Before picking flowers
From the meadow of words
You have to know
What they're made of
I can help like a lovely friend
There's nothing to be afraid of
First, start with the flower
As a whole bigger than parts
Arts of all kinds know it
It's a word, image, and motive
Something unique, truly
Essential, expressive, emotive
Next, look at its parts
Different but complementing
Letters are petals
And all beauty comes from them
The root keeps them in present
Meaning stems from the stem
Pick now a central flower
The main star of the bouquet
And arrange others around it
Highlighting its beauty and strengths
With great care for their feelings
Combine their colors and scents
Lengths and leaves don't matter
As long as it brightens up the room
Always remember you're a poet
And for you, words can't hurt
Nothing is written in stone
But gently planted in dirt
Pigs Don’t Breathe
First and last day
In the frosty freezer
Are the same
Splash of red among white
Like blood in the snow
Like ketchup on ham
That sizzles and smokes
One sideways swat
And you hang out with friends
And a checkered pattern of their ribs
Take one last breath then
Quiet and tame
While you learn that breathing
Is not for pigs
Creates and destroys
It can be in focus
Or background noise
Makes the blood go around
When seducing whispers
Flow from the wound
Fill young eyes with fear
And no twist or turn
Will make it disappear
It's a curious critter
Pleasing and bitter
Needles and glitter
But mom raised no quitter
Strong, deep emotion
Black or white, never grey
But the worst thing it can do
Is to go away
Juice and Coffee
I found my true love young
She swept me off my feet
She was smart, quick, and proud
And like juice, cute and sweet
But before I drank her whole
The juice spilled on the floor
One moment she was a glass-half-full
The next she was no more
Five long years passed right by
Lonely in love with a ghost
Five long years thirsty for juice
Holding what I love the most
Then one day I reopened my eyes
And wanted to start life anew
If I had to lose my The One
I deserved to find my The Two
On my way I found something
As scarce as hen's teeth
Someone dark, gloomy, and bitter
With faint sweetness underneath
He managed to make me question
My own instilled taste
Instead of pure juice sweetness
It’s the coffee trail I chased
I followed him through thick and thin
Courting for a while
I made him roll his eyes and sneer
And then I made him smile
Now he’s the one who’s in my bed
Even though he’s not my first
My heart and soul belong to him
He finally quenched my thirst
Her picture is still on my wall
To which I forever vow
I’ll remember what I had lost
And protect what I have now
Pool of Placidity
Sometimes I got angry. It wasn’t pretty.
When others got angry, some bad words were said, some doors were slammed and some plates were broken. Nothing more. Yes, when others got angry, only small things got destroyed. That’s why others didn’t need to go into The Pool.
I was told my father was no human. That’s because my mom didn’t like ordinary things, they said. Seems I was getting too ordinary for her because she rarely gave me the time of day. At first, it made me angry. Not anymore. Now I got angry when she did.
My house was big and beautiful. I had everything I ever wanted and more. My room was spacious and shiny, my bed soft and bouncy, and my closets full of the finest clothes. I had a wide palette of everything I set my eyes on: from shoes to tiaras, from food to hobbies. I wasn’t an official princess, but I was a princess. My mom was the perfect queen in my world: rich and powerful, but cold and distant. And I was anything but cold.
Despite having it all, I still got angry. Even over minor things. I got so angry it completely overtook me, spreading through my body like a disease and poisoning my soul. I didn’t know what happened next. My mind went blank and when I woke up, something was ruined. Something important. I never knew what or why or when, all I knew was that it happened and that it was my fault.
My mom called it ‘my red side’. My eyes turned red and everything around me did too. She said my dad had it as well and that it shattered him. His red side made him red I didn’t want to end up that way. I didn’t want others to end up that way.
“I want you safe,” mom told me a long time ago. “The only way for you to be so is by protecting you from yourself. I built you something. You have a shelter now, a place you can take your anger to. The place you can drown it in. Go meet The Pool.”
