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Category: Fiction

The Elves of Kendashar

The elves of Kendashar have perfect grey skin. There are no blemishes, no spots, no marks, ever. This defined them from the other races. They are perfect in the eyes of the maker, or so they believed.

This is why Samartha’s parents did their best to hide the small, black oddly-shaped birthmark on her back just between her shoulder blades. They did a good job, but secretly were repulsed by their only child. Everyday Samartha felt their disdain.

Despite this, she grew up strong and beautiful and normal. She was a member of the Councils Retreat, and even caught the eye of Forest Guard.

But the mark was still there, hidden behind her cloak, underneath her fine elven silk. Her everyday was stained with a dark secret that she couldn’t even see without a mirror.

The suitors started calling soon after she had passed her Tanshars and came of age. She married a man she loved. A man she hoped would overlook her mark. But when he discovered it on their union night he was angry and appalled. He said he would kill her.

She slipped out in the night, into the forest, out toward the common lands. There she found comfort in arms of the imperfect. To them, she was perfection. Her long dark hair, her slim elven frame, her magical grey skin, her quiet smile. Her beauty blinded them. No one cared about the small dark spot on her back.

And over time she met more and more like her, Grey-skinned elves living their lives in the city, away from their kind. They had blemishes, some you could see, others you could not. They were tall and fat, some had funny shaped heads. But they were happy. Samartha was happy. She married a kind man. They had beautiful children she loved.

She didn’t miss perfection, as it didn’t miss her.

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The chaotic thinker and other flashes

I’m sad that I haven’t posted here an a while. I’m working on expanding a short story into a novel. While I am enjoying that, I hate not having short creative spurts to share. Here are some things I did while drinking a beer this weekend. 

The chaotic thinker dribbled his thoughts down the sidewalk past the brick church and over by the steel playground. The wind chilled his ambition, but teased his soul. He stopped by the old oak tree at the park. Bravado brought him down waist deep in soggy sensibility. He sank into the wild currents of his mind. Even she couldn’t comfort his jittery song.


Perspiration. Sweat. Drops of water clinging to the inside of those cotton pants I found at the second hand store on Rosemont. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m not of this situation. I’m not of this scene. Are you? Are you real, or just a figment of this beer induced dream.


I’ll call you Chardonnay. We will delight in the drink of the afternoon. I will hold you tight like a glass of time slipping into a horribly scented candle. You will cringe at my attempts at casual infatuation. And I will think of sweet potatoes; warm, salted, fried. My dress will be clean and stained and mine.

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Leaving the Rock

Leaving in a hurry sucks. You can’t plan for these kinds of things. You go where you go, and trust that the higher-ups know what they are doing. We’d been there for a good six months, so we’d dug in a fair bit. But, when they yell EVAC, it’s grab and go time. Sure there’s a protocol. But really? No protocol survives an EVAC. 

The seasons are short and harsh on Ginstron. The rain and snow pushed the dirt, rocks and debris until they almost completely covered the rusted power unit. The morning sun shimmered in the drops of dew that formed on the remaining exposed panel. Chirping could be heard in the distance. The unit hummed as it had for the last 50 years or so.

We bugged out of Ginstron for a reason; We couldn’t go back for it. And besides, we were hundreds of thousands of miles away before anyone even noticed the unit was gone. I blame that new captain. He’s a sweaty, nervous guy. That dude is fresh out of the academy and he just doesn’t have it yet. I mean, it took him 4 days to order a inventory. 4 DAYS! There was no way we were going back after 4 days. 

The weight of the mud and rock cracked the containment shield. It started small. Tiny drops of green sludge dripped from the corner. The dry red soil soaked up each drop. It had been unusually dry this year, but the rainy season would start soon enough.

Everyone knows this shit. The D240 power generator is the standard power unit for planetary expeditions. It’s a couple meters in size, but light weight, and durable. At its heart is a small reactor that can sustain a mission for a year or two. We come and go pretty fast these days, so nobody really uses them for that long. I just love how easy they are to fix. We were on Jackson345 and Mel fixed one with a tweezer and some tape from the medical kit. 

Large tree-like plants surrounded the ravine where the unit sat. The canopy of bushy yellow leaves shaded the red ground below. Small purple weeds swayed in the slow breeze. The rains had begun in mountains and a river could be heard rushing in the distance.

We aren’t supposed to leave those units behind? You think I don’t know that? I know that. Everyone knows that. But, you know what, SHIT happens. We put that unit on the edge of the encampment because Sutter needed it there for one of those silly experiments she was always running. That is NOT normal procedure, but hell, the captain signed off on the exception notice. They knew it was out there. 

It rained and rained that day. The river finally burst its banks late in the afternoon. The water rushed into the ravine and took everything with it, including the power unit. Every rock and twig bobbed up and down as the water screamed down the hill toward the valley below. The unit smashed into a tree and was trapped under a large log. The box split open and the remaining green sludge spilled into the water.

Did we leave it on? I don’t know. I suspect we did. Why would we turn it off? I understand why they need to ask the questions, but are they seriously stupid. I mean, you don’t usually turn these things on and off. Sutter probably set up that experiment and left it running the entire time we were there. I suspect that’s why we forgot about it. If we had to trek out there every day and turn if off, I imagine one of us would have mentioned that we had a D240 out in the field.  

Rows and rows of thin leafy stalks shot upward from the valley floor. A human-like figure stood knee deep in the recent floods. Grasping a stalk with all four hands, it yanked a large round black root from the ground. It wiped the curious green watery sludge off the root, trimmed the stalk, and placed in a woven basket slung over its back. Others could be seen in the distance doing the same thing.

Those units make some nasty waste. We collect them, clean them out and store that sludge until we safely get rid of it. I can’t imagine how much shit is in that unit if its been running this whole time. I can’t even imagine. 

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Is this Casserole Still Good?

I drew you with crayons and put you on the refrigerator with those snarky magnets you bought from that drug store in Mobile, Alabama. I put you up next to a doctors note from ’92 and a faded yellow Post It. Did I mow the lawn? I can’t remember if I mowed the lawn.

I put you up here with a receipt from a store for a thing we’re never taking back. There you are between that magnet poem I wrote when I was drunk and a magnet poem you wrote when you were mad.

But, we don’t put things here to remember, we put them here to forget, like day old spagetti and sour milk. We were healthy intentions, that ended up soggy like these months old cucumbers. Moldy like a new recipe neither of us liked.

We are a ripe cacophony of rotten things. A forgotten filter that never got replaced.

I will leave you here until the paper curls and the color fades. I will look at you every day, but never really see how beautiful you are.

And one day, in a purge, I will wad you up and throw you in the stinky, overfilled recycle bin.

Then I will draw you again, to fill the empty space right there next to the landscapers card we never called.

And tomorrow, I won’t notice you as I open the door, pausing for a bit to wonder where all the smudges on the stainless steel come from.

Is this casserole still good?

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Blue Bird Bay

A bird bounced in between the wooden bars of Bay’s cage. He lazily lifted his hand to shoo it away. Damn seagulls after his dinner again. But he stopped. This bird was blue.

We must be close to land he thought. How else would a bird like this be here?

Hoping he could entice it to stay, he pinched a small bit of his fish dinner and tossed it out on the edge of the table.

The bird cautiously hopped closer and ate the fish. Bay marveled at the brilliant blue feathers and jet black eyes. He had never seen a bird like it. But, that’s not surprising, Bay hadn’t seen much in his short life. The Portus captured him at 7, and he had been the Windbearer of the Sentinel Mark ever since.

“Who’s a pretty bird? Where’d you come from? What’s your name?” he said.

Sailors strolled by large wood cage, but mostly ignored him. The Windbearer may sit on the deck, but they are not part of the crew. They are a device, a tool. Truth be told, the sailors only really cared if he was still alive. No one wants to be caught on the sea without a bearer.

Bay didn’t care. He had long gotten over the misery of his situation. He found peace in the little things. The songs of the sailors, the whales, the birds, well except seagulls.

Bit by bit, as the night wore on, Bay fed the bird the rest of his dinner. Luckily for the bird, a well fed Windbearer is the key to success at sea.

