Noahn

Noahn

By Kala Séraphin

The boy tumbled down the grassy hill, following a butterfly. Without missing a beat, he picked himself up and continued the chase, jumping over logs, carelessly walking through shallow streams and finding himself deep in the forest that bordered the mansion he lived in. He wasn’t afraid of being so far from his home. When he realized just how far he’d gotten, the little boy shrugged and kept going, looking for the butterfly he was chasing.

He brushed his long brown hair out of his eyes. At six years old, he was still careless about his appearances. His caretaker, Gemma, always forced him to bathe and keep his tunics clean. He, on the other hand, preferred to let nature affect him the way it wanted to. Most of the time, that meant mud stains all over the house, black nails and strange bugs in the folds of his clothes. Gemma and all of the household staff abhorred the sight of this wild child. It didn’t bother him. He loved being close to nature. He didn’t understand why, but it made him feel more complete and connected to a force bigger than his known world.

“Noahn…” It was a soft whisper, barely audible. Someone, a woman, was calling his name. He looked around, seeing trees, flowers, bushes, dirt, grass but nobody who could speak. He continued skipping around, smiling to himself for no particular reason. The sun filtered through the trees, playing light games with little Noahn. Then he heard the voice again, a little louder. Someone knew his name and was trying to get his attention. It couldn’t be anyone from his home because they were all morally opposed to getting dirty and so remained at a safe distance from the forest.

Noahn walked around, searching, curious. The voice called him out, guiding him deeper in the forest. He came to a clearing and found a strange looking tree. It stood tall with delicate long branches reaching for the ground. The bark wrapped the tree in white with gold veins running through. The leaves, red as blood, swayed left and right though there wasn’t a breeze to be felt.

The little boy felt life radiating from this tree. It was different from the other trees that surrounded him. It pulled energy from the forest to it as opposed to giving off energy. Noahn followed the pull. He placed a chubby little hand on the tree and felt a subtle vibration. He knew this tree to be different though he didn’t understand why or how. Instead of trying to find answers, he simply sat down, leaning on the tree. The quiet of his surrounding combined with the warmth of the sun lulled him to sleep.

Dreams of his mother took over his mind. He couldn’t picture her face since he had never met her. Every time her presence came to his dreams, it was through a song. The soft melody filled his head and never ceased to have a calming effect. It was a lullaby Noahn had never heard while awake and could never recall when he roused from his slumber. He had strong feelings that this was what his mother would sing to him if she were still alive. She had died soon after his birth. Gemma said it was a disease of the blood. Noahn once overheard the cook whisper tales that his mother was murdered. Though he couldn’t understand tales of grown up gossip, Noahn felt that the truth was much bigger than what his household knew.

The song from the past quietly faded and arms wrapping around his small body woke Noahn from his sleep. He felt safe and loved in this strange embrace. Opening his eyes, he saw a beautiful lady with long, blood red hair and eyes of liquid gold. She smiled down at the little boy and caressed his hair.

“You have her eyes.” She said. It was the same voice that had called him to the tree.

Looking around, Noahn realized that the strange tree was no longer there.

“Who are you? Whose eyes do I have? Where is the magic tree?” He let the questions flow as he disentangled himself from the embrace.

The woman was not alarmed by the inquisition. She continued to smile as she sat where the tree was a moment ago.

“I’m aware of your people’s custom of giving names. You can call me Arbora. You have your mother’s eyes. The tree that you saw is right where you last saw it,” she answered in an amused tone. She had a strange accent he was unaccustomed to.

The mention of his mother caught Noahn’s attention. He focused on the woman in front of him, sensing the same energy that the tree emanated.

“You knew my mother? Can you tell me about her then?” He asked.

Arbora took his hand and sat him on her knees. She smelled of the forest after a rainy day.

“She was a great woman who loved to dance. Her love of life brought her close to the world beyond what you see. She could sense energy and could heal people. She held conversations with me and other life forms. For that, some called her mad while others worshipped her.” She explained, cuddling the little boy.

“Why did they kill her?” Noahn asked.

“One moment, I looked like a tree. The next, my form is similar to a human. It doesn’t matter because I am energy, just vibrating differently. Everything around you is just energy, vibrating at different frequencies. Your mother understood this. She died because sometimes, the easiest, simplest truth can be the scariest,” said Arbora.

It made sense to Noahn. He thought of the people living in the city and their worship of science and tangible truths. He once heard a man giving a lecture that declared, “If it cannot be seen, then it has no place in the science of life.” When Noahn innocently asked about love, he was laughed at. When he then asked about air, he was boxed on the ear.

“Noahn, your mother would want you to know this; don’t buy their stories as your truth. No matter how hard they try to convince you otherwise. Explore the truth for yourself,” continued the woman, looking the little boy straight in the eye.

He listened attentively, captivated by her golden eyes. There was something about them that put him in a trance. It wasn’t only the unnatural colour but their lack of expression. Not that Arbora’s eyes looked dead but the energy was unlike anything Noahn had seen before. Any word he could think about just wasn’t quite right.

“So, what should I do?” He asked.

“Be yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Go ask questions. Don’t stop asking, even if it angers people. Be in their world, but not of their world.” She replied.

Noahn nodded his head, taking in what she was saying.

The tree-lady then threw leaves at him and playing around. They skipped around, catching each other, looking for bugs and throwing more leaves. When the sun started to go down, Noahn stopped suddenly.

“I have to go home now. Can we play again tomorrow?”

Arbora smiled and kissed his cheek.

“You can come anytime, I’ll be here.”

He walked away, feeling light and happy, wondering if she felt the same. He looked back to wave but all he saw was the tree, standing strong in the fading sun. Noahn waved anyways and ran back to his caretakers.

Gemma was in the yard; drawing water from the well. She knew little Noahn would be covered in dirt from playing and so had thought it best to prepare a bath. As she noticed him walking out of the forest, she sighed.

“That boy is not going to like the news.” She mumbled, pulling out the bucket of water.

Misty, the servant, was coming out to shake out dust from the carpets. She looked at Noahn slowly approaching.

“What news would that be?” She asked.

“Word came today from the Council. They want him to start his education. They’re afraid that if he’s left to himself too long, he’ll find the Faith and start following it.” Gemma explained, planting her hands on her hips.

“How does that work?” Misty asked.

“I don’t know! Those men, rolling around deciding what’s right and wrong, are too afraid of the Faith to make sense half the time.” The old caretaker grumbled.

As Noahn approached, she proceeded to shower him with complaints about the state of his tunic, the dirt under his nails and other minor details. She rushed him to the baths to get ready for the evening meal.

Misty smiled, watching Noahn as he followed, mindlessly smiling and humming a tune while Gemma scolded him. She knew he would be alright. He was surrounded by the right people.

“Thank the Oracle.” She whispered, making sure no one heard her. She then went back to beating the carpets.

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Angler

Angler
By Kala Séraphin

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Val walked into the department store, rushing through the crowd. She was in a hurry to find panty hose. It was Saturday night and she had a date but no suitable panty hose to wear with her little black dress. She wanted to make a good impression on this mystery man. Val had considered going without but she didn’t want him to think she was trashy or easy. So it was, at the last possible moment, Val went on a hunt for panty hose.

“How can it get any better than this?” She cheered as the coveted undergarment was found.

Marc walked into the dark night club, shoulders stooped and hands in his pockets. He didn’t want to make eye contact just yet. He was still swallowing his pride from his canceled date with his girlfriend. With quick strides, he found his friends at the VIP table, already working on their second bottle of tequila.

“Marc! What are you doing? I thought you and the misses had hot plans,” asked Nate, waving his shot glass around.

Marc sat down and served himself a shot of tequila.

“What’s wrong? Little miss perfect wouldn’t give you head?” Sandy asked, giggling drunkenly.
After two more shots of tequila, Marc looked to his friends with irritation burning in his eyes.

“She canceled…again. Apparently, her work is giving her all these extra projects.” He explained. The tone of his voice going from irritated to angry as he poured himself another serving of tequila.

“Dump her; she’s just not that interested. Who cares? Stop whining and go get another girl.” Nate suggested as he took the bottle away from Marc.

“I can’t just do that. She’s an amazing girl and I want to be with her. I just wished she made me a higher priority in her life.” Marc mumbled.

Everyone else around the table rolled their eyes. They were all too familiar with Marc’s romanticism. His friends thought it was a bit over the top how he would focus all his energy on one girl. He would end up frustrated and angry when events would not go his way.

Sandy comforted Marc with a hand on his knee.
“Ok, we get that. Maybe, just for tonight, you can put that perfect girl aside and find someone here. I think fucking someone’s brains out will help with the frustration.” Her suggestion came naturally, with a nurturing tone to it.

“Shut up Sandy! Marc’s too much of a knight in shining armor to do that.” Nate’s comment came out clumsily as he fumbled to get another drink ready.

Marc sat back, brooding over what his friends were insinuating. He looked over at the crowd of bodies, moving and gyrating, thinking themselves the best dancers. Some of the girls were kind of attractive to him. Marc couldn’t picture himself kissing any of them, let alone sleeping with them.

He was firm in this belief until he saw a cute redhead walk in the club. There was something about her bright red hair and pale skin. It was as if she was shinning in the darkness of the club. It sent a strong shiver down his back. Marc followed her with his eyes as she moved to the bar. He licked his lips and studied her. She waved over the bartender who took her order. While waiting, she looked around innocently, bobbing her head to the beat of the music. Her cocktail arrived and she took the first sip with closed eyes. Right then and there, Marc knew he needed her. Watching her made his primal urges surface, whispering of impending conquests.

Sandy noticed her friend’s attention and smiled. She put a drink in his hand and whispered in his ear:

“Go get her tiger.”

Marc slowly weaved his way through the crowd, dodging drunken couples and clumsy dancers. He made it to the bar only to find that the redhead was gone. He looked around, disappointed and went back to sit with his friends. He continued to drink and brood, imagining the redhead.

The music pulsed loudly, inviting the inebriated guests to move in what looked like a mating dance. As the night wore on, the crowd thinned out as couples stumbled out, arm-in-arm. Marc was about to leave when she sat at his table, uninvited. She had a cocktail in her hand and a smile on her red lips.

“Hi.” She had a strong Slavic accent.

Marc blinked once, twice and leaned on the table to get a better look. It was indeed the magnetic redhead. At a closer range, Marc felt even more attracted to her. He felt a pull towards her.

“Hey, hi. How are you?” He mumbled his first sentence in hours. His tongue was heavy with alcohol.

The girl made a strange, upset face which looked endearing to him.

“I had a date but he stood me up. It took me so long to get ready that I decided to go out alone anyways. Every guy I’ve talked to were mean or rude. This is such a horrible night.” As she explained her failed plans, the girl slid closer to Marc.

