Dear Mom (Mommy),

It’s been ten years. Ten years ago, this week, you turned 42. I don’t remember what we did for your birthday. DId you like it? Was it special? In fact, I probably was not even there. I was at the university going to school, hardly aware that it would be the last birthday we would celebrate. Did you know then that you’d remain 42 forever?

A decade is a monumental amount of time to be absent. I lived through my twenties. Jacob and Maddi spent their teen years without you.

Ten years. In ten years I’ve lived in another country, traveled to more. I biked around an active volcano, bungee jumped, and went on many road trips. In the last ten years, I became a teacher. Like you. I bet you never thought I’d want to follow your footsteps. I even got a Master’s degree. Ten years is so much time. Maddi went to nursing school. Jake is almost out of college.

In another decade, ten more years without you, I’ll reach your eternal age. What will I have to show? A handful of accomplishments and a room full of milestones. But you’ll miss those too. Because, you will remain forever 42.

The world keeps moving, minutes tick, hours ache, and we live. A blink, and the time has passed. But there is something missing, and each year it is becoming more difficult to remember. Your voice. Your Yell. Your laugh.

Ten years. Although your life ceased a decade ago. You’ve never really gone. You are the ink in my pen, the shadow in my step, and the beat in my heart. So, for the tenth year continuing, happy 42nd birthday. You are in my soul. Everything that I achieve is because of you.

I love you always,

Your Daughter (Me)

The Bench

Eight years ago today, I lost one of the most important people in my life. So, this post is to honor her memory. I wrote the following poem a year later. The same year that my mother passed away, my aunt passed away the month before. This poem is for both of them, but today it honors the eighth year of my mother’s passing. I know she is with me in spirit.

mom


 

The Bench

Come sit and rest with me awhile,
forget about your tomorrows
that have yet to come.

Come sit and rest with me,
we’ll talk together;
beneath the willowy branches
that stretch from bench to bench.
Remembering the laughter that
we shared, once upon a song.

Come sit and rest with me,
amongst the grove
of pink spotted cherry trees,
and, for awhile you’ll forget
that I was ever really gone.

Come sit and rest with me,

Until our hearts melt together.

Our tears will join hand in hand

Running gleefully into the river.

We’ll whisper secrets until the day grows long.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the day goes out,
like the fiery  colors
of the blazing sun.

Come sit and rest with me,
as the colors fade, the memories leave you,
once again I become dust on the wind
and a light in your heart.
So please, just come sit and rest with me awhile.

A New Ending

Ella watched as the shoe slid comfortably onto Dru’s foot. Her eyes widened in shock.

“IT FITS!” Dru screamed at the top of her lungs. The coachman toppled over. Ella folded her hand over the other glass slipper, what did it matter now?  She glanced sideways at the coat closet where she and her step-sisters kept their shoes and other effects. Ella and Dru had always shared, of course Ella would get Dru’s old, worn shoes, they had the same size feet; it made sense now.

The fact that the Prince would decide who he had met at the ball last night, with a shoe, was such a daft idea. Hundreds of women in the kingdom must have the same size foot, thought Ella. She shook her head. Her stepmother looked at Ella an evil smirk playing at her lips.

The coachman, who had regained his footing, went outside and returned with the Prince. He didn’t look like Ella had remembered in her mind. His nose was pointier, and his eyes were scrunched together, too small for his wide face. Obviously, he wasn’t very intelligent either. The Prince looked at Dru, the shoe sparkling on her unmanicured toes.

“You are not the woman I met last night. I know I would recognize you right away,” He said to Dru. Ella snorted into her lap. The Prince turned and stared momentarily, but then turned back to the woman who was wearing the shoe.

She threw the shoe from her foot it conked Odile right on the head. “OUCH!” yelled her sister who had been watching with frustration. Ella stifled a giggle. The Prince turned and left the women sitting speechless.

