Relief

Tree tops sway,

leaves darkening to a shamrock color.

That’s when you notice the grey sky

and the cool undercurrent in the wind.

Listen to the familiar creaking sound

of the branches and bark rubbing together.

That’s when the leaves flip,

white side up.

The air’s almost electric,

the humidity heavy with coming rain.

You wait,

on edge

until the drops fall,

heavy and fat and

pouring.

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Liked that poem? Comment and read on: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/solomn-summers/

Violations

school, dress code
Image from Pexels

The rules were written on the walls of the middle school in the cafeteria.

Shorts and skirts must be three inches above the knee, not shorter.

No bra straps showing.

No tank tops.

Standard regulation dress code rules written in blue letters across a yellow background, the school colors. I went to middle school here and was back as a substitute. The rules weren’t unreasonable. Middle schools always have the strictest dress codes.

I watched the hallway as students scuttled into the English class that I was teaching. The preppy, polo-wearing choir kids got to class early. The band kids came late. It was standard.

It was May. Everyone passed notes. Everyone wanted to be done. The sunlight streaming through the window by my desk made my eyes tired. I played the Shakespeare movie like I was supposed to and closed the blinds. It didn’t help.

A girl came in late. Her neon yellow bra strap slipped out from under her t-shirt sleeve. I motioned for her to pull it up as she took her seat. As soon as she moved it, it slid again, a tightening issue. I waved her to my desk and wrote out a dress code violation slip.

Ms. ____________________

Time and Date:

Violation:

I set the slip on the corner of my desk. “Fix your strap, please.”

She stared at the piece of paper. “I’m sorry. I’m trying.”

She didn’t seem like a troublemaker. Maybe I should’ve let it go. I handed her a restroom pass. “Try adjusting the strap length.”

Red faced, the girl hurried to the bathroom. When she returned, the strap was where it belonged, hidden.

We paused the movie after Petruchio tamed Kate. I flicked the lights on. “Your teacher will be back next class and you will finish the movie. Your final is on Monday.”

As the kids rushed to the bus, a male teacher stopped the girl from earlier. Her strap had peeked out again in her hurry to go home. He handed her a violation slip. I should’ve stepped in, fought for her. But the delinquent girl crumbled the paper in her hand and went out to the bus.

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Liked this story? Comment and read more like it: http://www.wedbushwrite.com/binary-no-gray-area/

My Dad’s Chair

(Image via Steph Munden from Pexels)

The armchair by the curb marked the end of my childhood,

the tan belly of the back rest sloping.

The tattered fabric flapped as the trash men loaded it

onto the truck.

I used to curl up beside my dad

as he told me made up stories:

“The Tree Monster,”

“The Snow Monster,”

“The Adventures of One Little Girl.”

Beside the fireplace the footrest grew

warm from the dancing flames.

The fire enchanted me,

still enchants me.

Six months before I graduated from college,

a plush leather chair replaced

the old one.

It fit with the new carpet, the fancy doorknobs, the Australian Shepard puppy.

I wasn’t nostalgic.

January Writing Update

One month into 2018 and I’m excited for it. So far, it has been a good year. I’ve made progress on my untitled fantasy novel. I’ve dived back into short story writing after taking a break from it in December. I’m back to writing articles for my university’s Her Campus chapter. It’s busy, but a good busy.

Another random thing about this month, I’ve discovered the joy of audio books. I can listen to a book while I clean, and it makes my day ten times better.

In February, I’m going to try to stay on top of blog posts, write strong short stories and articles, and find time to work on editing my untitled novel in between everything else. In order to make this all happen, I might write multiple poems a week rather than short stories.

Binary: No Gray Area

In this world, there are only two categories

and everything falls into one of them.

An action is good or bad.

There is no it depends.

There are no explanations.

It just is.

 

In this world, we gender inanimate objects.

Girly drinks.

Manly beer.

Girl toys, like dolls.

Boy toys, like blocks.

Cooking. Cars. Clothes.

Blue. Pink.

No crossing lines.

 

In this world, we fear the undefinable.

We have to categorize.

We have to make it make sense.

We have to teach stability, teach fear of change.

