Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Master Tailor by Leigh Dolinger

He was a master tailor whose character had been shredded into combustible filaments that could never arc back to any semblance of the person he once was.  He was, indeed, a veteran of note; Birkenau, Sobibor, Auschwitz, the Death March, Josef Mengele, and the kapos.

Golga made it through when so many others had not and he often wondered why.  He could not forgive himself for surviving the living hells.  If a man has no shadow of the past, then upon what can he base the present?  And for him there cannot be a future.  Golga’s past was only a small mound of ash.

Six years of convalescence in the Alps set him back onto his tottering feet.  He was tall—more than 6 feet tall and he weighed less than 45 pounds when he staggered into the dispensary.  For all their neutrality, Golga was accepted as a Swiss natural because his father was born there.  Twenty years old; that wasn’t even a kilo for every year, but every millimeter of him was a fighter, a battler and a warrior against the yesterdays and the losses of his life.

He never spoke about it.  To speak was to remember.  To remember was to relive. “Once is not enough?” he raged when someone dared to ask him.  So no one asked him anything.  Ever.

No one knows where he learned his craft, but when he came to the land of the free and the home of the brave—he was neither free, nor brave; a survivor and a tailor and nothing more.  He would never be free from his yesterdays, and as to being brave; he was alive because this was his fate and destiny.  That was all.  In another place they called such people “muselman”; the living dead.

He married and begot 10 children.  A certain amount of emotion must accompany the begetting of children—even one, much less 10, but neither his wife nor his children knew of anything but a towering burning fire constantly stoked by his tortured past.  He set one child against another and consequently, all of them against himself.  They all cowered in constant, fearful foreboding, dreading the ripping buckle of his heavy strap that left great bloody welts across their small but growing bodies.  But no amount of fury would erase his yesterdays.  Nothing could exorcise the specter of the concentration camps, the stench of burning bodies, and the black abyss of despair—all of which had become the warp and woof of the very soul of the man.

Nevertheless, the man was a master tailor.

Golga was a brooding man who worked in the back of Hartstein’s shop.  He was safe there, away from prying eyes and questioning voices.  The whisper of classical music that constantly seeped from the dusty radio gave forth a nearly silent comfort, and the overhead florescent lights shielded the rest of the world from him.

Day in and day out for almost 42 years, Golga stitched, fitted, smoothed, padded, shaped, curved and gave new meaning to a fine piece of wool, a superb cut of herringbone, or a length of an unusual hounds-tooth check.  But he was at the apex of his glory in the perfection of his bound buttonholes and pocket flaps, barely discerned regardless of the fabric.  Hartstein’s reputation rested on Golga’s bound buttonholes.  And when the customer came in after a week’s waiting, the garment he donned literally sang.  There is nothing like a garment that is perfectly fitted to clothe the man and Golga could do it, without peer.

But he could not live with his past, and every day he died anew.  He did everything the living did, but he did not stop dying no matter how much he distanced himself from the past.

Then, one day a man came into Hartstein’s and ordered a coat of heavy black Melton wool, winter weight.  He chose the material, picked the lining and then stood to be measured.  You could not say that the man looked young and you could not say he looked old.  He seemed to be inordinately ordinary—and yet he was not.

“Now,” said Angelo, the Italian who did the measurements, “Now, for the length.” A myriad of numbers had been noted in a small book and the small, spindly man was getting ready to wrap things up.  He bent down with his tape measure.

“I want a greatcoat.” said the man.  “A floor-length coat.”

Angelo stood up, and looked at the man.  Franco’s men in Italy wore greatcoats more than 50 years ago.  He shuddered.  Who wore a greatcoat in America?

“Yes, yes,” the man said, nodding vigorously.  “A greatcoat.  Down to the tops of my shoes.

“Down….to your shoes?”

“Yes, down to the tops of my shoes.”

Angelo stood before the man, at a loss for words.

“Please measure the length of the coat,” said the man quietly.

It took a few moments for the words to penetrate Angelo’s consciousness.  A greatcoat?  Well, who was he to argue?  And he measured the coat to brush tops of the man’s polished shoes.

When he was through, Angelo silently stepped back.

“Now, mark places for twenty seven pockets,” said the man standing ramrod straight in front of the mirror.

Angelo looked at the man who was obviously deranged.  A greatcoat was crazy enough, but twenty seven pockets?  No.  There was obviously a mistake.

“So,” said the man, “please—mark places for twenty seven pockets.”

Angelo stood at attention before the customer.  “Sir,” he said slowly and with great care, “there is no place on this coat for twenty seven pockets….”

“Twenty seven pockets,” said the customer implacably.

“Twenty sev—“

“Twenty seven pockets,” repeated the man wearily. “Please mark them, so.” and he began to indicate generally the placement of the pockets as he wanted them, one as a breast pocket, and the rest marching at regular intervals down the front and back of both sides of the coat.

Angelo almost angrily slashed marks across the back of the coat.  However, he was enough of an artisan and a perfectionist to know that Golga would notice if the pocket placements were not exact, vertically or horizontally, so even in his fury, he was careful.

Then the man placed an envelope in Angelo’s hand and said, “Take this.  I will come back when the work is done.”  He stood silently for a moment and then, repeated, “Yes, when it is done, I will come back.”

The next day, Golga found the magnificent piece of Melton strewn carelessly across the length of the cutting table.  His experienced eye took in the cut, the style and the shape of things to come.  A greatcoat; it made him stop and consider.  He took down the pattern slopers and looked at Angelo’s scrawls.  It was then that he noted the slashes across the length of the garment-to-be.

“Angelo!”  It was not a call, not a shout, not a bellow.  It was a cross between a roar and a scream.  Angelo came running; he knew this would happen.

With a shaking ruler, Golga pointed to the lines slashed across the rich blackness of the Melton.  His incomprehension angered him.  What was this stupidity?

“That’s what he wants.  That’s what he wants—twenty seven pockets.” Angelo babbled, “He’s crazy, I know, but that’s what he wants.”

Golga stared at Angelo.  The man was demented—but who was the man who was demented?

Angelo?  The customer?  Golga, himself?

The shaking ruler slowly came to rest on the cutting table, and silently, Golga went to work, measuring, brushing, caressing, turning, cutting and feeling the material come to life under his able hands.  Golga did not have to think of what he was doing when he worked; his hands had minds of their own—and sometimes he watched them in silence, amazed after all these years that they had survived the fires of hell, untouched.

As the work progressed, a greatcoat arose from this rambling roll of rich Melton wool.  One by one, meticulously, carefully and accurately, the twenty seven pockets took their place on the coat, and in each one, separately, Golga placed another nightmare; a searing loss, a crippling disability—black holes of bereavement.  As he buttonholed each pocket closed, the intense cries of his pain were comforted and sobbed themselves into submission unto the ages, thereby freeing Golga from the weights in his heart.

The ageless man has not come yet and the coat waits.  But no matter, because the work is done.

Go into Hartsteins.  In the back, you will find the coat, still hanging, covered in plastic.  Look at the workmanship of the buttonholes and especially the pocket flaps.  Run your hands over the coat.  No, you will feel nothing at all because Golga’s work is perfection, incarnate.  But please, do not open the pocket flaps.  Let those nightmares sleep, at last.

Advertisements

Lonely Angel by Megan L Gables

Selouria is a very cold place. Three months out of the year it never stops snowing, another three never stops raining, although… there are six months out of the year that are perfect. We call these the Sapphire months. They are beautiful; it’s nothing you could even dream of if you hadn’t seen it. Blue and purple dancing across the ice covered mountains and in the sky.

The people climb to the tallest hill in our realm when the first night of the Sapphire months come to pass. This is when the colors are at their brightest, their happiest. The people argue among themselves saying the lights have a mind of their own, watching them, you would think… but I happen to believe somewhere in the middle. So a grey opinion? I’m fine with that though.

Oh, I haven’t introduced myself yet, I’m Evangeline. I guess I was created with the thought I would bring good news, since that is what my name means. I’m not like others; everyone tells me I look like an Angelic Creature, I don’t know what my thoughts are on being called a creature, but whatever.

I have really white skin, like really white. People who visit our realm in the pale months, when it snows, say I almost look blue but my beauty makes it shine like beryl.

They say my wings, yes wings, could cover a sky! Very exaggerated, but I would say a good two humans would be an accurate length. The humans tell me they’re  some of the most beautiful wings they’d seen. The others’ wings are carved from rock or ice, but mine are crystal. Mine are blue with accents of purple and look like dragon’s wings.

I tie my light blonde hair to the side so it won’t touch my wings. They’re sensitive still, only having been out for a couple hundred years.

I’ve learned, since living in such harsh conditions, that my wings have grown to coat my bones in crystal to protect them from the cold. Although that doesn’t include my heart. I need warmth in my chest to help it survive the temperatures, so I wear armor over my heart to keep it warm. As far as I know, the only way I could die is if my heart dies cold.

The humans wear burly coats or lots of layers to keep their bodies warm but I can’t do that. I only wear armor; it’s what I was created in and it’s the only clothing I’m comfortable with. I should be like everyone else, but because of my wings and the way I was born, they think of me differently.

To make a long story short, I came alive, but with crystal wings. I might have skimmed the truth earlier, I have the only pair of crystal wings, because I’m the only one of my kind. The only one that has come to life. The humans think of it as a sign of royalty.

I broke out of an ice sculpture in the middle of Selouria. I’m told they had been watching me crack for centuries before I finally broke. Coming alive is almost as symbolic as being born. I only remember waking up, feeling the stinging cold on my back and my name. I was quickly helped and told by many how special I was.

Though fascination with me turned for the worst once learning that my touch turned humans to ice. Because of that discovery, the humans were weary to touch me; so I sat beside many of the other sculptures around the kingdom alone. Yearning for someone to touch.

When I asked what my purpose was, the King, who was the only person willing to come near me at first, explained that long ago there was a sculptor. He was very famous for his art and when Selouria was thrust into war against a neighboring realm, he offered his assistance. He began to carve the ice around the kingdom to give hope to the people, calling them their guardians.

