His eyes are each a different color. One moss green and the other a pale blue. He smiles with a smile stretched just a bit too wide. 

“Come here, child.” His voice is soft. Sweet. Too sweet, like the concoctions used to catch flies. 

The rats peer out at us from the crevices and cracks in walls and under furniture. They are motionless, their eyes dormant but glowing red, waiting the low, unmistakable call of their master. 

“I need a favor, Piper.” 

“A favor?” His left eyebrow arches. 

They warn me to stay away from the Piper. He is dangerous, they say. Especially to my kind. I never knew what that meant. I met the Piper long before they had a chance to warn me. 

The night had been bright from the half-moon and her entourage of stars, but the tunnel under the earth was black and damp. 

My stepbrother called my name over and over from the other direction, his voice growing more desperate with each echo, but I pressed onwards into the blackness, further and further under the earth.  

Scurrying and scratching soon joined the sound of my panting and the faint calls of my brother. I knelt down to meet the glowing eyes of Demetrius, a favorite servant of Piper. He sniffed me several times and crept closer, his comrades watching from the shadows. I could only see them because a dim reflection of light caused their eyes to cast a reddish glow. There were hundreds of them. Before me and behind me.  

I followed them until reaching a pale light and a ladder leading up into the dwelling place of Piper. 

When I crawled out of the manhole, dirty and intrigued, he’d gazed at me just as bewildered. 

A strange, sixteenth century coat with a lacy design and frilly sleeves, a common man’s trousers, and huntsman boots. He was bent over sewing and snipping a lady’s ball gown when I shoved open the cover and practically fell onto his floor. 

The room and decorations were delightful. White walls with paintings and the occasional tapestry. 

He’d straitened and lifted his glasses up over his mess of curly, brown hair. Then, he’d smiled. 


I’d glanced back at the tunnel, but none of the creatures followed save Demitrius who attempted to leap up into his master’s hand but was met with a blow that sent him spiraling back down the hole. 

“They’re not allowed in this room, and they know better,” Piper said, kicking the lid back over. He stood too close to me, with his eyes too wide and his grin too big. It was almost comical. 

Our walk through the woods is short and scattered with conversation. 

Finally, we reach our destination. 

Piper stares down the black abyss with a frown.  

“Is this really what you want?” 


“What is Piper’s real name?” I’d asked my stepbrother once.  

He’d shrugged and shuddered. “Who cares?” 

(Excerpt about a character I am working on. From the same story as “Breakfast”)
Photo by Anne Nygård 

poetry, Writing Portfolio

Porcelain Boy

Porcelain Boy

This is not a story 
of anguish and woe, 
of a girl lamb and a lion boy. 

This is the story of the night, 
the swollen moon 
holding its breath, watching us. 

He is a lion, 
with battle scars on his cheeks, 
rippling across his body. 

But, his round eyes, 
the color of a bloated moon 
shrink him down to a porcelain doll. 

I told him I loved him. 
Love, he repeated. 
Love? he asked. 

His body is rigid. 
An icy coating of terror, 
but it melts under my touch. 

But I am a lion 
with sharp teeth and razor claws. 
My hands and mouth drip with blood. 

No, I say, 
because he is a butterfly’s wing, 
a snowflake pressed up against my bedroom window. 

And you are beautiful, he argues, 
with your snow white wool 
and emerald sea eyes. 

I laugh, 
and he laughs, 
and he grows smaller and smaller under my gaze. 

His hair is damp as morning dew. 
His mouth tastes of grassy earth. 
He is beautiful. 

I love you, I say again. 
He says nothing, 
but opens wide his chest. 

He hands me his heart. 
It is porcelain, 
white as the shell of an egg. 

Before he leaves, 
I put his heart in a cage 
and tie it round my neck. 

The moon exhales 
at last, 
laughing at my cleverness. 

Photo by Andres Herrera 


Save Myself

Save Myself

I can feel Ashton’s eyes watching me, even with my face turned to the TV. The Office is on. He slowly gets up and walks toward the kitchen. I try not to watch him. He returns with oatmeal cookie flavored ice cream, and he walks right up to me, right to the edge of my side of the couch before asking, “Want any?”  

I feel like saying, No I don’t want any of that healthy crap you keep around here, especially not that garbage tasting ice cream. Instead, I say, “No.”  

He moves to the chair closest to me, the one facing the TV, and he just stares with the little pint of ice cream folded in his arms. He doesn’t even have a spoon!  

I realize that I’m staring, but he doesn’t seem to notice. Or care. So, I don’t care.  

His face has an empty expression. Illegible. Protected. Or maybe that’s just my angle. 

Part of me wants to hug him and fall on his chest in tears. The other part of me wants to scream at him. Part of me aches with pity, and the other part blames him for bringing this on himself. Part of me wants him to never leave me, to always love me, to somehow rescue me. The other part wants him to be free, and to escape the toxicity of my presence.  

My shoulders naturally start to curve around themselves. They do that when the feeling creeps up inside me like a snake. I look back at the TV and try to focus on what Jim and Dwight are saying, but I can’t.  

I remember the time when Ashton first taught me to take a decent picture by myself.   

“That’s one of the things that drew me to you,” he’d said smiling. “Your terrible selfies.”  

We were at the beach, and the sun was setting. Ashton wanted to be a photographer, but it was too big of a risk so he majors in accounting. He just takes pictures on the side.   

