unfinished stories from my journal

unfinished stories from my journal.jpg

Some of these are slightly dark, and others are just plain weird, just to warn you. Here are some snippets and things I found in my journal! It’s not all of them, of course, but it’s a lot.

5/27/16: “He used to be a delicate creature, once.

Before he fractured and broke.

Before he became an unclimbable mountain made of glass, full of jagged edges and sharp smiles.

Before anyone who got close got cut, before they bled out and learned, finally, to stay away.

His hands, once soft, were claws with a poison touch. His eyes, once warm, now burned like uncontrolled flame.

Yes, he used to be a delicate creature. But there were no blunt edges to him now.”

8/2/16: “He stopped dreaming when his city turned to dust. When the people he loved had gone and he couldn’t remember why, or how. Or who.

When he couldn’t remember how old he was, because it had been decades, maybe centuries. When the cold, the relentless cold refused to leave.

He knew that silence wasn’t a sound, but it seemed to have an echo in his empty, broken town.”

no date:

  • “There is no cold until you think there’s cold.
  • Even the clock’s ticking cannot keep them apart.
  • We”

(What was this supposed to be? I have no idea.)

8/30/16: “Hair dyed just lighter than roses, warm feet against colder tiles on the floor. Silver eyes beaming through dull walls, through cobwebs dangling from unreachable heights, through gray inescapable prisons.

An unfaltering melody dies.

The tune lies somewhere in the muddle head turning, slowly, to the window.

A scratching sound? Like someone’s trying to scramble up the tower walls but is failing miserably. Muddle head out the window, pink braid dangling out and nearly touching the ground. Boy, no more than sixteen–same age, then–standing confusedly outside the tower.”

(This was an attempt to make it unclear whether the story is in first, second, or third person, and possibly also a Rapunzel retelling.)

no date (but probably the same day): “In someone else’s universe, you are a planet, vibrant and mysterious. Here, you are a moon, orbiting and made of footprints left in dust, constantly changing phases.”

9/2/16: “‘I’m going.’ She said it out of the blue, sitting against the wall of his workroom, biting her sleeve nervously.

‘You’re what?’

‘I’m going,’ she repeated, dropping her arm, and pushing herself up. ‘I’m not waiting for someone else to volunteer and mess things up. This is my change. I’m going.’

He set his tools down with a clatter. ‘Please no.’

‘I am,’ she repeated furiously. ‘You won’t can’t stop me.’

Every The words felt like stings, and suddenly he needed to stop it, to defend himself before she could hurt him more. ‘How can you say that? It’s dangerous, and I might–‘

‘I know it’s dangerous!’ she snapped. ‘But I’ve spent an entire life being neglected and it’s too late now for someone you to want to protect me.’

His eyes started to burn, and he tried to deflect the topic away from himself. ‘Have you even told your family?’

Kesslyn’s eyes hardened. ‘Yes.’

‘Then I know they’re not fine with you just up and leaving–‘

‘I don’t care whether they like it or not! This is so much bigger than what everyone wants–this is about saving them, and you. This is my chance to be important to someone, Clev! Why would you want to stop me from that?’

‘You’re important to me!’

A silence fell around them, thick as fog and made composed of unsaid words. They were suddenly both very, very aware of the things between them that they never dared to speak.

Kesslyn broke through the fog-like silence, her voice much softer, almost hopeful and almost dreading the answer.

‘ . . . really?'”

(This one is actually a possible snippet from one of my WIPs, although way ahead of where the story is at the moment.)

9/7/16: “The wall is a prison. A gray thing that keeps you me in, locks me up in a place I don’t want to be.

The wall is safety. A beautiful blockade that protects me and keeps me from being dragged down to the level the ones inside are at.”

(I’m 99% certain I didn’t write this is something political?? Not sure how that happened though.)

9/28/16: “Our smiles will not shatter. You will feel threatened by our supposed happiness and attempt to destroy it, but we will laugh it off and you will hate it. We will endure all with a smile, even when we have nothing. Our smiles will not shatter even as our souls will.”

1/5/17: “Tell my broken bones that their song will be the most beautiful because theirs is not a perfect melody, but a shattered one, like broken chandeliers and dazzling shards of glass. Tell them that their story is most important because it is one of healing, not of staying one way for all of eternity.”

