About planetserene

Ending a 4 year enlistment in the Coast Guard I am preparing to enter back into civilian life. I will be attending nursing school in Oregon as well as traveling and exploring as much as possible. My inspiration to get out and become a nurse are the many wars and conflicts currently taking place in the world. Someday soon I hope to be a part of the world wide team of peacekeepers dedicating their lives to helping those in need.

St. Patrick and the Dying Leprechaun

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The emerald green eyes of the leprechaun puddled with tears. His little lips quivered and his nose sniffled. “I don’t know what’s happening,” he said, “But I’m not the first to go like this.”

Patrick stroked his long gray beard. “What do you mean you’re not the first to go like this?” He asked the tiny creature.

“Ever since the humans have been noticing us a strange sickness has taken over. At least 20 across the whole island have died already. We get noticed. Then we get sick. Then we die. I’m going to die.” The leprechaun broke down into gut wrenching sobs. His bright orange beard was soaked with tears. “All we ever wanted was to bring good luck and happiness, maybe cause a little mischief, but now we can’t because the humans make us sick.”

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Patrick patted the back of the leprechaun. “Now now there,” he comforted,”I’m sure there is an answer to all of this trouble.” He sat for a moment consoling his distraught patient before standing and walking to his desk. “You say that whenever a human looks at a leprechaun, the leprechaun gets sick and dies. Now I suspect, since humans and leprechaun’s have both been cohabiting this land for some time, that it’s not the look that’s making you sick, but the disbelief. A hundred years ago a human look wouldn’t have sickened you. They believed back then.”

Taking a rest from his violent sobs the leprechaun looked at Patrick, “So what do we do?” With a big smile Patrick leaned over his desk. “We change the rules little one. Make it so that the disbelievers never see you.” Confusion and skepticism filled the tiny fey’s eyes.

“I can see you think I’m crazy, but I have been thinking on this problem for some time. You’re not he first leprechaun to come crying to me. Unfortunately they all died before I had a solution. Lucky for you I have one now and can not only cure you but change the fate of leprechauns everywhere.” With a satisfied smile Patrick leaned back in his great oak chair. The legs creaked with the weight shift.

“What is the cure?

“Flowers.” Patrick beamed. He stood and a swish of dust floated off the floor with him. “Come with  me little one. Let me show you what I mean.” The leprechaun stood and followed patrick through the iron doors and out into the expansive garden beyond.

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Patrick’s garden was filled with every sort of flower imaginable. There were roses, daffodils, dandelions, daisy, bluebells, and countless others all blooming and thriving wherever they pleased. As they walked through the mess of flowers Patrick reached into his brown robes and drew out a petite, crystal via. Inside was a golden red liquid. “Here drink this.” He said handing it down to the leprechaun. Without question the creature popped the cork off the top and swigged the fluid down.

“That tasted awful,” he blurted,”Like bitter wine or old fruit.”

Chuckling Patrick patted the mop of orange hair. “It has cured you as well as given you protection. I have many more such vials that I will give to you to disperse amongst the other leprechauns.” They had come to the end of the garden. There was no fence or hedge to signify the garden’s end. Instead it dropped off in the sky. Patrick stood at the edge looking down into the puffy clouds below. “From now on whenever a human looks at you little one you shall burst into a flower. They will only see you as a flower and nothing more. Then as soon as they’ve looked away you’ll return to your original form free to perform whatever mischief you please.”

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The leprechaun’s jaw hung slightly open. “You mean that if all the leprechauns take this juice they too will turn into flowers when a human sees them?

“That’s right. Beautiful flowers. And have no fear of being picked. The humans will find that they have a hard time picking you. I added a small aversion spell to that potion as an insurance that that would never happen.” Patrick answered.

A laugh bubbled up in the leprechaun’s chest and came bursting out. “I can’t believe it. we’re cured.” He cried. Bursting into a jig he danced back into the garden. Patrick followed also laughing.

