Friday, December 2, 2011



"Did you fall asleep?"


"Were you waiting for the monsters to come?"


"But, did they?"


"Then, why - why, my dear, were you in the forbidden room?"

Silent. I remain silent.

"Answer me."

"Forbiddance," I say. "I performed a forbidden deed in the forbidden room."

He smiles. "So now we're being smart?"

"No. Now we are honest."

His eyes narrow, yellow slits in the dark. "How did you get in?"

"The door was open."

"You expect me to believe the door was open for you to simply waltz in?" he sneers.

"Not waltz, walk."

He pushes from his chair, his fingers around my neck.

I do not flinch.

"What did you do?"

"I stood."

The forbidden room. The room with the bed and the nightstand - the room where the monsters lived when I first walked. Fifteen years of running away from dreams threaded with darkness, and I went back.

I am no longer afraid.

Because he is the monster and they are the light.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Story: Secret Sanctuary by Amber Thompson

Our secret garden, our secret place. A place in the middle of the forest that has been forgotten. Our nights together had come to a close. It had been months since an escape to our hidden sanctuary had taken place.

We would not run away together again. Our time had come to an end. We had lost our secrets, our love. Now, our nights were all but forgotten, they were gone.

I stepped out of our flat and started for the woods. It was mid-afternoon, a different time for me to be going there, and I was going alone. We had always gone in the evening to watch the sunset and the bright stars, and we had always gone together. Our secret trysts were long gone.

I stopped short just before the clearing. Music was coming from our spot. I ducked under the bushes and snuck a peek. Speakers were sitting on the little end table that he had brought the last time we had visited.
I saw her first. I froze. He had brought another woman with him. They were speaking in whispers. As they stood to leave, he spoke in a clear voice.

"We can come back as often as we would like, this is our spot."

I did not know what to think. He had cast me aside so easily, and now he had forgotten me. I created the secret hideaway with him, and now he was willing to share our spot with another.

They left. I stepped into the clearing. The clean white bed was untouched, still made. The canopy I had hung from an overhead branch had been pulled aside, but that was how I left it. They must have spent their time on the bench that he had built.

The past had been lost, and now we had to live in the present. I loved him. I never stopped loving him. Although now he loved her. The blonde with the perfect beauty.

I was alone now.

I sat on the bed and laid back on the pillows. I remembered the past. I thought about the first time we had needed an escape from the world.

We were hand-in-hand, walking. Just walking. I was telling him about my crappy dead-end job and he was complaining about how his boss had fired twenty people, but only kept him on because she liked how he looked in his suit.

We had been together for almost five years at that point. We had only been married for two. We walked along the trail in the woods and came to a halt when the trail ended. Trees surrounded us, but we needed to push further. We stepped off the trail and into the woods. Another five minutes of wlaking later, we came across a clearing. It was almost the size of an olympic sized pool. We stepped into the clearing and sat down.
I leaned against him as he wrapped his arm around me. I had a secret to tell him. I was expecting a child, our first child.

Before I could tell him, he suggested that we make the clearing ours. I gave the hint that we should place a bed and a bench in the grass. He agreed, and a week later he surprised me by bringing a queen-sized matress through the woods and when he brought me back later, he sat me down on the bed.

"I love you," he said in a whisper.

"I love you, too," I said. I told him I had a secret that I had been hiding for a few weeks. When he asked me continue, I obliged.

"I'm pregnant," I said. He hugged me and we had a few moments of complete bliss. This was our first good memory at our secret garden. The first moment of many that were to take place over the course of a year.
A few months later, I ended up losing the baby, but we still went to our place, to remember the good times, to be able to escape reality. After our three year anniversary of our marriage, he told me he wanted a divorce. I was shocked, of course, but I understood. We were not the same people. We loved each other, but I could tell that he was not in love with me.

Now, it was not our spot. It was his spot. It was her spot. It was not my place anymore. I stood up and walked toward the trees. I did not look back. I could not look back. I walked away from the past, and into the future.

about the author, Amber Thompson:

I currently live in Chester, New Hampshire, where I attend the local private college for Creative Writing. I have been writing since I was in first grade, when my teacher read us Harry Potter for the first time, and I find my inspiration to be J.K. Rowling. You can always find me writing some story or another and I am currently working on my first novel, a young adult romance tentatively entitled, Love Schooled. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


aka this story doesn't have a real title because I suck at titles.

It was the third day of the second month of the first year. Mom was in her room crying like she usually did, and Lola was in the downstairs bathroom doing whatever she thought would get her attention. On the fifth day of the seventh month, she was cutting herself. That was when I made her go to counseling.

Every few months I found her doing something else. Binge-eating. Burning herself. She picked up habits from those in her group.

It was the twenty-seventh day of the first month of the first year that I kept her home. She shouldn’t be exposed to that.

She found other ways to harm herself, though. I had hoped today would be a better day for both of them. Instead, I was facing my own demons.

I crawled out of the bedroom window onto the cold, snow and ice roof. I only wore jeans and a bra. All my shirts were dirty because I hadn’t done laundry since last Tuesday, two weeks ago. All I wanted was to sit outside and cry.

