Friday, October 26, 2012

So We Wait...

So We Wait....

I lie in wait. As poetic, or creepy, as that sounds it’s true. She comes by on occasion, but she’s always here come Halloween. Giggling echoes around the canyon that surrounds these parts, separating me from the town, my former home.

She’s not alone. This time of year she’s not without the crowd of buff guys. They strut and puff like they’re ready to save her from a burning building or a shark attack or the Zombie apocalypse. They act like they have no fear. Whether they’re as thin as I wish I was, or as wide, whether muscles ripple at the slightest flex or if they have legs as thick as tree trunks. I try not to be jealous, I shouldn’t feel anything considering.

Every year I wait. The trees lose their leaves, become big sticks with smaller sticks jutting out. The crunch of frosted ground under feet. I sense animals around. Especially when they relieve themselves nearby and I wait. I wait for the day when she’ll come in costume with a group of others. You’d think after four years there’d be some suspicion, but in a town as small as ours (population 2000 and counting) it’s the only ‘exciting’ thing to do on All Hallow’s Eve.

She’s in front, leading the way with a flashlight. Her outfit is a flashflight. She has a sparkly tiara in her hair. Her dress is neon green with glitter around the edges and translucent, again glittery, wings. I wait for her smile and she does as she gets closer through the brush and vines growing outward, sticking me as they get longer and thornier, and more aggressive, feels like they tie me down. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to.

There are four girls and four guys. All in costumes. The girls wear things too short and tight. The guys are superheroes (real original guys). Seeing her up close with glitter around her eyelids and in her lipstick, she shines. Everyone is dull next to her.

I want to touch her, hold her hand. We almost, once. Before. Creak. I try to get closer, creak. No use.

“Augh, this house is ugly,” one of the girls says. She sticks her tongue out my way. Wish I could do the same. The door opens and shuts startling them all. It’s the closest I can get. The girls, except for her, jump and the guys are quickly at their side.

She steps closer though. She smiles as she approaches and I wonder if she can see down to the core me. When we were kids, before everything happened she grinned at me not because her mom forced her to but because she wanted to. That’s what she told me. Before the accident. Before I got stuck and could only see her from afar.

“Babe, where you going?” Superdouche asks.

Over her shoulder she says, “I’m not your babe!” Snickers ensue and the guy swipes an arm at her as though she’s not worth anything anymore.

She comes up the path waving the flashlight.

She whistles. “The vines grew long.

Her hand lands on the front of the house, where the doorbell would be if anyone else cared to come by. Her touch against the wood is a warm print that spreads. Lights flicker on and I feel her light by the briefest of contact. Just like in the hospital. When she put her hand on my back and said “It’s okay.” As soon as I had her I lost her. That’s what hurts the most.

“They miss you,” she says petting the door frame.  

Are they the only ones? I wish I could say something, more. The most I can offer is a retraction of the shade but then it falls off the hinges.

“Creepy much?” the same girl calls from behind.

One of the guys wraps his arms around her and lifts her up. She giggles and screams, a flirty mix, for him to put her down.

She faces the group. “Come inside! See the haunted house for yourselves!” She crosses her eyes and wiggles her fingers in the air like she’s a puppeteer.

The door opens. The guys step up first. She steps to the side to let everyone in.

“You coming?” Superdouche asks.

“Be right in,” she purrs. He winks at her, punches the wall as if for good measure. Her face goes flat and she nods. My cue.

I seal it up like it’s Fort Knox.

“Hey!” Superdouche yells. He starts pounding on the door, another goes at the wall, one guy picks up one of the fallen lamps and hits the window. It’s like my insides are being blown out with each bit of force. The girls scream, their heels scrape the floor. I let loose. The lights flicker, the gas starts up, and soon everyone is very quiet.

She waits. So do I.

After a bit she asks, “Did it work this time?”

I try flexing arms but my reach doesn’t extend beyond the boards that creak and are weathered. I can feel termites burrowing in. Beyond the light fixtures and surges of electricity and the gas and those of them on the floor board. Beyond the vines sticking into the surface and creeping inside as well.

I wish I could tell her it worked. Another year and we’ll have to figure out a new way to get my life force out of this house and back into a human body.

She sighs. Leans her body against me. It’s always this point that I wish I had arms to hug her, to snake around her waist and feel her heartbeat against mine. I wanted to live longer and I wanted her. This is the cost.