“I understand. My girlfriend canceled on me too,” Marc quickly replied. He instantly regretted the mention of his girlfriend. It reminded him of the dishonorable plans he had, making him feel guilty.

The girl was not distraught by the comment. She snuggled closer to Marc and whispered in his ear:
“Would you like to help cheer me up?”

As he enthusiastically nodded, Marc wrapped an arm around her waist. He felt two small bumps on her hip.

“What’s that?” He asked without thinking.

“They’re cysts. It’s nothing serious; I get them every now and then.” She explained.

There was another moment of doubt as Marc moved his hand away from the strange growth. Because of all the alcohol in his system, he ignored the warning sign and continued to flirt with the beautiful woman. Their conversation fumbled around superficial introductory banter. After exchanging names and hobbies, the couple decided they needed a quiet place to continue talking about sushi restaurants.

It was a short taxi ride to Marc’s apartment. The couple stumbled to the elevator. Marc tried to kiss her, yet she kept holding him back, asking him to wait just a little longer. Being at close proximity made him more aware of the energetic pull she emanated. It was a warm and inviting aura that promised sensual caresses and exciting sensations. Marc felt compelled to press his lips all over her body.

Within seconds of entering his home, Marc pulled off his sweater. She dashed into the bathroom, quickly locking the door.
As he waited, Marc discarded his pants and paced through the living room and kitchen, feeling the tension rise in his gut. He was anticipating the sweet relief of the beautiful redhead.

A picture of his girlfriend on the refrigerator door gave Marc a moment of hesitation. He looked at it, admiring her beautiful smile. How could he so easily dishonor her trust by sleeping with a stranger he met in a club? Was following his impulses the right course of action? If he had intercourse with her, would that make him no better than mindless animals? Then again, were animals truly mindless? What if the secret behind humanity was to let instincts prevail and live less by restriction? All these thoughts danced in his mind as Marc started to regain some lucidity.

The strong pull suddenly called to him again. He turned around to find her standing naked. Her body looked so beautiful and soft. He let his vision roam over her curves, enjoying the lines of her hips guiding his eyes to a territory of secret treasures. His mouth watered when he noticed her erect nipples, calling out to him. He even found the two cysts on her hip kind of attractive.

There were no longer questions to the nature of humanity, right or wrong actions or even a girlfriend. Marc took two strides and had her in his arms. Her flesh was softer than he imagined; the warmth spread to his hands, up his arms and through his body. Marc had reached his boiling point in desire. He pressed his lips to her neck, feeling intoxicated by her perfume. She tasted as sweet as he imagined. His adrenaline coursed through his veins at an alarming speed. His heart beat hard against his chest; his hands trembled as they roamed her body urgently. The excitement reached a level Marc had never felt before. He thought that at any moment, he might explode with pleasure.

Suddenly, Marc noticed that all these sensations were telling him something different. Her scent became suffocating and the warmth of her body started to burn. He wanted to pull away but found that he couldn’t. There wasn’t any feeling in his lips and his jaw was locked. He panicked when he couldn’t move his hands from her back. There were no longer any hands to move. They melted into her back, slowly consuming him. Marc’s face continued to meld with the throat he was kissing. Soon after realizing what was happening, he stopped struggling and let himself be consumed by the beautiful stranger until there was nothing left but his testicles jutting out of her right ribs, looking a lot like two cysts.

Val went to the bathroom, feeling full and satisfied. As she slipped her black dress on, she hummed an old Broadway tune. She adjusted her make-up and hair, smiling brightly. After the two offerings of the night, she was certain to have at least one baby by one of them. She was excited to finally become a mother and looked forward to all the stages of motherhood.

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An uncommon love story for Valentine’s day.

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Perspectives

Perspectives
By Kala Séraphin

The two men stood before the painting, scrutinizing it as if the future of art depended on it. They took notes and made faces; they looked at each other, unimpressed and bored. After an hour of studying the giant picture, the tallest man in a bright orange suit said:
“It’s crap.” His deep voice was flat and devoid of emotion.
“Absolutely! I can’t believe this piece was submitted for our gallery. I mean, this person obviously didn’t summon the Angels before puking up this abomination.” The other man was shorter and slimmer. He wore a similar suit in different shades of blue. He had a large mustache dyed the same blue as his necktie.
A woman walked into the room. She quietly approached the duo, wringing her hands.
“Sheila, you’re wasting our time here! Why did you bring us this trash?” Asked the man in the orange suit.
“It’s different from all the others. Without assistance from the Angels, the artist exposes his humanity. I find it beautiful in its vulnerability.” She explained in a quivering voice.
In union, the men snorted.
“If people wanted the imperfections of humanity they would simply look in the mirror. That’s why we have the Angels! They make everything perfect and beautiful to look upon,” replied the man with the blue mustache.
They both walked out of the observation room, their noses upturned with disdain.
Sheila looked up at the painting. It was twice as tall as she was. The picture depicted a simple scene of a man and a woman in a lover’s embrace. He stood with one leg wrapped around her waist. She was a small creature in his arms, likewise wrapping one leg around his waist. She looked up to him and he gazed down at her, lust burning in both their eyes.
It wasn’t a new subject matter. Many artists had depicted the same scene before. What made this picture stand out was its lack of conventional beauty. The artist did not invoke the Angels to guide his brush and so there were many imperfections screaming out at the audience. This humane painting captured Sheila’s attention and she was determined to showcase it for everyone to see. She believed people needed to be reminded what humanity looked like.

“They didn’t like it, did they?” He walked out of the shadows as if from nowhere. He called himself the Artist. An unlikely man dressed in somber colours. He hid a receding hairline under a hat that created shadows over his face.
“They need time to think about it,” She lied.
“It’s useless Sheila. No one wants to look at some crazy picture I painted.” The Artist exclaimed, looking up at the painting. He was fond of his creation and wanted to protect it from the world and their ideals of beauty.
Sheila laid a hand on his shoulder. She wanted to comfort him.
“Who is she?” She asked, looking at the picture lovingly.
There was a strange expression on the Artist’s face. He reminisced of a time far from the present. It brought on waves of emotions both pleasant and painful. He bit his lower lip, struggling to keep a story from escaping.
“Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land, much like yours and mine… She showed me that Angels weren’t the only authority on beauty.” The Artist mumbled.
The following week, Sheila contacted all the people she knew in the art world. The reactions were all the same. This strange, imperfect painting had no business trying to slip into pop culture.
“There’s a queer feeling to it,” claimed an older gallery owner, as she gazed up at the couple.
“What do you mean?” Sheila asked.
“I’m not quite certain but; it reminds me of a lost love. It brings up horrible feelings that I don’t want to remember. Pain is best buried away and forgotten dear; just like this painting.” The older woman explained.
“But that’s what makes this painting so beautiful. Everyone can relate to it,” countered Sheila.
The gallery owner took off her glasses, shaking her head.
“You are right, dear. Everyone can relate to it. That’s exactly why it will never make it. No one wants to be reminded of their past pains.” She said and walked away, leaving Sheila alone with the painting.
She touched the canvas, enjoying the feel of the paint on her fingertips. She leaned in, pretending that she was the woman in the painting. Sheila imagined the strong arms holding her and felt appeased by it. Tears came to her eyes.
“I’ll find a way to make them see how beautiful you are.” She whispered.

Weeks went by and the Artist’s work received countless more rejections. Sheila persisted in approaching her friends in the art world. All agreed that a painting without the influence of the Angels was a waste.
By luck, Sheila ran into a friend that worked as an accountant for a filming company. After a lunch spent catching up and flirting, she explained to her friend about the painting. He hatched a plan to have the work of controversial art on television along with the Artist. Sheila thanked her friend, feeling confident that her mission would finally be successful.
Like in a dream, the day of the interview came. It was in a large recording studio that they all gathered. The audience seats were full of curious and eager art lovers. The hostess pranced around like a deer, greeting her fans as the staff behind the camera did all the work. The Artist sat by his painting, wearing his hat low upon his brow and sulking slightly. He did not like the idea of exposing himself through a media as cheap as television. Sheila had begged him to let the painting come to light and enlighten the public and begrudgingly, he agreed.

Finally, the show started. The hostess went on, talking about art and its predictability. She spoke mindlessly about starting a movement, beginning with the Artist’s piece. As it was unveiled, a small wave of murmurs spread through the audience. No one knew how to react.
The Artist took a look at his art, and then looked at the audience.
“I’m not trying to start a movement. This is what I created and that’s it. I’m unapologetic about it.” He said.
“But why didn’t you use the Angels to create it?” Asked someone in the audience.
“Because this is my art. I didn’t set out to offer the world perfection in return for fame and praise. I did it because it was in me and needed to come out.” The Artist was calm as he revealed his lack of motivation. It further confused the audience. There was a heavy silence until the hostess asked the simple question of why.
That was when Sheila stepped on stage, not to defend the Artist but to stand up for her feelings.
“I think it’s time we stopped hiding behind out Angelic world and bright colours. We’ve all had a moment where our hearts broke. When I saw this painting, I felt vulnerable in front of so much emotion. It made me sick but it also reminded me of how human I am.” She declared.
The whole audience felt uncomfortable. They looked down at their feet, they coughed, they whispered to their neighbors but no one supported Sheila’s attempt at bringing people down to earth.
“What about the Angels? If we weren’t meant to strive to be like them, then why would they interact with us?” The hostess asked.
“Flowers grow, bloom and share their scent regardless of people. If someone sees them and makes a bouquet, it changes nothing for the flowers. They continue to be as they be and smell as sweet as ever. Same goes for cats, dogs, birds and yes, Angels.” The Artist reasoned.
“Who made you the expert on Angels?” The question came from an unknown face in the crowd.
A finger rose from the Artist and pointed to the woman in the painting.
“She did. Imagine living in the shadow of a father who is an Angel and not inheriting a single one of his traits. She was all too human and yet she made it the most beautiful experience ever. In the brief time we are given, we spend our days trying to be what we’re not; Angelic. This woman embraced her humanity and shared her love like no other.” His voice quivered with pain as he explained to everyone his attachment to the artwork.

And so the best kept secret was revealed to all; that Angels were not simply a force that helped humans achieve a higher perfection in the aesthetics. They also possessed a hunger for humans. They were capable of reproducing with such an imperfect specie.

