Candle Child

My name is Charlotte. My mom and dad live with me in my home at the edge of the forest. They always tell me that we are not rich but we are not the poorest. My mom likes to work with flowers, she tells me that she is called a florist. Our home is surrounded by so many pretty flowers, and whenever she comes home she always tells me about the smells and colors that she sees at work.

My dad is a business man so he talks to a lot to people about money. I don’t really know what he’s talking about but sometimes I think it’s funny.  Sometimes I almost feel lonely, thinking about how little I know about what my dad is talking about. It’s almost like he’s talking to a mirror when he’s with me, he only sees what he sees, and I can’t do anything.

Both my mom and dad tell me each night that they love me. Both my mom and dad have always been by my side and always hug me. Sometimes when I’m in our garden looking at the flowers and playing with the dirt I tell myself that I want these days to never leave me. I know that I’m just a kid, they always tell me that I’m just a kid. But it isn’t fair that only the grown-ups make decisions and dreams and get into depression and deprivation and become dreary and desperate. Because of that, I have decided that from this day on I will be a grown-up. My mom and dad are both like me, and the only difference is that they don’t have to look up. But why can’t I do the things they do? Just because I’m a “kid” makes no sense to me. None of this makes any sense to me.

I grab the candle in our kitchen and search beneath the sink for a lighter. Since I am an adult from this day on I can do things that they would normally never let me do. I have always watched my mom and dad do things around the home that they wouldn’t let me do. I would always dream about someday being able to do those things. I fidget with the lighter and point it towards the candle. I press the button and the red flame from the lighter lights the wick of the candle. I place the lighter back beneath the sink and pick up my candle to walk across the kitchen. I make sure that my steps are light to not disturb my parents. The light from my candle illuminates my steps and I pretend as if I can only be seen with the candle in my hand. I pretend that the world around me is all but unknown territory, and that the only way a scary monster could catch me is if he finds my light land.

I walk across to the front door, and quietly turn the knob. It’s the thick of night outside and I know that my mom and dad both have to get up early for their jobs. The door creaks just a little as I begin pulling on the knob. I clench my teeth and close my eyes, but no one gets up to yell at me. I walk forward with the candle in front of me showing me where I go and if there is anyone there. The blue night wind blows against me and makes me shiver as I walk out of the door, closing it behind me. I never see the night very much, but when I do see the night I imagine it like the sink in our kitchen. The sink is made of reflective steel that never rusts. When I look at the sink it looks back at me, and when I touch the sink it is very cold to me. It will never change, and it will always be there, just like night. I walk down the doorsteps and onto the grass that surrounds our entire home and garden. There are big trees hiding our home but even so I look up to see the stars glistening back at me. Tonight is a beautiful night for my candle. I love my candle, and I always bring it whenever I can find the chance to get out. Otherwise, my candle will be put out, it will be dead and it will be lonely. I cherish the times I get with my candle.

Because I’m not out of the house much I walk around the first tree facing our home a few times before the blue night winds send shivers to me again. The first tree facing our home is a very big tree with two crosses planted in front of it like guards overseeing a prison. I smile looking at the crosses. They are friendly crosses and they are my friends. Whenever I find time to go outside they are always there to send me off. They don’t talk much, but they are people who I love. Whenever I see them, I always find myself clasping my hands together. I clasp my hands as I place the candle on the ground and begin to tell the crosses about my day. I tell them about how I woke up to the birds singing. They were singing a melody of cold blue nights and warm red days and somewhere in-between a white spring. I spent most of my days reading wordless books and drawing pictures with the color of the crayons dried. Sometimes I would watch the windowsill as a centipede crawled its way over from one end to the other. Sometimes I would think that if I tried I wouldn’t be able to not cry. I could feel it as I wake up and walk to an empty kitchen the tears welling up within me but the crosses don’t pry. I tell them because I love them.

I pick up my candle and walk to the back of the house where I usually go when I find my way outside. Our garden was the best garden in the entire forest, it was filled with vegetation and life and there was no way someone wouldn’t be amazed unless they were cross-eyed. I make my way to the patch of dead petals sitting on the small buds of poppy. Whenever I think of the people in the world beyond my forest, I always think that they live such funny lives. The people who have bad eyes, bad legs, bad arms, bad hearts, are living such funny lives. But my laughter is not to make fun of them. I laugh at the dead petals of poppy, but I pick them up and clean up the buds. I laugh at them because they need some laugh in their life. After I bury the petals in the ground I move on to the sunflowers at the other end of the garden. I was trying to grow sunflowers because my mom tells me that the sun is usually hidden by the forest around us. I want to impress her and tell her that I’ve brought the sun to us. The sunflowers are wilting, and I pick up the dead petals of rusted yellow so I can bury them in the dirt facing them.