It was love at first sight. The tension washed away as soon as my body got immersed in cold water. My soul cleansed. I felt the liquid shift around me, ripples running down the pool. In this place, I could be serene. In this place, I discovered placidity.
Years passed. Every time I felt like bursting into red, I closed my eyes and went to The Pool. Every time, it worked. Sometimes I’d swim in it, sometimes I’d lay on my back and listen to the hypnotic voices of the waves, singing to me under their breath.
And sometimes, only sometimes, I’d submerge my head underwater. It’s where the real treasure laid, where all my rage was quenched, all my troubles fleeting. I found peace.
It was only recently I found something else. I heard it before I saw or felt it, it sneaked up to me. It was so loud it pulsated through the walls but despite the intensity, I knew it was only in my mind. Not an illusion, not imaginary, but something only I was meant to hear.
“My skin was dust
My blood was rust
Long before I was dead
My soul is sole
My soul is whole
Still bright and burning red”
Song with a rhythm of a heartbeat. My heartbeat.
I was sitting at the very bottom of the pool, training my underwater breathing. I practiced it regularly and could stay beneath the surface for five whole minutes, but the unexpected encounter forced air out of my lungs. My eyes opened wide.
I saw white with tones of blue, then red. The red orb was flowing around me like a shark, like an eternal bubble escaping my throat. It was the color of blood and I was blood in the water. The last bubble ran away and dived out, gasping for air. My peace broke along with the surface, my body floating and my heart sinking. I got out and ran to safety, droplets falling as I went.
My mother disliked my change of heart. I tried to explain what I saw, explain I was in danger, but she wouldn’t listen. Maids went to check on it and found nothing: no red balls or water spirits, just a normal pool filled with normal water.
“I don’t understand why you’d do this,” she said. “You love that pool.”
“I loved it, yes,” I said. “But now it doesn’t calm me. In fact, it makes me uneasy.”
“I built that pool to keep you afloat,” she said. “It helped you all those years. You need it.”
“I need a new solution,” I said, trying my best to keep my composure.
“Actually, I think you need it right now,” she said and clapped her hands. I knew what that meant.
“Mom, no,” I said, feeling my insides warming up. It was happening and it made her right. Two bulky men lifted me and carried me out of the room. “Mom, please!”
She turned her back to me. “I can’t go back there! It’ll find me! You can’t do this!”
But she could and she did. The water splashed when they threw me in. I heard the lock click as I was falling under the surface. It didn’t hold me. Tears joined my wild heart and I knew what my heart could summon.
Despite the panic, The Pool calmed me as always. At this point, one drop of its water could heal my suffering. Mom was right, I needed that pool. Without it, I was a fish out of water, I was burning in the fire of rage. I was laying on my back, breathing heavily. Tension dissolved, leaving me like the toxin it was.
Stripped off all my emotions and pushed into placidity, I almost forgot why I ever wanted to abandon this place. Then I remembered.
The song was the same, and it got louder by the minute, following my heart. I flipped from my back but didn’t get out. Locked in here, I was bound to face my fears one way or another. I was determined to pick my way.
“Who are you?” I asked into the crimson. The sphere was solid and shiny, beaming like villains’ eyes in old cartoons. Like my eyes. I stared back. “I asked you something. You can’t barge into my pool like this. It’s mine!”
I felt the rage return but this time it was called for. The source of my power. When I got angry, something got ruined. I was counting on it. “Answer me or you won’t get another chance.”
I didn’t move but the red did. It slowly wallowed towards me, fearless. I had to change that.
“I’ll count to three,” I said, my fists trembling, my eyes sharp.
“One.” It stopped for a moment but continued.
“Two.” It was right in front of me, almost touching my shivering skin.
“Three.” It touched me and the water became clearer.
I could finally see my own reflection. I knew what I was always intended to. Closing my eyes, I felt our heartbeats syncing. My anger vanished in a blink of an eye.
He didn’t need to answer, I knew. Our souls – our red sides – recognized each other.
