SD

Warning: This writing is super old. Make sure to check out the video of me making fun of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k27V_t7XJrY

 

Surrounding Darkness

 

His dark, blood red hair was on his shoulders. His red eyes the devil himself would fear were narrowed, staring darkly at the teenage girl. Her heart pounded against her chest, her breath was short. Each time this man moved, her heart skipped a beat. She was pinned against a cold steel wall, a hand of death around her neck. Horrible thoughts clouded her mind. She tried her best to push those thoughts away as the man continued to interrogate her, “Why do you continue to lie?!” he yelled. She couldn’t answer him, she had no idea what he was talking about. She stayed silent, shaking with fear. The man frowned, but then his lips formed a cruel grin. A shadow swept around her as his hand released her, throwing her to the ground hard, pressing down against her lungs, pressing her against the cold, unwelcoming steel ground. He growled, cursing under his breath, turning to look at her darkly, the grin appearing on his face again. Her eyes widened with fear, blurting out the first thing that came to mind:

“I don’t know! I don’t know!” she cried shakily. The truth, but the wrong answer all the same. The man chuckled at her response, “Alright then.” he said. The shadow whipped her to her feet, closing in around her. She could barely breathe. Then, suddenly, unprovoked, it slammed her against the nearest wall. What was left of her breath left her, blood flying from her lips, into the air. The shadow released her as she fell to her knees. She swayed, her head ringing, struggling to stay awake.

“Please..” she whispered horsely, “Please..”

The man knelt next to her, shaking his head, looking down at his hand that balanced him. “Dear child, why continue to do this? You know where it is.”

“Where what…what is..?” she breathed, swaying again, her head ringing louder. She was slowly losing her fight for consciousness. The man whipped his head up, glaring at her, his hand pressing against her neck, pressing her hard against the wall.

“STOP SAYING THAT! YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS!”

She tried to say something, opening her mouth, the words becoming wordless. Her lids slowly closed, and she fell limp in his hand. He released her, letting her fall to the ground, more blood trailing from her lips onto the ground around her.

“Damn!” he howled, standing up and turning towards the door.

 

 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

“My King,” the man hissed, bowing reluctantly, “she is unconscious. She tells me nothing of interest.”

The king turned to him, looking away from the map pinned across the throne room. He wore no crown, only a ring on his right hand, of two dragons chasing each other. His eyes were dark, the torchlight making him seem devilish.

“You know what hour it is.” He said cooly, turning back to the map, as if not interested.

“Yes, my King, but she-”

“SILENCE!” He whipped around, glaring at him, “You chose to gather this girl under your own will, after my strict orders against it! You are nothing but a servant to me.” The cloaked figure’s eyes narrowed, his spine straightening, forcing out the words: “Yes…My King.”

The King laughed, echoing in the room, “I will have nothing to do with this, demon. Get out of my throne room.”

The cloaked figure clenched his teeth, then bowed, walking out of the room. He fingered the knife under his cloak, a werewolf coming up to him, his fur black. He remained quiet, waiting for orders.

“Kill the guards tonight.” He growled, then proceeded to the girl’s prison, finding her still unconscious. The smell of blood hung in the air around him, and he stared down at the crumpled figure. She lay sprawled out, her arms bent around her head, her chest rising painstakingly slow. A small trail of blood came from her open lips. He stooped over her and put out his hand, inches from her flesh, now being consumed in darkness. A black aura descended onto her arm, and the girl screamed out with pain. The shadows seemed to turn white next to her arm.

                       The girl clutched the top of a pine tree, struggling to breathe normally. Pain gripped her each time her chest rose. Painfully, she looked over the forest that lay in flames before he; only her tree stood tall. Smoke choked her air, and her heart ached as she saw the ant-like animals running for shelter. They would not make it. And neither would she if she didn’t find a way out. The red tongues of doom swallowed up the forest until the flames were licking her twenty foot tree. The flames roared out in a dark voice, “Tell me, do you wish to die? Do you wish to parish like all those who denied me?”

Bravely, she responded, “I deny you, your king”-she spat-“and all of your evil, that’s what I oppose!”