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A little bit later the leprechaun was laden up with thousands of vials filled with the magical potion to cure the leprechauns. Patrick summoned a rainbow and watched as at the tiny creature skipped his way down back to earth. Smiling Patrick wave a withered hand. He enjoyed helping. Today had been a success. The leprechauns would be able to live in peace and it was all because he had found a cure.

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St. Francis and the Singing Fish

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I could feel the skepticism of my newest creation hanging about the room like a heavy coat. At first I though that maybe the red spots were to much against her scaly skin. Then I  wondered if maybe she was to corpulent. But now as I scrutinized this full figured creature, I realized the her tiny wings were out of place against the rotund body. They looked a little to much like duck feet.

“She’s so beautiful Francis, I simply adore her. She sings like a nightingale!” Emory never had a negative comment about  my work. I’d made him that way.

“Seriously Emory, she’s disgusting. So fat and fishy, not to mention that voice sounds like a cage full of drunk monkeys.” Paula, Emory’s twin, was always negative. Nothing was ever good enough. Both cockatoos ruffled their glossy white feathers in annoyance to each other’s comments. They sat, one on each of my shoulders, constantly commenting on my latest creations.

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“Well in the end it doesn’t really matter what you think Paula. If Francis likes it then down to earth she goes.” Emory always liked to get the last word in. With a rude squak Paula flapped her wings.

“Hush now, I’m trying to think. You’re both right. She is spectacular but something is wrong.” Dutifully the birds turned their attention the singing fish. She was on a pedestal in the center of my spacious studio. It was a large white stone cave with a gaping entrance looking out over a sparkling blue ocean. A warm breeze blew in and washed away the smell of fish. The floor was littered with bits and pieces of fish skin, bat wing, ruby dye, and other various ingredients used to make this strange piece of art.

The fish’s voice was hard to listen to. Paula was right. It was high pitched and whistley, like  wind blowing over the top of a small tube. My ears ached.

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“Turn it off Francis. I simply can’t take the noise anymore.” Paula whispered into my ear so Emory wouldn’t hear her. I shook my head.

“No Paula I need to figure out what needs to be done to fix that voice. If I can fix the voice then she’ll ready to be presented before the others and then hopefully sent down to earth.” Emory’s head bobbed in agreement. The fish began to flap her leathery wings in time with her song.

“She can’t fly away with those can she?” Emory asked.

“No, no. There’s no chance of that. She’s to obese.” But as if to mock the words I’d uttered the instant they left my lips the fish began to rise up off the pedestal. The cockatoos excitedly flapped their wings and bounced their heads up and down.

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“Look Look she’s going to fly away.” Paula screeched. Stunned I watched as the singing fish lifted up and flapped her little wings wildly. Before I could react, she had fluttered out of the cave entrance and was skimming her way over the calm water. Her voice was still echoing in our ears.

For a moment the three of us just watched. Nothing like this had happened before. “Oh my, how unexpected.” Emory broke our shocked silence.

“I wonder where she’ll go.” I said.

“Perhaps we should just cut our losses and continue on with the next project.” Paula didn’t seem to sad to see the fish leave. With a shrug I turned back to my desk and picked up my quill.

“First let me write a letter explaining what just happened and then we can continue on. I’d like it to be noted that this was a complete accident. Just in case she finds her way to earth.” I scribbled down a letter explaining what had occurred. I rolled it, sealed it, and tied it the leg of a letter dove. As soon as the dove left with my note I turned back to the pedestal. “Emory, Paula,” I said,”Get the fish clay. We’re going to make another one.” The cockatoos bobbed their heads in happiness and flew about gathering the materials. No matter what happened in the studio, or how strange things were, the work could never cease.

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Dust

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The smoke from the pipe curled up the stone wall like a lizard trying to find a cool spot on a hot day. His beard was thick and long, hanging down to his barrel chest. Silvery threads twisted themselves around the darker strands choking them out. Dark eyes glinted behind lowered lids, searching for the right words. He flipped through the stiff, yellow pages of his book. There was a specific quote he wanted to find. It was something that reminded him of before, when he didn’t know about war.

