Volume 2, Issue 1
SUNFLOWER STANDS TALL, JENNI CONTRERAS
Jenni Contreras is in her senior year at Ashford University obtaining her degree in business with a focus in Organizational Management. She received her Associate degree from the University of Phoenix. She is interested in seeing how ethical leadership run their organizations differently than non-ethical leaders and how that affects the employees and ultimately the consumer and the environment. She also has an interest in photography where she is fascinated with catching a moment in time, as well as catching the beauty that nature creates.
THE RUNAWAY MOON
An ancient soul searches the four wind,
just as the one who has lived so long looks at
some braided sunlit rigging, falling on the shoulders of seasoned timber
Just as the wooden block answers to the sculptor’s chisel. The chips fall,
putting new life into an old place.
Use your eyes as narrator of this story, your taste, for a protagonist
and realize the chemistry of water and it’s Creator, the deep, black waters
reflecting the night.
the moon pulls this way and pushes that way
the same waves from the start. The moon is a rare Blue, sailing on,
toward the southwestern ocean.
Jonah is the name, carved on the prow of this runaway moon,
quickly disappearing into the mist of a far horizon.
Dirk James lives in San Leandro, California.
We all have beloved places from our childhood that give us warm, loving memories as we grow older. One of my most beloved places was my grandmother, Nannie’s, kitchen. Today, years later, the sights, smells, and tastes in her kitchen remain vivid in my memory.
When you walked into Nannie’s kitchen, on the back wall there was a solid wood door and some windows that opened onto an enclosed back porch. The windows always had quaint, lace curtains hanging over them. Beneath the windows sat a round kitchen table made of gleaming solid oak, where family and friends would gather. The top of the table sat proudly on a decorative spindle, from which four legs, resembling claws, emerged. A beautiful, intricate, lace tablecloth always adorned the table. The center of the table held a “Lazy Susan,’ on which you would find napkins, salt and pepper shakers, and a glass sugar dispenser, right at your fingertips. Encircling the table were five matching wooden chairs, on which Nannie always placed decorative cushions for padding. Over the years, many expertly prepared meals were served at that table.
Not far from the table, a portable dishwasher rested idly in the corner until it was needed. It was a plain dishwasher, with one exception: it had an attractive oak colored, butcher block top that could be used as a working surface. In order for the dishwasher to be used, it had to be rolled over to the sink and hooked up to the faucet. What an obnoxious noise that dishwasher made! It whirled and whizzed loudly, making it difficult to have a conversation in the room. The dishwasher made the kitchen warm when it was in use. You could see the steam escaping around the door, and smell the automatic dishwashing detergent. Often, Nannie would add vinegar to help remove spots from the dishes, making the pungent odor of vinegar escape with the steam, stinging your nose. After a sizable holiday meal, the dishwasher would have to work overtime.
The true magic of Nannie’s kitchen was the stove. At first glance, it appeared to be a common, every day, gas stove with a gleaming, shinning top. A person would never imagine that an ordinary stove could produce such extraordinary aromas and tastes. When Nannie was cooking, tantalizing smells would waft into your nose, teasing your taste buds with the promise of satisfaction, and making your stomach growl in anticipation. No one could ever forget the smell of her fried chicken as it sizzled in the cast iron frying pan on that magical stove. When the delightful smell of fresh green beans cooking combined with that of the chicken frying, everyone would begin hovering in the kitchen, anxiously awaiting the feast. You have never tasted fried chicken until you had Nannie’s chicken. Always cooked to perfection, the chicken was delightfully crispy on the outside, and moist, tender and juicy on the inside. When you sunk your teeth into the chicken, your taste buds were intensely rewarded, and they transmitted instant messages of sheer delight to the pleasure center of your brain. The fresh green beans, cooked with bacon, were crisp and flavorful, and very pleasing to the palate. The true testament to the excellence of Nannie’s culinary skills became evident during the meal. Except for an occasional request to “Please pass the mashed potatoes,” conversation ceased, and the only sounds that could be heard were that of the silverware clanking on plates as everyone joyfully devoured their meals.
