Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Homecoming

Mona reflected on how different her house looked in the dark. The familiar presence of her mom’s hutch and their dusty ceiling fan were transformed into a giant, a bird of prey, all by the absence of light. Maybe also a guilty conscience. The geometric kitchen vinyl crackled under her feet, even though she tried to avoid the bubbles where the glue had come loose. If her mom woke up right now from what was probably her latest bender, things would be bad. Mona didn’t even know what she could say. Hey, mom, how’s it going? I know it’s been weeks since I’ve been home, but I just came back to get some stuff from my room. How’s the cat? Yeah, that would go down nice and smooth. Speaking of Yucky, she hadn’t seen him around yet. Maybe he was off on one of his grand adventures. She hoped he never came back. Can cats suffer from secondhand smoke? Mona really hoped not. Her mom probably singlehandedly funded several government programs with how much sin tax she paid.  

Mona skirted around the kitchen table. If this was a normal house, a normal family, there would have perhaps been MISSING CHILD flyers scattered across its surface. A list of local phone numbers, too, maybe lying next to an old family album with a school photo removed for the police to photo-copy. The universe decided to give her only a crumpled pleather purse and an empty wine bottle with the cap lying beside it. Real classy, mom. Not even a bottle with a cork. Then again, the daughter of a normal family wouldn’t have run away as often as Mona had. She didn’t even know why she chose tonight to come by. It was stupid, she’d just had a weird feeling she couldn’t wait any longer. It had to be tonight. 

The rest of the way was simple; down the hall, into her room, stock up on Fruit of the Loom and tampons, get the sock fund, Exeunt Mona. Easy peasy as-can-beezy. Her footsteps became swallowed by the carpet as she navigated around the overstuffed La-Z-Boy in the next room, and it was then that she noticed something: a bright, burning cherry. Mona froze. The cherry bobbed for a moment, grew brighter momentarily, then dimmed once more. Even in darkness, she knew that connected to this ember was an American Legend cigarette. The person that held the cigarette spoke. 

“Nice of you to drop by.” 

Mona’s neck hair prickled. This voice was ruined birthday parties and broken pinky-promises. It was pouring peroxide on your own scrapes, and it was missed soccer practice. It was everything but the voice of a mother. At 17, Mona was finally old enough to see R-Rated movies, and yet this voice scared her more than The Exorcist ever had. Her mother flicked on a lamp. 

“I was gonna call-” Mona’s attempt to explain herself was stopped by her mom’s raised hand. Silence thickened the air between them. Suddenly she was nine again, pink marker in hand and evidence of her crime on the wall. Her mother’s purple lips closed around the butt of her Legend once more, and when she released, the smoke that curled from her mouth reminded Mona of a spirit escaping its corpse.  

“Are you back, or just visiting?” The question took her off guard. Where was the icy scorn? The guilt trip? The cutting remarks?  

“I need some stuff from my room. Then I’ll go.” Mona had heard stories about others who’d run away: When they visited home, their parents looked older and smaller. But not Peggy. No, she seemed as strong and mean as ever, blue sleeves rolled up over thick arms. Despite her lined face, hollowed by years of substance abuse, Mona’s mother was what some dead author would call a “handsome woman.” She wasn’t beautiful, no one would call her that. But she was attractive in a hard, unrepentant way. 

“You’re welcome to it,” her mother said, and again Mona wondered at her uncaring tone. Why did it feel like Peggy was expecting her? But already, this reception was better than Mona expected, so she hurried to her room, feeling somewhat lighter than before. Perhaps it was a relief. The door to her room was ajar, and when she pushed it open and flicked on the light, Mona froze. Her room was completely empty. Not one of her posters remained. The bed was gone; she could see the impressions in the carpet where it had been. Push-pin holes dotted the walls. Mona stood very still, blood thrumming in her ears. Then she flew to the closet and ripped it open. Gone. Her clothes, shoes, the boxes filled with old diaries and yearbooks every god damn inch of her life besides what was on her back and in her head, it was all gone. Worst of all, the sock roll that held the rest of her savings was gone from behind the baseboard. Her body flashed hot and then cold. Finally, a sick feeling of dread settled in her stomach. 

Her return to the living room was slow, feet dragging on the carpet. One look at her mom’s face, and Mona knew. Less than a month since her latest departure and Peggy had already scrubbed her from this house completely. In a pained voice, Mona rasped, “Why?” 

Her mother gestured to the opposite loveseat with a fresh, unlit cigarette. “Take a seat, I’ve got some shit to say. It’s not gonna be nice, but it’s not gonna be what you’re expecting.” When Mona just stood there, Peggy sighed. “Give me the benefit of the doubt, munchkin.” Still, Mona stood. Finally, Peggy grunted and reached into her pocket. She threw something onto the coffee table, and it landed with a clunk—Mona’s sock money. Three hundred dollars from stocking produce at the Winn Dixie and watching the neighbor kids. A teenage fortune. Finally, Mona sat. Peggy had been observing her all this time, tapping the cigarette against her leg. Now she grunted again and stuck it into her mouth, fumbling with a lighter until there was a thick smell of burning tobacco in the air.   

Her mom had never been one for long speeches, but now she spoke more than Mona had seen in the course of a week. “Here’s the thing. For a while, since before you came along, I’ve worked nights at Prissy’s. Not the classiest of diners, I know, but it’s okay. Well, I don’t have to tell you, you’ve eaten enough of their banana cream pies. Heh. And then, there’s also my, uh, gentleman callers, who…” She trailed off. It sounded like she’d rehearsed this speech, but now she seemed at a loss. Finally, she cleared her throat. “Look, I know you think I’m a shitty mom. I know. To you, I screw around, work a sleeper shift at a dive, and abuse substances like they’re going out of style. But it’s not true. Well, the last thing is true. Addiction’s a bitch.” She took a long drag, and Mona fidgeted, wondering where this was going. Her ride was going to be back any minute now. 

Finally, her mom looked ready to continue. “I don’t really know how to say this. I’m not good at it… you know,” she said, gesturing aimlessly like Mona actually knew what she was talking about. “You know. Talking. Explaining myself. I know I’ve been a shitty mom, but I’m not a shitty person. God, I wish I had more time to talk to you before… well, I’ll get to that. Point is, Prissy’s isn’t what you think it is, those guys aren’t who you think they are.” The next drag she took was longer, and Mona now noticed how much her mother’s hand was shaking. “Mona, I’m not who you think I am.”  

“Mom, what are you talking about? Where is this coming from? I don’t care who those men are anymore. Prissy’s ain’t bad. Just tell me why you scrapped all my shit.”  

Peggy looked like she was about to answer. Then, there was a sound of breaking glass in the other room. Mona froze. “What the hell was that?” For a moment, she thought that Yucky had knocked a glass off a table or something. Then she saw the look on her mom’s face. 

“We have even less time than I thought. Mona, I want you to know I’m sorry. I was never a fair mom to you. But right now I need you to listen to me, you have to go. I added some money to your sock, take it and go out the back as quietly as you can.” Her voice was hushed, guarded. 

“Do I need to call 911? Why are you acting so weird? You’re freaking me out.” There was a thump, then what sounded like footsteps. Mona tensed, nerves thrumming. Yucky was heavy, but not heavy enough to make that kind of noise. Frantically she reached for her phone in her pocket, but Peggy shook her head firmly.  

“No! No police. Around these parts, they hate our kind. You’re savvy, thank god you got that from me at least, so use that. Get far away from here. Three states away, at least. And stay away.” As Peggy spoke, she reached under her chair and pulled out a heavy-looking pistol. Mona recoiled. 

“Jesus, mom!” Before Mona could say anything more, a dark figure loomed in the doorway, just beyond the reach of the dingy lamplight, and Mona’s neck erupted in chills. They wore a hood over their head, but Mona could tell from their build that they were probably a woman or a man with a slight frame. The intruder’s image burned a negative into her panicked mind displayed on her eyelids when she blinked. Time was becoming syrup-thick in her panic. 

“Mona, damn you, go!” Her mom sprang up and fired off three quick shots. That got Mona moving with a jolt. As she sprinted out the door, sock in hand, her mother called her name again. Mona turned.  

“I love you, Mona.” Eyes brimming with tears, Peggy smiled.  


Abigail Manis Alpha Chi student representative and soon-to-be LU graduate Abigail Manis has had research published in Aletheia and placed first in the 2020 LU SRC. When not furiously scanning JSTOR or writing her novel, Abby can be found setting off her kitchen smoke alarm and plotting to kidnap her roommate’s cat. 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Sticky Memories

In the very back of my mind, there is the smallest bit of memory, dusty like a photograph found in a packed away attic box. If it were a photograph, it would be a beautifully deceiving scene of a perfect family. If I squeeze my eyes closed tight, I can see us all. Just a little bit before dawn, we all gathered on an old stuffy couch that sat on the porch in a very southern fashion. Fog billowed out over the trees at the end of the yard, and the smallest bit of sunshine started to peek through, casting yellow and pink hues over the mist that rolled across the grass. My father had been so proud of that property, three acres of land in a town with more cows than people. That morning in my little memory, I can recall, my mom, father, and Skylar, the youngest out of their collective eight children squished together on the couch. We listened as the world woke up and watched the sun move over the trees to touch every corner of that land. My father went inside and made us pancakes. I only liked them when he made them, perfectly golden and with a slab of blackberry jelly on top. I try to reach as far back into my brain as possible, but still, the first moment I find is the four of us tangled up in a big blanket made sticky and damp by the morning dew and some stray jelly, and the sun stretching itself over the trees to greet us. The memory stops and staggers on that scene of us staring out over the yard. And I have to wonder now, with all the knowledge I have of who we really were, how long did that peace last? 

Everything always felt more there. The summers had more warmth, the winters brought more snow. That place lived and breathed just like me. It pulsated with life, drawn to extremes, both beautiful and bleak. I wish I could say that my childhood was filled with memories of that place as picturesque as a family, eating pancakes outside and enjoying the morning together. My childhood home is like the skeleton that holds me upright. All of the memories of that place, which make me tear up with thoughts of the “good old days” and the ones that make my whole body cringe, have all built me into the vessel I am now. 

The naked eye is blind to those pieces of me, but I know they are there. You can’t look deep enough into my eyes to see the bright pink butterfly net my mom bought me, and how she taught me to catch butterflies in the yard. Or how I cried for hours when I accidentally crushed one, and how my mom pulled me into her lap and told me that accidents happen. With a far off look in her eyes, she said that my intentions mattered more than the harm I caused. You can’t read the lines on my palms and see the fluffy, indigo comforter my mom would drag out into the yard, the one Skylar and I would roll around on while she read to us. You wouldn’t see my father’s absence, working maybe, or just watching the news and reminding himself of how evil the world was. I might have a small scar, but you wouldn’t tell by looking that it’s from the last step on the porch where I tumbled off my bike, newly released from the shackles of training wheels. The concrete had pulled what seemed like every piece of skin off my knee. And that wispy tree in the yard that I loved to climb and read my books in didn’t leave any external marks on my body that one could notice. “If you fall out of that damn thing and break your arm, I’ll kick your ass like you’ll never forget,” I recall my father screaming from the porch as I swung like a monkey back and forth from the branches. I loved that stupid tree, but pain or the fear of it, I remember, kept me from swinging just far enough to enjoy myself. My body bears no signs of the train that would rumble by. The tracks bordered our property, and every window on the house would rattle, the ground would shake, and still couldn’t compare to the screams of my father.   

