Vicki Wilson “Sleeping Beauty”

Once upon a time
Along a path I wandered
As a fallen leaf does wander
Lain upon a stream
… as though dancing
… as though careless
… as though young
Wherein dark woods I stumbled
Ensnared by fallow spindle
Which bade me kneel my sacred ground
And I bent my back upon the point
Until impaled… and unbeknownst
Cursed with waking sleep
Stitched shut within a shroud
Despite the mirror and the mist
Muted
And subdued
And fifty shades of greys
Bleeding into grey
Like some tawdry love story
If tawdry is worn and caked with grime
And the love story… benign
And expected
And engrained
In glass funnels
Always upended
With the perpetuity
Of a spinning wheel
Each turn bought with youth, all but spent
Until you kissed me
Full on the mouth.
Like a slap.

© Vicki Wilson

I am an amateur poet, published author and professional technical analyst… all of these things mean I basically solve puzzles for a living, and to keep from dying. I know this because I died once. Metaphorically. Six years of a slow death by industrialised decision making. In the end I was so numb to living I ceased to exist. But burn-out has a silver lining, you wake up and all you have left is steel and the rich black of sticky charcoal to make your mark. I am still learning how to hold a pen, how to form words into a living thing, but my scratchings are mine, they are made with the corpse of who I was. I offer them as evidence I exist.

I have recently published a children’s book – written and illustrated by myself – under the banner of dragonflypublishing. You can find me there writing my next one: https://www.facebook.com/dragonflypublishing.au.

You’d done the same. Henna Johansdotter

untitled
Isn’t it easier to be
defeated?
to beat the world to tainting your name?
the hospital says they won’t have me
no one wants to nurse a grenade
suffering is a shield I will wed it if I have to
now it seems strange for a person so obviously in love with words
not to know a single way to say “stay”
I was never art until I learned how to hurt
I’m an attentive student I lick the words I eject
to see if they still taste of you
the flavor of Revenge:sickly sweet:
people will tell you our story is about love
I say it’s about survival
each defeat hands me a choice
and in the end
I always end up saving myself

Henna Johansdotter, the goth girl next-door. Aspiring author. Monstrophile. Horror enthusiast. She writes to cope with mental illness and everyday experiences. Find her at https://hjdpoetry.wordpress.com/

 

SD Short Story Contest Finalist: Dear You – Teri Blades

Dear You

It’s been a few years since I wrote a letter to you and it’s been 365 days since we last spoke, 8760 hours since we last saw each other. Do you remember? The long walks on the beach every Saturday morning before we headed to the café for some drinks and a long conversation. I always wanted to go jog on the sand, to meet the early beach goers and run along with the stray and leashed dogs, and you with your weak ankles never complained and jogged right next to me. I was livid when I found out.

“Chris why would you go jogging knowing this would happen?” I remember complaining once the doctor walked out. You smiled from the bed like your ankles weren’t tightly wrapped and your eyes weren’t trying to hide your pain.

“Because you wanted to go.” You might not have known it then, but when I turned away from you, my cheeks flushed and as I write and think about that time, heat rushed to my cheeks.

Do you remember when we first met? I think about it almost every day now. I wrote my first letter to you after our meeting. My phone was broken and all I knew was where you worked – the sketchy looking bakery next to the even sketchier looking alley way on Fitz Street. Our meeting was not as bright as I would have liked. I wished we had met on a hot summer day, where my skin freely showed from below my skirt and my hair was high up, away from my face so that you could see the treasured pools of bronze that are my eyes. I wanted to say years from then when we were old and grey, that I was amazingly attractive and it was painfully obvious that you could not turn your
eyes away from my body. To say you approached me with long strides and wide curious eyes, which were slightly hidden under your grey cap.

Unfortunately, our meeting was not the start of a summer Hollywood Blockbuster. It was not nearly as delightful as a Romantic Comedy. It was the ‘Once Upon A Time’ in a Grim Brothers tale. It was the grittiness of an 18th century novel written on the wet streets of our island’s infamous city. You found me in the fog of the misty rain that drenched me from head to toe. My skin did not freely show from beneath my skirt’s hem line and the curls I had set the day before were miserable waves against my neck and forehead and for some unknown reason, the buses were like the sun; a rare sighting.

