little flowers;

Posted in short on 06/16/2010 by cassleigh

The street is completely quiet as she steps out into the dark. She doesn’t want to leave the house at all, but she knows that she needs the supplies. Logically, it would be safer to go out into the dark where they cannot see her as opposed to going into the harsh light of day. Paired with the darkness of night, a mist hangs in the air, thick enough to obstruct the view of her own hand in front of her face. Gingerly, blindly, she edges out the doorway onto the cement walkway, down to the street. She looks down at her feet and feels a pang as her eyes adjust to the darkness and she recognizes the shadows of her garden. It has given way to the undergrowth of weeds and havoc, and she remembers the little flowers that she planted when everything was okay, so long ago. She looks back up as she runs her hand along the brick side of the house, feeling the rough cold scrape against her palm. As she nears the edge of the house, her hand runs across something warm and sticky and she pulls her hand away quickly, feeling her heart jump into her throat. Ears perked, she listens, straining into the night for any sound that would explain the fresh blood splashed along the side of her home.

The night remains silent and still, but her anxiety is steeped as she steps out past her house and onto the street.

A streetlamp flickers to life above her and she jumps at the sudden illumination. With sober realization, she considers turning back, recognizing the danger she is putting herself in with the new light above her. She turns her body slightly back to the safety of her home, but her legs have already begun to move in the opposite direction.

As she nears the end of her street, the moon finally pierces through the fog, casting an eerie light over the grey road. As she turns towards the direction of the plaza, she notices a movement in a backyard. Even with the moon spilling light over the streets and the houses, and the flickering streetlamps casting jumping yellow lights onto the wet grass, the movement remains in the shadows.

She darts over to the gate separating her from the backyard, and crouches behind the shadow cast by a large shrub. Straining her eyes, she peers into the corner where she is able to distinguish three figures in a struggle. In her crouch, she slips her hand under her pant-leg where she has a dull kitchen knife strapped to her calf. She keeps her fingers on the handle, ready to remove it if she is provoked. Instead, the figures take no notice of her, and she becomes aware of the two creatures forcing their gnawing jaws onto their victim. With flesh already removed, she knows that it would be foolish to compromise her position to save an already dead victim. She finds herself unable to run away, so she remains still as a stone, one hand on her knife and the other clutching the gate. She feels a cool sweat as she hears the victim whimper louder, but still she does not scream, even when they have wrestled their prey to the ground and begin to feed.

Abruptly, the whimpering stops with the crack of a skull, and she is awoken from her trance. Ignoring her need to move away cautiously, she rises quickly and runs away from the house and the gruesome scene, the sound of the collapsing bones still ringing in her ears.

Although she quickly distances herself from the house, she is unable to stop running. She knows that she is drawing attention to herself with her quick movement, but she delights in hearing her shoes against the pavement. As the wind rushes past her face she closes her eyes and feels the calm exhaustion sweeping over her: a relief she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she nears the plaza, her legs ache and her breath is strained, and as she slows to a walk she worries about exhausting herself when she is so far from home.

She breathes in the night air as she walks through the parking lot. The light breeze moves the abandoned carts around the lot, and she hears a creaking as their tired wheels turn. The entrance doors have long been shattered, and as she steps through the sharp opening the glass cracks beneath her feet. The prior exhaustion she felt disappears instantly as her environment changes from night air to the stale air of the store.

The building is completely silent and she yearns for the night noises outdoors, regardless of the fear that they instilled in her heart. The silence makes her more cautious and more uncertain of what is lurking in the darkness of the store. But now is not the time for fear, and she has never encountered a problem in her many trips. She knows that she needs to get her supplies and leave, swiftly and calmly. She takes out a lighter from her pocket and flicks it once, twice, bringing it to flame. She holds it in front of her blindly, knowing that its small light will not help her in the vast space of the store. She doesn’t need the pathetic light to help her locate what she needs; now knowing the entire layout of the store by heart. She knows that she could make the trip with her eyes closed, but she keeps them open and alert in case of intruders.

She moves soundlessly through the darkness, holding the small light up only to check the upcoming turns as she throws supplies into her canvas bag. The fruit is petrified and the milk and eggs have turned sour, but the canned foods are still good and she takes as many as she knows she can carry back to her home. She hears nothing in the store, and she feels calm as she finishes her shopping. She heads back towards the checkout counter and as she passes, she throws some coins onto the dusty counter. They clink against the other coins that she has left on previous trips, and she smiles to herself.