After I attempted suicide, he stopped going to classes.  

“You want to capture all the light that you can,” he’d said, coming up behind me and holding my hands as I tried to aim the camera on my phone. While I was playing in the water, he looked through the pictures and then started taking more.  

“Mine weren’t very good, were they!” I’d shouted over the waves. He had smiled and taken a picture of me.  

I don’t know where the depression came from. It didn’t hit me like a wave. Not at first. It crept up on me slowly, like how the setting sun carries off light until even the twilight fades. I don’t remember if I ever actually felt sad. It was more like emptiness. A hollow feeling. I would spend a long time, maybe hours, staring in the mirror at myself, trying to see something, but all I could see were features. Blue eyes. A nose. Brown hair. And I lost track of time.  

Any time I did feel emotion, I still don’t think it was sadness. It was more like anger. Once, I sat down and tried to figure out who I was angry at. My mom? Ashton? God? And then I realized that I wasn’t angry at anyone else. I was angry at myself.   

But why? What had I done?  

So, I would stare at myself, trying to find the dark lurking secret.  

There is something wrong with me. I can’t figure out what it is, but there’s something wrong.  

People picked up on this, and I tried to get away. I tried to tell them that I was fine, and when they didn’t believe me, I became angry. If there was something so evidently wrong with me, why wouldn’t they go away? So I tried to push them away. I tried small, angry remarks that grew in time to screaming sobs.   

I remember Ashton’s stare when the sobs were choking my throat. Finally, he’d said, “You’ve changed.”  

I think I may have thrown up after that.  

They stared, and the pain was so evident on their faces because they didn’t know how to help me, and I hated myself even more for hurting them. I pushed them away because I just want to protect them from my drowning emptiness.   

But, when they did finally give me what I wanted, to leave me alone after all of my fits and torments towards them, I would feel the sting in the back of my stomach like a knife carefully and precisely prodding itself against my insides. And I would lose the ability to breathe. No more tears. No more words. Just pain.  

But for all the pain I’ve caused, I certainly deserved it.  

Sometimes, there is this voice at the back of my mind faintly gasping and pleading, but I can’t understand what it’s saying. I don’t even know what it wants. 

I close my eyes because Ashton is looking at me again, and my cheeks are wet.  

When I first got out of the hospital, Ashton was there. He followed me home. He followed me back to my apartment. He was angry. He yelled. He became sad. He wept. He tried to be happy, made jokes, smiled, and told me that he loved me. And finally, he began staring at me, stupidly, silently, the same way he’s been staring at me since. I keep waiting for him to leave. I hope that he does while still wishing he won’t.  

What does he see in me anymore? What did he ever see? Haven’t I hurt him enough already?  

My first night back at my apartment, I told Ashton to go home. He didn’t. I found him sleeping on my couch the next morning.  

When I open my eyes, Ashton looks me over from head to toe like he used to. I wait for the pain and pity to color his face a paler shade, but it doesn’t.  

“I’m not leaving.”  

“No,” I whimper, like I’m a little child who is desperate and has just been denied the only thing she ever wanted.  

“I’m not going anywhere.”  

I wait for him to throw the ice cream aside and rush to me, grabbing my hands with tears in his eyes and begin pleading with me like he did last week. And the week before.  

I can’t save you, you understand? I would if I could, but I can’t. If you can’t pull yourself out of this, you need to get therapy. I’ll take you. Okay? Please, darling. I will be right here. Start praying. Ask God for help. I certainly do. Start reading again. Read Job or Psalms or A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Eat some chocolate. Start a journal. But, you have to want to save yourself. You understand?  

Instead, he looks back towards the TV, eyes glazed.  

“I’ve already told you what you have to do to fix this.”  

I know. I’ve known all along what I need to do, but I just… I don’t know how to cling to the side of me that wants to put in the work it will take to crawl out of this, to cling to the side that wants him to stay.   

I get up and squeeze myself next to him on the little chair. I’m shaking and doing my best to keep my face from contorting into that hideous expression I make when I cry.  

He doesn’t look at me, but he puts his arm around me.

Photo by Jordan McQueen   

poetry, Writing Portfolio

Falling Into Death

Falling Into Death

Darkness covers the ground like the setting sun. I close my eyes, and the breaths come a bit easier. Slower. I feel myself slipping, falling. But as I gradually let go, I begin to float.

The black is thick, overshadowing me like a curtain, like a veil of night softly falling over my face. It feels sweet. Soothing. 

The pain and aches dissipate into the void of darkness. I feel myself following. Only a hand, a finger, hold me here. A voice. Pleading and angry. I don’t recognize it. I can’t understand what it says, yet it holds me here. Why? Why would it hold me here? Here with the pain. 

Hands pull on me and whisper soothing lulls and sweet nothings. Their touch feels like salve to my burns as they pull me further into the night. 

Words still ring. Then buzz. They slur, and the familiarity of them fades. But the sweet voices become clearer. Almost like music pulling me into the void. I want to go. The burns of the words holding me here no longer sting. 

The threads split and tear until the final one snaps, and I fly. 

The black is quiet and sleepy. Still waters resting deep below a storm. The blinding brightness envelops the night as time and space fade away. 

I cannot tell if I am awake or sleeping. If my eyes are open or closed. But, it is beautiful.

Photo by Eyasu Etsub