“I’ll try harder. I swear, I’ll try harder.’” She starts down the pathway before rushing back. Kissing the window she leaves a glitter print of lips. I’ll hold onto that until the elements wash it away, until I’m finally free. 

Photo by: Elephi Pelephi
Story by: Jenn Baker 

Friday, October 19, 2012


Story by: Amy

I love this time of day. That one brief hour before. When the trees go gold across their tops, drenched in the last drops of sunlight. When I can feel the evening chill riding in on the coat tails of the shadows that slowly cover the hills and valleys of the land around me. For an hour I have nothing to do, but sit and wait. If I’m lucky, that’s all I do before They call me back inside, yanking at the vines that tie me to Them and this house and are somehow stronger than any iron chains.

I glance down at the two story monstrosity behind me, practically swallowed up by a sink hole the same day that They came, rotted and moldering and somehow still pretty in an awful broken down way. The perfect place for creatures like Them. Most people pass it by without a thought or downward glance anymore. Once in a while a group of teenagers decides it’s the perfect place for a séance or make out session, but they barely ever make it past the front steps and the guttural growls coming from somewhere inside. If they’re too slow, sometimes they never make it back off of those steps again before the door opens and they’re dragged inside, too quick for them to even muster up a scream.

I sit cross-legged in the grass and pick at the flowery weeds nearby. I pull at the petals and toss them one by one into the air. Make a wish on each in that brief moment when they’re hovering in space, before they flutter towards the earth.

Stay away today.

My wish sort of rhymes, which almost makes it feel ridiculous, but I say it anyway. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“Hello there,” a pleasant voice says. A boy about my age, or at least the age I think I am, is standing just in front of me. I like his hands. They’re the first thing I look at, just a little rough and dotted with paint. I follow the paint drips like bread crumbs from his wrists to his arms, past his white t shirt sleeves and up to his face, all angles and hollows that seem perfect for tracing with my fingers. His eyes are green like the evergreens just beyond him.

This will be one of the times that my wishes don’t work. I can already tell. But still part of me keeps hoping. I cross my fingers on both hands and will them to anyway. Go away, I think at him.

 It doesn’t work and I sigh heavily before dropping the last of my weeds onto the grass. I brush my hands off on my dress. It’s a faded yellow now. The ribbon flowers lining the rounded collar are almost completely unraveled and hang like streamers down my front. And it’s also too small in the shoulders and much too short on my legs, the netting under the skirt that used to make it full that now hangs slightly lower than the dress itself which is the only thing keeping the world from seeing my underwear.

I push my hair back from my face. I know it must be knotted and wild, but there’s no way to fix it. Actually, even if I could I probably wouldn’t.   If I’m lucky, the combination of the dress and hair will scare people away, but I suppose it’s obvious by now that I am hardly ever lucky and so usually these things have the opposite effect and draw people closer, make them curious about me or sorry for me.

“Hello,” I say in a voice that’s neither friendly or unfriendly. It is a fine line that I walk. I know that They are listening and will pull at my vines if they hear me trying to scare people off. And They will do much, much worse later on when they pull me back inside. Those nights seem to go on forever and afterwards I’m way too black and blue to be their bait again for at least a week. Which is much too long for Them to go between feedings and They end up nibbling at me a bit instead. I don’t like to think about those times.

“I like your bracelet,” he says as he smiles again. His teeth are perfectly straight and so, so white.

I smile in spite of myself. Usually the first thing anyone does is ask if I’m okay and it always makes me want to smack them. Of course I’m not okay. Everything about me practically shouts this.

“It was my mom’s,” I say turning the bracelet around my wrist as I do. Saying the word mom immediately fills my head with memories from the night They snuck in. When the house sat level with the sidewalk and the street and was lemon yellow, not faded to the color of pee. My parents made us hide. But there’s nowhere you can go that They can’t find, sniff out. I didn’t see Them eat my parents and later on my sister, but I did hear the screams.

Every single one of them.

I shudder.

“What’s your name?” he asks.

I have to think about this. I used to know the answer, but that was a long time ago when this dress was so big that I had to safety pin the collar to keep it from slipping down. “Little Bit” is what my parents used to call me, but it wasn’t my name, not really. I frown, try to remember. “M-m-molly,” I say because it’s the only name that I can come up with, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not mine. I think it was the name of the girl I brought inside on the first night that They sent me out “fishing”.

“What are you doing out here?” he asks slowly. He hasn’t tried to come any closer to me. I think maybe he’s afraid he’ll scare me away which is so ridiculous that I start to laugh. I don’t like how hoarse and mad I sound when I do. I glance up at him and his eyes are wide, but he doesn’t back away.