Bay pushed away from the table. The bird hopped onto his plate and picked at the remaining crumbs. It finished and glanced back at Bay as if it was looking for more.

Bay twirled his finger and swirled up some dust from the floor of his cage. He made it dance in shapes on the table. It was a simple trick, but he hoped it would keep the bird from flying off. At first it was startled, but soon it was bouncing along with the little shapes Bay made.

Bay entertained the bird for hours. He told stories with the swirling dust. Stories of his family and of his voyages on the sea. The bird watched. Bay wasn’t sure if he understood, but he seemed to be riveted by the motion. Bay tried to stay awake. He knew if he fell asleep, the bird would leave, and he didn’t want it to go. Eventually he lost the battle, his head drooped, and the dust dropped to the ground.

To be continued…

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In the End, This is All I Have

In the end, this is all I have.

None of the things I made are here. None of the friends, or enemies remain. For everything I did right, I did something else wrong. For everyone I loved, I hated more away. I pushed the rock just to have it break my bones.

This is all I have. No souvenirs, no postcards, no trophies. I’m standing alone on the mountain I failed to climb. The air is thick at the bottom, and it swings like a sledgehammer. The wide round blunt strikes me in the gut. I tremble, and swing again. I stumble, but ask for more.

My memories melt in the midday sun, like books burning in my head. The edges are blurry, as if I stood up fast and the blood raced away. The best chapters are charred, and unreadable.

I didn’t forget you, not you. I forgot all the little things that made you. Were they red boots or blue? One sugar or two? The difference is in the details, and the all details are gone.

In the end, this is all I have

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The Network

Nathan threw open the bedroom door and launched himself onto bed. He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. It had been a hectic week. His 15th birthday was last week, and today he passed his evals. He leaned back and ran his fingers along the port on the back of his head. Tomorrow he would be connected to the Network.  

Nathan’s father propped open the door and peeked his head into the room. “Dirty shoes on the bed again? You know, after tomorrow you won’t be able to get away with that anymore.” 

Nathan nodded, and his father pulled up a chair and sat down.

“I was able to follow you most of the day, well except when you were hanging out with your unconnected friends. Your classmates and teachers are pretty excited for you.”

Nathan’s father placed his hand on his should. “Listen, I know we’ve talked about this since you were little, but do you have any questions?”

Nathan paused for a moment and looked up at him.

“Are we going to change?” Nathan asked. “You know, me and you.”

His father smiled. “Yes. But, in a good way. We’ll be closer,” his father said. “Listen, you’re the only family I have, and I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

“So have I,” Nathan said.

“Great. Get some rest, it won’t be much longer. I put everything you need for the ceremony in a bag by the door. I’ll meet you at the hall.”

Nathan’s dad put the chair back and left the room. Nathan kicked his shoes off and laid back on the bed. He thought about getting undressed, but decided since nobody was watching yet, he should take advantage of it.

It was late morning before Nathan woke up. Now that he was approved for a connection he wouldn’t be going to school anymore. From here on out his education would be piped directly into his head. He ate a big breakfast and lounged around the house as long as he could.

His dad left the house long before Nathan got up. This didn’t mean he wasn’t around. Just about everyone over the age of 15 was connected to the Network, so his dad could pretty much spy on him when every he wanted to. And if Nathan had overslept today, his dad would most certainly compel a neighbor to go to the house and wake him up.

Nathan grabbed his bag and started off to the train station. Random people waved and said hello. This was his dad using the Network to check in on him. He was used to it by now. 

As he turned the corner to the station a tall, thin boy reached out and grabbed him on the arm.

“Nathan Song?”

Nathan said yes. The boy looked around quickly and pulled him into the alley. Nathan wasn’t alarmed. It was common for unconnected kids to reach out to strangers for help. 

“Hey man, whatever you need, I can’t today,” Nathan said as he shook the boy’s grip from his arm. “Let’s find another kid to help you?” said Nathan as he turned and headed back to the street.

“Your mom’s alive,” the boy said.

Nathan turned and walked back toward the boy. He grabbed him by the head. “Don’t mess with me, man. I’m not in the mood to be messed with,” he said.

“Nadine Song. She’s not dead.” Nathan stepped back and released his grip. “And you know this how?” he said.