After that, I rarely left The Pool. Mom thought she’d taught me a lesson but I would soon be teaching her one. Dad and I had to make up for the time lost. We swam and dived together, our souls sharing secrets and telling stories. We didn’t need to say a word. We only sang one song.
“Our skin was slick
Our blood was thick
Long before we were tied
Our souls are done
Our souls are one
Passed to the bright red side”
Six Feet Under One Mile
by Ariana Dobrostal
She was there because she could burn the world between her fingers. I was there because I was a hero.
I’d never call myself a hero. No real hero would, right? But it’s not that I wouldn’t do it because I was so virtuous that even the slightest diversion from the right path would physically pain me nor so humble I couldn’t utter one word of praise on my behalf. No, I was none of these things.
What separated me from a hero was the lack of the core hero ingredient: good intentions.
I didn’t feel bad for not being a hero. Not many people truly were. I’m fairly sure admitting you’re no hero brings you closer to being one than trying to mask yourself with obnoxious displays of fake goodness. I knew many people like that in my village. They carried groceries for old people and donated bread to the orphanage, but once the real problem presented itself, they presented only cowardice and passivity.
Then from the shadows emerged an unlikely hero: Nacai Nonem, a no-name farmer with nothing to lose and no one to lose him. I was the perfect candidate for this mission: alone and worthless and belonging to the shadows. So, to the shadows, I went.
I went on a search for the wish-granting monster at the end of the cave. Tale as old as time, yet there wasn’t one person in my village that didn’t believe in it wholeheartedly. The challenge was simple: you enter the cave, find the monster at its end, and make a wish. Then you had to climb uphill back to the civilization.
Once you stepped your foot outside the cave, your wish was fulfilled. Just like that. Anything in the world could be yours. You had only one wish, but it could be anything at all. Yet, as long as people lived comfortably, they didn’t reach into darkness for gold. No one dared to risk their lives to reach their dreams. It’s only in times of need we reach for miracles.
“How deep do you think it is?” Izzy asked.
Her name was read as “easy”, but nothing was easy with her. She was the only fire witch left, orphaned since birth and in great debt to the village. She was the opposite of me in both looks and demeanor: fair, cheerful, and bright. The real hero, the fire to my shadow, and the pain in my ass.
“How could I know?” I said.
“I didn’t ask how deep it really is, just how deep you think it is.”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” I said. “I’m not a huge fan of wild guessing.”
“Come on, you have nothing to lose. By the end of this, we’ll either die or become best friends.”
“Or remain perfect strangers.”
She went silent, but I felt her unhappy stare at the back of my neck. I sighed, “I’d say around half a mile deep.”
“Only half?” She sounded even more disappointed than when I ignored her.
“The deepest cave in the world is only around one mile deep.”
I heard her steps grow faster and in a second, she was in front of me, light melting on her face. With the light coming directly from below at such intensity, she looked sinister, her eyes impossibly big and her teeth impossibly bright. She smiled widely like she knew exactly how to make a grown man weep.
“Why do you assume we’re not in the deepest cave right now?”
With that, she turned on her heel and skipped ahead, forcing me to follow her shadow.
She was like a little pixie of the cavern, jumping from stalagmite to stalactite and making shadows dancing on the walls, hunting you till you fall and haunting you when you sleep. I sped up just enough not to lose her, although it was hard to lose the fire in the dark, no matter how fast it flew. I enjoyed some time alone, even if she was just around the corner.
With a moment to think, I realized I wasn’t the biggest fan of caves. The terrain was pointy and damp, making me slip and stumble. It was the most uncomfortable slide in the world, slowly angled and high in friction. Even higher in humidity, dripping drop by drop and missing the value of water that carves its paths.
At least I had to admit that minerals created interesting shadows. If I was still a child, I’d be able to see shapes in it: a huge octopus stretching its tentacles or a tree losing leaves, or maybe a queen living in a different universe even if we breathe the same air. Or even a hero, helping me save the world.
