Category Archives: Stories

Greatest Accomplishment

My hooded sweatshirt was from winning the State Championship. It was a very rainy day and our uniforms were caked in mud. I got some nasty bruises and I was sick for two weeks afterwards. But we beat the Bengals 32-7 and the whole team was estatic, we were non-stop excitement the whole ride home. The bus driver had to pull over on the side of the road twice to try and get us to stop singing and jumping. The hoodie is now a little worn, the bright blue is faded and there’s a hole on one of my elbows. 

I worked hard and long and didn’t get enough sleep for months so I could afford my couch. The job isn’t pretty, and it’s not air condioned. Some days I feel like a mindless slave, I’d do anything to get back on the field and punt a football. The couch very comfortable. Fine black leather with deep cusions, sitting in it is more like melting into a pot of soft bunnies. I keep an extra blanket and decorative pillows there for the late night videogame binges.

But there, tonight on my couch lays a girl wrapped in my state championship hoodie. All of my hard work, keeping a girl sound asleep. Tired from her own long day. Her hair has fallen in her face and I think to push it aside, but for now I’ll let her sleep. I’ll think instead how this is my greatest accomplishment.

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Rose on a Bench

A while back, my and my dear best friend Clarissa were talking about a picture she snapped at a park. A single rose laid on a bench. We talked about the meanings behind it and where it came from. Our conversation led to an epiphany. She’s a poet. I’m a writer. We should both take this rose and write about it. First up, I have her beautiful take on the picture. 

It’s Sunday evening, and I want to spend some time with my boyfriend. I put some vegetable trimmings in a plastic baggie and we  head to the park. I want to feed the ducks, he wants to play pokemon. It’s a good compromise. It rained earlier, so the ducks are digging in the ground for worms. I share from my baggie with a little girl who seems more scared of the ducks than anything else and then we walk a loop around the pond. One of his hands is in mine, the other holds his phone. He almost catches a squirtle, but it breaks out and runs away. We walk up through the rose garden, underneath the arches. On one of the benches, there sits a single rose. A half-full Pepsi bottle is on the ground next to it. I look around, but don’t see anyone close by. I pick up the flower and hold it to my nose. It smells good, but the end of the stem is starting to brown. It’s been here a while. Forgotten. I picture a couple, walking through here like we are. He breaks the rules and picks her a flower. But why did she leave it behind? Maybe it wasn’t a couple. Maybe it was one person, and the rose held a memory. Maybe a young man walked through here and picked the flower for himself. He sat on the bench while the scent brought him back to times he’d nearly forgotten. Maybe he was so caught up in nostalgia he got up and wandered away through the rest of the garden. Maybe the memories were too bitter and not sweet enough to dwell on. Maybe he set the rose there on purpose, leaving it, his memories, and his soda bottle behind him.

I carefully place the flower back where I found it, taking care to leave it in the same way it was. I think about taking the Pepsi bottle with me to throw in the trash, but I guess I’m hoping the person who left it there comes back. For the bottle, the rose, and the memories that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Now for my version.


Jessica sat down on the park bench. Normally her lunch hour would be spent eating a small salad 

in a meeting with boring men talking about boring statistics. Today was the first day in months 

she had time all by herself, and it just happened to be the most beautiful spring day. She had 

gotten a hot dog from the vendor right outside her office building and walked two blocks to the 

entrance of the park. 

Here on the bench she closed her eyes and took in the fresh smell of the trees. For a moment her 

cares flowed away. Finally at peace she looked down at her hotdog and began to open the foil 

wrapping. That’s when a glimpse of something red caught her peripheral vision. She hadn’t 

noticed anything on the bench before she sat down, but now laid down gently next to her purse 

was a beautiful long stemmed red rose. Jessica stashed her dog to the side and picked up the rose 

to smell it. It was very fragrant, the petals were like silk, and the thorns had been carefully 

plucked. This was no ordinary rose she thought. She looked all around and none of the nearby 

people had roses. Maybe I just didn’t notice it before. She gently set the rose in her purse and ate 

her lunch. 

The next day, Jessica was swamped again with meetings as usual but she thought back to the 

rose. Since she had placed it in a coffee cup the day before it was all she could think about. How 

could the rose just suddenly appear?

It was a few weeks before Jessica was able to go back to the city park but she had done just as 

she had before, gotten a hot dog from vendor and found the same bench. She was nearly finished 

eating when an old lady with a big basket of roses appeared behind a tree. The old woman was 

placing a rose on a bench much like the one Jessica was sitting on. She must have been in the 

park that day. The old woman came closer to Jessica. 