I was a sight for your sorry eyes, with my frowns and glares and I must say, you were very brave to approach me. Was I attractive despite my drenched state? Or was I so pathetic looking, you came to make sure I wasn’t dying? If you had walked by five minutes later, that might have been the case.

My first impression of you was very simple. I was enchanted. You approached me with an infuriating grin that was so infuriatingly adorable that it melted my cold wet heart. You would be laughing if you read this, knowing well that I am lying as I was freezing despite your large grin, and the umbrella you so wonderfully provided, did nothing to help my already pathetic state. Nevertheless, I was quite thankful for your effort and the company while waiting for the bus was most welcomed; I hoped my face said all of this, but I highly doubt it.

When I delivered the letter to you, I recall that you called me old fashioned. Old fashioned for writing a letter. Old fashioned for my music choices and old fashioned in my fashion choices. It’s been 365 days since you called me old fashioned and I would like to hear it again.

I never returned your umbrella did I? Though, you never asked for it back. That was something about you I grew to admire, your tenacity, as irritating as it was sometimes, to always think of me before you. I did the same no doubt, but you obviously wanted it to be a competition. Congratulations, you won.

I’ve been well if you were wondering, as well as I can be. I moved to a new home near the old bakery. It’s been doing well, business is booming, the food is great and I still wear your grey cap from time to time. I even still have the scented candles your mother bought on our 2nd anniversary.  She brought them from her trip to Canada with your father and your sister, am I right? The first night we lit them, our bedroom curtains caught on fire. Do you remember? You ran swiftly into the bathroom with an emptied plant pot and soaked half of the room, including the bed. We slept on multiple blankets on the floor that night. You were embarrassed, I was amused and it was definitely one of the best nights we spent in that house. She still buys some for me, but though, due to our first experience with her choice of candles, they’ve remained in their boxes, piling up
in my cupboards.

Tell me, where are you now? Are you still on the plane or have you floated so far away that even my thoughts can’t reach you? Do you remember that night? I had a nightmare, a nightmare you never returned. You, who kissed me on the forehead and continued to pack your bags, told me not to worry and left with one last gaze my way. I hate myself for not taking a photo, for my memory may one day fade that image away. Do you remember that day? When you hopped into your sister’s car and I waved at you until you were out of my sight? Did you happen to see my face? I watched you go while twisting the rings on my finger, my stomach full with uneasiness. I tried hard not to shed a tear, to not show my concern. Maybe if I had, you wouldn’t have gone.

I try hard each day not to reminisce. To not think of when I heard the news of a missing plane. I watched with my eyes glued to the television, ignoring the rings of the phone and prayed to a God I had forgotten. Maybe I should have prayed earlier. For when the news showed a plane in the ocean, I knew that my prayers were too late to answer.

Sometimes I swear I hear you call my name from time to time, and it’s funny because when watching horrors, I always used to yell at the characters for looking for the ghost and yet here I am hoping to see the phantom you looming in a corner somewhere. Maybe it really is you, laughing at me as I look around like a crazy person. It wouldn’t mind if that were true.

Yet even though I know you may not be here, I will still write to you. I will write about my day, about new things to tell you just as if you were here sitting on the other side of the table listening to my rambles. I will write about memories we can never recreate, about adventures you’ll never go on, pastries you’ll never taste and my hairstyles that you’ll never see – not that you noticed them before. Then maybe when that time comes, when I have written down everything I could ever say, maybe that will be the day I remember how to write with ink instead of pain.


I am an emerging writer and theatre enthusiast with a small upcoming theatre company based in Barbados.  Dear You was inspired from walking the historic streets of Barbados’ capital and dreaming of a tragic love.

SD Short Story Contest Finalist: I’m Still Here – ZeinaA.G

Im_Still_Here_by_Zeina_Abi_Ghosn
Day 1

I’ve seen him around playing at the park. Glimpses of him kicking the ball keeps my heart beating. I stand behind the fence noticing his blonde hair bouncing with each movement. At least he is safe and looked after. If I approach, would he blame me for leaving?  A guilty sensation haunts me and I can’t understand why. Would anyone believe me if I told them I don’t remember leaving and the reason why? I could wait longer for my memory to come back but the more I linger on the subject the more I feel he is forgetting me. A sense of urgency rushes over me as a woman picks Noah up and I want to scream for someone to save him from her. Then the teacher helps him with his bag and it hits me that maybe my ex-husband has remarried. I stare numbly in their direction as I try to remember what kind of mother am I?  How could I leave my child unexpectedly?

