Friday, December 7, 2012

Past Favorites by Krystalyn

This month, we are taking time off to shop, catch up on work, and spend time with our families. But don't worry, we're not leaving you empty handed. We are each posting our favorite stories from this past year. My choice is Revelation by Stefanie. I love the images in this one as well as the journey the MC takes in such a short amount of words.

by Stefanie Jones

Just before I lost it all, the world turned to ice. I stare out at the lake that used to wrap around my bare ankles as the scalding sunshine freckled my shoulders. Now it just looks like a healing scar—like God dug his fingernails into the earth and ripped out a chunk that he was no longer proud of. I’m not even sure I believe in God in anymore.

“Syler?” my brother Fleet calls. His voice gets half-lost in a gust of wind that pierces my body like an explosion of glass shards. I pull my outer-most hood closer to my face and try to contain the shudders that are ripping through me. Even through nine layers of clothing, the air is so cold that it feels solid—a wall of icy crystals that are freezing me cell by cell.

“Syler!” Fleet calls again, this time more frantically.“Syler, what in bleeding Christ’s name are you doing out here?!”

I’m not sure if hebelieves in God anymore, either. Before the ice, Fleet would rather swallow a needle than take God’s name in vain. I’ve wanted to bring up his change in demeanor, but we don’t talk about things like that, my brother and I.

A thickly gloved hand wraps around my own and I’m yanked away from the scar-lake.

“What is wrong with you?” Fleet hisses as he slams the door of our tiny house behind me. Heat fills my mouth as I open it to answer him, but the warmth feels so nice that I get distracted and stand there with my jaw hanging open like I’m surprised.

Fleet shakes his head and tightly presses the mounds of blankets back around the cracks of the frozen door.

“I leave you for two seconds and I come back to find you trying to commit suicide. You want to leave me here alone? You want me to have to… To have to…”

He drops his head and lets his hair fall in front of his dark eyes. I know he’s trying to hide his grief over the loss of our parents, and I don’t know why.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time, you know,” I whisper. I reach out a mittened hand and wipe the hair away from his face.

“Obviously I do,” he says, flinching away from my touch. His voice is almost as harsh as the cold.

I turn away from him and start peeling off some of my layers of clothing. I leave on my sweater, jeans, long johns, one pair of gloves, a fleece jacket, and a sock hat that covers my ears. Not to mention the four pairs of socks I have on under my snow boots. It felt warm when I first came inside, but now that my body is starting to thaw, I can feel the slow sting of the cold air wafting down through the chimney. A fire still burns in the fireplace, but it won’t last for much longer.

What were you doing outside, Syler?” Fleet asks again.

“We’ve burned almost everything we have, and I was seeing if I could stand the cold long enough to run to the neighbor’s house and scavenge for wood. Or more books, or something.”

He sucks in a sharp breath. I know he was hoping that somehow I wouldn’t notice that he burned all my books last night, but I’m not an idiot. It’s okay. I’d rather livethan read, I guess…

My gaze shoots to corner shelf in the dining room where our mom kept her well-worn Bible. She used to read it every night before bed. I remember watching her finger the pages as she read, like she could rub all her worries and troubles into the scripture.

It’s still there.

A wave of relief goes through me and I briefly wonder if it’s because it’s the last remaining possession of my mother’s, or if I’m glad that I can still read it if I decide that I still believe in God.

“How long?” he says softly, like he doesn’t really want to know the answer.

“Seven seconds. Though I lost count when you called my name, so maybe a few seconds longer.”

“We can’t risk it, Syler. I won’t let you risk it.”

“But I’m fast! I can get in and out in less than a minute, I promise!”

“NO,” he says firmly. “I’ll figure something out. But you are not going back outside.”

I cross my arms and sink down in the corner near the fireplace, where my pallet is made. We burned the couch last week, and our beds the week before that. I can’t even imagine how cold it actually is outside since our thermometer burst after the first ice storm. Fleet settles down into his own pallet and throws the last little pile of books onto the fire. The flames lick around the paper spines like an animal that’s just been fed after weeks of starvation, but it only lasts for a few seconds. Paper burns too fast.

Since the ice came, the inside of my house is all I’ve seen of the world. I lied to Fleet when I told him I was trying to figure a way to get into our neighbor’s house—whose chimney smoke died out a week ago; I am certainly not ready to face what is waiting in there.

I really just wanted one last glimpse of what was left of our dead world.

I stand up from my pile of blankets and pad over to the dining room corner shelf. When Fleet realizes what I’ve grabbed, he shakes his head vehemently. But I walk past him, past the dying fire, and wiggle down into my blankets.

I don’t know if I believe in God anymore, but what do I have left but my brother and this Bible? I open to the very last page and rub my fingers into the red and black words, like maybe my worries and fears will leak from my body and transport themselves into the scripture, as the ice begins to crust around the edges of the fireplace.

Fleet joins me in my nest of blankets, covering us both with his blankets as well, and we read until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer.


Story by: Stefanie
Photo by: Octagon


  1. Good choice! I really like everyone's story with this picture prompt.

  2. I like this one as well! Good choice, Krystalyn, and nice work, Stefanie:-)