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 


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




I glanced across Joe and Sam, over to her window where I could see she was tracing constellations with her finger. She said the names so quietly that they emerged as a little more than a breath.  

“Hannah,” I whispered.  

Her face turned to me, eyes round and mouth partially open. I’d caught her by surprise. 

“What do you see? I only have a view of trees from my side.”  

She smiled and took off her bulky, dark rimmed, unfashionable glasses to point to them. I didn’t get the clue.  

“What?” I whispered. Joe stirred and mad a quiet snoring sound.   

What? I mouthed again.  

Her parents had put Sam and Joe between us because we’d been bickering over who got the window seat overlooking the ocean. Of course Hannah got it, and I’d rather be next to her than at “the other window seat” which was apparently just as good. Instead, her brothers got stuffed between us, because Joe refused to move unless Sam came with him, all because Rachel, the oldest, didn’t want to sit next to us. She had a seat to herself. So, I was stuck next to Joe who I “bickered with” way more than Hannah. Oh well.   

Hannah rolled her eyes but continued smiling and put her glasses back on.  

“I saw glasses,” she whispered.  

“No constellations?”  

“Yes, a constellation. Just because Socrates or whoever didn’t draw it in his map of stars doesn’t mean it’s not up there. They didn’t have glasses back then to even know what a constellation of glasses would look like.”  

“Do they look like your glasses?”  

“No, they’re way uglier than mine.”  

I laughed. Joe growled under his breath and elbowed me.  

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash