What We Knew Before Knowing


What we knew before knowing
By Kala Séraphin

Restless as always, I couldn’t sleep. The thin sheet I had for a blanket was wrapped around my legs, tangled around my chest and constricting my breathing. I felt like I was wrestling with a very irate boa constrictor. Eventually, I gave up pretending to try to get rest. I found my way out of the tangled mess and walked to the basin of water at the foot of the bed. The cold water felt refreshing on my weary face. I washed up the best I could, trying not to waste a single drop of water. I didn’t know when a fresh basin would be given to me.

A few steps and I was at my writing desk. Once more, I gave a critical look at my living space. It was a small box with a bed adorned with one sheet, a basin of water, an urn for a toilet and this writing desk. The luxury I was gifted with was the leather bound book. It was a deep red leather with gold filigree on the cover. Inside were pages upon pages of white paper just waiting to be covered in ink. That was my task, to write my story in this book. I could take as much time as I wanted, there could be any amount chapters I desired, I could write in any format I wished. The only restriction was that I was not allowed to erase anything. The second the ink was placed on the paper, it was meant to stay. Only foresight and a way with words could correct anything. Once my story was complete, then I was permitted to leave this establishment. It was a deal I couldn’t remember making but I was bound to it. I found the contract with the book and sure enough, my signature was on it.

I had no sense of time. At first, my body followed a rhythm between sleep and writing. However, a quarter into the tale, my body changed. It no longer required sleep. Instead, I often found myself pacing the room in a circle while my mind worked out the details of my story. I was determined to make this a story everyone could relate to and will remember their whole lives. It was going to be the universal novel. There was only one problem. I was at a crossroad in the story and didn’t know where to take my protagonist. For so long, I tried to continue writing but my mind was blank. Pacing the room didn’t produce its usual dose of inspiration.

I looked at the door of my chamber, wondering if I should go out again. The other times were out of curiosity but now, it was a necessity. There was only one place it led to: the library of infinite books. It was a multi-leveled complex with books of all kinds.

The contract stated that I could visit the library of infinite books to search for inspiration or any other reason I could think of. The books had to remain where they were. I was permitted to go ten times, no more, no less. If I went this time, it would be my last time. That was the reason for my hesitation. Was I so empty of words that I needed to use my last visit to the library of infinite books?

Reading the last paragraph I wrote helped me to realize that yes, it was needed. There was no erasing or going back to change a passage. What was written was final. Only the blank pages could be a way for me to improve what was written.
“Alright, I am going to the library.” I spoke to the book, promising to come back with a fresh adventure for all the characters.
I slowly opened the door and looked down the long corridor. On both sides there were doors, similar to mine. Each of those rooms housed a person, like me, writing. The contract forbade me to disturb any of them.

Quietly, I made my way down the hall, holding my contract tightly. It had nine marks on it for every time I went to the library. I was nervous about the last visit. My mind created gruesome scenarios where I would suffer some torture for using up my visits so quickly.

The doorkeeper stood there, silent and cryptic like every other visit. His hood covered his head completely, letting me look into a black abyss. He simply stood still in front of the massive double doors. I couldn’t even see his chest rise and fall with his breath. I didn’t know if it was just me, but it felt like there was an icy aura surrounding him.

With a shaky hand I handed him my contract. It disappeared in the sleeve of his robe for a moment, then returned back to me with a fresh mark. With careful and controlled movements, he moved over and opened the door to the library. I quickly walked in, glad to have made it without any incident. The imagination could be quite gruesome when faced with the unknown.

I browsed the many aisles, feeling peaceful among so many books. They were all leather bound books like mine. There were different colours and some were thicker or thinner but invariably they were all the same. It was the content that made each book truly unique. Some made me laugh, others made me cry and a few brought new questions of existence to my mind.

I stopped at random and picked a blue book with a stained cover. My mind relaxed as I learned a new way of seeing the world. I was deeply into the book when my peripheral vision caught something moving. It had never happened before and it intrigued me greatly. I always thought myself to be alone. Could it be one of the other resident writers? I wondered if it was maybe the doorkeeper coming to drag me back to my room. I looked around a corner but there was nothing. Shaking my head, I turned back to the book in my hand when the movement earlier perceived happened again. This time, I ran down the aisle. Once more, I was greeted by the stillness of an empty library.

I wondered if I was losing my mind. What could it possibly be? During my past visits, I was always completely alone. Maybe it was the book I was reading. It could be possible that the story was affecting me more than I realized.

My heart froze when I turned around to return the book in question. In front of me was a young girl in a white dress with a sad expression in her big brown eyes. She was floating off the ground, her hair like a halo around her pale face. We looked at each other, unmoving. She looked so much like the protagonist of my story. There was even the same birthmark on her cheek.

Before I could regain the senses necessary to say or do anything, she turned away and floated through the book shelves. I followed the best I could. She was leading me to parts of the library I had never been before. When I stopped running, I found myself at the center of the complex. It was an open space with a ramp intricately carved with strange designs. I looked down to the other levels of the library. It went on forever. I looked up and it was the same thing.
She appeared beside me with that strange look of sadness in her eyes. All of a sudden, other specters appeared out of nowhere, all floating around aimlessly as if they were waiting for someone.

“Please, finish writing my story. It’s so cold here.” She spoke but her lips didn’t move. It was like an echo in my head.
For me, this confirmed it: she was the girl from my story. I was amazed yet confused. How could it be? Wasn’t she just a creation from my imagination? If not, then my writer’s block was putting her in a kind of limbo.

“I’m sorry…I, I mean…I don’t know what to write.” I stuttered apologetically.

She motioned for me to follow her and led me to another, darker, part of the library. I was back in the maze of book shelves. She pointed to a small green book for me to read. I read the first line out loud:

“Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land much like yours and mine.” I looked up at her. She urged me to keep reading. It scared me how this was the story of a man living in a room and spending all of his time writing a book. Every thought he had, I remember having; every urge he fulfilled, I remember fulfilling. In the story, there was a library a lot like the library of infinite books. He even experienced a creative block as I was experiencing at the moment. I did not let my fear stop me. I continued to read the book until the very end.

As if in a daze, I went back to my room. The girl followed me to the door of the library then disappeared. I was so concentrated on what I just finished reading that I didn’t even notice.

I sat down at the desk, determined to have it all written down perfectly. The book had inspired me to take my story to a new world. Every word came out gracefully, at the right moment. The more I wrote, the more motivated I was to continue.
Finally, I sat up straight, looking at the finished book. All the pages were used without any space left to add more. I felt proud of the world I had created. I closed the book, keeping my hands on the cover as if to feel the energy and love that I had put into it.

“It’s done,” I declared, smiling brightly. Slowly, my hands lost their density. It was more like the book was absorbing my energy. My whole body was now transparent, like a fading memory. I stood and looked down at myself. My feet weren’t touching the ground.

The doorkeeper entered my room and walked through me as if I wasn’t there. I was speechless with shock. How could I simply disappear like that?

Unperturbed, he took my book and left the room. I followed close behind, floating down the familiar hall. He opened the door to the library and out came a familiar girl. Except she was no longer floating. Now, she looked real with her feet firmly on the ground and a more solid constitution. Her eyes, however, were no longer sad. They were glazed over as if she were thinking of another life. As she walked by me, she stopped and looked over to either me or the doorkeeper. It was a brief moment before she went on her way and entered what used to be my room.

I chose to follow the doorkeeper in the library. He took my book to one of the many book shelves and found an empty space at random and put the book in its new home. He went back to his post at the door while I floated in the library of infinite books, wondering about the life cycle of this existence.


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By Kala Séraphin

From my kitchen window, it looked like a great day for a bike ride. I had nothing else to do and I figured a little physical activity would do me good and change my thoughts. I was starting to feel the stress of launching my own business. It was a computer software that I created to organize people’s lives. What this program could do was more than keep your scheduled meetings in order. First, one would input all of his personal information such as date of birth, family background, education level achieved, relationship status, hobbies, work, friends and just about everything else. Then would come the more in depth questions such as personal beliefs, dreams and aspirations, goals and desires. The computer would then come with a very detailed, step by step procedure on how best to accomplish these goals. Everything was given right down to the proper diet and the perfect clothes to wear. It was the absolute tool for success. That is why I called it P.S.O.L.O. It stood for Philosopher Stone Official Life Organizer. It took me many years, blood, sweat and sacrifice to come to this point and I could barely believe that in less than a week, the world would be able to enjoy my creation.

On my old bike I peddled furiously, going over the details of the launch in my mind, wondering if I missed anything. According to my own profile on the P.S.O.L.O, next week was the best time to publicize the company. It was a guaranteed success. I smiled, bracing myself against the wind. My thighs were burning and my breathing was strained. Apparently my body was more out of shape than I expected. My feet slowed and I found myself at a halt. Looking around, I was surprised by my surrounding. I was so involved in my worries that I completely missed what was around me.

The sky was clear, not a cloud in sight. The blue that surrounded me was so pure and welcoming. I wanted to fall on my back and just admire the beauty of nature. The sun shined brightly, reflecting on the ripples of the river. It was a perfect day to have a picnic. All I was missing was a basket full of goodies, a blanket and someone special to share this moment with. Since I spent so much of my time and energy on the P.S.O.L.O, I never developed any close relationships. I forgot to enter that little detail in my profile. At that point, I was eager to talk to anyone!

She was sitting on a bench, facing the river. Some strands of hair escaped her braid and flew around with the breeze, giving her a strange halo. I decided to approach this stranger, hoping to share my amazing genius with a person in real life as opposed to those on the internet. I let my bike fall, flopped down in the bench where the girl sat and stretched out.

“What a beautiful day! Amazing isn’t it? Makes you want to just climb up a mountain and howl at the moon or something.” I sighed loudly. She didn’t bother to look at me or even move an inch.

“The moon comes out at night. It has nothing to do with this weather.”

That’s when I realized this girl was crying. She had probably come here to be alone and cry her little heart out. I was most likely making her feel uncomfortable with my good mood.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you.” I scratched my head, feeling awkward. I didn’t know if I should go away or stay or say something or be quiet about the matter. I made a mental note to add tips on proper social interactions as a feature for P.S.O.L.O.

A strained moment settled between us. I looked at the girl, studying her and wondering who or what could have made her cry. Her red hair was in a braid, falling over her shoulder and tied with a blue ribbon. She was covered with freckles on her face and arms. I couldn’t make out her features because of her large sunglasses. She wore a light blue summer dress with small flowers. Her feet were bare except for the pedicure. The gold polish looked fresh. All she carried with her was a postcard with the picture of a bird sitting on a leafless branch. There was snow in the background. I found all this strange since I always firmly believed that girls never left their house without their purse.

“Can I ask you something?” Her voice was more in control this time. She even turned to look at me. So, I gave her my most inviting smile.

“Of course!”

