Posted in 2016-2017, Issue #01, Non-Fiction

Biohazards and Blurry Visions or Where I Thought Home Was

By Amanda Udy

Trigger Warning

For the first thirteen years of my life my place was with my mother. It didn’t matter where we actually were because I always knew home was wherever Mom was. Wherever my siblings were. Where there was an argument at least once a week. Where there was dog hair on everything. Where you could always count on dishes in the sink or hot water lasting for all of fifteen minutes. Where having friends over meant spending the whole time trying to see how grossed out they were. Worrying and wondering if they still wanted to be your friend. Despite all that, it was my best shot at home. I had my mom, my siblings, my dogs. It felt normal. We had enough money to get by, insurance wouldn’t cover braces so those had to wait. Other than that we had most things we needed and lots we wanted.

And then Alex moved out, he was only 18. He realized he was living in a house, not a home. The once-a-week fights were no longer his responsibility. Fast forward two years. Now looking into the house we have two kids, both kids are embarrassed, both kids get caught up in anxiety and stress. One decides to act on this. They can’t take it any more. In the middle of the night, when all of their loved ones are asleep, they attempt to leave this world, forever altering their family’s home.

Before that day I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Sure, there was a lot wrong, but it was still home. Now every time I walk into that house it’s a physical reminder of how bad everything got. Those stairs are the ones the EMTs forced their way up. That doorway is the one they threw clothes out of the way to get to a blood and puke-soaked teen. That bathroom is the one I locked myself in with my dogs to make sure they didn’t get in the way. That room is the one my mother held her dying child in, begging for them to wake up and breathe.

Some people say when traumatic experiences happen that they’ll get flashbacks, but instead of being forced back into that morning, I get a smell. The smell coming from blood, puke, and tears can only be described as death. It didn’t smell like a rotting corpse or anything like that but it was fresh and the air was thick with it. It’s how I knew it wasn’t a dream. How I know that it will never be just a dream no matter how much I wish it was. It doesn’t matter how elaborate my dreams are, they never have smells in them. But God was there a smell. The biohazard team has been through, destroying any and all evidence of that morning, of that smell. Still it haunts me, stinking up my once home.     


Thoughts of that house as my home no longer occur. I’ve moved out into a new home. into a new family. I don’t think my dad will ever be able to understand how grateful I am that he came to the rescue. I don’t think my mother will ever be able to understand that it’s not her fault– I just can’t help but associate her with everything that went wrong. That’s the problem with having someone be your home. One thing can change, a slight shift in thought processes, a single night left alone with depression and anxiety, and boom.

Things will never be the same.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please visit or call 1-800-273-8255


Posted in 2016-2017, Issue #01, Non-Fiction

Camp of Frozen Fun

By Sean Callahan

Be prepared, the Boy Scout motto said. I took this advice for granted when I entered the Boy Scouts of America a few years ago. I didn’t know what to expect when I heard about this legendary ‘Winter Camp.’

When I arrived to unpack the car, my hands were solid bricks of ice, despite my wool gloves covering them. Both my hoodie and winter parka were barely keeping my torso and back warm, while my face tightened from the chilly wind drafts. My feet felt so stiff that I couldn’t tell if they were actually cold by the time we’d finished setting up our tents (I casually wondered whether I had hypothermia at this point). When we’d finished setting up, it dawned on me: I would be snoozing inside a sleeping bag, on the frozen ground, in negative 5 degree weather.

Come next morning, with only five hours of horrible sleep, I’m on clean up duty for breakfast. The boiling water I’d just poured into our dish-washing basin is frozen within five minutes, and my bare fingers have turned blue as I desperately attempt to scrub the (half-frozen) dishes clean with a sponge. I’ve lost my patience after the third pot, and my fingers are pale enough to give the term ‘vampire’ a new meaning.

Although the cold and the cleanup had been atrocious, things began to improve with the company of friends. We spent the rest of the day there doing what teenage guys do best: Screwing around, snow-tubing (and falling) down steep, snowy hills, and drowning in cups of hot chocolate while sitting by the fire. After it was getting close to bedtime, four friends and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to slide down the longest hill in a snow tube together. The tube tipped over, knocking us off right as we reached the bottom of the hill. We laughed for a bit, then began throwing snowballs at each other all the way back to our campsite.