1/26/17: “She walked a delicately strung tightrope and I was her net, waiting below should she miss a step. I would catch her, always, until she could make it the whole way without falling. And still I promised to always be there.

But it was them who removed me, because the audience preferred win or lose, no second chances. They wanted her to make it alone–no, they wanted her to fail alone, and have no one there to save her.

But what should happen if she fell beyond the depths of saving? What should happen if I were not there to stop her?

I promised her . . .”

1/26/17: “The bullet pierces flesh.

I do not know whether it’s him or me, and then I don’t know what I’m asking it is I don’t know, but all I know is that there is a moment when all of the space between the metal bullet and the skin disappears.

Someone is not making it out alive.

But has he shot–is he shooting–or is it me with the gun in hand? Is it me dying, or him? I feel no differences between us, though moments before the differences felt plenty.

Has one of us shot ourselves? Is that it? Or are we enemies here just to destroy each other?

I can’t remember anymore. Maybe I never remembered in the first place.

All I can remember is the force of the shot, the soundlessness, the shock registering on both our faces then not registering at all. I remember falling, but I don’t know who is doing the falling, who has a new bullet lodged in the skull–I remember my eyes being too slow to watch it happen, seeing only the bullet in its first moment and what happens in its last.

I remember a body on the ground, but I don’t know if it’s mine.

I see the gun, pulled out, pointed but not pressed tightly against. The irreversible moment as the trigger soundlessly clicks. The bullet out, the bullet in.

The bullet pierces flesh.”

1/30/17: “How many times have I walked down these halls, dreaming–and how many times through those, in awe that dreams come true?”

Any thoughts? Which do you like best? Or worst? Lemme know!

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Nescient, which means lacking knowledge or ignorant.

-THE END-

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poem: dreams half-finished

I wrote a free-verse poem! Not exactly sure what inspired it, but here you go. Enjoy!

they leave their dreams half-finished.
abandoned on the edge of reality,
collecting dust,
fantastical creatures reduced to line and shadow and

dream.
wonderful, splendid dreams
always trying to please, to astound, but
left incomplete.
always incomplete.

and always alone.
in silent corners of the mind
fracturing,
cold,
twisted into something dark and broken and

fearsome–
and they run from it–
they call it a nightmare and they run from it–
abandoning it once more.

waking frightened, alone
as shadows and creeping things
stain the flesh beneath their eyes
with an inability to sleep.

because the monsters they created are now coming back to haunt them.

story: haunted flesh

haunted flesh cover

Alright, so this is a sorta-kinda-hopefully-creepy story. There are ghosts and skeletons and stuff. I recommend that you listen to this song while you read it (the lyrics don’t fit exactly, but it’s a creepy song and some of the themes do match the short story yes okay it’s a stretch but still the song is so good aksjd;mskalams) and think about Noah from The Raven Cycle.

THE HOUSE WILL EAT YOUR FLESH AND SPARE YOUR BONES.

This is what the roadside sign reads, painted over whatever message it originally held. The sign creaks as Les walks past it, and he starts. But the moment he looks at the sign again, the message is gone. Now it just says Scelie Town — 3 miles.

The boy’s intrigued by this, but not worried. He continues onward.

The cold is biting, but he doesn’t shiver. Instead, he hums a light and drifting tune, kicking pebbles and watching clouds until he reaches a lone building that looms above all else he can see. It rises over the rubble surrounding it, looking debonair despite the wreckage. It is cream and peach and mahogany, and the top is surrounded by clouds–not because the building is tall enough, but because these clouds have chosen to drift downward to it.

This is the Marbheln House. The outside is normal–welcoming, even–but everyone knows it’s haunted inside.

The boy smiles to himself, and walks in.

The darkness, to him, is comforting and calm. As Les’s eyes adjust, he examines his surroundings.

The tiles are ivory, the carpets lush, the curtains draped elegantly over boarded windows. A coating of dust rests on most surfaces. It is a palatial yet labyrinthine space, composed of faded colors, left alone by the living for most of its years.

The living who do occasionally come to investigate . . . do not stay living for long.