Today I find the garden boring. Usually I don’t, but maybe it is because I am an adult. I can be doing much more things now that I am an adult. I look at my candle and laugh at the flickering of the tiny flame.  It wants to lick my face, but I know that it’s just my candle being lonely. My candle will die soon if I leave it outside too long, but I want to bring it to one more place before it dies. I want to have it with me when I do something like I am an adult.

I walk to the crosses facing our home and place the flames to the ground between the crosses. I then jump across the flame, pushing past the crosses and pick up my candle as I move past the tree facing our home. I find myself in a forest I’ve never been in, but because I’ve never been in this forest it makes the walk much more exciting. I find myself laughing again. I like to laugh, and my mom and dad and candle and crosses and poppy and sunflowers know I like to laugh. I laugh a lot to them, and for them.

My candle dances wildly in the forest. I try to calm my candle from being too scared of the darkness around us. I keep imagining that no one can see us, no scary monsters can catch us, because our light land is our land. They can’t reach out from the dark to peer open our hearts, and if they enter our light land we will run. They can’t reach out from the dark to peer open our heads, and if they enter our light land we will run. They can’t reach out from the dark to peer open our minds, and if they enter out light land we will run.

My candle never stops dancing as I continue to push past tree branches that fall near my face. I look down to see rocks jutting out from the ground that want to stab my feet. The forest is telling me to go back home but I walk forward and I don’t look back. I continue to walk forward and push past the trees only to see a path that is cracked. The trees split off to the left and to the right, and my candle is swaying  behind me. I tell my candle not to fear the night, or the forest, or the scary monsters lurking beyond our light.

I take a step towards the path to the right, and the forest bunches up like moths to a flame. It blocks my step and my candle’s light and it tells me to go the other way. I take a step towards the path to the left, and the forest bunches up like moths to a flame. It blocks my step and my candle’s light and it tells me to go the other way. I look back to where I came from, and I know that the forest won’t let me leave, it won’t be swayed. My candle is now still and it doesn’t want to dance anymore. It knows that I can’t go further anymore, it knows that if I try it’s all a waste. I couldn’t be an adult today. My mom and dad are waiting for me back at our home. The crosses facing our home know that it didn’t need to follow me because I’ll be back at our home. My candle was dancing wildly but even it knew that I’d be back at our home.

As I take a step towards the path back to our home, my candle flickers again. The light dances in the blue cold night and I know that it doesn’t have much time left. I run back down the path, knowing that if my candle were to die that the scary monsters in the dark can reach me now. I run and I run, and my candle’s light flickers and wails and it’s screaming because its life is about to be bereft of light. I run knowing that if I can’t see my steps that I might get lost and if I get lost that I know that the dark will reach me now. My candle dies. I stop, and I listen to my candle crying out in the dark. The scary monsters will reach me now, and they will not stop. I put my candle down, and wait. If I wait, my mom and dad will find me. If I wait, the crosses facing our home will find me. I don’t want the scary monsters to reach me, because if they reach me, I’ll be just like them.



The Girl Who Lives In A Mountain

There was a girl who lived in a mountain just outside the village where I grew up. It was the largest mountain in our area, and it was the most important one as it protected our little village from the rage of nature and the curiosity of men. The older folk used to worship the mountain, leave offerings at the base and hold great festivals in honour of its impunity. They were beautiful festivals that had all the folk dancing and singing and the air was filled with ebullience. The village was happy, and the town grew larger and larger, until one day the village had finally grown large enough to reach the base of the mountain. We still held great festivals and we still worshipped the mountain as we had many years of prosperity. However, the town was growing too large, and some people had to move out and journey into the world beyond the mountains. My family was disheartened when I had decided to partake on one such journey. They pleaded and prayed that I would not leave the village, but my decision had already been handed to me by the older folk. My family knew this, and they could do nothing to persuade them otherwise. In jest of my parents wails, the older folk allowed me to partake in a special ritual before the journey were to occur. Before crossing the mountain, I was to live in the mountain for a single week, and upon leaving I would hence forth be blessed by the mountain god that presided within. It was a custom that not many people were given the privilege of partaking, and as thus, my parents sent me off with happy smiles.

