I wish we could stay like this forever,” he said quietly, tightening his hold on her body, pressing her ear closer to his chest. “We can’t,” she whispered, her voice muffled by his shirt. She forced herself to ignore how his heart beat faster, how his breath came quicker. How his eyebrows drew together in confusion. He didn’t like it when she got like this, when her thoughts overwhelmed her and her negativity got the better of her. She forced herself to ignore the need to scream at him for his ignorance, for his selfishness. “We can try,” he replied with a smile. It disappeared when he saw the look on her face.
“We can’t,” she repeated, twisting in his arms so he would loosen his grip, remove his arms from around her shoulders. “See,” she began, her heart sinking, “life doesn’t stop. Not for you. Not for me. Not for anyone.” She saw the question in his gaze, the way he searched her face for answers. “Life doesn’t stop, not in a happy moment when you would give your everything to make it last just a little while longer. And it doesn’t stop when someone is torn from your life, right out of your arms, and you do all you can to hold on, you will your life to stop for a day so you can put the pieces back together. But it won’t. It won’t stop. Not even for a second. It forces you to go on, to fight every day, even when you’re in pain.” He stared at her for a minute, the silence between them growing heavy. “But that’s what makes it beautiful, don’t you think?” She shook her head, her fingers knotting in her shirt. “But it does,” he continued, “if life would stop whenever we willed it to stop, do you think we would be able to pluck up the courage to go on? Do you think we could stand watching someone we love leave and just carry on if life didn’t force us to? Do you think we would get back up after falling down if life could be put on hold? I’m happy life doesn’t ever stop, not even for a second, because it forces me to be present at all times. What more could I ask for?
—  “Life doesn’t stop for anyone”
n.j.
He read a book about this particular situation and let me tell you, nothing prepared him for this. This heartache that’s heaving and puffing inside of his chest. This smoke burning from within, he’s all out of words and he’ll still smoke to the name of words he won’t let go of. He fell into himself while trying to understand, but this isn’t something easy and he was never one to crumble– but he still left a trail of his heartbeats wherever the woods lead to and some days, it’s never as sweet as how the story reads… no, it’s never that easy.
—  a trail
A small bit of writing: Watching destruction

[The giant had devoured so much of the city. People by the handful, even the buildings and vehicles were gulped down by the beast.

The giant sat himself down upon the road, leaned up against some still intact buildings, and ate another handful of citizens. Most who were lucky enough to get away from the giant’s grasp, were also smart enough to keep running far away from the destruction. But you, far too entranced, watched this giant from a distance.

You watched as the giant loudly swallowed every last person so easily. After eating, the giant patted his slightly bloated belly and belched, followed by a satisfied sigh. Sated, he laid down, presumably for a nap. When he didn’t move for a few minuets, your curiosity got the better of you, and you inched closer to the giant. Even laying down, he towered above you.

You walked to his belly. It was slightly distended from his meal, and rumbled and gurgled as the contents churned.

Then, booming above any other noise, the giant spoke

“You aren’t very bright, are you little morsel?”    

And with that, your heart skipped more than a few beats]


The giant here is my OC, a demon named Haku.

I’m none too good at writing, and quite nervous posting it, but I adore the way this scene plays out in my head~

Goodbye

I was raised to say goodbye. The moment my parents left each other, goodbye became a safe word. when something gets tough all you have to do is walk away. It’s easy and quick and simple. Besides, goodbye is a much prettier word than divorce. Goodbye seems full of chances and new unopened doors. Goodbye doesn’t always mean the end. It can be a “just for now.”

-C.C.

theparisreview.org
Subscribe to The Paris Review with Your Book Club for 25 Percent Off
Book clubs make life better. They strengthen friendships. They broaden horizons. They provide an airtight excuse for wine and cheese. And ideally they lead to unforgettable conversations. The one trouble with book clubs—in our experience—is finding stuff that interests everyone, and that none of the group has read. We can help with that. If your book... Read More »
By The Paris Review

Gather your friends and subscribe!