It smells musty, like ancient stories, mixed with a peculiar metallic scent like blood. And there is a ghastly, ever-present howling in the walls.

Les remains unworried, instead noting that the chandelier seems awfully close to falling. The ceiling and walls are cracked, greenery creeping in through the holes and wrapping around the furniture. He moves quickly away, not wanting to be crushed should the light fixture drop, and comes across something else.

There is a skeletal footprint on the stairs.

His hand finds the banister, carved into something intricate and clever, and trails it upward. His shoes leave prints in the dust too, joining the bony prints left from one of the skeletons upstairs. The ones he’s about to visit. The stairs creak with every step, and it seems for a while like they’re infinite, but suddenly he’s at the top.

He can hear the rattling voices before he sees where they’re coming them. They are asking, begging for some flesh and skin. A message writes itself in red in the air in front of Les: THESE SPARED BONES WANT NOTHING MORE THAN A WAY TO MASK THEMSELVES AND LIVE AGAIN.

He blinks, and the message disappears. The skeletons lunge forward in that same moment. Les steps away easily, and they collapse in front of him, a writhing pile of bones that continues to scramble forward, reaching for the flesh he wears, hungry, cold, rattling, desperate–

All they want is to live with the humans again, and that is a feeling the boy knows all too well. He turns away before he can feel even an inkling of guilt, uncaring about the skeletons that follow him. They are magic-less and corporeal, but the specters are really something to be frightened of. They have neither of those disadvantages.-

The boy heads right over to them. He drifts to a window, one without boards covering it up. Clouds float in to greet him, moving softly between his fingers and ruffling his hair affectionately. This is the form the specters take when they haven’t bound themselves to skin and flesh–the clouds that watch from the sky above.

what is it like
being able to live

He looks around, but it’s impossible to tell which ghost is asking. They’ve encircled him, and so he sits himself on the tiled floor and tells his stories.

The skeletons have come to listen too, and some of them rattle as if crying for the life he talks about, although there are no tears. They are depressing creatures, and Les eyes them with distaste as he finishes the tale.

“This is not why I’m here,” Les says once the story is done and the supernatural creatures satisfied. “I’m looking for my brother. Where is he?”

The skeletons are irrelevant now, neither posing a threat nor offering any conversation. Les is glad of this. The clouds swirl around him, silent for a few moments. Then:

you do not want to see him

“Yes, I do,” he insists. “Where is he?”

They still seem hesitant to speak, but the words have to be said. The specters say it slowly, but clearly, and give him time to comprehend. he has betrayed you

The boy blinks, his expression growing increasingly distressed. “What? How? What has he done?”

The silence drags on for an eternity, interrupted only by the howling walls and the creaking house. Les shoves his panic away, not wanting to jump to any conclusions.

The ghosts finally break the silence. you know that he has always been uncomfortable with stealing skins from mortals

Les’s eyes widen and understanding dawns on him, just as the ghosts explain it to him:

he has decided to act and is returning flesh to the bones

He is flooded immediately with anger, his fists clenched. How–HOW–could his dead brother possibly be so foolish? Does he not wish for another life? Does he not care that taking flesh is the only way to get the opportunities that death robbed them of? The clouds hear Les’s thoughts and come closer, as if to comfort him. At the same time, a familiar ghostly voice invades his thoughts:

it’s not right to steal from others just because you had something stolen from you.

Unlike the rest of the ghosts’ drifting voices, which fade into the silence as if they’d never spoken at all, his brother’s voice still retains a human quality to it. Les doesn’t understand how, or why. But hearing his brother’s voice makes him start to sob.

It is a messy, raw sort of crying. The clouds all fade away from him, not wanting the tears to catch on. All of them leave except one, and this is what he says:

i’m sorry, brother, but you cannot wear that flesh any longer.

“You cannot decide that for me!” Les yells, his desperation creeping into his voice.

you’ve taken someone else’s life because you put yours above theirs. don’t you remember, les, that that is the same way we died?

He chokes and sobs and clutches his head with every emotion he has hidden for so long–the fear and the hurt and the numbness and every feeling he didn’t show, every tear he held back, from his murder all the way to now.