I remember what started out as an argument between my father and my brother, Daniel, turned into our great escape, and the last night that place ever felt like home. My father never cared much for Daniel. To him, Daniel was baggage my mom brought with her into their marriage. He disdained him so much that most of the year, Daniel lived with his own father. I don’t remember my mom locking all the doors after a phone call from my other brother, Billy. He warned her to call the police and get out of the house as soon as possible. I wonder how my father must have felt when he realized it was Billy, his own son, who had betrayed him that night. It was Billy who had told us to run as far away as we could. I only remember my mom’s panicked voice in the other room, and the swift scene changes from my bed to her car. That place holds all of these memories, it watched me move in as a scrawny child with bright red pigtails. And it watched me leave in the middle of the night, blinding red and blue lights dancing over my face as my mom’s car pulled out of the driveway. My father screamed as loud as he could as if this time, he would be able to shake the wheels right off her car. I wonder how much would have been different these days if my mom hadn’t received a police escort out of that place. I wonder if I would have grown up there, spent my childhood running through the fields or sneaking down to the creek to catch crawdads, gone to high school with a graduating class of 50 or so. Or if I would have been laid to rest in the pasture alongside my mom and siblings so that my father could make absolutely sure he was never abandoned. Cold and still in the earth, we would never talk back to him again. Those memories were never made or shattered. My family never sat all together on the porch again, watching the sunrise and eating breakfast. But my mom, Daniel, Skylar, and I had better breakfasts. Even in our journey away, sleeping in Mcdonald’s parking lots and eating greasy, drive-thru hashbrowns as soon as we woke up in the morning, the world stood a little stiller. The sun came up and went back down, and the windows of that small red car never rattled like those of that house.  


Kat Townsend is an Environmental Biology major at Lindenwood University. However, if her professors had a vote, she would have switched to an English degree long ago. She finds solace in writing that she cannot find in people, and she hopes to eventually run away to live in the forest.

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

My Mother’s Ghost

As my dangling keys clank against one another, they sound like rusty chains. My fumbling hands miss the door lock again, and it feels like a much more devastating failure than it appears. Eventually, I jam it in with enough force I think I could have just pushed the door down instead. This is the same key my mother once used, but it doesn’t seem to fit, not as well. The door opens anyway, and I step inside to the entryway. I shut the door quickly behind me, and as it closes, the light of the evening sun disappears behind the distressed wood, leaving me and the rest of the home in familiar darkness. 

 There are plenty of windows; my mother used to leave them open in the spring and autumn, letting the cool breeze and sweet smells waft in from the outside, soaking into the walls. Now, only a few are visible behind thick curtains that have been drawn shut in her absence. Soft and thin streams of light filter through cracks between the inadequate panels of fabric, evidence the sun is fading fast, and will soon be absent altogether. They illuminate the dust suspended in the air, the thin layer of dust coating nearly every surface: furniture, art, and knickknacks, stagnant and stale. I need to clean. Maybe tomorrow. I can’t right now. I’m just too tired.  

I used to leave the curtains open like she did, but they always seemed to fall back to obscuring the light on their own. I stopped trying. At least like this, I don’t have to see the flowers she planted in the garden or her old station wagon deteriorating in the driveway. The dark isn’t as bad as I’d imagined. It’s mostly empty. 

 I shrug my coat off and toss it to the ground by the door. I don’t see where it lands. I’m alone here, and no one will care. I reach for the nearest light switch and flick it on, a brass lamp coming to life. It blinks. It flickers. It burns out, and I’m returned to the realm of shadows. I can’t keep the lights on. This house always used to be so bright.   

 I rub my hands against themselves, against the cold, as I start my arduous trek up the staircase. The boards creak under my feet in loud groans, and the moaning continues long after I’ve finished. As I pass door after door, my hand trails along the wall, against the gaudy wallpaper she had loved, and I had always hated, and against the discolored outlines adorning it. They were left by photos that once hung there.  Faintly deeper colors than the rest of the wall that had faded with exposure, these empty spaces will soon fade as well until it is all equally dull. The photos have been disappearing from the walls, like everything else. One by one, photographs, trinkets, and memories have vanished.  Leaving behind only bones, small disruptions in the omnipresent dust tell me anything was ever there. Her home is decaying.  

I pass a room with an open door (there are not many anymore) and gasp, the air in my throat escaping and dissipating with a chill. In the darkness, I can barely make out the silhouette of a woman. She is unnervingly thin and pale, and she stands still, gawking at me with an open mouth and sunken eyes. She reminded me of her when she was young. It’s wrong. I’m frozen in place. I blink. Again. I reach in with a shaking hand and turn on the light switch. I’m left staring at a mirror.   

 I float from room to room like I am barely there, invisible and inconsequential, an unwanted visitor and shadow of who had once walked these halls. I arrive and open the door. I don’t bother turning on the light. My hands ache under the weight of the mirror as I bring it inside and lay it amongst the other forgotten things that crowd the room: family photos, books she loved to read, crafts she made, a painting I once painted for her, the television she watched her soap operas on, and her favorite chair from the kitchen table; all the things I can no longer stand to look at. The room fills with whispers. I absently brush away, welling tears from my sore eyes and shut the door. I lock it.   

My mother’s house is haunted. 


Victoria Lane is a graduating senior at Lindenwood, completing her degree with majors in Game Design, Digital and Web Design, and Art History. She plans to continue her education through Lindenwood’s Writing MFA, where she intends to write more original fiction and poetry. She loves to read comic books, collect action figures, watch films, play video games, make art, and yes, write. 

Portfolio – victoriamlane.com

Instagram – @victoriamadilynlanee 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Forget Me Not

There is nothing more freeing than driving at night with the music loud and the windows down. That’s what Elliot thought as she drove the roads home. The cool breeze danced across her face and head, causing hair to fall from the loose ponytail she had assembled earlier that night.  She felt happy for the first time in a long time due to the pain in her left arm, the wolf took an hour to outline- she needed to make another appointment to get it shaded in. There was something relaxing about the needle prodding her skin with ink. Elliot didn’t expect to like the pain so much, she wanted to remember the sensation forever. You can’t get all of the senses in a picture, so she closed her eyes to soak up the needle’s stabs. Elliot turned the radio up and began to sing along.  

Elliot wouldn’t be caught doing this in the company of someone, she hated singing in front of people. This was what life was about, Elliot decided that she had never been happier than in that moment. She never thought the happiest moment in life would be alone. She assumed it would have been when she married or held her child for the first time. That’s what everyone told her anyway, even though she never wanted any of it. She just wanted to experience sex and then be done with it all. 

But no one knew that.  

Her car had passed inspection a couple of weeks prior, but that wasn’t enough for her to miss the 3 ½ point buck. She wasn’t speeding. The crushing of glass and screeching of tires thundered above the music briefly. The buck died instantly, its body easily breaking through the windshield.  

Elliot’s seat belt wasn’t enough to protect her from the antlers, and they pierced into her stomach. The stench of blood clouded her senses; she couldn’t tell if the car had stopped moving until it dipped into the ditch of the back road, jerking the antlers further into her. 

Elliot didn’t cry, she didn’t panic despite her heart rate seeming to accelerate. She assumed it was natural and let things take over. Only now, she was overcome with sadness; because people would never know who she truly was: 

 That her favorite flowers were forget-me-nots and not the baby’s breath that would be used in her funeral.  

That she really didn’t have a favorite colour.  

That she really did like hugs.  

That her favorite scent was fresh linen.  

That she wanted to die for so fucking long except for now.  

Elliot looked down and stared at the buck, it’s dead eyes looking back up at her; blood dripped from its mouth and onto Elliot’s pant leg. She brushed the glass from the buck’s neck and rested her hand upon it, it was still warm. Elliot didn’t think the last thing she would be doing was petting a dead buck and listening to music, then again she didn’t have the luxury of knowing she was going to die that day otherwise she would have done so many things differently. She would have eaten more chocolate that day, asked her friend to become one with benefits, and take her away. She would have told more people to fuck themselves. She would have tried to be healthier and build more stamina to run to the light as she was now.   

People would forget about her after a while and only remember the freak accident. She would be memorialized for how peaceful she looked, her head slumped with the buck’s head lying on her knee. 


Amanda May is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is majoring in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can probably be found screaming or crying (or both) about Star Wars, anime, or Florence + The Machine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Amandalorian451

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Mouadh

Eion had been a young lad when he decided to catch himself a merrow-wife, down near the sea. At dawn, he stood, ankle-deep in the tide, with a fishnet in hand—and cast it three times out.  

“It shall be like my father said,” Eion thought to himself, “I shall catch myself a wife and relieve her of the red cap upon her head and the sealskin about her shoulders so that she cannot help but be mine.”  

The first time the fishnet was reeled back, it was empty, aside from the trash that littered the sea. When he tossed it a second, all that was caught in it were the few slippery spasms of fish, and several shells tangled up. Eion cast it out a third and gripped the fishnet in hand—for it weighed heavily.  

From the sea, he dragged the maiden, which was spasming as the fish. 

“What is it you want from me?” The sidhe asked once she could not free herself from the fishnet.  

“You are to be my wife,” Eion told her, as he brought out a knife in which he gutted fish and cut the merrow from the seams, “You are to share with me, your wealth of the sea, and I will give you two sons.” 

When the sidhe had been cut free, Eion took from her head—the red feather sewn cap. From her shoulders, he removed the sealskin. Once he had stolen these from her, the sidhe wept. 

“Am I never to be given such things back?” She asked. 

Eion said, “When I am old and burdened with age, I shall give them to you.” 

Then he took the merrow up with him to his house upon the hill, where he hid the red cap and the sealskin so she could not return to the sea and made her his wife. 

“Is she not the most beautiful woman you have ever seen?” Eion asked as he gripped the merrow’s shoulders, dressed plainly now in cottons his mother had sewn together for clothes. It had been when she was young and poor, and though the garments were tarnished with holes from moths, the radiance of the woman that worn them outshone the shame of wearing such things.  

Nolan, a drunk, leaned in close to admire the merrow, and said to Eion, “What a beautiful wife!” 

Sailors and fishermen alike gathered around as Eion had taken her to the local pub. She was a head taller than most and smelt of sea salt, and her pouty lips and dewy eyes made for a sad expression.  

From beside Nolan, Keegan sat, with hair red as fire. 

“Where did you find her?” He asked as he held a mighty mug in his hand that was filled to the brim with ale that tasted no better than the sea. 

“I caught her from the ocean,” Eion spoke. 

Griffin, a blue-eyed boy, leaned forward, a bard and a minstrel and a story-teller at most, “Why—you speak to have drawn her up from Tir fo Thoinn—a land beneath the waves. They say the fairies that live there have no love or want for the men like us.” 

“Love, no,” Eion agreed, and sat with the merrow upon his lap; “But the stories of the merrow-men range abhorred and ugly, and the want for children often bring them up from the sea.” 

His bride was the talk of all the traders and merchants, this wife Eion had coaxed from the sea. Those who saw him helping her along the small pathway up to that lone house on the hill paused to watch, for she was unearthly and beautiful and he the darndest man there ever was. 

“Can I not have my cap at least this once, so I may go and soak my legs in the sea?” The sidhe asked when she had been miserable—for her bones felt brittle, being gone so long from the tides and sand.  