She hesitated, as if she were debating whether I was trustworthy or not. Or maybe she was looking for the right words. That moment of hesitation was all it took for me to be hooked. I really wanted to know anything and everything she had to say.

“What would you do if you forgot why you came?” She finally asked.

My brows furrowed as I turned the question over in my mind, looking at every possible angles. I couldn’t tell what tone she asked her question. Was it lighthearted with the simple intention of starting a conversation or was it a serious teenage drama?

“Well, I usually make notes of everything I do, where I go and why. That way, these things won’t happen. I also keep everything on a file on my special program. It’s called Philosopher Stone Official Life Organizer. It’s a real life savior.” I said, rambling off absentmindedly.

“I’m not talking about the banal daily events. I mean, your purpose in life. Why you were born.”

“Uh, that’s an interesting angle.” I was mumbling uncomfortably. Whatever impulse I had to strike up a conversation with this young lady was clearly part of my self destructive side.

“I just… can’t remember,” she whispered, looking out at the river. I noticed fresh tears on her cheeks.

“Now, don’t you worry about existential problems like that! Listen, what if I let you test the P.S.O.L.O? That’s what I created it for. Now, usually I charge a lot of money but for you, I could make an exception.”

At this point I was willing to say anything to make her stop crying.

“You don’t understand! My life is not some computer game with a quick fix. I had a mission; a destiny to fulfill. All the cards were set, everything is waiting for me to take action. But, this morning I woke up and couldn’t find the will to get out of bed. The driving force of my life just vanished. I looked in the mirror and saw a failure; someone who couldn’t accomplish anything. Without that passion I was so use to, I couldn’t bring myself to even try. Why bother? I would just fall flat on my face! But the worst part of all this is the conflicting knowledge that everything, and I mean absolutely everything, I’ve ever wanted; I got it. Even now, I have what I want. I’m loved. There are so many possibilities for me. It’s just that I feel like my life is meaningless, so why bother? I should just end it all.”

Her monologue scared me. For a girl without any passion left, she was pretty animated. I simply sat there, nodding every now and then as my sister taught me to do. Then it was that uncomfortable silence again. As the elder, I felt like I needed to say something.

“This is just a moment in your life. Like everything else, it will pass.”

“Yes, this despair will pass. Tomorrow, I’ll have more energy to put into action all those wonderful plans. But it won’t erase the fact that I still can’t remember why I came here.” She replied. There was such an air of defeat to her. I wanted to hug her or give her the little money I had; anything that could help her.

She watched as a bird took flight. It danced in circles, diving low then reaching for the sky. It beat its wings then would glide with the wind. At times, the bird would stop for a moment, sitting on a branch; but it was never for long. Its home seemed to be the sky. This flight pattern, she followed intently and a sad smile came to her lips as she said: “I wish I could be like the birds. I would fly around the world and share my beautiful song with everyone.”

I thought it wise not to counter her with with the logistics of it, such as crossing the oceans or the threat of predators.
The girl looked down at the postcard in her hand.

“Could you do me a favor?” She asked.

“Yes, I’d love to!” I thought my enthusiasm was a bit much but I was so relieved that she wasn’t crying anymore.

She handed me her postcard. “Could you drop it off in a mailbox?”

It was a simple request that I couldn’t refuse. After I took the card, she started to walk away. I inquired about her plans.

“I have to go home now and look for my meaning…or at least find a new one.” She declared, looking at the birds flying over the river.

Being ever so curious, I couldn’t help but to look at the postcard. Of course, I was courteous enough to wait until she was far away.

My dearest Sophia,
I promise to come sing by your window soon enough.
Your loving sister,

I shrugged my shoulders and gave up this whole episode to the strangeness of women. They were such complex creatures and I just couldn’t understand their whims.

It turned out I forgot to put the postcard in a mailbox. I left it on my kitchen counter, forgotten. The launch of P.S.O.L.O took over every ounce of my attention.

Five months later, I was in bed, sleeping peacefully. After all the hard work and sleepless nights, I had finally tasted victory and it was sweet. People from all around the world were eager for P.S.O.L.O to sort them out and show them the steps to success as they desired it to be.

There was a ticking at my window that pulled me of my slumber. I was such a light sleeper that a sneezing tick could wake me up in the middle of the night. I opened one eye and saw that the sun wasn’t even up. Rolling over, I grumbled a curse and went back to sleep. Once again, the sound reached my aggravated ears. Sitting up in bed, I yelled at my window to no one in particular:

“What do you want?!”

Sitting on the ledge of the window was a small chickadee, looking at me with pleading eyes. So quickly, memories of that strange encounter with the girl who had bird-envy came back to me.

As the bird chirped a morning song, I ran to my kitchen and found the postcard underneath a pile of letters and bills.

“It couldn’t be.” I mumbled, still feeling hazy with sleep. I wondered about the possibility of this young girl and the chickadee being the same entity. This was far out of my belief system and made me feel like I needed a vacation. However improbable and slight the coincidence was, I couldn’t bring myself to ignore this little wake-up call.

The small bird was now at my kitchen window, singing enthusiastically.

“Alright! Alright! I’m sorry I forgot! I’ll send it now!” This time I kept my promise. I walked down the street in my Batman pajamas to find a mailbox. All the while, this puffy bird followed me. Once I heard the postcard hit the bottom of the mailbox, I turned to the bird in a huff:

“There, happy?”

Indeed, it puffed up some more, chirping loudly. I waved to the bird and returned to my world of predictable success.

In another part of the world, a woman was returning to her home with arms full of groceries but there was no one there to help her. She struggled with her bounty and the moment she entered her kitchen, the heavy bags were dropped. Sifting through the mail, she sat by the window, enjoying a cool tropical breeze. A plump chickadee perched itself on her window sill and started to sing a beautiful song. The woman stopped to watch this rare occurrence. She was greatly enjoying the song it was sharing with her. The strange part was that the bird looked intent on staying for a long term. The woman continued to sift through her mail, smiling at this little miracle. She saw a flyer for a new computer software that was suppose to take your goals in life and tell you how to accomplish them with guaranteed success.

“Where’s the spontaneity in that?” She mumbled to herself as she threw the advertisement in the trash. Her smile faded as she found a postcard from her sister. It was sent a few months after she was reported missing. After reading the brief, cryptic message, the woman looked out the window, her mind frozen in shock. The chickadee was still there, singing just for her.

Prelude between Interludes

Prelude between Interludes


By Kala Séraphin

It was three in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. Staring at the ceiling, eyes wide open, I went through all the reasons I should be sleeping. I needed the rest to be in top shape. It wouldn’t be very impressive to go to a job interview with dark circles around my eyes and yawning between questions. My mind should relax so I could properly focus on all my projects; even if they were all doomed to end before they started. How could I focus if I’m exhausted from a lack of sleep? I worried, I panicked, I cajoled myself but nothing worked. Being the fifth night in a row that sleep eluded me, I couldn’t deny it: I was suffering from insomnia…but why?

I tossed around in bed, sighing once, twice and then once again. It was impossible to find a comfortable position. Just like in my life. I constantly moved around to new cities, new homes and new friends. I could never find peace in my heart. Every time I would settle myself somewhere, my soul would cry out for something different, something more. With nothing more than a feeling, I would always follow my instincts and uproot myself. Being on my own, it was easy to throw everything away and start again. However, as I advanced in years, I found it more exhausting to learn a new job, decorate a new house and make new friends. An unfamiliar voice inside was beginning to speak up. It wanted stability. Fighting with it was the soul saying we hadn’t found what we were looking for yet…whatever that may be.

I looked at the digital clock by my bed. It was now three fifty and sleep still refused to kiss my eyes. I decided to give in to my wakeful state. Turning on my lamp, I dived my attention into my book. Reading about the history of humanity would either lull me to sleep or cause the night to quickly bow out to the morning.

Though my eyes took in the sentences, my mind refused to take in the message. Thoughts of past lovers started to invade me. Soft caresses and tired sighs of pleasure replayed themselves in my mind. A playful smile crept to my lips as I enjoyed memories of passions fulfilled. All those intimate nights slipped through the fingers of time. Where did they go and how come I was still alone? I started to wonder if it wasn’t some internal fatal flaw in me; to be forever alone. Was this really the fate of a nomad such as myself?

It was a futile effort to convince my mind to stay within the boundaries of the book. I violently threw it aside and shut off the light. After indulging in memories of my past lovers, my body vibrated with energy and desire. At this point, it was absurd for me to even contemplate sleep. Instead, I began a mental list of the mundane things I had to do. It felt like being stroked the wrong way. I couldn’t handle laundry, groceries and yard work. Instead, I saw myself traveling to a new destination. I wondered about South America and its possibilities. Columbia came to me as a teasing vixen, offering untold pleasures.
“Variety is the spice of life,” I mumbled to myself. It was a saying one of my family members would always say.

Suddenly, a loud roaring surrounded me. Violent winds snapped tree branches against my window as rain poured down in sheets. Lightning flashed, giving me a brief glimpse of the wild storm that suddenly erupted. It was just what I needed; a thunderstorm to reflect my inner turmoil.

The door to my bedroom slowly opened. My jaw dropped and my blood froze. I couldn’t move but I wanted desperately to hide. I was suppose to be alone in my house, yet some psychopath found a way in.

She stood by the door, looking at me with such a sad expression. It felt like one of my dreams had materialized itself. She wore an orange robe wrapped around her frail body and covered her head. She looked starved for food and affection. Her long auburn hair fell over her shoulders in a mess. With each flash of lightning, I saw her eyes filled with tears yet her jaw set with some unknown determination.

After a few minutes of scrutinizing each other, she finally walked into my room and sat on my bed. I could smell incense and trees and was speechless at how real she was, sitting so close to me. I wondered if I wasn’t mistaken. Could it be that I wasn’t dreaming but in fact quite simply mad?

“My name is Adagio.” She finally spoke, making eye contact. Her eyes hypnotized me. Never before had I seen anyone with eyes the colour of amber like hers.

I remained speechless, fighting the urge to touch her. I wanted nothing more than to run my fingers through her hair and smell her. She looked so fragile in her thin robe. I could see myself keeping her safe, feeding her and making her forget her pains. If she would let me, I wanted to make her smile.

“I need your help.” Her plea pulled me out of my paralysis. I shook my head, finally blinking.

“Wh…what can I do?” I asked.

This lost beauty smiled sadly and took my hand. It was so small and cold. “You have such beautiful brown eyes; so pure.” She whispered.

As a response, I took a quilt and wrapped it around her shoulders. In a whisper, she thanked me.

“I have a story that needs a voice.” She declared.

“I don’t know how I can help you with that,” was my reply.

“Please, just listen, and when the sun will rise, write it down. This story wants to be known. Send it out to the world to be read.” She calmly asked with eloquent words but her eyes wildly begged me . They implored my help. I simply nodded, once again hypnotized by her eyes and scent that drew me into a lost forest full of magic and wonder.