This B.S.A Winter Camp is a frigid wasteland at first glance, but I came to realize that it was more than that. It was a beautiful winter wonderland, full of fun opportunities waiting to be unleashed.

camp of frozen fun [2].jpeg

Posted in 2016-2017, Issue #01, Non-Fiction

Not Pagans

By Aevin Mayman

The Preachain Clan is made of people who value, above all things, family; it doesn’t have to be by blood.

I have been a part of the Preachain family for as long as I could walk, and even longer before that. On the question of what we do, think Civil War reenactments, but less… civil.

We aren’t supposed to keep any technology with us, but the fire is never the only glow on all of our faces at night.

If you know something about history, you might’ve heard of the Celts. They were groups of “savages” that lived in Northeastern Europe a few thousand years ago. Absolutely hated the Romans. They were known to get into more than a few unfavorable situations and really, really liked to fight. Like I said, might’ve heard of them.

We readily follow our annual traditions. Inbulk, Beltane, Gaul Wars, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. Crazy names, but we like to stick to tradition. For each, we gather at some set location: some house, a recreational reserve, an out of the way park. We’ve since stopped the latter, as we got the cops called on us “Pagan devil worshippers” a few months ago.

That was fun, having half of us standing proud around the fire and the other half running around to try to change into more modern clothes to be presentable to the police.

So, just to clarify, we are not Pagans. Also, just to clarify, Pagans don’t worship the devil. But that’s besides the point.

What is the point is that this is home to me. Wearing nothing but old fashioned plaid, sleeping in tents with blankets of (only sometimes real) animal furs, and dancing around a bonfire singing the war songs of our Clan.

It’s home holding hands with my friends and family and telling stories of the fallen.

It’s home in the Preachain Clan, no matter what anyone else might think.

Posted in 2016-2017, Issue #01, Non-Fiction

Snow Challenge

By Sean Callahan

The massive house had a white front porch. There was a garden beside the front steps filled with white and red roses and the prickly thorn bushes. The house had a large backyard with pine trees growing along the perimeter, blocking the other neighborhood homes from view. This is my second home, Maryland.

One year, winter came. I was sledding with my cousins, named Emily and Cara. We were trying to make new paths in the snow.

When we came in for our hot chocolate break, Cara showed Emily and I a video. A man, who looked as skinny as a chair leg, was standing on the railIng of his second floor porch. He dived into the tall mass of snow below, head first. Cara said this was called the Snow Challenge.

She’s lost her mind, I thought. We had a good coating of snow this year, and I wasn’t ready to have hypothermia in my obituary anytime soon. Still, I wasn’t going to be shown up by my cousins. We got into bathing suits, ran the hot showers upstairs (for emergency precautions), and waited at the front door for my Aunt to start filming the challenge.

The dry air seeped through the crack in the door, sending goosebumps up my arms. I touched the glass, and instantly withdrew at the icy sensation. Amid the nervousness and cold, I was actually excited for this.

When we were told to run, my cousins hesitantly went first. Their high pitched screams rang out as they dashed through the garden and into our front yard. I sprinted behind them, lunging into the piles of snow. Emily didn’t get further than a foot past the flower bed before screeching back into the house. Cara screamed, continuing to toss snow into the air. Seconds later, she couldn’t take it, and ran back into the house.

I was the last one, tossing snow up, cheering, and jumping into the air. All the while, my teeth were chattering, I was shaking with excitement and shivering simultaneously, and the cold was now beginning to burn. I ran back in, desperately seeking the hot shower waiting for me. I felt the searing pain of sudden temperature change, but after recovering, I found out I’d managed to stay outside in the snow for thirteen seconds.

A year later, I was the only one who’d chosen to do the snow challenge. This year, I’m going to break my record.


Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01

Closed Doors

By Aevin Mayman

What I had expected were warm smiles and frosty hugs, black coats still with a thin layer of quickly melting snowflakes. What I got was a phone call saying my family couldn’t make it because of the snow and half-hearted well-wishers on Facebook.

I looked around my apartment. The festive lights strung in the corners of my walls seemed painfully bright. The shining red cranberry garland gracing the room was garish with sudden intensity. The tree, once so green and heart-warming, seemed dull, dry, a waste of space. I collapsed on the couch, playing absent-mindedly with the knitted hem of my scarf.

I had spent weeks putting everything together: cutting down a tree, making garland to put on it, meticulously hanging lights in every corner of my apartment. I had even put together a desert for the Christmas potluck, knowing that if I had left it to my aunt we’d all be enjoying a lovely box of microwaved pastries. Now the apple pie sat collapsing in on itself in the fridge. It was Christmas Eve and, for once, I’d have no one to spend it with. Cliché, isn’t it?