The flames roared out, another wrong answer. The tree then suddenly perished, the flames burning her arms, and she found herself falling, the unwelcoming flaming ground speeding towards her. She hit the ground hard, the flames moving away from her, pain welcoming her. She weakly rolled onto her back, lifted herself up on her elbows painfully, and warily looked around. The shadowed figure that described fear itself walked forward out of the flames and into the small circle of burnt ground.

“You like to bring pain onto yourself, don’t you?” He reached down, gripped her neck and pulled her up off the ground. He smirked with cruelty in his eyes. “What are you hiding? What secrets are causing you to injure yourself? I’m dying to know.”

She remained silent; she refused to give in.

He laughed darkly, his eyes peering into hers. He knew she was fearful, and spoke words that would break her: “Then a whip will rip your flesh, and your blood will lay around you until you tell.”

His eyes showed his pleasure in breaking her down, slowly fading away, his hand remaining solid until the very end. She fell to the ground, wincing, reality forcing her back.

 

She was pulled away from her nightmare, her senses slowly coming back. She felt the cold, steel ground beneath her, the smell of blood hanging in the air, and she reluctantly opened her eyes. She   looked   up   and   saw   eyes   of   death   upon   her, accompanied by a dark, evil grin.

“Welcome back,” he growled.

Terrified, she stammered, “P-please, don’t-”

“Don’t what? Harm you?” He laughed evilly. “Winter, I’ve already done that.”

Her name? Was that her name?

She looked at her arms and gasped. Burns covered parts of her left(?) arm, and the dark mark covered the other. He was clearly enjoying her fear as her blue eyes were filled with tears. He got to his feet, cherishing her fear as she jumped to her feet quickly, holding her arm close to her and backing up. A dark chuckle left him, “Welcome to Hell.” He advanced towards her, but before she was within arms length of him, the door swung heavily open behind him. Furious, he turned sharply around.

“Forgive me Avellere,” the werewolf said, and, for an unknown reason to Winter, he bowed, “but the King”-he spat-“wishes to see you.” Filled with rage, he darkly glanced back at Winter, who cowered, and walked out, whispering something to the tall werewolf. The creature’s brown fur moved with the breeze of Avellere’s passing, and he looked with distaste at Winter. Growling, he closed and locked the steel door, leaving her alone, cloaked in shadow. Winter’s lip quavered as she fought back tears, sliding down the wall to the ground. She brought her knees to her, wrapping her arms around them, and pressing her head on them.

I’m going to die, she thought, there’s no way I can survive this. Jesus, you left me! God, you’re letting me die! Dear Holy Spirit, you’re sucking me dry! She cried out in anger and hopelessness, and collapsed on the ground, falling to her side, and that’s when she noticed. It wasn’t long until Avellere had her. It wasn’t long until he’d have her secret. And she realized he wasn’t going to kill her. He was going to keep her alive.

I wish to die, then. She thought darkly.

 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

She woke in the dim morning to see the werewolf from the previous night just lifting his hands from her neck. He stepped back and smiled a toothy grin. Winter felt heaviness around her neck, and felt a freezing steal collar around her. She tried to gasp but it did not allow her neck expand far enough to breath deeply. Her only thought was that she was now demoted to a dog.

“Wait here,” commanded the creature’s hoarse voice. As if she had a choice! The wolf creature left and Winter got up stiffly; the chains were heavier than she expected.  She dragged herself to the barred window and looked out at the beautiful sun rise. Red and orange hung above the sun as large clouds flew overhead. She sighed and picked up the long chain leash from her collar. She looked at it and fought to keep the tears away; she didn’t want Avellere to feel accomplished.

But what’s the use? I’m already in his clutches. I’m already going to be broken. I’m-

The sound of footsteps forced her to look up, and the bloodthirsty smirk welcomed her.

“Hello, Winter.” He chuckled as she sorely looked away. “I suppose you’re still not telling then.” Winter remained silent. Again, he smirked then tugged on her chain. She staggered forward, reaching to the wall for support. She gasped, then the collar dug into her neck, making her wince. Avellere laughed, and wrapped the chain around his hand and pulled her out of her cell. She was breathing as deep as she could, but couldn’t get enough air into her lungs. He grinned darkly at her struggle, and pulled her along.