We have to base our opinions on the little pieces we see,

these half truths because we don’t like being wrong.

 

It’s hard to be wrong.

It’s hard to be open minded, to put in the effort to change our thoughts.

Isn’t it safer to return to our hometowns and be told we’re right?

There’s nothing to fear.

There’s nothing to change.

In this world, we are always right.

In this world, we only listen when we agree.

 

Did you like this poem? Leave a comment or continue reading. This next poem is about oppression and being free to be yourself. http://www.wedbushwrite.com/open-cages/

Journal Entry From a Lady’s Maid

Lady Cora's Castle

*Warning: This story contains graphic images and Lady Cora has no relation Downton Abbey’s Cora Crawley*

I have worked for Lady Cora for ten years, but today I saw something dark. The lady is into mischief and witchcraft. It was not surprising to me to find parts of animals and vials of blood in her chambers. However, when I went to change the sheets today, I almost slipped on the crimson liquid. The floor looked as if it had been mopped with the stuff. Confused, I called out for Lady Cora to be sure of her well-being. There was no answer.

Proceeding forward, I stripped the empty bed. The sheets were dry and white despite the surrounding mess. Keeping the dirty sheets tucked under my arm, I put on the new ones. Then I grabbed the knife from the bedside drawer (she kept it there for ritual purposes) and went into the bathroom to reassure myself. The blood trails continued into the stone bathroom, where the mirror was cracked and the wooden tub appeared full. The beads around the knife blade rubbed against my hand, increasing my anxiety.

I had to get closer to see inside of the tub. Red water sloshed around in the tub. Something bobbed up and down. Two unfamiliar women lay face down in the water, their bodies split in half.

A voice came from behind me, “I don’t see a bed in here. Why do you have my knife?” Lady Cora grabbed the blade and wrenched it away, slicing her hand in the process.

“I’m so sorry, Ma’am. I wanted to make sure you weren’t hurt.” I don’t know how I spoke through the fear building in my throat.

Lady Cora, deep blue eyes flaming, ran her bloody hand over her green silk dress. Her raven black hair was piled perfectly on her head. If she killed these women, then it must’ve been sometime in the night.

Lady Cora put her hand on my shoulder. “Do not touch my things. Now go fetch the gardener. Tell him we’re planting today and to get his shovel out.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” I started fast for the door.

“And you remember the most important rule here?”

I stopped just beside the bed, taking comfort in being in a different room. “No question. No gossip.”

Lady Cora’s footsteps came up on me. I’d seen Lady Cora handle caged animals, but I’d never empathized with them until now. She stood where she could reach me if she wanted to. “That’s two rules.”

I held my breath, dread filling my heart. Every muscle twitched, waiting for her to grab me and use the knife. Lady Cora was known for cutting servants with or without reason. The only solace (if it could be called that) was her mercy. She never killed servants.

She laughed a little. “You may go.”

It doesn’t take long for lady’s maids to understand that laughter is not a cause for relief. I left her chambers in utter fear, shaking so hard I almost tripped over the sheets. I thought to ask someone for help. The seamstress may take pity on me, but anyone I tell, I endanger. People don’t take too kindly to that. And running means the dogs or the archers or the knights. So I write and I wait.

Did you like this story? Leave a comment or continue reading. The next story is about a woman named Andrea who believes she is a witch held captive because of her dark powers.  http://www.wedbushwrite.com/ancient-dark/

When the Truth Has a Steep Price

The first shot of cinnamon whiskey stung

but Leila chased it with another one.

Gotta get there faster,

make this awkwardness go away.

It wasn’t about feeling comfortable,

not really.

 

She wanted to lose her fears,

to say what she couldn’t and do

what she wouldn’t.

If the world was slow to change,

she would have to change faster.

 

The cinnamon whiskey burned

but the next shot, the fourth or fifth,

felt better.

She felt better.

Everything was better.

She winked at that someone across the room.

That girl didn’t notice.

But not noticing is better,

hiding is better,

than rejection.

