Excerpt From Something I’ll Never Finish Writing

“So it’s not that I’m not glad that you’re coming, I-I just keep wondering why you’re doing it.”

The man paused, searching Lewis’ face before glancing away to stare at the ground. He began to speak, his large blue eyes glazing over as though he were somewhere far away. 

“It’s for a lot of reasons, but mainly for my Lizzie. Are you old enough to remember losing anyone in the Sunder?”

“I have flashes of memory, I remember my parent’s faces although it seems like it gets harder every year.” 

“Well, I was 22 when it happened, I’m sure any one of these folks could tell you the same story. One moment you’re staring at the love of your life, the next… poof, there’s a brick wall and you’re alone. For me, it was Lizzie.” He said, his voice dropping to a whisper as he said her name. 

“You see, I was just about to graduate and I’d been dating her for a few years now. Never met anyone like her before in my life, being around her was like…” His voice trailing off as he glanced around the campfire seemingly searching for his words in the flames. 

“Well, have you ever walked in somewhere and smelled fresh baked cookies? Just this pure happiness the moment you walk in. That’s how it felt. Perfect. Well anyways, we were getting ready for a night in, I’d bought this dumb musical about a circus that she loved and she was real excited. I came up to her room, and she was laying on the bed in these black leggings, the soft ones kinda like pajamas and this giant maroon sweatshirt she loved. I mean you shoulda seen her. She just had her hair done, and colored it this auburn honey color that glowed in the string lights we had draped over her bookshelves.” As he spoke about her, his eyes lit up, and a big goofy smile began to spread over his face. He laughed to himself as he mentioned the string lights adding “that was probably a pretty big fire hazard now that I think about it.” 

 “Anyway, I handed her the DVD and she starts setting it up, but then she says can you go grab my candy, I left it in the other room and I joke with her that she’ll have to get her own candy and she does this adorable Pweeeeassseeeee she’d do, but I didn’t budge” He seems to mimic her voice as he goes, laughing to himself after copying her “please”, his voice a high-pitched singsong. 

“ Then she started making this cute pouty smile, her big, brown, puppy dog eyes too much to say no to. So I get up off the bed, walk into the other room, and grab em. Then I’m standing at the door looking at her just as I’m about to go in, and Lizzie sees me holding the candy.  She looked up and smiled.” The man stops and catches his breath, and lets out a dreamy sigh as though he could see her smiling even now. The group sat silent, everyone rapt in the story, many of the older faces sharing that far-off look. For a few seconds, he sat quietly smiling to himself before continuing with a chuckle. 

“Goddamn, that smile. It-it always started in the middle of her lips, because she’d suck em in like she was trying to fight it and then the sides of her mouth would slide up until this big toothy grin appeared as she crinkled her nose giggling. Man… that smile, it was like, well it was like the first day of spring when it’s cold and overcast but for a second the sun peaks out and that warmth just rolls over ya. That was Lizzie’s smile, always that radiant little sunshine, and it was the last thing I saw bef-before the wall appeared.” He stops, his voice breaking as a small whimper escapes his throat.

Lewis looks away, unsure of what to say but soon sees that the other older members of the crew are also crying. Each staring into the fire as rivers of tears roll down their cheeks. Small sniffles and strained breaths filling the air.

“One minute it’s the love of my life, the next a-a brick wall. I spent three hours smashing the damn thing down screaming, begging, for her to hold on. You can guess my face when all I found was that howling nothing on the other side. For a long time… a real long time I didn’t care about nothing, just felt empty inside. Then y’all come along, talking about finding the source of the Sunder. I get to thinking, if the source is in here with us, then we must’ve been taken, not them right? So I’ve spent every night since I met ya, praying… praying with all my damn might that she’s still out there spreading that sunshine smile. I’ll be damned if I don’t find some way to claw my way out of this hell and back to my Lizzie.” The man stopped, his eyes fixed on Lewis.

The firelight dances on his face, the tears still fresh. A quiet crept forward like a thick blanket until only the crackle of flames and the rustling of leaves filled the night. Each of the team, gathered their things, following some unspoken agreement to head in for the night. Lewis felt their pain, while he could not remember his parents, he still had lived with that hole in his life. All of the survivors knew it, a longing for that which had been stolen. Lewis lay on the ground, staring up at the night sky, and the frozen moon. As he began to drift off he thought to himself. Soon, soon we will be whole again. We just have to push on, not just for us, but for everyone.

Untitled Poetry Submission

My mind is like cascading glass. Each shard shatters beautifully, into smaller pieces after every trauma. I piece myself back together, grasping at anything to hold back tears. My own mind cuts deep into my flesh, exposing old wounds that are damned to never heal. Each breath continuing life, each breath continuing pain.

Anonymous submission

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We love all submissions here. However, we would like to take this time to say, if you are hurting, feeling lost, or hopeless, please talk with someone. You are a beautiful person, with people who care about you, even if it feels like you’re alone. As someone who has personally struggled with their own mental health issues, believe me when I say that you are not in this alone, and there are others who understand. If you are ever in crisis, I’ll be including a link that has many numbers for helplines.

Link for international helplines below

https://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines

“See Jane Run”

Short Story Submissions

Dick slid the key into the lock and it unbolted with a quiet click. The door swung open revealing the dark interior of the home. He walked in flipping the lights as he walked past. The bulbs lit but then blew with a pop. The room again was blanketed in shadow. Dick walked to the window on the far wall and drew back the curtains. A thin beam of light streamed through the curtains casting sinister shadows along the opposite wall. Dick fell onto the couch finally resting after a long day. He turned on the television and began to flip through the channels. His eyes began to droop from the tiring day. The remote slipped from his hand falling to the ground. As he began to fade into sleep, a horror show played in the background.

“four escape from asylum, armed and dangerous.”

He awoke an hour later to his cell phone buzzing loudly. The news played on the television assessing the local traffic. Dick groped for his phone, finally pulling it from the depths of the couch. Ben was calling. Nell must have wanted to come home early; he thought. He answered and brought the phone to his ear. The line was silent for a few seconds, the hiss of the empty line filling his mind.

“Hello?” murmured Dick. 

“Hi, sweetie” came the too familiar voice. Dick’s breath began to come rapidly as his chest tightened. A rushing sound filling his ears, the blood draining from his face. 

“Jane, what have you done.”

“I just wanted to see my son, the rest was on them.”

“Where is Nell” demanded Dick, hysteria creeping into his voice.

“Closer than you think.” Upstairs a loud thud emanated from above him. Dick jumped at the sound and dashed to the kitchen. He pulled a knife from the drawers. Slowly, Dick crept towards the stairs staring intently through the darkened house. Each step sent out a quiet creek from the old wooden floors. As he reached the top of the stairs, slight sounds could be heard echoing down the hallway, the hissing crackle set his teeth on edge. The television in his bedroom was on. The light spilled into the hallway casting pale shadows that writhed along the walls. His heart pounded so hard he was sure it would give him away. From beneath his foot, a board moaned under his weight, the screech ripping through the house. The hissing static from the television began to grow. Soon they were screaming, the sound blared throughout the entire home like a beast tearing itself free. She knew he was there, there was little use in secrecy now. Dick burst through the door of the bedroom into the deafening cacophony. There sat Nell unconscious on the floor. A thin trail of blood ran from a gash across the top of his head. He ran to him but was suddenly struck hard at the base of the neck. Dick crumpled to the ground, an explosion of pain filling his head. Warmth flooded from his head and ran down his neck as spots danced across his vision. The air began to fill with the smell of iron. From his position on the ground, Dick stared at Nell, reaching for his injured son. The television went silent in an instant. A hand wrapped around his ankle pulling him back away from Nell. The crimson pool that streamed from his head painted the floor, forming a lake of blood. A Sharp stab pierced his side and his chest filled with a burning pain. More warmth erupted down his side as the foreign object was torn from his chest. Spots of black began to fill his vision as he coughed and choked on blood that dripped from his mouth. 