Only, I was a kid a long time ago and couldn’t keep him, so I saw only rock icicles that could fall on me and spikes I could fall onto. I heard Izzy gawking at a statue of a ‘sleeping kitten’ and felt relieved at least one of us was able to keep their spirit, if not their sanity.
We walked down the same trail for what felt like an eternity. There were no splitting paths, no sudden changes in sound or scenery, just the same drops and sharp rocks surrounding one dull straight line. Izzy didn’t try to talk to me again, and enough time passed that I began to question whether I liked it or not.
But nothing could last forever, so at one point the light stopped escaping me. It waited, like the light at the end of the tunnel, only it wasn’t nearly the end. It was a slightly wider area, not bigger than my old cottage, but in comparison to a narrow track, it seemed enormous.
The number of minerals dwindled, leaving the room bare except for a flowstone centerpiece. Izzy sat right under it, letting each droplet fall on her forehead before it evaporates from her warmth. Her palms were hidden under two vibrant flames that did wonders to the glossy surface.
“Took you long enough,” she laughed. “I think this is a fine place for a camp, don’t you?”
I shook my head. “We have to keep moving.”
“You say that, and yet you can’t keep up with me,” she said. She giggled when I frowned. “Oh, come on, don’t be like that. Sit with me. We can eat something, chat a bit. Do you hate fun?”
“Maybe,” I sighed. “Alright, we’ll take a break.”
I sat next to her and opened our tiny supply of dried meat and bread. It might be the last one we’ll have, but the people left in the village had their last meals yesterday.
“Do you think it’s real? The wish-granting monster?” she asked between bites. She stared at me with anticipation, checking if I didn’t speak because of a full mouth. When she realized I didn’t, she continued, “Dumb question, of course. I know you don’t. You probably just did this because of boredom. Or spite. Or both.”
“I do,” I said. “I do believe in it’s real.”
She smiled. “So, you do? Why?”
“Because there had to be some hope left in the world.”
Izzy chuckled. “That doesn’t count. You can’t believe in something because of some pessimistic quote, it’s contradictory.”
“Why do you believe then?” I asked.
“Who said I did?”
“I know you do. The village knows you do. The whole world knows you do.”
She shook her head. “I’m not sure I do. That’s why I’m here – to find out.”
My jaw dropped. Izzy wasn’t as naïve as she seemed. Maybe no orphan was allowed to be.
“What would you do if it’s not?” I had to know. I didn’t know what’d I do if it was not real.
She took a long pause then grinned. “Then I’ll become one.”
I got my hopes up too high. I nodded to her with the notion that our conversation came to a close. I turned my back to her, and we crumpled on the floor next to each other, drifting to very different but equally dangerous dreams.
The reality was even more dangerous. One scream and I was wide awake, on my feet before my mind caught my body in a nerve net. Izzy was on the floor, struggling as a monster held her down. There were flicks of fire between periods of darkness when she attacked, but I couldn’t distinguish what an intruder was. Its shape wasn’t familiar.
Nonetheless, I jumped it, pushing it off her. Its skin was smooth as glass, cold as it too. I shivered as I regained my balance, but the monster had already hidden from me. Izzy jumped on her feet, propelling flames left and right. Fireballs were more intense but shorter than her usual flames. I saw sudden fragments of motion, flashes of the cave rotating around me.
“Please stop, we can talk, please,” I mustered in all the languages I knew. I squeezed my mind till it was dry. Nothing. It occurred to me too late that it might not have a language at all. I noticed it approaching me too late too.
The monster climbed up the walls as easily as we walked down the dusty streets. It flowed over flowstone, gliding like on ice, slowly but gracefully. Its skin merely existed.
I saw it more clearly as it lunged toward me, its antennas and shells moving in sync. It was an oblong bug, with translucent skin and millions of legs, some starting on its belly, not only on the sides. It was a bug the size of a sheep. All its organs wobbled inside it, held together only by the jelly of its flesh. They pulsated from the jump and they’d stop when they crush me.