Adagio removed the robe from her head. I saw a strange tattoo bordering her hairline, going to the back of her neck. It was beautiful swirls of vines and other symbols that I didn’t recognize.

“Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land, much like yours and mine…” She slowly began her tale. I listened to every word, captivated. Her voice took on a strange melodious tone as she took me to her world. I drank in every sentence greedily. My eagerness increased with every twist and turn in her story. I truly believed that these events happened to me in some other lifetime. I held my breath, waiting for the happily-ever-after of the story.

As the rays of the sun crept over the horizon, Adagio gave me a curl of the lips that could be a smile. Without missing a beat, I jumped out of bed and sat at my desk. I ran my hands through my short hair and poured out the story on paper. Word after word; sentence after sentence; the story came together with fluidity. It was like a tragic concerto, orchestrated by some divine being.

Once I emptied my mind of the story, I found that sleep wrapped its arms around me easily. I was a willing lover who fell in bed gratefully.

My eyes opened to a dark room. I had spent the day sleeping. It was a day lost in my dream, embracing Adagio. She smiled for me; a truly bright and happy smile. She also promised never to leave me. I sighed as the memory slowly dissolved and sat up. I jumped at the sight of her, still wrapped in my quilt, sitting on my bed.

Once more, she shared another story. Wordlessly, I listened, committing it to memory. Even my heart drank every one of her words. As dawn slowly stretched itself in the sky, Adagio concluded her story.

“What does it have to do with yesterday’s story?” I asked, feeling so engaged yet completely confused.

“These two stories are but the beginning of a series of tales. You may feel that they are disconnected but they are not. Soon, you will find the thread.” She explained softly, playing with a wild strand of hair from my head.

“In the mean time, just write.” At those words, I made my way to my office and repeated the wonderful tale Adagio shared with me.

For the next three months, she came to me every night. Sitting on my bed, she weaved her stories for me with wisdom, desire and understanding. Every morning, I would write them down, emptying myself of such a fascinating burden and find the most restful sleep I ever had in my life. As the weeks went by, I started to perceive a connection. I didn’t know if I was simply creating one or if it was truly there, between the lines.

Unexpectedly, the final night came. Adagio ended her amazing tale before the sun made its appearance.

“That’s it? Why? When will I see you again?” I panicked at the thought of this being our last meeting.

Adagio looked away from me and said: “Now you must send the stories on their way.”
I reached out to touch her. She was right, it was my time to fulfill my promise. Her journey was so subtle in its message, I now felt an urgent need to spread the word.

“Why me?” I asked.

Finally, after spending so many nights together, Adagio smiled. It was a shy smile, too tamed to let it go wild.

“I knew you would understand me. Our souls call out to the same dreams.” She whispered.

“At least stay with me for a little bit, until the sun comes up?” I asked.

She hesitated for a moment. Finally, her resolve melted and she slipped under the blankets, in my arms. I inhaled deeply, feeling at peace in my heart.

“Adagio, I lo…” She placed a finger over my lips. She didn’t want me to say what we both knew. I understood. How could I not. After hearing her tales, I knew where her heart lay. Though she was with me for the night, her heart would forever be with someone else.

I fell asleep listening to her rhythmic breathing. My whole being felt a kind of serenity never felt before. I disappeared to a land I still can’t quite recall. I would dare to say, a land much like yours and mine.

The next morning, I woke up alone, holding on to my quilt. I could still smell her essence and a small tinge of regret. Luckily, I found comfort in her stories. Writing them out perfectly, preparing them for the public gave me the illusion that she was still by my side, whispering in my ear.

Finally came the day when I had to release them. The stories were begging me to go out in the world. Greedily, I held on as long as I could.
Finally, here they are: for you, whoever and wherever you may be. In each story there’s a part of Adagio and because I simply could not part with her, you will find a piece of me in them as well. These stories found you for a reason; enjoy the journey my friend.


The Path

The Path

By Kala Séraphin

Out of the window was a hill. There was nothing extraordinary about this hill. A healthy person could climb it in fifteen minutes. It was covered with tall grass and bushes scattered over it. A lone tree at the top, stands barren. It has given up growing taller, let alone offer greenery for shade. Birds often fly around, dancing in the air with their kind; creating a story in flight patterns. They never stay long, these birds. The hill doesn’t offer proper food or shelter. Though it stands strong and infertile, Satya couldn’t keep her eyes off of this small mountain. She would sit with the other students, gazing at it when she should have her eyes closed in meditation. It was as if the wind carried a message from the hill, especially for her. No one else seemed to even notice it, the hill. Satya wanted to answer this call. Every morning, sitting by the window, listening to the messages, she would promise to go climb the hill in her free time. Every day, duties called her away, putting off the promise to visit the hill.

“Satya, you should be focusing on the flame, not gazing about like an untrained child.” The voice of the Guide was soft but harsh. Satya whipped her head back quickly and closed her eyes to concentrate on the flame in her mind’s eye.

After the session, the students quietly shuffled out as the Guide held Satya back. She sat with her head bowed, preparing herself for the reprimand. This wasn’t the first time the Guide kept her back.

“Did you find the flame?” The old woman asked, sitting erect in front of the young girl. Her blank stare looked ahead, her expression stern.

“No, I could not reach it,” Satya humbly said, keeping her head down.

There was a moment of silence. Satya slowly looked up, waiting for the Guide. She knew there would be repercussions for her distracted spirit.

“It’s been months since you perceived your flame.” The Guide claimed, keeping her gaze ahead. “You haven’t been putting as much attention in your chores. I have been told that you missed lighting two candles in the hall of thousand lights.” She continued, letting the mistake linger over Satya’s head.

In the distance, a bell could be heard, calling the students to prayer. Satya could picture them slowly making their way to the forest, looking for a quiet place to be at one with the Divine.

“I feel that there is something you are holding on to Satya. A cleansing would be the best course of action.” The old woman decided.

“Yes Guide.” Satya whispered. She was not looking forward to spending the following month in isolation, living off of a herbal concoction and water. She would have to spend every morning in the steam room, every afternoon in walking meditation and every night stargazing. Satya will not be allowed to communicate with another soul for the whole month. This was the greatest challenge for her.

The Guide stood up, reaching for her cane. She offered Satya her arm. The young girl interlocked her own arm and guided the old woman out of the hall.

“You have great potential to be a Guide one day,” the older woman started. “What is it that you think you need for you to get back to what is important?”

Walking outside, Satya turned her face to the sun, enjoying the warmth and light. She smiled and answered:
“I am not sure that this is the life for me. Though I believe in the Divine and think that what my sisters are doing is noble, there are doubts in my heart that I am to live this life of servitude.”

The Guide patted Satya’s hand, shaking her head.

“My dear, these feelings will pass. You must be patient.” She insisted.

Satya did not reply. She even had doubts about what the Guide was saying. She took the cane from her elder and watched as the blind woman confidently walked into the forest.

The next morning, before the sun was even peeking beyond the horizon, Satya took one change of clothes and went to the hut outside the temple grounds. It was a modest shelter with a steam room attached, meant for girls that were cleansing. It was built deep in the forest, isolated from anyone.

The moment she arrived, Satya stripped off her robes and went into the steam room. She was eager to start cleansing herself of the urges to leave the temple. There were so many impulses and doubts in her heart that she couldn’t find herself anymore. As she sat on the warm tiles, Satya closed her eyes, looking inside for something steady. It was impossible to find. Her mind kept distracting her with messages. The floor was too hot, the sweat dripping down her spine bothered her, and she forgot if she closed the gate when leaving the temple grounds…the thoughts came in waves, causing more discomforts.

Finally, the sun came up to its highest point. Satya was relieved when she saw it through the glass ceiling. She slowly washed herself, wrapped her robes around her body and started the walking meditation. Keeping her head covered eyes on the ground, Satya concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. All that mattered was the next step; to be in that moment.

Near the end of her five hour meditation, Satya thought about the hill she never climbed. It took only that one moment of distraction. She stepped on a broken branch that cut her foot. She broke her vow of silence when she let out a cry of pain.

That night, watching the stars, Satya cried. She could not find the balance she once had in her soul. It felt like she was slowly slipping away from the only world she knew. Since she was a child, Satya had lived at the temple, studying, growing, and slowly becoming a Sister of the Divine. Now, at fourteen years old, she felt lost. She sensed something called her away from the temple. She fell asleep beneath the stars, thinking of the hill and the world beyond it.

The first two weeks slowly crawled by. Satya followed the motions of her routine with her body but her mind remained with the hill. She thought about the lone tree, standing barren and alone. The image followed her even in her dreams.

One night, sitting under the stars, Satya started humming softly. She did not realize what she was doing until she looked down from the stars and saw a man standing at a distance, watching her intently.

“I’m sorry to scare you. I heard you sing and was just curious.” He said, smiling.

Satya stood up, taking a few steps back as she covered her head with her robes. Her heartbeat quickened at the sight of another human being; except she wasn’t certain if it was out of fear or excitement.

“You’re one of the sisters of the Divine, aren’t you?” He then asked.

“Yes. I am doing a cleanse.” Satya automatically answered. When she realized her mistake, she brought her hand to her mouth, gasping. This made him laugh.

“Aren’t you supposed to keep a vow of silence?” He asked, still chuckling.

The sound of his laughter calmed her. Satya managed a smile as she looked away.

“Yes. I have not been doing well these last two weeks. My mind is always wandering.” She revealed, sitting down again. It felt good to communicate with another person and share her troubles.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. Tomorrow is another day.” He said, sitting down as well; keeping a proper distance from Satya.

“How do you know about the Divine Sisters?” She asked.

“My mother was one,” he said, offering her some water.

“How can that be? Once you become a Sister, it is for life. Having a family is against the Laws of the Divine.” Satya gasped, accepting the water.

Her surprise made the man laugh again. He took a sip of his water before he explained:
“She was on a pilgrimage when she met my father; love at first sight she claimed. One night was all it took.”

“One night for what?” Satya innocently asked.

The man now looked at her with a different expression. It had a hint of amusement and sadness along with compassion.

“One night for me to be conceived. I was born in this hut.” He explained, pointing to Satya’s temporary home.

Her gaze followed his hand, looking at the hut. She was a bit confused since it was forbidden for any Sister to live as a wife, mother or lover. A Sister of the Divine lives as a maiden and then crone. This has been repeated many times during Satya’s education.

“How can it be?” She asked.

“My mother was a Sister of the Divine but she was also human. Every human being has desires and feels curious about the world around them. Her heart wanted to become a mother and the first man she met, my father, was willing to fulfill her desire.” The man said, playing with the grass by his feet.

Satya quietly listened, taking in what he was telling her. She thought of the hill that called out to her. She wondered if it wasn’t the other way around. Maybe her heart was yearning to go out to the hill and experience a world beyond the temple.

“Did she ever regret her decision?” She asked.

The man shook his head, looking up at Satya.