Please God, no. It hurts, God it hurts so bad. I-I can’t let her have my Nell. He tried to rise, but his head seemed too heavy, as it resisted him swaying about. He finally gave in and let his head slam to the floor. The blood now covered all of the floor beside him, covering his face in a sheet of red.  

“He needs me, I am his mom! Why couldn’t you just let us be happy?!” She stepped over him, her left foot coming down hard on his hand. The bones crunched but the pain quickly faded into the dull coldness filling his body. Jane’s Clothes were stained red, both fresh and dried blood covering their surface. She gently lifted Nell cradling his limp form in her arms. She stared at Dick, her sideways smile like razor blades. Jane stopped beside him and kissed his cheek. 

“Goodbye sweetie, you know I’ll always love you.” She walked past him out and out the door. 

“Please don’t” he whispered, but she was already gone. He could feel the darkness welling up inside of him. He no longer could feel the pain, but he writhed on the floor. 

Nell, oh God Nell. I’m sorry I’m so sorry. 

The cold grew until a final pained cough filled the nursery.

Ghost

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Rain flicked against the window creating a continuous thrum, as the bus rolled through the city. Here he sat, the fogged glass cold against his forehead as he lay staring into the gray world outside. He hated the damp but, it proved to be relaxing in the sweltering heat of the bus’ interior. The soft squeal of the breaks hissed as the next stop approached. From the front of the bus, a quiet squelch of wet rubber announced the addition of some new passengers. Few seats remained within the densely packed bus. He was surprised, as a beautiful young woman slid into his neighboring seat. He glanced at the woman and she was astounding. Her eyes shone like two pools of amber in the dimly lit bus, their glow like witch-light drawing in his gaze. His eyes traced the soft roundness of her porcelain face. Her two lips like red half moons in a perpetual frown drooped like petals heavy with morning dew. Her beauty was exquisite but paled in comparison to the intoxication that was her voice.
“Sorry to bump you, all the others were taken”. As she spoke a current of heat ran through his body setting him on edge. He met her eyes and spoke, his voice catching in his throat.
“Not a problem, nice to see you.”
“It’s quite a dreary day isn’t it.”
“ it is, but I’ve always loved the mist, Reminds me of good books and warm evenings.”
She eyed him looking him up and down, a small smile creeping over her, its splendor like honeysuckle and sunshine.
“Your ring, are you married?” Her eyes darting to the aged wedding band he still wore.
“Yes, I still wear it, though she’s been gone for awhile.” His lips pursed, his eyes glazed as memories drifted through his mind.
“Are you married?” He asked looking at her hands.
“No, haven’t found the one.”
“Theres nothing like it. Once you find the person who fills every moment with wonder, anything else just seems… less. She was everything I ever wanted.” He stared down at the ring, his eyes stinging.
“ You deserve happiness though, everyone does. Have you tried dating since?”
“ When I said my heart was hers forever, I meant it. I loved her soul, she was the like the first bloom of spring and the boom of thunder as it rolls in the dark. She captured my hearts wonder and tore down every wall I ever built.”

She stared at him, a tinge of sorrow slipping into those honey pools. 

“You never tried? Not once?” 

“oh I did. I-I tried a lot, but in the end I couldn’t take it anymore.” His voice a whisper

“Why’s that.” She asked, a sudden sharpness to her tone. 

“There is nothing worse than spending the night with them, and realizing that they could never be more than a pale imitation of what you truly want.”
“I’m-I’m sorry to hear that” her eyes fell to the seat in front of her. She studied the lines cut by riders over the years, tracing them with her finger. The bus once again came to a jerking stop, sending her crashing into his side. His breath caught in his throat. Her soft body pressed against him brought forth a flood of memories. Soft breathing in the early morning, smiles that shone like starlight, holding his wife till the morning light.
She paused for a moment pressed against him, his arm wrapped around her side keeping her from crashing into the aisle. She pushed further against him softly sinking further into his side. Her eyes slowly lifted meeting his, and the small embers within his heart roared to life. She turned, her shoulder pushing hard into his sternum with sudden, familiar coldness. He slid gently back away from her into the seat as he pulled back his arm. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to fall…”

