As I approach the years
We tend to hide from
I commit to the honesty
Of my wild beauty
For how I am
And not how they made it out to be
For I degraded this temple
Ostracized on a strange planet
I forgot Her wealth of appreciation
Naturally that all things
As they are beautiful
please find me on ig: @tiffanychammer or fb.com/groups/rockonwithtiffany
here lies the house you dreamt up as you were reading folklore
just like the girls growing up here, collecting daisies and trying to catch the sunlight
as they competed for the dirtiest dress and the best kind of princesses
that much preferred history pages and embers over glass slippers or true love’s kisses
they were here first, before the rainstorms and the whirlwinds happened
they were here first, wandering the halls pretending the glitter on their face was pixie dust
and the freckles on their wrists were constellations
they were here first, but they left the fairy lights for you
they left the daisies carved in the front porch railings for you
and the hollow tree behind the swing still cherishes their drawings
just like the rose bushes still hold onto their lost hair ribbons and long forgotten tears
the luscious garden a gorgeous kingdom just large enough for their secrets
and for the stories they wish were in their books
the story goes that the butterflies atop the driveway gate were the girls’ idea
the story goes that the house wasn’t theirs, that they were travelers desperate for a home
the story goes that they were sisters, not by blood but by stars
the story goes that the ivy climbing the walls and windows of the mansion
could no longer be tamed once their epilogue came to an end
people say that once the girls learned there was no Neverland
that the midnight hour was an actual monster, that losing your voice was not just fantasy,
that poison did in fact come in sweet, that beauty could be cruel,
that happily ever after was a fight rather than a given victory,
it was as if a rainstorm broke loose and never stopped
but maybe that wasn’t the girls’ fault
maybe they were just the ghosts that predicted what was to come
come inside the gate, walk the driveway
the neighbors live a million little worlds away, telling their own stories of this place
as they sip tea so sweet it makes you wonder what all the sugar in the world is meant to hide
stories that are a thousand dimensions away from the actual truth, if such a thing even exists
come now, ring the bell of the olive door as you are bewildered by primroses
listen carefully to the sound of cats meowing and wings rustling
that almost overshadows the soft tingling like wind bells that make your heart tingle
come inside, enter the hallway with constellations decorating the mauve wallpapers
rumor has it the female assassin woman who lived here painted them herself
she turned the library into an armory and the parlor into a room filled with gowns and frocks
after buying the house from the notorious roaring twenties socialite for whom it was a palace
but oh well, that’s just the rumors
let those mauve constellations catch your every heartstring
as you stand on your tiptoes on the scarlet carpet studying the paintings of wonderland
that are said to be drawn by the apocalyptionist couple living here after the murderess’ downfall
come, proceed, the tour only lasts an hour
take a look at the stunning vinyl player in rouge and lavender that will make you feel
as if you are in a butterfly kaleidoscope
some say it belonged to the notorious socialite
some say it was stolen by the villainous woman who supposedly ate hearts she cut out of bodies
others say it was the last gift the woman who always wore cardigans got from her boyfriend
that night he admitted to cheating on her all summer long at her graduation party
he stood on the front porch of this very house, naïve enough to still believe in a true love’s kiss
that would patch it all up
but word is she just took the vinyl player and shut the door in his face
come, this house has a magnificent thirteen rooms
in the color palette of a storybook
close your eyes, don’t be shy
inhale the scent of rosé-perfumed memories and freshly baked cinnamon rolls
sweet tea greeted by epiphany sunlight and garden beets cooking
Sunday afternoon candles and Monday evening cocktails
take a close look at all the spice racks and recipe books in the kitchen
you can see the sepia photos and love letters sticking out, half lost, half never meant to be found
listen to the soft indie music playing on the rouge vinyl, take a look around
at the tea leaves drying and the apple sauce stewing
as you catch glimpses of a telescope and a typewriter on the back porch
and remember the front porch with the fairy lights and jars filled with ocean rubble
remember the rocking bench and the painting supplies
the back porch was for the happy memories, but the front porch holds the scars of broken hearts
the promise of a happy ending crumbling as the boy who risked it all left empty-handed
the loneliness after a day full of people, as the notorious socialite was left alone
the darkness of a woman so scorned she ferociously screamed into the void for an apocalypse
the woman standing on the doorstep of her most infamous murder
that same woman curling up on the porch steps clutching a blooded knife,
hands shaking for the first time in her life
oh well, that is just how the stories go, there’s no telling the truth really
moving on, make your way to the drawing room