After the ruckus, Sheila followed the Artist until they were alone. She was desperate to learn more about this tragic romance. Lingering behind the Artist, she tried to get his attention. He dressed, walked down the halls, then outside to the parking lot all without acknowledging her.
“I’ve got nothing more to say to you.” He finally said, standing by his car, not looking at her.
Sheila let out a sigh and replied:
“I want to know about her! What happened?”
The Artist ignored her plea. He unlocked the door to his car and was about to climb in when Sheila stopped him by grabbing hold of his shoulder and called out his name. Out of anger, he spun around to face her and tore off his hat to offer her a clear view of his face.
His blond hair thinned out in a widow’s peak. His skin held scars of the past with wrinkles spreading from the corner of his eyes and mouth. Red eyes looked at Sheila with hurt and impatience. Dark circles bordered the sick eyes, making his cheekbones even more pronounced and sinister. It was not the kind of face to make women swoon.
“You want to know what happened? I met the Angel’s daughter and fell in love. She stayed with me for a brief moment until her whimsical heart took her away to far more exciting adventures. We are here for such a short span of time, she explained to me. She needed to be free. Yeah, free to fuck the next interesting looking guy she found.” As he released his secret, spit dribbled to his lower lip. It was hard for him to share his story in a controlled manner.

Sheila took a step back, stunned by the revelation of the Artist’s face and story. She had harbored a more romantic tale. Maybe the girl had died from some mysterious disease. Instead, Sheila discovered a very common ending. The Angel’s daughter just wasn’t taken by the Artist and decided to move on.
“I’m so…” but before she could finish her sentence, he held up his hand.
The Artist had no need for sympathy. Without a word more, he got in his car and drove off. Sheila watched as the car disappeared around the bend. She felt so empty. She went back inside and looked upon the painting with new eyes.
“It’s crap.”

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A.M.A

A.M.A

By Kala Séraphin

Grace stood in front of the fruit stand, studying the apples. They were very red and shiny. They all looked perfect under the neon lights of the grocery store. Looking down the aisle, she noticed that all the fruits were perfect to her eyes. Not a single bruise or misshapen fruit could be found. She felt a brief shiver go down her spine. There was something about perfection that Grace didn’t trust. Food, like people, that looked flawless on the outside always had something to hide on the inside. The woman pictured herself taking a bite from one of these perfect apples and finding half of a worm, still wriggling. She imagined the white flesh gone soft and black with some kind of chemical. It was enough to make her pass on and go to the checkout counter.

Standing in line, Grace drifted off, still thinking about the deceptive apples and shuddering.

It’s all an illusion.” The cashier’s sweet face was very serious and dark. Her eyes were bottomless pools of darkness. Grace was taken aback by the statement.

Excuse me?” She blinked a couple times as the cashier smiled politely and repeated:

Would you like paper or plastic?” Her face was clear, even innocent looking.

Grace, smiling yet feeling very confused, took out her own bag, confident in her part to save the environment. She packed her small grocery, paid and by the time she walked out of the store, the incident was out of her mind.

Outside, the sun was shining on a crisp autumn afternoon. Grace noticed a young pregnant woman with her arms full of heavy groceries. She thought of walking over to help her but a car drove up to the pregnant lady. After a short conversation with a person in the backseat, the pregnant lady got in the luxury car and they drove off.

Grace watched the scene and sighed. She looked around, wondering if a car would magically appear to pick her up. Many cars drove by, yet none stopped for her.

Where’s the magic when you need it?” She mumbled, walking to the nearest bus stop.

As she arrived at the stop, the bus opened its doors as if their timing were synchronized. Graced hoped on. It was mildly crowded yet she found a free seat at the back. It was seldom she ever sat down on the bus and so the eager commuter took advantage of the event.

Getting off the bus, Grace smoothly weaved her way through the crowd. It was like the people knew to move out of the way at the perfect time, right when she was behind them. As she went to cross a busy intersection, the lights changed instantly for the pedestrians to cross.

Enjoying her luck, Grace stopped to get a coffee. She quietly hummed to herself as she waited in line. Someone gently touched her elbow and she turned around.

The power to change is yours.” The man’s face was covered in scales, his eyes bloodshot. He held Grace’s scarf, trying to hand it back to her as he repeated:

Is this yours?” The scales were gone and his eyes looked healthy and inquisitive.

Grace smiled, once more to cover up the confusion she felt.

Yes, thank you.” Taking the scarf she had dropped, Grace turned back to order her coffee.

Walking to her apartment building, Grace pondered the days’ events. It was really odd how she heard such strange statements. The vision of the man covered in scales made it all the more unnerving.

It must be stress.” She concluded, stepping into her modest apartment. Her dog, Chance, greeted her at the door, jumping excitedly and barking.

Finally Friday! You know what that means, Chance?” She asked her little mutt as she scooped him up in her arms and covered him with kisses.

Tonight is game show night, tomorrow is cleaning time then a walk in the park. Sunday will be read a book in bed day!” Grace exclaimed.

She put her dog back on the ground and started to make dinner. At thirty six, Grace had decided to give up on a great love story. She lived alone with her dog, enjoying a quiet, introverted lifestyle. Her weekends were all the same, spent with Chance. She worked for a tea company in the trading department. It kept her busy all day and Grace was thankful for it. She didn’t want to have time to think about life and its meaning. It confused her too much to even consider religion. She kept herself occupied with work, television, crossword puzzles and reading history books.

Tonight, we’re having Alfredo sauce pasta with wine.” Grace declared, eagerly busying herself with the preparations.

She sat down in the living room with her dinner. Chance jumped up on the sofa and found a comfortable place to sit next to his mistress. Grace let out a sigh as she turned on the television. She took a slow, luxurious sip of wine, watching a commercial for plastic surgery. The actress started fat and miserable, looking drab and worn out. After visiting a team of dedicated doctors, she magically turned into a beauty queen. The final scene has the actress, in a skimpy bikini, walking on the beach with a bright smile, gawked at by men.

Grace snorted with contempt and started wolfing down her pasta. She stopped mid-slurp when she noticed that the actress was looking directly at her, with snakes interwoven in her hair and two extra arms growing from her sides.

What are you waiting for?” She asked in a perky voice.

Grace looked around, wondering if this was some kind of trick from the company that created the commercial.

Are you talking to me?” She asked hesitantly. She felt a bit odd talking to her television.

Obviously I’m not talking to the dog! He’s got it together. You need to wake up from this illusion!” The actress declared, crossing all four of her arms over her ridiculously perky chest.

I’m sorry, um… I’ll try my best tomorrow.” Grace didn’t know what else to say. Her television had never shown any concern for her wellbeing before.

This weak answer seemed to infuriate the actress. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, angering the snakes.

Would you let go of this submissive persona? It’s really unbecoming. You need to get your fat ass out of this illusion! You’re buying into all the lies they feed you.”

Grace threw her wine glass at the TV. It shattered in pieces, wine dripping over the set. However, the actress was still there, watching her.

You’re too human for your own good,” she sighed then disappeared. There was now the familiar theme song of the game show.

Grace quickly turned off the television. She was too upset by the strange occurrence. Chance came up to her face, licking her chin and whimpering quietly. Grace smiled down at her dog, scratching behind his left ear.

It’s Ok, boy. It was just a glitch. Everything is fine.” She was convincing herself more than the mutt.

She spent the remainder of the night cuddling Chance in the dark. The insults said by the actress swirled in her mind along with the other incidents of the day. Something about it made her feel strange and light inside, like there were feathers floating in her gut.

Her logical brain couldn’t catch up with the feeling. Grace spent the night thinking that she had lost her mind. There was no one for her to confide in. She had no family left, no friends and her relationship with her coworkers was always awkward at best. Chance was the only company in her life.

What am I going to do?” She whispered, starting to cry. Chance nuzzled at her neck, as if to reassure his mistress.

Grace fell asleep on the sofa with Chance in her arms. Her mind was filled with dreams of rabbit people, women with snakes in their hair, zombies in lab coats, men with tentacles and her dog, Chance, following her around. They were all disjointed images without any clear narrative.

When the first ray of the sun tickled her eyelids, Grace woke up feeling very exhausted. It took every ounce of her willpower to dress herself and leave the apartment with Chance, jumping around, eager for his walk in the park.

It was a windy late morning and Grace kept her head down. It was partially to avoid the wind but mostly out of fear. She was apprehensive about getting another strange message from a mutant person.

By the time she reached the park, Grace was feeling a little more confident. She looked up, drinking in the sun. Since she worked in an office, she seldom had the chance to enjoy nature’s beauty. Chance jumped at her feet, excited to be outdoors. After a brisk walk through a path bordered by trees, Grace unleashed Chance and started a game of fetch. It lasted an hour before her arm grew tired. Grace sat on a bench, feeling soar yet happy.

She scanned the park, keeping an eye on her dog, when a man stepped into her field of vision. He was tall and muscular. His skin was a light shade of blue and his eyes were bright red. He smiled, revealing steel, razor sharp fangs. It was enough to get Grace to her feet.

You need to wake up now.” He said with a voice as sharp as his fangs, yet with a soft, nurturing tone.

She ran, leaving behind Chance. Every person she encountered whispered messages as creepy as the man in the park.

Wake up!”

This is just a dream.”

Come back to reality.”

They all had strange mutations like tails, wings, fur and other strange endowments.

She closed and locked the door to her apartment, determined never to open it again. She screamed and cried mindlessly as she huddled in a corner, covering her face as if it could protect her from the world.

Her hysteria settled along with the sun. Grace was too weak to continue. She leaned back, still huddled in the corner of her bedroom. A sound caught her attention. It was the sound of barking. Chance had made it back to his home and wanted to come inside. Grace rushed to the door she had just vowed never to open again. He sat patiently, looking up with big brown eyes.

Crying, Grace scooped up her best friend, kissing him endlessly, feeling guilty.

I’m so sorry Chance,” she wailed. “Mommy is so, so sorry. I love you, you know that right? I’d never abandon you.”

Grace decided that a hot shower would solve all her troubles. With Chance happily trotting after her, she went to the bathroom and undressed. As the steam raised around her, Grace felt much of the tension in her body dissipate. She let out a moan of pleasure.

You know Humanfriend, this isn’t really fun for me anymore. I think it would be best if we went back.” To hear Chance talking with such a sophisticated accent was enough to knock Grace off her feet. She slipped and knocked her head on the side of the bathtub, killing her instantly.

Allamara opened her eyes, looking around, feeling unsettled by the end of her experience. Slowly, she opened the lid of the pod she was in and felt reassured to be surrounded by the familiar machines. She looked down at her body and knew the world was right again when she saw that her skin was an array of tiny mirrors. She touched her head and sighed gratefully when she felt her long floppy ears, also covered with mirrors. She twitched them a couple times to reassure herself that she was really back in her own body.

A man walked in the room. He had four tentacles coming out of his back, holding a clipboard, a coffee mug and a doughnut. He smiled, seeing Allamara awake.

How was it?” He asked.

Horrible! I had no recollection of who I really was. I spent my whole life quietly staying out of people’s way, always doing what others told me to do. I was unhappy but chose not to do anything about it.” Allamara complained as she stepped out of the pod, grateful to be stretching her legs.

