the illuminated gas light, I knew it was too late-I would never make it to the next big town, 22 miles away. Then, like a mirage, an old building with the words GAS/FOOD painted on its side appeared. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that there was definitely no gas in the pumps, and that there probably hadn't been for years. I looked around helplessly, allowing the worry train in my mind to run at full speed. What would become of a Black Jewish woman, alone and stranded in the boonies of a red state? I could feel tears pricking at the corners of my eyes, begging to fall. Suddenly, I heard the sound of laughter and followed it to a set of tall wooden doors. The echo of collective chortles, chuckles, and hee-has derailed my thoughts long enough for me to make a move, and I wrapped my hand around the cold metal moose-head door handle. The antlers made it so my fingers spread into an awkward claw. I pulled one of the doors open, and behind its heavy mass sat seven white strangers and a white bartender. My breath felt caught in my chest and butterflies fluttered up from my stomach into my throat, choking me. “Hi. Um, can y'all tell me where the gas station is?” My voice came out shaky and those damn tears were still fighting against me. A tall, thin man with shoulder-length grey hair, a thick mustache, and a familiar face stood, looked me up and down, and said, “You're shit outta luck in this town.” The tears finally won their battle and marched right out of my eyes and down my cheeks like hot soldiers pumped up with the emotions of victory and the price paid for it. "Don't worry, come on now. Don't you worry. Is your gas light on?” “Yes,” I replied, feeling foolish with my red eyes and puffy lips, “and I don't know how long but I've driven at least 20 miles since I noticed it.” A blonde woman, the only other woman in the bar besides the plump bartender looking on from behind the old wooden counter with an air of indifference about her, smiled at me. “Oh, I bet you could make it sweetie! I almost run out of gas all the time, but now I know exactly how far I can go once that light turns on!” She broke into a laugh that nobody joined. The tears incessantly fell from my face and were beginning to slide down my neck, which was already sticky with sweat. “I really don't think I can make it, I'm scared I'll get stuck.” The tall man still seemed to be analyzing me as he said, “I really think you'll be fine. Just go on ahead and try—" “I'll go get you some gas.” We all turned our heads toward the low, raspy voice. A man who had been sitting silent in the corner, wearing a white t-shirt and khaki pants stood and pulled his keys out of his pocket. "Be right back, y'all.” He pushed open the door and sunlight rushed into the room, brightening our faces. It slammed behind him with a thud and we were left with our jaws open. A younger man with a large body broke the silence. "So what the hell is a girl like you doing in lil' ol' Pringle, South Dakota?” I wiped the tears from my face and told them about my solo road trip. The large man seemed amused by my response: “Well honey, you sure ain't home in California anymore! You in Trump country now!” I laughed nervously. “Oh, hush Jimmy!” The blonde woman playfully slapped his arm. “What now, darlin'? I'm just tellin' her like it is!” And then to me, “You don't believe in this global warming bullshit now do ya?” The woman slapped him again, harder. “Don't listen to my husband, he's just giving you a hard time.” “It's okay,” I told them, "I wanted to travel this country because it's easy to come up with ideas about people who think differently than me, when I really don't know them at all.” The blonde woman liked that a lot and smiled at me, nodding her head in agreement. “So," I asked, "is this where Pringles chips were invented?” The people laughed and the air felt lighter. We carried on a cheerful conversation, ending abruptly when the door swung open to reveal the silhouette of the khaki man holding a gas can, and sunlight once again spilled over our faces. The blonde woman followed as I led him to my car. She was beautiful, with a face so warm; she could have been one of my grade school teachers. As the man poured gas into my tank, I dug through my backpack for a ten dollar bill I remembered tucking away earlier that morning. “Thank you so much, can I give you some money for all of this?” “No.” He tightened the gas cap and snapped the little door shut. “Alright, this should get you to town. Keep an eye on your tank now, ya hear?” “Yes sir, thank you, I will.” Pulling away, it struck me that I'd had a transformative experience. My gas light illuminated, and it brightened my perspective on humanity.