“Excuse me, ma’am, I couldn’t help but see you placing a rose on that bench over there.”

The old woman stopped and stared at Jessica. 

Maybe she didn’t understand me? She pointed to the rose on the bench. “Over there, you’ve 

placed a rose.”

The old woman looked at the bench. She then reached into her bag, pulled out a bright yellow 

rose, handed it to Jessica and then began to walk away.

“Ma’am I didn’t mean I.. Hey!” When she realized the old woman was not paying any attention

and sat there dumb founded. Is she deaf? Does she speak English at all? 

The middle of summer had come and Jessica was given a week’s vacation. She decided to take a 

walk every day and made sure the park was in her journey. That’s when she discovered there 

were roses scattered throughout the park on benches. That little old lady comes here every day to 

put roses on benches, why? It wasn’t until Friday when Jessica saw the lady again. “Hi there, I’m 

sure you don’t remember me but you’ve given me roses. I just need to know why you place them 

on benches.”

The old lady smiled. She handed the bag of roses over to Jessica and started walking.

Dumbfounded once more, Jessica stood there a minute. The lady just kept walking and it took abit for Jessica to catch up. They continued the walk through the park and the old lady pointed to 

benches that she wanted the roses on.

They continued down the streets, placing roses on bike racks and fences and door stoops. There 

didn’t seem to be a pattern and the old lady never said a word. As dusk approached the roses 

were gone. Jessica looked up as she placed the last rose on a bench and the old lady pointed to a 

green house across the street. They walked in together and the old lady pointed to a table. Jessica 

took this to mean that she should place the bag down there. 

“Your name is Jessica, you work at the law firm.” The old lady smiled and sat down on a stool 

near the table.

“How did you know that?”

“I keep an eye on the neighborhood. Being an old lady has its perks, you become friends with 

everyone since everyone is so sympathetic. Like you. You didn’t have to help me today.”

Jessica giggled. “To be honest it was mostly to figure out why you were placing roses.”

“Ah, but those who’ve asked before aren’t persistent. I hand them a rose, they ask ‘why’ and 

when there is no answer, they go about their day.”

“The law firm is a great job, but isn’t as interesting. So why?”

“To bring life to those around me. I watch this neighborhood, so solemn. I want happiness. That 

first day that I laid eyes on you, your sad little hot dog on your lap, you didn’t seem so happy. 

But every day since, you’ve had a smile on your face. From a simple rose.” 

“You take care of this garden all by yourself?”

The old lady smiled again. “I had a helper once, but he found such happiness that he didn’t need 

me anymore. Moved away.”

“That’s almost heartbreaking.”

“No dear, inspiring. He improved himself.”

Jessica thought for a minute. Who knew one simple act of kindness could create such an effect.

She smiled, “I’d like to help.”


Smile and laugh

I am a person.

I think chicken is overrated and steak should never need any sauces or spices but I’m not going to judge you if you use it. I might even use a little myself, because a little sauce never hurt anyone.

I usually answer the simplest way of saying my favorite color, but I know it’s a very specific shade. You’ll never get it right. Just like the baristas who put my name on a cup. They won’t spell it right and that cup is just going to go in the trash anyway.

I’m not sure if I believe in aliens or ghosts or Bigfoot or God or Allah or the great flying spaghetti monster. They could be out there, but I have other things I worry about and I don’t care too much for labels. 

I’m a Sagittarius. You could read everything there is to know about that but it will just give you vauge prophecy. But I am not vauge and you’ll never understand that fully because you’ll end up like that coffee up. And again, I don’t care too much for labels anyway. 

My favorite movie is about a girl who runs away from home only to find out what she wanted was right there at her white picket fence. There are days where I relate to that wholly, but there are more days where I think she might not have gone far enough away yet.

My favorite holiday isn’t the normal one. The normal one has turned people into an obsession. All they do is want. When all I want is warmth, good conversation and a full tummy.

My favorite food is something that while tasting delicious also reminds me of the times my father accidentally cooked it a little too much. Nothing like a little too much char on a dead pig, that’s comfort.

I think cars are neat. I like the custom builds and I’ll go to car shows willingly. I can change a tire and was shown once how to change my oil and I might be able to figure that out again. But if you told me your turbo boost needed new spark plugs and your carburetor needed blinker fluid, I’d probably believe you.

I’m quirky. I’m shy. I’m out going when the moment calls for it. I read. I write. I game. Board games and card games and video games. I love to discuss important matters and heated discussions. Is a hot dog a sandwich? 

