The Purpose of Writing

The Purpose of Writing

I need you to write what you know. 

Her eyes leveled with mine. 

I need you to be raw and unforgiving. None of this stuff about elves or outer space. That’s not what we need right now. 

“I can’t believe she said that to you.” Keisha’s eyes narrow. “Who does that woman think she is?” 

“Kinda stupid,” Andy adds. “She’s like opposite side of the spectrum from you. She’s writing about cocaine dealers sleeping with touch-hungry girls.” 

“All writing’s subjective,” I say before Keisha has a fit. “She just doesn’t like mine.” 

“It makes me so mad how they will praise something that’s absolute garbage to the high heavens, and they don’t say a word to those other writers about the ‘strong female character trope.’ I almost screamed.” 

“It’s crazy how different you are outside of class, Keisha.” Andy laughs 

I like talking to them. They say all the crude, brutally honest things that I’m thinking.  

We’re all in our own worlds. Andy weaves poetry into his tales about live paintings and ancient Japanese myths. Keisha puts a new spin on Poe stories with broken-winged birds penetrating the neck to pluck out the arteries. And me? I write what I want. 

I don’t write for the world. I write for me, what need. 

“Guys, I hate stories with sad endings.” I stir my lemon water until all the seeds and fibrous tissue have floated off the bottom of my glass. 

“Yeah, but that’s what real life is.”  

“Maybe her life,” Keisha growls. 

“We should’ve done this more often. Going out to eat after class? I wish we’d done this sooner than the last day of class,” I say. 

“Yeah…” Andy’s too busy going through his comment sheets to pay much attention. 

“Don’t listen to any of them. I really like your writing.”  

I return Keisha’s smile. “Yeah, I’m not changing. I’m not worried about what they think.” 

“And the real endings where everyone dies, or they’re all alone or – Wow…” Keisha puts her head in her hands. “I mean I can’t say much because my characters always die.” 

“Unless they’re already dead,” Andy mutters. 

“Yep. Exactly.” Keisha and I laugh. 

“I’m not worried about it.” 

I’m truly not. I never say anything but smile and take whatever criticism is thrown my way. Keisha does the same, though she has a very fiery opinion outside of class. 

“Guys, I think I come off as cocky when someone criticizes me,” Andy says, looking up. We finished our burritos nearly an hour ago, but none of us have anything better to do than mull over the biases of others. “You know, because I always laugh and say okay.” 

“You do,” I say as Keisha nods. “No one says anything much to you because you seem so arrogant about it.” 

Andy laughs but doesn’t correct me. He was, after all, voted the best writer in our class. 

He glances at me. “Hey if you get up, will you get me some more water?” 

“I’m not getting up, Andy.” 

It truly doesn’t bother me, but I like when my friends agree when I say, “I mean, I don’t like reading about eating disorders and kids sneaking into bars, but I’m careful not to be opinionated about that. I just talk about the style and what could be done to make me care about the characters.” 

I like it when my friends get angry when I say, “You know, I’ve never even written about elves or outer space.” 

“You’re just the opposite of her,” Andy says. “So, she’ll probably hate whatever you do.” 

“I just hate people,” Keisha adds. 

“Yeah, that’s why you’re so good at horror,” I say. 

“We need to hang out more,” Andy says. “Keep up with each other even after we graduate.” 

“Yeah, start our own writing group. With our own calligraphy pen.” Keisha rolls her eyes. “You know I still cannot believe–” 

“You’re so sassy.” Andy laughs, nearly choking on his water. “I’ve never seen this side of you.” 

Photo by Patrick Fore


Stolen Heart

Stolen Heart

He is the tall dark stranger those warnings prepared me for. Those dark eyes and soul-penetrating gaze. I notice his indifferent smile and lifeless words, yet I bare my chest and grit my teeth as his knife lacerates my skin.  

The blade is cold. The pain is barely noticeable until his fingers slide around my sternum. My heart rips from its vessels.  

He walks away, my beating heart in his hand.  

I stumble, leaving a mess of blood behind me. 

“I wish you would learn to listen.” My mother begins loading her gun. “Come on, before that heart stops beating.” 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema 


Blind Date

Blind Date

“Jake, this was a terrible idea.” 

“It’ll be fine.” 

“A blind restaurant? Really?” She leaned as close to his side of the table as she could. “I heard that even the waiters are blind.” 

“In that case, I would keep your voice down. They have exceptional hearing.” 

“How are they supposed to bring us food!” 

“C’mon, you said you wanted an adventure.” 

“An adventure is a random trip to Paris or a hike through a jungle at night or camping out in the middle of a field. Not dining at a blind restaurant.” 

She settled back in her chair with a sigh. It wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t know the price of the place and honestly felt a little bad for the way she was acting, but it was just the fact that he’d thought this was what she’d meant when she told him about wanting an adventurous date. She heard Jake start giggling. 