Be warned, child--once initiated into the world of magic, there is no turning back. One may leave the Clockwork Cafe, but one will always end up back in the building eventually, and no matter where one turns, it will linger in the peripherie, mocking, beckoning, luring with the scent of fresh-baked cookies one day and haunting with threatening whispers the next. Many have tried fleeing, but none have succeeded. Those foolish humans who think they can harness the infinite wild magic of the fae to do their bidding, who think they can tame and control it like it is but an unruly dog--those such humans never last more than a week. They come face-to-face with true power and the lucky ones keel over on the spot, hearts and minds giving way to the strain and their bodies withering into dust as the Cafe puts their vitality to better use. The unlucky ones survive. They survive but their minds crack, sometimes even shatter, and they try and flee to no avail--no matter where they go, the Cafe follows, haunting them and driving them ever-so-carefully into paranoid madness, until the mere sight of a clock is enough to send them careening into a fit of terror. The Cafe's facade encroaches further and further into their field of view, until every building they see is the Clockwork Cafe, every tree is a looming elm, every person they pass is a fae initiate on the hunt. One way or another, they all end up back in the warmth of the Cafe eventually. Oh, but recall: this fate is for the greedy and proud alone, those who wish to control the magic. There is no danger so long as one follows the rules. Do not lie in the presence of the Cafe: this is the fundamental law of the land. The Cafe is everywhere: this is a fundamental truth. Beyond these, all one must keep in mind is etiquette and respect. Is this not a worthy price to pay for initiation into the land of the fae? The Clockwork Cafe will be one's home when one has none, the Cafe will provide all the food and drink one needs… one shall want for nothing, in the care of the faeries. In the Clockwork Cafe, none die unless killed--no disease may sour one's flesh; none age within these walls. Does this not sound like paradise? Does this not seem to be a place one could be happy in, for eternity? Is it not a welcome break, from all the mundane miseries of human life…? Yes, good, good, all you need to do now is shake my hand… And one more thing, child… May I have your name?
Temperatures are heading into the hundreds today making it the hottest day of the year so far. But I'm not complaining. Unlike some, I have the luxury of keeping myself cool during these sweltering days. With the touch of a button, I will have my AC unit running and the whole house will be like living in an igloo. Unfortunately, when I got to press the button, nothing happens. But I'm not in panic mode yet. Perhaps someone just accidently unplugged it in the middle of the night. However, I see the unit is still plugged in. OK, a little panic is setting in. I hit the button again several times, hoping it was just a minor glitch, but again, nothing. Now, I am in full panic mode. I head to the computer, wiping the sweat that is already dripping down my brown, and search repair men in my area. There are only two and one of them appears to be on vacation for the summer. Of course, he is. I call up the other one, and after three rings, he picks up, easing my nerves a little. I explain my situation to him and asks him if it is possible if he could help me. It turns out his day is full and won't be available until tomorrow. " Tomorrow?" I say in disbelief. I have no choice but to agree to it. He would be there sometime between 10AM and 3PM. I thank him for his time and hang up. With no AC or fans, I am forced to spend the day in a sweltering heat. I can feel the sweat dripping down my back and my clothes are sticking to my body. I could not take it anymore and headed outside. The sun is burning down on me, but I escape it by taking shelter under the only tree that is growing in my backyard. I turn on the hose and gently spray myself with it. It's so welcoming on my warm skin. It's like Heaven. Until the water aggravates a giant wasp hanging around and it turns its sights on me. " GO AWAY!" I shout, swatting my hand at it. I can feel it trying to get into my hair. I hurry to turn off the water and run back inside. I don't think the outside is for me. Upon my return to the inside, I found it felt hotter indoors than out. I've had enough. I gather a tank top and shorts and head to take a cold shower. The feeling of the pounding cold water on my body is probably the best feeling in the world at this point. I never want to leave but the water bill would be massive. Fresh out of the bath with a cold glass of water and collapse on the couch. The hot air is not doing me any favorite. Despite the cold shower, the sweat just keeps coming. The phone rings and I lazily answer it. It turns out to be the repair man from earlier. He had a cancellation and is able to squeeze me in. Delighted and thrilled, I immediately say yes and dance a small jig around my living room and tell him I'll be waiting. I hang up the phone and sit on the couch, drinking my water and wait. Hours would pass, and still no sign of the repair man. I'm starting to have many doubts that he is going to show. My body is completely drenched in a sticky sweat I pick up my glass and try to take a drink only to discover the water is gone and the ice is melted. I head to the front window and peek outside. To my surprise, the repair has finally arrived. I nearly hug him as he starts in on the job. I allow him to do his magic as I wait in the kitchen. After an hour or so passes, the repair man returns to the kitchen and looks rather grim. " I hate to break it to you miss, but your AC unit went out and the part I need to fix it, well, I don't have it," he said to me. " What do you mean you don't have it?" " I'll have to order it for you, and I'll let you know when it comes in." " How long is that going to take?" " Oh, about three days or so. I suggest you buy a fan or two. The next few days are going to be unbearable. Good day, ma'am," he said, tipping his hat at me as he exits the house. " Three days?" I said, slowly sitting back down. " Three days?" Then the repair man poked his head inside and said: " Three unbearable days." " Oh," I groaned, resting my head on the table. At least it felt cool.