It’s said that my creator sculpted every one of us differently from the rest and when the time came, we would break and come alive.

I have been the only one to come alive so far, but if I’m being honest, I think I will be the only one.

It took me a long time to learn that no one else was coming. Years and years I shook it off, telling myself it wasn’t their time yet… but I eventually came to terms with the fact that I might be alone, forever.

Over time, the humans began to call me a Princess and ask for my thoughts on many things and I don’t hate it. It’s the only social interaction I have with people and every question makes me happy; but even through that, I am alone quite often.

I like to keep my mind off of these matters so I took up sculpting quickly after I came alive. I figured my creator would like that decision.

Sculpting quickly turned into a passion of mine and it’s the one thing that makes me feel warm on the inside. I have carved a lot of the ice outside the kingdom and sometimes the people like to watch me from afar.

The sapphire months are upon us now, and while everyone is out on the tallest mountain, I am walking through the kingdom alone. My eyes catching a sculpture in the square; I always liked that one.

The way the light shined through him cast colors of all kinds onto the square. I remember sitting around this one most of all when I came alive. He kept me calm. I think it was his strong presence; the way he stood and the expression he held… almost like he feared nothing.

I sat down next to him and looked up at the sky. These colors will only fade until the snow starts, so I try and savor these moments.

Some say I’m living art, others who visit say I’m an ice monster. Again, I have a totally grey opinion; I don’t like to ponder it too often.

I know I was created in a dark time, to give hope to the people of this kingdom… but now that the war is over, what purpose do I have? Why am I the only one?

The King told me the sculptor disappeared after the war ended but the humans never forgot his words.

“In my timing, they will come alive, to serve and help others discover their purpose as well.” I quoted quietly while watching the sky. I guess I’ll sit in this kingdom and help my people with their problems day after day like always.

Crack

I scanned my surroundings as I heard the sound. As soon as the thought hit me, I was afraid to turn around… was it what I thought it was?

It couldn’t be, could it? I could feel my hands shaking slightly before I made my decision. I nervously turned and looked up to the sculpture I sat beside.

Was I really believing what I was seeing? There, on the front of his chest was a slight crack. I quickly grabbed hold of the staff he held and hoisted myself up closer to his chest. It was… that was a crack!

I could feel my heart beating faster now as I starred at it. Was this really happening? Would I finally meet someone like me?

The people’s words rang in my mind, back to when they told me they watched for centuries as I cracked. I might not meet him anytime soon… but eventually. I looked up to his clear eyes and smiled. Eventually I will know what he looked like with true color… not the ones the sky gave him.

Eventually his eyes won’t be clear, and I can look into them with him looking back at me.

Eventually I will hear his voice instead of hearing my own… and eventually I will feel the touch of someone else without fearing I would hurt them.

It will be a very long time, but as I look at the small crack on his chest… it gives me hope.

Selouria is a very cold place, we rarely get visitors, but we aren’t going anywhere. I will be here, in this kingdom for all of eternity. This is my home and I will wait with these sculptures, together with my people.

City Love by Anshu

This was just the start of summer. The sun was, as usual, so beautiful, and its warmth was motivating everyone to move ahead with their day’s plan, but Uday was still asleep. It was already 11:00 am. Uday had no clue about the time and was not even eager to wake up, but a call pushed him to wake up.

‘Hi Uday, how is your vacation going on? Have you been to some holiday destination, or just wasting the time here in the city only?’ Uday’s friend asked.

Uday yawned and said, ‘It’s absolutely going great. I just woke up, dear. No tourist destination. I am spending my aloof time with myself. But yes, I am working on my dream work, about which I will let you know once I am back at work.’

‘It’s good that you are investing your vacation on your dream work. By the way, I called to let you know that an unknown artist is in the city who cleans the dirty place in the midnight and makes a great painting over there so that in future people will not spoil that place again. This way he is spreading his thought of “Art to clean”. Times of India published a big article on this unknown guy. Even our boss is searching for this person, as he wants to start a campaign “sparkle the city”’, Uday’s friend said.

Uday almost jumped off the bed as he heard about the news and hung up the phone saying, ‘I will check the newspaper and will call you back.’

Uday ran to the door and picked up the news paper. His eyes started searching for the news. There was a big article showing almost all the pictures painted by the unknown painter.

‘Not a bad job, Mr Uday. Your work is titled as – An Unknown painter – Beautifying the City. But wait, all these pictures are not mine. Only some of the pictures are mine, so who else is following suit?’

Suddenly he remembered his art college and his best friend Anya, who used to say, ‘Where ever I will go, I will leave signs using my paintings.’ She used to say, ‘Sometimes I feel that in this city, I do not like the places which are dirty. If I had time I would clean the places and paint them so that in future no one will spoil the place to maintain the beauty.’

‘Oh Anya, I loved you so much, I was never able to express my feelings. I am getting a strong vibe that this other unknown painter in the city is you. Maybe the other one is not you, but I accept that I am painting this city to remember you every day, to feel the love for you every day.’