I journeyed up into the mountains slowly, making sure that I could stand the harsh weathers that it foretold. It did not make it any easier considering how close to the Day Of Eve it was. My week stay was planned such that upon the turn of Eve, it would be as if I was reborn. I didn’t mind spending my new year like that. I wasn’t told where in the mountains I should stay, but I knew that climbing too high would complete my journey early. It must have been several hours until I finally felt the wear of the climb, and the beating of the frigid winds did nothing to quell my fatigue. My vision started going hazy, with streaks of white painted across every image in my head. I reached my hands out to touch it but it crumbled on my fingers, as if it was the whitened ashes of our deceased that we spread on the mountain base. My mind started turning in on itself, and the formation of words or thoughts broke down. Everything became like the mountains, much too large, and much too dangerous.

Upon waking up, I heard the crackling of sticks and the dancing of flames. My head was still spinning, but once my cadence had returned, I noticed a small campfire situated a few feet before me. I looked around to see that I had been placed in a sort of cavern. The entrance was nowhere to be seen, and likewise, the exit. I tried to pull my body up, but noticed that my entire lower body and some of my upper was not responding to any of my commands. I could move my head, but with great trouble. The fire’s warmth seemed to calm me though, and staring into it made my paralysis not so urgent. It was as if I was in a festival, and my mind had wandered into a place of solemn. I then realized that it was ritual fire that I was staring at. The sticks had been coated with a white powder, the white ashes of my people.

“You worship me,” a voice said. Her voice was clear like water, fragile like ice, but sharper than any peak I had ever known. It strained me to listen, but it strained me not to. I couldn’t see her, but I knew that she was just behind me, looking down on my frozen body.

“Your people worship me, and they send me gifts, just like that fire.” I looked at the white ashes again. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed to lick my soul.

“Your people sent you here to die.” The nerves in my body responded to that.

“No. They sent me here for spiritual reconcilement.” To even speak to her put a strain in my throat, it pained me more than I could imagine.

“Your people worship me, and so do you. Do you not agree?” Her voice became like a smooth incense, it threatened to lull me into her world, into her realm, but I knew just how dangerous it was to play with knives. I knew the type of person she was. They had come into our village frequently and had many disputes with our folk. Some called them the nomads, but the younger folk tended to spit out apostate. I never dealt with one first hand, but I knew who they were and what to do if I ever did. They would threaten my beliefs, tell me the mountain god is fake, and tell me to renounce who I am.

“I only worship the god that resides in this mountain,” I said. She replied with a laugh, a haunting laugh that echoed throughout the entire cavern. It was a witch’s laugh, but despite how much I hated her animosity and attempt to coerce me into playing into her hands, I could not completely disregard it.

“The god you people think you worship is not here anymore. They left long ago once they were bored with your people. Has this mountain actually done anything for you?”

“It has protected us from many harsh seasons, and many harsh tyrants.”

“That much can be said about anything.” The voice grew closer, and I could hear her foot steps over the fire now. She bent over and pushed my body into a sitting position. I could see her face clearly now, she was but a little girl, somewhere in the ages of ten or fifteen. I judged her not on the bases of her short height, but by the way her face seemed to exude youth. Her hair was charred black, and if not for the frill in the dress she wore, I would have thought she was but skin and bones. She was nothing like the apostates. I had to pray for forgiveness once the thought of beauty had sprung upon me.

“Your people worship me, but I am no god. None of us were gods. We are the people you expunged. We are who you detest, and who you made idols.“

“The people we detest are the apostates, and those people are not the ones we worship. It can’t be, you’re a liar, a witch.” The girl kicked me in the chest and stood towering over me in her dress. I could not move despite the fire running over my entire body. I was still frozen, and as she looked into my eyes, I could see something much more sinister than any murderer. Within her clear white eyes, the eyes of a person who could not see, was the reflection of myself. And within myself, was an eerie happiness of being riddled pathetic in the presence of such an image of youth and beauty.

“The people that left your village became the nomads. Or as you like to call us, the apostates. You are descendants of my people. And your elder folk know that. They know that the people who sometimes visit your village were the very people who left it in the first place. They know that we have prospered far more than them, that they live eternally in the past, that as they worship a dead god, we worship innovation. Your god no longer loves you.” But upon hearing her slander, I could not hold any emotions tight. I felt enraged, confused, but the emotion that ran most frightening to me were the emotions of joy as she continually stepped onto my stomach and frilled her dress dangerously near me.