“God damnit!” My eyes flicked up to the wall across from me, the adjoining wall with my neighbor. He was a gamer, so volume came with the package. Usually Mark’s outbursts would cheer me up, put a smile on my face as I bustled about. But today it only reminded me of my family.

Of the new little niece that I had so looked forward to seeing running around my rooms in elaborate childhood dances of flailing limbs and vases saved by last-minute gestures.Today it only made me press my face down in my scarf and stare at the floor. My feet were bare and cold, but I didn’t have the energy to go get socks.

My Christmas moping was interrupted by the buzzing of my phone. Or rather, I was pulled out of my stone-like stupor to glance at it before resuming my staring contest with the floor. A few moments passed before it buzzed again. And again. And again and again- I grabbed the phone.


Hey, sorry I was so loud. I know your family’s over and I didn’t want to embarrass you.


It’s okay, my family couldn’t make it. It’s just me.


Look, no one should be alone tonight. Now, I’m not saying that I’m cooking a turkey or anything, but I can make some popcorn and we can play Gang Beasts or something?


You being lonely makes me lonely, come on.

I laughed, only slightly, and caught myself before it was done. I hadn’t expected to be laughing tonight. I looked up at the wall separating our apartments.

Around me, the lights were warm, the tinsel glimmering whites and reds under their shine. Before I had really even fully processed my movements I was up and in the apartment hallway.

I stared at the bright green wreath on Mark’s closed door, red berries shining bright against the dark green. My bare toes curled into the thin hallway carpet. I knocked.


Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01

New Home

By Aevin Mayman

“The hell are you doing, kid?” Coy’s grumbling voice drifted up through the web of bare branches, words accompanied by soft, winter bird song, a trademark of the Fintareen world. There was a brief rustling in the wood above him before a bright blue head stuck through. Radox looked down to Coy, face upside-down and grinning madly, the black spines on his cheekbones glowing in the gathering dusk.

“Climbing.” Radiox replied. He dropped down a bit, legs hooked around the branch above him. “Come on,” he called. “Everything’s good now!” His voice was high and excited. “You can see New Home from here!” With a wink, Radox disappeared upwards, his giggles floating lightly on the crisp night air.

Coy heaved a sigh, shaking his head. He looked around, a light smile on his face. Even though the grip of winter had fallen upon the forest, everything looked as it always had. Small, glowing creatures drifted lazily in the slowly dying light, fern fronds over a meter tall waved their bracken colored stems in the breeze, spiraling towers of silver-fleck stones rising high above his head. The familiarity settled a pleasant weight in his chest, a blanket of warmth nestled around his soul.

“Alright, alright,” he said. “I’m coming.” Coy took hold of the twisting trunk of the tree and began to haul himself up. A soft, lightly hummed tune reached his ears as he climbed through the dense web of branches. A small smile again graced his features, then turned to a grimace when a purplish branch poked him in the eye. Muttering the same obscenities about the same types of branches he had for nearly twenty years, Coy pulled himself from the tangled wood.

Light burst from the darkness, the suddenness temporarily blinding him. Coy attempted to shield his eyes, but his arm was wrenched down by Radox. His noises of indignation were ignored, but soon his angry expression melted. The young Fintarean was practically radiating happiness, and it was hard telling if the glow on the spines of his cheeks was from the dark or excitement. Radox gestured outwards in enthusiastic motions. Coy followed the boy’s gaze and his breath caught in his throat.

A glittering pool of city sat nestled in a deeply forested crater, the silver metals catching the light of the setting suns. The dual stars stood like sentries over the buildings, a reminder that everything was protected, safe. Red painted the sky, melting into purple swaths the further it stretched from the suns. The two sat in silence for a long moment, watching as night fell across the land. Gentle breaths rose and fell in Coy’s chest, the sound of air escaping his mouth blown away by the wind around them. Radox was humming again.

Coy closed his eyes and smiled. He was finally home. New Home. As great as their King was, he wasn’t fantastic at names.

Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01


By Claire Dever

He was handsome and perfect and I loved him. The way his paint-black hair swooped to the side to the way his teeth, bright and shiny like pearls, reflected the sun so much you had to squint.