On top of that, I died in the shower. I broke my neck or something. I’m never going back again!” She added.

The pod next to Allamara opened and a man sat up, rubbing his neck. He was covered in colorful feathers and had a long reptilian tail that slithered out.

Wow, what a trip that was!” He exclaimed with enthusiasm.

What happened to you?” Allamara asked, wondering why he was so happy from the experience.

Oh, some big guys terminated my life after you left. By the way, thanks for leaving me in the park! You couldn’t take a minute to pick me up before you had your meltdown?” He asked, jumping out of the pod. His tone was only slightly annoyed.

Allamara crossed her arms and huffed.

Sorry Baltazan, but I had my own troubles to deal with. You looked like you knew what you were doing.” She curtly replied.

You two can argue later. Now, headquarters need both of your reports. Go write them up.” Ordered the man with the tentacles.

Fine, I’m going. These humans were so weak. I wonder how they got to be so powerful.” Mumbled Allamara.

Baltazan patted her strongly on the back and said:

Who knows? Maybe we’ll find out next time we go.”

The comment was enough to anger Allamara. Her eyes grew wide as she scowled.

Never,” was her answer.

The Future holds endless possibilities Allamara.”

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Aside

The reunion

Image

By Kala Séraphin

Allan went over the table covered with trays of food. He wanted to confirm that all of Candice’s favorites were there. There was the cheese dip with crackers, deviled eggs, potato salad, chocolate covered nuts, tiramisu cake, cookies, vegetable and dill dip, salmon salad, black forest cake and a lot of alcohol. He had remembered all the foods she would have missed.

Candice was traveling for the last year as an intern to complete her degree in International studies. As her boyfriend, Allan missed her a lot and was very glad to have her back. He looked forward to doing all the things they use to do together. He planned to take her back to their favorite restaurant and sit at their usual table. He was already planning movie night, knowing that she’ll want the biggest serving of popcorn. Allan had researched the newest exhibit at the museum of civilization. He knew exactly what Candice would want to revisit upon her return.

For the first night, he had organized a surprise party with all of their friends from school.

“I got the flower cups, like you asked.” Bobby arrived, his arms full of paper cups, plates, cutlery and napkins. He was Allan and Candice’s best friend since childhood.

“Thanks, you can put them on the table,” Allan said as he adjusted some of the balloons.

“You look nervous.” Bobby exclaimed.

“Well, yeah. I haven’t seen Candice in a year. We sent each other some messages but you know her; she was completely absorbed by her work. I can’t wait to just hold her in my arms!” Allan smiled as he thought of his girlfriend, imagining her the way she was the last time he saw her.

“You know Allan; a lot has probably changed with Candice. A year traveling won’t leave a person unaffected.” Bobby warned.

Allan did not hear him. He went about getting the house ready for the party. The guests came in twos and threes, eager to be reunited with the guest of honor. When they saw the taxi stop in front of the house, everyone quickly found a hiding place and silence settled in the room. The energy of was electric and charged with expectation and excitement.

As the door slowly opened, everyone jumped out of their hiding place, screaming surprise! The wave of excitement quickly settled, being replaced by one of befuddlement. Standing in the entrance of Allan’s home was Candice with a giant bag of souvenirs and a tall dark Asian man. This was an unexpected addition to the night’s events. As she grasped the situation, Candice’s facial expression quickly changed to discomfort. She glanced over at Allan, then to her companion a few times.

“Hi guys! I’m so surprised to see you.” Her voice was strained and tired. She forced a smile and took the strange man’s hand.

“Who’s your friend?” Bobby asked, already finishing his third beer.

“His name is Batbayar. We met during my travels.” She explained, trying to sound casual. The man smiled nervously at the mention of his name.

“Candice, darling…I didn’t expect you to be bringing a friend.” Allan’s voice was nervous and confused. He couldn’t even hide this discomfort.

Candice, still holding Batbayar’s hand and leading him along, quickly went to the kitchen. Both Allan and Bobby followed, leaving behind a very confused crowd.

“Allan…Batbayar is not my friend in the normal sense of the term. He’s my husband.” She declared. Her stance was defensive. She was looking at the ground, keeping her voice steady and firm.

Bobby choked on his beer, spitting it all over Allan’s back. Allan’s eyes grew wide but he remained quiet. His face looked like a fish out of water trying to breathe.

“It’s not what you think. This isn’t about love. It’s more of a convenience issue.” Candice continued.

“Cause that makes a lot of sense.” Mumbled Bobby.

Candice gave him a dirty look as she replied with a cold voice:

“I didn’t come to talk about my husband or the choices I’ve made for myself. What I wanted was to talk to you, Allan. But not in front of all these people.”

“What did you expect? You were gone for a year. The man missed you. He wanted to celebrate your return.” Bobby quickly replied, his expression answering vehemence with aggression.

“Ok, fine. I should have said something. The point is, I can’t do this anymore!” She exclaimed. What she was keeping inside was about to explode. “I’m not coming back to be the sweet, convenient, predictable girlfriend you believe that I should be. I’m saying goodbye, for good.” Candice’s voice was flat. She held no emotional ties to what she was saying.

Allan, who was standing in quiet disbelief, blinked a few times. He heard her words yet could not comprehend the message.

“This is a bit odd. I understand if you’re trying to help this man out of poverty. I’m sure we can find him a job.” He stuttered.

Candice shook her head and sighed.

“It’s not about my need to help people either. I’m destroying who I was because I’m finally comfortable with who I am.” She revealed.

All of sudden, Batbayar raised his hand and said:

“Bathroom?” His heavy accent made it hard for even that simple word to come out clearly.

“Yeah, man. It’s upstairs to your right.” Bobby casually explained. Batbayar’s perplexed expression reminded Bobby of the guest’s difficulty with the English language and so he opted to guide him instead.

Allan reached out for Candice, wanting to find solace in her physical presence. He dared to hope that if he caressed her as he used to, that she’ll remember all their comfortable plans to live happily ever after. Candice took a step back. She was not willing to go back into his reality.

“When I was in China, the lights in my bathroom wouldn’t work,” she started, leaning back on the kitchen counter. “One night, I decided to take a shower, even if it was in the dark. Standing naked, the water blindly pouring over me, I went through my routine clumsily. I washed my hair when I found the shampoo; I brushed my teeth when it was both toothpaste and toothbrush in my hand. The point is, I couldn’t see, I wasn’t comfortable but I was ok.”

Silence followed the anecdote. Allan was too busy begging Candice with his eyes and so he didn’t grasp the story she was telling.

“I’m comfortable with not knowing about tomorrow. I don’t need you as a security blanket anymore.” She said as a final attempt to get him to understand.

Allan grabbed Candice by her waist as he fell to his knees.

“But I need you!” He declared loudly.

It was at the same moment that a guest decided to waltz into the kitchen, letting the other visitors witness his pathetic plea.

Candice pushed Allan off gently, whispering a curt goodbye. She found her husband and together they left the celebration.

Bobby helped his friend to his feet and said:

“Now THAT is a surprise party.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Lunch with Time

Lunch with Time

By Kala Séraphin

“It starts with a sandwich,” he said this to me in the most natural tone. It took me a moment to process the strangeness of it.

“Why do I have to eat a sandwich?” I asked.

He lit a cigarette, exhaling the smoke away from me. He shook his head, leaning over the table.

“You don’t have to eat it, just order one. She’ll know you when she sees you with the sandwich.” He explained, picking at crumbs on the table.

I took a sip of my lassi, thinking over the plan. It was so simple that I wondered what was behind it all. How could this situation blow up in my face? Marcus saw the wheels of my mind spinning.

“Would you stop over thinking things for one moment? I’m telling you, it’s that easy.” He exclaimed, stubbing out his cigarette.

I decided to trust him. From my coat pocket I took out the money he asked for. As he counted it out, I winced on the inside. It was enough money for a tattoo that I’ve been meaning to get. I knew that it had to wait. Some sacrifices were worth their demands.

I met Marcus at a party hosted by a friend of a friend. Someone told me he knew how to talk with Time. When I approached him about it, he arranged for us to meet at an Indian restaurant. Over tandoori, palak paneer and naan, we discussed arts, politics, mysticism and necrophilia. Only once all the dishes were cleared did he reveal the simple way to have a chat with Time.

“Let me get this straight. I go to this shit hole diner and order a sandwich. Any sandwich?” I asked. I wanted to get all the details sorted.

“Any kind you want. She’s partial to the roasted vegetable sandwich though. If you want to get on her good side, I suggest you order that one.” Marcus revealed, handing me a piece of paper.

“Ok, I order a roasted vegetable sandwich. Then Time is supposed to just walk in, sit with me and have a chat?” I continued.

“Yep, that’s it. Pretty awesome, don’t you think? Oh and don’t call her ‘Time’. It makes her feel abstract. Last I heard, she calls herself Kimchi.” He warned.

My blank stare amused him. Between soft giggles he explained:

“She took a trip to Korea and fell in love with the food.”

“So Time likes sandwiches and fermented cabbage…lovely.” I mumbled, looking at the paper. Marcus had scribbled the address of the diner.

He got up, a new cigarette in his mouth, and slipped on his jacket.

“It’ll be fine, Janice. Relax and ask her anything you want.” Marcus said. He squeezed my shoulder as a sign of reassurance, then left. The waiter gave me the bill to pay.

“Damn it, Marcus,” was all I mumbled as I paid the expensive meal.

The next day, I made my way to the poor part of town, looking for the diner Time loved so much. Walking down the street with my designer boots and spike collar made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if the people were looking at me because they wanted to rob me or because I had pink spiky hair, heavy black eye makeup and an outfit from an anime cartoon.

The diner was on a street corner. It had big windows facing the street. They looked like they hadn’t been washed in a long time. The sign said Rose’s Diner. Well, that’s what I assumed. The D and the R from Diner were missing. As I walked in, the smell of grease and cheap coffee overpowered me. I was glad that I had my latte earlier. The furniture looked uncoordinated, as if the owner bought whatever he could at a second hand store.

I chose a booth by the dirty window, inspecting the seat before I sat down. I took a wet tissue from my purse and cleaned it along with the table.

The waitress sauntered over and carelessly dropped a plastic menu in front of me. She placed a foggy glass of water just out of my reach, mumbled something and walked away. My impression was not quite favorable thus far.

Trying to avoid direct contact with the menu, I used a napkin to open it. I found their selection limiting and unappetizing. Most of the greasy sounding dishes contained cheese and meat. As a rule, those were two food groups I avoided. I found the roasted vegetable sandwich at the back of the menu.

