Category Archives: 1000 word limit

The Curious Experience of Isaiah Vates

           The sea and the sky are the same, the old man always said. At the time he had laughed, but looking out that morning—the cold sea-mist clinging to his naked torso—he knew the old man was right.

            The sea-mist transformed into an unbroken wall of sea-fog which possessed both sea and sky, morphing them into one. Yet, perhaps, the warm glow of the morning on the water of the sea and the water in the sky played tricks on his sleep-deprived eyes.

            He stood. The slick rock cold beneath his feet, he rolled back onto his heels and then forward onto his toes, feeling every ridge and rise. Behind him, invisible in the sea-mist, a path meandered by only ten feet away, back up a narrow trail through the underbrush. The sound of feet, but far too light, caught his ear. He whirled toward the path. Nearly losing his footing, he caught himself, stood upright, and strained to peer through the thickening sea-fog.

            A fog horn, hollow, deep, and long—like the wail of a mourning father—broke the silence between him and the path.

            “Goodbye,” He said, turning again and leaping off the cliff edge.

            In the timeless moment just before his body cracked off the rocks and sunk into the water, he heard from out of the morning fog the voice, fickle as a wisp of smoke in a rain storm, “No.”

———

            Her grandpa always enjoyed the morning. It gave him wisdom, he would say, that brief moment when the sun is just awakening, darkness begins to give way, and the voices of nature are in harmonious arrangement before the chaos of humanity is unleashed with the savage squawking of alarms and the growl of car engines.

            Despite how lightly she tread, it always sounded as though someone was raking the loose, lighter gravel over the heavier base layer. It sounded like rain in some way, but yet different in some other way. Lately, her mind had been foggier than usual.

            She stopped and looked out over the sea. The clear morning allowed the rising sun to warm the inbound waves. She saw a man’s back, hidden partially by the foliage, but she knew him to be standing at the cliff’s edge. She blinked and found herself locked in place with his blue eyes. Their cold gaze contrasted with the warm glow of the sun which framed his naked torso, glistening with water droplets. Tearing away from his gaze, she heard a ragged cry as though a mother was mourning her newborn child dead in her arms.

Looking back again, she saw him, as if through a haze of heat, leap from the cliff, the obscuring foliage gone. “No,” she cried before vaulting the railing and running toward the cliff edge.

———

           Isaiah Vates never enjoyed his Samhain morning walk. It was, however, necessary; and he would not abandon his duty. Tightening his grip on the worn, raven’s skull handle, he leaned heavily upon his bronze-capped walking stick as he limped up the gravel path into the darkness—away from the warm, glowing safety of his hut where his wife sat by the window holding a candle, awaiting his return with nervous hands and eager, tear reddened eyes.

            It would be wrong to say it was cold as Isaiah moved up the path, but it would also be wrong to say the morning was warm, yet neither was it in between; a more accurate description would be that it was in between the in between. It would also be wrong to say that the light morning fog felt clammy on his exposed hands, because it also felt warm as if it was smoke from a great fire, and yet neither.

            Isaiah set himself down in the ruins of an old house. He knew its owner—or had in what seemed a lifetime ago—he could not remember. Taking knitted gloves from his jacket’s oversized pockets, he encased his trembling hands in them. With a groan, which immediately died moments from his mouth, he stood. Leaning upon his walking stick, he used his right hand to pull the bill of his cap further down toward his round spectacles to shield against the misty sprinkle that had come when the fog had dissipated; though its disappearance, so sudden, would incline the mind to believe it was called away.

            Then he saw it happen. He saw them. He knew what they were and he started forward toward them. A young woman stood on the path gazing out across rock wet with morning dew. A young man stood on the edge of the rock, perilously perched at the cliff edge. No wind blew—and yet strong waves, tipped with green foam, crashed against the rocks. The young man turned his back to the young woman and cast himself off the cliff, but as he fell his face turned toward Isaiah, causing the old man to stumble back.

            Shaking, Isaiah Vates clung to his walking stick and pulled himself up from the ground. He should have remained down. He should have kept his eyes closed. For there at the cliff edge, looking accusatorily at him, stood the young woman with the face of his long-dead granddaughter, Maria Vates.

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A Classic Tale

He both enjoyed seeing her and did not. Elation was there, but also retraction. He could not be fully himself with her, but more himself than he was elsewhere. Indeed, he lived a divided life. At court, he needed her presence and yet dreaded it. At war, he was thankful for her absence, but he also missed her.