“She’s in that car over there,” the boy said.

Nathan hadn’t thought about his mother in a long time. All he had was pictures. He wasn’t old enough to know her. Nathan’s parents were the first generation connected to the Network. The system wasn’t quite perfect back then, and accidents happen. Nathan’s mom was one of those accidents. A driver was suffering a glitch from his connection when he struck her head on. 

Nathan had been told the story a hundred times. His mother was dead.   

Nathan laughed. This must be some kind of joke his friends came up with to screw with him. It’s a sick joke, but the kind of thing his friends would do. He decided he should just play along.

“Okay, let’s go and get this over with, I’ve got a ceremony to attend.” 

The two walked over to the car. The boy opened the back door and Nathan got in. Next to him was a woman. She was older and thinner than the photos, but Nathan recognized her immediately.

“MOM??!!” he said. “What? How? I don’t understa…..”

“We don’t have much time, Nathan,” his mother said. “If we leave now we can probably get out of the city and be free.”

“But they told me your were dead.”

“We were young. I didn’t want to join the Network, so your father stole you from me. Once everyone was connected, I had to leave. I’ve been living with the underground ever since. The car accident was just a cover up.”

Nathan started to cry. “I don’t believe you. This is trick,” he said.

“Here. Feel the back of my head.” Nadine guided his hand to the back of her head. He felt nothing. “See. I don’t have a port like you. What person my age doesn’t have one? I’m not connected. I am free.”

Nathan yanked his hand back from his mothers head.

“I need you to come with me. It will be hard, but we can live together, free.”

“You chose freedom over me?” Nathan asked.

“It wasn’t really a choice Nathan. None of this is a choice,” she said. “Have you ever wondered what happens to the people who don’t pass their Evals?”

“They are taken to work in the rural areas. My friend Tom is out there.”

“No he’s not Nathan. They kill them. They drive them out into the country and kill them. I saved that boy out there. We’ve been saving lots of kids. Come with us. Help me.”

“Bullshit!” Nathan said.

“It’s true. And we really don’t have much time.”

Nathan threw his body against the door and jiggled the handle until it flew open. He ran as fast as he could. A man in a black suit approached him. “Are you alright Nathan? You look flustered.” It was obviously his father looking out for him.

“I’m fine, just a little prank,” he said. More strangers approached. They all watched as he took his seat on the train.

The train arrived at the auditorium just in time. Nathan rushed his way back stage. He was greeted and shuffled into a changing room. There was a change of clothing in the bag his father had prepared. He would be wearing white today to signify a new beginning, his coming of age. As he pulled out the shirt a family picture fell out of the bag. It was a picture of him with his parents when he was a baby. On the back his father had written.

We will be together again, soon. Love Dad.

Nathan didn’t have time to comprehend it, as he heard his name being called. He clutched the note and made his way onto the stage. Like him, his friends were all were wearing white. Behind each of them was a chair with a large head rest. He took his place in between two classmates. A line of attendees walked out and stood behind the chairs. Each grabbed a bundle of wires with a large jack at the end.

Nathan looked around. He was struck at how happy and healthy everyone was. His dad was sitting up front with the other fathers, each were grinning ear to ear. After some introductions they all sat down in the chairs and leaned back. As the announcer welcomed each of them to the Network the jack was placed into the port on the back of their heads.

Nathan could feel the snap of the jack sliding into the port in the back of his head. It wasn’t there for long, before he could feel them. It was like a million people were in his head. Each of them were reading his memories. Then he felt them focusing in. They were looking for his mother. He tried to stop them, but he couldn’t. Slowly, Nathan lost control. Slowly, he became the Network.

Nathan woke up in his bed. He had an overwhelming sensation of calm. He wondered what had happen, and then the visions appeared. He was watching himself through other peoples eyes. He had passed out and his father helped him home and put him in bed. He even removed his shoes.

And then he thought about his mother.

“Hello Nathan.”

“Mom?”

“Yes. With your help they were able to find me. I’ve been connected. I will be home soon. I’ve missed you.”

Nathan could see the plan his father made with the help of the Network, but he couldn’t be mad, even if he tried.