“I shall bring you up saltwater myself, and you shall soak your legs here,” Eion said, and the merrow watched as Eion hauled up buckets of water from the sea. 

Three times he went down, and three times he went up, filling the tub to the brim with salt water. When Eion looked to her, she looked back and allowed a papery smile on her face. 

“Thank you,” The sidhe said, though there was no joy. 

She sat, with her legs in the water, and scrubbed the salt against her knees. It did not keep her feet from feeling like blisters upon the floorboards, nor the teeth in her gums from aching. 

When Eion was out, she searched that little house, over and over again. Eion did not mind leaving her alone in the house, for he knew she would not find where he had shoved that red cap, or if she did, most certainly would not find the sealskin, which was hidden aside from those rosy feathers.  

“We are to try for a son soon,” Eion said once, as they laid in bed together, where they both could listen to the tide come up.  

“What if it is not a son,” The sidhe asked, “What if they are born a daughter.” 

“They will not be,” Eion said, “If they are a daughter, you will most certainly not see your red cap again, and I will most certainly not give you back, your sealskin.”  

Quiet was the merrow, as quiet as she was when the night came when Eion shifted on top of her. For a moon, they waited until the swell of her stomach confessed all they needed to know.  

“We will name him Teague, for it means handsome, and he most certainly shall be,” Eion said, and kissed her stomach, and it was the only kindness and softness the merrow had known from him. 

Teague had been born a handsome child and grew to be a strong and sturdy boy. Niall came after him, a second boy, as was promised, and he was just as handsome, if not more compassionate. 

“I come from the sea,” The sidhe would read to them, collecting her two sons under her arms, “Where the tides come to and fro, and lead out to the oceans and shores of foreign lands.” 

Teague was the first who decided when he became too old for fairytales. 

The merrow watched bitterly, the more he became like Eion, and when it was time for him to take a wife, he matched his father’s cruelty, in that he found the quietest and docile woman and holed her up in a house somewhere—for her to give him sons. She may not have had a red cap or a sealskin fur to steal, but she soon did have an iron ring upon her finger, which was a prison enough. 

Niall loved the stories his mother told of the sea; they walked to the sand and beach almost every day. He held her hand as she wept and collected the pearls that rolled from her cheeks. 

“Why is it that your hair looks this way?” Niall asked once when braiding it, for it was more like seaweed than anything else, and the merrow had laughed, 

“Because it is what helps me stick to the hull of a ship like barnacles, that I may sail with them against the tide.” 

Niall was the one who would spend afternoons with his mother, looking for the secret red cap and the sealskin fur, “You mustn’t tell your father you’re helping me look for it. It’s a surprise. We can’t let him know if we ever are to find it.” 

Eion had no interest in Niall, who was passive and sweet. He took Teague out with him on the fishing boats and taught him the trade; before he grew and became of age and left the house. 

Niall married soon enough and held his mother as she cried. 

“I won’t be far, just down the path,” He said, as the pearls from his mother’s cheeks hit the hardwood floor and rolled underneath cabinets and furniture to be swallowed up by cobwebs. 

The merrow smiled miserably because she knew she would soon be alone again with her husband. Without the companionship of either of her sons to distract her from the call of the ocean, 

“I know you will.” She touched his face, “You will be happy with Aileen, and she will make a good wife.” 

Aileen indeed was fair and kind and had a love for the sea herself. She had stood out on the threshold, as Niall went and gathered his things, and they left together. She held his hand along the pathway, where they passed Teague, who was out fishing with their father—and his wife, Maureen, near the birth of their own first child. 

“We shall see your mother often,” Aileen assured him, “She’s alone no more with your terrible father. You know he has gotten to be very sick and will pass soon.” 

He did pass soon, for there came a stormy night when the family gathered at that little house upon the hill—that house, which was now dark and heavy with sickness. 

Teague spoke a long while with his father and left first with his wife, and Aileen sat as Niall went to talk with him before he took off his hat and said to his mother, 

“He’s asked for you.” 

Never had the merrow felt such joy than she did when she stepped over the threshold into their bedroom and sat on the other side of Eion, who was worn with age. 

“Will you tell me now, where my red cap is, and my sealskin, that you’ve hidden so long ago?” 

Eion laughed, his lungs heavy, and he gripped his wife’s hand. 

“Here I lay dying, and I am not surprised that is all you care to ask of me. I promised you when I died that I may tell you, and I shall tell you now, you shall never find them.” 

The merrow stared, and tears gathered in her eyes again, that hardened into pearls, 

“You cannot die and leave me here; my home is the sea.” She said, and Eion just patted the top of her hand, and he smelt as much of sea salt now as she did, from so many years of fishing.  

How often the merrow thought to curse him, that he got out to be on that boat in the water, and she was forced to slave on land. It was she who belonged to the sea, and he upon the solid earth beneath her. How she had tried once to throw herself into the waves so that she could smack upon some craggy rock, but Niall had stopped her, running out, a small boy in his pajamas, to drag his sea-torn mother back home. 

“Your home is here now, with our boys and our house, you need no more for the sea,” Eion said, and with another breath, laid down his head and spoke no more. 

The merrow sat, haunted by the words that she would never find her red cap or her sealskin fur. 

Niall had heard some of the words spoken and laid awake in his own house that night. They had gone with the undertaker to the cemetery to bury his coffin beneath the old grass and rocks of the church, near the hill. How his mother had stood there, in her tattered clothes, looking more like the banshees, with the tears that turned to pearls, falling from her eyes. 

“I used to look with her,” He told Aileen, who was not yet asleep beside him; “For her red cap and sealskin fur. I believe my father told Teague once, where it was hidden, and he delighted in Eion’s cruelty of secrets—and I know he will not tell us either.” 

“It is a pity,” Aileen agreed, “For you and your brother both to have your lives, yet your mother still remains with her stolen, hidden away somewhere.” 

Niall laid awhile longer and thought of what his wife said. He knew his father to be a clever and cruel man, and Niall sat up suddenly when dawn was not that far gone. 

“I bet you, he was buried with them,” Niall said, as Aileen turned over in the sheets to stare at him; “In his coffin, his deathbed. My mother had no love for him, she would never look there.” 

So, from the bed, he rose, with Aileen climbing out of bed after him. He dressed in a cloak, and she pulled her own shawl over her shoulders, and out they went into the cold night, with her carrying a lantern, and he a shovel he used to pry up his father’s coffin. 

When they opened it, they found the cold corpse of Eion clutching a red cap in one hand and a sealskin fur in another.  

“It’s as you said,” Aileen whispered, and decided to spit upon the man; “You may have thought yourself clever, but not as clever as the kindness of your son.” 

Dawn was there when Niall came to his father’s house upon the hill. He knocked three times when his mother answered, her and he could almost swear that the floorboards were covered in pearls. 

“Come with me,” Niall said, and gripped his mother’s hand, as Aileen gripped his other, and they made the walk down to the sand and the sea. 

Once there, Niall took the red cap and the sealskin fur from underneath his cloak, and his mother cried in surprised as her hand went over her mouth and her other went out to grab it, 

“Where did you find it?” The sidhe asked. 

“Eion buried himself with it, in hopes the land could swallow up the sea,” Niall said and watched as his mother placed the red cap upon her head, and how her hands trembled as she wrapped the sealskin fur about her shoulders and stared at her son with such softness. 

“I thought there was no love to be had here,” The sidhe said, “But that was before I learned the love of a child. You have done what your father would not, you have given your mother her freedom.”  

Niall wept, as his mother kissed his face, for he knew it was her turn to go, and he would not stop her, for he could not be like his father nor brother and carry on this cruelty. 

Aileen still held his hand as his mother turned out towards the sea, and as the sun rose higher, the merrow stepped more in-depth into the water until the waves carried her home. 


Angelina Chartrand is a student at Lindenwood University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Having developed a passion for writing ever since she was very young, Angelina has found a love and admiration of short stories to convey her creative ideas. 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

In

They had always met on the docks near sunset.  

Adalaide had come to dread this tradition of theirs, not the meeting part, but the build-up. The planning ahead, telling her husband she was going out. He would respond with ‘where?’, to which she would have to lie and say with a friend. It wasn’t a whole lie, Holly was her friend. Bert didn’t know her, though, so he assumed instead that Adalaide was out with Briar or Zelda. She had always looked forward to these meetings, now they only stirred anxiety in her. 

Adalaide searched for the ship. She knew she looked out of place here, in a dull green number with bell sleeves, her hair pinned in an updo. She could feel the needles clawing at her head with the slightest movement. Holly had said she would be on a different ship, one she bought in Spain according to her letter. She offered no description of it, much to Adalaide’s annoyance; she waited where they usually met-under the lamp post near Bigsby’s Tavern- and hoped Holly would appear. Looking around and finding Holly wasn’t in sight, she slipped off the silver wedding band, stuffed it in her dress sleeve, and replaced it with an opal one.   

Adalaide waited for what seemed like forever; it tended to feel like that when Holly was concerned. She pulled out the letter that had arrived a few days before. Bert had found it and asked who it was from; she played dumb and pretended to briefly read it and throw it out before he could read it. That was the beautiful thing about Bert, he forgot about things quickly, and he didn’t make connections easily. He had accused her, playfully,  of using charmspeak to entice him. Adalaide never meant to use it intentionally; she swore, and she was telling the truth unknown to Bert. It was something, even after all this time, that she had trouble controlling.   

She checked the date and time written on the letter for the hundredth time that week. It was tonight. No one was really around, save for drunken beggars, women offering their services to lonely sailors, and those who entered and exited the tavern (it was Sunday, the business was slow). Adalaide felt a presence behind her. 

“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show,” she said before turning. 

“And miss seeing you? Not for the end of the world,” Holly was wearing brown trousers, boots, and a black coat; a sword hung at her hip. Her dark hair was pulled into a low ponytail, loose strands hung in her face. Holly held out her arm, “Shall we?” 

 Ada took her arm without responding. The two walked around the docks in comfortable silence. It was something Ada missed, being able to walk and observe everything in peace. With Bert, he was pointing out every bird, flower, and cloud that caught his eye. It was worse if it rained, he would point it out repeatedly and try to determine the number of raindrops falling at a time (he would always lose count. She didn’t know why she married him sometimes). After a short walk, they came upon a wooden ship with intricate carvings on its exterior barely visible in the dull street lamp.  

 “My God,” Ada flinched at her words. “I knew you said you had a new ship, but I never imagined anything like this.” 
“Just wait until you see the inside.” 
“How did you get this?” 

“Through some negotiations.” 

“Negotiations?” 

“You don’t want to know.” 

“I think I do.” 

“What if I told you we’d be drinking the man who sold me this ship?” 

“I would be disgusted.” 

 “Well, prepare yourself then.”  

 “How could he have sold you the ship if you killed-”  

“Hush, darling. Wouldn’t want me to get caught now, would you? You need to relax, everything is fine.” They boarded the ship. Ada didn’t think it would be difficult, but her skirt caught on one of the carvings on the side and tore.  

 “Oh, dear!”   

“Come now, I have spare outfits you can use.” They were quick to walk across the deck and towards a wooden door with a raven painted onto it. Holly unlocked the black latch and held the door open for Ada. “I never liked you in green anyways.” 

