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We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. This trip was a last-minute decision, and we were both eager to settle in and relax for a few days. Jesse had stopped the car twice, once to fill up with fuel and the second time for snacks. I was ready to get out of the car. I had slept the whole way and needed to stretch my legs. My mind was as tired as my body. Mental exhaustion is as dangerous as physical exertion. I deserved some downtime. Jesse did too. I wanted a glass of chardonnay, a view of the mountains, and a good soak in the advertised hot tub.
Darla snored as she slept. The early morning sunlight peeked through her bedroom window, tempting her to wake. She groaned as she shifted her body weight on her alternate side as she covered her face with her tear-stained pillow, burying her face in its feathery softness. If she woke up, she’d remember all the embarrassment from last night. She’d rather take refuge in her cozy bed in the safety of her humble little home, away from the frantic chaos of the high school reunion.
Comedist Beaus and Benny the Goldfish
Trigger warning: story contains topics of domestic abuse. It happened again. This time MaryAnn’s nose gushed the red fluid that stained everything it touched as she staggered to keep her balance. Mitch drew his hand back once more as she cowered to her knees, her hand shielding her face. This type of incident was becoming as frequent as MaryAnn dashing food into our fish tank. It was the vibration of flesh meeting flesh that made me swim to the glass to see what was happening. Goldfish are quite perceptive after all. I can affirm the validity of our sensitivity in a modest way. Our senses are subtle yet acute, confined to the size of our fish tank.
The child smiled. Piklesme recoiled, his wings clipped as though pierced by the flaming arrows of the ancient Battle of Hidalgo. But Piklesme’s wings were not harmed, nor injured, they simply did not cooperate for him to fly away. The dragon had been doing a routine search of the forest perimeter when a blinding burst of light captured his attention. Intrigued, Piklesme hovered over the clearing where the light had bounced to the moons and then disappeared into the darkness as quickly as it appeared. Piklesme was intrigued by what could have caused the occurrence and decided to investigate. Landing amid the canopy of trees did not seem hazardous at the time. Not once did the dragon consider this sundry of a find. The most dangerous of all creatures imaginable. It was human. And if that was not bad enough, this human was very young. Alone in the forest, on the sacred grounds of the Trilogos, sat a human child.
Me and My Boos
It was the summer of 2006 when I first laid eyes on him. He was waiting, along with his sister to be chosen. Born in a litter of eight, these were the last two puppies available. When the lady mentioned that I had flashbacks to elementary school gym class. And being picked last for dodgeball. It always felt bad to be picked last, like you weren’t wanted, not good enough. I looked at each of the two puppies. Both were adorable, their dark eyes were wide as they sat side by side, comforting each other. They were two months old and ready to find their forever home. They were contained in a laundry basket, which was a good way to corral a puppy. I had to decide if I wanted to get the boy or the girl, I don’t remember having a preference. I just wanted a dog, a fluffy lap dog. A Bichon Frise.
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. After nineteen months aboard Pilgrim 2, Dodge McAllen would testify that was not true. He could hear their screams. He could hear the nagging, their constant bickering. There are no secrets on a spaceship. Living in close quarters had started to take a toll on all of them. Their screams, the fighting, the accusations, the silence of their angry stares exchanged over MREs. The tension was palatable and it was constant. There was no escape, nowhere to hide. And damn it, Dodge was tired of it. Tired of it all.
- Runner-Up in The Runaway Train Challenge
Fate TrainRunner-Up in The Runaway Train Challenge
Sarah smelt ammonia. The putrid aroma tickled her nose as she jostled her body onto its opposite side, frustrated that the harsh smell was disturbing her sleep. This blissful nap was the best rest she’d had in months, years even. Facing a different direction, the smell abated and slowly she was rocked into another REM cycle. The inertia of back and forth was constant beneath her. The movement was so soothing, it was an invitation into total relaxation. Sarah wasn’t ready to wake up. The last few weeks had been nothing short of exhausting.
“The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.” “Ooooh,” the group of kids chanted in unison. The cadence of their ensuing laughter makes the corner of my mouth tilt upwards. Telling ghost stories and eating roasted marshmallows around the campfire is the kind of memories these kids need. It’s why I volunteer as a troop master in the first place. To make a difference.