I’m honest. And I care too much. I automatically assume the greatness in people. 

I tell you all of this in hopes you’ll appreciate me. But you won’t. Because to you, I am a girl. 

Just a girl with a pretty face who makes you smile and laugh. You’ll want me by your side to make you smile and laugh. Your friends will be charmed and your parents will be delighted. But you’ll forget that girls also cry and shake their fist at the world. And that will scare you. Girls don’t do that, they smile an laugh. But I am not just a girl.

I am a person.


Stuck

“Hey Mom, let’s go check out downstairs.” I stood at the end of a glass hutch filled with Victorian style China. I was anxious. As much as I enjoyed touring these historic homes, it was getting late and we had been on our feet all day exploring this old New England town. 

“I thought the receptionist said that area was forbidden.” My mother said as she was peering into the hutch. “Wow, would you look at those designs! Looks hand painted!”

I pointed to the stairwell. “It’s not roped off or anything. We have like twenty minutes left, we can make it quick.” I could tell by the look in my father’s eye that he was intrigued. The chance to see something the general public doesn’t normally see excited him. Every house we had been to on our vacation this year he had always asked the tour guide about hidden places, and every time so far he had been shot down.

My brother popped his head in from the kitchen, “Let’s go!”

The four of us made our way down the crickety stairs, it smelled like wet clay. “This place isn’t haunted right?”

“There’s nothing in the information packet.” My father said. 

From the bottom of the stairs it looked like the historical society had just been using the basement as a storage area. There were boxes piled high of different pamphlets from different attractions and a few boxes of uniforms. The four of us were crowded in the tight space.

My brother picked up a pamphlet, my mother began searching for any hidden doors. “There’s got to be more down here.”

When I realized I had to use the bathroom, I said to my family I would be right back. This was one of those old fashioned homes that had an outhouse instead of indoor plumbing. So I made my way up the creepy stairs as I heard my mother getting excited about finding a hidden door.

Once I had done my business I made my way back towards the house. I got to the entryway but the door was shut, I juggled the handle but it was locked. Looking at my watch I discovered that it was past closing time, I didn’t think we had been exploring the basement that long. I sat on the porch steps and waited a while for my family. 

After a few minutes I got up and looked into the windows. It was now dark inside the house and the people who worked there had already gone home. I thought out loud to myself “We weren’t down there that long!”

I made my way around the house checking all the windows and searching for any signs of my parents. I got to the back and saw my brother with a popsicle in hand sitting on the railing of the back  porch. “Hey, where is everyone?”

“It’s about time you found us!” He said, smiling.

“Where is mom and dad?” I panicked and looked all around. Cars where gone and something seemed off about my brother.

“Oh, they’re still inside. They decided to stay.”

“Stay? What do you mean?”

“Well come on, I’ll show you.” My brother dropped his popsicle and jumped down from the railing. I walked up the porch steps and watched him disappear into the back door. He didn’t open the door, just walked right through it.

“Hey! How did you do that!”

He stuck just his head out of the door. “What do you mean?”

“You’re just a floating head on a closed door. What’s going on?”

“We died, we can do anything.”

“Died?”

He stepped all the way out now and I could see how pale he was. I tried to touch his arm, but mine went right through. 

“Yeah, you left the basement and mom opened the hidden door. A man who looked like a rip off Freddy Kruger jumped out and slashed all of our throats with a machete. All died instantly. Mom and dad decided to stay in the house.”

“Oh.”

“So come on, I’ll show you.”

He disappeared into the door again, and I tried to follow but ran face first into the door. “Hey! I didn’t work!”

My brother didn’t come back. I waited and waited. I looked into the window again and could see no signs of him. If we really were dead, maybe he could only be in or out of the house. I began to pinch and slap myself. I didn’t think that I had died as well, but I couldn’t really remember much after leaving for the outhouse. That’s when it hit me, I ran to where the outhouse was. 

That’s when I saw my lifeless body, blood spilled out from my neck. It looked like I hadn’t even made it inside to the toilet yet. I looked all around, and couldn’t find any signs of life. All the cars had gone except ours. I went to our little mini van and tried to open the doors with no luck. Dad must still have the keys and he’s stuck in the house. 

I sat down on the gravel driveway and cried. How long will I be stuck out here, alone?


Fake Blood

“All that blood looks good on you, really brings out your eyes.” Manuel tossed his rag aside.