 Ada was surprised to find that Holly owned dresses, for as long as she had known her, she had only worn one a handful of times (unwillingly and with much dread that is). She chose a white frilly, flowy number that looked the least complicated to put on. The material was soft, Ada thought it was the fanciest nightdress she had ever seen.   

“Where did you get a dress like this?”  

“Spain, it’s also where I got this ship.” 

“Have you traveled elsewhere?” Ada stepped behind a dressing blind and began removing her torn up dress. She was careful not to drop the silver band from her sleeve, she took it out and clutched it tightly in her right palm.  

“Sure, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany, France-” 

“Where has been your favorite place?” She tossed her dress, so it hung on the blind and stepped into the white dress, it’s soft material embracing her in a loose hug.  
“Any place where you are,” Holly said. Ada couldn’t see her but knew she was smiling.  

“Do you have something I can use to sew my dress?”  

“I may let me look.” Ada stepped out from behind the blind, grabbing her green dress. Holly was still in her coat, searching through the mahogany wardrobe Ada had found the dress she was in now. The room was cozy, with wooden walls and stuff everywhere. An unkempt bed with red sheets was near the dressing blind, a desk laid on the opposite corner of the room, two chairs with red velvet lining sat on the outside of it. Daggers, empty wine bottles, papers, and dirty clothes were littered throughout the room. A grey tea set with white floral designs sat atop the desk, ready to be used. Ada turned back to Holly and saw her staring at her. 

“What?” 

“Nothing, nothing,” Holly wasn’t one for blushing. Ada liked to joke that her cheeks glowed. “Here, I found this. I could only find black thread, I’m sorry I-” 

“No, no, it’ll do fine. Thank you.” Ada took the needle and thread from Holly. They stood in silence for a few moments; the soft sounds of water sloshing the sides of the ship lulled throughout the room. 

“Have a seat,” Holly led Ada to the desk with the tea set, she sat Ada down in one of the velvet chairs in front of the desk before taking her place in the grand leather behind it. “How has this life been?” 

“Well. Yours?” 

“Adventurous, I guess that comes with being the Captain of the Cursed Siren.” Holly had poured them their drink and offered Ada a cup of the red liquid.  

“Is this really the man from earlier?” 

“Benicio Arnau was an ass, he deserved what was coming-” 

“My God,” Ada took the cup with her left hand, her right still occupied holding the ring. She sniffed the cup and became dizzy, it had been years since she had tasted the blood of another human. An extreme hunger brewed within her, “Why not go out and get one of the street sleepers? There was a hearty man in the alleyway not too far-” 

“What’s wrong with Benicio?” Holly asked as she drank from her cup. “I think he tastes just fine.” 

“I can’t do this.” 

“Why not?” 
“It’s not right-” 

“And taking one of the poor unfortunate souls out there is any better?” 

“It’ll end their suffering.” 

“Suffering?” Holly scoffed as she continued to drink. “They don’t suffer. They don’t know the first thing about suffering, their lives are over before they know it. They don’t get time to suffer.” Ada stayed silent and began sewing her dress skirt back together. 

“Just try it, I know you want to. How long has it been since you’ve had a drink?” 

“I had one this morning-” 

“A mortal’s blood?” 

“A lamb’s.” 

“See? I bet you haven’t had a human’s since the last time we were together.” Ada didn’t want to fuel Holly’s pride any further and continued working on her dress. “At least try it?” 

“No.” 

“Why not?” 

“I don’t want to end up hurting anyone.” 

“You won’t, I promise. I’ll make sure of it.” Holly set her cup down and poured herself another drink. “Come now, let’s toast.” 

“To what?” 

“To seeing each other again! It’s been years, Ada.” 

Ada smiled and took her cup from off the desk, raised her with Holly, and the two drank. Ada felt warm, mortal’s blood always had that effect on her. With the animal’s blood, everything was normal and a bit cold. Human blood, possibly because it was so rare to her, made her feel out of her body. She assumed it was what mortals felt like after consuming enough alcohol (she’d never had that reaction. alcohol only tasted bitter to her). Ada took another drink, nearly finishing her cup.  
“Adalaide, take it slow. I know how you are with this stuff.” 

“Then why did you want me to drink it in the first place?” 

“Because everything is okay in moderation, darling.”   

“But, I want more now!” Ada stood abruptly and lunged for the teapot, her silver ring clattered on the desk.  

“Ada, stop!” Holly shouted as she took the teapot in time. She looked and saw the ring on her desk. She picked it up and held it towards Ada. “What the hell is this?” 

“Nothing!” Ada reached for it, only for Holly to pull back, causing Ada to fall atop the desk, nearly missing the tea set.  

“What has gotten into you?!” Holly stood, disgust laced her voice. She walked around the desk to look at the ring in a better light. “Who gave this to you?” 

“Holly, it’s nothing-” 

“Who?” Holly turned, Ada was shocked to see her eyes red, on the verge of tears. Ada didn’t say anything, she just kept her head down. 

“I thought since you were wearing the ring. The one I gave you all those years ago that we still had something.” Ada had never seen Holly cry before, she poured herself another cup of blood and downed it. Holly returned to her place behind the desk. Ada began filling herself another cup full, only for Holly to gently lay her hand atop hers.  

“I think you’ve had quite enough, dear,”  Holly composed herself.  

“I’m sorry,” Ada said after a few moments. 

“Who is she?” Holly said as she poured herself a cup of blood. “Tell me about her.” 

“His name is Bert-” 

He?!” 

“Yes,” Holly didn’t speak, so Ada continued. “He’s a butcher-” 

“Does he know?” 

“No.” 

“Quite the secret to carry. I suppose it’s smart though, marrying a butcher who can supply you with daily sustenance-” 

“He’s very kind-” 

“I wasn’t finished!” Holly exploded. They sat in another uncomfortable silence for what seemed like forever. “How long?” 

“It’s not important.” 

“How long?” 

“Holly-” 

“How long after we last met did you begin courting him?!” Holly slammed her cup against the desk, blood splattered everywhere, onto Ada’s new dress and her old one. “Shit!” 

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Ada said. “Don’t worry about this right now.” Silence covered the room again, Ada went back to sewing her dress.  

“Were you going to tell me?” Ada stayed silent, her sewing becoming more frantic. “Adalaide-” 

“I didn’t know how to tell you. I wanted to avoid this whole thing.” 

“Why did you do it?” 
“I thought I would never see you again-” 

“I don’t believe you. Need I remind you: we are immortal. We would’ve crossed paths again eventually.” 

“But I didn’t know how long!” 

“You knew I wouldn’t keep you waiting for long! I never do!”  

“I just wanted something different-” 

“Do you love him? What does he offer that I don’t.” 

“He’ll die someday, that’s what he offers,” Ada looked up at Holly furious. “He is a short term commitment for me.” 

“Nevermind you already had a long term one with me, or so I thought.” 

“Oh, come on now. Don’t tell me you haven’t been with someone else within your tenure as a Captain? All the talk is that women must hide because pirate pillage and rape-” 

“How dare you compare me to those monsters?! Humankind is a sickness, they are all infected-” Ada started crying, Holly stopped.  

“I don’t know what to do! I’m not happy, I love Bert I do. But I’m not happy. I miss being with you, I miss us. I wasn’t going to come tonight. I wasn’t. I closed myself off from you long ago. Oh, Holly, what have I-ow!” Ada Rose, in all of her distress, had scraped the needle across her palm. Blood immediately began to leak from the wound and down her hand.  Holly was there in a moment, she looked at Ada as if asking permission, Ada nodded. Holly brought Ada’s palm to her mouth. She then began to kiss her wrists, her lips lingered on her neck.   

“Let me in, please, it’s been too long.” Ada tilted her head back and closed her eyes, letting Holly in. 


Amanda May is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is majoring in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can probably be found screaming or crying (or both) about Star Wars, anime, or Florence + The Machine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Amandalorian451

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Evasive Actions of the Mind

“Son,” The Venator loudly called out through flooded timber. “Quiet yourself! For they are fast approaching.” 

Almost immediately, the Tyro — only about 12 or so years old — focused his eyes on the meadow passage that bordered the swampy portion in which they sat. He could not help but imagine a great many beasts traversing the grassy plain that lay before them, and he hoped his father — who rested behind a tree some distance behind — would not mind if he considered the prospective course of his arrows. 

A moment passed, but the Tyro’s desire to prepare himself for the incoming quarry was deadened with the heavy sigh emitted from his father. The boy felt a sense of failure that seemed almost innate to his existence. 

“Son,” The Venator spoke in a quieter voice this time, but his tone held all of the rages of a Capital Clansman. “I can feel your anxiety. If you do not silence this conflict of your soul at this very moment, your mother and I may very well be required to tear the flesh from you and your siblings rather than from the lamassu which we seek.” 

“Father,” The Tyro began after a panicked attempt to clear his mind, during which he partially swiveled his head to view the tree behind which his parent rested. “I have done as you requested. What more do you suppose I should do?” 

Slight ripples in the shining waters of the marsh emerged from behind the mud-stained tree, and the Venator appeared fully from its darkened side. His light blue eyes were wide with incredulity. “Do you truly believe that you have reached the Ataraxic State of Being in the same way that an Agrestic Warlock might?” 

The Tyro forced his gaze downward to the ripples as they met his tarred boots. He had never achieved success in any of his father’s endeavors. He should have expected this result and reprimand from the start. 

“Have you taken any of the Matriarch’s teachings to heart?” The Venator’s voice was even softer this time. The Tyro thought it was eerily similar to the serene atmosphere preceding a storm. “Did you even attend the –” 

His father’s voice was cut off at the sound of the meadow grasses swaying, and the Tyro quickly lifted his face to see nothing more than the after-effects of the wind. He would have to mark the sigil of the Collective Cause into his quarter’s western wall; the gratitude he felt for the distraction of natural forces was great. 

Regardless of where their attention rested, though, the father still had an important lesson to impart upon his son. “The beast approaches. Quickly, you must silence yourself in more than a single manner. The mind’s methods tend to attract undesired attention from the beast and bureaucrat alike. If we spend too much energy considering the potential courses or outcomes, then we will discover ourselves in the state of simple suffering, which would surely attract every eye in the wood. Ensure that does not occur, son.” 

“But,” The Tyro felt his heart beating heavily as he dug a closed fist into the flesh over it. “How am I to do this? You have said nothing of the mind’s method in this regard.” 

A chuckle found itself exiting from the Venator’s red-stained, smirking mouth. “Precisely. Do nothing. Only with the lack of action and subsequent emotion can you become imperceivable to the beast and the bureaucrat. Only with a lack of action and subsequent emotion can you attend to the affairs ahead of you.” 

“But father–” 

In an instant, his father was looming over him. The large waves of marsh water had somehow barely shifted from the swift movement of the Venator’s tar-coated legs, yet the hulking man had found himself in an entirely different position. One that was completely advantageous to him, as one hand covered the mouth of his son, and the other clasped the synthetic handle of the stiletto strapped to his upper arm. 

 The Tyro attempted to speak in a panic but to no avail. For the father’s hand was firmly emplaced over nearly half of the boy’s face. Only the eyes seemed to communicate, as the large man’s electric blue irises displayed a deep concern. 

And then they didn’t. The Venator’s pupils expanded greatly. The irises also seemed to take up a sort of glossy hue to them. This must have been the process he had spoken of moments earlier; the lamassu had probably neared them enough for his father to have sensed its presence and prompted evasive actions of the mind. 