Outside the sun was setting. Dark yellow rays pushed past the tangled branches of the fir trees lining the gravel driveway. They fell onto the front porch where he was sitting, reading. Lovingly the dying rays lit the words for him. He found the quote. Pulling a blue pen from his jacket’s pocket he circled the sentence, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.” He had once lived by that quote. The words had motivated him through his school years and later it pushed him through his early adult life. But at a certain point it had begun to lose meaning. The longer he lived and fought the less his heart beat strongly and cheerfully. Eventually it had stopped beating all together. That’s why he’d moved here, to the mountains, away from anyone or anything that could possibly see his dead heart.

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Now he sat on his front porch re-reading the sentence for the first time in twenty years. “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world.” Saying the words out loud made him nervous. His voice was rough and strained from under use. The soft smell of warm pine drifted over in a puff of breeze. With a deep sigh he sucked it in. Reaching under his chair he ruffled the fluffy head of the dog sleeping there. Affectionately the animal licked his master’s hand. “A strong and cheerful heart. You have one of those Cooper.” Cooper’s tale thudded against the wood of the deck at the sound of his name. “I wish I did too.”

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By now the sun was sitting on top of the purple mountains, casting an orange halo over the sky. The air was cool and clear. Standing the man and dog walked off the porch. It was time for their nightly stroll through the trees before star gazing and then bed. Pine needles crunched under the weight of his heavy boots, Cooper’s feet padded quietly. Hands buried deep in his pockets he continued to think about the quote and why he’d come here. He hadn’t been home long before he realized he wouldn’t fit in anymore. All of his old friends where married now with kids, mortgages , and no future. His parents had long spent their retirement on cruises and golf and were now rotting away in a retirement home. They didn’t remember him. He intended to die in these mountains, away from people, alone. No one would miss him. Maybe he’d even be happy a little bit knowing that he had done his part and gone quietly. But now he wasn’t so sure. Here there was just quiet, reflection, and regret.

Regret. The word had hung in his dusty mind like a dying leaf on a branch for years. At first he had only thought the feeling was numbness to all the evil he’d seen. Then he thought it was bitterness. Now he realized it was all of those wrapped up in a tight blanket of regret for a life he could have enjoyed and loved but instead hated and brooded over. It was the last gift he had received for all his hard work. He’d given his whole life away for a cause he never really believed in only to be rewarded with a dead soul. His once strong and cheerful heart had been ground into the very dust he’d lived in for the last 20 years.

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The sun had now set. Cooper followed his master back up the stone steps of the house and in through the front door. Whining the dog wagged his tale as his bowl was filled with dinner. Watching Cooper inhale his food was calming. This animal had nothing to do in this life except love and be loved. It would be a sad day when Cooper died. “Come on Cooper. Let’s go back outside.” He said. The dog looked up, his hershey kiss eyes filled with kindness. They went back to the front porch to watch the stars come out. Lighting up his pipe again he sat back in his chair and turned his eyes to the darkening sky. The smoke twisted in the cool night air. It was black out there in the mountains, like dark velvet. Little stars began to poke their little heads out of the bluish, purple sky. With a sigh he stretched out his feet on the railing of the porch. All around him nature was living, thriving, existing. Despite the cold winters, fierce summers, and long rains of the spring, these mountains remained strong and powerful. Whatever was the center of this wilderness was strong and hopeful. There was a hopeful impulse in everything here. How had he never noticed it  before? It flowed like blood from a gaping wound. There was no regret in the mountains, only survival and beauty. Life went on.