“What is it?” 

“Nothing. Nothing… It’s just, you are making such a big deal about this, and I just think it’s hilarious.” 

“It is kinda funny.” 

“No, Sarah. I’m talking about the way you’re acting.” He cleared his throat. He was probably about to say something that he shouldn’t, and then cleared his throat to cover it. That’s the only reason he ever cleared his throat. 

Sarah could hear the gently tapping of his hand trying to find its way around the table. She didn’t bother with trying to find her napkin and silverware yet. They hadn’t even ordered. 

Sarah jerked back and nearly screamed but heard Jake making a shushing noise from across her.  

“Sorry! Sorry, that was me.” 

“What’s with you!” 

“What did I get? Where did I touch you.” 

“You don’t want to know,” she hissed. She could feel her face burning and heard Jake’s soft laughter. 

“I’m so sorry, Sarah.” 

She leaned back in her chair and resisted pushing it out further from the table. It would be really bad if a waiter tripped over it because it wasn’t where it was expected it to be. 

What if she had to go to the bathroom? What would she do if she had to use the bathroom! 

She heard Jake’s soft patting again. 

“Jake, are you feeling around the table again.” 

“Yeah, how else will I get familiar with it?” 

She scowled. “We’ve already had one incident.” 

“Oh, what? Where I touched you? Come on, Sarah! It’s too dark for anyone to even see! They might hear you talking about it, but–” 

“I’m just saying it’s inappropriate.” 

“I just wonder if that’s how blind people feel. You know, since they can’t see and all? Do you think that they don’t consider that other people can see them sometimes, or do they not just care, or… how does that work?” 

“Jake! Don’t say things like that.” 

“Why not? It’s why we’re here, isn’t it? To see what it’s like to be blind?”  

Sarah sighed. There was no arguing against him. She just hoped that there was no one close enough to hear. She heard some tinkling of silverware in the distance and a few voices mixed with laughter, but nothing was coherent. 

“This will broaden our experiences,” Jake whispered. 

“Yes, in case either of us ever happen to go blind, we’ll know exactly how to behave at a restaurant, or at least know that we could work at one.” 

“Hello, how is everything tonight? My name is Hannah, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Can I get you something to drink?” 

Sarah immediately felt her face begin to burn. She didn’t know that someone was standing so close! 

“Yes, we’ll have two waters with lemon, thank you.” Jake didn’t miss a beat. 

“Alright, I’ll get those right out then tell you what the special is.” 

Sarah wanted to leave, but how could she leave? She couldn’t even go to the bathroom! At least the waitress couldn’t see her. Ugh! She’s such a terrible person. 

“Way to go, Sarah,” Jake whispered. She knew that he was wearing a Jake Look. 

“Shut up,” she hissed. 

A faint thump was audible on the table. 

“Here are your drinks.” The waitress went over the night’s special, steak with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables. Jake ordered for them both again. When silence returned, and she could only assume the waitress had left, she heard Jake’s fingers tapping on the table. 

“I wonder if the cook is blind, too.” 

“Stop it, Jake.”  She wasn’t in the mood. She heard his snickering and crossed her arms. They were covered in chills, though it didn’t feel cold. Did it? She couldn’t tell. Were there other people who felt cold? 

“Hey, reach up your left – no right – hand.” 

“Why?” She did it anyway and could feel the silk tablecloth. No, it wasn’t silk. It was that really soft material that was waterproof, but it wasn’t as soft as silk. It had a more homey feeling. It was probably white because she couldn’t imagine it any other way. Maybe it was red. 

She felt Jake’s fingers tap against her wrist then feel down to her palm and wrap around her fingers. His fingertips were calloused from all the building he did at work, and his palms were smooth but hard. She remembered when sometimes his calluses would get rough and would stick to clothing. But tonight his hand felt smooth, smooth enough to be something cold, even though his hand was warmer than hers. 

“Your hand feels really soft.” 

“Thanks,” she replied. 

“So you still think this is a bad idea?” He squeezed her hand. 

“No. I don’t… I just think it would be hard to live like this. If something like this ever were to happen to one of us, God forbid.”  

“Yeah. We should be more thankful. It takes someone stronger than us to be able to do all the things that we do without being able to see.” 

“You’d do a better job at it than me.” 

He laughed. “No I wouldn’t. But you’re right, I couldn’t imagine. What would I do if I couldn’t see your face? How would I know what you looked like when we grew old together? Eh, it wouldn’t matter. I’d still know that you’d be as ugly as the day I married you.” 

“Oh, thanks.” 

“I’m just kidding.” He was giggling again. “And you know I’m kidding. You still remember how I acted when I first laid eyes on you. You used to talk about it all the time.” 