10

NAMIBIA

“Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men usually had. He did not inherit a barn from his father. There was no barn to inherit. The story was told in Umuofia, of how his father, Unoka, had gone to consult the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves to find out why he always had a miserable harvest. The Oracle was called Agbala, and people came from far and near to consult it. They came when misfortune dogged their steps or when they had a dispute with their neighbours. They came to discover what the future held for them or to consult the spirits of their departed fathers. 

Keep reading

3

<<There you are!>>, Alina said as Catherine finally walked through the door. <<I thought you found love and decided to never come home again!>>, she added, her eyes still on her iPad.

When all she got in response from Catherine was a dark, guttural grunt, Alina finally looked up to see her friend’s distressed expression.

<<Hey… What’s going on?>>, she asked, tapping the couch by her side.

Catherine released a long sigh and dragged her feet over to sit by Alina.

Homecoming L4yers

A L4yers of War Series (Richonne Fanfic)

Previously: L4yers of Threats & Kindness (Read Here.)


Homecoming L4yers

Conner curses at him for another minute before he leaves; Carl notices that the brute barely walk pass the threshold of Michonne’s room. Once the man is gone and the door slam shut, he hauls himself out the bed pulling the makeshift knife from under the pillow. Once he was caught by Negan and his men, Carl was relieved of all his weapon except for the shiv hidden in his shoe.

After Michonne left him, Carl finished his meal before he took her advice and climbed into the plush bed to rest. He didn’t think he would be able to sleep but minutes after his head hit the fluffy pillow Carl was sound asleep with the blade tightly wrap in his fist.

Standing he stretches his sore muscles before he ambles towards the bathroom to relieve himself and quickly clean up. Once finish, he emerges from the separate room and glances around noting that Michonne never returned to her room. He wonders where she spent the night silently hoping it wasn’t with Negan, a light knock on the door pulls him from his thoughts.

With his weapon in hand he moves toward the door and inches it open to find the scarred face of Timmy… Jose. The fragile boy stands on the other side with clothes he recognizes as his and a plate of food.

“Michonne sent these up for you.”

Carl ushers Jose into the room, the frail boy nervously steps into the space looking around the interior with an open mouth and wide eyes.

“You look like shit,” Carl comments looking at the boy. He sports a black eyes on the side of his burnt face, a busted lip, and the bruising impression of Negan’s hand still rest on his neck.

“You don’t look much better.”

Carl only nods as he takes his clothes from the young man and slips into the bathroom once more. After the things Negan said yesterday he wants to avoid looking at himself in the mirror but he chances a quick glance. He also has a black eye forming nicely on his eye and a bruise jaw not to mention several cuts along his face that Miss Edna mended with bandage tapes. It reminds him of how his father looked like after his fight with Pete Anderson when they first arrived at Alexandria. Shaking his head, he sighs and moves to his tasks of changing clothes.

He quickly changes, happy to be back into his own clothes that have been recently washed and now smells like fresh linens. He thinks of Michonne, the clean clothes most likely her doings, he knows no one else would be as thoughtful. He smiles at her continue kindness as exits the bathroom; Carl finds Jose looking over the books, he jolts away from the shelves and stands as straight as possible.

“I can’t believe she let you stay in here,” Jose envies.

“Why?” Carl asks as he picks up his sandwich and takes a bit.

“Michonne allows no one in here well except for Negan but he really doesn’t asks permission. I watched him just barge in here several times… actually all the time! He doesn’t even knock. One day Michonne was dressing when he barged in and Austin was with him… well not with him… he didn’t come into her room like Negan did. He just stood by the door and I guess he saw her naked or mostly naked because he was bragging about seeing her… well… you know… her breast,” Jose whispers the last word. He looks nervously around before he continues, “Michonne is not Negan’s wife or anything but the way Negan treats her you would never know.”

A part of Carl doesn’t care to hear Jose’s winded speech but another part is curious to learn more of the mysterious woman, therefore he remains quiet and listens as he eats his meal.