He was mine and he was amazing. His hands were like a mug of hot cocoa: warm, fragrant, and easily enveloping you in their comforting embrace. His personality was like candy: sweet, blissful, and addictive. You could spend hours with him, the time slipping through your fingers like sand, the same way you could eat a dozen chocolate kisses and only realize how many you’ve consumed when the pile of wrappers surrounds you.

 I remember our first date. It was in May. He brought me to the only movie theater near us, an hour away. We had been best friends for a long time and he had finally gotten the nerve up to ask me out on a date. I told him everything and he listened quietly.

The car was gorgeous, too. Purple with black decals, a pinstripe along the doors, a stripe in the middle of the trunk. Small, sleek, glistening. It resembled the one that he told me about, late at night. It’ll be perfect, he would say, and fast. Fast enough to take us both away from this place. We’ll be together, just you and me forever. Nothing like that will ever happen to you again, he’d say, pressing his hand to mine.

 “You promise?” I would ask.

“I promise,” he would say.

Another thing about him: he always keeps his promises. His word is diamond: hard, unmovable. Wear it around your neck, keep it close. Just don’t sleep on it, though, or you’ll suffocate.

I remember the day I suffocated.

The streets were supposed to be closed off that day. We were dancing like our life depended on it. Our hot, sweaty bodies mingled together, forming one mass, one form. We were one, him and I. He was laughing and so was I. I was high, high on his cotton-candy laugh and his hot fudge eyes. Though he’d never laid a hand on me, he shoved me, hard. I fell back, my head hitting the pavement. I blacked out, stars dancing around my eyes.

He died moments after the impact, too soon for the ambulance to catch. The perfect car hit my perfect boy, gone forever. I was stuck on the ground, hot glue sucking me down. His bones snapped like a wafer and the car skidded to a halt, swirling around like soft serve. There was blood splattered everywhere. I willed myself to think that it was cherry juice, just cherry juice.

I watched him die. I watched the caramel light of his eyes fade away.

 In a way, he kept his promise. The car was fast, fast enough to take him out of this town forever. Only he forgot about me on his trip to heaven. Now, I’m left here, out of place, all alone.

Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01


By Derek Frazier

I was outside in the shed cleaning and hanging pails of fish when I heard my mother’s voice from the longhouse doorway.

“Ragníld,” she called. “Come inside for supper. Wash your hands first.”

“Yes, Mamma,” I replied as I wiped my knife clean on a cloth.

Thick black smoke filled my nostrils and made my eyes water as I entered the longhouse. The central hearth blazed strong and its flames reached for the ceiling and the house’s central chimney hole. Shadows danced on the tables and rugs as the logs cracked and splintered in the hearth. My family had owned this longhouse for six generations and nothing seemed to have changed. The well outside was always made of greystone, the crack that ran up the right corner pillar had been there since before my father was born, and the central hearth was always lit.


“One day, Ragníld, you’ll be in charge of this hall,” My father told me one day. “And I will depart this earth for Valhalla, the golden hall for mighty warriors.”

The family hounds, Gram and Biter, greeted me as I opened the longhouse door, their bulky paws hammering me to the floor as they began to lick my face vigorously.

“Off him!” Father growled to the dogs, his lips curling into a smile through his blonde beard. The dogs complied and bounded to the other side of the hall to beg for scraps of meat from mother as she cooked, their shaggy grey fur blending into the stone of the hearth.

“You clean the fish, boy?” Father asked as he poured ale into a massive drinking horn.

“Yes sir,” I said with a respectful nod as I sat down at the table.

“You salt and hang them up in the shed?”

“I hung them, but they are still dripping.”

“Make sure you salt them tomorrow.”

“First thing I’ll do.”


“Focus on your meal for now son,” said Mother as she kissed my head and placed a bowl of meat and oat porridge in front of me. She filled a small horn cup and placed it beside the bowl. It was so tiny compared to Father’s horn, and most of it disappeared into Father’s fist.

“Eat up, Ragníld,” Father said as he took his own bowl from Mother. “Your great uncle is coming tonight.”

“Will he tell stories?”

“Of course, if you ask.”



“Will I be able to go raiding with you next year?”

“So many questions from you tonight,” said Father as he kicked his feet up on the table.

“But will I?”

“You always ask and I will always say no, Ragníld.”

“You never say why.”

“You’re only ten years old, boy, too young. I don’t want to have to bury my son when he isn’t even a man. What is wrong with staying here? What is wrong with fishing and hunting and raising livestock?”

“Nothing, Father.”