‘You know, Anya, in last five years, I have been too engrossed in my job, and I forgot you and the real art. When I reached the peak of my career, I felt that in my profession, I have never been a soulful painter, but I have always been the harsh professional, who can even ignore the real art to get the right money. After reaching the peak, I was unable to find my grounds, but in the name of art, I always remember you. I always think that if I had expressed my feelings, I might have been a different person today, but I don’t know where you are. I tried to find you everywhere. Finally, I decided to make your dream, my dream. For that, I took one month leave and did a complete planning to make the dream come true. One city, thirty days in hand, five days to point twenty five places in the city, twenty five days to make twenty five places clean and beautiful through painting, twenty days already invested. I don’t know how well I am doing , but I feel great about it, and this article in times of India somewhere hints me that you are just near me.’

‘I have ten more days to paint the city, and I hope that one of these days we will meet somewhere and we will paint it together. Anyway, from now I will paint in the night, and at evening, I will explore your paintings and make a gallery of our paintings.’

Every evening, Uday explored the paintings painted by other unknown painter, and at night he used to do paintings on the city walls in the hope that she would meet him soon.

Nine days went by, but he was only able to find her paintings and not her, and there was time constrain, too, as he had to achieve his target. For the last day, he purposefully targeted a place near a playground where Anya used to play in her childhood: her favourite place.

It was 10 pm. The road was almost silent. No one was around there to disturb him, but still he was waiting for someone without any appointment. This night was the last night for his hope, as tomorrow he had to join the office, and after that he had to go international to cover the best art work of the world. Maybe after this night, he would not be able to come to this city for next two years.

He all set his area for painting after cleaning the place, and made an art piece, which he used to make with Anya at their art college. He made his art piece the whole night in the hope that she would come and complete her portion, but it was already 3 am and there was no sign of her. His hope ended, but in the hope that someday destiny would help to complete it, he left the place for his new life after his penance work for art.

Uday didn’t slept for rest of the night; he was just imaging his painting completed by Anya’s painting’s other part. This was 6 am. With a cup of coffee, he was packing all his stuff, which was companion for him for last thirty days, but there was something missing. It was Anya’s sketch on a tissue paper that he made when they went to visit city art museum at college time during college. It was so precious for him because that was the only souvenir he had of Anya.

‘It must have been left last night at that place,’ Uday said to himself and rushed for the place.

‘Thank God! It is here,’ Uday said happily.

Suddenly that tissue paper dropped from his hand and he was about to fall. ‘Oh my god, it’s a complete painting now.’

Someone held him from behind, and the touch was the same. The most delicate and the artistic hands were holding him.

He turned around and hugged her and said, ‘I love you Anya! I and this painting have waited for you so many years.’

In return Anya said, ‘I love you too, Uday. We both were on the parallel path, but destiny chooses this way to bring us together.’

‘So finally, this breezing morning have found out city’s unknown artists who are beautifying the city with their art.’ Suddenly a reporter came there and started reporting about Uday and Anya’s work and their final accomplishment.

Uday said to Anya, ‘I think I have decided, I have one last urgent work to do.’

It was an e-mail.

From: Uday Roy

To: Mr Ashwin Malhotra

Subject line: Want to work for City and My love

Dear Ashwin,

I would not be able to continue for the new project. As I had commitment with you regarding this one, at the max I can handle the research work from here. If you allow me also I would love to work in your new campaign ‘Sparkling City’ because I cannot find the life and art without this city and my love.

Thanks

Uday Roy

Freedom by Jade Dor

May 20, 1994

 

In examining the works of Elizabeth Beck for my own research in writing my novel, I discovered a letter hidden between the pages of Freedom, Elizabeth’s first publication, in 1849. This first edition soft-cover was found in the London Library, the only one of Elizabeth’s written works archived under the pseudonym, Edward Blake. I note today that this letter, although in worn condition, remains in its original state. Now that it has been unveiled, I will let Elizabeth’s words be exposed to the eyes of London’s finest; and perhaps, eventually, Elizabeth shall be seen as not just a survivor, but as a hero.

 

July 6, 1889

I was told that literature cannot be the basis of a woman’s life, and perhaps the statement is true. But a woman is capable of multiple foundations, and I personally do not agree that the aspect of getting married and producing children are what defines her as a woman. There are much greater things in life. I believe in that, although I have been warned.

When I was a little girl, my mother believed my long, blonde curls were better left alone. It’s for the men, she would say. No man will marry a lady if she looks like a man herself.

I was twelve.

I had not cared about her accusations until mother died. It was the first time I had ever seen so much blood. The scent was overwhelming and I held my nose until father put down the gun and locked me in the closet. To this day, I do not understand why he was so determined to destroy my mother. All I know is that was when I began to fear living in my own home. My mother’s presence no longer lingered in the halls and I felt as though it was just a house with a roof over my head, and nothing more.