Avellere lead her to a large room with a steel pole in the center. Winter’s chain was tied to it and she could not look back.

“Here,” Avellere said behind her, “you can do the honors.” She heard laughter and a werewolf howled. She heard a whip crack, readying for the torture, and she clenched her eyes close. She chewed her lip and embraced for her torture.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Her back was now viciously ripped open and bloody as she was thrown into her cell. She had collapsed during the beating and was thrown while still cringing. She hit the floor hard, and the ground was stained with her blood. It flooded the ground around her, and she clenched her eyes closed. Winter weakly coughed and rolled onto her side to take pressure off her back. She held herself back from screaming, and cringed at the sound of her name: “Winter.”

Avellere walked into her cell, and stared down at her. “Do you really wish to continue this way?” She stayed silent as always. A forceful hand grabbed her chin and she looked into the red eyes that stared at her blue. Her eyes were dull, full of fear and hopelessness, but also of pain.

“Answer me when I speak to you!”

Winter hesitated, but spoke,  “No.”

“Why do you continue?!”

“To watch you fail.”

Avellere growled and pushed her head down into the steel ground, and Winter screamed a shrieking, blood freezing scream. She pushed her burnt arm under her head, using the other to slowly pull herself away from him. He looked at her in disgust, “I would kill you if that wasn’t what you wanted.”

“Are you so sure?” Winter sobbed.

He knelt down and examined his fearful yet brave prisoner. He moved away her red hair and whispered into her ear, “Actually, I have other plans for you and that bloody king.” He wrapped his hands around her neck and the collar fell off in a pool of blood. Then he got up and left the room, locking the door after him, leaving Winter sobbing.

“Tomorrow!” Winter cried out in desperation, “tomorrow you’ll know!”

No answer.

She looked warily around her, fearing the darkness, but knew she wasn’t strong enough to move. She lost consciousness, her blood surrounding her, the whip having ripped open her flesh. Just as Avellere foretold.

To the Picture of a Foggy Forest Above My Bed

Lauren Hemphill

 

To the Picture of a Foggy Forest Above My Bed

 

I wish to get lost in you forever,

To lie beneath your branches and stare into the sky

Until the darkness inside of me, it never wants to die.

 

I wish to get lost in you forever,

To find the hatred and the violence that tethers the beast

That waits to devour me, to tear into its feast.

 

I wish to get lost in you forever,

To set the demon free,

The beast with eyes of shattered glass, with skin the color of captivity.

Its talons pierce with the strength of plotting slaves,

And its voice screams with the song of those with long sleeves.

It reeks of a terrified wife, of a frozen child, of a bruised cheek.

 

I wish to get lost in you forever,

And find strength within your forgotten truths.

Midnight

((  Part 1  ))

 

At midnight Jade dragged Riley out of her house and into her truck. Sleep-deprived as she was, Riley barely registered what was happening until Jade slapped her shoulder when the truck shut off. Riley jerked forward in her seat, the seatbelt—she didn’t remember buckling up—locking and tightening against her chest. She leaned back against the seat, unbuckled, and rubbed her eyes.

“Where are we?” she murmured, a yawn marring her sentence.

“At Aris’ college.”

Riley blinked. Jade was willingly on campus? She cast a glance to her red-headed kidnapper and couldn’t help but grin.

Jade wore all black—from her solid black sweatshirt, to her cargo pants, to the bandana tied over her red hair. Her feet were hidden by the dash, but Riley assumed Jade was wearing black shoes, too. Jade gestured to the backseat, where, somehow, some of Riley’s black clothes were waiting for her. They were in a pile, so no doubt Jade had grabbed whatever she saw and tossed them into the truck. Which, hilariously enough, was also black. Though the paint was beginning to chip and reveal the metal beneath.

“You said you’d help me decorate.” Jade explained, pulling two plastic bags from behind her seat and placing them on her lap.

“Did I say that when I was sober?” Riley countered, arching a brow. She grabbed the clothes and pushed her seat back to change out of her pajamas.

Jade shrugged and looked away. “I talked to a few people during the day and found out Aris’ schedule. We can hang things around there.”