Getting the waitress’ attention proved to be a difficult task. Every time I waved, it seemed like her gaze would wander off in the opposite direction. She was scrutinizing her cheap nail polish when I finally called out for her. Once more, she slowly sauntered over to my table and took my order.

After twenty minutes, the cook in the back to assemble what sounded like a half decent sandwich. What I got was an interesting take on a healthy meal. Sitting on a napkin wet with grease were potato wedges, and the sandwich which was a strange combination of lettuce, fried tomatoes, cabbage and mushrooms, sliced cheese and what looked like strawberry jam. I couldn’t bring myself to even touch it. I sat still, studying the food and waiting for Time to come find me.

“Everyone waits for me. That’s what’s so awesome about being me.” It was a strong voice of a woman who always gets what she wants.

I looked up and couldn’t contain my surprise. She was petite with short curled hair. Her small eyes twinkled mischievously at me. She wore a hot pink track suit with a bedazzled T-shirt with the words Eat your Kimchi in rhinestones. She had an arrogant smile that made me want to punch her in the face.

“Are you going to eat that?” She asked, eyeing the sandwich.

I pushed the plate towards the old woman, wondering how Time could be so tacky.

“Just like that, you arrive and I get to ask you any questions I want?” I asked suspiciously.

She took a bite of the sandwich, a glob of jam hanging at the corner of her mouth as she chewed.

“Isn’t it great when life is that simple? How can it get any better?” She asked me, still chewing the mix of vegetables, cheese, bread and jam.

“How do I know you’re really Time?” I just couldn’t let go of my suspicions.

“Ask me anything,” was her reply.

“What am I thinking now?”

Time put down the sandwich and gave me one of those looks you give to people who aren’t that bright.

“I’m not a freaking mind reader! I’m Time. But you can call me Kimchi. It’s cute.” She offered.

My cheeks took on a shade of red and went silent. Her tone was harsh and demeaning. I didn’t expect Time to be so rude.

“You kids these days! Always asking the wrong questions! Can you go faster? Can you go slower? Where are you going? Can you give me more? What’s your secret? Are you connected to the meaning of life? How old are you?” She made mocking voices for each question, complimenting it with a comical face. Then she pushed the potato wedges towards me.

“Here, eat.” The command wasn’t one I was willing to disobey.

“I once met a sweet young man who only wanted to hang out. That was nice. We ate a roast beef sandwich and watched people go by. The next day he left the country and I never saw him again.” That memory made her smile softly.

“Then I met the craziest boy! He had the nerve to demand that I collapse down to set him free! How can suicide be the answer? He just couldn’t accept that he chose to be here, like I did. Why would I kill myself for his pleasure?” She took on her mocking tone again, snorting then eating some more.

I didn’t know what to say. This was so different from my expectations. I imagined Time to be a motherly figure or wise grandfather with a long white beard and cryptic words of wisdom. Instead I had before me and old woman with a chip on her shoulder.

“Here’s something people never ask me. What do I want? Would it kill anyone to remember their manners?” She continued. It seemed unimportant that I was there. Kimchi continued with her monologue.

“I want to learn to make doughnuts. The really light and fluffy kind. I’d put sprinkles in coded messages. Only the smart ones with a sweet tooth would find out my secrets.”

“You have secrets?” I dared to ask.

“No. But nobody knows that! I’ll have those pompous philosophers giving themselves diabetes!” She chuckled at her plan then finished her sandwich.

“I was wondering…” I started with a weak voice. It seemed impossible for me to get a word in.

“Yes, I know sweetie. You were wondering about me. What you can do to change me or understand me. That’s why you came here. But look at me! I’m an old woman! Change and comprehension are out of the question. Just let me be with you. Enjoy these potato wedges with me. When I’m gone, be grateful for the experience. That’s all that life asks of us.” She said, taking my hand in hers. It was frail, covered with age spots and wrinkles yet I felt their strength.

For the next thirty minutes, I sat quietly with Time and ate cheap, greasy potato wedges. Then, she smiled her first sweet, happy smile and shuffled out of the diner. Kimchi was sure to push a couple out of her way, claiming ownership of the sidewalk.

It was a strange experience overall. There wasn’t a great shift in my life. I left with the same mind frame about the world. I was still a starving student that worked hard for her next thrill, I still had outstanding debts, but I was more grateful for it all. After all, how many people out there are conscious that all Time wants it to be enjoyed without preconceived notions or judgments?

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HIStories

Histories

By Kala Séraphin

IMG_0114bbwm

    My name is Hera. I’m just a normal person, like you or anybody else reading this. There’s nothing special about me. Every day I wake up, get my children ready for school and send them on their way. Then, I take care of our home, cleaning the mess my husband and kids made, restock the fridge and mend whatever needs my attention. I have a small business. I make raw organic cookies and sell them locally. I enjoy gardening, cocktail hour with my girlfriends and riding my pink bicycle by the river. Like I said, I’m a normal person

This story is about my grandfather. His name was Heraclitus but everyone called him Hera. It’s a story he told my mother many times and shared with me as well. It is the best kind of story. You know the one, with adventures, lessons and that starts something like: Once upon a time, not too long ago. In a far away land much like yours and mine.

You see, my grandfather loved mountains. He would spend hours staring at pictures or watching documentaries about famous mountains around the world. In his bedroom, he had a sculpture of each mountain he climbed.

At the age of seventeen, he was invited to hike the Bleeding Mountain. This was quite an opportunity for my grandfather. He would be the youngest yet most experienced of the group.

It wasn’t such a hard mountain to climb. The way up was a fairly steady slope upwards. What made it such a big deal was the history behind it. Long before my grandfather’s time, there was a famous garden at the top of the mountain. It was a nameless garden believed to have magical properties. My grandfather was told that the magic started after a young woman gave birth to a special baby right before her execution. People would have wounds heal quickly, diseases vanish or wishes granted after walking through the garden. However, no one from my grandfather’s generation was able to reach the top of the mountain. Accidents would occur, people got lost in the mountain or they would just give up.

When he was approached with the opportunity to reach the peak of the Bleeding Mountain, my grandfather could not let such a chance pass him by. He was quick to pack his bags and go off on a unique adventure to usher him into the world of real manhood.

He arrived before dawn at the designated meeting point. It was a small village with barely two hundred people living there all year round. There was one convenience store that also had a post office and pharmacy attached to it. Anything else the people needed, they had to drive three hours to another slightly bigger town.

“Are you Heraclitus?” The man that asked the question was old and frail looking. He leaned on a crutch and had the support of a young girl. His bald head and half his face was covered with red scabs that looked like the ravages of a disease. It was as if all of his vitality had gathered in his eyes, as they twinkled with mystery and lust.

“Yes, that’s me. You can call me Hera, it’s easier.” My grandfather replied. The old man assessed him and looked pleased.

“You will do very nicely.” He mumbled.

“Who are you?” My grandfather asked. He was not one to get shy when in the company of elders.

“I’m Sir. Robert Fallon. I’m the one paying you to take me to the top of the Bleeding Mountain. This is my granddaughter. Her name is Blossom.” The old man shook hands with my grandfather, once again assessing him.

“The morning will be here soon. Should we get started, Sir. Fallon?” My grandfather asked in the most respectful manner he could remember.

Sir. Robert Fallon gave a curt nod and began limping towards the mountain, accompanied by his granddaughter, Blossom. Hera, my grandfather, leading them slowly. The first hour was spent quietly. The strange looking trio walked on the clear path, taking in the scenery as the sun slowly crept through the trees. However, Hera was not one to keep quiet for long.

“So, why did you hire me to guide you through the mountain?” He asked.

Sir. Robert wasn’t at ease with walking and talking. He stopped and shifted more of his weight on his granddaughter.

“I was told you’re pretty smart when it comes to mountains. Do you know the history behind this one?”

My grandfather looked in the direction of the peak, nodding.

“Of course,” he said. “I’ve heard stories about healing properties and curses.”

“Look at me young man. I look like I have one foot in the grave. You’re going to help me reach the top so I can heal this useless body.” Declared Sir. Fallon. With that said, they continued on their way in silence.

My grandfather always enjoyed music and so it wasn’t long before he started to whistle a tune. The sound of a bird responding stopped him dead in his track. He looked around; attracted by a hidden path that broke off from the main road they were following. He followed his instincts immediately and changed their course.

“What are you doing? It’s easier on the path.” Sir. Robert inquired. Hera looked back at his charge, looking a bit surprised that they weren’t following.

“This is the way up,” he simply said. There was no other way to explain it. In the past, he had always followed the energy pulls of a mountain. That was the difference between reaching the top easily as opposed to struggling along the way.

“I trust him, grandfather. He knows what he’s doing.” Blossom finally spoke up. She was looking at the ground, holding on to her grandfather.

Sir. Robert decided to follow with his granddaughter’s advice. Their pace slowed down considerably since the path required more of their attention. The sun barely reached them through the dense trees. The only sound heard now was Sir. Fallon struggling to catch his breath. The group frequently took breaks for the old man to regain some control over his breathing.

Once, Blossom wanted to sit on a log to rest her legs. My grandfather stopped her in time to avoid the poisonous spider that hid behind a bush close by.

“How did you know?” Sir. Fallon asked, holding his shaken granddaughter.

“Sometimes, you just know.” Hera replied, continuing on his way. Though he enjoyed talking with people, my grandfather was never able to put into words the gift he had of perceiving certain events before they occurred.

It was midday and Blossom took the initiative to stop their progress long enough to eat lunch. She spread out small dishes on a blanket that she was carrying in her backpack.

“If we stop for long, we’ll lose what little light we have.” Hera declared, feeling antsy. There was something about Blossom that left him feeling uneasy.

“We need to eat. My grandfather needs to regain his strength.” She countered, handing Hera some bread.

He ate quickly, feeling grateful for her foresight. My grandfather often forgot practical details like bringing food and water on a hike.

“What will you do once you reach the top?” She asked my grandfather in a soft voice only he could hear.

“Nothing. I’ll take you two to the top, admire the view and then take you down.” He replied.

“I’m going to wish for happiness,” Blossom whispered. It felt like she was talking to some ghosts that were following her.

“What do you mean? You don’t need magic for that. I climb mountains and that makes me happy. Just find your passion.” My grandfather said, looking at Blossom as if she were speaking a different language.

She looked over to Sir. Fallon and sighed deeply. My grandfather could feel her longing for freedom. He observed how she moved as she cleaned up the remains of the meal. Her movements were tight and sharp, as if she were held back by an invisible bubble. He longed to show her the simplicity of being herself, whatever it may be. Blossom was so focused on her grandfather that she couldn’t see her choices.

“What wouldn’t I give to have a body like yours.” Sir. Robert claimed as they continued the hike up. By now, the path was all rocks and roots. Hera and Blossom were helping the old man maneuver his way around the obstacles.