Although Nannie’s home was spacious, visitors inevitably flocked to the kitchen, the heart of her home, because it was warm, cozy and inviting. It was in Nannie’s kitchen that family and friends congregated to share holiday and Sunday dinners, making memories that would last a lifetime. Many generations consider themselves lucky to have heartfelt remembrances of the sights, tastes, and smells that were all part of the enchantment of Nannie’s kitchen.
Barbara Haycraft lives in Colorado. She will complete her bachelor’s degree this November and plans to pursue a master’s degree at Ashford University.
I am from a tribe. A tribe that is fighting for my life. It has always fought for my life. When I was a baby, my father died fighting for my life. Although, my grandmother says, he died fighting for the land and family. I just think it’s all about family. I think that we understand that the land is fixed to the people, but I’m just a kid. I’m 9 years old, but I don’t feel nine years old. In my head, I am older. I am close to my father’s age, and so, I understand him most when I think of him. Us, together, one just as tall as the other is.
“Reign, you mustn’t fidget like that son. Be still.” A mother whispers to her son inside of a quiet cathedral. It is so silent inside, it is like someone stole the voice of the people. They all sit there waiting for the priest, patiently, to enter. And, when he does enter, they all stand. The young boy Legacy’s back is stiffly upright, like a soldier. He is a proud man already – in his posture. His mother sees this and is proud. Her hard work of chiding has worked. Now, if she could only fix Reign’s fidgeting ways. After the sermon is over they all leave, returning to their respective parts of the community.
“I don’t see,” the little boy, Reign, begins, his mother shooting him a cold look. She was a woman of punctuation, and wouldn’t stand for the typical mistakes, children or no. “I meeeaan, I don’t understand why we have to come all the way out here to go to church. It’s so quiet in there, too quiet, right Leggi?” the boy had already exasperated the subject, Legacy thinks. They have this same conversation together every Sunday morning in their room. Today is the first day he ever speaks of it in front of their mother. Legacy doesn’t like it one bit.
“Don’t you dare ask me a thing about it.” Legacy says firmly to his sibling. He walks quickly to the car, afraid of the sting of his mother’s words in his ears.
“We come to church Reign, and that is important son. In fact, that is all that matters.” The mothers said, while placing her son’s hand in her own, as she watches the strong stealthy stride of her eldest son. Today she realizes, for the first time, that her son is afraid of her. This startles her, makes her feel tragic and flawed. He’ll have to do without me, the mother thinks within her heartbreak. A tear pushes through a tear duct. She wipes it away only when she makes it to the car.
The family makes it home in an hour’s time. It is about 1: 30 in the afternoon, and the boys ask if they can go outside to play after lunch. The mother tells them that it is okay to do so. Reign is so excited – and famished. Legacy is demure and deep in thought. The mother watches him closes during lunch. She searches for something, that something that will give her the answer she is looking for. The source of his fear. What is it that she does that makes him so silent, that makes him retreat. She’d heard them complain about traveling the long journey to church for the better part of 2 ½ years. … Mothers have that kind of “eyes in the back of the head” mentality that makes them seem like they are Gods, Angels, spies and fate. But, “why”, she thinks, “why does he not speak so liberally about something so harmless when I’m around?” She spots no silent cues to answer her back, and she is disturbed through the entire meal.
My name is Legacy. My brother is Reign. We are the sons of a dead man.
Months and months after the mother’s perplexed stares and resigned sadness, there is a bad storm in their small town. The mother and her husband, (a marriage born out of grief), gather the two boys in their homemade shelter. The shelter is about two yards away from the house, close to the corn fields. The youngest is fearful and trembling, holding the hand of his mother. The eldest boy holds his strong posture. The posture his mother is so proud of. “Come children, quickly.” The mother says to them, grabbing their shoulders with a mother’s touch. Inside she is also fearful, but she does not exemplify the caustic beatings of her heart. When they are outside of their house the husband looks up at the sky. He holds a modernized lantern, which sways dangerously in the strong winds. “Hurry, hurry!” The husband rumbles, after he is done surveying the dark skies.
Inside of the storm shelter it is dark, damp, and filled with some metallic smell that the young boy, Reign, does not recognize. “Momma, it’s coold in here.” Reign says to his mother. She doesn’t say a word. She just squeezes his hand. A silent love rendering from a mother who cannot give much more because of her own terror. The husband’s lantern doesn’t do much to ease the troubling feeling that dark spaces often cause. The eldest child shuffles in the dark, searching his pockets for the candle and the box of matches he had grabbed in a rush. His heart sinks when he cannot find the candle, only the matches.