At this moment, my hand is trembling. Although I wish for my true occurrences to become public, it does not make sharing this part of my life any easier. My father looked different from both my mother and myself. He was tall, stood at 6 feet 2 inches, with dark brown hair which was almost black; the colour of darkness. For I never once saw him smile. I never once heard him laugh. What I did witness was worse. Much worse. Where my mother was kind, patient and affectionate, my father was aggressive, cynical and impulsive.

I wish she never had to die.

I wish my father never locked my bedroom door. With him inside. I can still smell the strong whiskey on his breath. I can still feel his sweat as it dripped from his forehead and landed upon my bare skin. The way he moved inside of me was as though he were some kind of animal, devouring his prey. It didn’t stop there. He grasped my throat with those predatory fingers and pressed down tight. This will be our little secret, you hear me? He cut off my circulation.

I couldn’t breathe.

I wanted to die.

If you tell on your daddy you’ll be in big trouble, you little slut.

I had to cover the marks he left on my throat with a scarf the next day when I went to the food market. But I realised something I had not seen before. When I looked hard enough at the women tending the stalls, I noticed slight differences in their outfits. I was not the only one. They, too, were hiding the marks of violence that tainted their skin, which made me wish we could have run away together, to a freer, safer place.

But I knew it was impossible.

Each day, I was forced to wash my father’s clothes. He worked at the foundry in town and would always come home a mess. Not only did I wash his clothes, I searched through his pockets. There were always a few coins left over from his pay that he would forget to remove if he came home drunk. I hid the coins from father in a small wooden box under my bed, alongside the only picture that remained of my mother. Father had destroyed the rest. We don’t need any bad memories around here, he’d say. All I need is you and your pretty little face to keep me company.

After a few months I had found enough coins to buy paper from the local trader. It was not much, but I would cut the sheets into smaller pieces. From that, I would use candlewax to seal them together, creating a sort of book. Up until I was seventeen years of age, I wrote for an hour every single day. I wrote about my mother and how I missed her so. My father and the horrible acts of insanity he would bestow upon his daughter, and my utter contempt at life.

Unfortunately, it did not last.

I ended up with more diaries than I had room for. So I began to store them in the closet. Behind my desk. In small spaces around the house where I knew father would not find them. But he came home early from work one day. I could hear him stumble in through the front door and knew he was drunk. But I did not have enough time to pack away my diary before he intruded on me. Father caught me. The next few minutes consisted of him yelling slurred words that I cannot even begin to recall. He took hold of my dress, pinned me down on my bed and took what he wanted most. My vulnerability.

I was seventeen, but I was weak.

I was small.

Too small.

Eventually I drifted into a slumber and I woke to the smell of ash and smoke. I could hear the crackle of fire and feel the heat protruding through the walls. I knew exactly what father was doing and there was no way I could stop him. He was burning my diaries. Destroying my memories.

Gone. Faded.

You see, Lilly, you are the most special girl in the world. Not only were you born nine months later, but the first time I saw you, I saw me. Big, beautiful blue eyes. Small, soft hands; so innocent. Father took you away from me. She’s an abomination, he would say. She never should have been born. After that, I had him killed, although not soon enough. He took everything from me and deserved nothing, so I took my time to destroy what little he had left. One evening, when he was drunk, I took to smashing his alcohol bottles. This is the end, father, I said. No more. No more hurt, pain and suffering. This is what you get for ruining my life. I lit the match and as my hands trembled, I watched it fall to the floor, burning everything in its path.

Do not worry, Lilly, for I escaped without harm. But I did not know where I belonged, everything was different. The only place I found solace was in my writing.

I do not know where you are, or who is taking care of you. All I know is that you would be a big girl now, twelve years old. If you read this, or any of my works, please understand one important thing. These are all for you. Everything that I’ve ever written has been because of you. From a mother to a daughter, there is no greater bond.

It is unfortunate that I will not get to see your beautiful eyes again. Your mother is very sick. The doctor said I do not have much time left, but know that I will leave this world peacefully, and I will remember you, always.

Yours, Elizabeth.

In Search of a Muse by Paulie Dee

My name is Jasmine Cruz Adams and I’m a poet, I recently lost all my inspiration the moment that my husband of 20yrs unexpectedly died, leaving me feeling lost and alone. For all these years he has been my inspiration and my muse, and now he is no longer by my side. He has been my rock, my number one fan, encouraging me to write when there were times I didn’t even feel like writing.  He was there and he is now gone.

Spending the last six months not knowing exactly what to do and just living on autopilot, I decided I need to continue with my writing and today is the day, I need to move on.I was determined to write the ultimate poem of love and life. Having saved up enough money, my husband leaving me quite comfortable, and all the kids grown and gone, I was on a quest to find my new muse and in my mind that meant travel.

While Derek was alive we always enjoyed travel and Europe was always our main destination, that is where I will start my journey. Paris has always brought beautiful memories, especially because that is where we met and then where he proposed. I was able to book a room in our favorite hotel, Hotel 7 Eiffel that we visited two years ago and we just completely enjoyed.

