Changes

By Rachael Abrams

That night was the first night she hadn’t done drugs in a while. She might have needed them to fall asleep, sometimes, usually, almost always, but not tonight. She contemplated whether or not she should text him. It’s too early, she thought. He’s probably still asleep. And of course that got her mind drifting to his beautiful face while he was asleep. To say he was angelic-looking couldn’t cut it, because she’d seen some monsters, and there was once a point in time when she thought the same of them, even in their disgusting, grunting manly slumber. Everyone is an angel if you want them to be.

His face was different. It was flawed, sure (his skin had seen better days, and living in a shitty off-campus house with ants, termites and black mold didn’t help), but he was still. A nose-breather through and through, and in the best possible way…silent. He was an angel if not for his silence in sleep. He reminded her of calmness.

She, on the other hand, had been told otherwise by past boyfriends that she was “not a snorer, exactly… just when you’ve had a few drinks in you. Then, sometimes, yeah, you’ll snore. It’s not bad though – it’s super cute! I promise!”

She’d only heard this by her last two boyfriends, which led her to believe that her health was deteriorating quickly. She’d seen changes in the last two years of moderate smoking that she didn’t want to see: yellowing teeth, bouts of wheezing, and now, the final straw: snoring. Because this kind of thing was unacceptable in her book, she knew she’d have to change her habits; make a change. So the next morning, she woke up and stole fifty dollars from her mother’s purse and drove to the gym to re-open her membership.
Rachael is a self-hating freelance writer that can bite through most things. She likes comedy writing, is an HBO enthusiast, and master of making inappropriate remarks seemingly on cue. She hates the heat and would probably live in an igloo if it were cold enough. You can find her on most social media, including her Twitter here.

Penguin Zen

Penguins mate for life.

The sea before them

The sky above

are stage set to that life

sliding between danger and balance/

Standing so still,

their feathery notes convey

they will take

come what will.

Here on savaged shore rocks

content to be

as though they were placed

by a Fate willing or unwilling.

–Christine Emmert

Christine is an actress, writer, director and educator who writes across the genres. Her novel, The Nun’s Dragon, is presently out on Amazon. She has had work published throughout the English speaking world.  Presently she tours with her two plays written for the outreach Program of the National Park Service at Hopewell Furnace.  Her blog can be accessed at christineemmert.wordpress.com.

This Week on Babbling of the Irrational

For the week of August 21st:

A different, more relaxed way of living sets the scene for Christine Emmert’s “Penguin Zen”

“Changes”, a short story by Rachael Abrams, looks at one’s thoughts just before a new life decision

Happiness comes in an unexpected way in Sarah Motenegro’s “Serendipity”

Jack T Tumult tells a tale of drinking, lamenting, and recollection in “For My Swansea Friend, Sixty Years After His Death, and for a Love that No Longer Smiles at Me”

If you are interested in seeing your work featured on Babbling of the Irrational, check out our submissions page.

When Sarah Smiled

When Sarah smiled, I smiled.

We share together.

Something we held forever.

Our bond.

Cherished.

Wished and merited with awards.

We’ve given ourselves so many times before.

 

When Sarah laughed, I laughed.

Formed deep in the gut.

Plunging me deeper within.

Turning other’s frowns into a grin.

This power, we honored.

Make flowers bloom from any scene.

Just being radiantly gay.

While growing positively lean.

 

When Sarah cried, I cried.

Sighed.

Broken inside.

The game we couldn’t choose.

Someone abused a space.

We empathized with their place.

Willing a stronger frame.

 

When Sarah died, I died.

Utterly deprived.

Leapt off the side of the rail.

She couldn’t contain the suffering of the world.

Lost the most when trying to host of the quake.

Felt it was the move to make.

 

When Sarah loved, I loved.

Showing others what we felt from Above.

Never really sure of price it would take.

Our love was in spirit.

Trying to commandeer it.

I feel when she’s near and trying to steer the wheel.

 

That’s how I can stand and fight the fight.

Wanting to ignite the passion within others.

I don’t want to smother another’s dreams.

We can be on the same team.

At least for the moment.

I choose to own it.

Time is short.

I don’t want to abort and miss any further gains.

Sarah showed me a better way to contain.