The recent massacre happened at a Catholic cathedral, killing 40 people. And more Catholic priests were kidnapped within a month. A deep sigh from me amplified my relief. But I knew even that was temporary. I was part of an almost-extinct group of people. I wore my chiffon cape on my plain black T-shirt. The cape, recently in fashion, hid my bulging tummy. I smiled at what I saw in the mirror. Walking out of my room, I find Mother and Lavender also dressed up for church. Going to church was dangerous, but even if I were to die there, I'd do it like some rich Lagos Aunty. But reality came after a thirty minutes drive. We met a long queue of cars at the church gate. A strained look decorated our powdered faces, speaking volumes of the fear banging hard against our chests. We watched cars get checked by the stern security guys before entry into our two-acre mega church. Looking away, I caught sight of one of the hefty soldiers from the military sauntering near our car, his long gun hoisted on his shoulder. His dark face reminded me of one of the scary stories that made up their reputation. And just then, an unusual sight caught my attention. It was a beardless fresh guy with oily skin in a black suit. He had his afro hair up like those who played musical instruments in church. His chocolate complexion screamed “Miri's style!” My eyes followed the eye-candy who walked smartly in his neatly pressed trousers. “My Sunday is made,” I murmured, smiling while the queue got to our turn. Lavender got out of the car to open the car's boot, so the security guys could check if we had a human head or some toy guns. Eye candy, aka EC, or rather Eecey walked ahead of us. And that was when my eyes caught the strange-looking briefcase he held unto just as he passed by the gate. An alarm rang in my head, “The briefcase!” it screamed. Guys here carried bags to church, not suitcases. I turned to my mother, who was waiting for the security to finish checking our car and let us in. I opened my mouth to say something, but Eecey felt my intense gaze and looked back at me. Instantly, my mouth curved into that melting smile I had been itching to flash someone. Our gazes locked for some seconds, with me smiling like some idiot. He looked away before continuing his brisk walk with the little briefcase. The car was finally allowed into the church. It was hardly parked till I got out of the car. My eyes roamed the premises. Eecey had vanished. It felt like the lives of almost two thousand people were in my hands. “Miranda! Miranda!” Shouts of my name whizzed past my ears. Before I could turn around, a pair of hands grabbed me from behind and turned me around. In all of these, my eyes were tightly shut. I was scared, muscled hands firmly wrapped themselves around me. “Calm down.” A delicious voice whispered in my ear. Time stilled, and I floated in the deliciousness of the raspy voice. The zesty smell of an unfamiliar cologne wafted in my nose, intensifying the magical moment. “Miiiranda,” The raspy voice purred into my ears, and my eyes flew open out of embarrassment. He had been calling for a while. I sighted my mother and Lavender among the agitated crowd gathered around. One of the soldiers stood with his gun poised, ready to shoot. My mother, who already had tears running down her face, had to drag Lavender down. I realized then the many guns directed at me and the hostage-taker. “It's me, Mira. I'm leaving. Tell them that,” He said firmly and nudged me with his knee, his gun at my head. I realized then that it was Eecey. “No!” I said, not actually surprised. The crowd surrounding us got energized at once. “Hit his jaw!” Someone screamed. But Eecey nudged me again. I knew I had to act fast. The soldiers looked readier to shoot than ever. “He's leaving!” I shouted and heard Eecey gasp in relief. The expression moved me, and strange confidence surged through me. “He's not going to kill me. I assure you!” I shouted again, leaving Lavender's mouth hanging open. “Miranda!” I heard someone call. It was Lavender. She had been rapping at the wooden table with her knuckles. And there I sat my laptop in front of me. I've had a character roam my head for days, yet I have been unable to put a word down for a couple of hours. Sunday service at church was uneventful anyways. “It's about another Eye candy right?” Lavender asked, styling her hair into twists. “Yeah, and you just dammed my inspiration,” I said crossly. “He was just about to have a mushy conversation with the female protagonist, telling her that she had saved everybody.” “And how did she save them?” Lavender asked in a sing-song, and I knew she was about to start teasing me. It was the third time I would create a character out of a good-looking guy I was attracted to. If I choose, I could make him a villain, or a hero in one of my stories. And that is one of the perks of being a writer. After all, it was just attraction.
