Scribbles

The Chosen

The Chosen


His name is Eli Hoffman, and I have chosen him to be the hero. 

It was something I considered when he picked his sister daffodils after her bunny died. I wrote his name on my list and circled it when he chased off a fox who attacked the family’s chickens. However, it was when his father’s horse was bucking and kicked him down, and he got up anyway despite the broken ribs, that I opened my magic book and etched his prophecy in my blood. 

He will be the one to kill me. 

Of course, he is too young now. Only a child. Hair that shines like raven feathers in the sun and eyes that are as black and deep as ink pools. Eight-years-old. He won’t grow to be tall or exceptionally handsome. He’ll have to study hard with books, but he’ll learn the most by scratching down others’ stories and struggling to train himself. There’s not an ounce of magic in his bones, but he has grit and fire in his blood. 

He’s hardly the description of a knight who will one day slay the dragon, but maybe that is why I like him. 

Even now, he follows me towards the river. 

Eli wraps his hand around my wrinkled fingers. 

“Almost there, Auntie.” 

We walk past the city gates and down the forest trail. It is dusk, and wolf howls echo into the sky. Eli’s grip on my hand tightens.  

“Perhaps we should go back.” 

“No, child. We are almost to the river.” 

Before we can reach the banks, a wolf with luminous yellow eyes leaps in front of us. Eli screams. 

“Run child!” I cry, releasing his hand as the wolf sinks its teeth into my arm. Crimson blood falls to the forest floor. Eli is motionless, dumbfounded for a few seconds. The wolf growls and claws at my neck as Eli picks up a stick and tosses it at the beast, tears streaming down his face. 

The wolf rushes towards him, a black shadow of mangled fur, baring sharp teeth as yellow as the harvest moon. 

“Run!” I call out again, more weakly this time. Eli finally turns and flees. 

We watch him disappear down the forest path. The setting sun casts a red glow on the leaves. 

I peel back the skin on my arms, revealing my scales. The ancient wolf sits down beside me. His once arrogant head is bent low, and his eyes are dull with weariness. He does not even glance at the human flesh and blood I’ve shed beside him. 

“You know, he will kill you too,” I say. “You will die before me.”  

Eli would return as a young man to take vengeance for the death of Auntie Luka. Even now, he mourns his cowardice, though none blame him. He is only a child.  

The wolf blinks as if to disclose his indifference.  

I laugh. 

“I am tired too, old friend.” 

In ten years, Eli will return for the wolf, where he will almost lose an eye and receive a signature scar from his ear to chest. In another eight years, he will face the ancient bear of the north and the lion of the west. It will take another twenty years before he is ready to face me. 

I close my eyes and see myself dying. My scales fade and fall away, and my vision grows dim. Eli stands over me with a sword, once held defiantly against my chest, now fallen slack in his hand. A sad expression lines his face as he watches me bleed out. 

I will take many forms in Eli’s future: his departed mother, a beggar, a lost woman in the woods, an apothecary, and his lover. It is likely that I will lose my shapeshifting powers at my death, but I cannot be sure.  

His expression haunts me. What will he see me as when I die? 

I rise up to leave, and the wolf lays his head down on his paws and closes his eyes. He too longs for rest, to sleep beneath the soft brown earth, to forget time and forgive life. To finally be at peace. 

The wolf yawns and lets out a whining sound. He will try to rest, but he cannot sleep. None of us can sleep. 

The monsters of old, as they call us, once tried to rid the world of humans. We thought they were dangerous. But now, we want nothing more than to return to the earth who once summoned us to slay them.  

Mankind as a whole may be cancerous, but each individual is… peculiar. And their numbers grow so quickly. There will be no ridding the world of humans, so we will leave them to their devices and hope that they will not destroy what we have long watched over. 

My old friend opens a lazy eye towards me. He knows as well as I that we cannot simply lay down and die. If we are to leave the world to the humans, some of them must rise up to prove themselves. We will only depart at the hands of one bold enough to face us, and capable enough to defeat us in at least some of our might.  