“How will we survive in this place!? It’s hardly any light! There’s no food and my head hurts!” Reign shouts. The terror in his voice is amplified by the truth in his statements, in his mind. The mother begins to hush him, while the husband states that there’s plenty canned beans and SPAM inside of the shelter he built two summers ago. The eldest child had helped him with the construction of the shelter, but he hadn’t seen much need for a storm shelter at all. The boy frowns at his young memories.
The small family of four groan and shuffle around the shelter, searching for places of warmth. Places left alone by drafts and spiders. In the end, the mother ends up on the wooden bunk that her husband made, the youngest child resting himself upon her. The husband lay heavily on the top bunk, while the eldest child had refused to lye anywhere. He, instead, stared intensely at the door of the storm shelter. He stared liked this for three whole days. His mother beckoning him to canned suppers and canteens filled with water. Every now and again he’d heed her calling. By day four the storm still hadn’t lifted. And, after another canned lunch, the boy thinks, “It isn’t right. None of this makes any sense. Why hasn’t the storm lifted. It should’ve lifted by now.” But the storm hadn’t lifted. And the family hadn’t starved. But, something had happened to Legacy. His mother became anxious at his silence. And his brother began to have coughing fits, due to the damp air underneath the earth they sought haven within.
After a week, the cans of beans became cans of corn. After another week, the cans became canned potatoes. And, after another grueling week, the canned meals ceased all together. They were down to another sort, SPAM. SPAM, and more SPAM. And by week four, SPAM and coughs. SPAM, coughs … SPAM, coughs. Both boys were now sickly. But only Legacy still stood, would not cry on his mother’s breasts. By the time they made it into the 5th week, the mother had begun to sob into the night, every night. She sobbed when every lid was closed. Her eldest son was the only one awake to listen. His mother, in her thought solitude, groveled to the Lord, looking up at the muddy walls to beckon the sky. A sky she had been banished from by thunder and lightning, and an unforgiving downpour. The mother groaned and whispered her grievances, her prayer: “Lord, … Oh God, please, Help us. Please … don’t continue your persecution. My Father, please … hear your child. My … my humble, my humblest cries.” Silence was the reply. And, after a long while, she released her knees from the weight of her torso. She returned to lay beside her sleeping, ailing, child. She held her belly with both her hands, closed her eyes, and wept. And, in the darkness of their damp hell, her son wept too.
It was the third day of the 5th week. The family’s youngest member had begun to cough blood. His brother then began to resign them both to an early grave. Frightening visions of coffins gripped his short naps. But, on this day, it seemed, that the rain would begin to lift. The loud raging rivulets began to become heavy thumps. The rain had also begun to cease its constant showering, and replaced its constant shower with small intervals. The husband thought of hope then. The mother still grasped her belly and sobbed when she thought everyone was asleep. And Legacy still wept with her, only now, he wept for himself, and his brother too. He had learned how to fear death, and every cough brought depressing thoughts of black dresses, and his mother’s sobs. Sobs he did not have to imagine, fore he heard those quiet sobs every night.
I think that it will lift now. … It must lift now.
By the 6th day, of the 5th week, the rain ceased. Only Legacy heard the last raindrop. And he rejoiced with a silent “Hallelujah!”, fore he had lost his voice. He could only think of letting it all go. Think, and be happy. His happiness led him to try and lift himself from his corner of the storm shelter, but he had no strength. His eyes rolled from the pain inside of the effort. His limbs shuddered. His mouth quivered, and he began to cry. Pushing at syllables that wouldn’t come, he coughs. He catches his breath. He tries to move to the door once more. He crawls. He pushes at syllables, but his voice won’t come. He begins to panic in his mind. And he can see the sunlight pour in through the wooden panels. He crawls, and he crawls, all the while pushing at syllables with his esophagus. With his tongue. With all of his might. Then, finally, his words break the deafening silence inside of the shelter. He speaks, “Moommma! … H-help me!! … S-Sunlight! Momma, sunlight!” And the mother sprang up, holding the head of her young son. And when she too saw the sun, saw her child crawling to the door, and understood his words, the mother sang her tears, “Hallelujaaaaah!!!,” before holding the growing bump in her belly. And when they made it out of the storm shelter, the sun on their cheeks, Reign opened his eyes in his mother’s arms.
