Time’s Key

My grandfather once painted me this story:

A child, clothed in gray, wept atop the hill called Sunflower Gulch; this was not the first time.

The child’s mind was afflicted by a host of darkness. This darkness had many tormenters in it’s army: home, friends, dogs, and even Summer thunder; these fiends all waged an unending and undefeated war inside the child every waking moment of the day; there was no army that could stand against them.

At the bottom of the gulch, a steep and long distance from where the child sat with knees and head curled into lap, there was the pit. The unburdened children of the neighborhood believed that this pit was alive; with gnashing teeth and consuming belly. This pit ate no children, but it did eat what they fed it: emotions, mutilated dreams, innocent hopes, and anything else that was offered to it.

Grandpa continued: the child in gray on yellow, that day fed the pit the most exquisite meal it had ever partaken of. After consuming the meal, the pit let out an appeased rumble that reminded the child of a belch. The noise was so loud and quaking that it made the very tree tops tremble in fear. In the midst of this noise, the child saw an object rising out of the pit’s maw: the child discerned that the object was a key as it spun through the air, glinting with mysterious promise. The key careened into the Earth, stabbing into the soft soil with ease.

The pit was so full and pleased that it fell into a deep slumber. The child had made sure to give every last morsel to the pit.

The child decided to fill in the pit so that the dark host would never have the opportunity to torment the child again. The child scooped dirt in bare hands and threw it into the pit, one handful at a time. Once it was done, the child searched for the key. Upon finding it, the child picked it up, inspected it, and carried it for many years.

I asked Grandpa if the child discovered what the key went to, and Grandpa said no.

It is today. The sun is setting. Residual gray clouds obscure the sky and the stars. Early this afternoon while the sky wept, the worker’s from the old people’s home came and picked up Grandpa. After they left, I began boxing up memories, I set things out on the curb that had only been valuable to Grandpa, and I took a journey through time as I rediscovered trinkets that carried the essence of my past. One trinket I discovered was sitting forgotten in a metal coffee can, clanking around as I lowered the tin from a closet shelf. In the tin was a gold key. It It was dull, but still glinting with mysterious promise.

I deposited the gold key into my pocket and withdrew the key to Grandpa’s home. Locking the door behind me, I let the feeling the gold key gave me direct me.

The key led me to the home Grandpa was now staying at.

At Grandpa’s bedside, I presented the key inside the coffee can just as I had found it. Any luster the key had lost over the years I saw now in Grandpa’s eyes as he inspected it.

I can feel it all, Grandpa said. Everything I locked away that day, Everything I gave to the pit. I remember now.

Grandpa tapped the key to his head and said: you know what’s funny? All those fears and concerns and torments? They’re nothing to me now. I can say that with confidence. I see my life now, all of it, from this perspective, and I know I would have overcome those things just a few years later. My perspective and my circumstances were changing me day by day and would have led me from that place near the pit regardless of whether or not I fed it that day.

I asked Grandpa if he was still glad to see the key. He said yes, and he said that he was glad he got to see it again so that he could tell me how the story ended, so I wouldn’t have to live another day not knowing what had happened to the child in the story.

The last thing Grandpa said to me that day was that he believed every life was like a painting; and that no painting could be seen in it’s full beauty and potential until it was completed by the artist creating it.


Payment Failed

This 100 word micro-fiction story was a submission to the NYC Midnight writing contest. The prompts were as followed: genre: horror, action: making a down payment, needed word: piece.

Unfortunately the story didn’t rank in the winning top fifteen, but it still felt worthy of being read.

A funny bit of information about myself: I grew up loving horror (Stephen King for example), and any media that had a surreal, supernatural, or unexplainable plot (House of Leaves/Mark Z. Danielewski for example). These days, I find myself mostly avoiding reading horror (though House of Leaves remains my favorite book) and practically never writing it. With that being said, I felt pretty good about the end product, even if it pushed me outside of my comfort zone with the genre and content I wrote. With that, below is “Payment Failed.”




Years ago, at Dominion’s Conception Superstore, we sold our innocence to afford the down payment we made on Ayanna’s life subscription.

Today, Dominion returned with a gavel-like knocking as Ayanna played blissfully in the garden.

Their associate beamed. “Good day. I’m Reaper. I’m here to repossess the child due to subscription payment failure.”

“Please. No.”

“Request denied. Payment failure limit reached.”

I hadn’t heard Ayanna come inside. She handed me a Chrysanthemum. Reaper smiled down at her.

“Excellent. She will be recycled piece by piece to fuel our workers.” As they departed, he yelled: “Please remember to rate your purchase!”

To Shelve the Book

To shelve a book: like the end of a chapter in your own story.

To give the guiding words of another a home, until it is asked again to tell its story or bestow its wisdom.

To add another layer to the horizontal linear palette of colors which make up the painting of a library.

To say: “Thank you friend; for the conversation, the companionship, the stories, and the memories.”

Sadness: because the abyss-like ink, and the fine fibered paper, and the whisper of flipping pages, and the symphony which they all combined to conduct shall be put to rest; at least until the next time.

The victory of completion: because you absorbed, and savored, and pondered every word of a long wondered about thought that an author put on a piece of paper; because you watched a story unfold; because you learned a deep truth about yourself or those around you.

The displacement of time’s footprint, when the bones of the book nudge aside collected layers of dust as you push ever so gently, the new tenant of this sliver of long unoccupied space into position.

To see it from across the room, and ache for it’s old companionship; clamoring to again fall into the depths of color, and shape, and weight, and word which compose it.

To wake up one day, and say: “Hello friend” as it resides again in your hand. It answers back with a crack of it’s spine: “Come in, have a cup of coffee. Let’s catch up, it has been too long.”