It will be hard to go back without him, but this is what will make me or break me. I know that Derek wouldn’t want me to give up on my dreams. What better place to celebrate who he was than by going to the one place we both loved, Paris. Our youngest son Jeremy already said that he would take me to the airport, but he is not too thrilled that I’m traveling by myself. He too understands this is something that I need to do though in order to survive. He knows that without this trip I will become lost and this is something he does not want,

The day of the trip I’m rushing to get everything ready before Jeremy picks me up to take me to the airport. I didn’t get much sleep last night with my brain going over a mental checklist of everything that had to be done. Good thing that my oldest daughter Amy will be checking up on the house for me while I’m away. I’m so going to miss Tobias my cat but he will be fine with Amy checking up on him.

I’m excited and nervous at the same time, knowing that I’m taking this journey on my own. It scares me, but I know I need to do it, I desperately need my muse because without it I’m not too sure if I can survive. This means finding out if I am my own muse.

Once I arrive to the hotel I’m staying at and checked in, I settle in my room and the memories start to flood thru my mind. My breathing is starting to become shallow and an uneasy feeling is flowing thru me. That is when I start to feel the tears falling down my cheek. Remembering every moment like it just happened, seeing the patrol car coming up to the house. Seeing the police officers walk to the door and telling me that my husband was in a head on collision, that the other driver had crossed a red light, and Derek would not be coming home. That the person you have spent your life with, thru the good and bad, will not be there ever again.

I was now able to really mourn my husband and at the same time say goodbye to him until we meet again. Now was the moment I needed to start to live again and begin my new journey, One thing Derek and I always talked about was that our lives would not stop in the case of either one passing, we would continue to live. His love for me was so big that he would not want me to suffer and numb myself.

I decided that a warm shower would feel lovely at this moment, followed by a nap, especially after my long plane ride. I decided that I would put on the alarm on for an hour and then go for an early dinner. After taking a warm shower, I put on my favorite yoga pants and T-shirt. As I am dozing off, I felt a sense of peace and a warmth, but yet I was feeling a slight chill and decide to get under the covers. That is when I saw it being played out in my mind, the day Derek and I came to Paris and he proposed to me. What a beautiful day that was and I was so excited to start a new life with him.

Derek was looking so handsome. He always had his black hair to his shoulder and he would put it in a ponytail. I was so crazy for his hair and he had the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen. He had a heart of gold, which is what attracted me to him, he was kind and noble. He was a loving husband and a great father to his three kids.

As we were walking he took my hand and we saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance. With no agenda at hand, just walking and looking at the sights, when we arrived to the Tower and just stopped for a moment. Derek turned to me and looked at me with a look in his eyes. He went on one knee and took out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. Derek knew I had a liking to rubies and the was a princess cut with diamonds surrounding the most perfect looking ruby.

Even within my dream I knew something was not right, it felt so good seeing him, but something was telling me that it’s not true, that it was not real, but my heart was wanting to believe it was happening. Seeing him on bended knee, just didn’t make it any easier. How I love him so and how wonderful our life will be. The sky looked so blue and the clouds so puffy and white, it was the perfect setting for a proposal, my proposal. Then it started to change and nothing looked beautiful and the peace that I felt was now leaving me.

Everything was turned dark and an uneasy feeling was taking a hold of me. All of sudden I just needed to run. I really didn’t know what I needed to run from, but that is what I started to do. I’m seeing Derek chasing me trying so hard to catch up to me, but I was just running faster and not looking back. Yet, I see myself again and this time I’m in the house that we first lived in and I see Derek holding Amy and that was the most beautiful sight to see. The bond that they shared was breathtaking. How he loved his first born and the look of achievement that can be seen

in his eyes. I could spend hours just watching him interact with her. That bond was never broken and when Derek had his accident, it was Amy that went to identify him. How strong my girl has been makes me so proud.

No matter how I tried to leave that home there was no way I could. I was there, reliving every moment, every detail of my life as if it were being played in the movies. It was beautiful, but heartbreaking at the same time. This went on for what felt like hours and then I saw myself with Isaiah and how that child came into the world and how he had changed our lives. He was our surprise child and at the moment when we needed him the most. Derek and I were struggling and I felt so lost, so neglected and unappreciated and we were about to call it quits. When I found out I was pregnant, it was a shock to him as well as myself, especially when I was on the pill, but it happened and what a blessing he was. Jeremy our youngest was just a joy, he just brightens up the room and the bond that Derek had with Jeremy was one of old friends. They just knew what each one needed.

Then all I saw was Derek and he had a look of peace and satisfaction. That all that needed to be achieved was and now he can move on and allow me to do the same. He will always be near in my heart.

The Gift by Dheemarie

She excitedly squealed when she heard the chime of the doorbell.

Without hesitation, she opened the door and grabbed the ginormous package that the UPS guy sat on the door step.

Rushing to the back of the house where her bedroom was located—package in hand— she ventured into her favorite room of the house— the master closet, happily carrying the package, thinking the package seemed heavy for two shirts and a skirt, but she pushed that thought from her mind.