Izzy summoned the whole underworld. Hellfire. I had to close my eyes to keep them. Blinding light could burn the whole underground and she didn’t care if she’d seal us here forever as long as the creature evaporated into thin air. Each of her fingertips burst a flame that turned into a fireball, flying steadily to its target. Only, it was a moving target.
I found myself on the floor with my vision blurry. My arm stung, my eye twitched and I felt the strong smell of burnt corpses. I wasn’t one of them, and that was enough to calm the buzzing in my mind. I heard all languages screaming in me, cursing me in a union, then priceless silence.
“Are you alive?” I heard Izzy ask. She didn’t seem concerned, maybe because she believed in me, maybe because she didn’t care.
“What happened?” I asked, trying to sit up. My eyes wandered, looking for the monster, but found something much more disturbing. My right arm was in shambles, the whole forearm burnt to the point of resembling cave walls. Seeing my own flesh that rugged and coarse made it hurt more and I fell back, breathing heavily.
“Nacai!” Now she did sound worried. She kneeled beside me and brought water to my mouth. “Drink. Breathe. I’m so sorry.”
I let the fresh water clean my throat, feeling I could drown it in with no regrets. Then I remembered we didn’t have fresh water. Or any, for that matter.
I spitted it out immediately, my sweet heaven becoming hell by the second. “What is that?”
“Monster water,” she said casually.
“Monster water?” I wiped my lips in disgust. “You made me drink from the monster’s corpse? First, you curse me with fire, then with water.”
“I drank it myself,” she said defensively. “It’s good. Better than the water we have left anyway.”
I remembered the water we had when we left – a bottle half empty. For some, it might have been half full, but I was positive no one would call it that by the time of the attack. Izzy saved my life and our water supply in one fell swoop.
“Sorry,” I said. “Thank you for saving me.”
She smiled. “Now we’re talking. I’m glad I saved you for that sentence alone.”
We put our camp back into the backpack and moved on. Even with my wound, we couldn’t rest one bit, I was painfully aware of it now. Every second crushed our odds, and they looked grim in the beginning. I wrapped my arm into a spare shirt, not the best solution, but not the worst either. I tried to block the pain by counting my steps.
The cave became more twisty, making it hard to navigate. Each tunnel split into many more. With every choice to commit to a certain tunnel, we took another risk, pilling up into infinity. Izzy brushed it off, saying that all roads lead to the same destination, but her voice didn’t sound right. She marked each entrance we walked through with a burned handprint, holding her hand patiently on freezing walls till she melted them.
The deeper we went, the less Izzy spoke. Even though we didn’t encounter any more direct dangers, her spirit was broken. She was a wingless pixie, moping beside me. She didn’t deserve to be like that. There was a price for saving my life and I was going to pay it.
“Were you afraid?” I asked gently. She jumped in surprise at my voice. “Of the monster?”
“So, you don’t want our every bonding moment to be by the campfire after all,” she laughed.
“Just answer the question,” I said.
“Not really,” she said. “When you control something that can leave thousands without a home, you are rarely afraid.”
I nodded. “Thought so.”
“Oh, actually, this is interesting,” she said, her spirits climbing the ladder. She opened her arms and her flames stretched, looking like a ribbon between her palms. “Want to hear a story?”
“Make it a good one.”
“Wait!” She grabbed me by my left arm. “You need to pay close attention to this.”
She opened her palms towards me like she was giving something to me. At first, all I could see were flames – magical and majestic and mesmerizing – but nothing new. Then it happened: the first ripple and then the other and another. The fire was alive. It infused with life before my very eyes.
“When I was little, I was always afraid,” Izzy started. The fire recast into a little girl in a simple style, but wild in motion. She ran along her palm, making backflips and cartwheels. “I was left alone. I never knew of security. Families in the village gave me a changing home. I was passed around like a doll everyone liked, but no one liked enough.”