 

The war ended abruptly. The heroes were honored. Traitors who had once sought refuge outside their native land were returned. Their tortured bodies dangled from the gallows, being finally granted relief. In his mind, the heroes fared no better than the traitors, only their pain was of the soul and of the heart. From these they had no respite.

 

He sat at the right hand of the king that first night back. His deeds were lauded. They claimed he had slain hundreds, that he had ended the war. He knew otherwise. He knew the exact number of men whose lives he stole, whose chances at love he took from them. He had looked into their eyes as his own were tinged with the red rage of battle. He had heard their last words, words that should have been spoken while lying old in bed…at peace.

Her voice brought him back from his somber speculation. He looked up. His joy shone through his eyes, but he only partly smiled. She poured him a glass of wine, spilling a few red drops unto the table around his goblet. She apologized and moved on.

 

He stole glances at her, ignoring his king as much as he could, deflecting the admiring comments of the king’s daughters as though they were blows in a battle, rough and sharp. Her blue gown stood out from the dull browns and flickering fire reds of the feast hall. She moved gracefully, yet with a vigor. A passion for life was obvious in the slight bounce of her walk, in the dancing of her hair, and in her very eyes. He laid his hands down and made ready to stand. He was going to approach her, admit his feelings, an act that took more courage than he had ever needed in battle.

 

Greasy, gelatinous animal fat covered the hand that grabbed his and raised it high. He heard his king proclaiming his name, then something about being an ambassador. His heart stopped. Then it sank. His determination turned to dread. He tried to smile, but it lost what mock sincerity it had when she looked at him and drew his eyes to hers. He steeled himself as the king bid him stand. He let one tear unsheath itself from his eye, allowing it to flee to the dirty floor below. Flight, retreat, escape, all things he could not do.

 

The morning after the next full moon came too quickly. He had talked with her some, but he never once confessed. He learned to treasure every moment with her, every sound of her voice. When she was gone, however, his thoughts always turned to his future and her place in it. Her place being one that he dearly wanted, that is, at his side, but he knew his new career was even more dangerous than his last. His enemy would no longer be in front of him, yelling and wielding shining weapons. His enemies would now be everywhere.  Nor did he want to take her with him into a place where even he, hero of the war, would not feel secure.

 

He looked down on her from his saddle. His robes were new, different from those of the warrior. He needed to look his part, but remain himself; a task more difficult than most would expect. But then she handed him a letter. They met eyes. He smiled and placed the letter next to his heart. Then, with a reverent bow, he left her behind. He laid his hand to that letter as he rode away, swearing that with it he would remain himself and that he would return for her.

Copyright 2013 by Joshua A. Spotts

 

 

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Pain is Purpose

I was born in a laboratory, separated from humanity by seals and protective clothing; I died in a mouth, exposed, utterly raw and naked, to the innermost parts of humanity. This is my story. These are my thoughts to the moment of my death.

I am Strychnine. My purpose is pain. I work for the mob, threatening people. They do not like being referred to as “the mob,” but what can they do to me? I’m already dead.

The majority of my work is done in dark rooms; a single glaring light illuminating me and casting shadows across the terrified face of a person. These people range in importance from small store owners who have not paid their dues to senators. It is a fantastic feeling of power; watching those people cower before me.

No words were ever spoken between the person I am threatening and my partner, the enforcer. But eventually the person, be he senator or store owner, would crack and mutter, “I’ll do it,” as they broke into sobs. I never knew how much pain I could cause until my death, but I knew I must be capable of terrible things when I saw them cower before me in such degrading ways, submitting to the mob’s will.

When the day came for me to truly exercise my purpose, to truly administer the pain I was capable of, I was not ready. The setting was wrong. I was brought into a room full of light. The walls were a sterile white, the table was silver. On the table, instead of seated on one side of it, lay a man. He was strapped down and his mouth held open by some strange apparatus. His face was the worst part. It was not shrouded and I could see the full terror in his wide eyes; in the sweat that beaded and ran on his bald head; in the very way he breathed.

I was powerless to resist when I felt the enforcer’s hand close around my container. The cold air in the room rushed in on me with a burst of savage energy as the cap was removed, finally exposing me to the world. The sensation was strange, but wonderful. Then the enforcer moved me above the man’s open mouth and all my pleasure in the new feeling of air, life-giving air, rushed away.

As the enforcer tipped my container upside down and tumbled, completely naked and exposed, through the life-giving air, I realized that through my purpose I would find my own death by causing death in a most terrible way. I landed on the man’s tongue, some strange sound rushed up from his throat. Then I saw his jaws close above me and no more air entered his body.

Bit by bit he was forced to swallow me, and I caused him to convulse in pain, then I caused his throat to swell shut as I slid down it; In that short moment I regretted ever having existed, regretted my enjoyment of my power, and felt the pain I caused the man. Then both he and I died, both regretting our lives, but only I truly sorry.

Story by Joshua A. Spotts

Copyright 2013

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Oceanic Grand Canyons

Jonah’s career was that of an Oceanographer, his chief interest, the inspection of oceanic trenches, but he had never set foot on a boat. The very sound of crashing waves made him queasy. Rainfall simply annoyed him when he was underneath a roof; outside, however, it terrified him because he felt as though he were drowning. When he showered he did so with a snorkel and never stayed in for more than five minutes. Indeed, he much preferred dry land.

“You’re a genius, Jonah,” his friends had said. They came to him and begged his help with their assignments. He knew every fact there was about the oceans of the world; and, as he was an avid reader of scholarly journals on oceanography, he always learned the new facts almost as soon as they were published.

To illustrate to his friends what oceanic trenches were like he would always say, “they are like the Grand Canyon, but in the ocean.” His friends always laughed at that description as they hung out with him at The Well, the local bar. There his throat was never dry because of the beers his friends would buy him. Those had been warm days, safe from the elements outside, that dreaded rain, that frustrating wind, and that hated snow. But those were his college years, things were different back then.

When he graduated from college he was hired right away as an Oceanographer. But when they wanted him to go out on a boat to investigate the Puerto Rico Trench, things went awry for him. He refused to board the boat, no matter how much urging the company used. They even offered him a raise to his already substantial pay. He refused and resigned his job.

Now Jonah sits on a wooden bench in the snow, a park ranger in Northern Michigan because he could not overcome his fear.

By Joshua A. Spotts

Copyright 2013

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Nightwind

The evening sun burnt the cloudy western sky the color of blood. This bloody horizon hung just above a tight line of warriors, faces grim. Behind them and all around the glade loomed great oak trees. A tall stone stood in the middle.

One man stepped out from between two of the old oaks on the eastern side of the clearing. The line of warriors opposite him raised their shields and readied their swords.

“You are not permitted here.” The man said.

A few of the warriors chuckled. One of them walked forward. He wore a long cloak of bearskin. The other warriors followed him. “We go where we please,” he said.

“No more.” The man said as he drew his sword. Behind him a blackening sky lurked, creeping slowly toward the west as the sun fled. The man took a step forward, raising his hand. “Flee while you still can.”

The warrior wearing the bearskin raised his sword and beat it against his shield. The others mimicked him. They continued to march toward the man. They sent their war cries to the heavens. The man sent their souls to the pits at the drop of his hand. Arrows fell among the line of warriors and in turn the line fell. Their blood fed the ground of the holy glade.

The man walked to where the warrior in the bearskin lay. He kicked the warrior and smiled at the moan that escaped with the blood from the warrior’s lips. He knelt and propped up the warrior’s head with his hand. “I gave you a choice; you would have lived if you had left. Die now with that in mind.”

The warrior’s lips moved. The man brought the bloodied face close to his ear. “Who has killed me?”

“Cokavmorar Nightwind of the Deavan,” The man said as he slid a dagger into the dying warrior’s heart.

Nightwind stood, leaving his dagger in the corpse. “To me, my brothers,” he said.

Hooded figures entered the glade from all directions. Dark cloaks hung from their shoulders. Each man wore a leather breastplate. On each breastplate the seven pointed star, the star of eternity and guidance, was depicted in a light grey color with a red arrow through it. The figures threw back their hoods. Every face, every feature, was Nightwind’s. They were Nightwind and he them. Nightwind opened his arms wide, “come and embrace me, brothers.”

The figures all rushed toward Nightwind, vanishing into his chest as they hurried to his embrace. When all the figures had returned to him, Nightwind removed an amulet from around his neck, looked at it, nodded, and deposited it in a leather bag tied firmly to his belt. He rubbed at the red line on his neck from where the amulet had hung by a silver cord.