I follow them to the movies and the woman meets my ex-husband in the parking lot. Thunder roars from a distance and I stare at the ragged clouds. The sky releases few drops of rain and the woman gestures for my son to run inside. I wonder if I should follow them inside and before I finish that thought I find myself inside hiding behind a gigantic movie poster. I despise that I have to hide but I don’t have a plan yet on how to approach them so for now I prefer to watch them. I can see them at the concession stand laughing as they order Noah’s popcorn. I retreat and leave for the day allowing the idea of Noah loving another mother figure to sink in. This is going to be rough on him if I show up out of nowhere with no explanation. I wonder if it’s selfish to ask to meet him when he has adjusted so well to his new life and I decide to drop it for today.

Day 2

Sometimes I think life is so fleeting and there’s this blinding light which I spot from time to time but it passes like a breeze, as if I’m passing near it in a car or it’s hiding behind a building. I’m not sure what it is, but as I get up this morning I know I have to try harder to get my son’s attention. I wake up with this sense of urgency that it has to be today, I need to talk to Noah today.

I get ready by noon, and head over to my ex-husband’s place but it’s too late they seem to be getting into the car and they go somewhere. I glare at his new wife enraged how they have kept me away from my child all these years. I’ve only seen the back of Noah’s head over the years; it’s as if they know I’m out there. As if they know, I’m desperate to steal one glance. I follow them to the park and wait for them to walk few feet away from me. I bend down on my knees and peer through the bushes my hand resting lightly on the wires. I stare at my little boy, my beautiful angel and I wonder if he still needs me. If he still remembers me, he turns around and I see his face. His baby features are all gone, and that frown on his face tells me he isn’t okay.

Dark clouds are growing ominous as I stand up fast whispering, “Do you still need me?” hoping he would hear and approach the sound. I have the courage to walk up to a clear space where everyone can see me. The moment I want to step closer I hesitate, the birthday balloons sway beneath my touch. My eyes water when I spot the huge banner I should have prepared and the birthday cake we could have baked together. I stare at Noah’s features again and I get a strange feeling that his sad, hazel brown eyes remember.

The day he was born flourishes into my memory as if had just happened. He clutched my fingers so hard as if he knew me, as if he was eager to meet me as much as I wanted to meet him. I spent hours, days and weeks counting these perfect little fingers and toes. I spent the nights dreaming of the day he’d run to me and drag me off my work so I could play catch with him. My idea of perfection was when he used to sneak into my bed each morning with his soft snuggly bear. He’d think I wasn’t awake but I was, I could feel his warmth against my cheek as he whispered, “Wake up, mommy!”

My memory is so groggy and I’ve felt sick for years that I have no idea if I have done anything wrong, could they have both moved on so fast? The step mum approaches Noah and she kneels down caressing his hair. I immediately feel myself float forward wanting to hear what she was telling him. I stare at the Spiderman birthday cake and the candle that says six. I look shamefully at myself knowing I shouldn’t have come without a present.

I’m practically behind them shoving my way to look and be present when the step mum whispers in his ear, “She’d be so proud of you.” She exchanges a pained glance with my ex and that is when it hits me. I stare at my hands which are turning transparent, and my feet that are no longer there. I watch myself wither before I get the chance to touch his soft cheek. It all comes back to me, the sick nights I was trapped in a fragile body. My husband comforted and lay near me. There was that one promise I begged him to keep, was to seek happiness, and search for stability.

The light gets stronger and I finally understand what it’s for. My son blows out his candles. I clap proudly and send him a kiss, which blows out his party hat. He giggles and picks it up. I notice the tears in my husband’s eyes. The emotion in the stepmom’s eyes freezes me; I bet she has been dedicated to my son’s happiness all these years because of the way he looks at her. I circle a ball of glow around the three of them which I know will protect them.