“You talked to some people?” Riley pressed, smirking as she pulled a jacket over her arms.

“Talked, threatened, I don’t really see the difference.” Jade grinned back at Riley. “Looks like you’re decent now.” She gestured to the building in front of them, one of the many on the large campus. “This is her first class.”

“I’m going to guess you didn’t get permission to do this.” The two exited the car and walked onto the grassy lawn in front of the cement building. Jade laughed.

“Permission? Hell, I couldn’t even get half the student body to talk to me.”

“Maybe if you didn’t look like you were going to punch people half the time.” Riley offered. Jade sneered and walked up to the front steps of the building. Two large pillars stood on each side, framing the doorway. Jade dropped her plastic bags and pulled out—oh, well, definitely not birthday decorations.

“You brought spray paint!?” Riley hissed, grabbing Jade’s wrist as she reached for the red can. Jade grinned madly.

“Hey, if I tried to put up banners, they’d be down before Aris even got here. Enough spray paint around the campus and she’s bound to see it.”

“She’s going to get in so much trouble.”

“I didn’t say to write her name! Fuck, I’m not that much of an idiot. Just write things like ‘happy bday champ’ and things generic like that. She’ll know it’s for her, but she won’t get in trouble. And neither will we, if we can get this done fast enough.”

Riley groaned and released Jade’s hand. “If house arrest wasn’t bad enough, Aris is definitely going to take away your drinking privileges.”

“She’s not my mom!” Jade griped, frowning as she shook the red can. “She can’t house arrest me and she can’t take away my booze.” She rolled her eyes and turned to the pillar, beginning her first word.

“I don’t know, she was pretty angry when you got out of jail.” She whistled and grabbed a green can. She shook it as she said: “And you looked pretty scared when she locked eyes with you.”

“I was not scared.” Jade huffed, shaking her can again. “Besides, you still owe me for saving your tail from the slammer.”

“‘The slammer,’ really? That’s what you’re going with?” Riley snickered and turned to draw on the opposite pillar. “And I do not owe you. I paid for your drinks when you got out! It’s not like you were in there long, since tall, dark, and handsome paid for you ticket out.” She said her last sentence with a hint of revulsion.

“I didn’t ask him to, if that’s what you’re implying.” Jade began to paint the words again.

“Oh, you don’t have to.” Riley chuckled. “I think he’d do anything for you. I’m pretty sure you have your own personal creep-slave.”

“Okay, okay, you’ve made your point.”

“I’m not sure if I have—have I said he’s too slick for you? Maybe that he’s up to something? Oh, I know, maybe he’s just in this to get in your—”

“Wow! Okay, Sherlock, calm down! Shit, dude, it’s not like we’re dating or anything.” Jade stepped back from the pillar, where she had written ‘party!’ in big letters. She nodded, satisfied, and tossed the can in one of the two plastic bags. She looked over at what Riley was writing.

“Ri!” Jade yelped. “What are you doing!?”

“What’s it look like? I’m confessing your undying love to Aris in the shape of a heart.” Riley stepped back where a massive green heart had been drawn. She grinned over at Jade, who grabbed exasperatedly at her face.

“Remind me why I keep you around?”

“Because I’m the other corner of the triangle?” She tossed her can into the bag before Jade picked it up.

“I don’t even know what you’re saying. C’mon, let’s move to the next place.”

Riley followed her with a large smile on her face. The next area was a rectangular brick building. The entrance way was rather unexciting and didn’t have any surfaces to draw on. Jade dropped the bags on the grass and pulled out gasoline from one. Riley’s eyes widened in surprise.

“You want to burn a message in the grass?” Riley asked, crossing her arms. Jade walked forward a few paces and, classically, shrugged.

“Harder to cover up that way. Spray paint the door over there, or something.” She gestured to the brick building. Riley shook her head as Jade began to spill gasoline.

“She’s going to hate this, you know. Why didn’t you just get her a card?”

“Cards are lame.”

“I got you a card for your birthday.”

“You said it, not me.” Jade smirked at Riley. Riley stuck out her tongue. “Besides, I had all this around the house, and with my low funds, I can’t really go out and buy her anything cool. She’ll at least remember this birthday.”