“And you are one of the apostates then? Those who do not believe in our god, and travel to town to try and snatch those precious to us away.”

“Precisely. But we do so not in any ill manner, not like the treatment you give us with your scornful glares and egregious rumors. We simply wish to bring you to a life much better, and we do so in peace.”

“If you wish to barter peace, then do not come to us anymore. We live peacefully.” The girl laughed. I could feel it from her foot.

“Your peace is false. Your peace will shatter and crumble, and our people will make it so that it will not be a peaceful end. As long as you resist us, we cannot guarantee that our peaceful subjugation will be anything peaceful. We are a peaceful group, and yet, once we seek power, once we have seen the edificial power that lay in our way, we seek to obtain it.”

“So you mean to say that eventually we are to be under your reign despite our constant refusal?”

“Not only that, but the people to blame once your people are ravaged by our armaments and miasma are the very people who tell you to veer away from us.” Her eyes, her unchanging, blind eyes were something that I feared now not only because of what I saw within them, but because of how true they seemed. She could not see me, and yet, the more I lay under her body, and the more her eyes seemed to stare right into me, the purer her words seemed to me. To me, it was as if the blind cannot lie.

“And if your people only do visit us to try and coerce us peacefully into living with your people, then why are you here? The last apostates have long gone, and they are not expected to come back until past the turn of Eve”

“Among my people, I am an oddity, that much you can tell. I am imperfect, a being that even my people tend to spit at. I am less than them, and yet, here I am, an idol for your people. I have no name, but some who know of me, my people, call me The Girl Who Lives In A Mountain.” There was sadness within her voice, a trailing sadness that lingered in the cavern and fed the flames that still danced near us. Her eyes although white, were tinged with darkness, and whilst she couldn’t make expressions with her face, with her eyes, it still seemed much more consternated than before. She released her hold on me, and stepped behind the flames. My body at this moment had all been thawed, and I shifted in the cavern dirt, reveling in my freedom.

“I have no ill will for you or your people. You have given me many great festivals, many gifts, and despite not knowing that your god is an apostate, an ill-ridden girl, someone who has caught the sickness of weakness, your people have taken care of me. I am no mountain god, but to show my appreciation, I have saved you. I burn the ashes you bring me, I eat the food you provide, and I sing and dance with the festivals. Your religion may be a farce, but I indulge in the gratuity.” The girl regressed. She sat on the cavern walls and looked at the flames as they danced with the ashes. She smiled at it, a distant smile, one that I couldn’t reach. Her words, much like the flame, rung true and great. My people would be devastated by the apostates soon enough, but to think that were to happen is not such a calamity. They would not call it subjugation, but attribute it to simply going to another village, to finally moving out of their old ways, to leave the mountain.  Such a way wasn’t so bad after hearing the Mountain Girl’s words. After hearing her  words, I was less than angry. My people, unlike hers, were very optimistic in world view. Those who show abnormalities, much like her blindness are not shunned and thrown into caverns by themselves. They are our soothsayers, the ones bestowed upon by the gods with great power. I had no reason but to believe that The Girl Who Lives In A Mountain was a god of her own caliber. I stayed in that cavern for the remainder of my week, listening to the tales of the Girl, and hoping that my people would be reinstated without much bloodshed.



I held in my hands the hourglass containing the remainder of my life. As each grain of sand went from the top of the glass to the bottom, I felt more and more relieved. Watching as my life drained in front of me made me serene. It wasn’t as I would have thought watching my life fade would be. It wasn’t scary, or filled with adrenaline. I wasn’t filled with any innate want to stop this hourglass from dripping. There was no point, and I had already come to terms with my life. Each hour would draw away another grain of sand into the bottom of the glass. Each hour that bottom would slowly shape itself into a mound. I thought of it like climbing a mountain. Once the mound was done with twenty-four finely shaped pieces, I would climb it. I would get to the top, and then disappear.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the doctor had told me once he handed me the hourglass at the start of the clock. To me it was all the same. All he needed to say was that I had twenty-four hours. I didn’t need to know about the mutations in my cells or the deformation of my body. All I wanted to know was that I had twenty-four hours. There was no amount of biological know-how or euphemized disease that would have made me feel any better. In fact, him handing me the hourglass was all I needed to know. I held onto the hourglass for the first hour, wondering just how it would feel watching the first grain of sand plop to the bottom. It must have happened in the blink of an eye, but when I watched it drop from top to bottom, time seemed to slow down. The sand turned in the air, almost gliding down to the bottom, almost wanting to reach back up and find itself back into the original pile. I saw it grasping for air, but then it fell, and it groveled for a second, but it accepted where it was. On the second hour I watched another sand fall in the same manner, and by the fifth hour, the sands were quiet.