“There was this guy, Brent, he was an asshole but not as bad as Conner. He was one of Negan’s top lieutenant and a badass roamer killer. Anyways Brent liked her… he like Michonne a lot! He tried to date her or as close to dating you get when the world ends! He brought her flowers and used most of his points to get her stuff. I don’t think Michonne liked him but rumor is that Negan caught them kissing and next thing you know the guy disappeared. Like vanished into thin air. One day he was here and the next gone! No one knows what happened to him, no one even so much as speaks his name around Negan. He’s crazy jealous when it comes to Michonne. Anyways when Austin was bragging about seeing Michonne’s breast,” He whispers the word again, “Negan threaten to cut off his dick if he said anything else about seeing Michonne naked. Needless to say that Austin has never spoken about that day again but… what was I saying… oh yea only Negan comes in here and oh that old voodoo woman Miss Edna but that’s it. Once one of Negan’s wives… well she’s actually his ex-wife now… she came in here and Michonne caught her snooping in her thing. The next day the woman was banned from the Sanctuary and sent to live at one of the outpost. Besides them no one else comes in here… well except for you and now me because of you.”

Carl refrains from rolling his eye at Jose’s long speech, yet he’s thankful for it; he soaks in the information about Michonne’s and Negan’s relationship not knowing the purpose but figures it may be useful later. After he’s done eating he straightens the room with Jose’s help before they exit.

XxXx00000xXxX

Stepping outside of Michonne’s room he’s not surprise to see two young guards waiting for him holding rifles. The issue is the guards are Austin’s friends, Carl glares at them before he follows Jose through the halls of the Sanctuary.

Negan gave his father seven days to gather the supply for the Saviors, it is only the third day. Carl knows that if his father is planning an attack on Negan and his Saviors, they will not be ready in three days. Carl also knows that his father will not have Negan’s supplies ready either. He guesses this is Negan’s plan to catch his father off guard.

The progression to the front of the Sanctuary comes to a halt when Austin steps in front of him and Jose, he’s flank by two more of his friends. Carl glances around at the hostile faces of the five young men, releasing a sigh already knowing what is to come.

“Hello fuck face!” Austin calls out. Jose tenses and whips his head around at the gather boys. Austin sneers at Jose before stepping up to Carl, “I know you were trying to escape last night. It’s your fault that William and Chad are dead!”

“Austin… he’s still our guest!” Jose says.

“I don’t care if he’s Jesus H. fucking Christ. I should beat his ass.”

“You can try,” Carl challenges taking a step towards Austin. The older boy sneers and pushes Carl who stumbles back before he shoves Austin back hard enough he falls into the arms of the others behind him. He leaps toward Carl but Jose inserts himself in between them.

“Negan is not going to be happy if you fight him,” Jose states. Austin growls his frustration, he leaps forward and lands a hard punch on Jose’s jaw knocking the thin boy to the ground.

As soon as Jose hits the ground, Carl rushes Austin with his own closed fist. He delivers a right hook to the boy’s jaw followed by a left and another right. Before Carl can land another blow to Austin, his friends pull him off and starts to punch him. He trips and curls into himself, trying to protect his head and face as several pairs of hands and feet pummel him from above.

“Stop.”

The attack comes to a pause at the sound of the voice, he knows it is her. He knows it is Michonne. Her voice is quiet but powerful and commands everyone to obey with the single word.

“This doesn’t concern you!” Austin shouts. Carl struggles to his feet as a thin hand helps him up, he looks up at Jose before turning to see Michonne gliding towards them with her sword strap to her back. She’s not alone, two of Negan’s soldiers follow a step behind her.

“Are you scared Austin?” Michonne taunts as she circles the group of boys as the armed men stand back curiously watching.

“What the fuck?”

“Does Negan’s little Serial Killer scare you?”

“Why the fuck should I be scared? He ain’t fucking shit!” The boy asks with his eyes downcast. Carl glares at Michonne watching her move around them, wondering what she has in mind.

“He killed six men,” She murmurs softly, they all lean towards her listening to her cool words, “That must frighten you a little.”

“I’ve killed more people and the bastard was lucky! He was fucking hiding like a little bitch he is.”

“No, I think you are scared. If you weren’t you all wouldn’t gang up on him.”

“What the fuck are you trying to say?” Austin asks glancing up at the Michonne for the briefest of seconds.

