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Discovering & Creating


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Experiencing loss and Injustice

Table of Contents


“Come Away”

Poem by Heidi Shepherd

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Experimental Style”

Script by Beryl Iverson

  • Art by Angel Lopez

“guess what?”

Poem by Sydney Ross

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“There is Hope, There is Help”

Poem by Sydney Ross

  • Art by Miriam Ridout


“A Lonely Feat”

Non Fiction by Tricia Dahms

  • Art by David Hurley

“The Girl who Glowed”

Fiction by Morgan Belden

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Ode to the Sandwich”

Poem by David Hurley

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Soundless Dance”

Script by Beryl Iverson

  • Art by Miriam Ridout


Fiction by Eliza Jones

  • Art by Morgan Belden

Beyond the Window.JPG

Come Away

Heidi Shepherd


Where have all the romantics gone?

Is there a place for us, 

A place where our faltering words,

our soulful, boundless, gray words 

fall like rain upon white sheets 

of murdered trees?


I search the manuscripts,

the magazines, the blogs, 

the websites…


Is there no more room 

for the flowers of Pemberley? 

Does Jane Eyre 

lay silent in her grave?

Do tears still stain the cheeks 

of the youngling over the 

torn wing of the butterfly?


My heart aches. 

I search the manderings 

of the foolhardy,

of the complacent,

of the modern progressive.


Come out come out 

wherever you are,

the followers 

of silent forest pathways

or rain-felled garden stone walkways.


Are there any who still 

hold their breast 

at the ocean waves, 

still catch their breath with every crest fall?


Is there a place for our words? 

If so, please tell me.

For I long to fill the pages

of a handmade leather bound journal

to find Ms. Potter laying about the ground 

conversing with the brown rabbit.


To run headlong into another girl 

such as I, 

a pencil in her hand, her hair,

a notebook tucked away in a pocket,

her lips pursed with thoughts

needing to be expressed

needing to be read,

pondered over. 


Are there any more like us?

These gray-pink girls

with hearts all a flutter 

over the white herring

which flies over head.


Whose eyes water 

over the trailing wind 

among the willows,

the storming wind 

searing through 

the long yellowed grasses

of the moors, the dunes.


I wonder..

Where are you

my fellow lovelies?

Do you hide in the libraries

surrounded by the words 

of our elders

or within the classrooms

of our colleges

learning new things,

forgetting the old?


Come out come out

wherever you are,

we need you,

we need your prudence,

your thoughtfulness,

your musings and ponderings,


your romantic gray-pink words

which fall from your lips, your pen

like delicate rose petals in death. 


Come, let us chat over tea,

delight in the simplest of things,

talk not of politics, of wars, of hate.

Let us instead muse over 

the ants carrying heavy loads,

over the flight of the dragonfly,

the lit up grasses under a full moon.


Let us look to the magnificence of the moon

and dream and yearn

for quieter days,

for laughter,

for kinship.


Come away with me!

Come, let us play 

as school girls

at hopscotch,

at tag,

let us lay upon quilts 

upon the lawn, 

let us read from our favorite passages


let us giggle over 

boyish behaviors,

make fun of the arrogance of men,

let us be feminine, 

feisty, and at times full of rage,

ff passion. 


Let us grow old 

in grace,

in wisdom,

in love.


In kinship.

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Experimental Style 

a script by Beryl Iverson

Setting: Zeff’s bedroom, It’s simple with only a mirror, a wardrobe, and a bed.


Zeff: Someone trying to learn about themselves and gender.

Alala: Zeff’s older sister who is supportive but overly blunt.

The dad: A strict parent who wants to see his children raised “right.”

Zeff’s bedroom. Zeff is dressed in lolita style attire looking through their wardrobe. They find a scarf and put it on then turn to look in the mirror.

Zeff: I wonder if this color works. I should have bought lipstick too.

Alala: (off stage) Hey Zeff do you want a ride to the convention-

Alala enters Zeff’s room.

Zeff: Alala- I can explain!

Alala: You are going in that?

Zeff: Oh, no no no. I was just-

Alala: Because it doesn’t match.