“No. She never had a moment of doubt. The love she experienced as a mother was the greatest experience of her life.” He smiled as he said this. He then got up, gave Satya a small round object wrapped up and said:

“Good luck on your journey Satya.” She watched him walk away, wondering how he knew her name. Looking down, she saw that he gave her a loaf of bread.

The next day, Satya skipped the session in the steam room. She took the loaf of bread and started the trek to the hill. She was determined to fulfill this desire, regardless of where it will lead her. She was tired of holding herself back and wanted to know what would happen if she simply acted.

By mid-day, she reached the hill. The temple grounds were busy with the Sisters going about their business. Satya watched for a moment, wondering if any of them harbored any desire that would lead them away from the Divine path. Her musings were short lived as she was eager to reach the top of the hill.

When Satya found herself before the lone tree, she felt a light feeling in her heart. She was very tired and felt dizzy after fasting for over two weeks. Very slowly, she sat down, leaning on the tree and started to eat the bread she received the previous night. The grains on her tongue sent waves of pleasure to her mind. Chewing never felt so satisfying. Satya closed her eyes, unable to stop herself from sighing loudly with pleasure. When she opened her eyes, she saw a flock of birds dancing in the sky, gracefully weaving their way around. There was a sense of contentment that washed over her heart.

As the sun started to lower over the horizon, Satya decided it was time to go but she didn’t know where to go. If she returned to the temple, she would return to the rigid rules and regulations of the Sisters’ order. On the other hand, it was the only home she knew; where her family was. There was the hut she could stay in but this was a temporary solution. Eventually, the Sisters would find her and bring her back. Satya then thought of the man. Maybe if she found him, he could help her.

“Just take the first step,” she whispered to herself. And so she took one step then another and another. Those steps took her to the entrance of the temple. Her Sisters greeted her with disapproval as she did not complete her month of cleansing. They took her to her room and put her to bed.

Satya floated through many dreams, most of them were about the man and the hill. They all started with a voice saying: “Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land much like yours and mine.” She finally woke up at dawn with pain in her stomach. It felt like something alive was moving and trying to come out. At the sound of distress, her roommate rushed to get help.

When the Healer came, Satya was on the ground, clutching her abdomen and crying.

“Satya, what is the matter?” Asked the Healer, kneeling down by the young girl.

The pain became unbearable. She started gagging, feeling something coming up her airway. Her muscles contracted violently, trying to expel the foreign object. Slowly, Satya felt it come out of her mouth. She heard the Healer gasp and another Sister scream. Finally, Satya could breathe again. Gasping for air, she opened her eyes. Before her was a small snake, coiling itself around her arm. Confusion blurred her vision. How could a snake come out of her mouth? She brought it closer to her face. It responded by slowly coiling itself around her neck and resting its head on her shoulder.

At that moment, the Guide walked in, lead by an elder Sister.

“What is going on? I sense something strange. What is wrong with Satya?” She asked.

“Guide, it is a snake. Satya birthed a snake.” The Healer’s voice was shaky. She was scared of getting any closer to the young girl.

The Guide walked in, kneeling by Satya, listening to the subtle sounds of the room.

“This snake; it came from you out of nowhere?” She asked.

“Yes Guide.” Satya answered, looking lovingly at the reptile resting on her.

“Then, that would make you a mother. Congratulations,” the Guide declared.

Satya looked up, smiling. She felt at peace with such a thought. Even though her child was a snake, her heart already felt connected and a strong sense of protection took over her mind.


Butterfly Caught

Butterfly Caught

By Kala Séraphin

The single fluorescent light flickered, creating dancing shadows on the dirty walls of the hotel room. The man watched his own shadow grow tall and small from the whims of the light. He sat on the edge of the steel framed bed, his forearms leaning on his thighs. Under the wool blanket was a young girl, sleeping. Only her disheveled brown hair peeked out from under the thin cover. He let his hand crawl to her shoulder and shook her lightly. She did not emit a sound or move an inch.

The man took out a small leather bag. From it he removed a syringe. It was properly wrapped, still sterile and ready for use. With one hand he held the needle, now ready to be used, and with his other hand he gently removed the girl’s arm from under the blanket. He sweetly stroked the inside of her arm, looking for a vein. At the sight of a delicate green mount on the clear valley of the girl’s arm, the man plunged the needle and drew her blood. Once his quest became a success, he discarded the girl’s arm carelessly and went to the bathroom with his black leather bag.

The reflection in the mirror showed a tired face, unable to find  proper rest. His skin was taut over his cheekbones and dark circles made his small eyes look smaller. A half smile appeared on his lips after he splashed himself with some cold water.

“Come on J, just one more time. We’ll quite after this.” His soft accented voice was raw with disuse.

J noticed an old hand print left on the mirror from a previous user. Some blond and black hair could be found in the sink. In the bathtub, there was a circle of grime left. He imagined the cleaning lady was on vacation. Though it was a low priced hotel, the least they could offer was a minimum amount of cleanliness.

After cleaning everything with one of the towels, J sat in the tub, with his black leather bag. He rummaged through it and took out small pouches with coloured powders. He had green, blue, red, yellow, orange and purple powders. But every time he would put it back, unsatisfied with the choice. He finally settled on a burgundy powder. In a small square of tin foil, he poured his powder. Then, ever so carefully, J poured the blood of the girl with the burgundy powder. With a cheap lighter, he brought a flame under the mixture and kept it there until it started to boil. It wasn’t left to cool for long before J took the syringe to the new chemical. Using the same needle, he inserted it in his vein, using every drop of the mixture. As it quickly spread through his blood stream, J sat back in the bathtub with a great sigh of relief.

His body lost all tension, only to be replaced by a euphoric sense of wellbeing. His skin became extra sensitive and so he was quick to discard his shirt. J closed his eyes, ready to be transported wherever his mind desired.

She was standing in a field of tall grass, looking out towards the ocean. Her long brown hair danced around as the wind blew. She wore a sky blue dress that also followed the wind in its musical dance. The whole field had a strange colour. The grass was white, looking like blades of snow. The warmth of the breeze confirmed to J that it wasn’t winter. He looked at her from a distance. In the moment, she looked so beautiful. His heart urged him to reach out for her. It whispered tales of emotions such as love. Suddenly, falling in love not only felt possible but it was inevitable. She was the one who could bring warmth to his limbs with a smile. J craved that smile, to see her mouth curve with joy at his presence. Unable to contain himself any longer, he cried out her name:


She slowly turned to him but before he could see her face, the grass sprang to life. Thousands of moths took flight, camouflaging Adagio with their white wings.

Back in the questionable bathtub, J sat up, looking for the moths. Of course, he was alone in the bathroom.

His arms started to tingle. A burgundy line started to crawl up through his vein. J watched the progress without fear. He knew this would happen, as it happened every time. As the liquid progressed through his body, he sat back. When he tried to close his eyes, all he could see were the moths, flying out to greet the moon.

The feeling came back too; love. J felt it was spreading along with the burgundy chemical. He thought the poets lied when they claimed the heart as the domain of love. This was not a passive emotion that could settle with one place in the human body. Love was all about kisses and caresses; actions. It was an emotion that ravaged the whole body.

J opened his eyes and stepped out of the tub. His whole body now covered in an intricate pattern of burgundy. He looked at it with the mirror, pleased with how it looked. There was a moment of disappointment when he remembered that it would fade away as the drug wore off.

Taking a closer look in the mirror, J saw that his eyes were now completely covered in liquid gold. He started to laugh at the sight of himself.

“J….” her voice was cautious. She stood in the doorway with the blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

“There’s a moth on your back.” She whispered in awe.

He turned around, his back to the mirror and craning his neck. Indeed, the swirls caused by the drug had formed a moth-like figure on his back. He smiled at her and said:

“Butterfly caught,” and started to laugh. He could feel as the drug seeped through his veins.



By Kala Séraphin

I was the last passenger on the bus. The night’s stars looked down at the small vehicle lazily making its way down the empty highway. The driver sat at the steering wheel with slumped shoulders. I could tell he was on the brink of falling asleep. I whispered a prayer to Morpheus to keep the driver conscious at least until I get off. After sitting for six hours in this unventilated vehicle, the last thing I wanted was to die in an accident of carelessness.

Though I did see some form of satirical irony. After spending the last week escaping from dangerous people, hours of running and all the sleepless nights, to just have it end in such a banal death was too much: All because the driver was overtaxed.

If my will had any power over life’s event, I would not die tonight.

The sudden stop of the bus shook me from my pondering. I looked out the window and saw that we were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees. Without the rumbling of the engine, I could hear a distant wolf howling.

“Last stop. Get off here.” The driver mumbled between yawns. He opened the door to prove he was serious.

“It’s the middle of nowhere! Where am I supposed to go?” I cried, pointing outside as if he hadn’t already noticed our surroundings.

Indeed, the driver shrugged, not even bothering to use words. Out of stubbornness, I sat still, crossing my arms. He could read what he wanted from my body language.

It took a long five minutes before he let out a heavy sigh and replied:

“There’s a village up this path. You can get a room for the night.”

With a violent flourish, I grabbed my duffle bag from the overhead compartment. If it hadn’t slipped out of my grasp and stumbled on the ground, I’m sure my displeasure would have made a graver impression on the driver.

With my gaze averted I stepped out of the bus. It quickly drove off in the night, leaving me behind in the chilly night. I heard the wolf howl once again. I didn’t want to become his midnight snack, so I started up the road mentioned by the driver. Between my red coat and duffle bag, I felt a bit like little red riding hood on her way to grandmother’s house. There were many other details that would nullify my imagery but I needed a distraction. Being from the city, I found it unsettling to be in a strange forest at night. My imagination saw monsters in shadows that revealed themselves to be squirrels or birds. This reminded me of a picture I once saw. At first, I noticed a cup. However, after shifting my perception, I saw two faces looking at each other. It seemed like the world was full of simplicity awaiting our multi faceted perceptions.

It was when I was thinking over the philosophical implications of such a picture that I came to a brick wall with a door big enough to allow a dinosaur to walk through. I actually took a moment to imagine a stegosaurus staggering from the past to enter this village.

A more human sized door was found and I quickly approached it. I pushed the door carefully and was glad to find it unlocked. There was a mature looking man walking around with a flashlight, nonchalantly swinging it left and right. He wore jeans and a heavy sweater against the slight chill of the night. What caught my attention was that he wasn’t wearing shoes. There was nothing to protect his feet from the land.

The man with the trimmed beard didn’t look surprise or bothered at seeing me. His flashlight covered me in blinding light. Blinking against the glare, I heard a sound as if he were about to scold a child out of bed after curfew.

“Do you need a place to stay for the night?” He asked. His tone was actually very friendly.

“Yes. My bus dropped me off here. The driver said I could find a place for the night and take the next bus in the morning.” I explained.

The man slowly nodded as he lowered his light from my face.