Riley shook her head and picked up a blue can of spray paint.

“Don’t draw another heart,” Jade warned.

“No promises.”

A moment later the smell of fire filled the air, burning grass making the darkness shudder around the small flames. Riley turned around to see ‘hapy bday’ burning in the grass. She frowned.

“You forgot—”

“I know I forgot a ‘p.’” Jade grumbled. “Makes it…better…that way.”

Riley arched a brow and laughed. “Really? Well, she’ll definitely know it’s from you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jade crossed her arms and pursed her lips. “I spell fine most the time.”

“Hey, I’ve been victim to your text messages, Red.” Riley shrugged. “The truth is in the pudding.”

“Oh and I’m the one that uses lame phrases.” Jade chuckled. “C’mon, there’s only a few more places to hit up.”

A flashlight shined on Jade’s chest. Riley and her whipped around to see—Oh for the love of God!

“What a surprise to see you here, Private.” A’doxia said, sneering at them several feet away. She wore a security guard uniform and her hand sat atop her tazer.

“Why does she call you Private?” Riley whispered.

“Don’t ask me.” Jade muttered back. “To be honest, I think she just doesn’t know my name.”

“You realize you’re defacing university property, right?” A’doxia cooed. Her flashlight hadn’t wavered from Jade, almost like she hadn’t even noticed Riley was standing there. Jade groaned.

“Relax already—”

“You’re resisting arrest. Afraid I’ll have to take you in.” A’doxia unhooked her tazer. Jade turned and sprinted.

“I fucking hate those things!”

Riley blinked, A’doxia’s light flickering to her.

“And you, too? Boy, oh boy, are we going to have fun tonight.”

Riley felt vomit bubbling up in her throat. She grimaced and raced after Jade, A’doxia following right on Riley’s heels. Riley caught up with Jade and yelled: “Why does shit like this always happen to you?”

“You tell me—I only get into this much trouble when you’re around!” Jade shouted. She turned and rushed to the parking lot, the truck almost fading into the darkness around it.

“How mad do you think Aris is going to be if A’doxia follows me home?” Jade said.

“I’d say pretty pissed.”

“Think I could pass it off as a birthday prank? Dox doesn’t seem to hate Aris as much as me, so maybe she’d—”

“Go along with it? Are you insane?” Riley cast Jade a look. “I think that’s probably the worst idea you’ve had all night.”

Jade huffed. “You’re always so dramatic. “Oh hey, I never asked, what’d you get Aris?”

“You’re asking that now?

“Running from Dox is sort of a normal occurrence for me.”

“I got her a starbucks card.”

“Ah, what? Dude, starbucks sucks.”

“Whatever! I see Aris there all the time!”

“Yeah, and you’re not helping her bad habits!” The grass ended and Jade ripped open the driver side door and jumped in, locking it in the process. Riley did the same with the passenger, and A’doxia stopped when the lights turned on.

Riley glanced at Jade, who had a crazed look in her eyes.

“Hey, no.” Riley said, snapping her fingers in front of Jade’s face. Jade swatted Riley’s hand away.

“It’d be so easy. Hit the gas petal—no one would know.”

I would know. I don’t want to be connected to a murder.”

“It was in self-defense.”

“You were defacing property.”

Jade pursed her lips. “You’re no fun. Do you and Aris have tea or something together? You sound just like her.”

“As a matter of fact—is A’doxia on the phone?” Riley paused and watched as A’doxia calmly walked up to the driver window and tapped on the glass with the phone.

“It’s for you, love.” She said. Jade rolled the window down just enough so A’doxia could drop the phone in and held it up to her ear.

“Who is it?” Riley asked. Jade’s face went white.

“Stop—no I wasn’t—calm down—okay that’s fucking fantastic—no, no I don’t—why does Dox even have your number? Aris! Calm down! Chill—you’re what!?” Jade pulled the phone away from her face and shoved it through the crack in the window. She started the car and veered out of the parking lot. Her and Aris didn’t live far away from the school, yet Jade felt the need to speed through ever light, every stop sign, and didn’t even shut off the car when they rolled into the apartment driveway. She threw herself out of the truck and Riley scrambled after her.