Zeff: What?

Alala walks over to the wardrobe. She searches for a beat before finding a different scarf.

Alala: Here, this scarf actually matches your skirt.

Zeff: You’re okay with this?

Alala: It’s a good outfit, did you pay for it with your new job?

Zeff: Yes.

Alala: Well I have the perfect lipstick in my room for this outfit, we just have to sneak you over there. Come on, let's get it.

Zeff: I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave yet.

Alala: Why not? You look great!

Zeff: This was my first time wearing this kind of outfit.

Alala: Oooooooh. (beat) Wait, then why not go to the convention like this?

Zeff: I’m not sure how I feel about this outfit yet.

Alala: Zeff, as your older sister I’ve only seen you wear hoodies and jeans with converse for the last 5 years. When I walked in you looked actually confident, what do you mean you don’t know how you feel about this outfit?

Zeff: That’s what I thought about the prom dress I bought.

Alala: You bought a prom dress? You just had homecoming.

Zeff: Aren’t they the same thing?

Alala: Absolutely not. Homecoming is fun with friends, prom is classy with a date.

Zeff: See I don’t even know the difference between those types of dresses!

Alala: Wait, can I see that dress?

Zeff: Why?

Alala: I want to judge your taste.

Zeff: No, no judging.

Alala: Too late.

Alala has already pulled the sparkly homecoming dress out of the wardrobe holding it up to her body.

Alala: Oh wow, this is decent, a little sparkly for my taste but I have some friends who would wear this.

Zeff: Alala!

Alala: I’m putting it back before it burns my eyes.

Zeff: Oh my god no, let me burn it.

Alala: Why would you burn it? You can wear it next year. 

Zeff: I don’t know, maybe because you touched it. 

Alala: Gasp, what a cruel reason for a harmless piece of cloth.

Zeff: Wasn’t it about to burn your eyes?

Alala: Maybe I just want to show it some mercy. Though it’s a little short, I think mom and dad would only let Hera wear this.

Zeff: Are you kidding? It’s not extravagant enough for our little sister.

Alala: We could always adjust it for her. Add some frills, cut it up, and of course more glitter.

Zeff: That’s even more cruel than burning it.

Alala: True, well instead of torturing it with adjustments or burning it you could always donate it.

Zeff: I don’t know if I’ll do that.

Alala: Well you already sneaked two outfits into the house so I don’t think donating it is about getting caught.

Zeff: It’s the first thing I bought for myself without other people’s influence. Even though I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, it still feels like a part of me.

Alala: That’s a lot of thought put into a piece of clothing.

Zeff: A piece of clothing I told that cashier that I was buying for my girlfriend.

Alala: You have an imaginary girlfriend?

Zeff: Yeah, I named her Zeffina and she was my homecoming date.

Alala: So does Zeffina call you her boyfriend or girlfriend?


Zeff: I haven’t decided yet.

Alala: I’m not well versed in this stuff but, what’s holding you back?

Zeff: Nothing feels right. Girl, boy, nothing.

Alala: Did you realize that when you looked into the mirror earlier?

Zeff: No, I bought these lolita clothes to try and do something that is way out there and see how I feel.

Alana: And?

Zeff: I don’t recognize the me I thought I knew, and that feels good.

Alala: That’s good!

Zeff: But I don’t feel any closer to who I feel like I am.

Alala: Well you know that this isn’t not it.

Zeff: That’s fair.

Alala: I have a plan.

Zeff: It better not be-

Alala: We’re going to the convention.

Zeff: I already said I’m not sure if I’m ready.

Alala: It doesn’t have to be this outfit, I could grab some clothes from my room for you to try on at that convention.

Zeff: Where would I try the clothes on at the convention?

Alala: In the bathrooms of course.

Zeff: Bathrooms?

Alala: Yes bathrooms.

Zeff: I want you to think about that for a solid second. Think about bathrooms and this kind of thing very deeply.

Alala: I don’t see what the problem is- Oh!

Zeff: Now you get it.