Today is the day. Me and my twin sister's twelfth birthday, the birthday we have been looking forward to since we were six. It is a day of adventure, too. August 31, 2021—the day Marisol and I get to go into the Majikoa Woods. I have heard the legend a thousand times. Every time I visit my grandparents' house, or one of my mom's friends comes over, someone tells me and Marisol the story of the Wishing Tree, found in the Majikoa Woods. It is said to be just half a mile north from my house. Mom has never let us go into the woods because she doesn't believe in the Tree. She says she doesn't want us to be disappointed when we don't find it. But we kept asking and asking to go. When we were eight, she gave in and told us she would let us go when we turned twelve. She has always hoped and hoped we would grow out of believing in the Tree, but we never have. We are determined. The Wishing Tree grants one wish to anyone who comes. Marisol and I have had the same wish in mind for ages—I want Dad to come back. He left for Afghanistan seven years ago to fight. I can still feel the warm bear hug he gave me at the airport, trying to silence his tears. I can still see his green and brown camo uniform moving through the gate room. Marisol and I have never told Mom our wish—we have always told her we wanted to wish for money or new makeup. We didn't want to make her sad by telling her what we wanted most was Dad. She can't stand seeing us missing him and being upset. When I woke up today, just a few minutes ago, I jumped out of bed and tumbled onto my sister's, Marisol's, bed. I landed on her arm, so she groaned and pushed me away. She massaged her arm and quickly realized what day it was. A humongous, excited smile spread across her face. Now we are running down the stairs towards the kitchen. Mom hands us plates of pancakes and a platter of bacon. Marisol and I wolf down our meal, excited for the day to come. We don't want presents for our birthday. We don't even want a party. All we want is for Dad to come home. After breakfast, Marisol and I slide into jeans and T-shirts. We tie hoodies around our waists in case we get cold, and we put on our timberland boots. It is not long before Mom woefully says goodbye and we walk out the door. It is quite warm outside. There is a breeze that blows my hair around. I take a hairband from my wrist and tie my hair into a low ponytail. Marisol and I face the woods, giddy and excited. “Let's go, Lucille!” exclaims Marisol. I nod. We sprint to the tree line and then start walking north, careful not to trip on any logs or rocks. The view from the inside of the woods is amazing. The trees are everywhere, overlapping each other, which makes the woods more like a forest. The sunlight becomes tinted green when it passes through the trees' canopies, illuminating everything with a soft, chartreuse glow. Dragonflies and bees zoom through the bushes and trees, trying to avoid the slow, fluttering butterflies. According to the legend, the Wishing Tree is taller and thicker than the other trees, adorned with pastel pink flowers. When you make a wish, you're supposed to place your hand on the trunk and tell the tree your wish. Pretty simple. After about twenty minutes of walking, I spot a thick tree trunk in the distance. “Over there!” I yell, pointing. “Look!” We jog to the trunk and look up at the branches. I cannot explain just how much excitement I feel when I see the trademark pastel pink flowers that bloom on every inch of every branch. We found the Wishing Tree. It really does exist. Marisol outstretches her hand to touch the tree. I stay silent, watching her. She closes her eyes and says, “I wish for Dad to be home.” I swear I see the tree sparkle a little. Marisol removes her hand and motions for me to make my wish. I then place my hand on the trunk and close my eyes, just as Marisol did. The bark is rough and scratchy, like any other tree in the woods. This is the moment I've always been waiting for. “I wish for Dad to be home,” I say. I remove my hand and smile. Marisol and I bow to the tree, just as the legend instructed us to do. We begin our journey back to the house, following the same route we took to get to the tree. I only had one wish, and I used it for the biggest desire of my life. Now all I can do is wait. When Marisol and I reach our house's yard, we see a taxi pulling out of our driveway. They probably went to the wrong house. I turn the doorknob and I am surprised to see my mom hugging someone in an army uniform. Dad. Marisol and I run up to him, our eyes flooded with tears. He encases us in one of his signature bear hugs. I breathe in his warm scent: apples and cinnamon, with a hint of pine. It is a familiar scent, one that`` I smell when I bundle myself in his old, fleece blanket at night. Love and happiness course through me, overpowering everything else. My dad is home. My family is whole again. Wishes do come true.