The fire girl stumbled and fell, the cheerfulness from before exorcised. Her body started skipping again, but she didn’t control it anymore. Her small frame moved from side to side against her will, violently. Then subtly, her shape lost its roundness, becoming rougher. It was barely noticeable, but I noticed, and couldn’t notice anything else. Only her pointy features that once were smooth.
“I constantly felt the unease,” she said. “What if they abandon me? I knew only our village. Only they could protect me, but who’d protect me from them? Kids picked fights with me daily. I was an easy target, always polite and sweet, always doing everything so they like me, so they keep me for another day.”
The fire girl stood perfectly still.
“One day, I was playing with a group of girls my age at the park. I was six. One of them brought a new doll and we took turns carrying it. When it was my turn, she wouldn’t let me take it. She said that if my mom didn’t hold me, then I shouldn’t hold a baby either.”
I frowned. I knew where this story was going. It started for me when I was six too.
“I got so mad,” she said shakily, “that I felt my face burning. The flame lit up inside me – and it stayed. I reached out for the doll and the doll went up in flames.”
The fire girl did as well, her hair becoming the flame that consumed her. Fire killed by fire.
“After that, they behaved perfectly around me. After that, I didn’t hear as much as one bad word directed at me. After that,” she smiled, “I wasn’t afraid.”
She brought her palms together, signaling the end of the show, and created a normal flame in its place. I felt a sudden sting as it ended but was grateful I witnessed it. “It was beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Izzy smiled. “You’re getting better by the minute. What happened? I hit your head as well?”
My head hurt. After she shared such a thing with me, I wanted to share something as well. My chest felt hollow. I never thought I’d share my secrets with anyone, but I also never thought I’d end up in a cave with a chatterbox I didn’t hate. After all, after it’s over, we’d never see each other again.
“Want to hear a story too?” I asked and her eyes lit up.
“Mine won’t be as long,” I started. “Actually, it might be very short. But here it goes: when I was little, I was playing in a barn a lot. My father had a cow and having a cow was even rarer back then than it is now. I spend so much time with her, that I started talking to her. And, after some time, she started talking to me.”
“At first I thought I was crazy, then I tested it on multiple animals and travelers from far-off places and… I’m not crazy,” I said. “I’m a witch.”
Her eyes displayed no surprise, no shock, no wonder. They stayed positively happy, but not impressed. I never thought my biggest secret would cause such a weak reaction.
“I know,” she shrugged.
“You do?” I was surprised enough for both of us.
“Yeah, every witch can feel other witches,” she said. “Can’t you?”
I blinked in surprise, trying to feel Izzy’s magical energy, but only feeling the thermal energy she always radiated, the warmth intertwined with the very core of her being.
“No, I’m totally messing with you,” she grinned. “I just heard you screaming nonsense at the top of your lungs, and you don’t seem like the type of guy to scream nonsense, so I assumed they were magic spells.”
I sighed. “They were no spells, they were desperate pleas to the monster.”
“I know that now,” she said. “I know everything now. Except…”
I knew it. She was going to ask me to talk in animal languages and make a fool of myself. I braced myself for the weirdest animals I could think of, deciding on a whim that I’d give her one if she chose it wisely.
“What would you wish for if you had a choice?”
She didn’t choose it wisely.
“What do you mean?” I feigned surprise.
“If you didn’t have to save the village, what would you ask the wish-granting monster for?”
She was still smiling, but her posture got serious, more wooden. Like she turned into a doll. “Be careful with it. It can be anything in the world, so if you choose wrong, you’ll regret it forever.”
“To start my life anew in a big town, to be rich and happy,” I said readily. “It’s what I’d wish for.”
It’s not what I’d wish for. It’s what I will wish for.
“That was fast,” she laughed. “Did you think about it a lot?”
“As much as any other person who heard the story,” I said. “But it doesn’t matter now. Now it’s different.”
We arrived at another crossroad, this one consisting of only two tunnels. As she was marking the right entrance, I asked, “What would you wish for?”
She took a moment to think, then said more confidently than me, “Even if the village wasn’t in danger, I’d still wish for it to prosper.”