Back out into the night, she congratulates herself on the swiftness of the trip, and she feels more powerful than she has in a long time. She turns in the direction of home as the sky turns from black to the dark blue of dawn. Morning is coming soon and she knows that she needs to return home quickly before the light of day can betray her. She knows that she cannot run with the heavy bag at her side, but she walks as quickly as she can, despite the cramp in her side from her thoughtless run from earlier. She scolds herself briefly and digs her fingers into her side to dull the pain, moving quickly through the brightening streets. As she nears the house from earlier, she looks over briefly. The backyard is large, and from the road she cannot clearly see what she knows is lying on the grass, and she is thankful for that. She turns her head towards home, ignoring that which she cannot change.

Nearing her home again, she feels a sense of relief wash over her whole body, knowing that she will soon be in the safety and warmth of her self-made haven. She moves calmly up the walkway and notices in the early morning light that the flowers lining the edge of the pavement have begun to bloom again. She stops and smiles down at their delicate frames, shivering in the dew. She kneels down to them, placing her bag beside her, and gently fingers their petals, feeling the new life between her fingertips. Completely entranced by their sudden and unexpected appearance, she is oblivious to the sounds that have begun to surround her, rustling amidst the trees and the bushes and moving quickly along the wet grass. She turns too slowly, and finds herself engulfed by bodies, swarming her and pulling at her, suffocating her with their rotting scents. Her bag is knocked aside and the contents spill down the driveway, rolling away as she fights against snapping teeth attacking her from all angles. Before she can even think to reach for her concealed knife, a sudden pain ripping through her limbs leaves her soundless and she is only able to turn her head slightly to see her little flowers, trampled in the struggle.

And then everything melts into a bright, screaming red before it fades to black.



Posted in Uncategorized, useless on 05/14/2010 by cassleigh

I have no motivation to write, anymore.

art part tea;

Posted in poem on 02/23/2010 by cassleigh

a part of art apart. arty and tasteful: an art part tea.
inviting fruity and nutty. the ravishing of fruitcake cages.
the picturesque parody. paranoia unhinged.
beautifully and exquisitely solid. solidly solitary solidness.
a part of art’s entirety. a part of selfish selflessness.
self-rating. stark-raving. rave-taking. take-making.
a part of art apart. art and the partaking.

the germans are coming;

Posted in poem on 02/23/2010 by cassleigh

The bottom of my glass looks like wet sludge.

The floating ice clinks against the sides as my neurotic knee jolts the table.

You may think that the shake of my knee is a tap of the toe in time to the music of the bar,

And I would argue the same.

Shots are fired from the smoldering raven standing before me,

And I don’t even bother to duck.

Smugly, she turns on her heel and walks away,

Clicking her heels with satisfaction.

I am left confused, holding my dripping glass of mud.

I am sitting in no-mans-land.


Posted in useless on 01/29/2010 by cassleigh

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

mourning opaque;

Posted in short on 01/27/2010 by cassleigh

The way the room was lit emphasized the subconscious – the way that the edges of her eyesight were slightly blurred, as if she were looking at an old photograph. And the way that she would open her eyes as wide as they would go, only to realize that the shading of the room was dark and unfiltered, leaving a grainy afterthought to the image presented to her.

Even though she was aware of her presence in the dream, she could not escape. Her father was standing at the far end of the room, filtering a large tank with a hose. Situated on her basement floor, the tank was brimming with goldfish of all sizes. It seemed as though there was no water in the tank, and that instead only fish spilled over the edge. Her father bellowed, perplexed, calling her to the task before them. Although he had yelled to her, his words were not recognizable, but even without them, she knew what she was supposed to do. Gripping the hose that he handed to her, she attempted to filter the tank while simultaneously avoiding the many fish that floated listlessly. Her father garbled something to her, louder than before, and she stepped into the tank to better avoid the fish that were seemingly attracted to the hose that she held in the water. As she stepped into the tank, the fish brushed against the pale flesh of her legs, but instead of swimming quickly away from the new object in the water, they burst into thin shreds of silk, falling gently to the bottom. The more she tried to move her legs out of the way, the more the small creatures would swim into her skin, exploding into a flash of orange, yellow and red.

Awake, suddenly, in the dead of night. The room was dark and quiet, and the only movement that she could detect was her own gasping chest and her heart pounding against her nightgown. She felt her forehead with the palm of her hand and found her whole body drenched in sweat. She closed her eyes against the darkness of the room and felt the creeping terror of a child realizing that she is the only one awake in the house. The dream subsided, and the fear edged away as her breath became full and calm. Pulling the sheets and blankets over her head, she turned cautiously onto her side, so as not to disturb the silence and stillness of the room. The deep darkness of her blankets enveloped her completely, and as the air became hot with her own breath, she slipped into a dreamless sleep.