“Well, Sir. Fallon, I’m sure you had your time,” was all my grandfather said. He was feeling more aware of the strain between Blossom and his employer.

“I’m afraid not, young man. As a baby, I was stricken with the Exlibero disease. I barely made it out alive.” The old man explained.

Hera now understood the red scabs covering Sir. Robert’s head. His whole right side must be covered in them. Exlibero was a very rare disease that starts in the right side of the brain and spreads through the body but only on the right side. People of the medical world were in awe of this disease. No one understood how a person got infected or how to heal it. Exlibero would choose its victims sparingly. Some lived through it and some died. Even in my generation there is still great mystery behind the disease.

With the help of my grandfather’s expertise, the small group found the peak of the mountain before the day was finished. They stood before a wild forest in awe and confusion.

“How can it be this easy?” Blossom asked, looking around as if she expected monsters to come out and grab them.

“Maybe it’s on the way down that people get lost.” Hera suggested.

Sir. Fallon did not take the time to ponder the question or to admire the forest. He went straight into its heart.

“Grandfather! No! Be careful!” Blossom screamed as she followed after him.

Hera looked around in wonder. He walked up to a slender tree with long wispy branches. The leaves were a deep red, much like his blood. He slowly walked around in wonder of the fauna. It was unlike anything he’d seen before. A small bird landed gracefully on the ground in front of him. It was a small bird about the size and shape of an apple with feathers the same colour as the tree he was previously admiring. It looked at my grandfather for a very brief moment before flying off.

Hera heard Blossom calling out for her grandfather. He followed the sound of her voice, worried for both of them.

He found Blossom, running aimlessly. She stopped when she saw Hera. There were tears in her eyes, her hair was disheveled and dirt was all over her pants.

“I can’t find him.” She wailed.

My grandfather took her hand and she immediately calmed down.

“We’ll look for him together.” He declared.

Walking around proved to be a little challenging. Every so often they would stumble on roots, rocks and what looked like old monuments.

“Do you think people use to live here?” Blossom asked, tripping over what looked like the head of a statue. Hera shrugged. He had no words to say because he was too busy following the wind that was whispering in his ear, guiding him where to go.

What they found was a building covered with vines, falling apart. It had no roof to keep out the elements. The walls were made of a strange bronze material. The entrance looked very inviting with gilded pillars framing the opening.

“Sir. Fallon is inside.” Hera said, feeling very certain yet not knowing why or how.

Stepping inside, my grandfather felt his whole body tingling. There was something very powerful about this place.

Sir. Robert Fallon was leaning on the doorway across from Blossom and Hera. He was looking into the next room. His breathing was out of control. My grandfather sensed something strange about him.

“Sir. Fallon! We should stay together. It’s safer that way!” He cried.

The old man looked over his shoulder and chose to ignore the warning. He walked into the next room. Blossom ran to follow him.

“These two are going to be the end of me!” Hera mumbled, chasing after them.

All he wanted was to explore this peak. He wanted to take in these amazing sights. My grandfather noticed holes, from top to bottom, in the walls. He wanted to slowly look through them, to see if there were any telltale signs of who use to live here.

The next room resembled the first, except it was made of silver. There were holes all over the walls as well. Heraclitus saw another gateway and stepped through it. The third and final room looked like the first two. The walls were made of gold and it had such a powerful energy that it made my grandfather fall back. His head started pounding, as if there was something that wanted to come out of his head.

He found Sir. Fallon and Blossom in this very big room. He also saw another person. It looked like a young boy, maybe ten years old with long brown hair and bright blue eyes. My grandfather was surprised to be able to notice the color of his eyes at such a distance. He started to walk closer, cautiously.

No one said a word. Only the sound of my grandfather walking echoed loudly. The little boy stood erect, wearing a dirty robe, with a smile on his face. Sir. Fallon was on his knees out of exhaustion and Blossom stood by him, as always, ready to support him.

“I’m happy you came. I’ve been waiting a long time.” The little boy had a soft voice. It was layered with other voices both male and female.

“Who are you?” Sir. Fallon asked, catching his breath after moving around on his own for so long.

The boy smiled and looked off in the distance, his eyes glowing and out of focus.

“My name is Erick. For now. I am not here yet.” He said with his layered voice.

Hera walked closer. He could now feel a force pulling him towards this strange looking boy.

“What are you doing here alone? Where are your parents?” He asked. Blossom took his hand in hers and her tremors ceased.

“My parents aren’t born yet. I’m waiting for you.” Erick said. He walked up to my grandfather and took his free hand.

“I’ve waited a long time.” Now Erick’s voice took on a more feminine touch.

Erick guided Hera to a stone slab and they sat down, the little boy looking up at my grandfather with a lot of love. Blossom and Sir. Fallon looked on, speechless and amazed.

Erick stroked Hera’s cheek as a mother would for her child. He started to cry.

“My lovely baby. I never had a chance to hold you,” Erick whispered.

“You must have me confused with someone else…” Hera started.

“No, you’re simply not yet aware. This is where I died, long ago.” There was now only one voice and it was that of a woman.

“They killed me after I gave birth to you. I came to ask you something important.” Erick explained.

Though what the little boy said was strange, my grandfather felt very at ease with the information. Looking in the blue eyes felt like looking into eternity.

“Please, keep the Faith alive. Hope can only live in hearts that have its spark.” He said with the woman’s voice.

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Feathers and Heart Flutters

Feathers and Heart Flutters

By Kala Séraphin

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    Serah felt a strange flutter in her chest. It was so quick that she let it pass without worry. She looked at the time and saw that it was three thirty three in the morning. Her eyes were wide awake and her body compelled her to get out of bed. Her mind, on the other hand, was still floating in another dimension of dreams and ghosts.

“Make a wish…” She mumbled, rollingover and burrying her face in the pillows. She didn’t want to start her day so early.

The wails of a cat kept her from finding slumber again. It was a small, high pitched cry for help she simply couldn’t ignore. The girl jumped out of bed and threw on a sweater and her flipflops. The fresh air roused her mind from sleep as she walked around the building of her apartment. It was still dark. The skies were starting to lighten. She walked through the grass, dew tickling her bare toes. There wasn’t a cat in distress to be found.

“Serah, you are losing it!” She sighed to herself, walking back to her apartment. Yet, she heard it again. A small cry for help that sounded very near.

Serah looked around once more. She found the source hidingbehind a trash bin, trying to disappear in a corner. It was a very small kitten with wide eyes. Serah picked up the poor creature, caressing its short gray fur.

“How on earth did you get here?” She asked. The cat replied with another hearfelt wail. Serah assumed it was all out of hunger, so she took it inside with her.

At this point, Serah was out of reach of sleep. She fed the kitten some tuna from last night’s dinner and started to clean her apartment. She had a busy day ahead and wanted to get her living space in a tolerable state.

At seven, Serah stepped out to a bright sun and cool weather. She left the kitten asleep on her bed, hoping it wouldn’t make too big of a mess in her freshly cleaned apartment. Walking to the bus stop, she noticed a trail of feathers scattered about. They were gray down feathers, tumbling in the breeze. Serah looked around, curious as to what may have happened. It could have been that a stray cat found its next meal or maybe a fledgeling took flight.

Serah met her boyfriend, Andrew, for breakfast. It was his idea to go meet at the restaurant. He was always getting Serah to meet him at random places in the city. By meeting with him twice a week, Serah had discovered more of her city in the three years of their relationship than the ten years she has lived here.

“You’re late.” Andrew exclaimed as she rushed into the small restaurant. Serah smiled nervously. It always put her on edge when he pointed out a fault of hers. She knew it wasn’t judging her but simply stating a fact. However, Serah’s upbringing had conditioned her to be defensive of her shortcomings.

“Sorry, I saved a kitten this morning,” she explained. Andrew kissed his girlfriend sweetly.

“I’m happy to see you.” He declared. Serah blushed at the revelation. Andrew was always so open with his thoughts and feelings. She was always caught off guard when he said such comments. She wondered about the honesty behind it. Then she would doubt that she deserved it.

The couple chatted away happily over a breakfast of poached eggs and fruit salad, looking very normal. Every so often, Andrew would touch Serah, caress her hand or adjust her hair. She would let him do it but she never reciprocated the affection.

“Did you read the news?” Andrew suddenly asked when their coffees arrived. Serah simply shook her head, looking innocent.

“Scientists are predicting a shift in the magnetic poles of the earth. Apparently it will happen next week,” he continued.

“That sounds like a pretty big piece of information. Why aren’t more people talking about it?” Serah asked, adding milk to her coffee.

“I guess people aren’t taking it seriously.” Andrew shrugged, moving the sugar out of Serah’s reach. He thought she consumed too much sugar and would often curb her intake when he had the chance.

“After breakfast, Serah went to her appointments. She went to her hairdresser, changing her hair colour from light blond to dark blond. Fall was coming and so she felt the need to change herself accordingly. Afterwards, she wandered the markets, picking up some fresh herbs. She stopped by a pet shop to pick up some proper kitten food.

The whole time her mind wandered to what Andrew said about the upcoming shift in magnetic poles. Images flashed in her mind of what would be different. She couldn’t imagine how her life could be different.

As Serah arrived home, the kitten ran to her, wailing as it did when she found it. Serah quickly prepared some foods, then sat next to the feline as it devoured its meal. That is when her heart went off rhythm. It went from a steady doomdoom, doomdoom to doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom. Though Serah was quick to notice the change, she did not feel any different. Observing herself in the mirror revealed that her face remained unchanged. She placed two fingers on her throat, fascinated with the new rhythm of her heart.

She spent the rest of the day in bed, listening to her heart. They rhythm sounded familiar, like a song she once heard on the radio. She started drifting in thoughts about her life. At the age of thirty, she had accumulated much of what people deemed desirable. She had a comfortable home, financial security, a great boyfriend, many friends and a very simple job that required her to show up once a month at a fertility clinic to sell her ovums. 

Looking at her life, feeling her strange heartbeat, Serah couldn’t help but conclude how bored of her life she was. It was safe, predictable and boring.

“Things need to change,” was her conclusion. The kitten struggled to jump on Serah’s bed and curled up on her shoulder.

It was a short lived snuggle for Serah left her apartment soon after. It was night andshe had no destination in mind. She let her feet take her down the maze of her urban neighborhood. The first thing she noticed, what she couldn’t avoid, was that the streets were now covered in feathers of all kinds. It kept raining feathers as she walked around, fascinated. Other people going about their daily business also looked around curiously. No one dared to stop and ask why or how. They were all terribly busy with their errands, aches, pains and goals. Serah actually stopped her mindless wandering when she saw a middle aged woman step out of a conveniencestore. A few feathers fell on her, clinging to her hair and jacket. The woman panicked in a most subtle manner. She violently brushed off the feathers, looking disgusted. She then ran to her car, not wanting to encounter the rain of feathers more than necessary.