It seems the humans are content to leave us weary and purposeless. They do not see the necessity to have a leader, to be brave, or to rid the earth of us, even as they take our land and suffer our wrath. So, I have chosen one from among them. Perhaps it is us ancient creatures who need a hero. Someone to finally give us peace. And we will have it, soon enough. 

He just needs a little more work. 

 
Photo by Ricardo Cruz  

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Scribbles

A Child’s Life

A Child’s Life


(A Hejinian poem I wrote about childhood while at university.)

I was at the table. High, dangling legs, looking at biscuits. The sun colored the room yellow. Her smile was wrinkled and bent. That was happiness. We went onto the swing. Back and forth, back and forth. The sky turned dark blue, and the stars swam. We ran over the fields. The roof was falling in, and the sides were no longer red. We jumped the hay then over the fence. My cousin laughed when he fell. I carried a stick because coyotes and kicking cows. We swayed at the creek then jumped. It was brown and red because the stones weren’t blue, and the water was clear. We climbed the fallen tree. Dangling legs. The grass below danced. It felt like Christmas. 

There were eyes always watching. We held our ears to the wall then ran outside. We always ducked or froze when a car whizzed by. Statues and mannequins made me think of sadness. We were always very still when we went to a funeral. I touched my great aunt’s cold, bloodless hand. We ran and ran, and I loved to swing. The sky was my friend. I loved when he was blue. My mother angrily shouted for me to get out of the tree. My father never bought us toys because we could die. I never got my bow and arrows or pocket knife. We traveled the world through pictures and the porch swing. We’d put our legs up, and my cousin pulled the lever. We would arrive in a different world where the roses had souls and dogs could speak but chose not to. 

I always mixed the buttermilk with the flour too quickly, but she would give me her wrinkled smile. Clocks confused me, and I watched clouds form castles and animals from my bed of leaves. My sister loved to sing and put on blue makeup. We secretly climbed the mountain until we craved chocolate drizzled ice cream. We threw the cow rib across the road into the ditch. The limbs caught our hair as we ran up the steps. My biscuits always turned out too brown, but we colored them in honey. Molasses made my jaws hurt. 

My father always came home late. I used to chase my cat then put her in a cage then let her go and feed her. The sun would turn pink. We could never swim because it rained enough to fill a swimming pool. I watched raindrops race and imagined tracing them, but my fingers were too greasy. Windows were a portal, and I saw myself riding a horse down the sidewalk with wind blowing through our hair. Then we arrived at school, and every smile hid a frown. 

Photo by Senjuti Kundu  

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Scribbles

Memories

Memories


(Prologue from a story I hope to soon publish.)

It was the same memory that popped up in his head over and over again, sometimes without warning. It was a memory he could not allow himself to forget. His father, eyes pale like melted silver and stature as tall and big as a tree, knelt way down to his height and put his hands on his shoulders. 

“Son, I’m going to go.” His voice was low and gruff, always sounding like storms in the distance. “You don’t need a coward for a father.” 

He hadn’t known what that meant. His father stood upright, now as tall as the sky, and stepped away, his white-hot eyes still staring, burning their place into his memory. 

Those had been the last words his father had ever said to him. 

This memory was all he had left. 

It was a memory she thought would long fade away through the years, but it was still here, fresh and tender as the moment it happened, even though the rest of her mind and body were beginning to fail. 

The mother had been beautiful, a gleaming light in a part of the world that was quickly growing darker. She had warned the mother to be careful, that two were enough, that these two had nearly killed her, but here they were for the third time. 

The mother, still beautiful even as her soul was in departing, reached up to touch the small, shrieking pink thing the maid now clasped in her arms. A smile emerged on the mother’s pretty lips. Tears emerged in her emerald eyes when she touched her baby’s head. 