“What!?” She howled for the hundredth time. “What’s going on? Was that Aris on the phone? How did A’doxia have her number?”

Jade entered the tall building and skipped the stairs with her long legs, making Riley work harder to keep up. When they reached the third floor, Jade dashed through the hallway and unlocked her room door. It slammed against the wall, probably waking whoever lived on the same floor. Jade stood frozen at the door. Riley walked in beside her, peering into the room that was no bigger than an average hotel room. The kitchen stood by the large glass doors that exited onto the balcony and, standing at the sink, was Aris.

And she was on the third bottle of wine, pouring it down the drain. Her blue eyes stared right at Jade. Jade collapsed to the ground.

“Not the booze,” she whispered.

“Not only were you on house arrest, but then you went and did something that could get you in serious trouble? Get you fined, or worse, sent to jail again?” Aris used her free hand to rub her eyes. “It’s a good thing I was able to convince A’doxia not to say she saw you tonight.”

Riley frowned. Oh, this was certainly not good. “What did she want in return?” she asked, her voice barely over a whisper.

“She wants Jade to treat her to dinner tomorrow.” Aris replied.

Jade rolled into her back and stared up at Riley.

“Please kill me.”

Riley snickered. “I told you it was a bad idea.”

“Oh, c’mon! There’s a knife in the kitchen! It’ll be quick and painless.”

“Do you need a ride home, Riley?” Aris asked, smiling over at the shorter woman.

“I can walk.”

“Oh, no, you can’t walk at this time of night!” Aris placed the empty glass bottle next to the other two on the counter. “I can—”

“I’ll do it,” Jade grumbled, standing. Aris arched a brow.

“You’re going to run off and buy more alcohol if I let you take her. There’s no way—”

“I don’t even have my wallet. See?” Jade gestured to the bed nearest to the door. On the side table was a small black wallet. “It’s right there.”

“You were driving without your license?” Aris hissed. Jade threw her hands up.

“Woman, would you chill? I have my license in the car!”

Aris didn’t look convinced. Jade flipped her off and grabbed Riley’s arm.

When Riley and Jade hit the road again, Jade didn’t turn on Riley’s street. Riley shook her head and laughed.

“Really? How are you going to buy booze without—” Jade cut her off.

“Oh, I’m not. I’m skipping town for tomorrow. There’s no way I’m going on a…” She trailed off with a look of disgust. “No.”

Riley laughed. “You are so going to get on Aris’ nerves. You realize she’s going to ground you for months, right?”

“She’s not my mom!”

But Riley knew better. She had seen the birth with her own eyes. Oh the horror.

Wet Grass

It smelled like the grass after rain. That’s what she noticed first. It reminded her of running through the pouring rain with her family, one lap around the house, as a sort of impromptu tradition. It managed to stick for years each time it rained or snowed. The memory should make her smile—it would’ve if she were sane. But it didn’t. She just curled deeper into herself.

There were no walls she could see around her. She could not see the floor. She could barely see herself. It wasn’t particularly cold where she was, but neither was it warm. And it definitely wasn’t wet. So she didn’t know why it smelled of sweet, soaked grass.

Her toes started to burn from carrying the weight of her entire body as she sat in a fetal position. She rocked a little back and forth on them, hoping to ease away the pain. She didn’t exactly have the strength to move much more than that.

She untucked one arm and held her hand out. Her eyes stared hard at the lines in her palm, as if they might tell her why.

As if they might give her comfort.

She could hardly see the lines in her palm anyway. It was so dark where she was. How could something she couldn’t see give her comfort, anyway?

She curled up again, pressing her forehead to her knees. Her long, red hair fell around her shoulders. She rocked back and forth on her toes. She wasn’t even sure if it was tile or hardwood underneath her feet. All she could tell is that it smelled sweet. Like summers gone by, like friends who traded her away. Like the terror and the fear that overwhelmed her as she lay in bed, the window cracked, and the smell coating the air in her room. It was dark then, too.

She stopped rocking and ran a hand under her nose, sniffling under her breath. God-forbid anyone knowing how hurt or broken she was. She couldn’t have that. She couldn’t deal with that. The pity. The loathing. How some would treat her as a child and others would slap her wrist and tell her to buck up. She couldn’t handle that.