The Tyro knew he should attempt to replicate the effort, but he lacked the direction to do so. How had his father willed himself into such a state with such ease? 

The question seemed to exponentially increase in its significance as metal scraping against sheath sounded out. Surely this was the reprimand the boy had imagined — perhaps twenty lacerations this time? He could imagine receiving twice that amount if the lamassu were allowed to escape once again. 

Instead, his father’s grip loosened, and the Tyro watched as a gathering of dark, yet somehow shiny, figures approached straight toward them from the edge of the meadow clearing. 

“Units of the Wood!” One of the figures — who could now be discerned as donning a dark, metallic armor — screamed as his fellow beings spread further throughout the grasses. Each one held a staff or pair of batons that seemed to have a spirit of its own, and the Tyro began to feel an awkward sense of anger. He still did not understand the identities of these people, yet he hated them with such vigor. 

Suddenly, the boy felt his body sway violently against the counterforce of his father’s arms. What was he doing? If he impacted the water with any individual appendage, then he and his father would certainly be uncovered. Nevertheless, his arms tensed in preparation; he sensed in himself an urge to execute an attack upon his father’s restrictive extremities. 

“Units of the Wood!” The same figure yelled out again, somehow exuding even more rage than the last time. “If you do not reveal yourself within the next half-cycle, your precious settlement will be burned and your families drawn and quartered. In accordance with the Conventions of the Collective Conscious…” 

At this, the Venator’s pale irises lost their cloudy shroud. 

“…the Orbital Sovereigns have deigned me as…” 

The Tyro looked again to the figures and then back to his father’s eyes, which still only held blue-rimmed darkness. 

“…and so I have been called upon to execute the actions…” 

His father’s grip loosened as the voices neared the swampy waters, and the boy found himself falling as the harsh voice neared. 

“…of abundant mercy.” 

Fear abounded through the very essence of the Tyro as the entire force of his short body seemed to attract itself to the mud-infused pool below him. 

But the resounding splash never arrived. Instead, a wretched voice called out in a tone that radiated malevolence: “Over here!” 

Immediately, the figures of black armor were upon them. Some stood idly in the waters in front of the father and son, as if their sole purpose was to prohibit passage away from this suddenly-perilous place. Others found themselves perched in the trees, their metallic chest-plates and shoulder-pieces glistening in the sunlight as the batons they held glowed an intense array of bright colors. 

 It was only with the closest approach of the leading member of the apparent opposition that the boy noticed the resumption of his father’s movement; the Venator’s arms almost seemed to go limp as they fell from their grasp on his son. 

With this indication of forfeiture, the armored leader began from behind a mask of darkness: “Well done, Venator. Or at least nearly so. Had your child here not exhibited the small degree of fear that he had, we very well might have passed you by. It is so simple to detect a weakling’s soul in the ever-chaotic state of nature.” 

At this, the Venator only grunted. He seemed to hold his gaze slightly above the leader’s helmeted head. 

“Of course, we would have discovered you in the end.” 

Another moment of silence resumed as the boy’s father remained physically unperturbed by the taunting words, and the leader accordingly turned to view his supposed subordinates behind him. 

“For the Capital Clansmen always claim their own.” 

With a slow upward movement, the leader lifted the dark helmet off of his head and turned to look at the father squarely in the eyes — eyes that seemed to imitate his own. 

“And you are very much one of us, Venator.” 


Zane Bell is a junior studying History and English Literature at Lindenwood University. He originally hails from the small town of Washington, Missouri, where his parents taught him various lessons, including how to hunt and shoot. In his spare time, he enjoys entertainment media and discussions of culture and history.

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Uncategorized

That One Diner Chain From Your Hometown

Scene – Diner  

A small-town diner. Three tables are set up. The furthest one to the left starts with dirty dishes on the table and two glasses that are half full of water. A woman is sitting at this table. The middle table has a man, Frank, who is sitting at it by himself talking on the phone. The manager is standing behind the cash register on the left. A server is seen in the back, checking his phone instead of working. A doorbell rings, and a couple enters and stands at the “please wait to be seated” sign.  

LUKE: Thank you so much for coming home this weekend with me. I hope my parents aren’t too much.  

KAT: Oh, come on. I grew up with 7 brothers. Family can never be too much.  

JACOB: Welcome, welcome. Is it just going to be two of you?  

LUKE: Yes, indeed Jacob. Yes indeed  

JACOB: Right this way, Luke (Jacob leads them to the furthest booth on the right. Luke sits facing away from the cash register, and Kat sits looking towards the register.) 

KAT: They know you by name?  

LUKE: Oh yeah. I come here all the time.  

JACOB: With a bunch of different dates. Can I start you two off with something to drink?  

KAT: I’ll have a coke. 

JACOB: Oh, I’m sorry. We only have Pepsi. Is Pepsi okay?  

KAT: Um yeah sure.  

JACOB: Well we’re out of Pepsi.  

KAT Oh. So maybe a Sierra Mist?  

LUKE: And I’ll have an orange soda.  

JACOB: Two glasses of water, coming up.  (He exits.)  

LUKE: Isn’t he a card?  

KAT What did he say about other dates?  

LUKE: He probably meant like January 21, not Jan on her 21st.  

KAT: That was specific.  

FRANK: (Into his cell phone) So what are you saying? You’re done… you’re done? Just like that? After 14 years of love and passion, it’s just over? What am I to you? Just some piece of meat that you can throw out when you think it’s gone bad? We have kids, Bethany. Children! Mine and yours… oh, you want to talk? Oh, I’ll be right there. I’ll be there in 8 minutes! (He storms out of the restaurant and the doorbell dings.)  

KAT: Oh my god… that poor man.  

SHIRLEY: There’s nothing poor about that man. (The doorbell dings.)  

SHIRLEY: Out the door And you’re not getting away with it this time, Frank! (Frank walks back in and hands Shirley his money and then walks out again. The doorbell dings as he walks in and out.)  

SHIRLEY: Counting the money I always expect him to tip, but he never does  

KAT: Wait, what?  

LUKE: Frank has been pulling that move since my freshman year of high school. Maybe even before. (The woman at the first table stands up and goes to the cash register to pay for her meal. Shirley meets her there.)  

KAT: But what about his kids?  

LUKE: What kids?  

KAT: They might grow up without a father. (Jacob enters with the two glasses of water as the woman leaves. The doorbell dings.)  

SHIRLEY: Is she still talking about Frank over there?  

LUKE: Yeah…  

JACOB: Just like number three and eight. Are you two ready to order?  

LUKE: I am. Are you Kat?  

KAT: I mean I guess.  

LUKE: Well, ladies first.  

JACOB: What a gentleman. Go ahead.  

KAT: Aren’t you going to write it down?  

LUKE: Honey. He’s a professional.  

KAT: Well, alright then. I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries. But make sure there is no lettuce or tomato.  

JACOB: Got it.  

KAT: I want you to say it back to me.  

JACOB: Say what?  

KAT: My order.  

LUKE: Kat, please. He’s got it all in there. I’ll be having…  

JACOB: I know, I know. The usual. (Jacob takes the menus, busses the middle table, and heads off stage.)  

KAT: Oooooo. What’s the usual?  

LUKE: A milkshake with the burger and fries blended into it.  

KAT: That’s disgusting.  

LUKE: I’m kidding.  

KAT: Okay good. (The doorbell rings, and a couple enters and waits to be seated at the sign.)  

LUKE: I don’t blend in the burger.  

SHIRLEY: We will be right with you. (Jacob enters with menus.)  

JACOB: Hello, hello. Table?  

RICK: Booth.  

JACOB: Too bad you’re getting a table. (He walks them over to the middle table.)  

JACOB: What will you want to do about drinks?  

RICK: I’ll have a coke.  

LISA: And I’ll have a water.  

JACOB: Sure thing. (Jacob walks off to go get the drinks.)  

KAT: Wait he just said to us that he didn’t have a coke.  

LUKE: Playing on his phone. Must’ve just gotten a shipment or something.  

KAT: I didn’t see any truck come in.  

LUKE: Maybe he had prime. (Jacob enters with coke and heads to the middle table.)

JACOB: Are you two ready to order?  

RICK: I am. Are you Lisa?  

LISA: Oh you know what I want, babe.  

RICK: We will have two burgers and two orders of fries.  

JACOB: We can do that.  

LISA: Hey if it’s not too much of a bother, I would like my water.  

JACOB: Ma’am, I am so sorry. I’ll go grab that right now. (Rick and Lisa get back into their conversation and stop paying attention to Jacob. Jacob goes to the table on the far left and picks up one of the glasses of water. He then turns around and sets it in front of Lisa.)  

JACOB: Here ya go, miss.  

LISA: I’m so sorry, but is there any way we could fill this up all the way?  

JACOB: Of course, honey. Of course. (Jacob picks up the glass, and Rick and Lisa get back into their conversation. Jacob picks up the other cup from the table on the left and pours its water into Lisa’s glass. He then walks back and sets the glass in front of Lisa.)  

JACOB: Is this better?  

LISA: Splendid!  

JACOB: Your food will be right out. 

LISA: Thank you! (Jacob walks off.)  

KAT: Why is he being so much nicer to them?  

LUKE: What do you mean?  

KAT: I mean. He was attentive, and he was smiling, but he did give her someone else’s drink.  

LUKE: He’s just thinking of the planet. Save the water and all. (Jacob enters with Lisa and Rick’s food.)  

KAT: Finally, he comes with… (Jacob walks right past Kat and Luke and walks to Lisa and Rick.)  

JACOB: Here you go. Hope you two enjoy your food! (Jacob turns around and walks past Luke, but Kat stops him.) 

KAT: Um hey. Jacob? Yeah, I was wondering why they got their food before us?  

JACOB: Oh, don’t worry honey, your food will be out soon. It takes a while to make Luke’s shake. (The lights go down. When the lights come back up, Lisa and Rick are gone. Their table is bussed along with the table to the left. Luke is playing on his phone, and Kat is anxiously tapping her foot.)  

KAT: What is taking them so long?  

LUKE: You can’t rush perfection.  

KAT: It has been two hours and thirty-seven minutes. How long does perfection need?  

LUKE: It is worth the wait.  

KAT: Nothing is worth waiting two hours and- (She checks the time on her phone.)  

KAT: Thirty-eight minutes! I mean, do they really expect us to wait this long?  

LUKE: I don’t see your point.  

KAT: Are you telling me that you have waited this long before, and you are okay with this? If that is true, you are crazy.  

LUKE: I mean. I usually wait this long when the restaurant is this busy. (Kat looks around the restaurant and points out that it is empty.)  

KAT: This busy? This place is empty. Does this place even get business?  

LUKE: Well we aren’t here at their busy time.  

KAT: It is dinner time on a Saturday. What is a busy time around here?  

LUKE: Like two to three.  

KAT: Oh so it’s a lunch place.  

LUKE: No. A.M. (Jacob enters with two plates with their food on them covered with napkins so you cannot see what is on the plates. Jacob, he sets the plates down in front of the two of them. He puts the milkshake between the two of them.)  

JACOB: Here you go, you two. Hope it’s as good as you expected it to be! (Jacob walks off stage. Luke takes off his napkin, revealing his order. Kat looks under her napkin but does not reveal it. She looks upset.)  

KAT: Oh, come on. Excuse me! Jacob? (Jacob enters.)  

JACOB: Is there something wrong?   