His brother does not need to take his flesh away by force. He knows the words that can break Les, the boy who wore his skin so well that no one could tell he was a ghost beneath. The boy who stole a life because a life was stolen from him.

“I’m not ready to let go,” he whispers.

is anyone?

He sighs raggedly, but with finality, and slips out of the human flesh and skin. The skeletons lunge at it, fighting for the chance to go back to the mortal world. They have been trapped within this building because it is all that keeps them alive: one of the few supernatural sites where they can exist. But now, now one of them can truly live again, and Les knows that this does not redeem him for his actions, but he’s a little glad for whoever that skeleton is.

He drifts out the window, soars into the sky, finds a place there to rest and watch the world progress below.

But it rains on Scelie Town for days.

BONUS: I used a short story generator while I was writing this to see if it would help me write at all, and the results were splendiferous. Here are some actual quotes from the story it wrote:

  • “deafening, dripping dust”
  • “He was a dead, nostalgic, cocoa drinker”
  • “rescued an eggy skeleton from a burning building”
  • “handsome arms”
  • “He said, in hushed tones, ‘I love you and I want flesh.'”
  • “They looked at each other with guilty feelings, like two plastic, pleasant pigeons running at a very peculiar funeral, which had piano music playing in the background and two desperate uncles crying to the beat.”

-THE END-

story: untamable

untamable cover

I read a lot of short stories in second person and felt inspired, so here’s another story. About . . . well, taming creatures and stuff. You’ll see.

There is no beast you cannot tame.

You tame ordinary beasts often; the most frequent of those are lions, wolves. Also, though, you tame the fantastical. You’ve domesticated dragons, griffins, unicorns–

But perhaps I’ve lied. Because, perhaps, there is just one beast you can’t tame. When you head inside your little home at the end of your shows, and you look into the shadowy metal cage in the corner, and you feel a strange tug in your chest–perhaps there is a creature in that cage who has remained wild, even after meeting you.

And perhaps that creature is neither ordinary nor fantastical; just as you, once upon a time, thought yourself to be. You know not where she came from, nor when she appeared, only that she must be kept from all prying eyes.

This beast is, in some ways, just like you. (the fierceness of her gaze the rigid posture the soft voice turned to a low, practiced growl)

But it is the similarities to you that make her the hardest to tame. You do not know why. She’s certainly not the most ferocious beast, nor is she particularly lethal, but she is–perhaps–the most human. At the very least, she’s stubborn.

Just like you.

That thought makes you scowl towards the cage. You’re not stubborn. You’re just . . . determined.

In any case, you have a job to do and a show to prepare for and the strange creature will have to wait.

She doesn’t eat anything. You’ve offered her all sorts of meat, all sorts of dairy, all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and your beast refuses everything. You don’t understand how she hasn’t become weak and starved, but there’s no way to find out, so you shrug it away and try to get some sleep even though there are too many questions in your mind.

You’re still trying to sleep when you hear something pounding. Not like poundpoundPOUNDPOUNDPOUNDpound, not irregular and unpredictable. It goes pound. Pound. Pound. It’s rhythmic and simple, and you feel a strange tug again. It makes you stand even though you’re half-asleep, brings you over to the cage, makes you reach your fingers through the freezing-cold bars.

The beast reaches toward you, and you want to jerk away, but don’t. Her cold fingers meet yours and there is something pulsing inside, like pound. Pound. Pound. The strange tug becomes a beat, one that travels to your fingers slowly, matches up with the beat in the beast’s, and there is something so strange about this pounding but also something so right.

You know you shouldn’t, but you name your beast. Her new moniker is Heirette, because that’s the name she answers, to, that’s the word that makes the beast speak. She responds with “Tasri” when you call her, and it catches you by surprise because you didn’t know she can speak, least of all that she knows your name. You try to ask the beast how she learned it, but the strange creature refuses to say any more.

Every night, your beast begins pounding again. Only . . . you think, now, that it’s not exactly a pounding or beating. It’s more of a pulsing something. In you, there’s an empty gap within your chest that pulses, quiet, weak, barely reaching your fingertips. But Heirette pulses strongly, with the entirety of her being.