But, Dru was not going to give up that easily. She grabbed the shoe which sat between Odile and Ella, running after the prince her curls frazzled and every which way, yelling, “IT FIT! IT FIT! IT FIT!”

Ella looked at her stepmomw who watched in horror. “COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY!” she screamed from her perch on her sitting room chair.

Ella stood up, still clutching the other shoe. “I’m leaving this abominable house. You have never treated me kindly. I don’t need you or a prince,” she looked out the door with slight distaste, “to see me for the good person I am.” She walked past her stepmother and dropped the matching shoe in her lap. Her stepmother gasped, though it was hard to know if it was because of the shoe, or because Dru was now running barefoot after the Prince’s carriage which was rumbling away.

Ella took the few dresses she owned in a bag and left the house that day. Never did she let anyone call her Cinderella again.

Into Writing

I desperately wanted to be one of those writers that could impress with their humorous anecdotes. I wanted to have intricate, witty banter woven into my prose and poetry. But then,

my pencil broke,

my paper ripped,

I turned fourteen and my grandfather died.

The darkness began to creep in at first; just a shadow in my heart. A few years later my aunt had a routine surgery and forgot how to draw her own breath. She left too. The blackening shadows began wrapping their tendrils through my ventricles and choking my words.

A month later, my mother had a migraine, closed her eyes in the hospital and didn’t remember to open them. Little by little as death clenched its arms around me, the shadow in my heart extended into my extremities.

Now my words breathe life into paper through a haunted soul, escaping death’s reaches.

Still, humor evades me.

The Orphanage: Introduction

It was a bedtime tale told only at the bequest of a brave child. Some parents even used it as a threat to keep their children at bay, but even then it was a rarity. When a parent said to their child, “If you don’t clean your room Viola will come to take you away,” a prayer was uttered afterward, those of a certain faith would cross their chests in hopes that certain ears did not catch the threat on the wind.

Over the years the disappearances near the old orphanage had not gone unnoticed. It was a threat, but the legend of Viola the child snatching demon had become more than just a superstition, for Red Rock, it seemed real.

When Jamie asked his mom to tell him Viola’s story before bed on this particular night, it was understandable why she was hesitant. To her it was more than just a story, but in the end she yielded. Bending over her seven year old son in his small wooden bed she tucked his comforter tight around his body. She kissed him on the forehead and sat at the edge of his bed with a palm resting on his stomach. He looked up at her, brown eyes wide and expectant. The light from his bed side lamp flickered in the dark.

His mom began the story she knew from her own childhood, “Once long ago behind the old orphanage a girl was wandering alone. Seeing a path that led into the forest, she decided to go that way, though she had been told many times not to venture into the forest,” his mother stopped for a moment. Emphasizing how the girl had been told not to do something, and eyed her son who was listening. He looked at her and nodded. Then she continued with the story, “The girl, Viola, didn’t like to listen to anyone, so she went anyway. She had heard there were many dangerous things that lived in the forest. Viola wanted to see them for herself. When she had gone far into the forest strange sounds began surrounding her on all sides. They were not any noises of animals that she had ever known before. Viola wasn’t frightened. She instead, did the one other thing she was told again not to do, she went off the path.”

Jaime’s mother patted him and her eyes narrowed; she was getting nervous, but he urged her to continue. He knew the good parts were coming. “Viola continued walking toward the sound closest to her. That was when a demon, some think a witch, popped out of the underbrush and grabbed her pulling her deep into the forest where she was never heard from or seen again. But, you can still see her some times when there is a full moon or the night is clear, wandering near the forest. They say that she haunts the orphanage and the forest around it, looking for children to snatch. Children who don’t listen to their parents, or wander too close to the forest.” Jaime’s mother looked out the window near his bed nervously. Then she silently said a prayer. Jaime’s eyes had closed already. She was glad for this.