She did not have to live. This daughter would take all of her vitality, beauty and kindness. The child would grow up to live a full life in her place, and so, the life left the mother’s body though her face remained content. 

The father, eyes wide in horror and pain, turned his gaze to the baby. He did not feel the same. 


Photo by Josipa Juras  

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Scribbles

The Good Sister

The Good Sister


The first time Seth Johnson invited himself over to my house, I could feel the butterflies racing between my chest and stomach, but I told him I would be out of town.  

He’d been wearing that look. A partial smile. Soft eyes moving from my gaze to my lips. Head slightly tilted.  

The second time he asked, I told him I would leave the door unlocked.  

Only my sister would be home.  

When he texted me that he was here, I went downstairs to where he had already slipped in through the glass sliding door, and I led him up to my room. Along the way, we passed the living room where my sister was sitting on the couch. She gave us a passing glace, her gaze lingering a moment on Seth.  

“Hey Cassie, this is Seth. He’s my project partner.”  

He gave her an awkward wave.  

“Hey,” was all she said in reply, then she turned back to the TV.  

We went to my room, and Seth shut the door behind us. I sat on my bed and opened the book. Seth sat close to me, way closer than necessary. When I began reading the prompt, his fingertips brushed over my leg and my hand as he pointed at the words to follow along, even though his gaze predominantly remained on me. The touch sent chills up my arms.  

There was a slight knock, and Seth moved away, half panicked.  

“Hey is my charger in here?” Cassie stepped in and moved around the room, looking behind bags and under papers.  

“Yeah. Sorry, I borrowed it.” I unplugged it from behind my dresser and tossed it to her.  

When she left, the door didn’t quite close.  

Seth stared at me, that soft look in his brown eyes gone, but I stayed looking at the pages.  

“Where was I?” I mumbled before reading again.  

Seth moved closer, but not as close as before.  

The second time Cassie came in, it was for her migraine glasses.  

“Getting a headache?” I asked.  

“Yeah, I’ve been staring at the TV too long.  

This time, she left the door halfway opened.  

A frown was firmly planted on Seth’s face. His features were so sharp, each one like they’d been carved in stone.   

The doorbell rang, and Cassie announced that her boyfriend Tyler was here.  

Seth seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. He glanced at me with a sideways smile as he got up to close the door. He’d no sooner shut it when Ty gently knocked and opened it to invite us to watch a movie with them.  

Seth almost spoke up, but not before I slammed the book shut and said, “Sure!”  

Seth looked at me.  

“I thought we were going to study?”  

“We can study during our free period tomorrow.”  

In the living room, I sat in the armchair on the left side, leaving Seth to sit on the couch next to Cassie and Ty. He seemed to pout at first when Ty tried to make conversation, but he eventually warmed up and even smiled a bit.  

When the movie ended, I walked him back downstairs to the sliding door he’d come in. We made small talk, and he gave the suggestion that next time he come over when no one else was home.  

I smiled, keeping my lips closed.  

“I’m not allowed to have boys over when I’m alone.”  

He shrugged, still smiling, and said, “That’s too bad.”  

Later that night, as I washed my face, Cassie came in to return the charger that she agreed to continue loaning me.  

“That Seth boy seems nice.”  

“Mmm.” I shrugged.  

“He likes you.” She leaned against the wall of the bathroom and crossed her arms. Her eyes were slightly narrowed. “You know how dangerous that is.”  

“Cassie, nothing is going to happen.” I laughed, and seeing a spot on my teeth, I wet my toothbrush and began to scrub it.  

“Not if I’m here,” she mumbled, leaving. “I just know what happened last time. You lose control sometimes”  

“I won’t kill him, I promise. But, did you see how cute he was?” I grinned.   

Cassie laughed, revealing her own teeth.  

“He’s not as cute as Ty.”  

I’ll never understand how she manages to have a human boyfriend. Then again, she was always the better sister. 


Photo by Marlon Alves 

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