KAT: Yeah so I hate to be this way, but I ordered a cheeseburger with no lettuce or tomato and (She takes off the napkin and reveals the plate.) you just gave me a salad with only lettuce and tomato.  

JACOB: I’m sorry. What’s the issue?  

KAT: I ordered-  

LUKE: She’s fine.  

JACOB: If you say so. (Jacob exits.)  

LUKE: Honey, the salad here is great. You’ll be fine. (He takes two straws and puts them into the shake.)  

KAT: No thanks. (Kat picks at her food while Luke starts to eat his fries and shake. The doorbell dings, and a man enters with a ski mask and a gun.)  

ROBBER: Everyone on the ground. This is a robbery!  

SHIRLEY: Oh no it isn’t. (Shirley pulls a shotgun from under the cash register. The robber flees, and Shirley chases him outside. The doorbell dings for both of them.)  

KAT: Oh my…  

LUKE: What? Did I miss something?  

KAT: A man just came in here with a gun! (Luke turns around and looks to see if anyone is there.)  

LUKE: Where?  

KAT: I think the manager just chased him outside with a gun.  

LUKE: Was it the sawed-off or the M16?  

KAT: I think it was- wait wait wait. You know what guns they have?  

LUKE: I mean yeah. They get robbed all the time.  

KAT: And you brought me here knowing it is unsafe?  

LUKE: I said they get robbed, I never said we weren’t safe.  

KAT: You know what. (She puts her napkin on the table and gets up.)

KAT: I traveled for two hours from school to meet you at your house, to meet your parents and family. I sat through countless stories of baseball games you would’ve played in if you didn’t throw out your arm sophomore year. I also was judged very quickly by your sister for not wearing a color that wasn’t black, and I had your mother’s eyes practically glued to me once she saw my tattoo. I thought this would be a good getaway from school, but all of that plus you bring me to this crazy nuthouse you call a diner and expect me to just let all of this stuff slide? No no. I’m done. This is too much for a two-month relationship. I’m getting an Uber back to your house, packing my things and leaving. I’ll see you in class on Monday. (Jacob enters.) 

JACOB: Honey wait!  

KAT: What?  

JACOB: Download Lyft. It’s more prevalent in this area.  

KAT: AHHHH! (Kat storms out of the restaurant, and the bell is heard. Luke stands up and walks towards Jacob, who’s standing close to the wait sign. There are a few beats, and Shirley comes back in, and the bell is heard.)  

SHIRLEY: Is she gone yet?  

LUKE: Yeah. She’s gone.  

JACOB: Thank god. (The doorbell rings, and the robber walks back in with Lisa and takes his mask off, revealing Rick. Luke takes out his wallet and starts to hand each of them money.)  

LUKE: I can’t thank you guys enough. I’ve been trying to get rid of her for two months.  

JACOB: I thought she said you two were only dating for two months  

LUKE: I asked her if she had the homework for Econ and she hasn’t stopped bothering me since.  

SHIRLEY: So you weren’t even dating?  

LUKE: No! I don’t know what I said, but she is one hard tree to shake.  

LISA: Tree to shake?  

LUKE: I’m trying out new sayings.  

SHIRLEY: You should try bringing someone in here you don’t want us to kick out. (Jacob starts to clean up the table.)  

JACOB: Hey Luke. Do you want this shake?  

LUKE: You can have it. I have to get home. Goodnight guys! (Luke leaves the restaurant.)  

SHIRLEY: Nice kid.  

RICK: Yeah.  

LISA: Isn’t Michael coming by soon?  

JACOB: Oh yeah.  

SHIRLEY: Everyone gets to your places. (Everyone goes back to where they were at the top of the show.)  

SHIRLEY: 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… (Doorbell dings as the lights fade out.)  


Timothy Henderson Jr. is working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. He has been writing for a while but has been telling stories since he could speak. He hopes to start conversations or lend laughs to the ones who do not smile as much as he wished they would.

Categories
Fiction - 12th Edition Uncategorized

Lost Between Branches

Scene: Deep in the Woods, 1 am

(It is dark and the moonlight lights up the scarce forest. Trees are seen in the distance and branches and leaves that cover the ground are spread around about evenly. Cecilia emerges into the forest frantically. wearing a coat and a backpack that is opened and appears to be dropping things behind her. Everything she has on seems to be the wrong size.)

CECILIA: (Large exhale Cecilia seems to have gotten a little calmed down at this point and sits down. She is still frantically looking around as if she is making sure no one followed her. She reaches into her bag.)

CECILIA: Where are they? Where are they? No no no no no… (She begins to pull out things from her bag and toss them from side to side.)

CECILIA: Please no. God why can’t you ever be on my side (She pulls out an empty pill bottle. She smiles and looks up to the heavens.)

CECILIA: Finally. Thank you (She struggles to open the pill bottle while she looks through her bag at the same time. She gets it open and goes to pour out what is inside into her hands. Nothing comes out. Angrily she says through her teeth.)

CECILIA: Of course I grab the empty one (Begins to hit her head with the pill bottle and begins to get louder.)

CECILIA: Idiot. Stupid. Dumb. Gahhhhh (She throws the pill bottle in anger and starts looking through her bag again.)

CECILIA: Can I do anything right? Please can I just remember one thing (She grabs a bottle out of her bag that is half full of water)

CECILIA: Thank you, me, for doing THIS right (She opens the bottle and begins to drink everything inside of it.)

CECILIA: Heavy breathing between these lines from nerves Okay. Okay. Where am I? Where am I? Now I saw the trucks coming down the road from the north, but if I am completely honest, I cannot remember if it rises in the east and sets in the west, or rises in the west and sets in the east, and it is night time. Oh God please. Come on Cecilia, you know what to do. You went camping with mom. She taught you this. Just look for the north star and stick to the trails. It’s so dark. It’s so dark. It’s so dark. (She closes her eyes and the focus is only on her. She sings to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

CECILIA: Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? Put me in a wooden crate, down the river it’s not too late Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? (She snaps out of it and opens her eyes.)

CECILIA: A fire! A fire. That’s what I need a fire. A fire is all I need. Everything can be solved when I get a fire started (She reaches into her bag and grabs a lighter. She checks it behind her hand to see if it works.)

CECILIA: Okay. This will work, this will work. Ummmm (She begins to look around at the ground around her. She sees branches and leaves and starts collecting them.)

CECILIA: Yes this will do. I just have to pile them up, and make sure everything is okay to burn, like nothing is wet (She tosses some of the leaves to the side away from the pile.)

CECILIA: Like these. And like this one. Okay. Okay (She pulls out her lighter and lights the branches.)

CECILIA: I did it. I did it! I did something for myself! I can do this (Off stage a voice is heard.)

MANNY: Over there! Look! It’s her!

CECILIA: Oh come on (Cecilia takes off her jacket and smothers the fire with it to hide the light. She then runs and hides behind a tree.)

MANNY: Cecilia? Cecilia is that you? (Manny and Debora enter. They are both dressed similarly to how Cecilia is dressed. Manny has a big smile on his face and Debora is moping behind Manny. Manny is full of energy while Debora is slow moving and unhappy with her circumstance.)

DEBORA: Yup, that’s her alright (Cecilia steps around from her hiding spot.)

CECILIA: Jesus, not you two.

MANNY: Did you honestly think you were the only one that escaped that?

CECILIA: That prison.

DEBORA: That hell.

CECILIA: Shut up! Just keep your mouth shut this time.

MANNY: Why are you barking at me? They hated all of us there. It wasn’t just you. They would do anything to ruin our fun.

DEBORA: That is, if you are having fun

MANNY: Can you just, not do that? Like seriously you do not need to do that every second of-

CECILIA: Will you two please be quiet? I think I hear more people.

MANNY: Oh no, we can’t go back, we can’t do that.

DEBORA: We’re gonna go back.

CECILIA: Just get over here (They all hide as two prison guards and a warden walk into the forest. They are carrying flashlights and battens.)

MICHAEL (GUARD #1): Did you see any tracks?

WILLIAM (GUARD #2): No. The ground is too hard, and she walks too light. In these conditions we won’t see any sign of her until morning.

GARY (WARDEN): How could you two idiots let her get so far away?

MICHAEL: I was under the impression that it was William’s turn to stand guard.

WILLIAM: Woah, no way. It was clearly yours, Michael.

GARY: Ladies, please. Shut up. You cannot bicker about whose fault it was over losing her. It is all of our faults. Yours for switching duties without informing the others (Begins to yell.) and mine for hiring you two imbeciles! Now find her!

MICHAEL: Well we can’t be out here all night.

GARY: Well obviously not. It must be ten below out here, but we have to find her. She’s the most dangerous criminal we have.

WILLIAM: You can’t be mad at us for not wanting to freeze to death

GARY: Well go back and bundle up. We will be out here for a while.

MICHAEL: Well if he’s going back I’m going back, too.

WILLIAM: Well fine let’s all go.

GARY: You know what. Fine. If you guys want a dangerous criminal on the loose, we can go back right now and just let her live on doing whatever she wants. She will be free to rob and kill every person that passes in front of her, leaving nothing, but looted corpses and sad families behind her and this is all because you two did not want to check the perimeter of the prison for one more hour just to see if maybe she was still sticking to the land she knew best. The only land she could see from the prison yard. How about we just open the gates and let them all out. We can just quit our jobs because we don’t care about the safety of our country. How about that?

MICHAEL: Fine we will keep looking.

GARY: Good. Now come on (They exit the opposite side that they entered from. Manny, Debora, and Cecilia get out of hiding.)

MANNY: Man, that was rough. Do you think they will catch us?

CECILIA: I hope not. I honestly don’t know what I would do if they caught me.

MANNY: I know what I would do. I know exactly what I would do.

CECILIA: Oh yeah? You know? Like you have done it before or something?

MANNY: I’ve never done it. I just practiced it a bunch. I’m prepared for every scenario.

CECILIA: So what would you do?

MANNY: Well for starters I would get behind a tree when I heard them coming. That part is obvious because that is what anyone would do.

DEBORA: Not me…

CECILIA: We will get to you in a second. Keep going, Manny.

MANNY: So as I was saying. I would stand behind a tree, making sure I was in the shadows. I’d crouch down really low, making sure my movements were slow enough that they wouldn’t notice me. Then. When they were just about to pass the tree I am by I would slowly pass on the other side, keeping at least one eye on the group of them until they pass. Lastly, I’d grab the biggest rock or branch around and I would smash it on the big guy first, or whoever is in the back of the group. Then I’d grab their gun and finish off the rest of them.

CECILIA: Oh my. Why do you have to be so graphic?

MANNY: Because life is graphic. It’s fast pace. It’s happening now. Not then. Now.

DEBORA: Can we please talk about me now?

MANNY: Who cares what you think.

DEBORA: I’m sure plenty of people care what I think.

MANNY: Name one individual that listens to a single thing that comes out of that waste dispenser you call a mouth.

DEBORA: I’m sure Cecilia cares about the things I say. Right?

CECILIA: Listen, you two are both very important to me.

DEBORA: But you care about what I think, right?

CECILIA: Debora, we have known each other since sophomore year of high school. Of course I care about what you think.

MANNY: We have all known each other since sophomore year of high school

CECILIA: You know what I mean, Manny.

DEBORA: Well obviously not. He spends too much time thinking about the NOW. He can’t think of the THEN.

CECILIA: You’re not helping.

MANNY: You are never helping.