“Sure thing. We just have one rule here. No shoes or socks or sandals. Nothing on your feet, while you are on our lands.” His voice kept its friendly tone. The strange request didn’t even shake or disturb me. Because I was so tired, I immediately started to unlace my boots.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why this one rule?” I asked, trying to get my fingers through the knots of the laces. I was past the point of exhaustion and could barely keep my eyes open, let alone control my motor skills.

“For a stranger who’s only staying the night, there’s not much to say. We don’t reveal secrets easily here. But one thing I’ll tell you,” he started and flashed his light on his feet as he lifted his left foot. “We are very connected to our land.”

Wrapped in darkness with such a small beam of light, I wasn’t certain what my eyes were seeing. His feet were dark with years of walking on bare earth. Hairy toes with yellowed toenails wiggled lightly at my attention. These were details to be expected. What my exhausted eyes could not quite grasp were the roots, thick and brown that went from the sole of his raised foot, down into the earth.

There was no time for my mind to process the sight before the man helped me out of my old boots and wool socks. As my feet touched the bare earth, I felt a shiver of cold run up my spine. Then, there was a strange pinch from both my feet. Where it started, inside coming out or outside coming in, I wasn’t certain. Looking down I saw thin weak roots that connected me to the land.

The man took my hand and walked me through the town. There were only dirt roads to be seen. Silhouettes of shacks bordered the roads. In the gloom of the night, he brought me to a humble looking home. I was quickly ushered into a room and put to sleep.

“You have nothing to worry about now. Tomorrow, you’ll wake up, refreshed and ready to continue on your way.” The man’s voice was so reassuring and I was so terribly exhausted that quickly, sleep found me to be a willing bedmate.

A wild thirst shook me from my slumber. My eyes rapidly opened to scan the dark room. My throat felt like it was lined with tree bark. My lips cracked as I moved my lazy tongue over them. It was clear to me that waiting for the morning to come wasn’t a possibility. I sat up, waiting until my eyes made sense of the dark shapes. The soft light of the stars helped me see a low table by the window with a cup and a jug of what I hoped to be water.

Standing up, I panicked as I felt something under my feet. Sitting on the bed, I blindly felt with my hand under my feet. The thin roots connecting me to the ground were there, digging into my skin. After a little bit of rest, I realized how absurd this was. It was hard for me to believe what I was touching.

Following my thirst, I walked to the water jug. I was overly aware of each step I took. As my left foot broke contact with the ground, I could feel the roots stretch to accommodate the motion, then shrink back as the foot returned to the earth. There was no pain or discomfort. It was a simple feeling of unfamiliarity; like after getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist.

I poured myself a cup of water and drained it instantly. My whole body shivered with pleasure and asked for more. After drinking two more cups of water, I felt a calm satisfaction settle in me, starting with my throat that was previously so dry. My gaze lazily wandered out the window. I could have looked at the other crude looking building or the lush garden. What caught my attention would have made anyone look twice. A girl was by the apple tree, huddled, her knees to her chest and dressed in a thin dress.

I quickly dressed and ran out to offer any assistance. I brought a sweater to give her some warmth. Standing in the doorway I stopped dead in my tracks. There was a moment of hesitation. I was in a strange village, all alone. Who was I to swoop down and save the damsel in distress? I was no hero. In fact, I was the anti-hero; always one to play it safe. At the first sign of trouble back home, I ran away; taking the first bus that would go as far away as possible.

My shoulders slumped as I realized that I wasn’t going to help the girl under the apple tree. I sighed deeply as I took one last look at her. I froze when I noticed that she was looking at me. By the light of the stars I saw her dirty face covered in bruises. Her eyes were curious about me but more strongly, they were pleading me to come to her. It was more than safety she was looking for. I sensed that this small girl was hungry for human contact. She needed to be acknowledged and touched or else she would vanish into nothingness. Through the roots in my feet, I sensed this cry for help. It was a hunger so violent that it shook my own core. I never imagined someone feeling so forgotten by the whole of existence. That is, until a stranger comes along and notices her. A stranger with enough sympathy to grab a sweater and be prepared to offer it to her. Unfortunately for this nocturnal nymph, it is a stranger who is ruled by his cowardice. So instead of covering her broken, shivering body, this stranger simply stares, and then goes back to bed.

I spent an hour urging my mind to forget the image of the girl under the apple tree. The remainder of my night was restless with wild dreams and more struggles to forget. When my body demanded water, I ignored the cries, fearing the view from the window. When dawn finally embraced the sky, I quickly washed myself and prepared to leave. I tried to pay the man for the room. He refused my money and wished me luck on my adventures. By the tone of his voice, I wondered if he knew what happened.

I did not stay long enough to find out. After a quiet meal with the man, I gathered my belongings and took the road out of the village, keeping my eyes downcast. I was eager to have this chapter of my life become a distant memory. As I took quick strides towards the exit, I made promises to myself to never recall this village and its strange connection to the earth. Mostly, I vowed to forget the girl under the apple tree. Even though I knew that the feeling of loneliness that she shared with me would take a lot to forget.

I was one step away from being free to put my boots back on. I looked back for half a heartbeat then took that last step. As I felt the roots snap from my feet, a high pitched scream resonated in my head. It filled each of my cells until the pain of this scream was all my senses could register. It was such a sound of raw pain stemming from emptiness. The kind of emptiness brought about by loneliness. I ran, clutching my head in pain and knowing the source of such a heartbreaking scream.

I found the bus stop and finally got back on the road. I was grateful to be sitting in this stuffy bus. I didn’t care where it took me, as long as it was far away from the madness I left behind.


What does it take to be strong enough? Can you find it within yourself to do what is right?

Life in the question and remember to follow your bliss~

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By Kala Séraphin

He stood naked in front of the mirror, his gaze avoiding his body. He did not want to dwell on the ravages that time did to him. He knew that his muscle tone was weak and that his gut carried years of debauchery. His pale skin looked sickly even though he felt OK. Yet, OK was the norm for him. There wasn’t a day he recalled where he woke up full of energy and ready to accomplish Herculean tasks. It was always an OK day, feet dragging, lazy smiles and many cat naps.

“Mr. Janus, are you ready?” The nurse’s voice was shy and uncertain. She didn’t want to bother the client before such a life changing procedure.

Javier Janus was a simple man who worked tirelessly six days a week organizing parties for young and elite clients who were jaded by everyday life. He spent days pleasing their outlandish requests to have memorable parties. Some wanted absurd amounts of alcohol served in gold cups, others asked for circus freaks to make up the serving staff. Once, a young man celebrating the completion of his PHD thesis, asked for a human sacrifice. For the right price, Javier could fulfill any wish.

After years of catering to the rich and eccentrics, Javier Janus woke up feeling worn out and unmotivated. After searching around for a solution that could fit his personality, he found an underground hospital without a name but with a slogan: Where every day is a new day. Despite his aversion to such forced optimism, Javier made an appointment thanks to a referral from one of his clients.

Stepping out of the preparation room, Janus looked at the nurse with a stern expression and nodded, holding tightly to the small towel around his waist.

The halls were white and sterile, devoid of life. The sound of the nurse’s heels resonated loudly, creating a hypnotizing rhythm. Javier followed behind, his eyes on her behind and enjoying how the muscles flexed with each step.

She led Javier to a large room with a domed ceiling. The walls and ground were covered with gold tiles. In the center was a pool filled with a green jelly-like liquid. Electric wires bordered the pool, making a low humming sound. He looked around, trying to keep the fear from showing on his face. He nonchalantly took a few steps towards the pool.

“So, I just need to stay in the pool and everything will be fixed?” He asked.

The nurse staid back, her hands neatly tucked behind her back. She had a smirk on her perfect red lips as she replied:
“Yes sir. We will come get you when sufficient time in the pool has passed.”

Javier dipped his left foot in the pool and was surprised by how warm it felt. He then sat down on the edge, soaking his legs. He enjoyed the viscous feeling as he wiggled his toes. His gaze fixed on the green liquid as images of the ocean came up. He wondered if there was ever a time he visited the ocean.

When he heard the door close after the nurse left, Javier breathed a sigh of relief and discarded the towel. He then jumped into the pool and immersed himself completely. As he floated and let his body relax, soothing music started to play. Javier closed his eyes, letting his mind go blank.

“What would you do if every day was a new day Mr. Janus? What else could you accomplish if you didn’t have your past dictate your future?” The soft woman’s voice blended with the music, giving a pleasurable feeling in Javier’s mind.

Suddenly little electric shocks could be felt. They attacked Javier’s body randomly like a phantom predator trying to exhaust him. They weren’t painful shocks and he knew to expect them. He simply tried to keep his body relaxed as the doctor had explained.
Time slowly passed in that manner and it didn’t take long for Javier to doze off, floating in the green liquid. Visions of his day danced around, only to fade away in the darkness. He saw himself having lunch with his girlfriend, arguing; but he couldn’t remember what the argument was about. Then, he was in a limousine with a client, discussing details of an upcoming party. Again, he could not recall the details and the image simply faded away as well. This continued until there were no more images and only darkness.

He woke up in a hospital bed, feeling dizzy and confused. Sitting up, he was faced with his tired reflection and a message written on the mirror.

Good morning!
Your name is Javier Janus.
Who else can you be for the rest of your life?

Stumbling out of bed, he found his clothes and dressed slowly. He was feeling like he had just spent a night partying. With that thought, came the realization that he wasn’t certain what such a night would involve.

He found his car easily as it was the only one in the parking lot. There was a note on the door with an address. Unquestioning, Javier proceeded to drive to the address. It took him to a tall office building, looking sinister with its tinted windows.

“Who would work in such a place?” He wondered out loud.

Looking down at the note, Javier noticed it also mentioned the twentieth floor, main office.

“Shit,” was all he muttered before heading up.

There was no one else in the office. He walked around, hesitantly. There was a kind of waiting room with seats and magazines. The desk where the secretary would be was clear of clutter, every pen and pencil neatly aligned. Javier then walked into the office and was overwhelmed by the luxury that greeted him.

Still hesitating, he slowly walked to the desk. The carpet amazed him as he thought how impractical it was. The cost of cleaning would be outstanding.

He slowly sat down at his desk and noticed another envelop. Inside was a simple white paper that said:

You are the organizer of a party company.
You cater to extravagant clients.
Your secretary’s name is Eileen.

At the bottom was written:

Where every day is a new day.

Janus sat back in the chair, wondering about his day to come. An hour later, a mousy looking blond woman walked into the office. She let out a small cry when she saw him sitting quietly in the dim office.

“Mr. Janus! You’re here early!” She stumbled with her words, looking left and right nervously.

“Yes, Eileen. I thought I’d get an early start.” He smoothly replied, carefully placing his hands on the table.

The secretary gave him a strange look.

“Is something the matter?” He asked.

Eileen shook her head, biting her lips. She was obviously nervous about speaking her mind.

“It’s just that…well, Mr. Janus…you look different.” She explained in a weak voice.

“How so?” He innocently asked.