Mirrors. If you think about it, mirrors dictate our world. Why do we have them in our bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, pockets? They're everywhere, following each of us like a plague. Infecting the world with an unseen disease that does not have a cure. They haunt us even when we're asleep, giving us nightmares about the many things we are insecure about. Mirrors. Do we need them? Most people use them to soothe their insecurities, to make sure they do not make a fool of themselves in front of people who they deem worthy of such consideration, to change themselves into shells that are barely recognisable by people who once knew them. Mirrors. I bet you didn't know that they are the gates to a world that only few know about. They could be considered guardians of that world, if you want a proper name for them. Story books depict dramatic entrances to magical worlds where the protagonists have adventures full of unbreakable bonds, countless enemies and create memories that last a lifetime. However, in real life, things are different. In real life, where not every story has a happy ending, mirrors transport you to somewhere you never want to be. Hell, if you put it bluntly. Not the hell you are thinking of. Not the one with fires blazing everywhere, not the one with demons walking around like they owned the place. No. This hell is a world that looks just like the one we live in. However the difference lies in the fact that our world is one with people roaming about and vehicles emitting black gas into the air. However, though most things in our world can be found there, there are some that you'll never find. You'll never find people, animals or plants there. Not living ones anyway. No matter how hard you look, you will never find them. Here's the catch, that's not the reason that universe is harsher and much harder to survive in than this one. No, the reason is that once you enter, you will never be able to leave but do not fret you will not be alone. Have you ever felt loneliness? You know, that feeling of being the only one present despite being in a room of people? The feeling of being the only one alive. The feeling of having no one by your side. Nasty experience isn't it? Once you feel it, you'd never want to go through it again. Well, the same goes for him. He has feelings too you know? Just because he's not from our world doesn't mean he doesn't feel just like we do. He's desperate for company. He will be looking for you for company and you cannot escape. You have been warned. Good luck, I believe you need it. Don't worry too much, he's known to be merciful to a select few. You may be one of them. Hopefully.