The feelings that we bare.  

Sarah and I will wear.

What Sarah felt was real.

I choose the feel through her will.

–Carlton Rolle

Carlton has had the opportunity to observe and live in various lifestyles. These places influenced the core of what made up his value system. Throughout all of the experiences, he began to understand that everyone has a story to tell regardless of their socio-economic, religious, racial, sexual, historically based beliefs, etc. Carlton wants to enrich the world with artistic forms of expression from the mind, body, and soul of an experience. You can see more of his work on his blog

Building Frenzy

Interlopers dance

Upon cracked steps

Heels and toes

Rebound from

Close walls

Patterns trace

Themselves as

Feet lose themselves

In a building frenzy.

Imprints mark

Crumbling territory

With a tap of

A toe.

–Zane Castillo

Zane is a published writer who has had work appear in various anthologies and websites including Flight, Hello Horror, Friday Flash Fiction and Timbooktu. He is currently at work on a short story collection.

The Glass Slipper

By Bri Jackson

   A while back there was a young man who went by the name of Sir Elton of Cinder. He was born in raised in this small kingdom far, far way. As it was a generational trade of his family, he studied to become the advisor to the king. He was educated by his father and his grandfather in geography, business, and  political science. With Sir Elton’s Help the King of Cinder avoided many wars, excelled in trade with neighboring kingdoms, and cared for his people in an inimitable way. One day when the King and Sir Elton were alone they began contemplating.

 

 “You know what,” asked the King, “I never would’ve been a great king without you.”

 

  Sir Elton blushed and replied, “No one could compare to you my liege. Your majesty, your heart, ambition, and loyalty to your people is the sole foundation of your thriving kingdom. That had nothing to do with me.”

 

 “Your modesty is becoming, Sir Elton, however I feel a great deal of debt. Ask and it shall be yours; anything you desire shall be given to you as compensation your astounding character,” answered the King.

 

  They both were silent for several moments, and when Sir Elton couldn’t come up with anything the King offered his prized possession. He offered his daughter Alice’s hand in marriage.  A wedding was arranged before Sir Elton had the chance to object.

 

 Elton’s family was very wealthy, but they were happy to accept the money given to them in return for convincing him to marry Alice. He, not wanting to disrespect or offend the King, married Alice. He treated her with the utmost respect: he kissed her forehead on occasion, fetched her whatever she needed, and devoted his life to pleasing her. However he felt a void in their marriage. One night Elton called her into their bedroom chamber.

 

“Have you called for me?’’ Alice bellowed into the room. She glistened in the light that shone through their enormous windows and danced around with her shadow.

 

“Do you love me?” Sir Elton asked her honestly.

 

“Well don’t be preposterous, of course I love you. You’re my greatest friend; a friend whom is always there for me. You’ve assisted my dearest father in everything and kept him alive all these years. I owe my life and more  to you,” she answered with pride.

 

He smiled and said, “But are you in love with me, Alice?”

 

She pondered a while, not fully understanding his question and not knowing how to answer. She couldn’t dishonor her father’s wishes and she definitely couldn’t dishonor Sir Elton. She was silent and the silence overwhelmed her. Alice began to weep hysterically and fell at Sir Elton’s feet.

 

“Woman why do you weep? One doesn’t have to be in love to love and one doesn’t need love to marry,” he spoke with uncertainty as he’d always dreamed of true love from the time he was a boy. Elton, not wanting to lose his composure in front  of her, turned quickly to walk into a different room and sob.

 

“Wait, Sir Elton,” Alice said before he could leave, “I am with child. I have not been with any other man, and I am with child.”

 

He ran to her and lifted her off of her feet. They were both smiling and spinning around in each other’s arms.  Hope lied behind both of their eyes.

After several months, Alice gave birth to a healthy heiress.

 

“We should name her Cinderella,” said Alice as the baby reached for mouth, “she will be a little piece of Cinder.” Sir Elton agreed and it was decreed that the new royal family had begun. All the people of the land marveled at Cinderella’s beauty. She had roaring tides behind her eyes and hair as golden as could be. Her curls danced violently atop her infant head. She was said to have the gift of character detection. She could tell someone’s character just by their touch and she cried a violent cry when someone evil held her.