Sometimes the pulsing carries on into the morning. But most of the time, it dies away as soon as the sun is up. You wonder why. Maybe even Heirette’s not strong enough to keep pulsing throughout the day. Or maybe it’s easier to go by unnoticed during the night.

You’ve gotten used to the steady pulse, but one night it speeds up. You’re asleep when Heirette starts pulsing louder, faster, and the gap in your chest rushes to match. It takes you a drowsy moment to realize someone is outside, another moment to realize that Heirette is afraid. The pulse vibrates the floor slightly, vibrates your home, vibrates through you.

You go outside weaponless, careful to close the door quickly before anyone can see your beast. But it’s no one to be afraid of, just a desperate friend. He says he needs help getting a dragon off a tightrope in order to practice for the next day, and you gladly agree to help.

So you head with him to the tent, get the dragon down, and receive a thousand thanks from your friend. You smile at him and tell him no problem, it’s fine, if he ever needs your help again he should just give you a holler.

But something’s off when you get home. You forget what problem you just fixed, forget where you’re coming back from, forget everything in the world except for Heirette, because the moment you open the door and look towards the cage, what you see is . . .

Nothing.

Your beast is gone.

You suspect your friend immediately, then hate yourself for thinking it. You trust him.

But the timing of his request and Heirette disappearing is awfully suspicious. Although it probably wasn’t him who kidnapped your beast (since you were with him the entire time), he must have been in on it. But this isn’t as huge a shock to you as you would have expected; some part of you, you’re realizing, has always known that your friends are only friends because your kindness is easy to take advantage of.

Or maybe Heirette ran away. This . . . this hurts you more than it should. So you tell yourself to calm down, stop jumping to conclusions, she couldn’t have run away . . . because, there, look! You see the signs of a struggle from a rebellious beast who is just as stubborn as you. The corner of your home is a wreck, which means there are two options: one, a kidnapping, or two, a beast escaping clumsily.

You hope hope hope for it to be the first one. But then, guiltily, you think, what if Heirette’s hurt? And then, wouldn’t I feel it?

The connection between you and your beast is much more noticeable when she’s not there with you.

You head to the circus tent, and spend time with the tamed creatures, and look around to find anyone acting suspiciously. But your friends are acting the way they always do–nervous, excited, some confident, some despairing.

As the time for the show nears, everyone gets into place. You’re prepared, but distracted–there are still no clues about Heirette’s whereabouts.

The show begins.

The sleep you haven’t gotten catches up with you and you watch the whole thing drowsily, barely registering any of it. But then it’s your turn and you head up and wait for a beast to be brought up and it’s none of the ones you tamed, it’s the only one you can’t, it’s your beast, it’s Heirette, looking as starved as you thought she would be when she wouldn’t eat anything you gave her.

But she still looms scarily in her new cage. She’s beating strongly, angrily, and you feel it.

You’re at a loss for words. Heirette, you think, and a moment later, what a stupid name. Before you know what you’re doing, the cage has been opened and your beast stands before you. The show is entirely forgotten.

You reach out your hand and extend your fingers towards her hands–paws–whatever they are–and the two simultaneous pulses become one. Heirette disappears–no, you think. An unfamiliar word blossoms on your tongue, and you breath it out soundlessly. Heart. That’s your beast’s true name.

Heart disappears, but the empty space in your chest is filled. It doesn’t make you different from what you were, doesn’t change you–only amplifies you. Suddenly you can feel deep aches in your beast, your Heart, and at the same time you feel the greatest happiness you’ve ever known.

Every aspect of you is stronger, tougher, and undoubtedly human. (the fierceness of your gaze the rigid posture the soft voice turned to a low, practiced growl)

Why didn’t this happen sooner? you think. And Heart can and does reply, though soon she’ll be as much a part of you as your brain and lungs, silent but unceasingly there.

Because I needed to know whether you were strong enough.

You become conscious of your surroundings again. The whole tent is silent, the audience staring, your friends glaring. This was not how this was supposed to go, their gazes say. You were supposed to tame the beast. You were supposed to give the performance of the century.

You return the gaze, and it says, this is the performance of the century.

And then you leave.

You are the first to have a heart in your heartless world. You are a beast they’ll never tame.