I hear a voice asking if I’m ready and I follow it through an endless foggy path. My concern grows as I float away from them, but as soon I step into the light, my son’s future flashes in front of my eyes. His future birthdays and milestones flourish in front of my eyes along with his teen years and even though I’m away now I’m certain he will be okay. A sense of belonging and peace overcomes me as if nothing is chasing me anymore.

The voice explains that I have to stay here until we are reunited one day and I accept it. As I watch their life reel, I witness my family’s happiness and my eyes water at their tribulations. As I stare at this beautiful, complicated world below me I ask the voice for one last request. I hear a low hum and then he asks me what I want. I clear my throat and speak out, “Each time my son encounters an obstacle or questions his faith… I want to send a whisper with a gentle breeze saying, I’m still here.”


I’m from Lebanon. I’m a photographer and I manage my parents’ photography studio. My passion for writing began since school days but I never acted on it until two years ago when I began writing a novel. I also have a blog where I write about life’s hardship. Writing with an Open Heart

Baby, I’m So Cold – Kindra M. Austin

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You don’t know what love is at noon o’clock on
Tuesday, when I tell you I’m so cold that I can’t even
fucking feel it
anymore, expect for
inside—just inside the doorway where
my walls still quake with a singular mind
not mine, but theirs.

And you can’t tell the difference,
like my stupid cunt
can’t tell the
difference—the
goddamned
difference ‘tween
pleasure and affection.

Noon-thirty,
you gotta get home cos she is waiting cos
your home is her home,
too—
I got no type of home worth
mentioning.

I don’t know what love is at midnight o’clock on
Wednesday, when I answer your call—
I’m so fucking cold that I can’t feel it
anymore.


Kindra M. Austin is a very sweary indie author and editor from mid-Michigan (you can find her books here). She’s also the co-founder of Blank Paper Press, a founding member of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, founder of publishing imprint, One for Sorrow, and a writer/managing editor at Blood into Ink, and Whisper and the Roar. Austin cut her poetry teeth in April, 2016, and joined the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective in 2017. You can find more of her foul mouth at poems and paragraphs.

Foundations – Jimmi Campkin

Foundations

I salute the trees.  I am not magnificent but I can see everything grow.  I hear the grass chattering and laughing.  I stare at the oaks as they stretch like old hungover drunks after a binge.

Kicking my way through an old memory, I sit down on a bench and watch a young mother playing with her child – she lets go of the kid’s shoulders and this little fat bundle of limbs wobbles and trundles into a loving pair of arms.  I light a cigarette and look over their heads towards a crumbling brick wall where I came in thirty seven seconds – a gloriously brief but exhilarating moment of savagery that left me needing three stitches in my shoulder thanks to the razor sharp teeth of an utterly destructive angel.  For five nights afterwards, I would lift my head from my pillow and find one of her brunette hairs lying next to me, either tangled up in my own or left as some kind of spiritual offering.  I didn’t wash until my sheets left an imprint of my twisting torso.

In the cold the hot ash lights up my eyebrows, and I feel the smoke rumble down inside me.  I am just a stranger now, in a place where we left so many imprints that we wrote in a language too complex for future generations to understand; or too simple.  Perhaps everything just moves on from our messages, our little totems to what a future could be – liberal, relentless in our pursuit of sensations, dogmatic in our chasing of the wind and of love, emphatic in our use of drugs and alcohol but sensitive in our presentation.  I remember walking a five block diversion to avoid following a nervous young lad, who kept looking over his shoulder at the wasted behemoth shambling and crashing behind him as our paths continued.  It only took a bottle of whiskey to give me a night so intense I could drink the stars, and yet leave an impression on this youth that I was somehow a danger to him rather than a revelation… or more probably a self-indulgent indifference.

When I close my eyes the world turns black and white and I see, like a filter, what was once and is no more.  I recognise footprints in grass that has since been cut and mown a thousand times, because I can still lay down and hear the echoes in the soil and the worms gossiping about the underwear we flung high into the canopy of the trees – bras, panties and boxers like flags on the backs of warships.  I remember warming my hands inside your cunt and you gripped my stiff cock like a hot chip as our breath mingled under a trillion years of entropy.  Under the Milky Way you promised that we would remember this moment for the rest of our lives.