“What is happening?” Serah finally asked the question out loud. The passerbys chose to ignore her as thhey did with the feathers. A few gave her side long glances, wondering why she wasn’t pretending the feathers weren’t there. After all, if everyone ignores a problem, it will eventually go away, right?

Doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom went her heart.

Serah continued on her way, walking mindlessly. She kicked the feathers as she took her next step, watching them slowly float back to the ground. It reminded her a little of  snow. Growing up, she always enjoyed playing out on snow days. However, in this instance, Serah had no inclination to play with the feathers.

“Where are all the birds?” She asked out loud. Once more, her question went unanswered. Serah went to the first coffee shop she found. There was no one else. She sat down at a table in the middle of the store, looking very out of place. The waitress came to take Serah’s order, looking very bored.

“Where are the birds?” Serah asked. The waitress’ eyes grew wide for half a second.

“I don’t know. Does it really matter? They’re just birds,” was her reply. Serah ordered the sweetest drink on the menu, taking advantage of the fact that Andrew wasn’t there to monitor her.

The waitress brought her sugary drink, lazily placing it on the table. She spilled some of it on Serah but took no notice.

Doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom went Serah’s heart as she looked at the spill.

“Excuse me, do you love your job?” She asked.

“No.” The waitress answered, her expression deadpan.

“Why do you stay here?” Serah asked. 

Because her tone was simply curious and without judgement, the waitress felt comfortable enough to sit down with Serah. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes and took one out. She lit it and took a deep drag, exhaling slowly, enjoying every moment of it.

“I’m thirty five now, I have two kids to feed and no one to help me. I do what I can to survive.” She shot back.

Serah took a moment to think about it. She felt like she was in the same frame of mind of doing what she could to survive. However, Serah’s life had always been a graceful experience of getting what she desired. She wondered what the difference could be.

“So…you think you don’t have a choice?” She asked. 

The waitress shook her head, gazing out of the window.

“I have nothing going for me. I’m not smart, pretty boring to look at and I’m not even good at this shitty job. I hate it…but I’m grateful for it. It pays my bills, feeds and shelters my kids and I save up enough to go dancing on Friday nights.” She explained.

Serah smiled as she followed the waitress’ gazeoutside to the rain of feathers.

“That’s funny,” she started. “I love my life. It’s easy and comfortable and I have everything I could desire. I could go out dancing every night if I wanted to. But I’m not grateful for it.”

Both women looked at each other with a playful smile on their lips.

“Shit… Your life sucks. You should come work here.” The waitress chuckled.

Serah paid for her sugar fix then went on her way. She continued to follow the feathers, now pondering issues of gratitude and its lack in her life.

She stopped at a street corner and couldn’t make up her mind as to where to go; left or right. She looked down the street on her right and noticed that there wasn’t a single feather on the street. It was a quiet, clean street devoid of the feathers. To her left was another quiet street yet it was littered with feathers, covering the parked cars and sidewalks completely. Serah chose the street with the feathers. She admired all the colorful feathers and listened to her heart doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom. She wondered what it would take to have more gratitude in her life.

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The Machter Bird

The Machter Bird

By Kala Séraphin

Waking up with an empty stomach was not easy for one so young. At the age of ten, Erick did not quite understand why he had to abstain from giving his body what it needed in order to purify it.

Can’t I just ask my body to clean out what’s dirty?” He had asked his aunt Anaïs the day the fasting started. She had answered with a hit on the back of his head. Nothing severe; just strong enough for Erick to conclude that asking a question wasn’t a good thing.

Every year, Erick’s aunt would force him to fast, in order to purify their bodies and also, as a demonstration of gratitude to the Oracle, who was the messenger of the gods they worshipped. For ten days, Erick and Anaïs would stay at home to worship at their altar. The fast would also be accompanied by a full house cleaning. Erick was always too tired and hungry to finish his tasks. With the fervor of her beliefs, aunt Anaïs would always accomplish her goals before the completion of the fast.

Locked up in his home, Erick would spend long hours looking out of the window of his bedroom and watch his friends play the many games he enjoyed. Because they were not followers of the Faith, they did not fast. Erick resented his aunt for this forced segregation. He blamed her for imposing a world on him that he didn’t understand or enjoy.

If it’s not fun, why should I do it?” He has asked one night while lighting incense at the altar. That was another question where his aunt Anaïs pinched his arm to the point of leaving a bruise.

What angered Erick above all was how nothing ever changed. Once the fast would finish, he would go back to the same world he left behind. His mother would never come back, his father wouldn’t acknowledge him, his friends still made fun of him for being a follower of the Faith and his aunt Anaïs would not let him have a puppy. For Erick, there were no benefits to fasting. He was cranky, tired, dizzy and nauseous all ten days. If he was going to be uncomfortable for ten days, he wanted something in return.

This year, Erick’s tenth year and fourth fast, there was something different. He didn’t know how or what was going to change. Erick’s heart would wake him up with whispers of challenges and journeys. But he was too young and angry to understand what his body was telling him.

Sitting in his room, Erick was looking out of his window when his aunt Anaïs came in.

Erick, there’s someone here who wants to talk with you,” she explained. Her eyes were red and swollen, as if she had been crying. She stood with her arms crossed and shoulders hunched. Anaïs usually had a glow when she fasted, yet on this day, she looked worn out.

A man walked in the room and sat facing Erick. He was very confident in his demeanor. He wore a black business suit, his collar buttons left casually undone. He smiled at Erick, feeling familiar and comfortable with the young boy.

Hi Erick, do you remember me?” He asked.

No.” Erick had no interest in this stranger. He imitated his aunt’s body language and crossed his arms over his chest.

My name is Aeron, I’m your uncle.” He declared.

Anaïs’ sadness made sense to Erick now. This man, her husband, had left when Erick was three years old. All that he knew was that his uncle Aeron had heard the wind call his name and so he left the next day. He abandoned his pregnant wife, infant nephew, stable job, friends, comfort and security for the call to adventure. Anaïs had never had the baby for it died not long after Aeron’s disappearance.

It’s been seven years Aeron! You can’t expect the boy to know who you are.” Anaïs complained. His uncle ignored her.

Erick, you know that as a follower of the Faith, there are responsibilities to keep, yes?” Aeron started.

You mean like this stupid fast?” The boy asked, building a barrier to his uncle’s kindness.

Yes, like this stupid fast. You’re beginning to be a big boy. I think it’s time you were given another responsibility.” Aeron’s smile grew wider and warmer.

What is it?” Erick was curious. He was weary of the same torture of empty worship. His uncle was opening the door to something more.

Anaïs’ distress could be felt. Though she held tongue, her energy was bubbling with the protests that she was holding back.

Everybody that follows the Oracle’s guidance must make a sacrifice to prove his purity and unity to the gods. Women do this with their first blooming flower. Men’s bodies are different so we don’t have a first blood to give,” Aeron explained. Erick was a bit confused. He had only vaguely heard of this tradition through his studies. However, most traditions of this nature were obsolete and deemed too old-fashioned.

What do boys have to do?” Erick asked, his youthful curiosity stirring.

You must hunt the Machter bird and bring it back.” His uncle’s smile faded and became stiff with severity.

Aeron, no! Too many boys have died looking for the Machter bird! It doesn’t exist.” Anaïs yelled, placing herself between Erick and his uncle.

Erick had heard of the Machter bird from other relatives. It was suppose to be an immortal bird that would fly across the world, looking for the Oracle. The stories claim that if its heart is pierced with an arrow, the hero may be granted any wish from the Oracle.

I found one…and I think Erick should kill it to redeem himself.” Aeron explained.

Who his parents are does not condemn him! We have evolved from superficial beliefs like that!” Anaïs would not back down. She stood her ground, being protective of her nephew.

Yet Erick had thoughts of his own. At the idea of going out, hunting for a mythical bird, his whole being got excited. It roused him from his sleepy existence. There was a light feeling in his heart as he contemplated leaving the security of his world for the unknown.

I want to go.” He declared, looking out the window and seeing his friends playing together.

Aeron smiled while Anaïs looked mortified.

Then let’s go,” Aeron joyfully suggested, giving Erick his hand. The boy took it and they walked out together. Anaïs followed close behind.

Just like that, you’re going to take him away with no preparation?” She asked, worried for the safety of the young boy.

There’s only one chance, Anaïs. The boy needs to go tonight before it flies away or someone else gets it,” Aeron explained as they walked to his car. The driver was waiting patiently with the passenger door open.

Anaïs was at a loss for words. Her fear robbed her of any reasonable arguments. She raised her hand and slapped Aeron’s cheek hard, leaving a bright red mark.

This isn’t about us, Anaïs. I’m trying to teach the boy to love his gods and respect the Oracle.” Aeron whispered, keeping his expression neutral.

Anaïs wanted to let all her grief out. More than anything she wanted to rage against her sister for abandoning Erick, to reveal the pain and sorrow that she harbored for Aeron’s betrayal seven years ago. She burned with hateful words, pressured by her daily struggles. She wanted Aeron to know the darkest part of her soul that blamed all her misfortunes and struggles on the gods and Oracle, who was nothing more than an image to her. Instead, Anaïs turned away and shut herself up in her modest house.

Why is aunt Anaïs so angry?” Erick asked. Aeron went into the car. The driver quickly shuffled to his seat and drove off.

Because your aunt does not recognize the gifts she’s been given,” was all that Aeron could say.

They drove in silence to a destination far removed from Erick’s village. He enjoyed watching the houses go by, then replaced by a thick forest that kept its secrets well hidden. He felt like a hero from old tales, searching for gold and treasures. He imagined himself in a fierce battle, covered in blood, standing on his enemy’s dead body. He thought that if he could accomplish this impossible task, then the gods would finally see him and grant his wish.

When the sun started to set, Aeron commanded the driver to stop by the side of the road.

Where are we?” Erick asked.

This is the forest where you’ll find the Machter bird. Here, I have a present for you.” Aeron said, as he gave Erick a bow with two arrows.

You’re not coming with me? How will I find it?” Erick’s questions were laced with panic. He took the antique weapon, pleading his uncle with his eyes.

Aeron smiled kindly and replied:

No Erick, this is your task. Just let yourself be guided by what’s light.”

Erick walked out, slowly making his way into the forest. He looked back every other step, looking for reassurance from his uncle. The fading sunlight guided him into the heart of the forest. He was going to find out for himself the secrets of the woods.

He had never walked in a forest before. Erick stumbled over roots and branches, using the trees to hold himself up. Flies and other insects quickly buzzed around his head. When a snake slithered past, the young boy could not help but scream and stumble back, dropping his tools. He started to cry as he groped to find the arrows.