Maggie the little girl from three houses down went missing a month ago. Jaimie might think it was just a fun bedtime story, but for the parents and towns’ people of Red Rock it was more than just legend.

 

The Prologue: Touch of Death

A grand house stood in the center of a sprawling city. Cobbled roads weaved around with shops and smaller houses dotting their edges. One section seemed much more run down than any other part of the city. Up in the largest house in the center in one wing through a small window a man could be seen pacing back and forth, tugging his black beard so hard any passerby might think he’d pull it right off his face.

“Why can I not go in?!” He shouted. Which was hard to hear because coming from the room in front of him was quite a bit of screaming, and though the door was shut, everyone could hear it as though they were standing inside the room themselves.

Another man was sitting on a comfortable, plush chair behind him, “Do you want to see your wife this way, Casimir? In pain. What is going on behind those doors was not meant for a man’s eye.”

Casimir turned abruptly in his pacing, “Father, I should be there to comfort her. She should not do this alone.”

His father who had a smirk on his face looked up at his son, remembering this moment himself when he had waited for the nurse to tell him of Casimir’s birth, “It is just how it is done. You can go in afterward. Then you can be all of the comfort in the world to her. Now you would only disturb the process, and worry everyone in the room, as you are doing to me out here.”

Casimir sighed and continued to pace. Again, tugging at his beard. Inside the room cries of anguish continued. He could hear the nurse crying for more water. Then he heard the sloshing of water coming from what must have been the maid’s careless hands carrying the bucket too rapidly. Splashes hit the ground, but some must have made it over to the nurse. He heard cloths being dunked into the water. Though he had no idea what any of this process was for. It was all a mystery to him. Then the nurse’s low growls came.

“Alright Mora, it’s time.” After this, Casimir heard the worst cries from his wife yet, and he just stopped in place staring at the door willing himself not to break it down. The most beautiful utterance came after all of that terrible noise. A small cry could be heard, just barely, through the door. Casimir smiled. He turned and ran over to his father who had just stood up. They shook hands.

“Congratulations Casimir, you’re a father.” Casimir beamed at his father.They stood there longer than Casimir expected.

Finally, the maid opened the door. “You can enter now.”

Inside his wife sat propped up on the bed. The maid must have cleaned up everything, which would have been why they had to wait so long. His own mother sat in another chair against the wall. The nurse leaned over a small cradle where a baby lay wrapped up.

“We have a daughter, Casimir.” Mora told him. He walked over and wrapped his arms around his wife kissing her on the cheek.

“Can I see her?” He asked.

The nurse lifted the baby from the cradle as his parents looked on. She had been wrapped in a white blanket which did not allow for any movement. The nurse laid the baby in Mora’s arms.

“She’s beautiful, Mora. It’s good she looks just like you.” Casimir told his wife.

“What should we call her?” Mora asked.

Casimir looked to his mother who was sitting nearby quietly looking on, “Let’s name her after my mother.”

“Perfect,” agreed Mora. “Lila,” she whispered to the baby. The baby opened her eyes and yawned. She pulled her hand free from the confines of the wrap and wiggled her little fingers.

“I think she likes her name,” said Casimir. Mora nodded in agreement.

Then Mora took her daughter’s hand in her own. Letting her tiny fingers wrap around her larger finger. Mora’s finger began to blacken very quickly, then her whole hand.

“Casimir, I think it’s the curse,” she managed to say. Her whole body quickly blackened and shriveled. “I love you,” she whispered, before her heart ceased to beat.

Everyone in the room sat there stunned. Casimir looked on with horror. The nurse whisked Lila up from her mother’s deadened arms and quickly wrapped her tightly.

“Lord Casimir? Wha’ do we do with baby Lila? It was ‘er, no?” The nurse asked timidly.

Everyone gawked. No one had wanted to be the one to blame the infant child for the death of her mother.

Casimir just stared at his wife who had just been speaking to them, and was now gone. Finally, when it was obvious that he could not give any instructions at this time his mother stood up.