“Exactly. You can get everything you’ll ever want from this land and this longhouse. Wait a few more years and I’ll reconsider. Until then this is the end of this topic, am I clear?”

“Yes Father…” I mutter as I move my porridge around with my spoon.

Father studied my face with his pale blue eyes before speaking.

“I know you want to go raiding with me. But you have better things to do here than to risk your life on foreign dirt. There are other ways to get into Valhalla, Ragníld.”

“Besides,” interjected Mother as she sat down beside me, wiping a few strands of brown hair back behind her ear before speaking, “Who would protect me from bears and wolves and all the trolls and giants out in the woods if you two were away?”

I smile and laugh lightly as Father reached over and tossed my messy brown blonde hair.

Hours later, Great Uncle Torigg’s arrival was heralded by a loud thump as he ran into the threshold of the doorway.

“Mmmph,” He grumbled as he rubbed the redness of his bald head.

“Uncle Torigg!” I exclaimed as I raced over to him. He embraced me and drew a wooden sword from his cloak.

“I carved this for you yesterday,” He said with a smile as I swiped the toy weapon through the air.

“Not in the house!” Mother shrieked, causing all of us to laugh.

Once Torigg ate, he sat down with me around the hearth and began to tell me stories and legends about our gods and our heritage.

“Odin,” he said, “The king of the gods has a special seat called Hlidskjalf. It is a massive throne, very ornate and carved from the finest of wood.”


“Father has such a seat,” I said as I pointed over to the table, gesturing to Father’s massive seat that meant he was owner of the longhouse.

“Yes, he does,” Torigg said. “But can his chair allow him to see anywhere and everywhere in the nine worlds?”


“Of course not, no man has such a chair. Odin also has a spear like mine, called Gungnir. But when it is used in battle it will never miss and nothing will stop it from hitting its target.”

“You’d still miss if you had it, Torigg,” said Father. His face stretched into a smile as Torigg threw a cup at him and missed.

“Odin lives in Valhalla,” Torigg said as he returned his attention to me. “The greatest hall in the heavens. Where warriors who he has chosen go to feast after dying gloriously in battle.”

He took a drink from my cup and stretched out in his chair. “You have your own slice of Valhalla here, Ragníld.”

“I do?”

“Of course! You have walls to hold back winter. A roof to hold back the rain and food in your belly. You have a beautiful mother and a brave father who will always look after you. In a way, you’re not that much different than Odin.”

I turned away from Torigg and looked around the smoky longhouse, taking everything in. Every crack in the wooden pillars, the way the cracks of the logs blew orange in the hearth, the way the polish on my made it shine as if it was made of silver. I looked at my father as he slowly drifted to sleep on the bench in a corner. I watched my Mother hang basil as she reached in her tiptoes. Torigg had a point, I did live a pretty nice life.
“Uncle Skal, cheers,” I said as I raised my cup to him. Torigg’s shoulders rolled in silent laughter as he smiled.

Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01


By Sara Malott

This wasn’t the first time she had seen the man pacing in her front yard. He had been sleeping beneath her bushes for the past week but she had yet to muster the courage to go out and talk to him. Usually she would see him laying in the grass or picking up the fallen leaves. Yesterday when she looked out her window she saw him pacing. Watching him was entertaining so she sat by her window and stared at the peculiar man. He would start at the mailbox and make his way to the first garage, then he’d turn and walk right back to where he started. Today as soon as she woke up she peeked out her bedroom window and, surely enough, he was pacing again.

She stood and watched for a while but then something strange happened. After having paced from the garage to the mailbox fifty-two times already this morning he stopped and turned to look straight at her front door. He stopped and glared for a minute, but then started the long journey up her sidewalk. Once he reached the maroon colored entryway he sat down on her porch facing the door. He raised his left hand and rapped his knuckles three times against the lower half of her front door. She debated for quite sometime about whether or not opening her door to a complete stranger was a safe choice, but decided after all that it might be worth knowing a man who has been living under her bushes like a wild raccoon for an extended period of time.  

When she opened the door, she didn’t give the cross-legged man on her porch any time to react.

“Is there something particularly interesting to you about my front lawn?”

When she questioned him she didn’t make eye contact.

The man took a few moments to collect himself, then stood in front of the lady at the door. The top of her head just barely reached his shoulder.

“Look,” he said, “I’m not from around here and I need a place to crash. Is there any chance that you have a sofa I could occupy for a few days?”