He should.

“Hey, it’s getting dark soon. Do you live close by?”

I turn around, my gaze traveling down the sloping hill behind me where the black shingled roof of my house is visible. I can hear the vines rustling against each other as I move, but I don’t try to quiet them. He won’t hear them. He can’t even see them. They’re only visible to me and Them.

“You live down there?” the boy looks surprised. He takes a step closer to see the house better. I step into his path. I can’t tell him to stop, to run, because They’ll hear, but I can block his path.

“It’s okay, I just want to help you,” he says gently. I hate how kind his eyes are. Just looking at them makes my stomach hurt. Below me one of Them howls, high and soft enough for only me to hear. I look up. The stars are starting to come out. It’s almost time. I can feel Them urging me to do my job, to draw him in. Now. The vine around my right foot goes from slack to taut.

“Yeah, it’s actually pretty cool down there. Want to see?”

 I look over at the boy, at his hands in his pockets, at his faded blue jeans and paint splattered shirt. He grins, not yet aware of what I’m about to do. Of what’s about to happen to him. I open my hand, palm up and offer it to him. It’s dirty and rusty looking where blood has caked around the nail beds and in the lines of my palm. Part of me hopes he’ll see it and will somehow know what it is, but he doesn’t. He does hesitate for a fraction of a second before taking my hand though. His instincts are kicking in, warning him to stay away.


But then his hand lands in mine and I sigh once more before I close my fingers around it. Together we walk down the ivy covered slope and directly onto the roof. They can hear us and I can sense Them, scrabbling up the staircase that winds through the center of the house, jaws snapping.

“Ouch!” The boy pulls his hand from mine. I was gripping it too hard. He takes a step backward. And before I know what I’m doing I push him off of the roof and onto the hill just beyond.

“Run!” I yell and below me They howl furiously and yank at my vines so hard that I fall forward onto my stomach. My breath goes out of me in one painful rush and then I’m sliding across the roof. Roofing nails dig into my palms, shredding my skin and smearing my blood on the shingles. I don’t scream, but the boy turns and looks at me anyway. I can see him as I begin to drop over the side of the roof and into their waiting claws.

Photo by: Elephi Pelephi

Friday, October 5, 2012


by: Krystalyn

He wasn't a very troublesome ghost. He didn't rattle chains, or slam doors, or give people cold shivers. In fact, he didn't mind at all when people crept about in his house. While the intruders tromped up and down the stairs of the dilapidated building, he stood in a corner and watched. He hadn't known what he was looking for until he found it.

That's not to say there weren't rumors about him. Jimmy Handleman came to school one day covered in deep scratches. He claimed he had gotten them while exploring the house. Said he was climbing the stairs and out of nowhere this banshee scream started up. Before he could move one step, his skin had been ripped to shreds. Most of the girls believed him and fawned all over him for the next week. But not Tia. She kept her distance, pretty sure he'd just pissed off the stray cat that hangs out by the ball field. Jimmy was always chucking baseballs at the poor thing.

Tia met the ghost only once when Callie Westen and her group of clones forced her to go in there. Tia wasn't afraid of the house, but she was afraid of those girls and how they made up lies about her if she didn't do what they said. So she found a loose board on one of the downstairs windows and climbed inside, hoping they'd be gone by the time she came out.

The dusty air scratched her throat, but she had to spend thirty minutes in there or Callie's group would make sure she couldn't show her face in school again. She covered my mouth with her shirt collar and blinked until her eyes adjusted to the dark. The beam of sunlight helped – the one shooting through the space she had entered. Everything else was closed up like a tomb. Or at least that's how Tia thought of the house. A tomb for the boy trapped there. Part of her considered leaving the window unboarded. Maybe then he could get out once in a while. It must be lonely, being lost in a crumbling house.

The orange shag carpet was covered in a layer of dust, and the sofa had so much stuffing popping out, it looked like it had been eaten alive. The squeak of some kind of rodent told her it probably had.

The whole place smelled like a combination of mold and Ivory soap. Tia wondered how long it had been since anyone lived there. Certainly not in her lifetime. Maybe not in her parents'. She wondered if the ghost understood how much time had passed. She hoped he didn't.

She headed straight for the stairs. Not because of Jimmy's story, but because she'd always heard the ghost preferred the second floor. And she sort of wanted to meet him.