Nightwind touched the stone, turned north as night fell completely, shrouding the forest world in darkness. He exited the dark cover of the tree, coming to an open field. He saw the waves, glittering in the starlight far out. His feast hall stood on a hill above the shore. The cliffs at its rear plummeted hundreds of feet into the waters. A sea of grass stood between him and his hall. In the starlight the grass was endowed with an eerie blue sheen.

Taking a step into the open field, Nightwind froze, rigid. He had heard some noise behind him. His ears strained to hear it again. There it was. He whirled toward it, drawing his sword. His left hand reached into the leather bag at his side. He closed his fingers around the amulet. It was hot, scorching his fingers. One of the hooded figures appeared before him. He stared into the face, like looking in a mirror, and saw pain reflected there. It was the pain of death and he felt it. Then the figure reached out his hand and Nightwind felt himself growing older as his face on the figure grew younger.

That figure left and another came, the process repeated. Nightwind fell to the ground. He felt his face, the wrinkles forming there. His vision and other senses weakened, but his memory remained sharp. In that memory he heard the words of the wizard who had given him the amulet. “Do not use it often or they will grow fiercer and free themselves, each one taking from you the years they served.”

Now, as he lay there in those fields, within sight of his hall, Nightwind regretted not locking away the amulet as the wizard had cautioned him to. Now he would pay the price of his decision, now he would die, and for the first time in his life he felt the cold grip of fear. He cowered in the face of death.

Then, as his last years were drawn from his withered old body and he struggled to hold onto a last few moments of life, he felt the amulet snatched from his side. Someone, hunched over, pale white hands wrinkled glowing in the starlight, stood over him, facing the last of the figures. The amulet dangled from one wrinkled hand and a staff was clutched in the other.

The figure hissed and screamed. Nightwind’s eyes closed, but he cast them open again, refusing to give in to what he feared. He saw the figure flee into the forest.

Nightwind’s savior turned toward him, face shrouded by shadows. “Rise, Cokavmorar Nightwind.”

Nightwind tried to rise, indeed the thought was there, but his body would not cooperate. “Who are you?”

“I am Elerae.” There was something soothing in Elerae’s voice. “Rest now, Cokavmorar. I will heal you now, giving you back some of the years you have lost. I only ask that you remember my name and what I have done when the time comes.”

“You have saved me, Elerae, I will never forget.”

“That is good, Cokavmorar, you rest now. When you awake you will be well. Fear not, death will not touch you while I am here.”

Nightwind closed his eyes and drifted into sleep. His fear was gone and when he awoke he was in a valley at the base of a hill. He looked up, recognizing the looming pinnacle of his feast hall surmounted by a dragon’s skull. He rose to his feet, feeling his former strength. He laughed, deep and boisterous, and a challenge was issued from above. “Who goes there?”

“It is I, Cokavmorar Nightwind, your lord!”

“My lord,” the response came, “welcome back!”

Nightwind heard the doors of his hall cast open. Golden light poured out into the night. The smell of meat and ale filled the air. A crowd of people gathered in the doorway as Nightwind walked up the hill toward them. Most were warriors, but a few of the braver daughters and wives had shoved their way through the crowd to stand by their fathers and husbands. They yearned for a glimpse of their handsome lord. When they saw Nightwind’s face, however, they vanished back into the feast hall and fell to gossiping. Something in his eyes frightened them; even the stoutest of the warriors could not look directly at them.

“Come!” Nightwind yelled, his voice mirthful, but his eyes betraying his true temper. “Let us not stand out here in the cold. There is feasting to be done!”

The feast that night was filled with Nightwind’s voice as he went among his warriors, talking with them. The women avoided him, even his betrothed. When he finally laid his head down to sleep in the early hours of the morning he found no rest in it. Nightmares plagued him. His fear of death gnawed at his mind. He wished Elerae had allowed him to die, for surely he thought final death better than fear of it. He could not have known it, but Elerae had healed him for a reason, and his resolve to die when the next opportunity presented itself would never come to be.

By Joshua A. Spotts

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Silencing Stones (shorter, edited version)

Silencing Stones

By Joshua A. Spotts

I have lost what was mine. I am a prisoner here where once I was a prince. I am but a whisper in this crowd of confusion. Terror has replaced joy. Hate has replaced love. I am only a thin container holding in an unfamiliar darkness.