The closet was decorated like a fashion boutique in Milan with a Tuscan theme. The walls were a pale warm, toasty almond.  Skylight windows flooded sunshine into the space, making it a cheerful, pleasant place. The plush carpet was cream, and a dark cocoa colored dresser sat on the back wall. A second dresser sat on the opposite wall where fine jewelry, posh fragrances and unique belts were housed. Neatly folded sweaters were placed on shelves.

Clothing hung in immaculate rows on dark wood hangers. Off to the side of the closet was a full size mirror and a comfortable plush oversized chair with bronze and cream throw pillows, a leather ottoman, a beautiful full length mirror, and a small oval side table. This corner is where she sat in the mornings with her coffee sometimes. As a fashion blogger, she would sit in this same corner clipping images of the latest fashion from magazines or writing about the latest fashion tips in her blog.

She sat the highly anticipated package down by the table and headed downstairs to make a steamy vanilla latte before starting her creative projects for the day.

Heading back upstairs to her haven, she practically flew up the stairs taking two at a time.

Glancing in the full length mirror in her closet, with her latte in hand, she admired her petite, curvaceous frame. Her appearance was anything but average. She had the figure of a bronze, ethnic goddess. She was sheer perfection unlike those bag-o-bones deathly skinny model chicks. Hell, they are nasty skinny and who wants to resemble a pile of skeleton bones any way, she thought. Her stylish, elegant black and gold nightgown adhered to her 5’5″ curvy frame like static clings to its victims. It was easy to get lost in her slanted, mysterious dark brown eyes. Her lips were naturally plump and full, easily desirable. On her lips, she usually wore walnut a color by Maybelline because there’s nothing like Maybelline to enhance what she was already born with. Her skin tone was reminiscent of the color of a creamy cappuccino mixed with a hint of caramel. She cherished what she saw looking back at her with the exception of a few yellowish, old bruises.

Suddenly, and without warning, her reflection winked deviously at her as she stood there in front of the mirror. And, she immediately began to tremble uncontrollably with fear. WTF!!! I must be imagining things, she thought. “One too many lattes with too many shots of expresso, perhaps,” she mumbled to herself under her breath.

She continued trying to get her nerves in check, but, in the back of her mind, she kept thinking about the incident that occurred earlier with her reflection in the mirror.

She had a dinner party to attend later that evening, so she desperately needed to take a shower and set clothes and accessories out in an effort to decide on something to wear. Her husband would be coming home from work and would expect her to be ready.

She walked into the master bathroom to turn the shower on. She was quite busy and didn’t notice her reflection’s devious expression within the mirror.

After her long, hot shower, she wrapped herself up in an oversize beige towel, proceeding to the closet to set out a few clothing options. Looking at the bed, she noticed an imprint in the comforter that wasn’t there before she got into the shower, but she dismissed it quickly. Feeling as if someone were staring at her, she began to slowly back out of the closet, yet the sensation grew stronger. Hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and adrenaline raced through her veins. Something prickly grabbed at her ankle, and she screamed, a blood curdling scream. In the corner, her eyes glimpsed a grey hazy, shadowy figure. She froze with terror, but the darkened figure continued coming closer…..

It came into the light, and to her dismay, the hazy shadow was her reflection. The reflection held out a package to her, the same package she remembered from earlier that had been delivered by UPS.

She peeked into the beige square box, now ripped open and gasped.

Her husband’s severed head was inside the box in a pool of red goo.

“We are finally free of his abuse and his ridicule,” her reflection said convincingly while grinning blissfully.

“I did it for us! Remember, I am a part of you; we share the same bruises: mentally and physically. Your thoughts are my thoughts, and I know exactly what you felt every time he experienced one of his drunken rage-filled episodes,” the shadow said.

And with that, she grinned at her reflection—now back in the mirror—satisfactorily.

Made to Measure by Dylan McIntosh

The loud crack against the window startled me, my mouth gaped as I looked up from the mannequin, and the straight pins that I held in my lips dropped to the floor. The sounds from the falling pins were drowned out by the sound of me pushing back the metal stool in order to stand. I looked toward the front of the shop and looked at the window. All I saw was the reverse writing of my shop’s family name, Taylor’s Tailoring. Not a very original name; nevertheless, it was from family history, and that was good enough for me. Putting the chalk down on the small oak desk, I moved toward the window. I passed the front desk covered in unopened envelopes, and took the remaining steps to inspect the window. Running my fingers across the glass, I couldn’t detect any cracks. A month ago, a red clay brick shattered the glass and landed in the foyer. Unfortunately, I still had an outstanding bill to pay for that.

Life in the Third Avenue neighborhood had gotten rougher over the past few years, but Taylor’s Tailoring was established seventy-five years prior when my grandfather opened it after the Great Depression. He helped make clothes for the Irish families that had settled here in their immigration. He went on to train my father to make shirts, slacks, and suits for others. He, in turn, trained me, and I started working in the shop at a young age. Taylor’s Tailoring was very popular until my father’s death five years ago. His death was a tremendous blow to our family. My brothers and sister moved to other parts of the country escaping the depressive environment of our neighborhood after the fall of the towers.