Valencia Benjamin is a student at Ashford University, where she majors in English and Psychology. She writes: The short story, “Legacy’s Posture”, is a portrait of the struggles of a Native-American/African-American family, with a concentration on the eldest son, Legacy. This story depicts the relationship between a mother and her son, in the silence, and through the storm.
Valencia Benjamin is majoring in English and psychology at Ashford University. This photography collection is a piece on the elements. It is a projection of The Nature of Human instinct, as it relates to the environment. The collection attempts to pose the question, “Does the universe communicate with us through energy?” Considering that we all emit some energy, contribute some anatomical particles, take up some space, the answer is surely yes.
MY MOM HATES BIRDS
Mom hates birds, so she always said.
Walking the embankment, near the water’s edge;
Playing with my sister, giggling, jumping;
Near, the river’s edge.
A black cloud in the sky;
flew around the wooded side.
Over the water thru the thick trees, I can’t remember?
I cannot see! I cannot see!
But I can’t remember,
The cabin in New York, remember a mere me,
I was just maybe three,
I love the sound of birds; soaring high and high.
The swishes of a single glide, oh, how I wish I might fly.
Down came the black cloud, soaring to the ground.
Screaming, go inside, go inside; screams echoed, I cried.
Black cloud covers, forehead it surrounds.
Do black birds with feathers, fly together, maybe?
As black birds pecked, blood oozed the bleeding head,
My mom hates birds; through my memories,
Oh, now I see! I remember when!
Cynthia Bruni is one class away from graduating at Ashford University. She will finish her BA of Arts in journalism and communications with a minor in social and criminal justice.
MY LAND, MY MOTHER
Can you hear the drums?
They shine in their design
Sounds climb within refine
And // the Calvary
Valencia Benjamin is a student at Ashford University. Her poems focus on racism, displacement, assimilation, oppression and spirituality.
JOHN F. KENNEDY ETERNAL FLAME
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame, Amber Fries
Amber Fries is a student at Ashford University.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KITES
Over a footbridge, walk my daughter and I.
It is a blustery day, so a kite we shall fly.
We hold hands and giggle, running uphill,
For the top is the best for kite flying thrill.
Unwinding the string, the kite excitedly flutters.
As does my daughter, from one foot to the other.
Releasing the string, the kite starts to soar.
“But wait,” says the child. “Isn’t there more?”
“Yes!” I reply, observing our vessel.
“This kite is unique, extraordinary, special!”
Kite control tight, kite flying stance,
I yank hard to the left and the kite starts to dance!
First one way, then the other, it flips all around,
But one wrong yank means hitting the ground.
My daughter near, squealing with glee,
Starts her childhood chant; “me next! Me!”
I hand her the reigns, she yanks to the right,
And quickly begins sabotaging her kite.
It hits the ground with an almighty crash
And swiftly she cries, thinking it smashed.
“Hush now, pretty girl, not all is lost.
When we fall down, we just brush ourselves off.”
I pick up the kite, straighten its wings,
Kiss away booboos and do other mom things.
Before we know it, again, it takes flight!
She has the hang of it now, flying just right.
I think to myself, what a joyous way,
To share life lessons on kite flying day.
Tristin Bovee “writes with gusto” and lives in Michigan with her family. She will graduate from Ashford University this fall. She works from home designing VBA software.
Alivia and I have been friends for twenty-five years. Our meeting was serendipitous; our grandmothers were neighbors and our respective visits aligned more often than not. As children, we eventually became neighbors in our own right, no longer relying on the convenient location of grandparents. Now, we were neighbors again. It wasn’t planned, but it certainly wasn’t unfortunate. I moved away when I got married and she eventually moved into the house next door. Living so close to one another, it was strange how infrequently we visited. Life often gets in the way of the simple things, like enjoying a glass of wine with a friend. Our lifelong friendship was being honored with a weekend in a cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Nothing but an eighth of the devil’s lettuce, a thirty pack of Bud Light and junk food. The cabin had electricity, no running water and zero cell phone service. I hadn’t been to the U.P. since my childhood, and that was with my parents; far removed from a good time.