CECILIA: Will you stop? Now. Debora. Can you please explain what you would do so we can all have our own input on the situation?

DEBORA: Thank you. Now what I would do is very simple.

MANNY: Of course, from the simple mind comes a simple plan.

CECILIA: Hush! Please continue, Debora.

DEBORA: Thank you. Now from when I first heard their feet crunching leaves in the distance, I would go to wherever had the most light. I would stand there and slowly start to raise my hands. Obviously, they would notice me so I would turn my back to them and slowly get down to my knees. I would plea for my life as they approached and make it very clear that I am unarmed by stating who I am and still showing my hands in the air.

MANNY: And when they get close, you would choke out the small one and grab his batten right?

DEBORA: No. I’d let them take me back.

CECILIA: But why?

DEBORA: What was so bad about that place?

MANNY: Didn’t you just call it hell?

DEBORA: Yeah it was bad, but it was comfortable. Like they fed us, let us go outside, socialize, which I wasn’t too big on, watch tv, sleep regular hours. It was a life. Maybe not the best one, but it was an easy one.

MANNY: I don’t understand.

CECILIA: What don’t you understand?

MANNY: How she could just give up like that? There is a whole world out there that needs to be explored. One that if you started walking today and never stopped you might not be able to cover with your steps by the time you were dead.

DEBORA Why start if you know you will never make it?

MANNY: Why not start when you never know what you will find along the way?

CECILIA: Is anybody else cold?

DEBORA: I’m freezing.

MANNY: I’ve been better.

CECILIA: Can we like huddle up? Or something? I just want to warm up.

MANNY: Well the quickest way to warm up is to get up and move around.

DEBORA: Actually in the cold like this you should ball up and try to get as much skin to skin contact as you can to conserve your heat.

MANNY: No. You are supposed to move around.

DEBORA: No. You hold it all together.

MANNY: Move around!

DEBORA: Hold together!

CECILIA: Will you two calm down! You sound like mom and dad.

MANNY: Rough homelife?

CECILIA: I wouldn’t say it was rough.

DEBORA: But you wouldn’t say it was great either?

CECILIA: Well it was good. Until about middle school.

MANNY: What happened in middle school?

CECILIA: Well. Mom and… well mom and dad stopped being in love.

DEBORA: That’s horrible.

CECILIA: Well it could be worse.

DEBORA: How so?

CECILIA: Well I guess it probably started before middle school. People don’t just fall out of love the second they get divorced.

MANNY: Was it a real divorce? Or was it just a separation?

CECILIA: Oh it was the whole thing. Lawyers, judges, picking sides, money. It was all discussed. So much time was put into falling out of love that you almost want to wonder how much was put into falling in love.

DEBORA: Does it make you think about… you know…

CECILIA: I know what?

DEBORA: Like… where it all began. Like was your mom leading him on forever and she fell for him or did he do the same to her? I don’t know much about this kind of stuff… I mean… obviously.

MANNY: No it probably made her want to think about the future. Like where she wanted to go after all of this trauma. What she got to learn from it. You know? A kid coming out of divorce must know so much about relationships it will surely help somehow. They know about grief before they should, and they see the true side of human nature.

CECILIA: I think it was around 4th grade. That was the last time I saw my dad say, “I love you” to my mom without her saying it first.

MANNY: Oh wait you have totally told us about this in the past. Like I know you’ve said this before.

DEBORA: I can see the moment clear as day in my own head. He was pushing you on the swing. Just back and forth. Back and forth. Slowly you got higher and higher. There was a smile going from one of your cheeks to the other. Your mother stepped out of the back door and said, “Oh darlings, the food is getting cold. You must come in now to eat” and you said, “five more minutes, please.” Your dad walked over to try and negotiate with your mom and she was stubborn. He said, “alright, I love you honey” and then you both went inside.

MANNY: No no no you’ve got it all wrong.

DEBORA: How on Earth did I get it wrong?

MANNY: You got all the swinging stuff right, but her mother stepped out and said, “Oh darlings, the food is getting cold. You must come in now to eat” to which she pleaded for more time, so her father walked over and pressured her mother until she finally gave in. He had a big smile and said, “alright, I love you honey.” It was so the dad in the wrong.

DEBORA: It was her mom.

MANNY: Dad.

DEBORA: Mom.

MANNY: I swear to God you never listen to me.

CECILIA: Both of you stop. Please. I’m freezing.

MANNY: Well we can’t just sit here.

CECILIA: Well I don’t see you coming up with any ideas.

MANNY AND DEBORA: Well I have an idea.

CECILIA: Okay. Manny. You first.

MANNY: Umm… I’ll run ahead and see if I can find a place to take shelter for the night. If I see lights I will keep going and hopefully find us some food and warm clothing.

DEBORA: Oh are you trying to die? Because honestly it sounds like you are trying to die.

MANNY: Hey I’m trying to get us out of here. Don’t you want to go home?

DEBORA: Home? You mean the place I couldn’t even shower without feeling lost?

MANNY: What are you talking about?

DEBORA: You know exactly what I’m talking about. I tell you every time they told me to wash off: I was in the shower and I thought “oh wow, I’m getting dizzy,” and I thought I was going to pass out. I sat down to make sure I wouldn’t fall, but when I reached the tub it felt like my mind disconnected. Like my brain unplugged from my spine, leaving my body uncontrollable. My eyes focused on the faucet as all of the knobs slowly became one. I was paralyzed. No information was coming in, and nothing was come out. I began to panic. I tried to move every muscle as fast as I could, but it wasn’t working. I was screaming yet nothing came out of my mouth. All of a sudden, every message went through and I was slamming my arms into the walls. It felt like I was gone for hours, yet the water was still warm and the same song was playing on my phone. I’m sorry I just can’t go back there.

CECILIA: What’s your idea Debora?

DEBORA: Well I think we should turn around and head back. There is no use going deeper into the woods. It’s freezing and we are not dressed for the weather. If we turn around now, they will only lock us up for a little longer than they were already going to.

MANNY: You want me to go back? Do you remember the constant monitoring? We had to be within eyesight of someone who worked there or else they would slam all the doors shut and lock us in what was basically solitude. A little longer than forever is still forever. We need to run.

DEBORA: Go back.

MANNY: Run.

DEBORA: Go back.

CECILIA: Guys…

MANNY: Run!

DEBORA: Go back!

CECILIA: Guys!

MANNY: Run!!

DEBORA: Go Back!!

CECILIA: Guys!!! Please. I can’t do this.

MANNY: You do what you want. I’m leaving.

DEBORA: Follow who you want. I’m going to safety. (Debora exits towards the prison and Manny exits the opposite direction all fades to just the focus being on Cecilia as she closes her eyes after they have exited the stage. She sings to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.)

CECILIA: Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? Put me in a wooden crate, down the river it’s not too late. Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? (As she finishes the song she huddles into a ball on the floor and slowly stops rocking until there is no movement anymore.)

Scene – Deep in the woods, noon the next day

(The three men dressed as prison guards and a warden enter onto the scene where they find Cecilia frozen to death. Instead now they are two nurses and a doctor. They do not look happy when they arrive.)

MICHAEL: Oh no. Cecilia.

WILLIAM: Oh sir, I am so sorry we ever let this happen.

GARY: No need to beat yourself up over this. She was bound to escape at some point. Has she been taking her medication?

WILLIAM: We checked on her every 15 minutes like we are supposed to, and we thought she was taking the pills, but she has been hiding them in her pillow for weeks. You know how she can only sleep on one pillow. We were just trying to make her more comfortable.

GARY: I understand. You have to remember, though. She checked herself in. I guess this was just her way of checking herself out. Did she have any visitors in a while?

MICHAEL: Her mother. Her father used to come more near the beginning, but never at the same time as her mother.

GARY: Well we only found one set of tracks out here. I guess everyone else wanted to stay in from the blistering cold.

WILLIAM: Should we call an ambulance?

GARY: Sure, but also get her mother on the line and pray that poor Cecilia will rest easy along with wherever her and those friends of hers went.


Timothy Henderson Jr. is working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. He has been writing for a while but has been telling stories since he could speak. He hopes to start conversations or lend laughs to the ones who do not smile as much as he wished they would.

Categories
Fiction - 12th Edition Uncategorized

The Barbeque

Scene – Backyard around lunchtime 

(Charles is seen grilling while other guests are socializing around him. A boom box is sitting to the side of them on a lawn chair. Everyone has big smiles. Tony, Becky, and Lucas all walk up to Charles while he is grilling. Tony leads the conversation. )

TONY: Great party, man. Thanks for inviting us. 

CHARLES: Oh don’t worry about it I know we are all new to the neighborhood so I just wanted to see if we could all meet each other.  

TONY: Well, you picked the perfect day for a barbecue. The weather today is amazing.  

BECKY: Oh yeah, I know! The sun is up, and the birds are chirping. It’s beautiful  

LUCAS: Let’s all be happy this wasn’t last weekend. Remember the rain that came in? Oh, boy, was that a storm.  

CHARLES: It’s funny you say that Lucas because we were planning this for last weekend, but we checked the forecast, and that changed our mind. Moved it to this perfect day. So how is everyone?  

TONY: Alex and I are great. We are still waiting for the paperwork to get processed to see if we can adopt. We’ve only heard good things, though. Being this far in the process shows we are getting close.  

CHARLES: That’s amazing. Trust me. Having a kid is great.  

BECKY: I don’t have any of my own, but oh is my niece Amanda the cutest. 

CHARLES: Becky, you’re missing out. It is amazing.  

LUCAS: Being a kid was so fun, the best moments I had were spent with my dad. He made the days go by so fast and made memories that will last a lifetime. I’m sure you will be a great dad, Tony.  

TONY: I’m actually a little nervous. It would be such an exciting new step in my life, but man are kids a lot of work.  

BECKY: Oh, are you trying to adopt a baby or one that’s older?  

CHARLES: If I could’ve skipped the baby step, I would’ve. Yes, it was worth it because we have Charlie in our lives, but there were a ton of diapers.  

BECKY: Oh go for older. They never get adopted. Plus, you don’t have to think of a name.  

CHARLES: Oh, the name is the best part!  

LUCAS: Coming from the guy who just used copy and paste for his youngling  

BECKY: Anyways. I’m sure you two will be wonderful parents.  

LUCAS: Just wait till they’re old enough to play sports.  

TONY: We can’t wait. Standing on the sideline and cheering our kid on is something to dream about, let alone live  

BECKY: The little uniforms. Oooooh how adorable are the little uniforms.  

CHARLES: All of them with the same goal. The same pull to win. Play after play. Pass after pass—the adrenaline. Charlie lives for it. It’s in his blood.  

BECKY: Don’t you just love how they all cheer when the game is over? They’re so young that they’re just happy to be there.  

CHARLES: Yeah. Charlie loves playing offense. He loves it so much that he pouts when they have to put in the defense. He’s done it from when he first started playing all the way until high school. I think he’s grown out of it now.  

TONY: What do you mean to put in defense? They’re always at the back of the field.  

CHARLES: You know what I mean. Once your team scores a touchdown, they kick the ball back to the other team after they try for an extra point, and defense goes on. He loves catching the ball for an extra point.  

TONY: Extra points? Touchdown? Catching? Kicking the ball TO the other team? You’re not saying what I think you’re saying, are you?  

CHARLES: Are you confused by how football works?  

TONY: Astonished Football?!  