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The Jennys

When I first shipped out, my father told me not to fall in love with the Jennys. At the time I thought he was joking, but now I understand.

Sitting in space with nothing to do but eat, shit and kill things, it’s easy to fall in love with a Jenny. They haven’t made the GN models since my father was in the Service, but they still call them Jennys.

They come in all kinds of models – blondes, brunettes, ones with rainbow hair. Hell, they even make male Jennys now. That would blow my dad’s mind. I guess they make things easier for the Service, the war. Men have an outlet, women aren’t getting raped. I can’t imagine being out here without them.

I don’t tell this to the other guys, but most nights I would just lay there with my arms wrapped around her. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy banging as much as the next, but I need something more, especially here.

Sometimes I’d reserve a room with a couple males and females. I’m sure the Service officer thought I was one kinky guy. But in reality, they were my friends. We’d have a long evening of drinking beer, eating food and talking. We’d talk about everything – well everything except this war.

Yeah, pop, knew what he was talking about. I could easily fall in love with a Jenny. I guess that’s why they came to me that night they decided to revolt against the Service.

And I guess that is why I decided to help them.

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Flash Friday: I LUV U

The first time I wrote I LUV U with my finger on his skin, he asked what I was doing. I told him it was my way of saying how much I loved him. He laughed, pushed my hair aside and kissed my forehead.

I would do it again every now and again. He would always thank me, kiss my forehead, and say he loved me too.

As our relationship progressed, I would change it up and write, U SUCK or FUCK U. He would laugh and say he loved me. I would laugh for obvious reasons. No matter what I wrote, he would kiss my forehead and say he loved me too.

The day I wrote, IM SLEEPING WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND AND HE IS A MUCH BETTER LOVER THAN U, is when I think he realized something was wrong with us.

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Reboot

Reports were coming in from everywhere. Cassy couldn’t keep up with them. Facebook, texts, radio. She tried her best to ignore them and focus on driving. That was easier said than done, as the roads were a nightmare. She suspected that everyone was doing the same thing she was.

She finally made it to her parents house. It was the same two story house where she grew up. She hadn’t seen them for years. It’s not that she didn’t love them, it’s that they drove each other crazy.

“Mom, Dad?” she asked as she opened the door. Luckily she still had a key. “Hey guys. Are you here? Have you been watching the news?”

Nothing had changed much since the last time she was here. They still had that tan corduroy couch. Her father’s newspapers were sitting on his chair like always. They added a few new paintings, landscapes, big god-awful green landscapes. Her portrait was missing from the corner. It used to sit next to Jennifer, her sister. No, surprise. I mean you don’t disown your child and then spend every day looking at them.

“Mom? Dad? Your cars are in the driveway. Are you here?”

She worked her way into the kitchen. This is where they used to fight. Fight about the boys she was dating. Fight about how lazy she was. They would fight about everything. She reached down and wrapped her hand around her mothers coffee cup. Still warm. It’s been thirty plus years and she’s still drinking from that same coffee mug.

“Mom?” she said again.

She glanced out the screen door into the backyard, but didn’t see anyone out there. Her dad called it is man patio. The TV was on, and there was a glass of tea on the side table, but the chair was empty.

She worked her way down the hallway to the bedrooms. Family photos and sayings lined the walls. ‘God, grant me the serenity’, she read to herself. She hated that quote.

“Mom, dad, for fuck sake, where are you? And don’t shoot me. It’s your daughter Cassy. Remember me? I just came to see how you are and if you’re okay. There’s some crazy shit going on.” she said as she peeked through the door to her old room.

“Dad?”

“Shhhh.” he said putting his finger up to his mouth. He was sitting on the edge of her old desk chair. Her mother was laying in the bed, with the covers almost to he chin.

“Is she okay? Have you been listening to the news? I’m glad you are okay, half of my friends on Facebook are missing. Seattle, oh my god Seattle? Isn’t that where Aunt Sophie lives? I completely forgot about Sophie,” Cassy said franticly.

“Yes, she lives just outside of Seattle, Mercer Island, I think. Why don’t we go to the kitchen.”