I wonder.  I remember this moment but I don’t know where you are now.  I don’t know what you think or what you feel.  I don’t know whether you sit on this bench, look at that wall and remember sinking your teeth deep into my shoulder enough to dribble my blood down your chin.  I don’t know if you remember my cold fingers deep inside you or whether you see the footprints through the filter.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter.  Perhaps you are focused instead on better things, more important things.  Perhaps you are this mother, focused so intently on her little baby as it shuffles through the grass desperately trying to maintain its balance long enough to be embraced tight.  Maybe you look to the light in someone else’s eyes rather than to the light above us, as it shines down on our best and worst crimes.


Jimmi Campkin is a “Writer, photographer, creator of SANCTUARY. 16bit child, INFP with clinical nostalgia and red wine for blood.” You can enjoy more of his work at jimmi campkin.com

Morning Mist – Iulia Halatz

Grace-M.-Ballentine-Morning-Mist-1948
The mist that
covers my heart
is thick
numbing mornings
and evenings
with the sagacity
of a cubist artifact.

It comes in layers
clinging with fetid fingers
on to the gargoyles
of the old mansion
our love has become.

No surprise from
any shadow
No brush
with velveteen
vulnerable
acts of tenderness.

Dragons and starlings
seem nearer
in the dancey mists

Love is uncovered
in a smile
at first light…
Is that enough?


“Writing is an Iron Tale, must be tough and sincere to the core of human perception of pain as valor. I am the grumpy T-Rex who started writing out of pain, not because of a polished world. Writing out of love is painless and herbivore. As we sometimes taste blood, ours or others’. Nevertheless, some words are so expensive that we are better left with them unspoken or write them with the ink of a Ghost…” She is a teacher, small entrepreneur and cyclist.

Sudden Denouement Welcomes New Collective Member Nitin Lalit Murali – Us

buildings-123780_1920
We’ve been through the same routine, you and I:
me, coming home in a prescription haze with slurry speech
and a numbing nonchalance,
and you, broken and infuriated
to see me ‘waste my life away.’
But what’s there to ‘waste away?’
Hasn’t life heaped piles and piles of sorrow on us
like arachnids poured on a Fear Factor contestant,
lying in a tub?
You yell. You scream, ‘I’m leaving you!
I’m not going through this again!’
and in that moment of semi-consciousness
when my mind only whispers – the thoughts circling my mind
like the breeze from a slowly moving ceiling fan –
I barely nod, and that agitates and burdens you more.
Soon, you aim arrows of curses at my core,
hoping they’ll pierce my callousness,
make me admit that I’m a promise-breaking hypocrite
who crosses his heart
before plummeting into an abyss
so dank and deep where speech
fumbles and becomes a string of neologisms,
and sudden blindness possesses
like the abrupt fading-to-black ending of The Sopranos.
But what you don’t see are
the moments I spend with myself,
leaning against the bathroom wall,
cigarette in mouth,
tears streaming down
because of the guilt
that unsettles, unnerves and unmans.
But that’s no excuse.
That’s no justification for the man I’ve become
after seeing a perpetual Autumn
with the sights, sounds, and smells of decay.
I looked for Spring
or even a Winter that will urge me to find warmth,
but sorrow clandestinely woke me one morning
using mind control,
making me a zombie on his leash,
made to go, ‘Woof!’ when he commanded.
The only way out was to poison myself.
To escape, and so, I did,
imbibing pill after pill,
taking a page out of
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Moshfegi
and flushing our marriage down the toilet.
Sorrow didn’t mind because he knew
he still retained control
and I’d only constructed an illusion of escape.
But I’ll reiterate that
there’s no excuse for the pain I’ve caused you,
there’s no justification for the hurt,
there’s no remedy to who we’ve become,
and since, I’ve always been a coward,
there’s no final act on my part that will paradoxically
offer you catharsis and anti-catharsis,
so, leave now,
and don’t look back in grief, anger or angst.