We left our respective homes at seven o’clock Friday morning. I kissed my husband goodbye, asking yet again if he would survive our two-year-old daughter over the weekend. He said he’d be fine and I should go have fun. I chased the toddler through the house, inciting screams of joy before catching her and blessing her face with as many kisses as possible. I knew I’d miss them both, but as a stay-at-home mom, I also knew I needed this time away. Being alone with a toddler all day is like being imprisoned in a low security mental ward; I have privileges… but I don’t have sanity. We packed our stuff into Alivia’s red Grand Am and headed north.
The whole purpose of this trip was to celebrate our birthdays. They were two days apart, and we often found a way to celebrate together. The cabin, belonging to her father’s side of the family, was located right in the middle of the U.P., in a town called Curtis. One of our favorite pastimes as delinquent teenagers was smoking pot and waxing philosophical; typical stoner behavior. We both had grown up a great deal over the years and left our irresponsible youth behind. Yet, smoking pot and talking was a bonding experience, and something I haven’t been able to duplicate. This trip was a farewell to that time and the cabin was a good place to light up and reminisce.
The trip out of the Lower Peninsula itself was uneventful. From time-to-time we stopped to use the bathroom or snag some road trip food. After three hours we crossed the Mackinaw Bridge. Highway 2 runs along the coast of Lake Michigan and during the summer months it looks like the cost of California. The water would be an impossible shade of blue, the sky perfectly clear and waves would beat the shoreline relentlessly. Most of the beach along this stretch is public and it would be speckled with people along it’s great span, enjoying the Michigan summer. However, our trip took place in September and the contrast was depressing. Tall clumps of dead grass jutted out of the soil along the road before evaporating into clean, near-white sand. The ground foliage was well into the death throes of autumn. The water was a lifeless blue, dark and flat, the sky a mottled gray. There were no beachgoers. The horizon, crisp in the summer, was distorted, as if we were seeing it through a smudged camera lens. Regardless, we pulled over to enjoy what the scenery offered. Coastal wind assaulted my ears and blew my hair up like a halo. How odd it is, the difference in the wind when it can invade one’s senses. Alivia kicked off her sandals and walked down the beach.
“Think it’s too cold to swim?” She yelled, staring out across the lake with a sad smile on her face.
“Definitely,” I joined her, kicking off my own sandals. The sand was cold and sparkly, like frozen sugar. “The sand feels like snow, I can’t imagine how cold the water is.” A large wave rolled in and chased us back up the beach. We laughed at how silly we probably looked, running in fear from such a small act of nature. We hiked up the slight sand dunes along the highway, unsurprised at the frigid state of Lake Michigan, and returned to the car. She handed me the goodie bag; reefer and zigzags. I chuckled to myself, recalling that I never really called it marijuana as a teenager. It was always pot, agriculture, reefer, the devil’s lettuce, or green fruit.
“Roll one will you,” she asked. “There are never cops up here; we can smoke all the way to the cabin.” I hadn’t rolled a joint in a decade and I’ve never been good at it, but I did my best and passed her the finished product, loose and amateur. She chuckled at my feeble attempt, lit it and took a hit. She let out a relaxed sigh before passing it back. I sucked the sweet smoke into my lungs, let it dance across my tongue and willed it to do its magic. Nothing relaxes a person like pot. I passed the joint back.
A short time later we were stress-free, the roach abandoned in the car’s ashtray. My mind whirled, synapses firing like Christmas lights, making connections along paths previously darkened by convention. I had forgotten what it was like, to unleash my thoughts. It is an intoxicating sensation. I examined Alivia. The tightness in her face had lessened and her perpetual grin had lost some of its sadness under the influence of the pot. It was hard to tell from the outside if her brain was lit up like mine. She was uncharacteristically silent, lost in thought.