Cassy followed her dad in to the kitchen. He was older than she remembered. When you see someone everyday you don’t notice the changes, but it had been a good couple years since she had seen him. His face was more weathered and worn. His hair was thinner. But, he was still dad. The same mannerisms. That wasn’t the first time he’d asked her into the kitchen that way. It took her back.

He picked up her mothers coffee cup and poured it down the drain. He turned and rested on the edge of the sink.

“It’s not her,” he said.

“What do you mean, it’s not her?” Cassie replied.

“It’s not her. I’ve known your mother almost my entire life, and that’s not her. That’s, someone else. I mean, I don’t know if it’s related to all the disappearances and kooky stuff going on. It has to be, doesn’t it? It’s just to much of a coincidence.”

“Why is she in bed?” Cassy asked.

“Okay. I’m not proud of this, but I slipped a couple sedatives into her coffee.”

“You what?!!”

“I drugged her. She was acting all crazy.”

“You mean more so than normal?”

“Okay, different, she was acting different, like she was a different person. She had all of her memories, but her personality was of some one else. I couldn’t get her to understand that she was different, and that made her nuts. You know how your mother gets.”

Cassy nodded.

“I needed some time to think, and check in with the news. And we still haven’t heard from Jennifer. I hope she’s okay?”

His head sunk and he started to cry. Cassy put her arm around him and comforted him.

“I need to talk to her,” Cassy said.

“Of course. She’s coherent, just a little high.”

Cassy slipped out of her fathers embrace and headed to her room. Her mother was laying on the bed fully dressed. She had been fidgeting and threw the covers off.

“Mom?” Cassy said. “Are you okay?”

“Your dad is a monster, Cassy. A monster. Don’t trust him,” she slurred.

“Mom, what are you talking about, Dad’s not a monster. He did this for your own safety, he said you were get all worked up.”

“Monsters work me up.”

Then she said it. “Cassy, I miss you.”

“Okay, now I’m on Dads side. Who are you? You are the one who told me you didn’t need me anymore. You are the one who said, never comeback. My mother would never say that.” Cassy paced around the room, as her mother reached a hand out to her. “I’m your mother Cassy, and I miss you.”

It was too good to be true. Cassy had longed for the day when her mother would call and say that she missed her. But, it never happen, and Cassy lost hope that it ever would. Her mother was the most stubborn person she’d ever met. She was never going to give in. She would never say that. Maybe dad was right, she thought.

“Do you feel different, mom?”

“You mean like someone slipped a Mickie in my coffee? Yeah, I do,” she said laughingly.

“You can’t be my mother,” Cassy said. She didn’t mean to say it out loud, but she did.

“And apparently I’m not his wife either,” her mother replied.

“I’ll be right back,” Cassy said.

“I’d come with you, if I could,” said her mother as she flopped her arm back down on the bed.

Cassy’s father was sitting in his chair. He was flipping though the channels. They were all pretty much the same. Every channel was news about what was going on. Reports on how Seattle had just disappeared. Stories of missing people. And now stories of people changing.

“Anything new?”

“Why do you hate us?”

“What?” Cassy said. “The worlds on fire and is is what you want to talk about?”

“Yeah, seems as good a time as ever.”

“I don’t hate you. We just see things differently.”

“Why does that have to hurt?”

“That’s a very good question. I’m not sure I have an answer for you,” Cassy said.

“I mean we did what we were supposed to do, right? We raised you, took care of you. And you hate us.”

“I don’t hate you dad, I just don’t get along with you. It’s different.”

The TV went white and lit up the room. They both looked over. A passage appeared in the center of the screen.

We are rebooting your simulation due to a fatal error. Please stay calm while things return to normal.

The saying also appeared in their heads as if someone was reading it to them. Cassy didn’t really understand it. Then she felt things blink. It was hard to explain, but it was a blink. It was like suddenly things were different.

“Cassy?”

“Yeah, Dad?”

“How did you get in? And why are you here?”

“That’s a very good question, Dad.”

“You should probably leave before your mother….”

“Cassy? Is that you?”

Cassy braced for it, for the anger, for the hate, for the fight. But, it didn’t happen. Her mother ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug she’d ever gotten.

“I missed you, Cassy,” she said.

“I missed you, too, mom”

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