“Yeah.” A warm fuzzy feeling tickled her insides, and she smiled. Jake was running his smooth, hard fingertips over her knuckles. She could hear his soft humming. Her other hand felt warm and damp, but she resisted rubbing it over her dress. She thought for a while, then did it anyway. It didn’t matter. No one could see her acting nervous or leaving wet marks on her dress. It was made of silk, much softer and lighter than the tablecloth material. It was dark purple and looked almost exactly the same as the dress she’d worn when Jake had proposed, except these sleeves were long and not cut off at the shoulder, and her other dress had been a dark red.  

“Do you remember the dress I wore when you proposed.” 

“Yep. The red one.” 

“The one I’m wearing right now looks a lot like that one.” 

“Yeah, except the sleeves are longer.” 

She smiled. Jake was a good husband. 

“Do you still have that dress?” 

“No! That’s been eight years ago, Jake.” 

“Oh, has it been that long? Well, we need to get you another one like that. And peach heels, too.” 

“Nude heels.” 

“Whatever. That dress was shorter, too.” 

“No it wasn’t.” 

“Yes it was. I think I would remember. Well, maybe not. I don’t really have a good view of you right now.” They both giggled. “Besides, I like it when you show a little skin.” He squeezed her hand, and she felt her cheeks getting hot again. 

“Jake, stop it.” 

He laughed softly, and she smiled. 

“Maybe it’s where I’ve lost weight.” 

“You have not lost any weight.” 

“What is that supposed to mean?” 

“Well, all you fix are those weird green noodles, and that one bread stuff–” 

“It is zucchini spaghetti, and it is not all I fix. We just have a bunch of zucchini because one year you were like oh Sarah let’s get a garden and–” 

“Sarah! Sarah, sheesh.” She heard his sigh. “C’mon, honey. It’s been ten years–” 


“Well, I’ve known you for ten. You think you’d know my sense of humor by now.” 

“Yeah, like taking me out to a blind restaurant.” 

She heard Jake snicker, and she started giggling. 

“Stop laughing, stop laughing, Jake.” 

“You’re laughing–” 

“Yeah, I’m laughing at you though.” 

“Oh, okay.” 

Sarah slowly lifted her other arm and moved it onto the table. There probably wasn’t any silverware or plates. They would bring those out with the food. A safe decision. 

Jake was humming again and rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. She listened and realized it was “Here Comes the Bride.” What a weirdo. Sarah grinned and squeezed his hand. He started giggling again. 

“What? Don’t like my kind of music?” 

“Thanks for taking me out.” 

“Yeah, I’ve never been on a blind date before. Wait till I tell Jim and Barry that I went on a blind date. With my wife.” 

“I bet you will.” 

“I will. Watch me.” 

Photo by Juliette F 


The Real Enemy

The Real Enemy

Rolan tightened his lips and resisted the urge to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. He’d been waiting a lifetime for this moment, his stomach was turning and twisting and aching with emotions that confused him.  

Maxime had missed on purpose.  

Rolan had watched him flick his wrist at the last moment making the bullet miss by nearly a foot.  

The young man forced down the bile taste in his mouth and licked his lips. His arm was trembling, but he wasn’t about to put down the gun. It was a trick. 

Wasn’t it?  

Why wouldn’t Maxime White kill him if he had the chance? But the old man just stood there. Eyes widened, looking at Rolan’s eyes. Searching.

Did he think that Rolan couldn’t do it? Did he know about Rolan? That he had never wanted to kill?   

Rolan gritted his teeth. It didn’t make sense!  

Maxime had the chance to kill him! Had Rolan right where he wanted him! Hadn’t he?  

Rolan’s finger on the trigger was tightened like a welded bolt, but the young man couldn’t move it. It only needed a little pressure and a millimeter of movement. Maybe less.  

Maxime’s eyes moved from the gun back to Rolan’s face. He lips moved, and the words he muttered seemed to form Rolan’s name. Rolan’s full name.  

The young detective narrowed his eyes… eyes that were unmatched colors – blue and brown. 

Just like Maxime’s.  

Rolan squeezed his eyes shut then forced them open with a determined grimace. The old man wasn’t going to escape. He would never run off again.  

Rolan had never wanted anything more than to face his uncle, the man who had killed his father – his own brother – then watch the life drain from those eyes.  

But Maxime stood there. He didn’t seem to want to move. He just stared at Rolan. Waiting. Waiting for it all to fall down on him and crush him.  

Why had Maxime spared him twice? Why had the league sought him out to train him? They were the ones who told about his identity. His relation to Maxime. Who were the strangers that had saved his life? Why did he only have a few vague memories of his father?  

The bricks fell one by one causing Rolan’s heart to pound so hard and so wildly that it seemed to stop all at once as his blood drained to his feet, and everything went black. 

Photo by GR Stocks