Snow White Ash

The kingdom of Ether hadn’t had snow in over a hundred years. They’d been transitioning between spring and summer, all warm weather all the time. King Handel had been content with this, until his little girl, Princess Syrina, said something. “Daddy, what’s snow?”

They’d been eating breakfast, and she’d had a book on her lap under the table. She was always studying something she wasn’t supposed to be. This time she’d found a book about a kingdom far away, a place perpetually cold and snowy. Her father took the book away. “Shouldn’t you be reading about the history of Ether?”

“But it’s so boring. I want to know about other places. Why doesn’t it snow here?”

“Before you were born, it snowed every year.” King Handel didn’t know why it had stopped. No one did.

Princess Syrina stared out the window at the cheery, blue sky. “Can we make it snow? Is it supposed to snow?”

“I’ll see what we can do.”

***

That night King Handel journeyed out of the castle to visit the most powerful being in Ether. She’d existed long before humans, maybe longer than the elves. She was the Balancer and it was her job to ensure the balance of nature. King Handel had come to her before, so she was not surprised when he came to her again at her cave in the mountains. He bent his knee for her. “Ether has only had summer and spring for the past eight years. We need winter and fall.”

The Balancer stayed in the shadows, but her white and black dragons slid forward. “If you needed it, then I would’ve already stepped in.”

“My daughter wants snow.”

“I’m not changing the weather based on the whims of a child.”

“What if I can make you an offer? I can give you anything you want.”

“I don’t want anything.” The Balancer and her dragons began to retreat back into their cave.

“I can give you fifty souls within the next twenty years.” King Handel could send troops to fight in a foreign war. He could promise them riches. Everyone would jump at the chance. Fifty men wouldn’t be a detrimental loss.

The Balancer hesitated. “I don’t want the souls of fifty soldiers. I want ten soldiers, ten women, ten elves, ten dragons, and ten children within the year.”

King Handel had paid a steeper price before. They shook on it.

***

Long story short, King Handel sent ten soldiers to capture and kill ten elves. They succeeded, but the celebration was short. King Handel poisoned the celebratory wine. Then he sent a trusted servant to steal ten dragons eggs from an old palace at the far reaches of Ether. The hardest was the women and children, which he rounded up and burned alive for “treason.” They didn’t scream. Snow mixed in with their ashes, all falling from the sky, bringing Princess Syrina her first snow.

Inside the Anxious College Mind

No time.

No time.

No time.

 

I pop pizza bites in the microwave

and call it dinner.

 

Class.

Homework.

Clubs.

No time. No time.

No time.

 

Everyone else skips.

But grades.

But passing.

No time. No time.

 

Everyone else procrastinates.

No time. No time. No time.

 

It’s dinner.

I already ate.

Everyone else is deciding on food.

No time No time No time No time No time No time No time No time No time.

Anecdote: Church Hymns

Church hymns, the organ specifically, drew me to St. Paul’s. I’m not a religious person, but most people say that, don’t they?

The soft voices sung something that blended into the music, words lost in pitch. My fingers wrapped around the cold brass handle. I opened the heavy, wood doors. Warm light filled the foyer. The ushers smiled and allowed me to pass. Most of the pews were empty. I dipped two fingers into the huge, gold basin of holy water at the back and made the sign of the cross. I was raised Catholic, but that was the first time I’d entered a church in ten years.

I chose one of the back pews. The priests didn’t seem to notice. The choir stopped. The lead priest went on with his sermon. “Jesus is the way to God. Jesus is God.”

The sparse parish recited something, mumbling. I mouthed random words. The parish stood. I stood late. The parish knelt. I knelt, waiting for the chorus to sing again. I didn’t have to wait long.

Soprano voices soared and tittered like birds. Altos and tenors carried the accessible notes, the ones the parish sung back. The bass held everything together, held me together. Music touches what sermons can’t reach, a deeper spirituality.

Nothing brought me into that church that day. Everyone I loved was alive. No one was sick. My life had no troubles. But I needed it. My soul lacked something. Those hymns pulled me up higher, made me stand taller, gave me a reserve of strength that I would need. They helped me a year later when I lost my grandma, the real Catholic in my family. She had almost become a nun. We were supposed to go to the theater together that summer. Plans change.