“One on one,” Carl says. Michonne smirks as she looks at him then at a surprise Austin.

“Well?” Michonne asks.

Carl can tell the boy doesn’t want to fight him one on one, but it is too late for him to back down in front of his friends, Michonne, and two of Negan’s soldiers. Austin looks around the group as if he’s going to back away but suddenly he leaps at Carl and lands a sucker punch on his bandage eye socket. The blow stings and dazes him, Carl feels another hit land on his already bruise jaw and then another one across his nose. Austin laughs as he backs away.

“Serial Killer huh? You’re just a little bitch!” Austin spats, he throws another punch but Carl blocks him and throws a left cross at the boy’s face so hard, he stumbles back. Yelling in rage Austin tackles Carl to the ground, he lands several body shots before Carl hits him in the abdomen. As Austin tries to protect his side, Carl lands a hard elbow to the side of Austin’s face, using the momentum of the hit he forces them to roll over until he’s on top of the older boy. Adrenaline pumps in his veins as he allows his anger to overtake him, Carl swings wildly and hits Austin repeatedly. Weaving his hand into the boy’s hair Carl fists a hand full, he tightens his hold on the boy and delivers several hard punches to the Austin’s face. He tunnels his rage into each punch he lands while Austin blindly claws at his face and arms. Hearing a loud crack in the distance and feeling wetness cover his hand Carl knows broke something, he’s unbothered by it reveling in the moment. Austin’s legs thrash wildly as he tries to buck the enrage boy off of him; Carl uses his body weight to pin the boy down as he continues his onslaught.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

As soon as the voice bellows out Carl is haul off of Austin and push against the wall by one man as another holds a rifle at his face. His eye dart wildly around the new faces, taking in an enrage Negan and several of his men. Austin’s goons drop to their knees at Negan’s approach, along with Jose, and the two men that were with Michonne.

“What fucking part of he’s a fucking guest you shit brains morons did not motherfucking understand?” Negan shouts.

Austin scurries to kneel before Negan, cowering in fear. Blood pours down his nose and one eye is shut, already beginning to swell. Carl smirks at the damage he has done to the boy.

“Negan… I swear…”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

“She made them fight.” One of the boys whimpers.

“WHAT?”

Negan looks around the group, everyone kneels before him excluding Carl who is still pin against a wall along by two guards and Michonne. She stands unfazed by his anger.

One of the men who first walked up with her speaks up, “Michonne instigated the fight.”

Carl watches as Negan slowly turns to face Michonne, a look of a mixture of curiosity, anger, annoyance, and admiration crosses his face. Michonne doesn’t say anything. She only stares at Negan as if daring him to comment about her action. They stare at each other for a long moment as if they’re alone in the hallway, the air around them snaps with a dark current. Carl notes the intensity of their stare, a fresh anger boils in his chest as a new look swells in Negan’s eyes.

“Sammi!” He says. Anger, annoyance, and something else Carl can’t figure out floods the one word.

“Negan!” She replies softly.

When he doesn’t say anything else, she turns and walks away without another word.

“Get this fucker cleaned up, we leave within the hour!” Negan shouts as he starts after her.

XxXx00000xXxX

Michonne is in a good mood. She woke up smiling, feeling hopeful. For the first time in a long time she isn’t numb; she almost feels like her old self, almost. The numbness feeling that cloaks, protects, and weighs her down didn’t greet her when she woke up, she felt good. She hasn’t felt hopeful in a while. All morning she’s been trying to pinpoint the reason for this new spring of hope, enjoying her renew senses.

Walking towards the Sanctuary’s gate a brigade of men gather their firearms and weapons for their trip to Alexandria. She watches the various men and woman for several moments; deciding which vehicle she wants to ride in, she’s not particularly fond of many of the Saviors. The trip to Alexandria comes four days earlier than what was told to the Alexandrian but Negan wouldn’t be Negan if he didn’t show up early surprising the community. She learned a while ago it was always best to expect the unexpected with Negan.