“You’re not scowling.” Her dead pan answer gave Javier pause. He looked at his reflection in the computer screen. His soft features were kind and inquisitive. There was no anger or bitterness etched anywhere. He tried a few faces then turned to the young lady.

“Is this better?” He asked.

She bobbed her head, backing out of the office.

Javier Janus shrugged it off and went on with his day. He called his clients, making appointments and mapping out details for upcoming events. When he kindly asked his secretary to bring him some juice, she brought it with shaking hands. It came as a surprise to Eileen that, when she spilled some juice on her boss, he did not fly in a rage.

Half way through a meeting with a client, the woman stopped, her arms crossed on her chest.

“What’s wrong with you? You use to tell me what I want for my parties and made this so easy! Now you’re asking for my opinion. What is this?” She asked.

Javier had no response. If that was how she felt comfortable with him, he needed to oblige. He proceeded to change the set menu for something he believed was more appealing. It was strange but Javier felt he had to accommodate his client.

At the end of the day, the party organizer was exhausted. His head throbbed from adjusting himself for all the different people he encountered.

A beautiful brunette walked into his office. She wore a small dress that barely covered her assets. In her arms she held a ball of fur that looked like a gremlin. With bright red lips, she smiled and sat on his desk.

“Hey baby, ready to go? I’m terribly hungry and need a martini real bad.” She declared, planting a kiss on Javier’s forehead.

“I’m sorry…who are you again?” He asked, feeling confused. He didn’t recall any notes about such a woman.

Her eyes went from adorable and flirty to angry and confused. She made a pout with her ruby red lips.

“Is this some kind of sick joke? We’ve been in a relationship for the past two years!” Her voice became sharp and high pitched.

Javier simply sat, looking at her. He did find her attractive on a superficial level. However, he didn’t feel any pull towards her that would make him want to even talk to her. He had trouble imagining being in a relationship for two years.

She looked into his eyes and snorted.

“You’re…straight? I mean, you haven’t taken anything, have you?” Her questions were weakly masked statements of the obvious.

“Well, no! Of course not!” Javier felt insulted by such insinuations.

“It’s that place you’ve been going to! Every time you come out different! I hate it! I hate you!” She hissed. Then, to prove her point she spit in his face and stormed out.

Five minutes went by before Eileen popped her head in the office and asked:

“Shall I send Trixie the usual apology flowers?”

“No, that won’t be necessary,” he mumbled as he cleaned the spittle dripping on his cheek.

Javier sat in his office all night, looking at the note informing him of his job. The sentence: Where every day is a new day! mocked him. What was the point of embracing every day as a new day if the people around treated you the same as before? Javier felt that they were forcing him to stay the same. What would it take, he wondered, to truly have the change he desired?

With nowhere else to turn to, Javier drove back to the establishment where his day started. There was only one car parked, only one light seen from the outside. It could have been that the building was deserted for the night, except for one workaholic.

However, he knew better. It was another customer getting the treatment.

Javier entered the building with confidence. He walked past the security guard and straight for the elevator. He knew to go to the top floor where his existential angst might be solved.

“Mr. Janus! What brings you back to us so soon? Is everything alright?” The nurse with the red lips smiled but her eyes were worried.

“No, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I need to talk to the doctor.” He declared.

The nurse calmly led Javier to another room. It was a big room that felt familiar though he couldn’t remember ever being here. At the back of the room, sitting at a mahogany desk, was a woman in a white lab coat. Her dark blond hair was cut short, to keep from being a nuisance. She wore no makeup. Her features were simple and plain. When she looked up and saw Javier, she smiled a professional smile.

“Mr. Janus, what brings you to us at such a late hour?” She had a deep voice that spoke of years of smoking and education.

He sat down, looking around. Now that he was in front of the doctor, he didn’t know where to start.

“You have a problem with this new start you were given?” She asked, carefully placing her pen back in its designated place.

“The gaps in my memory are bad. I couldn’t remember my girlfriend.” He declared.

“What did you expect Mr. Janus? You’ve been getting the treatment too often. We warned you of the possible side effects. In your own words, you said you did ‘give a flying fuck’s ass’.” Countered the doctor.

“What are you talking about? Last night was the first time I came.” Javier cried, feeling uncomfortable.

The doctor, still smiling, reached back to where she kept her clients’ files and placed his on the desk. She showed him multiple entries, all with different dates.

“In the last year, you’ve come a total of seven times. We’ve erased your short term memory and habits, true, but in the process your long term memory has suffered. We don’t know what long term effects there will be. Not to mention that when you came to us, your body was heavily damaged by all the drugs and alcohol abuse.” She coolly explained.

Javier was baffled. He couldn’t remember any of the other times at the clinic. In front of him were pictures and signed documents. He wondered how badly his mind was damaged.

“Last year, when you first came to us, you were a wasted person. You said you were sick of living. We gave you a new start. Our procedure erased all those preconceived notions that pushed you to constantly make the same choices. Yet you kept coming back. What is it that you are missing Mr. Janus?” She asked with earnest eyes. This was a woman who always accomplished her goals.

He licked his lips, looking over all the pictures and reports. In his handwriting were tales of debauchery that made him sick and tired of life. It continued with his need for a new start to find a new meaning to his life.

He was given more than one chance and yet found himself at the same place. What elements were preventing him from moving onto a better, more fulfilling life?

“It’s the people around me. They react to me as if I was the same person. When I don’t react the same, it causes trouble and I have to go back to my old self to make it better.” Javier complained, sitting back on the chair.

“So you give in to their reality? Does that sound like the proper way to start a new life? Mr. Janus, what more do you want from us?” The doctor opened her hands, looking bewildered.

“Write notes to the people in my life. Explain to them the procedure.” Javier instantly replied.

The doctor sighed, slowly shaking her head. She couldn’t understand how to explain to her patient that once the procedure was done, it was all about his own choice. The first few times she told him and yet he kept returning, with different excuses every time.

“Mr. Janus, your personality is very…how shall I put this? You are addicted to being addicted. When you were a child, it was sweets. Then, sex and alcohol took over your world. When that became predictable, you moved on to drugs. Now, it’s erasing yourself. Do you realize that these cycles are all your choice?” The doctor asked, pointing to the papers on the table.

Javier tore everything up, throwing the pieces in the air. There was a violent desperation to his action that scared the doctor.

“I don’t give a flying fuck’s ass! Just fix this! I give you a lot of money for this so you better damn well give me what I want!” He yelled.

“And what is it that you want?” She slowly asked.

“I want a blank slate. To have a real fresh start.”

The doctor smiled and called in the nurse with the red lips.

“Miss Sorell, please prepare Mr. Janus.” She asked with a calm and commanding voice.

The nurse looked surprised. She opened her mouth as if to say something yet thought better of it. She led the way for the patient.
Javier went through the routine of undressing and going to the pool all on his own. Walking naked down the hall, he listened to the nurse walking behind him and wondered if she was staring at his behind.

Jumping in the pool, Javier thought of the ocean. His world soon went dark.

The cry of gulls woke him from his slumber. He opened his eyes and saw sand and the shore, washing up and licking his toes. He sat up, feeling nauseous and weak. All there was around him was sand and water. There wasn’t a sign of civilization to be seen.

“Where am I?” He mumbled to himself.

Looking down at his hands, he felt a strange sensation of familiarity. The problem was that he was missing many words to make sense of his story and identity.

“Who am I?”


Our identity is our choice.

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By Kala Séraphin

From the outside, the building looked quiet and uninviting. Large, tinted windows covering the facade spoke of secrets known only to the brave ones who dared to breach the entrance. Vera was such a brave soul. By the lazy shuffle of her walk, one could easily mistake her for a fool blindly entering a dragon’s den in search of some warmth. She entered the establishment and had to stop at the entrance. Blinding lights greeted her, making her blink hard and her eyes fill with tears. Once adjusted to the neon lights, Vera was greeted by a large computer screen with pictures of various drinks they offered. Hot coffee in a glass mug, teas of all kinds served in animal shaped teapots and sweet concoctions with whipped cream to tantalize people with sugar cravings all danced on the screen.

Vera, shoulders hunched and hood covering her head, went to line up behind a short procession of people just as eager as she was to hide their identity. She kept her eyes down cast, shifting her weight from her left foot to her right; unable to remain still. Her batteries were running low and she was eager to recharge them and to be reconnected.

Finally her turn came up. Vera quickly chose the most sugar filled drink and pressed the button to order it. As her order was being processed, the screen went dark and she had a glimpse of herself. Bloodshot eyes looked back at her with desperation. Dark circles gave away her sleepless nights. Vera was stunned to see how shrunken her face had gotten. Sharp cheek bones and ashen skin complimented her tired eyes. It gave Vera a moment to wonder when she last had a proper meal.

It was a brief moment of sobriety that quickly dissolved once her drink arrived. She found a seat in a dark corner and took out her Life-Line and plugged it in a charger that was built in the table. A sigh of relief escaped her chapped lips as she began to look if there were any messages that waited her attention. She lost herself in a cyber world of pictures, games and media created to distract people, offer them comfort and short lived pleasure. Vera’s eyes never left the small screen, not even when she would sip her drink.

All her moves were carefully practiced. This evening was no different than others, yet at one point, her grip on her mug slipped. The hot drink spilled all over her Life-Line and the mug cracked the screen. Vera cursed loudly and tried to save the device. It was to no avail. The broken screen would not light up again.

“No, no, no, no…” She muttered, trying to shake it back to life. By then, tears started to fill her eyes.

Her hands began to shake as she wondered about all the activities she was missing. Vera felt brutally cut off from the world. She dropped her head on the table, her hair soaking in the spilled drink. She began to cry, letting the tears mix in with the sweet milk.

A few of the other patrons glanced in her direction. They pitied her with glossy, tired eyes but none dared to put down their Life-Line to go offer any help. A moment passed and they were back in their own digital space, trying to connect to a world they could never quite grasp.

Vera lifted her head, slowly, as if her life were slowly draining from her being. She was intrigued to see a dark man sitting across from her with a serene smile. He had a gray beard streaked with black; yet his eyes were youthful and sparkling with life. Vera felt hypnotized by the man’s presence. She had only witnessed such peaceful presence in videos. He kindly offered her tissues to clean the mess that had spread over her face, hair and arms.

As she mopped up the wasted drink, Vera studied the man. He was large in stature with a round belly. His hands were dried, cracked and covered in calluses. He held himself straight, his shoulders back and his chin lifted with confidence. It was a very strong posture. What surprised Vera the most from her observation was that he wasn’t holding a Life-Line.

“Thank you,” she finally said; her voice raw from not being used.

The man’s smile grew with ease.

“My pleasure. You look distressed. Is something the matter?” His voice was deep and soothing.

Vera looked down at her Life-Line, cracks covering the screen and spreading like intertwined veins. It lay in a puddle of dark liquid, useless. The man followed her gaze and slowly nodded.

