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short stories

Never Fall in Love

“You will be my last love.” I glanced over and laughed at the ridiculous statement. We’d been dating for little under three months, and I certainly think it was too early to declare any sort of eternal connection. “You mistake me. You will be my last love, even after we terminate.” Part of me is flattered by your words, yet another becomes concerned. What do you plan to do if I am your last love? If I am the last person who you kiss and hold and cherish? Where will your heart go while the rest of us have ours broken and mended and soaring? However, when I rest a hand on your shoulder, I see no pain in your eyes. You seem almost… content, as if this is an epiphany you’ve denied yourself for so long that you almost forgot it existed.

“What happens when your heart finds another, even if your head keeps the vow?” I ask. You throw your head back and laugh, but there is something bittersweet about the sound.

“It shan’t. I’ll lock myself in a cave or rewind my memories. Perhaps I’ll make myself so ugly that no one else could love me. Whatever I do, I will not have my heart broken again,” you explain. I glance at your scars. No, you are not beautiful in the traditional sense. I see no defined cheekbones, bright eyes, or shiny hair. However, I do see your intricate tattoos and your cropped hair, and I see the smiles that stretch from ear to ear and your strong hands. Although I may not see physical beauty, I see internal.

“Making yourself ugly won’t do anything,” I contradict.

“You mistake me again. Ugliness is found on both the inside and the outside,” you respond, and bitterness continues to lace your words. I chuckle, and it’s your turn to glance gaze incredulously at me.

“You can’t make yourself ugly, no more than the sun can stop shining or the birds stop singing. Beauty and ugliness, from within, are inherit. Even if we become hard or selfish or cruel, we still hold our nature in our hearts,” I comment. You stare at me, and then a small smile tugs at the corner of your lips.

“And that’s why you will be my last love,” you say, and the words seem even sadder than before.

I can’t remember what happened to you. One year later, we broke up because I moved to the U.K while you stayed in the States. Years passed and seasons changed as the people did. Some I spent alone, others with lovers and friends and family. Work kept me busy, but travel allowed me to meet people from everywhere. There were days where I saw movies that made me think of you and rainy nights where I could hear your voice. However, you were only a chapter in the story of my life, and I have many others.

I traveled back to the States for a road-trip one year. When I passed through Georgia, I thought I saw you sitting on a bench. In New York, I thought I saw you standing on the corner. In Washington D.C., you sat near the monument and stared into the water. It wasn’t until I made my way to Portland, Oregon that I truly saw you.

Blue

10/17/1962-12/4/2000

That seemed too damn young to me.

***

Consider my two weeks of absence a hiatus of sorts. I apologize for no notice, but my outside duties took up more of my time and resources than normal. I am very tentative about this story, because its plot isn’t definitive and it exists as little more than a word splurge. I will disclose that this story was based off a very real conversation, and one that I don’t think I’ll forget until my brain rots. Do tell me what you think.

Categories
short stories

Opal Eyes

“You may not know me, but I know you. I know your smiles, your laughter, your tears, your anguish. I know every strand of hair that falls across your beautiful face, and I am jealous of every coat that’s ever kept you warm and every glove that’s touched your hand. I spend my mornings waking to the ghost of your voice from my dreams, and my nights recalling. My life is spent in your hands, and all I ask is that you do with me what you truly wish,” I whispered. The ripest tomatoes couldn’t rival the shade of red my face took upon my confession. You looked down from your throne and smiled, and it made my heart soar through my ignominious confession. A smile, just for me and me alone. When you slowly stood and approached, however, I shrunk back. I couldn’t fool myself, not truly. There wasn’t a creature on this world who tolerated goblins, and a goblin I was. Hesitantly, as my last peace offer, I held out the flower I picked from the gardener’s land. If he caught me with it, he would thrash me later. How loud I would scream all depended on if I could escape to a memory of true bliss or a memory of deepest sorrow. Your laugh surprised me, and I gasped when you plucked the marigold from my fingers. We were a wonderful contrast, you and I, with hands of finery and splendor and the softest skin brushing against knots and wrinkles and dried mud from the lake. It was your laugh that almost undid me, and a sob escaped my throat when you pressed the petals to your lips.

“Ah, my little love, how can you possibly lay such a precious life down at my feet, as if it is a gift to be discarded upon whim?” you asked, and a few tears trickled down my cheeks. They were lost in the folds and gnarls of my skin, yet your hand dispelled the few left. I held my breath as you cupped my face in your palms, the intoxicating scent of the marigold wafting around us. When your lips touched my forehead, I crumpled. You helped me up when I tried to grovel at your feet and wouldn’t hear a word of my apologies or sincerest thanks. As you bent over to look me in the eye, I felt the smile I kept buried beneath my heart’s surface for the first time in years. There was no one else in the kingdom with eyes like yours, white as opals and shining just as brilliantly. “Although I may never see your face, or your smile, or your laughter, I know them just as well as I do my own. I know every joke you tell, every song you’ve sung, every jest you’ve made in good fun. I know every time you’ve cried, every shout of rage, and every time you wished out loud you were something else, and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.”