Alala: Okay new plan, we pretend that you’re my friend in my room getting ready and-

Zeff: What friend?

Alala: Angelica!

Zeff: one, you don’t have a friend named Angelica, two I’m never going by Angelica.

Alala: We can come up with a new name.

Zeff: Three, mom and dad will never fall for that.

Alala: Good point. (beat) Oh I know! Let me grab it.

Alala runs out of the room. Zeff begins to put their scarf on the bed. Alala runs back into the room holding a pikachu and eevee onesie.

Alala: Here you go!

Zeff: What is this?

Alala: You put on what clothes you want under it to leave the house and then you take it off at the convention.

Zeff: Why are there two of them?

Alala: Because I was going to go as pikachu in the first place, and it’s cute to match.

Zeff: And then the parents won’t have a reason to suspect us! Sis you’re a genius!

Alala: Oh I know, and this helps me too.

Zeff: How so?

Alala: Mom and dad are less likely to check my clothes underneath if we match.

Zeff: Oh? And what diabolical plans do you have to defy the parents?

Alala: A miniskirt and shoulders!

Zeff: So scandalous.

Alala: Oh you know, I just have to be the rebelling older sister corrupting her little siblings.

Zeff: Oh yes, You are the reason I’m buying “girls clothes.”

Alala: Speaking of which, I brought a change of clothes for you if you want it.

Zeff: What did you come up with?

Alala: I found this button up top that we could pair with a miniskirt, or a pair of fancy slacks we can put this blouse over.

Zeff: I think we first try on-

The dad: (knocks on the door from offstage) Hey kids, what’s going on. 

Alala: Oh nothing, We were just coordinating our outfits. 

The dad: That’s taking an awful long time.

Alala hands Zeff the eevee onesie and both begin putting on the onesies.

Zeff: We were arguing who got to be pikachu. 

Alala: We decided I get to be the bright electric yellow mouse.

The dad: Well let me see!

Alala: Okay, just give us a second to help each other get the onesies on.

Alala helps Zeff get the onesie on and covers all the lolita garb underneath it.

Alala: Ready!

The door opens or the sound of the door opening, the dad continues to speak from offstage.

The dad: Good choices, Have fun you two.

Zeff: Thank you dad.

The door closes.

Zeff: That was close.

Alala: I guess we’re stuck with these choices.

Zeff: This is fine, I’m not sure if I’m ready yet anyways.

Alala: Are you sure? I got these clothes for you to try.

Zeff: Another time. Plus the lolita clothes are hard to get out of and they’ll be expecting us to leave soon.

Alala: Alright, I’ll put these clothes back in my room. 

Zeff: I’ll see you downstairs?

Alala: Yeah, I have to grab my keys anyways.

Zeff: Don’t forget that lipstick that goes perfectly with this outfit.

Alala: Oh yeah,

Alala walks over to the bed and grabs the scarf.

Alala: I put the finishing touches in my bag.

Zeff: Thank you.

Alala: No problem.

Alala leaves as Zeff looks at themself in the mirror.

Zeff: This will work.

Alala enters again.

Alala: Hey Zeff?

Zeff: Yes Alala?

Alala: I love you.

Zeff: I love you too sis.

Internal Garden.HEIC

guess what?

Sydney Ross


you are a butterfly

and I am a caterpillar 

awaiting my new life 

in metamorphosis.


you are the wind


through the trees

and I am the leaves

dancing on the forest floor.


you are the moon

pulling the waves

to the edge of the sand

each night 

and I am the tide

blissfully unaware

following your lead.

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“There is Hope, There is Help”

Sydney Ross


2,000 miles from home,

thick fog covers the dense

evergreen tree line. a mix

of mud and rain sloshes

beneath my feet; a worn trail

of footprints has led me here.


snow capped mountains

linger in the distant skyline

overlooking the St. John’s bridge,

grand and complex in its towering

height above the Willamette river,

whose tinted green waters offer

an escape from this beautiful 

place where I feel so alone

stranded so far from home.