She finished the mark and turned to me. “Even if it isn’t perfect, it’s the only place I know. The place I love.”
I nodded. “It’s admirable, to be that selfless.”
She shook her head. “It’s not. It’s as selfish as your wish is, even more so. But it seems innocent.”
We walked in silence some more, with a new skill of mutual understanding. It was as if the rock fell off my chest. Maybe there was some merit in sharing your secrets and desires with other people. Maybe I only needed one language.
With silence, the pain returned. I managed to dig it under countless layers of distractions and words, but now it emerged on the surface, pushing me to the ground. The cloth I wrapped around it got damped from the liquid air, making it less painful, but felt more like a walking infection.
“Izzy, I need to rest,” I said. “My arm is getting worse. I need to inspect it.”
Izzy grabbed my other arm, ignoring my request. “Quiet.”
The silence was the opposite of what I needed. I needed something to save me from the pain, not push me into it.
“Can you hear it?” she smiled. “Tell me you hear it.”
“Hear what?” I heard other words again, words in languages I didn’t like.
“Water!” she exclaimed. “There is water near.”
“So?” My mind was a blank slate, my flesh a stained one.
“It means we’re near the end,” she beamed. “The water digging the cave, it has to end up somewhere. It will end up in the end, right? We’re near the end!”
I smiled. Through the agony, a silver lining found me and dragged me along. Even if my only wish at the time was to go home – to any home – I found the strength to keep moving.
We picked up the pace. I got dizzy as Izzy ran forward, always one step ahead. The ground became wetter. Our hopes became stronger. We were so close we could feel it, on our skin, in our ears, in our nose. Soon we’d see it too, see the great monster everyone knew about, but no one knew.
Izzy tripped on a puddle and fell, but the only thing she did was laugh. She splashed it around like a crazy person. For a fire witch, she really enjoyed the water.
“How long have we been down here? Hours, days?”
I smiled. “How could I know?”
After a few minutes, we were knees deep in water, rippling the floor with every step. My arm got huge, swollen like a soaked sponge. I felt the pain grow along with its source. But if I gave up now, I’d forever be that person who died a step before the finishing line.
“I can see it!” Izzy screamed. She sent more flames to the front, helping me see it too.
The wish-granting monster at the end of the cave turned out to be the wish-granting cave at the end of itself. The fully formed face stood in the wall, smiling blissfully. It was the last wall, the wall at the end. It closed the cave.
The face was pointy like the rest of it, Izzy’s shadows making it even sharper. Big eyebrows and pronounced cheekbones, eyes closed, but lips slightly parted. It would speak any moment. The cave’s lips opened slowly, painfully so, like they wanted to chew on me. Izzy was speechless and I couldn’t allow myself to be.
“Are you the wish-granting cave?” I tried the language I grew to like, but to no avail.
The face froze for a long moment before it proceeded to move. The water beneath it shifted like it was meant to run through its veins, lending it life. Waves splashed our legs, pushing us away and pulling us in. The face struggled to move, the rocks twitching unnaturally. Not that there were many natural things about the living cave that granted wishes.
Finally, something clicked and it was ready to start anew after long years of being forgotten. It picked up the pace and roared into our faces, blowing our hair like a wind. The sound it produced was menacing, mocking even, and I couldn’t understand it.
I brushed away all my fears and focused on sounds alone. Howling blocked my ears, sending shivers down my spine, but I listened. I caught every whisper, every gasp of air, hoping for real words to leave its mouth.
When they did, I wasn’t ready for them. “What do you wish for?”
My throat was impossibly sore. I translated my selfish wish into the ancient language I never heard before as easily as breathing but found talking hard. I breathed in and out, concentrating on the spot on the floor and hoping that the cave would be as patient with me as I was with it.
The flames weren’t as patient. Izzy put the fire out as suddenly as kids blew candles off their birthday cake. One second you saw it and the next you drowned in the darkness. My light left me in shadows.