I walked out of my room, and tidied what remained of my stay. I dumped the vase of flowers, the get-well soon note, and the half -eaten candy bar. I looked at the monitor that once beeped my lifeline, and then gave it a good kick. I made sure that the curtains on the windows were open, and that a slight breeze was peeking through into the room. I turned on the small T.V at the corner of my room to the news channel and watched as the man on the screen talked about stocks. They were plummeting.

I left my room by the sixth hour but no one else was wandering about. Most of the patients were quietly tucked away in their own enclaves, and the nurses walking by me didn’t bat at eye. The doctors were busily scratching away on their clipboards, and the name on my door had already been stripped. I hadn’t spent enough time to know my way around the hospital. I don’t think anyone would have been proud being able to navigate their way through a hospital, but I decided that with eighteen drops of sand left, I would choose a line and follow. I wondered if asking a nurse would have been easier, but the harder I tried to expel words from my mouth, the harder it was for them to realize I was dead. The dead had no right in mingling with the living. We lived in separate worlds, and I wondered then as I looked at the lines on the ground what the purpose of a hospital was. I decided on green, and so I began walking. At the cusp of the seventh hour I had a realization. The nurses and doctors were god. The hospital was a church. I was a dirty pagan.

I followed the green line that swerved into hallways, ran through long empty tunnels, and finally collapsed upon the glass windows of the courtyard. The hospital’s courtyard was barren. It seemed almost elusive to have this open patch of green spill from the hospital. And at the same time it seemed almost fitting for this hospital to be surrounded by green. I stepped into the courtyard at the dawn of the seventh hour, and allowed myself to be swallowed in the air of the outside. It was intoxicating at first, almost too much to handle that I had to hold my breath. But once that subsided, the air renewed my lungs, the green of the grass captured my eyes, and I was left to be a part of the cycle known as life.

By the eighth hour I was wandering some place beyond the hospital’s courtyard. I was sure that they wouldn’t have minded if I strayed too far away from their premise. They used to hold me down like I was in a cuckoo’s nest, but now with the hourglass in hand, the only stares they gave me were empty. I didn’t know where I was walking to as I pushed past branches from trees hanging down and threatening to cut me. I didn’t know where I was walking to as I dodged the rocks jutting out and threatening to trip me. I didn’t know where I was walking to as I heard the sound of an animal gasping for air. I walked towards that sound unknowingly, only to find a girl stabbing a dog in the throat. She looked up at me once I was in view. Her hands were completely red, and the white dress she wore was stained with death. She had a needle in her hand that punctured through the small dog’s throat. I wanted to vomit at the sight. I wanted even more to scream when I saw her smile, her genuine smile that stretched from one end of her face to the other.

“That’s a funny little thing,” she said with a voice that was as smooth as glass. Her hair was dyed completely white, but it reached behind her almost to her ankles. Her face was mixed with some kind of blush and her lips were covered in red that wasn’t the blood of the dog. She stood up and dropped the corpse of the dog in the motion. She was little more over the cusp of adulthood , and if not for the blood of her hand, the sullied empty needle in her other, I might have called her beautiful.

“They gave you that, and they gave me this. Goes to show what this world is made of, huh?”

“They gave you a needle?” She pressed the needle into her arm, but there was no liquid to flow. It jabbed into her skin with the end still dirtied with the dead dog’s blood.

“They gave me a way out,” she answered.

“And you gave it away.”

“I offered it to him. You see–” She kicked the corpse, flipping it towards me, “Everything’s going to die. You and me, so did he. I just gave him a head start.”

“And you’re fine with that? You must be crazy if you think that’s fine?” She smiled.

“Do you know about war? The middle east? Agent Orange? Euthanasia?”


“Different than what I’m doing? The only difference is that you’re here.” Her voice was exactly like glass. It was sharp, and yet for some reason as it jabbed into me, I felt elated. It was a reflection that I saw within her voice, and within her clear eyes. There was transience about the way she spoke, about how each word slipped out of her mouth and into my world.