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A Lonely Feat

By Tricia Dahms

        My eyes spring open suddenly, but through my grogginess, I am not sure what woke me. The  smell of coffee begins to settle in the room; enticing me from my bed. Where is Derek? He is  impossible to wake up in the mornings. I try not to schedule anything too early to avoid having  to wake him. I imagine his poor mother’s futile attempts to rouse him for school, her hair  turning a little grayer at the start of each day. So where is he now? It’s not yet six am. I roll onto  my side and hoist my body upright before stepping heavily onto my swollen feet. 

        The living room is welcoming; he has cleaned it, and the orange walls are glowing in the morning light. The cats are delighted at the activity and stretch their bodies before welcoming me to the couch. 

       “What are you doing?” I ask as I drop my weight heavily onto the pillows. 

        “I dunno. I  couldn’t sleep,” he tells me as he smooths down the corner of the throw rug.  

        As I drink my coffee, I start to feel a heat radiate from my lower belly around to my back. Is this  what it feels like? This isn’t too bad. The heat is getting more intense now and is accompanied by a tightness that seems to wash over me like ocean waves gently rolling over my toes. It’s thrilling, but the water recedes quickly before approaching again, the force never too  overwhelming.  

        Things are shifting now. I open my eyes and find that the waves have overtaken me, and I  cannot focus on anything outside of my body. The waves thrash me against the shore again and again, pounding me to sand. I moan as I am again pulled beneath the surface, my mind a captive audience to this animal feat.  

        When did we get in the car? My weight shifts as we round the curve, our bodies changing  direction as I fall beneath the surface again.  

       The hallway is brightly lit and the woman behind the desk acts as if she sees this every day. How  can people just go on with their lives right now? They take my weight and my temperature and  lead me to a darkened room. I want to go in the tub; it seems like that will be more comfortable.  

        I am lonely in here; I wish that someone would come in with me. I wish that I could tell them that, but the battering of the waves is relentless, so I only moan. They chat and snack while I anguish alone. 

        I said that I would do this without drugs. It’s been twelve hours now and the waves are still  hammering me alone on this island. I like when the pain makes me vomit, it gives me a break  from the constricting pressure. They use a needle to break my water like a too-full balloon. “It’ll  speed things along,” they say.  

        Seventeen hours now and they say I need an epidural to keep trying. They say Derek can’t  watch because husbands often faint at the sight of the needle. “Rest for a while” they say.  The hammering recedes and I rest.

        I see a shock of curly red hair. A doctor says, “You can’t try anymore. We are prepping you for a  C-section”.  

        This is not what I wanted. I weep. They give me oxygen to calm me down. They say they’ll be  back in five minutes; “It is what is best for the baby.”  

        They push me through a set of double doors into a room filled with a half dozen people dressed  in smocks and masks. It is so bright; I didn’t expect it to be so bright. My arms are strapped  down, and I resemble a potbellied crucifix.  

        I look up into Derek’s face and see only his eyes. “You’re okay,” they’re telling me. Derek talks to me, but I cannot hear him. I am scared and the drugs are making my body shake so badly that my teeth are chattering. “It’s normal,” they say. “Adrenaline”.  

        I hear them gasp. “He is huge!” someone says. I hold my breath. Why isn’t he crying? They carry  him to the table, and I turn my head to see him. His eyes are closed tightly and a nurse wipes  antibiotic over them. She suctions his nose and mouth, and he shrieks in disapproval. I take a  breath.  

       “Ten pounds eight ounces,” they say.


The Girl Who Glowed

By Morgan Belden

        We knew it was too good to be true when she walked into our class, eyes sparkling, and looked at us with a gaze so full of hope and innocence. We held a pain in our hearts for that girl. Life had been cruel to us, but it did not too heavily impact us since we had held a lower status from the rest of those in our world. However, for her, we suspected, the hardships of life would hold more weight. She was like a beautiful winged angel that had been cast into the darkest pit of the underworld without knowing it yet. We wondered how she carried her head so high, and how she held a smile so radiant. But ultimately, we wondered how long it would last.