My Catholic mother, though, stayed as she had nowhere else to go with no surviving family. As I continued to work on the charcoal jacket, I glanced to the shelf immediately below the large picture frame with the last photograph of my father. He stood there with a thin line of a smile peeking through the bushy red beard, wearing a navy blue suit that he had tailored. The red rose in his lapel matched the artificial flowers next to the urn that contained my mother’s ashes.

I knelt to pick up the fallen pins, collected them and placed the tips back onto my lips to complete the sleeve. I straightened the wool sections and found the line that I needed. I matched the two cut pieces of fabric along the chalk line, held them together with one hand, removed one of the straight pins from my lips and inserted it into the material. Following the line up, I was able to match the arm to the shoulder and made the final pin placements. I turned the mannequin around, examining the work until I had the opposite side showing me the empty shoulder slot. When I reached for the next set of fabric, the phone rang, startling me.

It had to be a bill collector, so I tried to ignore the phone as best I could. This particular sports coat was for a friend of my father whose wife had died from breast cancer. The only work that I had was for friends of father. However, they were either retired or in nursing homes and couldn’t afford to pay me.

The phone rang seven times before the answering machine clicked awake. I made a mental note that I needed to call the telephone company to shut off the service. The bank had threatened to take the shop away from me due to outstanding debt, and I needed to save money anyway I could. Rosa, my late wife, would have died a second time if she saw the house foreclosed upon. My shop was the only thing left and there wasn’t much work keeping me afloat. The answering machine tape whirled, clicked, and beeped as the caller left their message on the ancient cassette tape. The number 27 flashed red vying for my attention. Since the Towers fell, new customers never called the shop, so there was no need to check the messages.

I moved the second sleeve into place and pinned it to ensure that the length matched the first sleeve. The jacket was removed easily from the mannequin in order to sew it. While I laid the jacket on the table, another loud crack was heard at the front of the shop. Looking up, I watched the lines from the crack spread across the window. Angrily, I ran towards the front of the shop, dodging piles of fabric as I ran. I pushed the front door open, the dangling bells jingled behind me. The sidewalk was full of people and I looked around for the culprit. All I saw were people who walked with their faces in their phones. I couldn’t single out anyone that was guilty and turned around to head back inside, scared to inspect the damage.

A great force pushed me and laid me out on the ground. Glancing up, I saw a tall fair-skinned boy with blond hair and green eyes staring at me. Behind him, there was another boy tossing a small chunk of concrete up in the air and catching it. From their sizes, I guessed them to be around sixteen and they both wore a blue blazer from the local boys academy six blocks away. “Why don’t you go back to your own country?”

I tried to force myself to stand back up, but the blonde teen kicked my shoulder forcing me to sprawl out. “Excuse me?” I said.

“Take your sand-bagging ass, climb on your camel, and head to whatever desert you came from!” The boy behind him just snickered. My face became hotter as I sat there. I finally was able to stand up and locked eyes with the boy that kicked me.

“I am from this country. I was born a few streets down at Victory Memorial Hospital. There is a good chance that you were born there as well. Not sure what country you want me to go to.” I felt my hands shaking, stunned that people continued to walk by, not even bothering to look up from their phones.

“Just leave! We don’t want your kind here anymore!” The boys walked past me and I watched them until they merged with crowd where I no longer saw them. After a deep breath, I returned to the shop door. I knew that I’d have to file a police report, but I needed to finish my other project before contacting them.

As I locked the door behind me, I looked around and saw that no one paid any attention to the shop. I closed the blinds; dust floated in the air until the daylight was extinguished. I flipped the light switch which illuminating the foyer and headed towards the back of the shop. I passed the jacket I had previously been working on and continued to the rear of the shop. The keys clattered as they were pulled from my pocket, and I found the correct key. The door opened after a heavy click and I swung it open to reveal my masterwork. There was a slight hiss as the moisture escaped from the closet leaving only the sound of the humidifier pump in the background.

The light from the hallway showed the full sized mannequin covered with a light skin colored suit. Even without the head, the mannequin appeared to be a real body. I admired my handiwork and was confident that this was my best creation to date. However, the suit was not complete, the right sleeve was still missing. I had misjudged the condition of the previous hide and it cracked while I prepared it. I looked at the other shelf where a mannequin head rested with the red haired mask. The mask had eye and nose holes as well as a mouth opening. Next to the body mannequin was the tanning rack with a hide stretched tight over it. The hide felt smooth and still retained some moisture; perfect to cut the needed sections.

I removed the hide from the rack, and using the pattern, I cut out the required pieces and made the final stitches to the sleeve. When completed, I tried on the suit, being gentle to not rip the skin as my limbs entered to ensure a proper fit. I pulled the mask over my face and examined myself in the mirror. There was no more dark hair; my dark skin was completely covered with the body suit. I knew that I was the spitting image of my father. The only thing missing was the bushy beard.

The following morning, I placed a handwritten sign on the window that read “Under New Management” and sat down whistling as I went back to complete the jacket. The bells jingled as the door opened and my first new customer entered.