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A small breeze blew through the trees and across his face, stirring his beard. He could feel a little spot dust clear away. Eventually it would all blow away. There would be a new heart left behind. Not as fresh as the old one once was, he thought, but not so dead as it was now. Picking up the book he opened back up the quote he’d circled, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”

“Cooper,”he said around his pipe,”I think tomorrow we need to go into town. I haven’t seen mom and dad in awhile. Might be a good idea to visit don’t you think?” Cooper thumped his tail. He smiled and patted Cooper’s head. Tonight he’d stopped dying in these mountains. Instead he decided he would live, and find a way back to a strong and cheerful heart.

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Dead Puppy

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There was something disconcerting about the way the light bounced off the pasty white head of the man. He had walked in ten minutes ago after a class and was sitting at the desk chatting with some of the other students about the bad coffee. I was pretending to read in the back corner. In reality I wasn’t taking my eyes off him. When someone makes you nervous you want to know everything about who they are.

I’d heard a few of the others refer to him once as the evil character from a child hood book series we were all familiar with. At the time the comment had made me laugh. But now as I was seeing the man for the first time I realized the reference wasn’t just for laughs. This man could very well be seeking to destroy my soul.

The topic had now changed from coffee to one up stories. These were my favorite to eaves drop. You were always guaranteed to hear at least one story that made you feel better about yourself. The more outrageous the story the more sad the person.

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“You’ve never known cold till you’re on watch at night in the middle of the fucking desert. Let me tell you, some nights my hands would turn blue. And I was the only one my sergeant trusted so I’d stand extra watches or just be out there with the other guy to make sure everything was ok. It was brutal.” Ken scratched his short beard as he leaned back into the bright computer screen.

“Yeah man, I feel you. When I was deployed we were so short people we had to stand double watches. Every 12 hours.” I didn’t know who’d just chimed in. He was new in the office. We’d probably never see him again after today.

The bald man laughed at the comments. It was a cold laugh. Cold like night time in the fucking desert. “I’ll tell you what’s cold, killing a puppy.” He said. The other two looked at him their bodies tensed to think of a better story then what was about to be told. “Once when we were on patrol we went overtime and had to stay the night out in the middle of the mountains. Talk about sketchy. I honestly thought we’d get ambushed and die. To make it worse we didn’t have anything to eat except some cliff bars and gatorades.”

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“Yeah we had to do that once. I was pretty terrified but now I’ve done not much scares me.” Ken chimed in.

“Well we didn’t have food, so we were just sitting around trying to get comfortable. I was on watch just pacing around to stay warm, when I hear this little yelp. Scared the shit out of me at first. So I went over to these bushes to see what it was. There was this little puppy tied to one of the branches. It must’ve been one of the village kids or something and they’d forgotten about it.”

“I remember there being dogs everywhere too. Stupid shits were always getting in the way. I’d just kick them.” The random man laughed at his fake joke. The bald one ignored him and continued.

“I picked up the little guy and brought him to the guys and was like hey I found dinner. They thought I was joking at first until I bashed it’s head in. Let me tell you, that puppy tasted delicious. I’m not saying I’d eat one here but if I had to I probably would.”

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There was a moment of silence as everyone who’d heard the story soaked it in. The bald man was laughing a smile stretched across his egg white face. I curled up into a tighter ball and sank my head down further into my book.

“Well I can’t say I’ve eaten a puppy, but I did eat a cat on a deployment once. Tasted like shit.” Ken was trying hard to not seem offended by the story. The random man interjected his two sense and soon the conversation had digressed to another topic. I continued to read my book no longer paying them any attention. The bald man had lost my interest. If he wanted to tell a group of people he’d just met he ate puppies instead of cliff bars then that was sign to stay clear. I didn’t have time for people who ate small animals to prove they were men.

True Love

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Claire hung up the phone. Closing her aching eyes she massaged her temples and sighed heavily. Rain pattered on the foggy window. The screams echoed across the hallways of her grandmother’s old home reverberating in Claire’s skull, penetrating her mind. Groaning to herself Claire stood up and went to the sink for a glass of water. It was cool in the house. Her bare feet were chilled against the tile of the kitchen. Again screams, horrible and painful. Moving to the kitchen cupboard, she pulled out the syringe and filled it for the hundreth time with the morphine. Laboriously she made her way to the hallway and to the door of the basement.

