Amelia sprinted up the slope, mason jar clutched to her chest. Her copper bangs were plastered to her high forehead, and her twin braids slapped her shoulders and back as she ran.

The grass was slick from rain, soil soft and shifting underfoot.

Mud sprinkled her tongue and teeth when she fell, sliding down the slope a few feet and mason jar forcing air from her lungs. She kept a close grip on the jar that, just this morning, held the last bit of marmalade. She’d cleaned it with soap and boiling water just for this occasion.

Light skated through dark clouds above, and jagged fingers of white slapped the Earth in the distance.

“Almost there,” Amelia huffed.

Her sneakers were coming untied, but instead of wasting any more time, she simply kicked them off and kept running, no-longer-white cotton socks squishing with every step.

Thunder clapped cymbals in Amelia’s ears, and her wide mouth curved into a grin. She picked up the pace, legs and lungs burning as her heart seemed to skip every other beat.

Finally, she was at the top of the hill, high enough that she could see hers, Momma’s, and Nana’s house down where she’d come. She unscrewed the mason jar’s lid, keeping a tight grip so as to not lose the top or the rim. She then held the glass up and stood on her tip-toes, not breathing.

Light flashed at the same time as the thunder’s scream, and Amelia was knocked back. She slid partway down the hill in a roll, stopping herself so as to close the jar.

Breathing heavily, she smiled wide, not noticing that the storm around her had vanished.

It was now in her jar, the angry, dark clouds screaming with light and sound that made the jar shake in Amelia’s hand.

Still breathing heavily, she ran home with her caught thunderstorm. She was the first in her family to ever finish this part of her initiation on her first try.

I’m going to be the most powerful witch anyone’s ever seen, she thought gleefully, clutching the jar to her chest and feeling the thunder boom in time with her heart.


“This place doesn’t seem…”

Rae trailed off as she noticed luminescent circles etching themselves in the cement above the scarlet door. There were two, disappearing soon as they came; she knew she was here.

The door yawned open a breath from Rae’s knuckles making contact with the wood. She blinked slowly, hand hanging in the air for a moment before she blew her too-long, pale bangs away from her obsidian eyes.

“Melodramatic,” she muttered, entering the townhouse and not even flinching when the door slammed behind her. “All of them.”

The wooden floor looked warped, like splinters might be the least she should worry about. Ahead was a staircase, starting wide and narrowing as it moved up to curve around the back wall and lead to the balcony above. A long tapestry hung over the balcony’s railing. Rae had to incline her head to see it, but with only candles on ledges and shelves that were built into the wall, the depictions were difficult to decipher.

Switching her bag’s long strap to her left shoulder, Rae brushed back her bangs and looked to the right. It looked like a sitting room, too dark to make out anything but silhouettes of cases and sofas.

To the left were closed French doors, time-yellowed curtains blocking her view through the window panes.

Ahead, the hallway was narrow due to the staircase taking up space, and something hung on the wall – a painting or mirror, Rae did not care to see.

With a huff, she headed up the stairs, picking up her feet to keep from tripping or getting the skinny heels of her boots stuck in any knots or holes.

Boards squeaked under her weight, and dust puffed from the long, narrow carpet in front of the first step. The flames all around the room seemed to dance higher, more excitedly, and buzzing Rae recognized from her years of apprenticeship plucked the hairs along her arms and the back of her neck, forcing them up straight.

The squeaks, first discordant screeches of age and wear, turned to tones, like a mermaid’s screeches turning to song as she dives beneath the waves.

“Of course,” murmured Rae, hackles up as she clutched her bag to her side. “You’re not clever!”

Continue reading “Lifetimes”

Powdered Death

Skin like ground-up ivory
Cheeks like stagnant blood
Hair of moonlit snow and tarnished silver
Memories fluttering about
And caught by those surrounding
Her lidded and eternal bed

Death coated and caked
A mask of half-hearted life for a moment
Death powdered and painted and perfumed
And life silent as the buried
Remembering, misremembering, loving, regretting

But knowing she’s with the god she loved
And continues to love in his kingdom

What My Church Taught Me

Lies saturate my lips and kiss my words with each breath
Carrying the scent of iced tea sweetened with Novocaine
Lit by a smile shoving back tears, snarls, and arguments
Rubbed smooth with “I’m fine, hon” and “Bless your heart”

Lies saturate my lips and kiss my words with each breath
Shrouding the doubts, pushing them into the far shadows
Hiding a tight heart and flipping stomach from prying eyes
Convincing half-closed ears that I believe their hate is love

Lies saturate my lips and kiss my words with each breath
Allowing me to walk and smile through every panic attack
Allowing me to smile and nod instead of scream or cry
Allowing me to live in hope someday, I can tell the truth

Sunlight turned her hair to the shade of burnished copper. The freckles on her face and neck looked like flecks flying off of a bonfire, and nature itself seemed to bow at her feet.

I woke up every sunrise just to watch her dance through the field outside my house. She never looked up at me, but I could tell she knew I watched.

This morning, she wore the fawn-brown dress she always wore, with the swooping collar and a skirt that seemed to float over and around her legs. Her feet were bare, and there was something about her movements, the way the breeze toyed with her shoulder length hair.

She spun in the center of the field, arms out and head back as she smiled.

Heart aflutter, I race down the stairs and out the front door, grabbing the post at the end of the porch once I realized I was even moving. My hair was a mess, falling over my face. The mid-autumn air was cool on my skin, bumps rising along my bare arms.

She stopped spinning and met my eyes. I’d never seen her eyes before. They were deep-set and the kind of blue you could make out from even far away. Pale, haunting, needing, piercing.

Need gnawed at my belly, urging me towards her.

The sun rose higher, and Jake, my German shepherd, bounded from the other side of the house, barking like mad.

She turned and ran for the nearby woods, leaping right into a tree as Jake slid to a stop in the center of the field, still barking in the direction she’d gone.

Legs shaking, I slid down to where I was lying on the porch, still holding onto the post.

Apparently Sirens don’t just live out at sea.