“Right, it’ll be in all the winter fashion magazines. I’ll start a new trend.” The actress barely moved from her chair and waved for the assistant. The clumsy twenty something ran over quick to give her a small sip of water from a straw.

Manuel shooed him away, “Okay Charlene, we’ll need to let some of the glue dry. Think you could hang tight in your dressing room until they call?”

“Guess I’ll have to. There’s a tour soon and they don’t want the fans to see that it’s me they’re killing off.” The actress stood up carefully. “Suppose I’ll just go watch TV or something. Come on Mike, keep me company.”

Manuel watched the two leave his trailer from the backdoor, the assistant mumbling that his name wasn’t Mike. He began cleaning up his pencils and paintbrushes, screwing the caps back on the fake blood containers and putting sponges near the sink. His next appointment was going to be the triplets from “The Sisters.” He knew that he was in for a rough afternoon, but at least the makeup wasn’t so extensive as Charlene’s. 

A couple hours later Manuel heard a knock on his trailer door. He had done the triplets makeup and a retouch on Jose from the buddy cop movie and was just cleaning up before heading home. “Just a minute!”

“Mr. Cheve we need to speak to you.” It was a voice Manuel didn’t recognize. He put his rag down and opened the door to find the director of the Zombie Show and a police officer. 

“Can I help you, fellas?”

“We’re aware that you’re the last person to see Charlene Bernese this morning, we’d like to ask you a few questions.” The officer said politely.

“Last person? She didn’t make it to the set?”

The director sighed. “Unfortunately not.”

“Do you mind if I come in and look around?” The officer already began up the steps, he was determined.

“Please, by all means. So what happened?” Manuel stepped to the side so the two men could enter.

The officer didn’t say a word. He put on gloves and began searching the makeup desk. It seemed he was looking for something in particular.

Manuel turned to the director. “Mr. Jefferies, what’s going on? Where is Charlene?” 

The director let out a sob he had been holding in. Once he gained composure he sighed again. “They found her when she didn’t show up to set on time. In her trailer, the TV was on, she was sitting in front of it. Face was mangled and blood everywhere.”

“Special effects, that was my job today.” Manuel was confused, his orders were to make it look like She had been almost eaten by a bear.

The officer found what he was looking for. “Sir, we’re going to need to take this in.”

“My fake blood, why?”

“The blood found on Charlene was not special effects blood. I’m going to need  to take you in for  questioning as well. The blood was her own, we believe this is hers as well.” The officer put the jar in a plastic bag and held out cuffs.

“She left my trailer with her assistant, Mike or something. Are you sure he didn’t have anything to do with this? All I did was apply makeup like I was ordered to do by you Mr. Jefferies!” Manuel was becoming upset. He had been in his trailer all day.

“She didn’t have an assistant, Manuel. You’re the last person to see her alive.”

The officer motioned for all of them to leave the trailer. “As of right now Mr. Cheve, you’re the last person to see Charlene Bernese alive.”


Chaos

A shapeless heap kneels before me. It is darkness, a jumble of words and phrases and colors and emotions and thoughts and there it sits.

Most would struggle with this mass, they would fight against it. Mold it to their views and toss it out when it just didn’t work for them. It would become a mass for someone else to mold and toss.

But I have chosen to decipher it. I don’t want to make it my own, I want to understand it. Look deeper into this jumbled mess and see more than what meets the eye. I’ll sit down with the shapeless heap and let it know that I do not wish to tell it my story but rather let it tell me its own. 

The heap will speak to me and tell me how it came to be. From just a simple mist, one simple idea. And it grew and grew. That shapeless heap will tell me it’s just a shapeless heap but I’ll know better. That bundled ball of chaos isn’t all it seems to be. That shapeless heap is me.


Taken by the Sea

I wish to be taken by the sea. I wish for the wind to sweep me away.

But first I must take a step into a river. This river knows the way. Let the current take me under, for I will be strong. It knows when I need rest, when I need breath. 

The crocodiles will be friends and teach me how to fish. They’ll wish me farewell on my journey.

Waves greet me. They’ll crash down and pull me back. Back into the sea.

And maybe I’ll be met with a great storm, dark clouds coming from the sky to shake my hand, but they know where I need to go. In the morning the sun will shine as if everything is all right.

Then I’ll be brought to the depths. An Angler Fish will teach me about bioluminescence,  I’ll experience what no human has felt before. That in this darkness, there is still beauty to be found. The Angler will point me back to the surface and promise to see me again someday.

I’ll find myself at the center of the Bermuda triangle. With all of its secrets and stories. Lost at sea, calm, and there. There I will find happiness.