“Make the right choice,” she said in a cold voice, “and I’ll light it up again.”
The air was freezing. Izzy was boiling. My arm devoured me. The floor was wet and my mouth was dry.
I licked my lips and turned silence into sound.
Choke the sky
Imagine being woken up by the storm
And realise the storm is you
Imagine making life-changing mistakes
That no one else can undo
One day a human, taken by the curse
One day a god, for better or for worse
But by the second day a monster
Destroying the universe
In this case, I just can’t embrace
Whatever I have become
Crushing the world between my palms
And holding it under my thumb
I tried to change it for the better
And fulfil everyone’s dreams
But instead of a sugar-sweet laugher
I got bitter-sour screams
There are too many twisted souls
Piling upon my reign
And too few pure-hearted minds
Betrayed again and again
At his rate, it’s way too slow
In this state, I’m way too small
Although I’m bigger than them all
No god can separate the good from the bad
If bad is everything we ever had
And if it’s impossible to update
What this world needs is a clean slate
So I’ll be the one to choke the sky
And suck the life out of earth
I’ll kiss all the nations goodbye
And watch the planets’ rebirth
In the eye of the hurricane, they will wait
For their pity souls to fly
For ‘forgive and forget’ is way too late
The last god – that am I!
My World Is A Home
My world is a home
To spirits and souls
They're connected in wisdom
With no faults or holes
They're hopeful and helpful
Built of passion and spice
They build kingdoms from nothing
And it's paradise
My world is a home
To fairies and elves
They're rooted in nature
Sprouting flowers themselves
They're playing in petals
Hiding sweets you can't see
They build forests from nothing
And it's fantasy
My world is a home
To demons and angels
They're conflicted in mind
And forever strangers
They're prideful and spiteful
Spitting hate through desire
They turn things into nothing
And it's a hellfire
My world is a home
My world is my home
To my hidden spirit
Hugging me slowly
So I can feel it
Protecting me wholly
Through thick and thin
Countless of creatures
From my world within
To have such best friends
Is a rarity
My souls shine like gems
And it's verity
The world is dancing
CHILD: Mommy, will the world die?
No, honey, it's...
As we are
And we will be
Now, can't you see?
Honey, honey, don't be afraid
Honey, honey, don't be frightened
Honey, honey, aren't you excited?
The world is ready to play
Honey, honey, it's nothing serious
Honey, honey, it's nothing to fear
Honey, honey, don't be delirious
The world isn't serious either, my dear
Honey, honey, it's nothing but a game
Honey, honey, don't you quiver
Honey, honey, while you're shake and shiver
Our world now does the same
The world is happy like you, my dear
The world is young like you, my dear
The world is wild, a child and bold
It has to live before it's old
The world is like you on a sunny day
The world went out, outside to play
The world is crazy and fully entrancing
The world is playing
The world is dancing
The world is playing
The world is dancing
Yes, it is!
Honey, honey, let's greet the new world
Honey, honey, we have a new friend
Honey, honey, this is no end
And if it was, we're safe and furled
Mommy, mommy, is that really true?
Mommy, mommy, I feel the earthquake
Mommy, mommy, better come quick
I don't like this something new
No, honey, no, honey, we're not in danger
No, honey, no, honey, the world is not bad
No, honey, no, honey
Don't be sad, but instead
Rejoice, 'cause we have no choice
The world is no stranger for us
It's not time to die
It is time to fly
To be twirled and swirled
Honey, dance with the world
Dance with the world
Dance with the world
Dance with the world
The world is happy like me, mommy
The world is little like me, mommy
The world isn't doing what it's been told
But it has to live before it's old
You have to live before you're old
The world is like me on a happy day
The world went into our house to play
But it's okay
The world is meanie and bouncing around
The world is dancing inside the ground
The world is beautiful and entrancing
The world is playing
The world is dancing
The world is playing
The world is dancing
I know this is just a start
Break the rules and not your heart
You are my diamond and my gold
Please, just live until you're old