Upstairs, she found a crack in one of the walls and peeked down to the street. Callie and her friends were huddled together, every one of them frantically tapping on their smart phones. Every now and then, one of the girls would look up at the house and burst out laughing before returning to her texting. Tia hated them all.

Then Callie looked up. Tia was pretty sure Callie couldn't see her, but the glare in Callie's eyes pierced straight through Tia's chest. Tia stumbled back from the wall, and that's when she saw him, staring at her from the corner. But his eyes didn't pierce through her. They welcomed her. She was an intruder in his house, and he welcomed her. She hadn't felt that way in a long, long time.

He took one step forward, hobbling, like he was stiff from standing there so long. He was mostly solid, but if she tilted her head in a certain way, she could see the wall right through his button down shirt and tight fitting jeans. He was cute in a Greg Brady kind of way.

“What's your name?” she asked.

He opened his mouth, but the only thing that came out was a gentle puff of peppermint scented air. His shoulders slumped. He hadn't spoken in so long.

“It's okay,” Tia said. “I don't need to talk anyway. I just need to...” She nodded toward the crack in the wall, hoping he understood.

He nodded and walked away, his body passing through a closed door at the end of the hall.

Tia felt a twinge of disappointment until his hand reached back through and gestured for her to follow.

His bedroom was decorated with flowered wallpaper (which he obviously hadn't chosen) and band posters (which he obviously had.) He smiled as if to say, “This is my room.”

“I like it,” she said. And she meant it, even though the wallpaper was peeling and the posters were faded. She put her phone on his nightstand and turned on one of her play lists. An oldies one she thought he'd like.

He nodded his approval, then sat on his bed. The same creatures who had feasted on the couches below must have munched on his comforter too. Still, when he motioned for her to sit beside him, she did. She blushed because it was the first time she had ever sat on a boy's bed. It didn't matter if he was alive or not. His smile was enough.

They must have listened to music for an hour or more, because when he walked her downstairs, the girls were nowhere in sight. Tia's guess was they didn't want to be anywhere near the scene of the crime if she turned up missing. Maybe that idea would scare them enough to leave her alone for a while. She could only hope.

Before she climbed out the window, Tia turned to her ghost. “I know what I was waiting for. But what about you? Why are you still here?”

He stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged. Before she could say a word, he planted a quick, peppermint scented kiss on her cheek. And then he disappeared. Just like that.

He had never been a very troublesome ghost, but it was easy to keep up Jimmy Handleman's rumor since Tia sliced her arm on a shard of glass climbing out the window. She didn't do it to protect the ghost. He never came back after that day. She did it so whenever life got too rough, she had her very own place to sit for a while and listen to music and eat a peppermint. And wait.


Photo by: Elephi Pelephi


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October's Photo

Okay, it's a new month and you know what that means:

another photo.

*Imagine the drum roll starting now*

In honor of Halloween and all the things that go bump in the night, we have our version of a haunted house. If you like the photo and are moved to write something based on it, by all means send it our way and at the end of the month we will post it along with any other submissions that we receive. In the meantime, look for Krystalyn's story this coming Friday.

Photo by: Elephi Pelephi

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Departure Point by Maria Mainero

Here is the second and final submission we received for September. Thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Maria.

Ivy’s pointe shoes are soundless on the worn carpet in the empty greenroom, where the winter afternoon light filters in palely through the French windows. Desire brings her here, in her Snowflake costume, as he commanded, with promises of angelic gracefulness to free her from this small town. Promises he’s proven the ability to grant.

The day she met him, the greenroom was crowded with Grandmas and Grandpas congratulating their little Angels and Mice after the final performance. Soldiers and Snowflakes lined up for autographs from the professional dancers, hired for the lead roles. Ivy’s turn with Irena was over; a scrawl on her program, a “good luck” and “who’s next?” to cherish. Ivy is jostled back into the crowd and she looks for her family, her stage smile masking her fading optimism.

Tommy’s there, one hand in Mom’s, the other clutching a rainbow-colored lollipop. Nothing is taboo today, because this week they’ll cut open his head and take out the cancer. Ivy swallows a lump in her throat. It’s wrong to feel resentment. She tries to think of dimpled hands thrown around her neck, that baby-voice saying “I lub you Iby.” She tries to remember her family before, when their smiles were real, when they weren’t afraid of anything.

She doesn’t want to join them now. She wants to run back on stage, where nothing exists except what she feels with her own body. The floor beneath her feet. The stiffness of tulle brushing her arm. The tug of the bun in her hair.