“The baby will have to be kept away. We’ll make one side of the house just for her. She will have no visitors and nothing that is alive. While she is a baby we’ll need a nurse to care for her, and we’ll have her hands bound. Nurse, you’ll see to this.” Casimir’s mother spoke with finality.

“Yes m’Lady,” she nodded. Casimir’s father stood up as well. He and his wife took Casimir who resisting their direction did not want to exit the room.

“Son, she will have the proper funeral, but we need to leave her now and let her be in peace.”

The family, nurse, and maid left the room and baby Lila was taken away. The only people who knew of her condition were those who had been in the room on the tragic day of her mother’s death.

The Orphanage pt. 1

I’ve been working on an actual long, possible novel to go with https://phoenixrisng.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/the-beating/ this short. What I’m posting now would be the diary entries that the main character “Sam” finds from her great-great-grandmother. They provide the back story. Just thought I’d see what you all thought. Hope you enjoy.

 

October 18, 1848

We will be leaving Pennsylvania tomorrow for California. Father has dreams of gold in his eyes. He plans to take the Southern route with a group of settlers. The North route is too crowded as of late. I am excited for this adventure. Mother on the other hand does not wish to leave the city. She says she will miss her parties, and the road is no place for a young girl. But, there was no persuading Father. I look forward for what is to come.

Evelyn

November 1, 1848

I thought traveling would be exciting. It has been difficult, and there is not much to eat. We have to stay in cramped quarters and cannot get out to stretch our legs as often as I’d like. A one of the settlers has developed a cough. Mother seems content with sewing, but I know she is worried especially with winter upon us. Luckily the south is much warmer than the North.

Evelyn

November 10, 1848

I am too distressed to write. Mother has is now coughing like the settler. They think it is tuberculosis. I am petrified. I cannot bare it if something was to happen to Mother or Father.

Evelyn

 

November 21, 1848

The conditions are not improving. We camped for two days in Texas. It is a very large place. It will still take us another week to cross. Though we are south it is still very cold and Mother is so ill she cannot leave the wagon. I am no longer excited, but frightened about what is to come.

Evelyn

November 30, 1848

We have just entered a place called the New Mexico Territory. It is supposed to be safe, but there was a war here recently. So, I hope nothing terrible happens. I have to put cool rags on mother hourly to keep her fever at bay. I am still being hopeful, but it is foolish to think she will make it to California now. The settler died last week while we were in Texas. I hope he finds peace in that large piece of land.

Evelyn

December 9, 1848

I am devastated. Mother passed last night. I don’t know how we can have a happy Christmas now with her no longer here to celebrate. It’s hard to believe that Father so longingly still wants to get to the gold mines in California. We have just reached the mountains in the Arizona territory. I know that her final resting place will be a beautiful one. I cannot write anymore now.

Evelyn

December 30, 1848

It has taken us almost a month to travel through the mountains in this territory. They are treacherous in the snow. A wheel broke on the wagon and had to be fixed. Luckily, around this area with red rocks we found a small village who settled from the war. We are resting until the New Year. I cannot believe it is almost 1849. I will be twelve years old next year, and we will start the year without Mother. It is unimaginable.

Evelyn

January 2, 1849

Father left. He wrote a note that said without Mother he cannot take care of me, and the gold mines are no place for a young lady. He just left me in this village. I cannot bare it. It is too awful.

Evelyn

March 4, 1849

I have been staying with a very nice family. They have twin boys that are four years old. I know they do not have the means to keep me, but I help out the best I can. They town is building an Orphanage; they have a few other children that need a home as well. It will be finished come April. I will be glad not to burden this family any longer.

Evelyn

April 10, 1849

I have just moved into my new room at the orphanage. Red Rock Orphanage. It is comfortable, the head mistress seems nice. Her name is Miss Sullivan. The Gates said I may visit them anytime I would like. But, I know they were glad that I have a more permanent place to live now. I am excited to begin lessons again. At least I will have that. I wonder if Father ever thinks of me?