       That day—the first day—she stood at the front of our small and crowded classroom. We waited for her to make her introduction, at the edge of our seats. She began to speak. With a voice as smooth as the finest silk fabric one could find, her words poured out and blanketed us in a luxury we had not yet been accustomed to. We were in awe, staring at her wide-eyed as she cast the most enchanting transcendent glow upon our lifeless auras. When she reached the end, she didn’t just take her seat, she floated to her seat as graciously as a brilliant white cloud does through a blue open sky. Watching her, we almost forgot how glum and grayish our world was. 

        As we came to the realization that with time she, too, would surely become as dull and pathetic as ourselves, we relinquished the hope in our hearts that we so desperately grasped for. Our eyes returned forward. We stared blankly ahead at nothing in particular but the space that laid before us. We had no hopes, interests, desires, or anything else of that sort. We were brought into the world without those, and had been assured that they were nothing more than a waste of time, like everything else. However, deep inside we felt that something was changing.

        Throughout the following few days, her glow didn’t fade. It remained as lustrous as ever. Weeks passed, and we continued to be awestruck everytime she entered the room and graced us with her presence. As each passing day came and went, she proved our hypothesis incorrect. And eventually, we too started to believe that there was something worth being alive for. Something more than the pain and suffering we knew all too well. 

        We never gained the courage to approach her, though. Her glow was something we feared we would tarnish with our touch, but words could not describe the hunger we felt to be a part of her world of bliss that only she existed within. 

        One day, after school had been let out, we observed her as she left the grounds. When she walked through the shriveled and dried out garden that was out in front of the foyeur, she crouched down and observed a wilted flower. She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, revealing her concerned facial expression to us as we watched from afar. We started to see her begin speaking to the flower that was bent to its side, on the brink of death. We could not tell what she said to it, as we were too far away to hear her or make out the words. Her expression shifted, and, smiling now, she reached out her hand towards the flower. 

        Upon contact, the flower seemed to glow, we were certain, and next thing we knew, it began to stand up tall once more. It was like she had transferred her own life force into the plant itself, sacrificing a piece of her own being for something so pitiful as an old, dying flower. It’s petals gained a color so vividly red we could see it from where we had been watching. She stood back up, seeming pleased with how the flower had responded, and walked off into the distance. Once she was out of sight, we rushed over to the flower to get a look at what she had done. We asked ourselves if it could’ve been magic, but no—could it have been? Was magic real? Until now, magic had been an interest or possibility that was unattainable, something that existed only outside of our reality. But now, we weren’t so sure. 

        The following day, we noticed a change in her radiance. Her glow didn’t seem to hold the same strength as it had the day before. She acted the same as she had, engaged and confident, so we thought nothing much of it. It was not until a few days later that we started to worry. Her glow had significantly diminished. We thought maybe she was sick, but also, maybe she was just becoming dull like us after all. 

        Besides her own change, we started to notice parts of our town that were now colorful and alive that were once gray and dilapidated. We were confused on how the town could’ve become so lively. It didn’t click until we remembered that exchange between her and the flower. She must have had something to do with the developments of the town, but we didn’t understand why it had taken us so long to notice.

        Then came the final day. The bell rang, signifying the time for class to begin, but instead of remaining in her seat, she stood up tall. With her glow only remaining in her hopeful eyes, and with her dress wrinkled and fraying, we watched her make her way to the front. She walked slowly, and we listened to each step she took toward the podium. When she reached it, she stepped up onto the stool and faced us. 

        “Hello, it has been some time since I stood before you to speak. Unlike last time, I must say my goodbye. You were so wonderful to be around, and I have cherished my time here with you, but I have stayed far longer than I was supposed to. I hope I wasn’t too much of a bother. Thank you for having me.” With that being said, she smiled at us with her eyes closed. Then she turned towards the door and left. We didn’t stop her. In fact, we didn’t say a word. We just watched her in awe for one last time. 

        Though she was gone, we carried her in our hearts until their last beat. As we grew old, we had our memories of her to look back on. To this day, we believe it was her who blessed our empty world with all she had to give and all she was to be. Bringing us new life, and a chance to live happily. 

