Dark Waters

“Has anyone looked at the river’s dark waters and wondered how inviting they might actually be?” I asked no one in particular. None of my characters answered me. They didn’t have anything to say this time. So I pulled onto the exit ramp and finished my drive to riverfront. When I parked, I could vaguely see, across the street, the water’s reflection in my headlights. A deep breath turned everything off. Long strides guided me to the bank. The river flowed about ten feet below.

I didn’t know how many times I had come to this spot. Whether it was to clear my mind, enjoy the day, or find inspiration for my work. I even made the mighty river a character. I liked to think Jormungandr, the great serpent, resided beneath the surface. So many times had I come to him for advice. Tonight, he was silent. It was if he knew my true intentions. My alterior motives.

Sighing, I sank to my butt and drew my knees to my chin. Never taking my eyes off the body of water. Jorg, you there? The river remained still, but I imagined a giant black snake head rising. His gazed pierced my soul. Yes, fleshling. My eyes watered. I’m done. A tongue flicked in and out. Again?   This time it’s for good. I mean it.   What happened? I buried my head in my arms. I’m selfish, uncaring, hurtful. I don’t think. I never think. I just ruin everything. No one would miss me. I’m not good at life.

His head came closer. Eyes bearing into me even more. Who is? We’re allowed to make mistakes. We learn and move on. I sniffed. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I was eaten by the Devourer, the one I gave to this river?    I’m not eating you. You jump, and I’ll spit you right back out. My head lifted as I glared. Why won’t you help me? Can’t you see I’m broken and can’t be fixed? His acidic laugh drowned the rushing river. No one is broken beyond repair. Not even me. Think about those you would leave behind–    I did. They’re better off without me. All I do is make things worse. He shook his head. If you did, they would never be around you. Think about your work. All those characters who will never see the light of day because you’ll be gone. No one will be able to meet them. They’ll never exist and be lost. Don’t you want them among the world? 

I sighed once more. They’re not even that good. I startled when someone suddenly yelled my name. Jormungandr vanished to the back of my mind. My name sounded again. I glanced over my shoulder. It was my love. He sprinted toward me. Slid next to me and enveloped me in his arms. He buried his head on top of mine. “I thought I was too late. What are you doing out here?” I stared at the water before bursting into tears. “I don’t know.” He took my face in his hands, pressing his lips against my forehead. “Do not take yourself away from me. That is a hole the world could not fill.”

My eyes squeezed shut. I trembled but allowed myself to be held. Finally buried my head in his chest. “I can’t keep making everyone’s lives worse.” “You don’t, hun. You don’t. You make it better. Each person brings their own challenges. Do you love me less for my imperfections?” His question caught me off guard. “No.” He held me tighter. “Then why would I love you less for yours? How about we get you home, okay? Can we do that?”

Opening my eyes, I saw Jormungandr again. The snake gave a nod. Go. Be loved. Remember I will not eat you. You have too much potential for something so trivial. I swallowed as he merged with the river. Nodded. “Yeah. I’ll go home.” I was helped to my feet. Led back across the street. I looked behind me. Jorg had said his peace. He offered no protest with my decision. His image had vanished. He would not take my life. All that remained were lethal dark waters.


The Child

“Where are we going now?”

“I do not know.”

“Don’t you know everything?”

The being smiles. “I do not know where you want to go. Where would you like to go?”

“I want to go home.”

“I can take you there.”

The small child looks back into the endless void. “Will I see them again?”

“I can assure you, you will.”

“I want them to be happy.”

The being kneels down. “I have been your guardian angel since the day you were born. I know they will be happy. Every time they look up at the stars, say your name, or think about you, they will be happy.”  The being holds out arms. “It is time for us to go home.”

The child looks behind one last time and nods. “I want to go home.”

“There will be others who will love you. All of you will be able to look down on your happy families. You will become their guardian angel.”

“Like you?”

“Yes. Like me.”

“Okay.” The child enters the being’s arms. Together, they dissolve among the stars. The void is empty for now.

A family huddled on the front porch of their home during the night. The burden of loss heavy on their shoulders. They lifted their heads to see two shooting stars streaming across the sky. The father held the mother close as she burst into tears once more. Their now youngest pointed at the phenomenon. “There!” The mother nodded through her tears. “That’s…that’s our child watching over us, wanting us to be happy. I think it’s only fair we honor that last wish. We,” she took a deep breath for composure. “We must keep our hearts filled with love. That’s the best way to remember.”


He never came to save me. Though he promised he would. Lord knew I couldn’t save myself. That’s how the bandits came for me, tied me up, beat me, and chained me in a cage. I existed as nothing more than their entertainment. They gave me just enough food and water to keep me alive. When they grew bored, I became their punching bag. Only to be chained again. I received no water for bathing. All the blood, sweat, and dirt became one with my flesh. Mornings brought me no hope, and nights only brought terrors. The vicious cycle lasted fifty three days.