At the gate of the compound Michonne spots Rash-an, a young pleasant middle Eastern man she tolerates well; he’s a decent soft spoken man trying to survive at the end of the world. Her sheath sword in hand and messenger bag swings from her shoulder, she moves toward his vehicle as it’s being loaded deciding to ride along with him.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”

“I’m joining the group,” Michonne answers turning to face Negan as he approaches her.

She knows she shouldn’t antagonize him; killing two men, inciting the fight between the two boys and blatantly disrespecting him in front of his men, she knows she’s pushing Negan to his limit. She knows there is only so much Negan will tolerate even when it comes to her, yet she continues to do so.

“I didn’t say you could come.”

She lowers her voice and closes the distances between them, “I wasn’t asking.”

“You didn’t hear a fucking word I told you earlier?”

He’s referring to the threats of sending her to one of the outpost to endure hard labor as punishment for instigating the fight and her disrespect; Michonne knows him well enough to know that he will not follow through on the threat. Especially a threat of sending her away, he knows she’ll enjoy it too much and wouldn’t think of it as a punishment.

“Barely.” She doesn’t mean for it to come out a throaty whisper but it does, it sounds as if she’s flirting.

The dark energy ball of attraction from earlier returns. Michonne gazes into Negan’s hazel eyes; to deny his attractiveness would be a lie, he is tall and handsome with a charming smile and dimples. He leans into her, hazel eyes falling to her lips before returning to her eyes. That familiar ache thumps low in her abdomen and heat her center; their attraction a violent one.

“And if I make you stay?” Negan asks his eyes darkening with lust.

The thump double its pace, “You can try.”

Negan takes a step closer, his eyes drop back to her lips as Michonne cranes her head back to look up into dancing hazel orbs returning to her dark brown ones. That hopeful feeling causes her guard to lower, causes Negan to see her inner battle with reconciling her physical attraction to him. He smiles knowingly as his eyes soften, lust pooling in his eyes spreading his lips wider. Michonne’s breath hitches as she takes a step back.

He chuckles softly, she knows he want to say more instead he simply states, “You’re riding with me.”

Michonne gives him a curt nod, she turns on her heel and walks to the lead car. Inhaling a cleansing breath as she places distance between her and Negan, she catches Carl’s eye as she climbs into the back seat alongside of him. He has fresh new bruises on his face from his earlier fight.

“What was that?” He asks about her exchange with Negan. She scowls at the unexpected angry undertones in his voice.

“Nothing.”

He narrow his eye on her but doesn’t further comment on it, instead he asks, “And Austin?”

“The little shit needed his ass kicked.”

She watches him holds back a grin.

Michonne adds, “All you needed was what a good night sleep and a full belly.”

“I would have still kicked his ass without neither.”

“I know.”

The boy doesn’t speak, he allows himself a smirk of triumph as he shyly looks away from her. Negan gives several more orders to lieutenants staying at the Sanctuary before he climbs into the passenger side. Karson ,one of his other lieutenant, climbs into the driver’s seat; he turns the ignition, shifts the car into drive, and leads the way to the young boy’s home.

An hour later the brigade pulls to a stop, Karson hops out the car and relay orders to several of the men before returning to the vehicle and continuing on. Michonne notices several cars pulling away from the main group to set up a parameter and snipers around the community. Another fifteen minutes passes before Karson rolls to a stop at the gates of Alexandria. Abandon spiked cars litter part of the area in front of Alexandria’s high gates, the wall surrounding the community is made up of steel panels and hides the community from outsiders peeking in. Michonne is neither impressed or unimpressed with the gate and wall, Hilltop’s walls are far more grand; Michonne knows with a truck big enough it can knock down almost any wall. Jericho’s walls came down with a sound of a trumpet.

Karson lays on the horn of the car and other vehicles follow the lead car’s jester announcing their arrival. Once the horns stop, Negan steps out the car and yells up to the guard at the gate.

“Little piggy. Little piggy. Let me in!”

Other men and women stepping out of their respective vehicles have already join his side, they laugh at his joke. Michonne doesn’t find the childish humor funny. She leans over removing the hood from the boy’s head and unties his hands. He shakes his head and rubs his eye, adjusting his sight to the bright sun of the early afternoon.