 

The old King of Cinder had stepped down from his position and peacefully passed his crown down to Elton.

 

“I have nothing but faith in you my boy. May you have an advisor as Great as I did.” The king said as he placed the crown on Elton’s head.

 

“He does,” stated Mason of Cinder. He was to be the advisor to King Elton in the coming years. “OOH, is that the darling princess Cinderella? May I hold her?”

 

Alice willingly gave Cinderella to Mason. The instant he touched her swaddling clothes Cinderella howled a merciless howl. Everyone in the room turned toward the scene and Alice took back hold of her baby. In an instant Sir Mason Took out his sword and stabbed the Old King suddenly.  King Elton and the Royal Guard were immediately involved in combat with Sir Mason and his army.  Sir Elton ran to Alice’s aid.

 

“Go! Bring Cinderella to the stables. I will meet you there.” Sir Elton kissed both of their foreheads and pushed them toward the exit doors. Alice down the grand stairs to the stables and hid with Cinderella. She was sobbing and incoherent when she realized that Sir Elton was planning to flee the Kingdom of Cinder if he couldn’t defend it. She ran and left baby Cinderella in the stables to go collect the family heirlooms.

 

Sir Elton failed in the defense of his Kingdom as many members of his army had turned on him instantaneously. He had no choice but to flee and to instruct his people to do the same. He ran to the stables only to be met with the corpse of his Queen. She was face down in the hay with the family heirlooms and a gaping wound in her back, as if she’d met a foe when entering the stables. Elton broke down and cried, for he truly loved her. He would miss her smile, and her beauty; she was his source of happiness. Then he remembered Cinderella. Where could she be? He searched for her and when he finally came across a blue bundle in an empty stable he sobbed into it hysterically thinking she had died.

“My dearest Cinderella,” he said unable to speak. In that moment he heard a giggle. Cinderella was still alive and reaching for his nose. He clung to her and escaped the kingdom. He undressed and picked up the garments of deceased citizens. He held Cinderella closer than ever as he finally left the Kingdom of Cinder.

Sir Elton remarried, unbeknownst, to a heartless woman. He didn’t love her and the great sadness of the death of his loved ones and his failure as a king killed him. He no longer had a will to live and believed Cinderella to be in good hands, so he committed suicide when Cinderella was seventeen years of age.

 

His wife ‘mourned’ his death, but as he had no money and nothing for her to inherit she couldn’t really care less. She treated Cinderella like dirt, making her clean up after her and her two daughters. She constantly discouraged Cinderella and even beat her violently. The only thing keeping Cinderella alive was the memory of the stories her father used to tell. He said that one day she would bring honor back to the family and the Kingdom of Cinder.

 

Cinderella never gave up. She had read in the family library about these things called fairies.  They were magical creatures that granted wishes to the weary and helped give riches to the poor. Surely they could help her on her quest to conquer the new king of Cinder. One day while reading a book of spells she conjured up a fairy.

 

“Why, hello there darling” the fairy said in an enchanted voice.

 

“Hello. I need to defeat an evil king and I need your help.” Cinderella stated bluntly.

 

“Somebody likes to get to the point, huh?” the fairy said, smiling.

 

“Yes, now can you help me or shall I find a genie?” Cinderella droned sarcastically.

 

“Well there is the ball tonight. You’ve heard of a ball haven’t you? It’s this special party for the richest of the rich at the King or Queen’s castle, depending on what kingdom you’re in,” the fairy informed.

 

“Get me there and I will owe my life and my honor to you,” Cinderella said bowing,

 

“There will be no need  for wagers, dearie. I shall perform without recompense as I can hear the desperation in your voice.”  With that the fairy preformed her magic. She turned pumpkins into a carriage, mice into drivers, and Cinderella’s rags into garments fit for a queen.

 

Cinderella got into the carriage and allowed it to take her to the king’s castle. When she arrived everybody stopped. All eyes were on her as she descended the grand stairs that led to the ballroom.  She walked over to the refreshments table and watched the room of people watching her. They quickly returned to their dancing and someone tapped her on her shoulder.

 

“Don’t I know you?” the girl asked her; it was one of her stepsisters.