“No, no it’s fine, I just… “ she gazed away, her face expressionless.
“She was-she was everything I ever hoped for, my everything. People talk about how love is fiery, passionate, complicated, but our love was simple. Loving her was nothing, like dandelion wishes, magic but simple. All the misery of the world, gone like smoke in the wind. I knew that no matter what happened, no matter how terrible things got, our love was there like a safe harbor in a maelstrom.”
“Sometimes things fall apart, some storms are too great to endure.”
“I understood why it ended. Always said I didn’t but I did. We lost ourselves. I blamed her because she wouldn’t let me help, so she ran and there he was waiting.”
“Maybe she couldn’t with you there. Maybe she needed to do it for herself.”
“ I will never understand how you can tell someone you love them, while in another’s bed.”
She paused looking out the rain streaked window, her breath slowing. She exhaled a deep heavy sigh and looked him in the eyes, their glow like god’s own mercy. He melted in their sight. His wounded, broken heart for a moment beating with ease once again. At this he felt every sinew of his form tighten, for years he had thought that this feeling had left his life forever. He looked at her, a smile creeping into his eyes, and for a moment so too did hers. Her hand rested on his, but then in an instant it pulled away. Those amber pools filled with ice that would rival that of the coldest winter’s howl. Where moments ago hints of that precious smile hung like lofty clouds, now only cold indifference remained.
“Sometimes one must find peace where they may. Experiences are the sweets of life and a life lived without ecstasy is one missed.”
The bus pulled to a stop this time a gentle roll and squeak of the break the only indication it had stopped. The rain came down heavier. It bounced upon the roof creating a thunderous roar. She sat beside him, tense, her muscles drawn up like wires of a piano.
“She was everything I ever wanted but in the end, there was nothing left of that sweet girl I had known. She was a frigid selfish thing, too wounded to love another. I was in love with the ghost of a woman and when I saw that, my heart broke forever.” He paused, staring into those caramel eyes, in them he saw nought but the glaze of one who has lost all but the basest of interest. All she had once been was gone, she was but the shadow of the woman moments before. As he rose she stood allowing him to exit the bus. Turning he spoke.
“For all the hurt she gave me, I wish I could take back all the hate I gave back. She was hurt, and scared, and I made it worse. I can’t say you didn’t deserve it, but I wish I had been better, because every night when I dream; I can’t see anything but the hurt that was in those deep brown eyes…” He paused, letting out a ragged breath. 

“Goodbye Lizzie.” 

Balloon Messages – A Favorite Memory

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When I was little I believed that when balloons flew into the sky they went to heaven and the people up there would catch them. This meant that if I sent a balloon with a message written on it my parents would receive it. This was something my family did in memory of my parents. My favorite time was my junior year of high school, when my aunt surprised my sister and me with 3 purple balloons. We were able to write messages to my Dad, which we had not been able to do in awhile . It felt good to send
something physical and meaningful up into the sky. I know that they get them because I can feel it in my heart.
Memories do not necessarily need to be happy to be favorites. Sometimes the best memories are in honor of the ones we love.

-B.M.

Thank you for sharing your memory with us.

I hope that someone might read it, and find that they are not alone in their troubles or find solace in such a beautiful moment.

Dark as Night

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“Im just so lost, no matter how hard I try to be joyful every moment is stained by sorrow.”

She looked at him, searching those tear filled eyes.

“You have a soul like the night sky, there is darkness and doubt, but the stars shine all the brighter. I know you’re lost, but if you look to the stars, you will always find your way home.”

Falling for Autumn

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“You know, I’ve really missed these evenings with you.”

“What is it that makes you love them so much, other than my incredible presence that is?”

“The smell of corn fields, and crisp evening air. The smell of leaves on the ground as they become an array of brown. It reminds me of young love and first kisses stolen under blankets… of late nights with friends now gone.”