The light came streaming in through the thin curtains, dying the room a light pink. As she blinked in the new light, she stretched her arms above her head, fingering the grooves of the headboard. She traced her fingertips along the knots in the old wood and as she moved her arms to follow the thick, engraved pattern, her joints and muscles ached with fresh movement after so many hours. She could feel the cool parts of the mattress as she moved her bare legs beneath the layers of blankets, and because the room had already begun to bake with the early summer sun the bed felt crisp and new against her skin. She rolled to her stomach and buried her face deep into the pillow and looked towards her bedroom door. With her face pressed so closely to the fabric, all she could see were mountains and valleys of fabric and sheet until they spilled over the edge of the bed. With one ear against the pillow, every sound that creaked through the old house sounded slightly muffled, as if she were listening to everything from underwater. Suddenly, the sounds became louder and she lifted her head and slowed her breathing to hear the movement that was taking place outside her door. Closing her eyes slight in a cautious mimicry of sleep, she watched as a figure moved past her doorway, darkening the small crack between the door and the frame. Listening intently, she heard the door to the bathroom close and the soft padding of feet against the tiled floor. The shower was turned on, and as usual, the sputtering and the straining of water could be heard throughout the house. She opened her eyes fully and no longer felt the heavy hand of sleep pressing down on her back. Inching to the edge of the bed with her torso, she lowered her feet gently. She felt the short and worn carpet against the soles of her feet, brushing past like freshly cut grass. She raised herself, unsteady from her prior position.

She heard the motions of undressing and someone stepping into the bathtub, and through the rhythm of the movement she deduced that it was her mother. In an upright position, she was sitting on the edge of her bed and dangling her feet over the edge. Tilting slightly, she walked to her doorway and paused with her hand on the doorknob. The shower was still running, so she opened the door and the cool air of the hallway bit at her bare legs. She turned the corner and walked into the room with the computers and the pullout couch where her mother now slept. Walking into the room, as she so often had done, she tripped over a new barrage of suitcases in front of the door before regaining her composure and slowly sliding into the still-warm sheets.

Lying in the bed alone felt strange to her, as she was accustomed to sharing the space with her mother in the early hours before the sun rose too high. She stretched out and felt the springs from the pullout poking into her spine. Looking forward at the wall facing her, she saw the shadows of the blinds letting light through. Lifting her arm into the air, she began to experiment with the formation of her hand against the light, making animals and shapes. The shower stopped running, and she heard movement in the bathroom. As the doorknob down the hall turned, she squeezed her eyes shut and feigned sleep before her mother entered the room. She heard the footsteps across the dark carpet, and they paused at the edge of the pullout couch. The breathing at the end of the room became shallow and strained for only a brief moment, before it moved closer and seated itself next to the silent child. A hand reached out and placed itself gently on the bright auburn hair, resting in place for a long while. She could feel the eyes piercing through her, but still she did not betray her sleep, allowing the hand on her head to remain there as long as possible. Instead, she felt her mother move suddenly in the direction of the window above them, and rose almost instantaneously. For reasons unknown, she felt her throat grip and her heart sink, and more than anything she felt the need to rise and hug her mother. She did not open her eyes. She did not rise. She stayed motionless on the pullout as she listened to her mother struggle out the door with the suitcases that had stood in the doorway of the room. The stairs creaked underneath the new weight in the early morning, and still she did not rise. She heard the screen door clap shut, and she felt the anxiety behind her limbs, unable to contain it further. Leaping to an upright position, she whipped herself around to the window and gazed out into the light through a crack in the blinds. She saw a car, far below, in which her mother was loading her many suitcases. Hesitating with her hand on the passenger door handle, her mother looked up at the house with a sense of finality, and for a brief moment, their eyes met, unknowing. Her mother turned and opened the door quickly and lowered herself into the seat. The car drove away smoothly and the young girl sunk into the empty bed in the room that was not hers as it slowly filled with the light of the fresh day.

And as something inside of her faded to the colour of slate, she pretended that her hand was a fish. Intact in the air, she swayed her arm slowly to move the shadow of the fish across the wall on the far end of the room. As it moved from the slivers of light and into the darkness created by the shadow of the blinds, her fish was enveloped completely, leaving no trace of familiarity. She sighed, and shut her eyes.

hello my name is;

Posted in useless on 01/14/2010 by cassleigh

Her green eyes blew goodbyes to the silk fishes.