“Ah, I see. How fortunate for you. The powers that be have given you a chance to free yourself.” He said, flashing Vera a bright smile.

Her eyes grew wide in disbelief at his point of view. She felt far from free. On the contrary, she felt trapped in a bubble, cut off from all of existence. She didn’t know what her friends were doing or what videos were being circulated. The opportunity to compare the weather with different countries was taken away. Vera could not make her presence seen and so she feared people would forget her.

“I’m not free! I can’t do anything. I’m stuck, unable to contact the outside world.” She heatedly exclaimed.

The man, still smiling, picked up the device, looking at it in different angles. He then placed it back on the table and dropped his heavy fist on the already broken screen. He innocently looked inside at the wires and broken glass.

“I don’t see any of your friends in here,” he declared.

Vera started to cry again. She knew she couldn’t afford another Life-Line. Her world crumbled with the broken device.

“So, go out and make real friends. The kind of friends who can wipe away your tears when you cry.” Said the man, leaning back in the chair.

“I…” Her voice was caught and the words dissolved on her tongue. She didn’t know what to say or do. The concept of actually meeting people was strange to Vera. She wondered where to start without a Life-Line.

“The first step is always the hardest. What you need, besides a hot shower and a good meal, is a walk in the sun. You remember the sun, right?” He asked, his voice taking on a more nurturing tone.

All she could do was nod. It was enough for the man. He stood up and took her hand. Like a child, Vera followed him until they reached the doors. Beyond, the sky had a grey tone and the horizon began to take on pink hues. Fear spread through Vera’s body, making her feel heavy and unable to take another step.

“I can’t…” She whispered, uncertain what it was that she was so afraid of.

With patience and understanding, the man nodded, looking at the skies’ changing colours.

“The choice is yours, whether you acknowledge it or not.” He said.

“Why me? Of all the people here, why are you helping me?” She nervously asked.

The man let go of her hand and took Vera by her shoulders. His grip was strong and reassured her. His eyes looked into hers, radiating kindness.

“You wanted me to help you. It may be a small part of you, buried under all the senseless stimulations you’ve exposed yourself to.”

His words rang true for her. Vera looked over his shoulder at the rising sun. Something about the colours stirred a different feeling in her heart. This was more vivid than all the sun rise pictures she had seen before. A weak smile tried to creep up her face.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, taking a step towards the door. After a deep breath, she decided to go out the door. The cold air brought chills all over her body. The discomfort reminded her of her body and the sensation was amazing. Vera was happy to be outdoors and witnessing the dawn of a new day. All it took was a slip of her hand and her whole world had changed.

“I did ask for something different. I just didn’t imagine this is where it would take me.” She revealed, looking back at the man.

They walked down the empty streets, enjoying the calm morning. Soon, cars were seen on the roads and people, still sleepy and exhausted, made their way to their jobs or appointments. It amazed Vera to see them all mindlessly walking around, looking at their Life-Lines. No one acknowledged anyone else or stopped to let someone else go by. Everyone staid safely in their bubbles, feeling empowered by the information they gained through their devices.

“This is terrible! What kind of world are we living in! I mean, someone has to be controlling these machines and making people mindless!” Exclaimed Vera as she stopped and stared.

She wanted to invade their personal space and force them to see her, another living, human being. She thought that if she could break their Life-Lines, as it happened with her, they would see the truth.

“Remember, it’s all about choice. If you go and harass them, taking away the tool that is poisoning their minds, you’re not giving them a choice. What’s likely to happen is that they’ll resist any other views and be more entangled in their artificial worlds.” The man explained.

“So, what can I do?” Vera asked, feeling defeated by the reality of his words.

“Lead by example and keep offering choices but never make a decision for someone else. Show them a land much like yours and mine.”

Vera looked around, feeling sorry for all the people who missed the sunrise. She watched as young students walked to school, their eyes on their Life-Lines, unaware of their surroundings or themselves.

She took a deep breath, enjoying the cool air as it filled her lungs. She loved this new awareness. Something inside her was starting to wake up. Vera wanted to share this human experience with others and was determined to make people aware of their choices.






By Kala Séraphin

“Mr. Claringer?”

I looked up from the magazine I was mindlessly leafing through. The receptionist’s voice was like honey dripping on fresh, warm bread. Looking up at her reminded me how deceiving life could be. Her fat lips were pursed in an uptight scowl of disapproval. She wore gaudy make-up to hide something from the world. I cringed looking at her hair and wondered how long it had been since she last washed it.

I stood up and went over to her desk, smiling warmly. She was still unimpressed. She looked down at her computer screen and said:

“Dr. Geneva will see you now.”

Nodding, I walked through the green door that separated the waiting room from the treatment area.

It was my sister who suggested that I consult with Dr. Geneva. Once my little addiction to cocaine was discovered, all of my family tried to help me. They sent me to different rehab hospitals, changed my diet, forced me to read books and any other quick fix cures they could conjure up to feel like they were being helpful. My complacency convinced them that I was getting better. The moment they looked away, I was back to my old habits.

My dear sister, Annabelle, knew better. She simply gave me Dr. Geneva’s business card and told me to go when I was ready to live my life to my own full potential.

“Mr. Claringer, please have a seat.” Dr. Geneva was a tall man, even as he sat behind his desk, surrounded by all his papers. I was quick to notice that there wasn’t a computer in the room. There wasn’t a trace of personal attachment either. I saw no pictures or diplomas on the walls. There was his desk and chair and what looked like a massage table.

“You mean on the massage table?” I asked as I investigated the room.

Dr. Geneva nodded and I went to sit down. His face was smooth as a child’s. His dark blond hair, cut short in a conservative fashion. His blue eyes looked down neutrally as he took some notes on a blank piece of paper.

“Mr. Claringer, what brings you here today?” He asked, looking at me but not betraying any emotion or judgement.

“My feet,” was my automatic response.

He did not laugh or even twitch. The doctor kept looking at me. I realized he wasn’t willing to play along with any of my deflecting tactics.

“I’m addicted to drugs; cocaine to be specific. I let it take control of my life. I’m reckless and foolish but I don’t know why or care. I just keep doing it.” I explained, making light of the situation.

Dr. Geneva gave one curt nod, took notes and looked back at me with his empty eyes.

“What does it bring you, when you take this drug?” He carefully asked.

I thought about it for a moment. There were no patterns to my consumption. I would simply do it when I felt I had no room in my body. When life’s realities would feel too crowded for me, I would use cocaine to create the space to be. My days were filled with roles I had to abide by: son, brother, father, husband, employee, conscious consumer, tax payer and the list went on.

“Just…to be,” I finally answered.

“Do you really need such artificial means to do that?” Dr. Geneva asked as he wrote more about me on his paper.

“Do you really need to charge so much for your services?” I asked.

“Please lay down Mr. Claringer.” Dr. Geneva invited.

I complied, looking up at the ceiling, uncertain in my expectations. I thought of my sister, ever the positive soul in our family. From the beginning of my journey, she never once stopped smiling. Even after all the hospitalizations, she always greeted me with a smile.

“What are you thinking about Mr. Claringer?” The doctor stood at my feet, his neutral face intact.

“My sister and how she’s always smiling.” I explained.

“You want to be like her?” He asked.

I nodded. When Dr. Geneva’s hand pressed on the soles of my feet, my whole body jerked. I looked up and saw that he was just touching me, nothing else. After two minutes of quiet, he said:

“Let’s play a game Mr. Claringer. I’ll ask some questions and I want you to answer immediately, without thinking.”

He wrapped his hands around my toes now. They were strong hands with a firm grip. His skin was very soft, it reminded me of my wife’s hands when she use to rub my shoulders.

“Are you a man?” Dr. Geneva’s first question seemed obvious to me and a waste of time.

“Yes,” I answered automatically.

“Do you truly need to use drugs?”


His questions felt pointless. I answered easily, concentrating on the warmth of his hands on my feet.

“Are you trying to forget something?”

This time I hesitated for half a heartbeat. The answer came to my lips but I held it back by bitting down.

“Come now, Mr. Claringer. Filters are not needed here. Let me ask you this; how many lifetimes of mistakes are you trying to escape from?”

“More than 500.” The answer surprised me. I did not have it in my mind first and so I wasn’t certain where it came from.

Dr. Geneva looked thoughtful. He blinked once then moved his hands to my ankles. It was a very warm touch that I appreciated.

“Who are you running from?” He then asked.

“Annabelle.” Once more, the answer preceded the thoughts and confused me even more. I felt a strange prickle around my ankles.

“Tell me about Annabelle.”

“She’s my baby sister. She suggested I come see you. Annabelle always took a different approach to life. She’s a translator at a law firm. She works six months out of the year and travels the other six months.” I rambled on with a smile, not caring if my description made sense or not.

“The sister who always smiles? Do you think she’s more successful than you because of her lofty job?” The doctor asked, moving his hands to my shins.

“No, because she’s always smiling. No matter what mask she wears, she’s always so damn comfortable.” I replied.

The silence that followed my revelation was very uncomfortable for me. I squirmed a bit but found that Dr. Geneva’s grasp, now on my knees, was too strong. I wanted to get away from this conversation. It made the knots in my stomach turn and loosen.

“What is it about your sister that makes you so nervous?” He then asked.

I just bit my lips and shook my head. A flash of my sister came up. It was after my first heartbreak. I was thirteen and she was eight years old. I kept a calm and serious demeanor as my heart felt shattered by a girl I couldn’t even remember now. Annabelle came to me one night and hugged me, smiling that carefree smile of hers.

“She’s five years younger, so why it is that she’s wiser than me?” I blurted.

“Is your sister older than you in spirit?” Dr. Geneva calmly asked. He seemed undisturbed by the direction the conversation was taking.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t handle how strange it was. It was absurd how my sister’s spiritual maturity could drive me to use drugs and destroy my life. Once those thoughts floated by, I couldn’t help but hear an echo Oh, but it is.

“I was born first; it should be me guiding her and smiling for her. It’s how we meant it to be last time.” I complained, letting the knowledge I refused to acknowledge, surface.

By then, Dr. Geneva’s hands had traveled to my heart. Everywhere his hands had been felt warm and tingling. The knots in my stomach completely loosen, letting me feel lighter, my heart fluttered in agreement with the new feeling that was spreading through my limbs.

“Mr. Claringer, would you be willing to give up all those should haves and need to bes that you’re clinging to and just smile?” He asked me in a most natural, anticlimactic tone imaginable. Here I was, feeling great change in my body and finally facing some mental anguish and this man wanted me to simply let it go and smile.

That’s when I remembered what I’ve worked so hard to forget. The childhood memory I refused to keep. It was of Annabelle, of course, sweet and innocent as she could be at eight years old. I was a young boy of thirteen and foolish enough to think I was a man. When she hugged me, trying to console my broken heart, I took offense. As she wrapped her arms around me, I wrapped my hands around her small neck, shaking her head and hitting it on my bedroom wall. I swore at her and tore off her pink dress. I let out all of my confusion and rage on her with my fists. I abused her body and innocence in ways no brother should. Once my rage subsided, Annabelle simply picked herself up and smiled, always she smiled.