With Sprinkles on Top.HEIC

Ode to the sandwich

by David Hurley


Oh sandwich,


how lovely

you can be


Filled with more layers

than an ogre like onion

where we find when we open

between your sides

the meat of the situation


Every time, you are filled

with an assortment of goodness

maybe some bologna

cheddar cheese

and ketchup to please us


Sure, there are many types

but you are truest 

when you are simplest

for you can whip up in a jiffy

maybe with Skippy


After all 

your origins are said

to come from a man

playing poker

with only one free hand


That tray of his lunch

too difficult it would seem

and instead, mashed food together

into the genius of your genealogy 








I look forward 

to our next meating.

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Soundless Dance 

A script by Beryl Iverson

Int. The author's home office

THE AUTHOR, a young woman in her late twenties with messy hair wearing sweats, leans over her notebook writing. Her office is filled with browns and grays.

She suddenly stops her writing. Crossing her arms, she sighs and leans back in her chair looking at her project.

Flipping empty pages, twirling her pen, scratching her head. All symptoms of her growing frustration until she eventually puts her head down in defeat.


Her orange cat paws her to get her attention. Once she sits up the cat jumps into her lap. 


He rubs his face on her and meows. The author laughs and pets her pet before leaning back and closing her eyes.


Int. Ballroom


The author opens her eyes to a beautiful colorful ballroom. There are decorations everywhere, glitter seems to infect her eyes. 


Panicking, she looks around trying to find something she knows. 


To the right are people staring at her and whispering.


To the left are balconies with wind flowing in onto ornate ballroom dancers.


The eyes of the strangers fill the author's head in this unfamiliar landscape. Behind her is a door, she chooses to run to it as an escape.


Int./EXT. Palace halls


The author runs through the halls of the grand palace.


Occasionally she runs past a person who looks at her strangely. 


Sometimes she runs past doors with warm light pouring out. She pays no mind to her big dress that is clearly holding her down.


Finally she finds a stained glass window. She looks into the glass to see her reflection multiple times over in different colors. She's No longer messy haired or disheveled in any way, instead her hair is pulled into an elegant braid with jewels running along it and she wears a gorgeous green and black gown adorned in pearls.


As she looks in amazement at her beautiful appearance, sparkles begin to accumulate next to her. 


Finally the sparkles catch her attention and she looks over to see THE PRINCE. He is clean shaved and has part of his hair slicked back. He wears blue and white with gold thread and a long cape. 


The author looks stunned at this prince suddenly appearing next to her. She opens her mouth to speak, but the prince cuts her off by offering her his hand.


Unsure of what to do, the author reaches her hand out and takes the prince's hand. She blinks.


Ext. Moonlight garden


The prince and the author are dancing under the full moon beside a lake. Rose bushes and lilies adorn the outside of this picturesque clearing.


The author looks around in shock as they dance. 


A glance back at the prince reveals that he only has eyes for her, but doesn't say anything. He looks through her with a simple smile and loving look on his face.


Ext. Rooftop


A sudden jump to the roof startles the author. 


Struggling to keep her footing she begins to panic. There is nothing but the stars around them as they dance on what seems like an impossible surface.


The author brings her eyes back to the prince after he stops her from falling. She opens her mouth and attempts to speak, but no words come out. 


The author furrows her brow at her predicament. She tries speaking once again to no avail.




Another sudden jump brings the two back to the ballroom which fills the author's senses with bright light, glitter, and vibrant colors. There's a circle around the two dancers as everyone stares at them.


Realizing she's stuck in this dance she attempts to speak to the prince more urgently, but once again no words come out. She tries a few more times as tears fill up her frustrated eyes.


The prince continues to just smile at her without a word.


The author looks around once more at the still extras in the ballroom, but someone catches her eyes. 


THE HEROINE is standing on the side. She's dressed in a blue and white ballgown with lilies in her half up hair. Unlike the extras who simply stare, she looks only at the prince with love in her eyes.


The author takes a deep breath and attempts to yell.




No sound is made, yet the word Appears out of her mouth as writing. The sound of the ballroom stops, the glittering light stills, and the prince is frozen in place. 