PART 1 It was on a sunny Sunday. Maybell and her two toddlers went to church for service. Church was going on well when suddenly dark clouds began to gather up in the sky. Thunder storms was probably coming. Lightenings could already be seen. Everyone wondered why the clouds darkened suddenly because it was sunny just a few minutes ago. The pastor wrapped up service in minutes and then dismissed the congregation so that all would be home before the heavy rain starts. The pastor knew that such storm wasn't ordinary and isn't something that's gonna end in hours. A fierce wind began to blow outside and noises of the wind were heard. People began to panic when suddenly, the wind blew of part of the church's roof. Maybell went to the children's church in haste to pick up her kids. They needed to get home fast. She picked up her little daughter learning how to walk and her son and they started running home. Her son, Mark was holding her back as he couldn't meet up her pace. She managed to get to the road side. She wanted to stop a taxi but no car was forth coming. She was getting frustrated as the wind was getting fiercer by the minute. She turned back to see if any of her church members could carry her home in their car. They had all gone. She wondered when they bypassed her without her knowledge. Since her house is situated at about two streets away from the church, she decided to trek home. She thought that if perhaps the storm met her on the way she would stop by to shelter herself in one of the shops or sheds. The trio began to run home. As expected, the rain started. There was no shed nearby. She was running and then Mark, her son, fell down. She picked him up but he started behaving faint. "Mark! Wake up! Don't be like this please. We have to get home. It's mummy!" Maybell said in frustration trying to reviver her son. He was shivering seriously. Suddenly, her daughter began making a freaking noise and spit came running out of her mouth and then she gave up the ghost. Weird right? "Maryyyyyy!!!" Maybell screamed in agony as tears fell down her face rapidly. One kid dead, the other sick. She knelt down, caressing her kids compassionately. Suddenly, the wind blew and a paper flying, blown by the wind caught her attention. The paper wasn't wet when everything around her was soaked with water. A mystery right? On the paper was scribbled some words "DON'T GO HOME" that sentence was written in blood. She wondered where to go now. The church or the hospital? Her instinct told her to go back to the church. But what about her kids? "WHERE IS YOUR FAITH" She heard a voice ask in a whisper. She carried her two kids and managed to go back to the church. Half of the church's roof had already been blown away. The rain had reduced but wasn't ready to stop yet. Maybell saw an old woman sprawled on the floor, dead. That was probably as a result of the storm. She got into the church building and was heading for the altar. The ground was wet as a result of the blown roof. Water was dripping in. The pastor was kneeling down by the altar praying with his head bowed. "Drop the kids on the altar." He ordered. Maybell obeyed quietly. "What can I do sir? I was ordered to come here. I want my kids back alive and hearty." Maybell said with tears in her voice. Pity could be seen, written boldy on the pastor's face. "Leave them here till tomorrow morning."
The thick air of the night compelled me into a warm embrace. As my eyes traced to the sky, I saw an endless abyss of darkness, where the stars twinkled to share the embers of their light with the world beneath them. The dimness of the sky inevitably seeped onto the alleyway that laid ahead of me, blanketing any signs of motion. Despite the distant murmurs of street vendors sauntering in desperation to sell their daily quotas, and the soft noise of cars blatantly honking unintentional tunes, I became consumed in the rare silence of the evening. Amidst the silence, a faint growl behind me interrupted my thoughts. With each second, the amplitude of the growl grew louder and louder, like the rugged uproar of a car's engine revving to gain momentum. My eyes widened in terror and my heart skipped a beat. Within moments, the warmth of solace that once enveloped me had instantaneously disappeared into thin air, giving way for the icy shards of angst to be inflicted. The frigidity of the shards weighed my body down, pinning the soles of my feet to the ground. From my inner core to the very tips of my fingers, every limb, joint and muscle felt heavy and prickled with unease. Vainly fighting back the weight of apprehension, I took an abrupt pivot and turned my back to face the unknown, head-on. The abruptness of my movement made me queasy, and my vision became hazed. I squinted to adjust my eyes to the landscape ahead of me, like a camera focusing its lens to capture a new scene. All I could see beyond was a cloud of pitch darkness. Suddenly emerging from the dark, appeared a pair of eyes that gleamed with indulgence, reflecting the light of the stars. I shut my eyes in disbelief, convinced it was just a figment of my imagination. The growling grew louder. My eyelids shot open, and ahead of me emerged three silhouettes and followingly three pairs of eyes. The streetlights ahead of me dimly illuminated their faces, accentuating the furrows atop their temples that were creased in aggression. The tenacity in their eyes pierced through me, cutting open my vulnerabilities and consuming me with their gaze. My stomach began to churn and my mouth grew dry, giving birth to an unpleasant metallic taste that diffused across my taste buds. My eyes dilated as I watched saliva drip out of their mouths, collecting into a pool on the ground. I became paralyzed in fear. An ample lump formed in my throat, and I gulped rapidly to depress the mound of fear that increasingly choked me. The three figures continued to howl in harmony, as if chanting an acapella of doom. The blaring commotion ringed in my ear like a proliferating tinnitus, urging me to clench my jaw and fist to shield off the aversion that trickled into me. I watched as the three figures extended their hind legs, preparing to dive into the next delicacy of their night. At once, an immediate rush of adrenaline coursed through my body, fuelling a stream of light that radiated within my veins. The heat of the light melted the icy shards that had implanted my feet within the ground. I gained control over my body, turned around and ran. My heart pumped embers of fire into each limb that was once numbed. I could hear the demons behind my back rising in aggression, but I closed my eyes and ran straight ahead. Each step I took followed a soft mumbling of prayer to find comfort in providence. The layer of sweat that coated my face felt cool upon the soft winds that blew against my skin, calming the fire that raged within my body. Regardless, I kept running. I ran until the barking went faint, and slowly faded into the very breeze of the night.
