Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silentVictor Hugo
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.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.Theodore Parker, Unitarian Minister 1853
I heard this quote while listening to an audiobook version of “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. If you haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend it. This quote resonated deeply with me, as all the darkness and violence erupting around the world, threatens to swallow up hope.
This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.Dalai Lama XIV
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Recently, it seems as though everywhere I look, on the news, or social media I find nothing but negatives. While it’s important to face problems, if we focus on nothing but darkness, we forget the dawn.
What is your favorite moment in your life?
I hope that this, might be a place that people can come together and share the things they love. This series, will begin with me and I hope that you, the readers, will send in some moments of your own. With every shared experience, we might build a place of warmth for everyone.
Please submit your memory @ firstname.lastname@example.org
My favorite memory comes from my junior year of college. I recently began to date someone really special, and I set out to do anything in my power to impress her. She often spoke of how much she loved her two younger brothers and I decided that I would buy tickets for all four of us to a theme park for Halloween. As an only child, I never experienced family outings with siblings but soon discovered that it is one hell of an experience. The boys were wild, and very excited to be going with us. I got to know them better, joking about one’s inability to smile, and the other’s impressive ability to name every element on the periodic table as we waited in line. We went through a few rides, and then decided to test our bravery in the haunted houses. She, and her brothers were terrified, jumping and screaming as each scare popped out from some hidden corner. The moment, that I will never forget, was as we exited the last haunted house. She and her brothers all were hanging off of me, wrapped around my arms and throat as they laughed and smiled. They let go and started teasing one another for being so afraid, poking and pushing one another, their eyes filled with joy. The pure happiness of spending a night, with what would eventually feel like family, was something that I will never forget. We walked out of the park, holding hands as the boys ran around us in the crisp fall air, and all the bad in the world just didn’t exist for an evening. I know that, it’s not some incredible or life-changing thing but to me, it was a perfect day.
sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.Winnie the Pooh
It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.Marcus Aurelius
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.Virginia Woolf