Nitin Lalit Murali is a poet, flash fiction writer and essayist from Bangalore, India. He also enjoys reading literature of different genres and listening to jazz and neo-classical music. He started writing seven years ago and art has consumed him over the years. He blogs regularly at Fighting the Dying Light

Wasps – Jimmi Campkin

From Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, available on Amazon


Open up my skull and you will find her inside, in a tatty striped dress and muddy Doc Martens.  Every bedroom, every hotel room, every airport lounge, train and coach I sleep in she is there, smiling and licking razor blades.  When I shower I look into the steamed mirror and see a pair of blue eyes staring back at me.  Neither of these eyes belong to my partner.  She is still there, with a red flowing tongue and a black choker.

This is no guardian angel.  She is guilt and sex and violence, with greasy hair and furry teeth – not brushed since her last remembered birthday and she always forgets her anniversaries.  Years later, lying in bed next to my partner, ‘the woman I love’, I wait until I hear gentle snoring before I rest my head on the pillow and close my eyes.  I know that I talk in my sleep, and all I think about is Her, with a mouth full of blood and bacteria.  In my lucid dreams I feel the hairs on my face lift to receive that sour taste.  I feel my pupils expand, opening like bank vault doors to a secret code.

As teenagers together, she took me to her secret place – a single tree in a circle of thick thorn bushes.  Like a ballerina she danced up to a noose tied to a low branch, launched her head inside like a basketball three-pointer and thrashed – piss streaming like river deltas down her soiled, writhing legs as I watched, frozen in a moment of incredulous horror.  After a few moments she lowered herself down and her barefoot heels touched terra firma.

She stood before me, at her full height, the rope now slack at her shoulders.  There was no danger, it was all a game.  Removing the noose, she walked towards me.  You never even tried to save me she smiled, and kissed me hard.  It tasted disgusting.  And then she kneed me firmly in the groin.

I sank to my haunches; coughing and farting, with a stomach ache billowing through my insides.  Looking down at the floor I saw brown leaves, dead twigs and ten toes with ten filthy toenails.  I thought to myself; I wonder if my tongue could clean these grey stumps?  A few minutes later, I knew the answer….


Jimmi Campkin is a “Writer, photographer, creator of SANCTUARY. 16bit child, INFP with clinical nostalgia and red wine for blood.” You can enjoy more of his work at jimmi campkin.com

Sudden Denouement Classic: Gag Reflex- S. K. Nicholas

Triptych personality and a taste for the beaten and crushed. Favoured positions. Preferred imagery including a crushed butterfly placed so sweetly on her navel- the one that swims with my seed. Specks of blood on the bed sheets from our collision- the one I try denying but keeps happening anyway. In lipstick upon the wall, I scrawl my desires in lowercase. I spell out what I mean to say which always seems to escape me when she’s gagging on my fumes. I’m a good guy at heart, but a single droplet puts me in a rage like you wouldn’t believe. Shards of glass and portals. Lonely roads and stories gathering dust, but there will come a day when everything makes sense. There will be a moment when the end is not the end and an exit is not an exit but a door to a river where resides the girl who started it all. I go in and out- I pass through on the off chance she’s around. Lights and nipples and stretch marks. Torn lingerie and tourniquets. Vampires, lovers, killers. A painter, a writer. There exists celluloid imagery of my actions. There are photos of body parts and vials full of hair which fuels the fantasy more and more. There was once a golden light but it was snatched away and now I take from others because my future was taken from me. Souls and slaves. The ties that bind. Scenes missing until she’s wrapped in a blanket because this world doesn’t care and although my hands are cruel I do it because I care and no one cares as much as me. She is mother and enemy. She offers salvation and torment but the more I do it the less I can tell which is which. Flowers pressed in a book. Numbed fingers from two bottles of wine as she shaves her pubic hair at my request. She is not her own woman, she is my girl. The girl by the river who visits me after I pass out in the early hours of the morning halfway up the stairs. She flickers in the eyes of those who get too close. She dances in the mirror and kisses my neck when the right scent ignites what’s left of me. That cherub heart, it’s been gone for years and no matter what I do, and no matter how many times I try bringing her back, it won’t beat again.


S.K. Nicholas is the creator of My Red Abyss.comas well as author of two novels A Journal for Damned Lovers Vol 1, 2 & 3 (available on Amazon).