When Claire emerged her tiny frame shook slightly. The phone rang. “Hello.” she answered in the living room. “Hello, Ms. Smith?” a voice replied on the other end.

“Yes, this is she.” Claire’s voice sounded like the dust and cold surrounding her in the creaking house.

“Ms. Smith, we received your message. Unfortunately we don’t usually deal with cases like yours. But we are willing to come out and take a general asesment. Possibly steer you in the right direction.” Claire was silent.

“Ms. Smith? Did you hear me?” the voice said.

“Yes.” she answered.

“So you would like us to come and survey the situation?” the voice asked.

“Yes.” Claire sighed.

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“We’ll be there in the morning Ms. Smith. At 8 am sharp.” Claire hung up the phone. The clock on the mantle read 4 pm. There was only silence. An hour passed. Claire still stood by the phone. Rain continued to patter outside, a draft blew a small cloud of dust through the hallway. Another hour passed. Claire stood by the phone. 6 pm, all was silent. 7 pm, screams erupted from the basement. Shrill, and unearthly screams pierced the silence. 10 pm screams, 1 am screams, 4 am screams, 7 am screams. The morphine was gone.

At 8 oclock a sturdy knock sounded at the wooden door. Red rings circled Claire’s eyes, dark shadows pulled her cheeks inward. “Good morning Ms. Smith.” A tall man stood at the door carrying a black case. Behind him was another shorter man also carrying a black case. Both were dressed in faded, gray tweed suits. “May we come in?” the tall man asked politely. Claire nodded and the two men walked into the home.

“You may lead us to the place when you’re ready Ms. Smith.” the shorter man said. Claire led them to the door of the basement. Her bare feet padded softly on the dusty floorboards of her home. She pointed at the door, “Down there.” The men nodded in understanding and went down the stairs. After a few minutes the screams started again. Tears welled up in Claire’s eyes. “Stop,” she whispered, “stop, stop, stop, stop.” She clasped her ears in her hands and sank to the ground. “Stop, please stop.” She muttered under her breath. 30 minutes later, the screaming ended and the men came back up stairs. “Ms. Smith, we’d like to have a word with you in the living room.” Claire led them into the living room and sat down on one of the musty couches. The two men sat on the edge of green sofa.They were ridged and stiff. Both fiddled with their hands. “How long has he been like this?” the shorter man finally said after a few minutes of silence.

Claire shrugged,”4, 5 months maybe. I’ve lost count.”

“And its been this bad the entire time?” the tall man asked. Claire nodded. The short man pulled out a notebook and began jotting notes. “How is it you are able to come by the morphine?”

“It was left here by my grandmother. She had cancer and kept a cupboard full.” Claire twisted her hands in her lap. “But i’ve run out. I have nothing left. Nothing.”

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The tall man nodded understandingly. “Ms. Smith, this is a very unusual case. We are very concerned not only for him but for you as well. We cant help noticing this home has fallen into neglect. And no offense but you look a bit ill yourself. Have you considered calling a priest?”

Again Clair shook her head. “We’re not religious.”

“Right, but in these sort of situations sometimes it might be best to try anything possible.” Both men were looking at her intensely. Claire sat there, staring at the clock.

“May we ask what triggered all of this?” the tall man said.

“I don’t know. We got married. We went on a honeymoon. We moved in to take care of grandmother, she died. He got sick, then this started. I put him down there. I didn’t know what else to do. The hospital wouldn’t take him.”

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The two men looked at each other and nodded. Then standing up, they pulled a brochure from their pocket. “We want you to read this brochure Ms. Smith. We will be back on wednesday with additional help. It is out of our line of expertise but we want to help. It doesn’t hurt expanding our horizons a little. In the meantime, here’s some extra morphine free of charge till we can come back wednesday. Sound good?” Claire nodded her drooped head as the men turned and left.