This memory, Dr. Geneva wanted me to let go. How could I when years of alcohol and drug abuse would not properly let me. I started to cry.

“She forgave you long ago. Don’t you think you should do the same?” Was his next question, this time asked in a whisper. “Some people come in our lives to help us in strange ways. Annabelle may have come to protect you from harming yourself or others. Would you have stopped had it not been for the guilt of molesting your younger sibling?”

I swallowed hard this twisted perspective. Still crying, I did not agree nor deny his suggestion. I did, however, understand the need to finally let go. Instead of moving on with my life, I had remained in that moment; though my mind would not let me be conscious of it. It was time for me to move on.

The doctor’s hands were on my head as I opened my eyes. All the physical discomforts that had once been my excuse to use drugs were gone. I felt ready to run a marathon.

Leaving the doctor’s office, I immediately called Annabelle. Her voice, as always, had a cheery disposition.

“Anna, I just called to say thank you. That’s the second time you saved my life.” I said. I was surprised to hear how light my voice sounded.

A giggle greeted my confession as she replied:

“I’d do anything for you, brother. It’s a promise I made a long time ago.”

I didn’t think I was ready to find out what she meant. We made plans for dinner. Maybe then I would ask her. Also, I might have enough courage to ask how Dr. Geneva knew of the memory when I never uttered a word about it, just had thoughts. At the moment, I was content with the lightness of my soul.


Are there any memories you need to let go?

What would it take for you to forgive and smile?


A maze-ing

A maze-ing


By Kala Séraphin

The group walked through the ruins of what use to be a magnificent garden. Broken statues lay as they fell long ago. There was the figure of a scholar, holding his marble tunic to his shoulder with one hand and holding out his other hand, pointing the way to knowledge. It lay on the ground, fingers towards to the sky. Vines wrapped around its body, leaving the hand aiming at the heavens exposed. The grass grew wild and long, dancing in the wind and revealing hidden treasures such as the drowned scholar. An old fountain could be found, broken and dry, holding only memories of a time when life was abundant and thriving. Now, the trees were sparse and small, barely any leaves growing. It was a quiet garden, without life to be seen. The slow flow of energy could be sensed by the most insensitive person. As one person from the group remarked: “How strange it is that such an open space with plenty of sun and removed from urban life did not grow wild and free.”

This cluster of tourist was no different than all the others that came before it; people from different cities curious to see green grass and trees. Some came to compare it with the history books, others; to get away from their busy lives that never stopped. Sometimes, there would come a person that simply wants to establish his superiority. They look at the withered trees and bushes and gloat as they compare it to their skyscrapers and high rise buildings; thinking humans evolved better than nature. All come to be a witness to life’s struggles; though they may or may not be conscious of it.

The guide was an old man who lived his whole life by the mountain. He collected stories of the garden and enjoyed sharing them with the few tourists who bothered to listen to him. He weaved tales of conspiracy and murder, claiming that once the fountain ran red with the blood of innocent citizens who chose a different way of life. He claimed that there was a time, when the garden still grew with glory, but not a soul could reach it. They would get lost in the mountain or lose their life trying. It was rumored that a ghost lived in the garden and would feed off of the people who tried to violate its sacred ground.

This old guide enjoyed sharing his knowledge yet very few believed or even listened to his stories. He would always start the same way, Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land, much like yours and mine. With this particular group, it was no different. He walked with a young girl who had the dimming light of wanderlust in her eyes. Her smile would not even show itself on her thin lips.

“These tales sound like simple stories to put children to sleep.” She claimed, kicking a stray rock.

The old man giggled softly, rubbing his grey and white beard.

“You may be right, young lady. But what if they were real? Wouldn’t that make the way you see the world that much more lush?” He asked.

She chose to be skeptical, holding onto her childhood disappointments.

“ ‘What if’ is a waste of time. How can you succeed in life if all you’re thinking is how things could be different?” She sneered at the old man, seeing him as weak and foolish.

He simply smiled and tilted his head to the sun, enjoying the warmth. It was something he often did, whenever he had the opportunity. His grandmother always said that the presence of the sun is not guaranteed and that every day people should be grateful.

They continued walking in silence. The guide, enjoying the fresh air and scenery and the girl, feeling uncomfortable, as if she were wrapped in a latex suit.

“What’s this?” A middle aged man asked, holding his camera to a tall structure of vines and bushes intertwined. It had an opening perfect for a child to walk through. Everyone’s attention went to it, wondering if it was natural or man-made.

“It’s a maze,” the guide simply answered.

“Who made it? Was it one of your fairies?” The girl asked, already losing her interest in the garden.

“Well, what if it were?” He asked, winking at her. “My grandmother said it was called a maze-of-change. People looking for new perspectives regarding problems, relationships or life in general would go through the maze and come out a different person.” He explained.

“What a load of shit,” she mumbled, kicking another pebble towards the maze. It rolled through the entrance and landed just beyond, pointing the way in.

“If you don’t believe in it, maybe you should go through it Clara.” Her friend suggested with a smirk.

She had her gaze fixed on the pebble. She felt like it was calling out to her, showing her the way to what her subconscious was searching for.

“Go ahead, what do you have to lose but time?” Her friend continued, nudging her towards the entrance.

“How do I get through it?” Clara asked, still keeping her eyes on the pebble.

“Just keep your right hand on the wall and follow it. That’s the quickest way through. But, this is a maze to help you change. These things aren’t suppose to be rushed.” The old man explained.

“I don’t care about change. My life is fine the way it is.” Clara exclaimed, taking a step towards the maze.

“So why bother go through it,” was his next question.

“I just want to,” and she ducked through the entrance of the maze, feeling even more closed in than before. She looked up at the high walls, perceiving golden stones under the layers of wild vines. The voices of her travel group were muffled by the golden wall.

“Follow my right hand…” she whispered to herself and started walking, following the right side of the wall.

The sun was bright and hot, making it hard for Clara to look up. She hunched forward, studying the beaten path. How many feet did it take to kill the grass? So long ago, what was it that people wanted to change so badly? Were they like Clara, desperate for a full make over but unable to admit it out loud?

This reminded her of the problems waiting for her back in the City. There were overdue bills pilling up on her dresser. They were pieces of paper that threatened to slowly take away life’s comforts like heating, water and electricity among other things. She had trouble keeping a stable job to pay these bills. Clara’s personality made it hard for her to take orders from people she did not respect. Her last boss found this out the hard way. One night when her coworkers were busy closing up for the night, her boss slipped his hand under her skirt to feel if she wore silk or lace underwear. Clara did not hesitate to communicate her displeasure by imprinting the keyboard of her computer on his cheek. Needless to say, she did not return to that job.

The rage she had felt that moment came back. Her heart pounded, pumping blood hard through her constricted arteries. Her cheeks flushed and burned. It felt like acid was rising in her throat. Clara missed a beat and fell to her knees. It knocked the wind out of her and the rage kept escalating. She started to cry. The tears came hot down her cheeks, every drop another reason why she couldn’t sleep most nights. Her head pounded since she kept all of her worries, pain and dissatisfaction buried at the back of her mind.

“I give up!” She screamed. “I hate my life. I want it all to change! Everything!”

A banal silence greeted her. The ground vibrated so slightly that Clara barely noticed it and paid it no mind. She picked herself up and brushed the dust off. There was nothing left to do but to find her way out of the maze.

She placed her right hand on the wall again and was surprised that it felt like ice. Clara went on her way, dragging her feet, wondering why she bothered to find her way out.

You are alive; is that not enough?” She spoke out loud, her mouth moved, but it wasn’t her voice or her thoughts. It was a softer voice. She might have sounded like that if she didn’t live a lifetime of disappointments.

“I’m tired of things always being a struggle,” was her shaky reply. Clara was comforted by the sound of her own voice.

Everything is about choice. What would it be like if you chose to live with ease?” The voice asked.

Clara, walking slowly, keeping her right hand on the wall and following the path, shook her head. She could not even fathom a life with ease. It was so ingrained in her to fight that she always kept an aggressive stance with tense muscles and a permanent scowl.

It is possible, Clara. You just need to let go,” the voice continued.

“Stop it! Just leave me alone!” Clara yelled, feeling insane for yelling at someone who wasn’t there. She stopped walking and looked around. Everything was still and quiet.

She continued to walk, focusing on the wall under her hand. It still felt cold under the vines. The gold was dark under all the plants. The wall was uneven yet smooth; as if the builders took so much time to make each individual stone perfect but forgot to make them the same size and just put all the pieces together anyways. The vines covered up the imperfection, letting the gold shine through sparingly.

What changes would make you live the life you desire?” The voice suddenly asked.

Clara tried to ignore it. She kept walking and looking at the wall. Of course she thought that her life would be better if she didn’t have to struggle to pay the bills. How happy she would be if she had friends that loved and supported her instead of keeping her in the negative state she remained. She also thought that being able to look in the mirror and love the face that looked back would make her life that much more enjoyable.

Her hand started to tingle. She removed it from the wall and saw that it was red. With her other hand she touched the wall again. It was now scalding hot. Clara wondered how come it took so long for her body to notice it.

When you get so use to something, you become numb and can’t feel when it’s time to let go.” The voice intoned.

Clara took a deep breath and decided to continue on, keeping her right hand to her chest. The throbbing pain that now started was all she could focus on.

Letting go is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.” The voice tried to be sympathetic. Clara felt mocked for her weakness. Now all she could hear in her head was the voice whispering Let go over and over. At first it felt like a soft breeze blowing, then it escalated to a swirling storm of words and pain.

Finally, the foreign presence escalated to a piercing scream, filling her head with a pain so deep and ancient. Clara held her head and fell to her knees. It was too much to stay conscious and so the world went black.

Clara opened her eyes to a dark, starry night sky. She had never seen so many stars shine so brightly. It made her feel so small and insignificant. How could she hold on to all that hate, pain and fear when the world held so much wonder? She couldn’t see it before because she was too busy holding on to the person she thought she had to be. Now, Clara was too tired of carrying such a heavy burden as unhappiness. She let go of it, told her heart that it was time to move on to something new.

She sat up, smiling at the stars. Her hand still throbbed yet her head felt clear. Clara got back to her feet and found her way out of the maze.

The old guide was waiting for her, sitting under a withered tree, watching the exit. He smiled brightly as she emerged from the maze. Clara looked tired but she smiled just as brightly when she saw him. He knew that the maze had done its duty.

“You made it!” He exclaimed, laughing.

Clara just kept on smiling. They went on their way down the mountain. Now the silence between them felt light and comfortable.

“Tell me a story. One of those stories from a far away land much like yours and mine.” Clara asked, carefully taking her next step down the rocky path.


Every day is a chance for us to choose what is best for ourselves~ Do you take the time to see what’s before you?

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