She paused and turned around to look back at her living room. It was all decorated with her Thanksgiving figurines for her parents who weren’t even coming over this year. She inhaled and then slowly turned around to look the man in the eye.

“I guess you can stay, but just for a few days.”

As soon as she finished her sentence he hopped up and ran back out to the bushes with a huge grin on his face. He came back with a small bag slung over his back and a musty pillow.

“Thank you so much ma’am. I promise it’ll just be a few days.”


A tea kettle was warming up on the stove. She walked over and sat at the at the dining room table. She’d given him a warm pillow and blanket and let him use the shower while she threw his old pillow out in the trash. He smelled fresh now and looked like a different man than she had seen earlier in the week. His hair was long and full like the mane of a lion.

“So what brought you to my house anyway?” She asked while pouring herself a cup of earl grey.

He kicked his shoes off and pulled the blanket up over his chest. He rested his head on the pillow and looked up at the tiled ceiling.

“I don’t know. You just seemed like you might enjoy some company.”

“Why were you pacing back and forth so much out there?”

“I wasn’t sure about whether or not I should come in. I guess I just got cold feet.”

She had so many more things to ask the mysterious man but before she could form her thoughts into an actual question he closed his eyes and went to sleep.


That night in her dreams she saw a boy. The boy was her son and she called him Wilson. They laughed and they danced. The watched his favorite cartoons and ate mint chocolate chip ice cream on the old couch. The boy didn’t talk but he never stopped smiling. He liked dancing and he liked the couch, but he loved her. She tucked him in and kissed his forehead. The dream ended and and she woke up to a beautiful Thanksgiving sunrise.


This year was her first Thanksgiving alone. Her disappointment hung in the air like a fog. She brewed a pot of coffee and made herself an egg. She set out for the living room with mug in hand but she stopped when she saw the boy. He sat cross-legged on the couch where she’d left the ditzy old man the night before. He threw his arms around her and embraced her trembling body. He grinned as he cuddled up under her arm.

She dashed to the bathroom in hopes that it was just a part of the dream, that there wasn’t anything wrong with her. She soaked her face with the water flowing from the faucet but nothing happened. She placed a hand on each side of the sink and looked into the mirror but to her surprise her reflection was interrupted by a bright orange slip of paper. She ripped it down to read what appeared to be a message scratched across the front.

“Thank you so much for letting me stay. I’ll have moved on to another home by the time you are reading this. I hope you don’t mind but I have welcomed another guest into your home for a while. His name is Wilson and I know he will be safe in your hands. Happy holidays.”

Posted in 2016-2017, Fiction, Issue #01

A Winter by Any Other Name Is Just as Cold

By Aevin Mayman

The stark bone branches clacked together soundlessly, the noise of their collisions swallowed by the thick falling crystals of snow. Each was the size of the hand of a small child, fitting and drifting together in swirling dances of ice and silent songs. When they hit the ground, sanguine blades of glass tinkled against them, softly lilting knives of nature. Bramble stems caught castles of fallen mirrors on their twisting, spined arches reaching up and up into a thrice locked sky. Whorled clouds spun in hypnotic patterns of bright pale lightning blues. Charcoal strokes of night struggled to be seen through the sweeping canvases of stone-washed clouds and platinum shining beams of moonlight.

She caught a falling flake of snow with a gentle hand, skin glowing with soft porcelain iridescence. A dress woven from branch skeletons and blood flushed leaves held fast over her figure, vines of creamed silver drawing the dress tight around her arms and waist, ice gathering in the train like a satin bowl of glittering jewels. The sweet smell of coming dawn sang through the trees like the most innocent of bird carols.

A small cat alighted on a distant branch, gossamer wing tips fluttering slowly with the careful deliberation of the feline species, its tail curled neatly around its paws and glowing with dark iridescence. A flake fell near the cat and it twitched an ear, hopping from its perch to glide smoothly down onto her shoulder.

She smiled and reached for it, careful satin fingers brushing lightly against its silken fur. It jumped down, paws like shining opals nestled among leaves of garnet. She sunk down next to the cat, crimson blades bent beneath leaved fabric and bone-barked thread. As soon as the falling ice touched her it spread out around where it had fallen, slowly breaking into millions of slow motion shards. She laid a gentle hand on the cat’s head and it purred, folding its wings against its back and blinking luminous white eyes up at the moon. She closed her eyes and felt the fur beneath her hand, the cold light upon her face, the shattering ice on her skin.

She was home.