I can’t do it! How can I be so stupid?” He wailed, looking at the creeping darkness. Where there were old gnarled trees before now stood monsters and specters waiting to capture him. Sounds of crunching leaves and ghostly wails surrounded him. Erick started to shiver as a breeze picked up.

I want to go home,” he complained, feeling all too aware of his empty stomach. The boy felt too weak to get up to find shelter. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply like his aunt Anaïs had taught him. Soon, the tears subsided.

Erick opened his eyes to a strange sight. A woman stood before him, looking very worried. She wore a green sweater and brown leather pants. Her hair fell wildly down her back. Erick noticed that she had no bags or any other supplies.

Are you alright?” She asked with a thick accent.

Erick’s heart fluttered and he knew he found what he was looking for. He didn’t understand the sense of joy he felt but he let it flood his being gratefully. With his bow and two arrows, Erick stood up, brushing leaves from his pants.

I’m lost. Can you help me find my way out?” He asked, his voice trembling.

The woman looked around, uncertain. When she noticed the bow and arrows, she looked a bit terrified. Erick noticed and tried to reassure her:

I don’t know how it works! I won’t hurt you. My uncle sent me here to find a bird.”

Why are you hunting alone in this darkness?” She asked. Erick shrugged.

It was an opportunity that I missed.” He answered.

She gestured for him to follow her. They walked together, following a trail only she could see.

What are you doing in this forest?” He asked.

I like to explore.” She answered, clearing the way of stray branches.

Erick felt his senses sharpen. He could smell the rich marriage of forest life. The moss, trees, water and animals tickled his nose. The outline of trees became clear and he could also see creatures crawling on the trees. Sounds of small animals scuttling through the bushes came clearly to his ears. As Erick inhaled, the taste of dirt and grass crept into his mouth. A spider web trailed on his arm and felt like a hand brushing him. Loudest of all was the voice that whispered It’s her! Erick finally felt connected and whole with his existence.

Why can I see you?” He asked, struggling to keep up with her.

Because you’re open to the possibilities. You just know and you’re letting yourself know.” She answered, never slowing down.

You’re right.” Erick took one of the arrows and stabbed the woman in the back. She let out a soft scream of surprise as she stumbled to the ground. Erick watched as she tried to grab the arrow in her back. He wrapped his hand around the weapon and pushed it in deeper. She let out one more whimper of pain then dropped to the ground.

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Return of the Story Teller

Welcome back~ 

After a long hiatus, which involved many changes and a big move to Indonesia, I am ready to share with you many more stories~ I hope you will enjoy as the journey continues. Share your thoughts, leave comments and stay connected~ and remember that everything is connected.

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 Unveiled

By Kala Seraphin

Do you remember the first sound you ever heard? For me, it was the sound of my mother crying. My whole world was vibrating with grief and fear. My first heartbeat coincided with her tears. I was upset as well. Her pain was my pain. Soon after, she was throwing up our dinner of cheap noodles and cabbage. She sat down, leaning back, feeling very tired.

“What’s happening to me?” She asked herself, rubbing her eyes. I wanted to shout out I’m coming Mommy! But I knew it was too soon. I didn’t have a mouth or any mental capability to communicate like her. I could only hope she felt me and my love for her.

That night, I fell asleep to the sound her humming. I was comforted by her sweet voice. I sent waves upon waves of love. I knew Mommy felt something because she fell asleep with her hands on her abdomen. The heat reached me and that’s when I knew that everything would be alright.

A week later, I started to see what Mommy saw, even though I didn’t have eyes of my own yet. I noticed what she did and shared her thoughts. She was in a cold bare room. There was a desk covered with papers, pens, a computer and one picture frame with the portrait of a baby boy with a ball, laughing. I wondered if I was going to be a boy. More important, if I would be happy the way people expect themselves to be happy. I heard of their set formulas through Mommy. I was skeptical but willing to try anything with Mommy.

Mommy was nervous, sitting alone in this office. She started to bite her nails and twitching her left leg. I began to pulse with anxiety. I tried to be still because I didn’t want to make Mommy sick again. But she still got nauseous and threw up in the trash bin that was next to the desk. At the same time, a tall woman wearing a white coat came in the room.

“Sorry,” was all Mommy said as she sat back in the chair, wiping her mouth with a tissue. The tall woman smiled stiffly and sat at her desk. She asked Mommy some questions about her body, then about her relationship with other men.

“What I’m trying to say, Miss Linds, is that, well…you are pregnant.” The woman in a white coat had a strong accent that made it difficult for Mommy to understand. The last part was unmistakable. I didn’t like this woman’s tone. It was cold and distant. She was judging Mommy even though she didn’t understand the whole story. All that the lady saw was a young, single, woman in a foreign country that is pregnant. No one knew yet just how special I was.

“About the father…” the woman started. Mommy shook her head. She was trying to invent a lie to make herself look better in the eyes of the tall woman. I felt like that was a waste of energy.

“He’s…I mean we are…were…going to get married.” She didn’t finish though. No one in the room believed the weak story.

Mommy made an appointed to see this woman, Dr. Yoshimi, again. Then, she started to walk, anywhere. She kept her hands on me, and walked through the crowded streets. She was crying again but now she knew why. I also felt disbelief from her. She didn’t want me to be real. I couldn’t understand her resistance since she created me. I tried to convince her that I was real: I’m really here Mommy! I love you! It will be OK! But she chose not to feel my message.

After walking around for so long, I sent sharp messages of hunger. I needed something to keep up my energy. Mommy understood my needs. She went to a small shop and ordered udon noodles. She really loved noodles. She had trouble communicating with the shop owner. Mommy did not know the language very well. I understood it perfectly. This was the same language as my father.

I wondered where my father was. Why wasn’t he helping Mommy? I could feel him, somewhere in the city. He helped to make me, to be so special.

Mommy spent three days in her tiny room without leaving. She cried, and cried then would eat. Sometimes she sat and watched a movie. If there was a family in the movie, she would cry some more. Once, there was a baby. Mommy got so aggravated that she threw her slipper at the image.

I would do my best to vibrate strongly all my love. How could I not? If it wasn’t for her, I would not have the chance to exist in this world. I could not grasp why Mommy chose to ignore me. Didn’t she remember the promise we made long ago?

On the fourth day, we were both startled by the sound of the doorbell. Mommy, wearing sweat pants and a sports bra, went to answer the door. It was Mommy’s friend from school, looking very worried.

“Tara-chan! You look awful! What happened?” Mommy’s friend walked in without waiting for Mommy to respond. She took off her shoes and started to clean the kitchen and boil some water.

“Ayaka-chan…I’m sorry but I just want to be alone for now.” Mommy’s voice was weak and raspy from crying so much.

“Could you at least put on a shirt?” Ayaka fussed around, getting clean tea cups and plates from the cupboard. Mommy sighed deeply and did as she was asked.

Ayaka had a lovely afternoon snack set out on Mommy’s low table. Green tea was served along with cinnamon cookies, fruit tarts and cream puffs. Mommy, now wearing a sweater, knelt down with her friend.

“Three days of hiding here, crying. Not going to you classes, ignoring our calls and messages. All of this after your doctor’s appointment. What’s going on? Are you dying?” Ayaka asked as she served the tea and ate one of the cookies. I wanted to try one but Mommy wouldn’t just yet.

“How did you know?” She asked. Her friend smiled a crooked smile. It warmed Mommy’s heart to be around her.

“I just do,” was her reply.

Mommy finally tried the sweets. I sent her happy, grateful vibes, enjoying the rush from the sugar. After eating three cookies, two tarts and five cream puffs, Mommy finally decided to make me real in her friend’s world.

“I’m pregnant.”

Ayaka’s tea cup fell to the floor, spilling the tea. She quickly cleaned it up.

“You…have…a baby…in you?” She asked in disbelief. I wondered how come people sounded incredulous when it came to new life.

Mommy sat quietly, sipping her tea. There was a heavy silence that lingered between the two friends as Ayaka finished mopping up the mess. I wished I could understand Ayaka’s thoughts and feelings. If only she could understand how much Mommy needed her support.

“My aunt can help you. I know how expensive medical bills can get,” she finally said. She wrapped Mommy in a hug, leaning her forehead on Mommy’s head. She had tears in her eyes and love in her heart.

“If I was a man, I would marry you right now. But if you knew what the men in my family looked like, you wouldn’t want to marry me. We’ll get through this together, OK?”

Mommy kissed her on the cheek and whispered:

“Arigato Ayaka-Chan.”

They sat on the floor, in this embrace for a long time. I felt my body thrive on their love. Ayaka placed her hand on me, giggling and said,

“It will be an amazing baby! Now, it is so small. You look like you’re bloated with ramen.”

Mommy giggled as well. Her laughter felt warm and energetic. I wanted more of it.

“What will you do with it? I mean…what are your choices?” Ayaka asked as she laid her head on Mommy’s stomach.

“I can choose to keep it, give it up for adoption or…terminate the pregnancy.”

Both Ayaka and I jerked at the last option. Mommy was crying again and so was her friend.

“Tara-chan! You can’t mean to do that!” Ayaka screamed.

“I don’t know! I’m so scared and alone.” Mommy cried.

“No Tara-chan. You will not terminate this baby. We will find a way, I promise.”

Ayaka staid with Mommy that night. I felt Mommy grow stronger with her friend’s support and so did I.

The next day, Ayaka and Mommy took a train to another city to talk with Ayaka’s aunt. It was fun to see all that Mommy saw. There were so many people that walked the streets. We passed a woman dressed in a lovely dress that looked so heavy! There were flower patterns all over on a golden background. She wore a wide ribbon around her waist with a strange bow on her back. Her skin looked so white and soft that Mommy was very tempted to stroke her cheek. Both Mommy and Ayaka admired this strange looking lady. Then they went to eat green ice cream. I did not like it at all. I was also so tired of all this activity and growing that I slept for the remainder of the day.

It was another two more days before Ayaka finally convinced Mommy to go back to school. Now her days were spent sitting in big classrooms, struggling with the language, writing notes and feeling lost. I tried to help Mommy to understand the language. I sent her a lot of energy but she chose to block me. I think it was because I was too small and she couldn’t really feel me. I never stopped growing and sending her my love.

One night, Mommy was in the library, reading an old book about a man called Confucius, when a group of young girls sat close to her. They started whispering mean things about my Mommy. They judged her and called her names without thinking twice about their words. Mommy could not understand what the girls were saying but she felt that the energy was harmful. She quietly packed her books in her bag and decided to go home. She cried on the train, when the people of her school were far behind her.

Be strong Mommy. I’m here with you. I think she understood my message this time. Mommy’s heart fluttered and she grabbed her stomach. She stopped crying and smiled.

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