Wednesday arrived. The men came back, this time there were three others with them. They knocked on the door. No answer. After several minutes the tall man pushed on the thick wooden door. It opened. A deafening silence hit them. “Hello! Ms. Smith!” the short man called out. The five people stepped cautiously into the dusty home. The floorboards creaked from the added weight. “Ms. Smith.” they called. A sound like running water came from the kitchen. Slowly they inched themselves down the hallway. The short man placed a hand on the kitchen door and cautiously pushed it open. “Ms. Smith?” he said. A handsome man with dark thick hair stood at the sink pouring himself a glass of water. He did not turn around. “Where is Ms. Smith?” the tall man asked, his voice shook slightly.

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“Claire, is not here.” the strange man said.

“She is expecting us.” one of the other team members said, trying to sound brave.

“Is she?” its was a rhetorical answer, dead and unfealing sounding.

“Why don’t you turn around?” the short man said.

“It is unnecessary. Now would you kindly leave my house. Claire is not here.”

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Hesitantly the team of five left the man standing in the kitchen. They were confused and slightly disturbed. Quietly the tall man shut the house door behind him and walked with the rest of the team back to their van. As they drove away the house stood, large and gray against the rainy sky. There was no houses for miles in these parts. Claire must have left.

Back in the house, screams began to echo through the frames shattering the silence. The man walked to the cupboard and pulled out a syringe. He filled it with the morphine, and walked to the basement door.

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Love With Crystal

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The first time I saw the girl, my heart stopped. I was transported with a quickness to a world exploding with sparkling red lights. My head felt as if it was going to burst at any minute. There was no air, and my feet were floating on nothing. It was hard to see through the swirling sparks and thick dark atmosphere. My heart was on fire.

The girl appeared at my side while I was browsing the book shelves. She did’t seem to notice this strange and alien world we were in. “Can I help you find something?” Stupidly I stared at her sparkling smile. I felt like a child, a clumsy, awkward child. Sparks kept hitting me in the face and catching on my clothes. A few tugged at her short blond hair and bounced off the sweet dimples in her cheeks.

“Hi” she said tilting her head to the side as if she knew I was an idiot.  My throat stuck, but I managed to answer.

“Hello. What’s your name?” my voice cracked. She giggled as a pink spark flitted by her button nose. Shyly she shuffled her feet. “Its Crystal. What’s yours?”

“Adrian.” I answered. My brow was beginning to sweat. I looked around. “Strange place don’t you think?” She raised an eyebrow at my question..

“Its just a bookstore.” Crystal answered, and just like that the bookstore reappeared around us.

“Oh yes of course, I know. You like books then?” This beautiful creature smiled and nodded. “Actually I work here.” She explained. My heart thudded in my thin chest. Crystal was short and soft. The space around her glimmered like sunlight on water.

“Can I help you find anything Adrian?” Crystal asked. I blinked.

“I’m looking for a book about alternate realities.” I answered.

“I know just the book for you. Right this way.” As she spoke a million golden stars shot out of her mouth. Crystal was angelesque. A bright shining star. She led me to a back corner. We stopped in front of a shelf and she began to reach up for a book. She was just an inch to short. “Which one?” I asked. Crystal pointed. Heat radiated from her. The ground was shaking. I was shaking.

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“So, I was wondering, Crystal.” I began to ask. Pausing I glanced at her gleaming face. Her eyes were pools of mercury, swirling in the light.

“Yes?” she prompted.

“I was wondering if you’d like to go get a coffee with me. This afternoon?” I asked. A shock like a thousand bees stinging me at once shot through my body. I rocked a little from side to side from the impact.

“I’d love to. Let me give you my number. I’m off at 2.” Crystal reached for a pen. She grabbed my hand and wrote down a number on the palm. Blushing with happiness I thanked her then turned to purchase my book.