Evelyn

May 1, 1849

We are not allowed to wander into the forest that stretches behind the building. Though you cannot exactly call it a forest, it is more a dense, black, mangled corpse of dead foliage. I heard Mrs. Gates once say there had been a great fire there during the war and then nothing would grow afterward. It looks so intriguing; I find it hard not to inspect the forest. Aside from lessons and things that proper ladies ought to learn, I have nothing to do. A little adventure never hurt a young girl.

Evelyn

May 15, 1849

It was my birthday. The cook made a nice cake and the other children sang to me. It was quiet. Nothing like we used to have in Pennsylvania, when Mother was alive, but I thought it was sweet. I had not expected anything. Miss Sullivan gave me a new journal. I hugged her; it was so thoughtful.

Evelyn

June 3, 1849

I have to record everything. Miss Sullivan is a nice lady, but she does not believe me. She has this whole predisposition about witchcraft. I know what happened. I would not have believed it myself if it did not happen to me. It began today after church. We are allowed free time after church. The other children were playing a game of tag. I on the other hand wanted to take this time, while Miss Sullivan was having her afternoon nap, to explore the forest. I snuck away from the fray of the children and into the silent forest. The guardian trees loomed above me murky, creating shadowy figures and the appearance of night, though it was mid-afternoon. I walked further into the forest, the paths wound around each other intersecting. I could not tell where I was being led. I just kept to the one I thought I entered on. There were no flowers, bushes, or anything that breathed life. It was all dead. On the right I saw a beautiful tree; though it was no longer growing it had wonderfully twisting branches, perfect for climbing. I veered off my path and began the ascent. I had almost reached the top and could see just over the tree tops. When I heard a crack, the branch under me hurtled toward the ground. Of course it had been dead and brittle. I should have known. My heart pounded as the ground came closer and then it stopped. I stopped. I knew I was dead.

“Ooh a little girl, yes this should do nicely.”

I could hear a voice. I knew I was dead. I asked myself, how could I hear a voice? I decided to speak. “How can I hear you, am I not dead?”

“Yes, of course. This is most unusual. My victims usually do not speak after I have killed them. Interesting, very interesting.”

“Who are you? Why did you kill me?”

“I should ask you. You wondered into my forest. This is becoming tedious. I am going to rip your heart out now. I am tired of conversation.”

I had come to the assumption, that I must have been different from her other meals; therefore I could not let her rip my heart out. She had already told me that she had never spoken to her food before. I would have to negotiate.

“Can we come to an agreement?”

“What kind of agreement?”

“You tell me who you are and what you want, in return, I help you and you do not make a meal from me.” At this point, I was still having this conversation subconsciously. We seemed to be communicating without speaking out loud.

“Very well dear.” A hideous cackle escaped her lips and she said something in a language unintelligible. I was able to open my eyes and sit up. In front of me was a young woman who could not have been older than my Mother. She had dark eyes and long dark hair. “I am Kerys. I am Death.”

I scooted backwards, but remained in front of her. I could not risk upsetting her again. It was obvious she could take my life with a snap of her fingers.

“This is my domain. I reside in this forest. Of course, I cannot just be sustained from nature. I require more nutritious substance.” Her dark eyes twinkled as she looked me up and down. “Though, if you want live, I will allow that, but it will not come without consequence.”

Every year I would have to bring Kerys a child, so she could have the heart and death would remain. In return she would allow me to live and the orphanage to remain unharmed. I ran out of the forest pondering the bargain I made. When I tried to explain to Miss Sullivan about what happened she only scolded me for going into the forest and talking about witchcraft. Especially on a Sunday. There was no one in this world that would believe the truth of what happened and now I and my future family would be cursed to do the unthinkable for years to come. What had I done? I should have died.

Evelyn