Her toes burned and she realized she had stopped rocking back and forth a while ago. She numbly wondered when.

“Am I doomed to fight these battles alone?” she whispered into her jeans. “Am I doomed to watch people suffer around me, unable to do anything about it?” For a long time no one answered.

Then one voice spoke up from the darkness: “Have you forgotten we’re here?”

The girl looked up, green eyes stained with tears to see the first of them all step out of the darkness. Though there was no light anywhere to be seen, the girl could see the woman as if it were midday.

The woman wore armor. Thick around vital areas and looser around joints. She smiled her side-ways grin—the one she had gotten from her creator.

“Hey.” Jade said.

“And you call me a sap,” said another voice. A teenager stepped from the darkness, also clearly visible. A sash was tied around her eyes.

One-by-one, the girl’s companions stepped out from the darkness to form a semi-circle around her. Some were tall. Some were short. Some had silver eyes while others had a deep and vibrant blue. Some were fully formed while others were blurred, as if being viewed on a hot day from miles away. Some had wings while others had scales. Some were human. Some were not.

Regardless of hero or villain status, all stood shoulder to shoulder, gazing down at their crippled creator. Some had soft smiles on their lips. Others held determined glares, though they were not unkind. A few of them held hands.

The girl sniffed, eyes flicking from one to the other.

“She did forget about us,” said Aris, a short, thick-boned woman grumbled. She crossed her arms with a tired smile. “Thanks a lot, creator.”

“I didn’t…” Creator started.

“You totally did,” Alex said, a teenager who held a cigarette between her lips. The red tip of the cig glowed. “I’m a little hurt.”

“You didn’t think you could come to us?” asked Samuel in a small voice, his soft blue eyes filled with concern. “Haven’t we always been here for you? Hasn’t He?”

“Miss,” Thaddeous started as he rolled up the cuffs on his suit, “I thought higher of you.”

“Yeah, so did I,” Seymouir said. His black wings flared out a bit with agitation. “Have we ever truly left you?”

“Listen, jack-ass.” Jade sighed, rubbing the soft area underneath her chin. “Come running to us and you’ll always find Him, okay? And together, you won’t ever feel hopeless.”

“You promise?” Creator asked.

Jade fixed her with a stern gaze. Together, every single one of them spoke one single word:

“Yes.”

Creator thought she felt grass beneath her feet.

Stress Poems

Isn’t there anything you can’t do?

Sometimes compared to you

My insignificance becomes too much to bear.

It’s like pulling each strand of hair

Out, piece by piece.

Like tearing your teeth from their roots

And having nothing to put them in but old boots.

So that each time you try and take a step,

You’re reminded

That you

Aren’t worth

The fucking prep

 

Help me

I’m

Not

Right

 

Sometimes I wish I was alone.

Deep in space.

Feeling my lungs burst.

Because maybe then I’d feel real.

Maybe then I’d be okay.

Maybe in the midst of dying

I’d remember who I am.

 

Please don’t look at me like that.

I’m not someone to poke and prod at.

I’m human.

 

 

They tell you that strength is a blessing.

I wish it were true.

 

 

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one

Holding up the world?

That if you were to so much as breathe,

Everything would crumble down

On everyone around you?

How hard would it be to carry that weight

Once you knew

How much weight it actually carried?

 

Aren’t we all screaming something?

In our heads, in our throats.

Aren’t we all dying for someone to notice?

How can we help ourselves

If we can’t even ask for help?

Our throats are too sore,

Our breath is shallow.

No one can understand us now

That we’ve screamed for so long.

No one cares to listen to a mute.

 

 

I almost lost you.

Shattered glass against the concrete floor.

That’s all you were.

So fragile.

A slip of the hand

And everything you are is broken

To

Pieces.

And those who are left to

Pick those shattered remnants up,

Are left with bloodied hands and

Cut up fingers.

I can’t fix you if you’re gone.

I can’t fix you if you shatter.

Don’t shatter on me.

Please.

Don’t shatter.

 

Isn’t it funny how we’re all so useless?