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As I walked outside into the glaring heat of the day I looked down at my palm. To my dismay my hand had sweated away the number. A jolt of fear racked my body.  I was already 4 blocks away. Disregarding the heat and crowd of people pushing past me, I turned and sprinted back to the store. Bursting in I ran through looking for Crystal. She was no where to be found. Trembling I approached the cashier. “Excuse me.” I asked calmly, ”I’m looking for an employee here named Crystal. She’s short, has short blonde hair, and has a round face.” The cashier just stared. I could feel the ground fall beneath me. “There’s no one named Crystal working here.”

“Are you sure?” I asked frantic,”She just helped me.” The cashier shook his long greasy hair. His breath smelled like tobacco and old shoes.

“I’m sorry sir,” He said.  Disappointed I turned my back on him. A sickening feeling welled up inside. Numbly I stumbled back out onto the street. In my hand was clasped the book. Sitting down on a bench outside the store I began to peruse the cover. “Magic or Science: Relativity for the Average Soul” stared at me in glossy white on a shiny backdrop of space. I glanced at the author. Crystal Barnes, I read. Confused I flipped to the bio in the back. There was a picture of a short, blond, happy round faced Crystal smiling sweetly at me. Snapping the book shut I closed my eyes.

“Well there you are Adrian. I’m off early. How about that coffee?” Opening my eyes I turned. The world shimmered and fell away. Sparks flew at my face and the air grew thin. “All right.” I said and grinned.

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What Happens At Bedtime

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Cody had never seen a clown before. This clown was beaming at him with his cherry lips while twisting a little dog to life from a red balloon. A smile twinged at Cody’s mouth as the clown handed the dog to him. His big red nose caught the bright sunshine. A thin, worn hand caught Cody’s shoulder. Looking up into his mother’s somber eyes he let himself be guided away from the bright clown. Looking back over his shoulder Cody grinned. The clown winked.

That night dad was drunk again. Tonight was worse than most nights. Apparently he had been let off at the car shop. Screams and shouts filled the house. Cody hugged his balloon dog and curled up under his bed. His little heart beat to the rhythm of his dad’s shouts. Maybe if he pretended he didn’t exist the fighting would go away. His mother’s screams shot through his bones like razors. A door slammed and all was quiet again. A few hours or maybe minutes, he couldn’t tell, his mother came up the stairs and into his room. She pulled him out from under the bed and took him to the bath. Cody stared at his mother’s bruised eye, and puffy lip. Her mascara was running and her nose was red. Like the clowns, he thought. But unlike the clown’s her’s did not catch the happy gleam of sunshine.

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She bathed Cody and prepared him for bed. The towel was soft and fluffy, and his pajamas had red fire trucks on a blue background. She tucked him in with his balloon dog and kissed them both goodnight. Downstairs the door opened again and furniture began to bang around. With a heavy sigh she headed back down to her drunk husband. Cody began to cry.

The morning sun woke up the sleepy boy. Opening his crusty eyes Cody groggily climbed out of bed and headed to the kitchen. He pulled out some cereal and began to pour himself a bowl. The day was bright and fresh. Eating his Lucky Charms Cody went into the living room to turn on cartoons. A bright clown filled the tv screen laughing and honking a large cartoonish horn. Cody beamed. He watched as the clown threw puffy pies in a grumpy old man’s face while singing the ABC’s. The morning passed by. Neither mom nor dad came down to join him watch the funny clown. Finally Cody had had enough and turned of the tv and put his bowl in the already over flowing sink. Grabbing his balloon he began to make his way back upstairs to get dressed. But something caught his eye in the laundry room under the stairs. Curious he went to the door and pushed it open. Inside was a woman who looked like his mom. She lay on the floor her neck twisted like a doll that had a revolving head. Glassy eyes stared up at the ceiling. A trickled of blood ran down her chin. Cody stood there staring. Suddenly a heavy hand fell on his shoulder and another hand closed the laundry room door. “Cody lets go get dressed ok?” it was his dad. Picking up Cody they headed upstairs. “Dad, who was that lady?” Cody asked, “She looks like mommy.” But dad just shook his head and pulled out clothes for his son. “Don’t worry about it kiddo.” was the reply. Dressed and ready for the day Cody and his father went out. They bought ice cream and went to Chuckee Cheese for lunch. Then they went to a movie  about cartoon ants and bought rosy pink cotton candy. As they headed back to the car dad asked, “Is there anywhere else you wanna go kiddo?” Cody shrugged. Then he remembered the clown. “I want to see the clown! The one at the park!” His dad laughed a deep harsh laugh and off they went to the park.