A year, two months, and three days ago Dad died. Fourteen months and four days ago our life was good. Dad was coming back from his trip in New York; Mom had a fantastic case and she was going to win—everybody knew it, even the defendant. Lola was captain of the cheer team and the football team was going to be the state champions. I was volleyball captain, and we were going to state. We were going to win, I knew it.

Lola and I were still the envy of every underclassman. We could have any boy we wanted, but I stayed with Chris and Lola had her eyes set on this college kid who didn’t give her the time of day.

I was in the gym, spiking a ball when I got the news. Lola ran into the gym, mascara running down her face and she still held onto a pom-pom. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but it was slipping to the side.

I missed the ball as Lola ran into the practice game. “What is it?” I had asked her. “What’s wrong?” Whose ass do I have to kick?

Her lips trembled. “Dad’s airplane crashed.”

My best friend Lindsey screamed and I fell to the ground crying.

“You’re going to catch pneumonia.” Chris climbed out the window with his jacket, tugging me up to wrap me into it.

“Maybe I want to.”

He grabbed my chin and yanked it up so I had to look at him.  “Don’t give up on me. You’re not Lola.”

“Chris, I can’t—“

“You can.” He went back through, arms out for me to follow. I did, reluctantly, because I knew if I didn’t he would come back out there and get me. He held me and we fell into the bed that smelled like sweat and Red Bull and the stupid chips I couldn’t stop eating. I started crying into his shoulder.

We stayed like that until Lola came into the room. She was pale and skinny, her long blond hair chopped off.

“What did you do to your hair?” I asked, sitting up and rubbing at my eyes. “It was so pretty…” Before fourteen months ago, she obsessed over her hair and makeup like crazy. She never cut her hair. She wouldn’t let anybody jokingly come near her hair with scissors.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s just hair.” She shook it out of her face and crossed her arms. “Mom’s getting up. I think she wants to go to the…” she could finish the sentence, but I knew what she meant. I pinched Chris so he would wake up. I gave him his jacket back and dug through the piles of clothes until I found a shirt that didn’t smell or look that bad. Maybe it was clean and Lola threw it the ground in one of her fits.

Every five days, Lola would scream and shriek and repeat “Why him?” while throwing whatever she could get her hands on.

That’s how she broke the mirror and cut herself, which started the harming obsession.

I folded into Chris’ arms as Lola left my room, head tucked to his heart. Tha-ump. Tha-ump. Tha-ump. He smelled good too. He was a year older, almost exact—my birthday and Lola’s on the seventh of May while his was on the second of May. He saw me the first day of freshman year, four years, three months, and seventeen days ago. Four years, two months, and three days ago he asked me out.

Two years and seven months and one day ago I broke up with him for another guy.

Two years and seven months and twenty-one days ago we got back together and didn’t let the other go, no matter what happened in their life.

So it surprised me when three minutes ago I walked him down to door and he kissed me like it was goodbye.

about the author:
At age ten, Ashelynn discovered the lost city of Atlantis Narnia-style (it's not that cool) and was kidnapped by a bunch of ninja pirates. She had to beg for her release. A year later, she beat the Devil in a poker game (it wasn't that hard) and owns half of Hell. At fifteen, she decided to write down the stories she made up. She likes writing fiction more than non-fiction, day dreaming more than dreaming, languages more than math, and cake more than pie. She believes in magic and that the most magical time of day is night. She may also be lying about this bio. 

She wears many hats, including book blogger, writer, and full-time student (political science, baby!). 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Only The Young

The picture that inspired this story is here.

Only the young can say… they’re free to fly away… sharing the same desires… burning like wildfire…

The song like a whisper on my lips, I sing, “Only the young -.”

I’m interrupted by a thick hand on my shoulder. Startled, my feet stop swinging off the ledge, and I turn. James, brown leather jacket and all, is kneeling behind me. His hand falls off my shoulder and he smiles.

“James!” I exclaim. “I thought you’d left.”

“Not yet.”


“Not yet,” he says again, looking away from me. He’s looking out at the city, with all its secrets, lies, doors, and windows.

He’s looking at the future. I know because I was, too.

I shake my head, throwing my dark bangs to the side. With futures so unclear, I want to be able to see. I need to be able to see. See where James is going with his music, see if my father gets sent to prison, see how many times I will fall victim to all these little things.

Suddenly, I feel weak.

“James,” I say softly, turning towards him again.

The warmth of his right hand meets my cheek, and he laughs. His hand slides past my jaw, pushing my limp hair back from neck, and he leans. Before his lips can touch my neck, I whisper, “Is it safe?”

“Don’t you remember?” he asks, pulling away.

Our third date. The night he brought me out on this ledge and we watched all the cars pass by below. We tried to look at stars through city lights and haze. We tiptoed on the edge, scared to fall, but scared to be safe. And we kissed for the first time. Held hands and became inseperable.

But it’s not night now. It’s a year later and there’s been many kisses. And we’ve walked this ledge so many times that walking has become safe. Where’s the danger now?

It’s in tomorrow, in the unknown days.

A tear slips from my eye, and I force a smile. “Of course I remember.”