The author pants as she looks at the prince and releases herself from his embrace.


She walks over to the heroine who is now standing as still as everything else is in the ballroom. 


The author grabs the heroine's hands causing her to blink and look around. 


Leading the heroine over to the prince, the author sets the heroine up in the position she was in only a short while ago.


The author walks back to where the heroine was standing as the heroine watches her. 


She motions for the heroine to look at the prince. The heroine looks slowly towards the prince before falling back into her loving gaze.


The author smiles and takes a deep breath before attempting to speak.


Now, fall in love.


Once again the words appear as writing out of the author's mouth instead of being heard. 


The ballroom begins again. Now the extras whisper to each other and drink punch.


The prince looks surprised at his new dance partner before chuckling back into a smile. The heroine closes her eyes and beams at her prince.


The author stands on the side and smiles while watching her two characters fall in love. 


A waiter comes by and offers the author a drink which she takes. When she turns back she sees the prince offer the heroine a drink as he takes two from a waiter. The heroine happily accepts and laughs before taking a sip. 


The two lovebirds laugh as they walk towards the balcony, deep in conversation too far away to hear. The author smiles as she takes a sip from her own drink. 


Finally calm, she looks around the ballroom, seeing people enjoying themselves in dance, drinking, talking, and all kinds of other ballroom activities. 


The author takes one more deep breath before closing her eyes.


Int. The author's living room


The author awakes on her couch. The room is dark except for the bright orange and red light coming in through the window.


The cat sleeps next to the owner and her notebook is open on her messy coffee table with a full cup of coffee next to it. The orange light shines directly onto the notebook.


"Just fall in love." is written in the notebook.


The author smiles as she picks up her cat. Giving the cat kisses as she leaves her living room into her kitchen.

The words on the notebook shine blue as the wind closes the notebook.



By Eliza Jones

        The walls of the cave were red stone, smooth and barren. The ground was slanted, stretching down into a darkness the sunlight couldn’t penetrate. Yimha held out her torch, took a deep breath, and then began to walk. 

        Lotok followed a step behind, glancing at the walls like they would close in around them at any moment. “May I ask…You said only children come here. Why?” Her voice echoed in the empty space.

        Yimha weighed her words. “This place is…in your language, I think I would call it sacred. Children come here on their first voyages.”

The sand shifted under their feet, growing more sparse as they traveled down into the earth.

        Lotok looked around, no doubt trying to see how such a lifeless place could be sacred.

        “It was the home of the Mother River,” explained Yimha. “Thousands of years ago, it carried my people to the valley. It tunneled through the earth with persistence and strength, and taught us to do the same.” The torchlight flickered, the only motion in the stale air. “It’s gone now,” she said, “but we are still its people.”

        Lotok looked at her in awe. “Mother River,” she said softly. “That is why you call yourselves River Children! I always thought it was a mistake in translation.”

        Yimha smiled and shook her head. “No,” she said. “It is our history. This is our valley, even if it is now desert. It is our home even if it is changed. It is said that when voyagers enter this place, they can feel the Mother’s echo.”

       Yimha had grown up on the voyagers’ tales. They said Mother pushed them, guided them to its heart just like the waters of old. Its hand once sustained and carried this valley, and it still did so for all who knew its history. Mother River flowed through all its Children, like a song never to be forgotten.

        “Did you voyage here?” asked Lotok.

        Yimha stumbled, nearly dropping the torch. She was beginning to lose feeling in her feet from the trek here, like she was a kid again, traveling through her first dry season on the surface.

        “No,” she said, regaining her footing. “Voyagers must carry the River in their blood. When I was banished, I was renounced from my bloodline, and thus stripped of the chance to carry the title.”

        That seemed to stun Lotok into silence. Yimha’s banishment was clearly marked on her neck, but she supposed gauging the age of scars would be a rather useless skill for a highborn to learn.

        The sand was gone completely now. The bare stone was cool under the wrappings meant to protect her cracked and bleeding feet. They were deep beneath the ground now, the air chill but no less dry than that heated by the sun. It pricked the back of Yimha’s throat and pulled at her skin. 