“Little Piggy!”

Still no one respond.

“Almost forgot,” Michonne says as she reaches in her bag and pulls out his sheriff’s hat, brushing it off as she hands it to him. She smiles wide as his face lights up at the sight of the hat.

“Thank you, Michonne!”

“Little Motherfucking Piggy!” Negan barks again.

“You’re early,” a southern voice calls out.

Ice rips down her spine at the sound of the deep southern drawl, the boy leans forward in his seat. He looks out the windshield window and up towards the gate.

Her wide smile falls from her lips at the sound of the southern voice, Michonne stills. It’s a voice that haunted her, that continues to haunt her. A voice she thought she would never hear again. A voice that shatters that last semblances of humanity within her. A voice that extinguish the last flicker hope from her soul.

“Pay Me” by Zdravka Evtimova, recommended by Kelly Luce for Issue No. 219

In the course of two hours Maria had not stopped eating; her lips turned bluish with cherry juice, and he was convinced she wouldn’t do the job he’d hired her for. He was wrong. At a certain point, her fingers plunged into the foliage and her body stuck to the branches like resin.

Read the full story on Electric Literature in Recommended Reading

In 1955, Hugh Hefner published a short story in Playboy about a heterosexual man being persecuted in a world where homosexuality was the norm. After receiving many angry letters, he responded to the criticism with, “if it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society, then the reverse was wrong too.“ Source Source 2

Many and many a reader has asked that. When the story first came out, in the New England Magazine about 1891, a Boston physician made protest in The Transcript. Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.

Another physician, in Kansas I think, wrote to say that it was the best description of incipient insanity he had ever seen, and–begging my pardon–had I been there?

Now the story of the story is this:

For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia–and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still-good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” as long as I lived.

This was in 1887.

I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.

Then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to work again–work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite–ultimately recovering some measure of power.

Being naturally moved to rejoicing by this narrow escape, I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, with its embellishments and additions, to carry out the ideal (I never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations) and sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged it.

The little book is valued by alienists and as a good specimen of one kind of literature. It has, to my knowledge, saved one woman from a similar fate–so terrifying her family that they let her out into normal activity and she recovered.

But the best result is this. Many years later I was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading The Yellow Wallpaper.

It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.
—  “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’“ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

before he sells the beans to jack, he is born in a house that smells of ceder.

his name is Tiffany. a bold bright name. a stardust name. a girl name. but he is not a girl. he knows this, even if others don’t. his mother puts him in dresses, teaches him how to sew, chastises him when he lets his voice get low.

“my great-aunt’s friend’s sister,” says his mother, with her red lips tight, “once knew these girls that spoke and diamonds came out of their mouths. you know what happened to the nasty one? she got toads. that’s your future if you don’t figure out how to be a nice little girl.”

so he speaks gently. but the whole time he is wondering: who gave them the language of gems. who gave them the language that rolled out of them. it must be magic. and if there is magic, maybe there is hope for him.

he takes off in a dark night. a sad night. one where the fire was too low and he was sick of mirrors. he leaves his mother a note: gone to find where the gems grow. 

in the black woods, he cuts off his hair. wears his father’s clothes. feels, at last, whole. runs and runs and runs until his air comes out in a wheeze. walks for weeks and weeks.

he finds the old woman carrying water. she is ugly, her mouth all twisted angry. but she carries the water alone. 

the boy does not have much. but he has shoulders. a good back. hands that work. when he takes her burden, she says, “thank you, young man.” and he smiles at her, but doesn’t say anything.

her house is damp. she feeds him stew, apologizes. says she used to make lovely foods but the price of milk and eggs got far too high. she says: if you carry my water for five weeks, i will give you something special. and he agrees.

she talks for him. spends a lot of time telling him of people he never met. girls with lips blood red. girls with white fairy dresses. boys who fell in love with swans. 

the boy says little. just nods. sleeps on the floor of her empty barn. when she’s not looking, he darns her clothes for her, keeps the floors swept, fills the lanterns with oil, makes her a blanket for the coming winter. 

on the end of the fifth week, she gives him the beans. tells him that they have been passed down in her family, that this was her portion. she says that she is too old now for such adventures. that she hears the beans will bring treasure. fortune. all the things of greed. she says: i will give them to you, for what you have done to me.

in the morning, he takes off. he feels the weight of them in his pocket. he thinks of the old woman and the stories and the sight of her tired hands. he stands in the market for a long time, unspeaking, simply staring at the cobblestones beneath him.

jack’s voice is the last call in the evening. a beautiful cow, young and thick and healthy. 

the boy has no money. he bounces the magic bean in his pocket, and thinks of treasures. 