 

“No I don’t believe you do.” Cinderella said with a fake accent. She walked away and was suddenly met with a white jacket.

 

“Watch where you’re going please.” She scowled and tried effortlessly to get up. A hand was lent out to her and she soon realized that it belonged to the Prince. He was smiling the same smile she’d seen in the town’s newspaper. He offered her a dance to which she greatly declined. Dancing was not her mission tonight, she knew royalty from every kingdom would be in attendance and that included the King of Cinder.

“Oh c’mon. The least I could do is dance with you,” he smiled cockily to which she scowled and began to walk away. He grabbed her arm, turned her around and said, “Entertain a prince on his last day of being single.” She obliged and they began to dance. She soon realized he wasn’t at all a bad guy. They liked the same pieces of literature, had the same political views, and both danced with two left feet. She was truly happy and almost forgot her originally mission which was to find Sir Mason.

 

She instantly fled from the Prince to find Mason. The Prince followed her and eventually caught up to her. Panting he said, “Don’t run, my father requests an audience with you.” Cinderella was horrified. Seeing her facial expression the prince answered, “I’ve told him I want to marry you, if that’s alright.” Cinderella smiled and walked with the Prince to his father’s chambers.

 

“Is this she? The beautiful maiden who will help rule my kingdom and who holds my son’s heart? Come shake my hand,” the king said. Cinderella went to shake his hand and as she did she felt a jolt of energy race through her veins. She flashed back to Sir Mason trying to hold her as a child. He was here in the flesh and he was to be her father in law. She scowled but immediately came up with a plan. She returned to the party and put poison in a drink. She gave it to the guard claiming that the king had requested it in their private audience. The guard was obedient and gave the drink to Mason who died instantly. A hysteria broke over the entire ball as everyone was fearful that the killer remained in attendance at the ball. The Party guest assumed it to be a guard who gave the drink to  the King, but he lie dead next to the king with a gaping hole in his back. Cinderella ran away from the party and in the mass hysteria left her glass slipper with a bloody heel behind. The Prince sent out a kingdom wide search for her and eventually found her.

 

“Oh, Charming, I came back to the chamber after we had left to talk with your father and I saw the evil guard laughing over your beautiful father’s corpse. I didn’t know what to do so I stabbed him in the back with my glass slipper,” she confessed and then cried into his garments. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her passionately. He took Cinderella back to the castle and married her. She got revenge on Mason and ruled over Cinder with the character and spirit of Sir Elton.

 

Bri is a 19 year old college student studying Mass Comm. You can follow her on Twitter, on instagram, and eventually she will make a website with more about herself and her writings.

If He had Lived

Between the years that answer,

the nights ask impossible questions

make us stumble, stripped bare

and so sorry.

 

I protest the passing with plans:  

a green house with black walls

tiny boots by the front door

quiet moments of commiseration

that make up for months

of nothing. 

 

But this night is a nosy intruder.

Tactless and too loud, demanding decisions

reminding us only of mortality:

Your father’s skin yellows like a lingered bruise.

A bulging bag of piss and blood

at blueing feet,

makes shame heavier than pain for now.

 

They twist the knife by trying. In pastels,

peak the poison until

driftwood arms and eyes empty,

he’s absurd and unfamiliar.

You wait for solace.

“Something over something”

“something point nothing,”

but it blurs without softening—

a pillow you can’t touch

a blanket for a bloodless man.

 

I tell you years will make this strangely matter,

the way white scars become our favorite stories

the ones we share on first nights,

sleepless and certain

of everything.

 

I say won’t it be nice to take him to a game,

buy his first beer,

lay out in the yard,

watch him wiggle white lines like lips and giggle

that low, lulling noise.

I try.

 

But tonight is too loud.

Tonight is a mockery, grinning,

microphoning moans

low and lulling and leading to nothing.

 

Blue eyes,

bloodshot, bleary, ballooned

like the yellow mylar smile tied tight to the tube,

you knew.

A useless angel

floating

above the wires,

indifferent.

(I say goodbye to all of you.)

–Kristina M Sarhadi

Kristina  is the editorial director of Blak Licorice. Her work has appeared in literary journals throughout the US and UK. She holds a BA from Vassar College, an MSW from USC, and several other acronyms.