Day forty brought a small change. The leader of the three bandits left a small knife in the cage with me. I knew what they wanted. They wanted me to kill myself for their pleasure. While I preferred death, I couldn’t find the courage to turn the knife against myself. And though I had lost hope long ago that he would come save me, I couldn’t give the monsters the satisfaction of watching a pitiful suicide. The following thirteen days found me alone in the cage. They never beat me after that. My ragged frame couldn’t hold their abuse anymore.

On the fifty-third night, something clicked. Or rather, snapped. The bandits passed out in drunken stupors after a merry day of pillaging. They had grown quite accustomed to my weak, subserviant state, leaving the cage unlocked. The knife looked rather friendly. Snatching it, I pried off my bonds. Ignored the fresh blood trickling down my appendages from accidental gouging. My hair, matted against my face, covered one eye and part of the other, but I could see the glowing fire. My demons came to me then. Whispered of the great things I could do if I set myself free. Nobody else would save me, so why not save myself? It was a good plan.

Shaking hands grasped the knife tighter as I crept from the cage. My whole body trembled. I limped towards the three slumbering fools. Slit their throats and left their bodies to the fire. It was the first time I had killed, and it felt rather pleasant. My sense of smell had become obsolete because I couldn’t stand my foul stench. I didn’t get the victory scent of burning corpses. So I made my way to find a village. My dead leg kept my progress slow, but I found a quaint town by the following evening.

No one welcomed me. They all ran inside, shut their windows, closed their shops. All I wanted was food and shelter. All I wanted was care. A puddle in the road revealed my horrific reflection. I had become a monster. The demons whispered again. These people weren’t going to help me. They shunned me. They wouldn’t save me. He certainly wasn’t going to come save me. I needed to save myself. It was a good plan. An anger came over me. One I had never felt before. I gave in. Grabbed the nearest torch and ran around, setting the naughty town on fire.

My demons were pleased. I was pleased. It felt good, taking control of my own life. Becoming my own savior. For the first time in a long time, I felt free. Only because I freed myself. I saved me. No one else. Not even him. For another fifty three days, I ventured from town to town. Many law enforcers tried stopping me. But I saved myself. Every time. I saved myself. Even if it meant death and destruction for everyone else. I became the disgusting maniac everybody feared.

On the fifty-fourth day, I saw someone I never thought I would see again. He came up the road. It took him too long for him to recognize me. “You always wanted me to be independent,” I screamed. I held out my arms. “Here I am!” The despair in his eyes filled me with joy. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” he called. He refused to come any closer to my nasty presence. My hands clenched. “Not hard enough. I was in the same place for fifty three days! I waited, hoped you would come rescue me, but you never came.” Now he inched towards me, lifting his hands in a placating gesture. “I know.” “You don’t know!” “But you’re free?”

I snarled. “Yes. My demons freed me when you were nowehere to be found. I saved myself. I have no need for you anymore.” I could see this cut him. Cut him…. I whipped out the knife. His eyes begged for mercy. “Please.” I moved around him and held the blade against his neck. “I take it back. I’m not free. Not while you’re alive. You’re a reminder of my pathetic dependence.” My voice lowered next to his ear. “You act like you’re so brave and strong. You’re no hero. You couldn’t save me. Now I’m the hero of my life. That makes you my villain.” Without a second thought, I drew the knife across his flesh. Let his body fall to the ground as I licked the blood off my weapon. “Looks like I’m saved.”

Thoughts on Being a Writer


Now, I’m not famous. I have yet to publish a book. So I’m not sure how much authority I have on this subject, but after seeing Doctor Strange, I can’t get one thing out of my head. Writers are master sorcerers. We take blank thoughts and make everything. We use pen, paper, and words to shape whole worlds. Use words to shape opinions, thoughts, and feelings. As represented in the picture above. We govern characters, what they will or will not do. Govern the balance of thought-out worlds. It’s a craft that’s mastered naturally by some and gradually by others. But I’ve seen the craft bite back. The majority of the time for the better. I don’t know how many times one of my characters has done the opposite of what I wanted or how a story has twisted in a completely different direction. Magic flows from our hands and minds. Whether or not it’s controlled is a separate matter. But does it need to be? I’m not even sure I can control how this post will turn out. I’m okay with it. That’s when the magic takes over. That’s when our inner sorcerer shines through. How many dimensions have we each created? How many universes float through our heads? And all of them are unique. Sure, nothing’s new in the world, but we have our own flavor we’ve honed. A new persepctive to spin on an old tale. It’s one of the things I enjoy most. Succombing to a writing mood and creating new things. Allowing everything else to fade away. It’s therapy. Writers are also therapists. Well, let’s face it, writers are many things. But how many people just want to delve into a fictional world to forget their own? In a way, we carry a heavy burden. We’re responsible for providing the escape material. It’s worth it, though. Knowing something we’ve written has touched someone in some way. It really goes for any craft. However, writing holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the few things I’ve done since I was a child. I have heard the magic in storytelling, read it in books, and I hope to do that myself someday. It’s amazing how much words can affect the world. As long as someone needs the magic, I take comfort in knowing a writer will be there to take up the mantle. It’s a satisfying feeling.