It was my first real hug. You embraced me tightly, kneeling before as if I were the ruler of our lands. I felt the marigold petals crushed against my neck, yet I didn’t care that they fell to the marble floors. I hugged you back just as fiercely, with tears spilling down my cheeks for a different reason than ever before. “I truly wish for you, and your companionship. That’s all I’ve ever wished for,” you whispered, and more tears dripped onto the floors. Our laughter echoed throughout the grand halls, like a new melody never before sung yet immediately treasured.

A monarch, a partner, a lover, and a friend. These nine words engraved into your tombstone do you no justice. As I sit near my pond, where I spent years sneering at my reflection and woefully scaring anyone who came near, I now guard your final resting place. Unfortunately, humans last much longer than goblins. However, I feel my time is near. Your body is gone, but I think you stayed with me in spirit. After all, how can one remember so much about their soulmate after they’ve already passed if they aren’t there? How can I still recall your laughter and your opal eyes? The sun begins to set overhead, casting her pink glow against the marigolds that bloom every summer around your grave. I pluck one and twirl its stem in my fingers, then rest against the grass near where your head should be. “You now know me, and I knew you. We spent years and years treasuring and nurturing and laughing and dancing. I am no longer jealous of your gloves because you held my hands as often as I wished, yet I still wish that I could’ve held them one last time. It is no matter, anyway. Soon enough, we’ll be together once more. Soon enough, my love.” The marigolds dropped from my fingers.

***

Ha! I did it! Take that, Father Time! I have an update, and a short story at that. Please enjoy this perfectly sad and fantastical tale about a goblin and their love. The best part about writing in the forbidden you-and-I perspective is the freedom of character. This is a product of maddeningly rattling of ideas towards the wee hours of the night, and I hope that whoever reads this enjoys its elaboration.

Categories
short stories

Candle

I was handmade. I was dipped and shaped and formed through my earliest memories, then tested and scented and packaged. I sat on display with my brothers and sisters until a woman bought me, who wore the drabbest of clothing and sadness in her eyes.

She kept me on her desk, in a brass holder so my wax wouldn’t drip. The scratch of matches always excited me, for a second later, my flame illuminated her humble abode. Masks and miniatures lined her walls, from automatons to music boxes to little bits of broken glass bottles that shimmer in the light. Every night, when the sun had long retired and the moonlight was too weak, she ignited my spark and worked on her latest project. Sometimes she sang when she worked, in a tune always slightly off-key yet lovely all the same. The wind sang with her when she worked, yet always stole my flame from my wick as well.

I don’t remember when she started crying. It felt like months had passed since she bought me, and more of my siblings were strewn about the worn wooden surface. We all stood in mismatched holders, some made of ceramic and others of tin. Our voices were hushed as she entered, and the silence that followed almost suffocated our flames. Tears were dripping down her face, tears that splashed onto the wayward papers and extinguished some of my family’s flames. She sniffed and wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and set to work on a small piece featuring two masquerade dancers. Her hands shook as she molded their forms from lifeless clay, so she worked until the sun began to bid good morning to us. A few of my siblings had sacrificed themselves for her arduous and toiling night, and we all paid our quiet respects to their lost flames.

My wax was halfway gone when she came into the room crying again. More masks and more statues lined her walls, and her work had turned out even more heartbreakingly beautiful than ever before. Strange people wandered through this room in search of the perfect object, occasionally, and she always provided them with exactly what they needed. Now, as she painted the masquerade dancers with a clear coat of polish, tears threatened to dilute the shiny paint. Her hands trembled again, and more of my siblings slipped quietly off in the night, only ever offering a slight hiss and thin trail of smoke as they ascended.

I was the only candle left when she stopped making the masks and the miniatures. Grief spells grew more frequent, and more and more tears stained her wood. If I could trace their path, it would tell the story of our past few months together. Her art didn’t disappear from the shelves, but people stopped coming into the room. At times, when it seemed that I couldn’t fight off the darkness, she would begin to talk to her statues. Always light chatter, a soft murmur in the ever-present silence. Perhaps that’s what gave me the strength to continue my vigil, even as the melted bodies of my family lay around me, hugging the holders in a last plea for life. Tears continued to stain the masks and the miniatures.

My time was soon. I could feel my wick shortening with each passing day, as she used me for longer and longer periods of time. Statues began to collect dust on the shelves, even as she made an effort to keep them alive with conversation. What turned from idle chatter was now a diverse web of a family, from the laughing cousins to the solemn uncles and aunts. She spoke of her day, asked of theirs, made jokes, bantered, yet never laughed. And her smile always made my flame wane. As the last of my wax melted, spilling onto the holder and tarnishing the polished brass, she laid her head down with me. Brown curls obscured her face, but even as we drew our last breaths together, I knew she was still crying. With the last of my strength, I allowed my flame to burn brighter than ever before. Light just barely touched the edges of the room, but in one corner, I found a wooden cradle painted the way all the miniatures were. A fine coat of dust desecrated its simple beauty, and inside of the cradle, there was a single pair of baby shoes and a bib, both never worn. With a quiet hiss, my flame extinguished. She never woke up.

***

I started with a beginning line, then progressed from there when I wrote this short story. A bit of my inspiration pulled from Ernest Hemingway’s extremely brief tale “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” While I have very little experience in tragedy, it made it easier to write this piece from the candle’s rather apathetic perspective. However, despite the candle’s apathy, it is my hope as the writer that reader can feel empathy towards the poor woman in this story.