Still meandering along Highway 2, we passed a forested intersection that contained an unwelcome visage: state police. Our drug-fueled bliss dried up. At once, we investigated the direction he turned, discovering, much to our chagrin, that he was following us. All at once, the beauty of the scenery was muted and the trip lost its magic. We could not lose the cop. We tried to salvage our conversation, but the implication of what followed us could not bring forth more than one word at a time. Talking about the cop behind us would make it real. We stared straight ahead, afraid to even touch the radio. I felt as if my stomach were creeping up my esophagus, a sensation amplified by the drugs. I examined the interior of the car, looking for a focal point in an effort to calm my frayed nerves. I settled for a stain on the floor mat. It was trying to be white but the blackness of the mat overpowered its opacity. Likely a remnant of winter salt that hitched a ride on someone’s boot, now a permanent passenger, along for the adventure. My breathing steadied and I forced my eyes up and out the window. I was still too paranoid to turn my head and look back. I imagined the officer was hyper focused on us, considering every nuance of movement to be reasonable doubt. The very act of turning my head seemed to paint me red with suspicion.
After minutes of tense travel, Alivia decided she had had enough. Seeing an opportunity, she signaled left, pulling into a gas station. The cop continued on his way, content to ruin someone else’s weekend. We sat in the tiny parking lot and I had a moment of sheer euphoria, lightheaded with relief. Alivia ripped her door open and vomited. I patted her back and handed her a napkin when she finished.
“I thought you were feeling better?” I asked, trying not to let the worry creep into my voice.
“I was. I am,” she stumbled, looking for the right words. “It comes and goes. That was intense, huh?” She wiped her mouth with a shaky hand. She was ashen under her freckles, but I knew she didn’t want to talk about the cancer. I was concerned, but pushing her to open up would drive her away. I needed to be there for her, in whatever capacity.
“Like old times,” I said, giving her my most mischievous grin. I handed her a water bottle from the cooler in the backseat. She took a sip and gave me her matching smirk. The atmosphere of the trip would return in time. She pulled out of the gas station and continued down Highway 2.
We eventually reached the small tourist town of Curtis where the cabin was located. We drove down Main Street, observing the townies in their natural habitat. The local bars were overflowing. Music and chatter spilled from doorways with the comings and goings of patrons. I rolled down my window and smelled the tang of deep fried pickle chips. The air was cool but not cold. Up in the middle of nowhere it was also clear and fresh, lacking the pungent odor of the automotive industry. There were places all down the main thoroughfare imploring us to rent a boat, or off-road vehicle, prices displayed on large brightly colored posters. We sailed passed them on a wave of artificial calm and headed out of town, toward our destination. We pulled onto a dirt road and made a quick left into the driveway of our lodging for the weekend.
It was a modest little thing nestled amongst forest and other cabins much like it. Square shaped and crusted with peeling beige paint, it looked sturdy, a good place for a long, lazy weekend. The outhouse in the rear of the property loomed like a dirty old man, questionable and archaic. It was historical… a mighty fine thing we are not high maintenance women. The interior was musty and incomplete. The walls were bare down to the studs and pink insulation dangled from the wall near the ceiling, further amplifying the ramshackle character. There were two tiny bedrooms, each with its own bed, one a bunk style. A large woodstove rested bovine-like between the bedroom doorways, off to the side in the living area. Regardless of the unfinished space, it was homey. We dragged our luggage into the cabin and dumped it in the bedrooms. After putting the food away and making the beds, we settled down in the only two chairs, set to enjoy the weekend. We began by refreshing our buzz.
Tristin Bovee “writes with gusto” and lives in Michigan with her family. She will graduate from Ashford University this fall. She works from home designing VBA software.
I read Dante on long car rides
And you sing me cheesy love songs from the radio
You’re brave that way
I speak too softly
Try to make myself small enough in the world
To hide from its ugly teeth
It’s never worked before, but
Happiness feels karmically dangerous
Like maybe your love for me
Is a pocket full of stones
When I’m floating in the ocean
“We’ll figure it out” you say
Seems like we always are but
That’s usually enough
Amber Gaudet is an emerging poet and aspiring editor/publisher.
THE RED ROSE OF DEATH
The night was cold and dark as the rain flew down and beat against my window I pulled the cover over my head, but then I heard a voice that said, “Chris, Chris!” I then looked around my room only to see darkness, for all the lights were off in the house. I felt as if I were being watched.
So I pulled back my curtains and there it was-the most horrifying creature I had ever seen. He had eyes as dark as coal, teeth as sharp as razors with blood dripping from them. His claws were razor sharp and pointy like a sword. He looked deep into my eyes but never said a word. I knew that he was going to kill me, so I shut the curtains and hid under my quilt that my grandmothers made for me.