“Hello Ivy.”

The voice has none of the timidity or bravado she usually hears from boys her age. Only confidence and expectation. His wide eyes are brown and bright like leaves on an autumn day. She widens her smile in recognition, trying to remember who he is.

He hands her a bouquet. He’s only a delivery boy, she’s mistaken; she doesn’t know him at all. But he dispels her disappointment, saying, “I’ve been dying to meet you.”

She can twirl on a toe, but he has her off balance. “Really?” she says, ineloquently, happy for the delay, happy for a cute boy to notice her, happy to be happy for as long as she can.

His hand stays extended. She laughs awkwardly, shifting the flowers. “Thank—“ she begins, but the words dissolve, as his fingers touch hers with a blazing shiver. She grips his hand tightly and searches his eyes for an explanation of the peace and pleasure and aching that pours over her.

“What do you think about angels?” he asks, releasing her hand, ending the euphoria. Ivy gapes at the boy, the NorthFace logo on his jacket, his swept-forward light brown hair, his toothy smile. With slow breaths, she answers, “It’s nice to imagine some force of goodness watching over us. Or are you talking about the dancers?” Ivy adds, as he raises a dark eyebrow.

“Guardian Angels? Everyone loves them. They have it easy.”

Ivy goes en pointe. “It is a child’s part.”

“You’re no child. You can choose your own way.”

She shivers again. Across the room, Mom talks with the other moms. Is she telling them to discourage their daughters’ dreams? Be realistic Ivy. Those professional dancers have wealthy families, it’s not a career for people like us. Even before Tommy got sick. . .”

“Who are you?”

“Who am I?” he asks, “Or who is this?” and made a sweeping gesture with his hand in front of his body.

She giggles, because weird things should be laughed at. “You’re freaking me out.”

“Then you do feel the power.” He clasps her hand again, the warmth returns, like a luxurious stretch after a grueling practice. “Don’t be afraid. You can dance like an angel, be as lovely and loved as one of us. The power of the angels is yours to command if you allow yourself to be my vessel.”

“Vessel?” She shakes off the fear. “Is this your lame idea of seduction?”

“Not like you think. Be here tomorrow. Four o’clock. In costume. And as proof, angel blessings for your brother.”

“My brother?” she asks, but he’s gone.

It’s four o’clock now. Ivy left her family celebrating Tommy’s cure. Tommy’s miracle, Mom said. Even the doctor could only insist that the scans were accurate. Had been all along.  

Ivy pirouettes impatiently, and in the turns a faceless form appears. She shrieks, but the touch of his bloody hand infuses her with bliss and his voice soothes. “An Angel of Death can only become the dying; they’re not always pretty. That’s why I need you. I can’t seduce an Archangel with just any corpse.”

“My brother?” she whispers.

“I’ve withheld my hand, as your reward.”

“Reward for. . ?”

“For the use of your body. When I’ve achieved my goal, you’ll be free of me forever. Only the blessings will remain.”

Ivy nods, grateful for her brother, grateful that she doesn’t have to make this choice on greed alone. Water fills the room, warm and caressing, lifting her to the ceiling.

“Dance,” the Angel commands. “Don’t be afraid.” 

Arms raised, she submerges. Her hair and dress swirl around her. Jete, tendu, arabesque. Her limbs execute the moves precisely, like dancing on air. The crystal chandelier hangs motionless as she churns the water with a pirouette. This isn’t real, she tells herself, as her lungs strain for air and water fills her mouth.

And then, her feet land solidly on the floor. Her tutu is dry; her hands alive and warm. “Is that it?”

“That’s all you’ll remember.”

“Where have you been?” Mom demands. Ivy stares blankly; she doesn’t remember getting home. Mom enfolds her in a tight hug. “Never mind. I love you. My teenager.” Tommy squeezes eagerly into their embrace, “And my baby, my teenager-to-be.” Mom says, tearfully.

Tommy reaches his arms up to Ivy, his trusting eyes brown and bright as autumn leaves.

There are costs to everything, Ivy realizes. But she’s not afraid.


Maria loves getting lost on vacation, watching movies in the theater, and laughing at anything she can. She’s currently obsessed like a teenager with MCR. When she was a teenager, she had a crush on Beethoven. She writes at night when her husband and kids are asleep. Sometimes when she’s asleep too.  You can find Maria at or Or at a keyboard somewhere in Michigan.

Underwater Photo by Phoebe Rudomino