LUCAS: Oh this is gonna be good.  

CHARLES: I thought everyone here played football.  

TONY: Oh you were wrong to assume that.  

CHARLES: Why would it be wrong to assume that you play the best sport out there?  

BECKY: Oh dear.  

TONY: The best sport out there? Have you never heard of the past time that is agreed across the world as the best?  

CHARLES: I thought football was only played in America-  

TONY: It’s soccer.  

LUCAS: Technically, other countries call it “football.”  

CHARLES: Ha!  

LUCAS: But you two aren’t talking about the same sport.  

TONY Ha!  

LUCAS: But he isn’t saying soccer is better.  

BECKY: Hey, hey, hey. If you don’t play the same sport, that’s fine, right? (Beat) Right? (Beat) Right?  

TONY: No it’s not.  

CHARLES: He finally got one thing right.  

TONY: I don’t want your kid anywhere near mine. I don’t want him tainting their mind.  

BECKY: Five minutes ago, we were all having fun and chatting. We can all still be friends. You thought each other were nice.  

CHARLES: That’s before I found out he was one of those… one of those field fairies.  

TONY: (Gasps) You take that back right now.  

CHARLES: Oh, I’m sorry? Are you whining? Did someone barely tap you, and now you’re on the ground crying? Wah wah wah? Oh, are you waiting for a flag?  

LUCAS: Oh, are you just gonna take that Tony?  

TONY: Heck no. Unlike him, I can play offense and defense.  

CHARLES: Then take your best shot, T.  

TONY: T? You can only get through my first letter? You’ve run your head into a wall so often for “practice” no wonder you guys count by threes twos sixes or ones. Next, you’re gonna tell me you need a time out with 15 seconds left in a quarter. A QUARTER. You guys get a break every thirty seconds, and you are trying to tell me you need another water break?  

CHARLES: Strategy. STRAT-E-GY. You will never get it. And I don’t expect you to.  

TONY: What strategy? Oops, the run forward didn’t work. Let’s try the throw forward. Oops, that didn’t work. Let’s try the run forward again.  

CHARLES: Oh you have crossed the line.  

TONY: Which line? 10? 20? 30? 40? 50? On no! Can’t count higher than that! Better start going backward.  

CHARLES: Are we not going to talk about how you have so many people on the field, but only one of them is smart enough to use their hands?  

TONY: That’s the rules!  

CHARLES: Well, your rules are stupid!  

TONY: You’re stupid!  

BECKY: Can you two please just stop?  

CHARLES AND TONY: (At Becky and then they turn away) No!  

LUCAS: Oh lord.  

BECKY: There must be some way to make you stop.  

CHARLES: I’m not stopping until that field fairy confesses he is playing the wrong sport.  

TONY: Wow! Hit your head so many times you can only think of one nickname!  

BECKY: Oh come on. You guys have to realize there are a lot of other sports in the world.  

TONY: And they are all horrible.  

CHARLES: Oh look. His second point! One more and you’ll have enough to equal one kick from the 30-yard line.  

LUCAS: You guys really think all of the other sports are dumb? Even the one that the other one plays?  

CHARLES AND TONY: Yeah?  

BECKY: Guys. You can’t be that close-minded. What about baseball?  

TONY Baseball? Really? “America’s pastime?” More like America’s snoozefest.  

CHARLES: It takes forever for anything to happen. The best plays require so much set up that it isn’t even worth the time to play.  

TONY: Softball is the same thing.  

BECKY How about track? I mean, everyone runs, so what’s wrong with track?  

TONY: Are you kidding me? Yeah, we all run, but we run for a purpose. Left turn after left turn. Might as well watch NASCAR where everyone stays in first gear, but don’t even get me started with NASCAR. People saying that’s a sport ridiculous. Keep machines out of play.  

CHARLES: I know, right? Like. Where’s the ball?  

LUCAS: Soccer has a ball…  

CHARLES: Don’t you dare…  

BECKY: He’s making a good point. So you’re saying it needs to have a ball. So golf?  

TONY: Ewwwww. Golf?  

CHARLES: Yeah, why would you even say that? There’s no contact, no team, it’s just a waste of energy.  

BECKY: So contact, team, and a ball. So dodgeball.  

TONY: Nah, dodgeball is just something you learn about in middle school, and you only use it to pass the time until you learn about real sports  

BECKY: Volleyball?  

LUCAS: It’s only fun on a beach during spring break. Nothing serious  

CHARLES: Okay. Gross. Think of all the sand you’ll get in… places…  

BECKY: Then play it in a gym  

CHARLES: Inside? You’re trying to get me out of my element? The best time to play is in the rain! So how are you going to keep that away from me?  

LUCAS: Don’t some stadiums have a roof?  

CHARLES: Yeah. And the people who built them probably think flag football is a viable substitute for the real thing.  

BECKY: You two are impossible.  (Charlie enters.)

CHARLIE: Hey dad…  

CHARLES: What is it, best running back in the state?  

CHARLIE: See I’ve been meaning to talk to you.  

CHARLES: You finally want to switch to QB like your old man! Ha I knew you’d come around.  

CHARLIE: No, actually, it’s something else. See I’m 16, and I’m growing to be a new person, and I think I’ve wanted to try new things.  

CHARLES: With care and compassion Son. You don’t have to break it to me like I’m going to be disappointed. If you’re gay, you’re gay. It’s fine. I still love you.  

CHARLIE: No, actually, that’s not it. I want to play soccer.  

CHARLES: Complete shift in mood You what.  

TONY: Like a soccer announcer, And it’s a goooooooooaaaaaaal!  

CHARLES: Tell me you’re joking.  

CHARLIE: It just seems so fun. Some other kids at school have been talking about it, and I was hoping that-  

CHARLES: Hoping that what? I just don’t understand. You’ve been playing football since you were born. I remember tossing the ol pigskin in the front yard back when you had to use both hands to throw it.  

CHARLIE: I only threw the ball with you because that’s what I thought I had to do. You and mom always talked about it. Actually, I think it’s the only sport you talked about. If you ever mentioned another sport, it was just as a joke, or it was in bad spirit.  

CHARLES: Well that’s because all of the other ones are a waste of time. You… you have to think about the scholarships that you could get. Those benefits are better than anything you’ll get from another sport.  

CHARLIE: But you never thought about what makes the most sense. Like. Like the thing about soccer. I’ll have more playtime and less chance of injury.  

CHARLES: But what about your knees.  

CHARLIE: But what about my head? Dad. Brain damage is so common in the NFL that Will Smith was in a movie about how they try to sweep it under the rug.  

CHARLES: I don’t want to talk about this right now.  

CHARLIE: But dad.  

CHARLES: That’s enough. Now go talk to your mother. (Charlie leaves in a sad mood.)

LUCAS: So Charles, do you have anything you want to say to Tony?  

BECKY: You’re not helping  

TONY: No, no, no. He’s helping plenty.  (Alex enters.) 

ALEX: Honey!  

TONY: Love!  

ALEX: While you all were over here, I was checking my phone and guess what.  

TONY: What is it?  

ALEX: The adoption company emailed us and guess what.  

TONY: You’re not saying what I think you’re saying.  

ALEX: Yes, I am… We are going to have a lovely baby boy!  

BECKY: Oh my goodness, I’m so happy for you two! You’ll both make great dads.  

CHARLES: Quietly as Becky congratulates Yeah. Congrats. Whatever  

ALEX: Thank you so much! I’m so excited, but you know what I’m most excited about?  

CHARLES: Let me guess…  

ALEX: I can’t wait to play football with him!  

TONY: Oh, I love it when you speak French  

ALEX: French? I’m talking about American football.  

BECKY: Here we go…  

TONY: But babe, we have been playing soccer since before we met. You told me how you grew up kicking a ball with the neighbor kids. Setting up goals between two trees, one goal always being bigger than the other, it was such a lovely story.  

ALEX: Yeah, but I’ve been thinking. Yes, soccer is fun and all, but think about the energy at a football game. People just screaming and yelling as they watch grown men slam into each other. It’s chaos, yet it is still civilized. When the game is over, it is over. Yes, people talk about it for years about how the season would’ve been so different if they just put in Jimmy, but it’s over when the game is over. Honey, we know of multiple people who were killed over letting one goal go in during a regular-season game. Let alone the ones murdered over a grand final penalty shot. I think there is too much violence backed behind that game.  

TONY: I can’t believe it. We move here, and you just easily convert to one of them?  

ALEX: It’s not what someone told me to do, it’s something I wanted to do on my own.  

TONY: I think I need to sit down Moves the boom box out of the chair and put it on the ground.  

ALEX: I’ll be back when you want to talk.  (Alex exits.) 

CHARLES: Oh oh oh… I guess Alex is on the right team. Or should I say… right sport.  

TONY: Hey, you keep quiet. Your son knows what game to play. Why don’t you?  

CHARLES: He will realize it’s a waste of time, much like how your husband feels.  

LUCAS: Oh snap.  

TONY: I’ve had it up to here with you.  

CHARLES: You’re sitting in a chair. That’s not too high.  

TONY: Stands to confront him Why I ought to-  

BECKY: Gets between them You two. Stop it right now.  

CHARLES: Well, he started it!  

TONY: No, he started it!  

BECKY: Well, you’re both continuing it, so stop! Lucas, go get Alex and Charlie. (Lucas nods and exits.) 

BECKY: And for you two. You need to learn to grow up and accept others for who they are. Even if they don’t play the same sport as you.  

CHARLES: But-  

BECKY: No buts.  

TONY: What about-  

BECKY: No, what about either. When they get here, you are going to be different people from when you were when they were here. (Lucas enters with Charlie and Alex.) 

BECKY: Okay, you two. What are you going to say?  

CHARLES AND TONY: (Under their breath.) Sorry…  

BECKY: Not good enough. Charles. You go first  

CHARLES: Okay okay (To Charlie) If you want to play soccer, that is fine with me. I know I was harsh on you earlier. Looking back, I should have shown you every sport and let you choose what you wanted to play. We all have different beliefs and wants, so it makes sense if you want to play soccer. I like football, but that doesn’t mean you want to play it. I love you for you. And I hope you forgive me.  

CHARLIE: Will you drive me to practice?  

CHARLES: Of course, son. As long as you’re happy.  

BECKY: Now you, Tony  

TONY: Alex. You are the one for me. And to be completely honest, it shocked me that you didn’t want to play soccer. This, however, does not change the fact that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. We might play different sports, but we will always come back to the same home—a home full of love for each other, and our boy. My only wish is that we let him choose what he wants to play. Do you agree?  

ALEX: I love you so much. Of course, I agree. 

BECKY: Now. Can we all please enjoy this barbecue?  

LUCAS: How can we do that? Charles hasn’t flipped the burgers since we started talking.  

CHARLES: Oh dang it!  

CHARLIE: Oh dad. (They all chuckle.)  

CHARLES: Well sorry I ruined the barbecue.  

TONY: That’s fine. At least we will all see each other at church on Sunday.  

CHARLES: Oh I’m Jewish.  

CHARLIE: Buddhist.  

BECKY: Islamic (Muslim).  

LUCAS: Agnostic.  

TONY: Well that’s fine. I think we can all still get along.  


Timothy Henderson Jr. is working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. He has been writing for a while but has been telling stories since he could speak. He hopes to start conversations or lend laughs to the ones who do not smile as much as he wished they would.