“wait,” he says. 

jack turns. 

transaction complete: one cow for a handful of magic beans. the boy walks the cow home to the old woman, gets there in the morning. they are both very tired. he falls asleep beside the beast in the hay. dreams of the foods the old woman can cook now that she can get milk.

when he wakes up, he is changed. it is as if he simply turned into who he was made to be. not a new body. familiar. the body he could always see.

the old woman stands at the door of his barn. she says, “good morning,” and then she says a new word. a word he’s never heard. a name. his name. a boy name. 

he repeats it. it is a jewel in his mouth, so he says it again. another diamond.

“time to fetch water,” she says, winking. the whole way, he whispers his name. it never quite tastes the same, always beautiful, always a fine thing, always his. the something special he was lacking.

in the back of his pocket, there is one last magic bean. he will fetch the water and plant it. and he will carry that old woman to the castles she has never seen.

I feel bad for people who are truly lonely. The ones who are unloved and have to question if people really like them or only say so because hell, what if they just say shit just to say it?

I feel sad for people who can’t figure out what to do with their lives. What if I never make it anywhere in life? What if I never get a second chance at happiness? What if that moment was the one solid opportunity and I fucked it up? What if for the rest of my life, I’m just a corner of a maze…? Those are the questions I’m sure they will have asked themselves and I don’t know if that’s sad or realistic… One thing is certain, my heart goes out to you.

I feel angry for people who can’t see their own beauty. Have you read that quote? The one that says, she loved him like he placed the stars into the night. Maybe that’s not accurate, but fuck it, you get what I mean. What if they never get a chance to have someone feel like that to them? What if we don’t see it even if it’s in front of our eyes? What if I’m not worth your time? The questions I’ve been dying to ask, but too afraid to know the answers. I seek to feel more, but I end up just feeling less.

I’m a problem and sometimes,
I know that if I go away;
If I died, I might be the solution.

I feel sick to my stomach, but it has to do with my head and my heart is never around.

It’s somewhere in the books that I never finish. It’s in some scene that I still cry for when the movies start playing those jacked up piano keys intended for tears to fall because what’s Hollywood if we don’t romanticize heartache? Then again, what’s poetry if we don’t make our readers feel a thing or two?

I feel anguish for those that feel this way
because I feel it too. I feel it just like you.

You’re not alone. I promise you’re not.

“Me?”

Yes. You.

The reader.
The listener.
The sick.
The bloody sea.
The tired rose.
The gasoline drenched forest.
The bridge before it burns.
The match before it’s flick.
The half put out cigarette.
The after thought.
The mirage.
The dream confused as a nightmare.
The thoughts coming past 4 am.
The razor blade near the sink.
The bullet holes inside your heart.
The brightness of the sun.
The sadness of the moon.
The angle of your smile.
The I’m sorry in your voice.

That’s why you’re always the last choice.

If you ever needed to hear it:

Today, you are the first choice.

The first choice of my poetry.

—  Because everyone needs to hear this every once in a while. You’re important. You’re special. You’re needed. You’re wanted. You’re here. You’re alive. You’ve made it. You’re going to get through this. You’re here. You’re finally home.
5

SHIBA BAKER INU. I finally finished it! After much planning and editing, I decided to make this into a shorter story than PLANT. It’s a simple story about an owner remembering about her dog, Tobi. She’s remembering that one specific day they shared the most delicious meal together. The bread and soup is up to the readers imagination! This story is more on the supernatural side. Enjoy! To read the story click on the link below!

SHIBA BAKER INU