“Did you know that in the second world war, they made these small little pills filled with cyanide? Spies would carry them. If they got caught, then all they needed to do was eat one, and never have to go through torture. But why do that now? I’m not going be tortured. I’m going to die peacefully.” Her words were haunting, and yet I couldn’t stop listening to her speak. She was entrancing in her bloodstained dress, and I wondered what her snake-like fingers would feel grasping onto my neck.

“It’s a good thing you found me, I need your help.”

“If it doesn’t involve any more murder–”

“Please. If you think I’m a murderer, than what about that hourglass in your hand?”

“I’m going to die anyway.”

“And you think they couldn’t have prevented it?”


“Was what? Fate? Destiny? Inevitable? Don’t give me that. You think you’re any special just because you’re going to die at the end of the day? No. You’re special if you can pay for it.” Her smile was demonic, but if it was a demon, then surely it was a succubus. I followed her to some place beyond the origin of my hourglass. By this point, I wondered if any of the staff were worried where I had went off to. By this point, I wondered if I was already a number in their books. By this point, I wanted to leave the hourglass behind, to not see that I was almost at my ninth hour.

We arrived near a lake. I didn’t realize how close we were to a lake. She stepped up to the peak of the water’s ebb and flow, and closed her eyes.

“The blood doesn’t bother you?” I asked as I looked towards her still bloodied hands.

“Does your body bother you?”

“I don’t usually deal with my body in terms of liquid excess.”

“You just haven’t lived.”

“Well I’m definitely not going to be alive.” She chuckled at that. She turned, and then stepped towards what seemed to me an arbitrary tree facing the lake. She crouched, and then with her bloodied palm pressed it against the trunk. I walked over wondering why she had done so, and then I saw a cross planted into the dirt in front of her.

“If I asked you to live with me, what would you say?”

“I would say that I’m about to be dead.” I answered her, but she didn’t seem to be speaking to me. Rather, she seemed to be speaking to someone beyond me, someone beyond her. And as she did so, her voice began cracking.

“If I asked you to start a life with me, what would you say?”

“I would say that it would all be wasted.”Her glass was shattering.

“If I asked you to love me, what would you say?”

“I would say that love doesn’t transcend death.” And she wasn’t with me, her glass wasn’t as clear anymore, and her eyes were muddied with a cloud of acid rain. She began muttering to herself as she clasped her hands together in front of the cross. The only words I could make out were, “I’ll be joining you soon.” She reached into her dress and pulled out a container that rattled with pills. She opened it and it was filled with multi-colored medicine. She smiled, and leaned onto the tree with her bloodied hand hanging above her.

“I’m going to O.D, and I want you to bury me, okay?”

“You want me to bury you with… Your friend?” She nodded and smiled. Her smile now was weak. It didn’t last from one end of her face to the other, it couldn’t.

“Are those pills from the hospital?” I asked.

“These aren’t just any pills from the hospital. These are all the pills I could fit from their medicine cabinets.”

“I’ll help bury you but I doubt you’ll be able to down that thing.” She smiled again, a   smile filled with bellicose, and her eyes lit up.

“Try me.” By the eleventh hour she stopped breathing. The bottle was only half finished. I pressed my hand into the dirt, and began digging a hole for her. I was disappointed by the loneliness that kicked in. I was disappointed by how weak she was. The needle would have killed her instantly, but she decided to prolong that over a few hours.  She said she wanted to die peacefully. I looked at my hourglass wondering about her death. My peace had already begun by the first drop of sand.  Was there anything wrong in seeing through till that lost drop of sand? I wondered that as I dragged her body into the ground.

By the twelfth hour, I was sitting by the tree with her bloodied hand. There were two bodies underneath me, and I would make the third. I closed my eyes with her half-filled bottle of pills, and allowed myself to be swept into the lake’s world. I decided to fall asleep to let myself drift away into the other world with them.

I woke up by the twentieth hour. I wondered if the hospital was looking for me, or for her. I never asked for her name, nor did she ask for my name. The hourglass’s mound was almost done. I was at the precipice of its peak. It was the dead of night, and the cold winds swirling around me caused me to shiver. I laughed at the bottle of pills spilled in my lap. I looked into the bottle to see a few still remaining. I placed the bottle on top of the dirt where I had buried her, and then closed my eyes again. I needed rest to reach the peak.