I pray to the one ray of light in my lonely place hidden amidst the vastness of the world. I plead with it. “Save me!”

It never answers.

I plead with it. “Give me strength.”

It never answers.

I know it can hear me. I know because it always abandons me. I can feel my container cracking as the light leaves even now.

They are here. I hear their feet invading and I am helpless to defend the darkness. Their shadows beat me to the ground. Their flickering lights whip my eyes. Their cruel voices burn my ears. I dig my fingernails into the stones beneath me. The stones cry out. “Stay silent, pet. Do not let them gain from your pain. We care. With us you are safe.”

I feel secure as I embrace the stones. They warm me. They comfort me. Amidst the burning babble of the invaders I hear my name. I ignore it as the stones speak to me. They pull me closer. I lay my cheek on their comforting warmth so soothing. Yes, this is where I belong. Here with the stones. I no longer need what I was. I no longer need to be even a whisper. I no longer need to be a lord. I no longer need to find what I lost. I surrender myself to the rocks and their bewitching magic.

~

            “Where is he, Father?” The princess asked.

Her father just looked at her. His eyes were hollow, his mouth, full of turkey. Red wine ran like blood down the sides of the burnt animal before him. His wine goblet rolled off the table and fell to the floor with a clatter that echoed throughout the dining hall.

“Where is he?” The princess screamed this time. Then they came. Those hooded men of the Scroll entered the room. The princess whirled on them. She hated them.

“He, if you mean your brother, is resting, your highness.” The tallest of the hoods said.

“Is his fever gone?”

“No, my lady,” said the shortest of the hoods, the doctor.

“What have you done to him?”

They didn’t answer.

The princess looked at her father. He stared back at her with hollow eyes, like an animal, unaware of danger.

“My father went to you when he was weak with fever. This,” she gestured to him, “is how you returned him to me.”

“The fever is a terrible thing, your highness. It does things to men. We were lucky to maintain your father’s life.”

“You call that life?” The princess pointed at her hollow eyed father again. Grabbing a knife from the table she waved it at the men. “If I find that your so-called cure has done anything to my brother, I’ll have all of you burned alive!”

Spinning, her red hair flowing out behind her like a cape, the princess marched away. She had decided it was time for her to visit the Room of Stones to seek guidance.

~

            “The son?” The smoke hissed as it slithered along the floor.

“Worse than his father, my lord,” a tall man answered. His black hair was oily and combed straight down to his shoulders. His dark eyes peered into a frosty mirror.

“The daughter?” The voice came from within the mirror, as did the smoke. Ice spread across the floor, grabbing the tall man by the ankles. He tried to step away but the ice brought him down. A bone cracked. The cruel sound echoed and the voice laughed.

The ice crawled over the man. It sucked him down until he lay flat on the stone floor. It formed a coffin over him. His breathing became shallow. The sweat on his forehead froze there, forming a false crown. The smoke slithered unto the ice coffin. The ice moved away from the man’s face like the tendons of some horrid monster.

“You shouldn’t have upset it, slave.” The voice hissed. Hot steam burned away the man’s false crown. “Now, tell me of the daughter.”

“She is still strong, my lord.”

“Excellent! Is she on her way?”

“I don’t know, my lord.”

“That’s too bad, slave.” The smoke receded into the mirror and the ice coffin covered the man’s face, shutting off his bone-chilling scream from the world.

~

            I dream. I dream of a room filled with pillars of stone, of blood running along a cold marble floor, of a girl of royal bearing. I dream of her dead. This is the dream the stones grant to me. It is their gift.

The dream changes as I watch. The girl, covered in blood, rises from the marble floor. I can hear every stone in that room crying out in pain. They want me to save them. They need me, but I cannot escape from my dark space.

There is some dark purpose behind her. Smoke and ice are its garments. The stones plead with me to save them. Their anguished sounds fill my ears. Their pain seethes through my veins as the red haired girl approaches a large stone in the center of the room. As she lays her hands on the stone, the dark purpose rushes in and consumes it. I hear the last cry of the stones before they are silenced forever.

The room collapses in on her. There is no roar as the stones fall. There is no crack as they smash into the marble floor. There is only silence, terrifying silence. As my dark space falls in on me, the darkness flees my body.

Here the stones come. They are silent. They grieve as they bury me. I do so miss their voices.