James pushes forward again, wrapping a strong arm around my shoulders, his lips pressed to my cheek, to that tear. When we fall back together and hit concrete, his lips are on mine. I can taste the salt.

His hand is cradling my neck so gently, and his arm his holding me to him with such strength. Everything seems impossible.

I break from his kiss just the slightest bit and look up. It doesn’t matter where I am, the blue sky always looks the same. Whether I’m lying with James in a field, or on a ledge, it’s still wide and blue.

It’ll look the same wherever I am, wherever James is. We’ll see the same sky and remember. I close my eyes again, whispering, “You’ll never let me fall?”


I kiss him again, opening my mouth with a gasp against his as his knee nudges my leg off the ledge.

With his kiss, I’m free to fly. 


The picture that inspired this story is here.

The wind rustled the ends of her hair, lifting it in a way that if the wind was stronger, she’d fly away, up over the roof tops and city people staring at her. She could fly away from anything that pained her and land in a place of happiness. Renew herself. Crack out of the shell of the girl that once was and emerge as a beautiful butterfly.

Grace. She’d rename herself Grace. The way it sounded coming from her mouth, so elegant, made her smile. She’d be elegant. She’d be kind and loved by all.

Grace tipped her head back, staring up at the blue, blue sky. Maybe if she stared at it she wouldn’t see the ground racing to meet her. Wouldn’t hear the crunch of her bones; the squish of blood pouring from her. The snap of her life gone as she hit pavement.

She sat down, dangling her legs over the edge. It felt freeing—daring—to be half over the ledge. One slip and whoosh. Goodbye.

“What are you doing out here?” A boy leaned out of the window, staring at her in utter amazement and frightfulness. His hair was blond and messy, like he rolled out of bed. His eyes blue, like the sky, and sleepiness was mixed with the other emotions.


He slid out of the window and sat next to her. “Why?” He smelled like cinnamon. She wanted to bury her face in his jacket. But that wouldn’t be very graceful, and she intended on acting like her new name.

She tilted her head at him. Parted her cracked, pink lips. They still looked soft. “Because life is hell.”

“Jumping will be hell, too.”

She didn’t skip a beat. “Not unless you let yourself go while falling. You won’t feel a thing.”
He stared at her for a long time; from her dyed black hair and red roots to the combat boots she wore under the plaid skirt. He guessed she was an artist struggling to make it in the big, bad world. He held up his hands, dry, but covered in paint. He smiled.

“It isn’t that bad, you know.” He leaned forward, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. He whispered, “I hope you haven’t let yourself go,” and pressed his lips to her cheek. She gasped, turning her head toward his. Their breath mingled, then their lips and tongues. Wave after wave of emotion crashed inside her and he pressed her down on the ledge, one leg of hers still dangling; they stayed like that for a few minutes, hands tangled in hair while their mouths danced. He pulled her into the studio apartment with him.

“Toby,” he said, his lips brushing hers as he talked. She felt solid with floor under her feet. Walls under her touch as he pushed her into the corner. Ceiling overhead. Safe. The shell of the girl was broken; out came a new girl. A new butterfly.


Picture Prompt

Leah Clifford, author of A TOUCH MORTAL, has been running After Midnight writing contests. She tweeted a picture of this last week and asked for stories under 500 words. So Kaitlin and I (Ashelynn) entered. Since both stories are around 500 words, we're going to post them to different posts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Story: Orange Tulips by Laina

Today's short story is from Laina, one of our other critique partners who doesn't normally write short stories. It's a gorgeous story--very short--and very depressing. Enjoy! 

“I miss you.”
            I know.
            “I still don’t understand why you left with him.”
            I know that, too.
            “Were you cheating on me?”
            “Were you going to?”
            Maybe. I don’t know. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have, but we’ll never know now, will we? And that’s probably a good thing.
            “I never even saw you drink before.”
            I know. It wasn’t the first time, but it wasn’t a regular occurrence either. And I was angry that you blew me off to go out with your friends, so I went out with mine and  I was angry that I thought you were pulling away and I was… I was angry about a lot of things. Most, if not all, of them were my fault.
            “You know I would have come gotten you if you called me, right?”
            Yeah, of course I do, but I didn’t want to see you. You were pretty much the last person I wanted to see.
            “If you didn’t want to see me, you should have gotten a cab.”
            I know. Getting into a car with someone who’d been drinking was the stupidest thing I ever did.
            “I’m sorry I haven’t come and seen you before.”
            It’s okay. I don’t hang around here a lot either. If you haven’t noticed, there’s not a whole lot going on.
            “It’s not that I don’t miss you. I miss you more than you know. But…”
            Babe, I know. I really do. It makes you sad. Trust me, I don’t want you to be sad.
            “I still love you.”
            Me too.
            Kneeling down, he sets the flowers gently on my grave. Tulips, my favourites, and orange, the colour I wore on the day I died. The last time he saw me. I hop off the headstone and bend down to kiss his cheek, even though neither of us can feel it anymore.

about the author: 
Laina can be found at her book review blogTwitter, and Facebook. She has a short story, Zombie Girl, published in the Zombie Survival Crew anthology Undead Is Not an Option