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The clown was there in his usual spot. Cody ran up to him smiling. As if he could read the little boy’s mind the clown began to make a blue doggy out of a balloon. Cody’s dad just stood there, tapping his foot and looking at his watch. The clown looked at the dad smiling, then for a second the smile dropped. But only for a second. Cody laughed out loud when the blue doggy was made and handed to his sticky hands. “Thank you!” he cried and skipped away, his dad following. The clown waved a white gloved hand at the small boy and his father.

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Back at home Cody took his bath and climbed into bed. “Daddy, where’s mommy?” he asked. The dad just shrugged. “But daddy I want mommy to kiss me and the doggy’s goodnight. Where is she?” Again no response. Cody was begining to get impatient. So he began to have a tantrum. “Where is she daddy! Where is mommy! I want mommy!” Frustrated his dad slapped Cody across the face. “Shut up! Mommy is not coming home! Go to bed now.” Shaking with rage his dad turned and slammed the door. Cody stood there tears welling up in his eyes, his cheek burning. Climbing into bed he sobbed himself to sleep again.

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Cody wasn’t stupid. He knew where his mommy was. He had liked to pretend he didnt know. But he had had fun with daddy today, so he had to pretend. That didn’t mean he didn’t know though. As he lay in his bed sobbing a face appeared in his window, only for a second. Cody stopped his tears. The face had looked a lot like the clown from the park. Frozen Cody stared at his window. Again it appeared beaming. Slowly it raised a finger to its lips and mouthed a shush. Jumping out of bed Cody ran over and put his face on the glass. Nothing was there. Outside in the hallway a crash sounded. Cody ran to his door. He tried to pull it open but he couldn’t, it was stuck fast. Again a  crash sounded in the hallway. A cry from his father came from his parents room. “Dad!” Cody cried out. “Im in here! Im stuck!” he pounded on the door. Again he heard his father cry out. Scared Cody grabbed his balloon dogs and held them close. There were several loud bangs and a sound like metal on metal. His father cried in fear, while a cheerful laugh echoed through the house. Cody shook with fear and sobs. The noises stopped. His father wasn’t shouting anymore and there were no more laughs. The house was silent. Fear and exhaustion finally won over Cody and he drifted off to sleep.

The next morning Cody was awakened by a hand on his shoulder. A police man was looking down at him with a sad face. “I found the boy.” he said to another officer in the other room. Scooping Cody up the police man carried him downstairs and outside. The sun was hot and blinding. There was a lot of people in his front yard. Neighbors, police, EMT’s, firemen all were standing around busily talking and whispering. “That bastard. It was only a matter of time before he killed her.” One neighbor said.

“Well then who killed him? The boy?” another whispered.

“Please ladies and gentlemen, just step away. Give the family some privacy.” A policeman shouted.

“What family? They’re all dead.” muttered a disgruntled old man.

Cody was taken to an ammbulance and placed in the back while a nice lady began to examine him. She asked some questions and handed him him a drink and placed a blanket over his shoulders. Cody looked out over the sea of people. Some pointed at him, others were busy going in and out of his house. But they were all busy talking. Except one, in the back, barely visible. It was the clown. He was standing and watching Cody. Smiling the clown waved. A small smile crept over Cody’s face. He waved back. Then just like that, the clown was gone. Cody just sat there looking after the clown, wondering where he had disappeared to. Cody had never seen a clown before, but he liked them. He definitely liked clowns.

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