Hello there. I am a young dancer, and I'd like to share a story that I am too afraid to share with anyone who will recognize it, so here I am anonymous. I have a specific memory in mind here. We were doing a photoshoot for a show that was coming up. I was very excited because although I had done some small photoshoots before, it was always exciting. An artist specializing in clothing had come, and he chose a few adults (we were working with a company of adult dancers that we knew) and one girl from our company to dress up, and then the rest of us were in our costumes for the show. He picked Avery to wear his garment, and I don't blame him. Avery was probably the best dancer in our company, and she was very pretty. She was often picked for promo images and lead roles. That, I don't have a problem with. There is a difference between favoritism and just being able to recognize talent and beauty. No, my problem is with what happened next. So, we were shooting pictures, the photographer was a bit intimidating, but it was fine. Our teacher was positioning people and then the photographer tweaked our movements as we went. Then, when they decided to go for another angle, something happened. Our teacher was positioning people around but left out about around five of us. Now, we five were not popular in the company. Not for being mean or incredibly bad, but we just didn't… stand out. So, when asked what we should do, our teacher said: “just go stand out of frame, this photo is pretty full of people already (to be fair, there were quite a lot of people), and this will only take a minute, and then you'll be back in!” Okay! We were happy to do so. So we went into the shade, happy to get some break from the sweltering sun. time passed. Five minutes. Ten. twenty. They hadn't called us back into the frame yet, so we just sat and waited. Then they started re-arranging people again. But they didn't notice us. Eventually, we realized that if we didn't say anything, we might be forgotten. Mind you that we weren't out of sight, just in the background. So I raised my voice and asked if we could be in yet. Our teacher was surprised, like she had forgotten we were there. She put us back in, but it still hurt. Getting to see the same four or five people get chosen to be in the spotlight again and again, while we five were continuously forgotten? I tried to act like it was fine, but it stung. It really stung.
When I woke up this morning I didn't think today would be any different from yesterday. I awoke to the same soft white sheets, the same pillow under my head. The same mess of long black hair in my face. But when I stood up and felt something brush over my feet I froze. My heart at a complete stop while I waited to see what would happen next. Nothing did happen and I ran out of my room as quickly as I could. That was my first mistake. I should've never left my room this morning. I should've at least checked what was under the bed first. Maybe then I Wouldn't have been so startled when I went to the bathroom. I stood in front of the sink, my hand slowly reaching for the faucet, and my reflection following everything I did precisely. I let the cold water run over my hands for a moment, the rush of frozen ice bringing me back to reality. There couldn't have been anything under my bed is what I told myself. I cupped my hands under the tap and watched as the water filled my hands, I watched as the water poured over the sides of my skin, making its way back into the basin. The mirror hanging on the wall in front of me, still keeping up with every single one of my movements. I bring the water in my hands to my face, and before splashing myself I hold my breath. I don't know why, but I've always done that. Without the sound my breath filling the dead silence I have to wonders....whose is then? I can hear it right behind me. The sound of someone breathing. Each breath louder and heavier then the last. When I spin around to my surprise no ones there. I let out a sigh in relief as I turn back to the mirror. I stare at my bitter reflection, my skin pale and sickly, my long hair in a tangled mess, my grey eyes drawing nothing but boredom and plainness. Then it happens. I jump back from the mirror, knocking into the cabinets behind me. Before I can catch my footing, I slip and fall backwards into them. The cabinets and I hitting the floor with a loud crash as my heart beats out of my chest. I know what I saw. There's no way that didn't happen. I replay it back in my head.....and every time I replay it, it's the same. I'm standing there, staring at myself in the mirror. Then the mirror slips up. It does something I don't do. It blinks. I know the safety of my closet won't save me forever, but at least it'll keep them out longer. It'll keep them out while I try to think. But the only thing I can think about is seeing myself blink.