My Grandmothers, Era and Sarah, made me a quilt from scratch to keep me safe and warm at nights. As the night passed by I started to drift off to sleep when the rain hit my window with such force I thought it was going to break it so I screamed, “Mother, I am going to die.” As she came into my room, I was as white as a sheet.
Mother asked, “What is going on?” I told her that the rose outside my window was going to kill me and eat me. Mother just smiled, helped me back in bed, kissed me good night, and went back to bed. At that moment I knew that I was all alone and had no one to help me to fight against this creature that wanted to torment my soul.
As I closed my eyes in sleep, I heard the loudest noise outside my window, but I didn’t dare look outside. I thought, “Could it be the Red Rose coming for me?” so I jumped to my feet and ran over to my window, pulled back my curtain, and right there facing me was the horrifying Rose with blood dripping from his teeth, eyes as black as coal and razor sharp claws ready to strike.
This time the Rose looked into my eyes and said, “Chris, I am coming for you because you killed my mother, and brother and caused my father to wilt and die.” My heart was racing and my face felt as if it was on fire so I shut the curtain and hid underneath my quilt of refuge.
I thought again, “What am I going to do?” so I began to pray and call out to God, “Father God, please help me a little nine-year-old boy from being attacked by a hungry evil Rose that wants to devour my body Amen.” I lay down again and slowly slipped off to sleep, but I knew that he was still out there and just waiting on me to stop watching and then he will strike.
As morning came, I awoke to a bright and sunny day, but the killer Red Rose was still outside my bedroom window watching and waiting patiently to strike and devour my body and soul. My thoughts were interrupted when Mother called me to come down stairs and eat my breakfast, so I got dressed and ran down stairs to the dining room.
As I got to the breakfast table, I saw two beautiful Red Roses in a jar full of water and I knew that is what happened to the evil creature’s mother and brother. I began to shutter with fear because I knew that the Red Rose creature was surely going to devour me for what my mother did.
My dad began to laugh at me because my mother told him what I was afraid of, but he didn’t see what I could see and to him it was foolish. I went to school and told my friend what I had seen, and he knew that I was in danger because he could see the evil creatures as well.
The day was so wonderful and nice, but as the evening came I had to go back home. As I stepped off the bus, I walked by that horrifying creature even though it was beautiful to look upon, I knew that when night came he would change into the Red Rose of Death and devour my body and soul.
My mother told me that it was bed time, so I went to my room and lay down on my bed and pulled my quilt of safety over my head, but as I was about to slip away in dream land I heard a voice call my name, “Chris, Chris,” so I pulled back my curtain and there he was that evil creature of darkness.
His eyes were dark as coal, his teeth like razors dripping with blood from another’s body and soul, but he stared into my eyes and said, “Tonight is the night that I take your body and soul.” Then he laughed at me. I bowed my head and thought, “I know that I can defeat him because God is on my side,” and then I feel asleep.
During the night my window opened, and in came the hideous blood- thirsty creature that wanted my soul. As I woke from my sleep I screamed, but no one could hear me so I said, “Could you please give me a chance to make things right?” Before he could do anything he had to leave, and I thought to myself that I will make things right.
The next day I went to see my grandmother, and she told me that if I would put some potting soil in the ground at the root, the roses would bloom again so I took some home and did as I was told and just watched to see what was going on. The next few days went by; the rain came and two buds came on the bush.
That night in the dead of night I heard someone in my room, so I peeked out from under my quilt of safety. There he was blood, dripping from his teeth. His eyes met mine and he said, “Thank you for what you did and I forgive you.” He turned and left my room, but I was white as snow and couldn’t speak a word.
As morning came, I woke up and ran outside to see if the monster was gone, and to my surprise I saw a bunch of beautiful Red Roses. Then I knew that I had been forgiven and the evil was gone forever. I was so happy that the rose was free from the evil spirit that had it bound.
I visited him often because he was now my friend until one cold winter day. As I went to see him, he was gone and his son held me responsible because I was the one who kept water on them. I told him that it was not my fault, but I would try to help him, but that was not his answer.
The evil spirit had returned and possessed the son. Now he has become the Red Rose of Death.
Audie Perry is a mayor, licensed minister, certified notary public and a published author.