-THE END-

story: shadowy illumination

shadowy illumination cover.jpg

So . . . I wrote another short story. I’m still not entirely sure what it is, exactly, so interpret it however you like. Here ya go!

Her gaze lingered far too long on the shadows.

The torchlit hall was full of them, flickering and vanishing only to appear again. When she’d captured one in her sight, it had remained for only a few moments before it vanished again. Still, it was enough to addict her.

She hungered for another glimpse, but the darkness hid from her sight every opportunity it got. The little moments in which she managed to see a trace of darkness, or even the smallest hint of it, served only to increase her hunger.

She was–technically–a light-dweller.

But that meant that she should be afraid of this place. That she should not have a shard of darkness in her heart. That she should be looking only to the glow of the light, not to the shadows from the lack of it.

No, that meant she shouldn’t be here at all, that curiosity and rebellion could not have gotten the best of her and led her to this forbidden place. Neither light-dwellers nor dark-dwellers belonged in the place that joined their worlds, but here she was.

She was a light-dweller, and yet . . .

Part of her wanted to pull away, and run until she was out in the glow of streetlights against cobblestones. But the other part of her, the one she’d only just discovered, wanted to stay, live in the danger of the flickering shadows, where you felt isolated but never were. She wanted to go farther.

She saw, then, to her partial horror, that she had grown her own shadow. She’d become more opaque, less transparent. More human, less ghost.

They were the signature marks of dark-dwellers, shadows–the darkness that followed them everywhere. It felt so different from the glow that came from being a light-dweller that for a moment, she had forgotten her indecision and just gaped.

The darkness was changing her, she realized, as more and more shadows became visible to her. They swirled around her, coming closer and closer until they began to rise out of the ground. The darkness encased her, waiting for her to make a decision.

It was what she needed, she said to herself. She needed to find the end of the hall and reach the dark-dwellers’ world. She needed to find somewhere she belonged.

And yet the light was still calling her back.

She looked over her options, not wanting to reach the decision she knew she’d have to make. At last, she reluctantly determined that she could not leave everything she knew behind. So she took a single step back, the dark cage around her dispersing. And then she took another, and another. She faced the hall even as she stepped back into her world of glass and ghosts and light.

And then she sealed the entrance to the dark hall once more.

When she finally did turn, and stepped into the streetlights’ glow, she did so as a ghost who was no longer ghostly. A living being in a land of the dead. All contradiction and longing and mismatched parts.

She wished to reach the end of the dark hall and find what lay there, and yet she had gone back to the safety of home.

The word brought an unexpected bitterness to her mouth. Home. That wasn’t here, not really. She knew this as well as she knew this world; she’d known the fact long enough that it had bored her. And though she had never been able to figure out where home was before, now she knew: it was at the end of the hall. It must be.

She grew stronger in her resolve to go there again. Whatever this place was, it was not where she belonged. Never had been and never would be.

She was–in her mind–a dark-dweller.

She could not stand the brightness and the glowing and the colorless clarity when she, herself, was polychromatic and all mixed up. She could not stand the illumination when she so preferred the shadows.

She was a dark-dweller, and yet . . .

The light had laid claim to her again. She was becoming ghostly as she had been before, and losing both the solidity she had found in the dark and the want to go there again. She was equally opaque and transparent now, equal parts shadow and glow, equally human and ghost.

It was not what she wanted.

She had to be one or the other, but not both, not a solitary thing that belonged nowhere at all. And that meant she had to make a final decision, and destroy the part of herself that was wrong.

She chose what she had always known, and gave up on dreams of a different life.

So on the day her magic came–for it came and went in unpredictable bursts–she locked herself up in a fortifying-room, made to strengthen a ghost’s magic by echoing it off the walls and returning it at quadruple the strength. She cast an enchantment that froze her shadow, then outlined it with a glowing finger. The illumination that came from the line was nearly blinding, but she did not let the light lessen. She enchanted the darkness in her, forced it out and locked it away with the shadow, but when the process was done what remained was half a being.

She could have been both, could have belonged anywhere she wished. She was meant to be a spectrum of light and dark, and break the borders between worlds.

But what she chose to be instead was a monster.