        “Do your people have places like this?” she asked, wanting suddenly to fill this empty air. “Places sacred to you?”

         “Not sacred,” Lotok said, “but special, yes. At Kolewott’s base is the Spirit Gardens. On the solstice, those who wish to commune join together and make the trek down.”

        “Commune,” Yimha repeated. “I don’t know this word.”

        “Commune is…like communicate,” Lotok said. “Communicate. Do you hear it?”

       “Communicate,” Yimha repeated, rolling the word on her tongue. “So it is a way of talking?”

       “Not exactly. Talking is what you do with someone standing in front of you. A spirit attached to you, appearing to you in visible form, you might talk to. Communing is for those spirits who have already left the mountain. We don’t commune through words.”

        Yimha watched Lotok out of the corner of her eye. She knew the people of the mountain were spiritual in a way that went beyond religion or culture. It was said that Kolewott showed them things unknowable to anyone else. That they could see the dead made flesh and bone again.

       “Have you ever had a spirit attach to you?” she asked.

        “No,” said Lotok. “But I know people who have. Parents staying to guard their children, friends not ready to say goodbyes…Eventually, they all make the journey down, but there is no harm in lingering. It means you loved the life you were given.”

        Yimha considered this.

        “And when they leave the mountain?” she asked. “Where do they go then?”

         “I don’t know,” Lotok said. “No one does, except the spirits who are ready, I suppose.”

        “It’s like a voyage, then,” said Yimha. “Leaving home to go where you are led.”

        Lotok smiled. “Yes. I suppose it is.”

        The path before them branched into two, each dark and foreboding. Yimha knew one would lead through the Mother River’s heart and out the other side. The other, she couldn’t say. She didn’t know how it worked for voyagers. Was she supposed to notice some small difference between the two tunnels? Or should she hear something calling out to her, beckoning her home?

        “Wait,” said Lotok, holding out her hand. “Do you feel that?”

        Yimha stilled, holding her breath for a moment. She turned her focus inward, to her own body. She became aware of the painful dryness in her throat, the way the bare skin of her arms itched from the lack of moisture, the fact that her feet had finally gone completely numb. Yimha let out the breath. “No,” she said finally.

        Lotok took a step forward. “It’s like…movement.”

       Yimha raised her torch, illuminating the same stagnant walls as before. Lotok approached the entrance to the left passage and stopped again, looking up to the ceiling. “It’s this way,” she said.

        She strode forward confidently, quickly leaving the radius of torchlight and forcing Yimha to scramble after her. When the tunnel branched again, Lotok made the choice without pause.

        Suddenly, she gasped, whipping her head around to look at something not there. She began to run. Yimha followed, desperate not to lose her in the maze of winding tunnels. 

        “Lotok!” she cried. She could hear laughter bouncing off the unforgiving walls. Yimha was quickly becoming afraid.

        Her unfeeling feet hit a groove in the stone floor, and she fell forward. Her chin hit the ground hard, cracking her teeth together and sending vibrations up and down her skull. The torch flew forward and landed before her, illuminating a yawning cavern, stretching up and around like an open fist. Yimha pressed her cheek to the cold, unfeeling stone. Her body ached. She tasted blood in her mouth. The air pressed in, leeching the moisture from her veins. She fought the urge to cry.

        For the first time in years, she felt utterly forsaken.

        Then came again the laughter. Yimha froze. She looked up once more, and there was Lotok. She was dancing. She leapt about the open space of the cavern, her movements casting distorted shadows on the far walls. She was the only motion in the deadened place.

        “It’s here!” she cried, laughter still in her voice. “I understand now! It’s still here! The parent guarding its children, watching over its home! It’s still here!” She rushed over and pulled Yimha to her feet, still laughing. “Yimha, do you see this?” she said. “Do you feel it?”

        Yimha leaned on her shoulder and stared up at the stone walls, the dry desert air. The heart of her valley, the birthright of her people, the ghost of her beautiful Mother.

        She could feel nothing at all.

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