I miss my grandfather. He was a handsome Austrian fellow with piercing blue eyes and a mischievous grin. He died when I was 17 years old, and I miss him. Here are some of the things that made him cool: He was a veteran of World War 2. He fought in the Pacific and looked better in a sailor uniform than Frank Sinatra. He taught me how to play poker; that was family game night. He used to swear in broken German. My grandmother would swear back in broken Italian. His name was Nick Sigl but spelled Nicolaus. Isn't that the coolest spelling? Nicolaus Sigl. He used to make this dish called Grout Fleckla. For years I have been haunted by the fact that I don't remember much about the dish except that I loved it. It was savory; I think it involved noodles and maybe onions? In addition to my frequent requests for Grout Fleckla at family dinners, I asked him to make it whenever there was any kind of cultural event at my school. I can't say I've ever had a strong sense of cultural identity, but there was Grout Fleckla. It was distinctly Austrian and distinctly Sigl. I have known for some time that it could not have actually been called Grout Fleckla, but that was the phonetic experience captured by my young brain through my grandfather's thick German accent (only employed when he actually spoke German). His command of the language may have declined over the years, but his commitment to the accent never wavered. It never occurred to me that in the 21st century, when I have any number of ways to look up the correct name of the dish, I have not. I don't know why that is. Maybe the feeling of having lost something takes a stronger hold in our brains than the possibility it could be found. It was fabled in my memory, which felt precious because only I could hold it, look at it. I decided that the recipe—whatever it was called—died with him, and I've mourned it ever since. In March of 2020, in the beginning of quarantine, I decided to make a frittata. I don't cook much, but quarantine made some kind of a chef of all of us. Frittatas are usually my husband's specialty, but he was playing with the baby, so I was on frittata duty. Frittatas in our house aren't just crust-less quiches; they involve noodles. We will not go carbless in the Light house. Frittatas come about when we have leftover pasta and the next morning we put them in a cast iron skillet with eggs, cheese, and veggies. I started by sautéing a ton of onions and garlic. While they caramelized, I rifled through the fridge in search of veggies and saw we had a head of cabbage. I chopped that up and threw it in. Once the cabbage softened, I added the noodles. And that's when it happened. I'm getting all flustered thinking about it. Something happened in my nose. The smell of sautéed onions and garlic mingling with the cabbage and noodles sent me into an overwhelming sense memory of being with my grandfather and eating Grout Fleckla. Oh my God. Of course. It wasn't Grout. It was Kraut. Cabbage. And for the first time in nearly twenty years, it dawned on me, I can look this up. I could have, for years, found a way to look this up. I've stalked old boyfriends with less information, but now, I had cabbage. I didn't even have to type kraut, actually. As soon as I entered German noodle dish my results came up. Krautfleckerl. “An Austrian pasta with caramelized cabbage.” I felt like I found my grandfather. I thought he was lost. Now I can visit him in more than just a dream. I can taste this dish again, and memories are so much easier to access with your mouth and your nose than with your brain. I finished the frittata, but the next night I looked up a proper recipe and made Krautfleckerl. As I served it to my family, I could picture my grandfather holding a large aluminum tray full of the savory noodles, wearing a bomber jacket with a fur trim, and polyester pants, helping me bring a bit of Austrian, a bit of Sigl, to share with whomever might be interested. If that's you, if you're interested, here is the recipe for Krautfleckerl. Though I might always call it Grout Fleckla. Ingredients: • 1 white Onion • 1 (head of) cabbage • 1 tsp. of caraway seeds • 1/2 c butter • Pasta, your choice on the shape but I think goes best an egg noodle • 1 bunch of parsley • Salt • Pepper • 2 cloves of garlic Preparation: Cut the cabbage (white, without stalk) into squares, cut onion finely and chop garlic. Let the butter and the caraway caramelize in a big pot. Now add the onion and the garlic. Stir. Add the cabbage, salt and stir again. Let it steam for about 30 minutes with a closed lid. Bring sufficient water to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Strain, rinse in cold water and allow it to drain well. Chop parsley. Mix the pasta with the cabbage and stir. Add the rest of the butter and season with parsley and pepper. Serve warm.
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