Copyright 2012 by Joshua A. Spotts

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My Grandfather’s Ship

They were cold beneath my feet. The sensation was a strange, unfamiliar combination. Those stairs were painted in a vain attempt to hide the gnarled, brown wood beneath. The color was similar to a midsummer sky, just shadowed and faded. The color persisted to either side of me in the paneled stairwell. Soft moonlight illuminated my goal.

I trudged up another steep step, then another, and then another. Something bit me as I neared the light. I leapt upon one foot, holding back a cry. I started to tumble backwards. Those cruel stairs buffeted me. My small fingers clawed into the handrail. They slid down until they caught on some old, but smooth, iron. I breathed out and lay there on the stairs, my arm twisted behind my head, listening for a sound.

All I heard was the throbbing of my own heart against my bruised chest. I winced as I rose. Undeterred by my recent fall, I continued the climb again. This time, however, I made it. The feeling of victory was pictured in my shadow’s upraised arms. Then, like the visage of a ghost, my shadow and I were gone. We had vanished into the attic.

Sweat began to crawl down my forehead. What would Grandpa do if he caught me up here? I placed my shoulder to the attic door and pushed. I creaked on its hinges and then stopped about halfway open. I pushed. I grunted. But the door would not budge.

In the dark I felt the opening and determined it was enough for me to slip through. This was the final moment for decision. If I persisted in my adventure there would be no turning back. If I turned back now I faced my own regret. I chose the first option.

In my desperation to get inside before I changed my mind, my shirt snagged on the door handle. It ripped and I tumbled into the attic, sending up a cloud of dust. When it cleared and my eyes stopped leaking water I found the door closed. Then I saw what had blocked it from opening. It was a massive chest. Iron bands bound the beams that formed it together. It was a curious thing, I say, but the iron on this chest was not rusted like everything else in the attic. Indeed, the chest seemed polished. I dismissed it as a trick of my eyes in the darkness.

There was no lock on this chest and curiosity reigned supreme over my mind. My fingers found the crack between the lid and the base and, with all my might, I opened the chest. My eyes were blessed by what I saw. There, sitting on the bottom, was a model ship. It had pure white sails, a mahogany deck, brass cannons, and even a little ivory mermaid on the front. I stared at that ship in all its perfection. I did not dare to touch it. I feared that, if I did, it would shatter and my heart with it.

I closed that chest, turned, and headed downstairs. I closed the stairwell door behind me; once again shutting the forbidden area of Grandfather’s house from the permitted. I crept back to my bedroom like the frightened child I was, fearing the sudden appearance of my grandfather.

I lay on my bed. But I did not want to be there. My grandfather’s ship called to me from its residence in the forbidden attic. I saw it in my head. Indeed, these many years later, I still see it. It is beautiful and it was forbidden. That forbidden beauty drew my every thought back to it. I could hear the waves of sea as I tossed and turned on my bed. I heard the groans of the hull as she plowed her way through a storm. I saw her white sails billowed out in all their glory on a perfect day. The seas she rode on were smooth and a gentle wind blew across them.

I opened my eyes. The white plaster ceiling of my room greeted and I shunned it in disgust. I turned over and sat up. Sweat stained my pajamas and the bed groaned beneath me. I stood and was disappointed. Instead of the rough, natural planks of a ship’s deck, I felt painted over flooring of my bedroom. It reminded me of those forbidden stairs I had traversed earlier that night. Those stairs reminded me of the ship that awaited me. I glanced over at the clock and, deciphering the ancient analog hands and roman numerals, found that it was 5:37AM.

It only took a few steps to reach those stairs. It only took a little more effort to ascend them. Guilt ate at my heart, but I put it aside. The ship called to me. I imagined I heard the captain’s voice calling, “all aboard!” I had to at least see the beauty before she shipped out to sea. I knew that Grandfather woke at six every morning, no earlier and no later. I knew that I was running the risk of staying too long in the forbidden attic. But I was desperate. I was hungry for the sight of her again.

Squeezing through the crack in the attic door and wincing at the noise the hinges made, I saw the final object to my goal. That chest hid her from me and I hated it for that. I heaved that lid open. I felt the edges of my mouth rise in a smile. Then they fell. She was gone. My grandfather’s ship had set sail before I could see it again. A single tear disrupted the dust on the floor. Many years later I realize how quickly addictions arise and how easily they disappoint; yet I still see my grandfather’s ship in my dreams.

A short story by Joshua A. Spotts

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