where two cats sleep in blush armchairs, one tabby named Ella, one grey called Cinder
from here, feel free to enter the breathtaking observatory
where young papillons prepare to take flight as doves and bluebirds sing you a song
and don’t forget the library, which holds every fairytale ever written, both cruel and pretty
these too were left here for you by the two girls who started it all, savoring every single story
run your finger along every history page ever forgotten, every dream ever conquered
and realize that it was the woman called wicked by many collected them with her bare hands
priding herself in bottling the starlight of a life envied by many, spinning twisted tales of her own
remember to visit the attic, where you will find crescent moons and faded canvasses
as the remains of a world ending while the earth kept on travelling around the sun just the same
take a peek into every bedroom: they all have their own lipstick secrets and vintage myths
just like the theatre where, as whispers say, the notorious socialite spent her final hours
desperately trying to get lost in a world of sunken secrets much like her own
do make sure to skip the gallery of ghost stories, though,
for it will haunt you all the way to the manor’s other wing
the tales of names buried, faces covered and blood shed for absolutely no reason at all
will draw tears from your deepest cores
and please, fiercely walk past the museum of open books in the south wing
perhaps it was the cardigan girl, or the notorious socialite, or the vile assassin,
but one of those women, you know, had a strange relationship with endings
for she never could let go of what was long gone
take your time walking the corridors
and imagine, just imagine, the voices, the footsteps echoing, the rustling of dresses
the silhouettes, the brushes of rosé-perfumed memories
imagine the kingdom of ‘’what if’’ and ‘’if only’’ and ‘’could have been’’ inside these walls
imagine the stories of moments, seconds behind the portraits gracing the staircase
imagine that you can hear a rainstorm tearing this house apart
imagine the windows shattering, the door break, imagine the roof collapse
imagine the ivy, the willow trees, the rose branches desperately growing into all the rooms
trying to protect the stories of their kingdom
imagine the thunder in the attic, of all the times the world ended without ending
imagine the lightning striking on the front porch
every time the assassin woman’s knife ignited a fire in her own eyes
imagine the kitchen, the parlor, the library and the observatory flooding
taking away everything like all the women of this house once lost everything
imagine an earthquake running through all the fairytale books and secret garden spots
terrifying the fireflies and chasing away the young butterflies not yet ready to grow up
just like those two girls with whom it all started, who had to grow up before their time
imagine the whirlwind that tore illusions to pieces so many times
imagine the hurricane picking up the pieces that could never make something whole again
imagine the eclipse darkening everything like all the times the sun went down on the daylight
imagine a sky full of stars coming down on the house to take back their constellations
imagine a cyclone ripping the house apart,
like all the words, minds, hearts and souls that were ripped apart here
imagine secrets floating out onto the driveway and out the gate
imagine truths flying out of burst windows into the garden and beyond
imagine the dimension between true and false finding a way into the universe
imagine the flood waves bringing along every brittle bit, every piece of paper
and leaving it on the streets, like ashes ready for erosion
imagine all the whirlwinds, tornadoes, thunders, rainstorms, earthquakes and hurricanes
imagine all the floods, fires, lightnings and apocalypses breaking down this house’s every inch
like the stories of those who lived here were broken down by each and every inch
until every shout, every scream, every whisper, every word was silenced, hushed, muffled
and left to folklore’s mercy
they still haunt this house today
the age of their era is never-ending
so, as you take one last look over your shoulder before stepping out on that front porch again
remember; this is the house you dreamt up
while reading folklore
but it could only ever be a home
to ghosts and their stories
Seven years old.
Naivety knew me well and insecurity held me tight.
I was happy, I was innocent.
I loved to play pretend in the trees
And chase snakes in the grass.
I had a mother and a father,
I had God and I had imagination.
I had music in my ears.
One by one those things, they left me.
Goodbye daddy, goodbye Jesus.
Goodbye childhood, goodbye love songs.
All that was left was a fearful child,
It happened in just one day.
A sunny afternoon.
Innocence taken. Age seven.
There in the closet, no one to catch my streaming tears.
No one to come and save me.
No screams came from my mouth.
My voice was gone.
All the playing had come to an end.
No more make-believe, no more barbies.
No more pirates.
Civility and anxiety were all that hugged me.
No one else offered comfort or safety.
So I clung to them with all my strength.
The fields behind that house
Grew tall with wheat and weeds.
They soon became home,
Where I could run to to be alone.
I saved myself.
I hit my peak.
He couldn’t find him. He couldn’t sleep.
When Judah hit the ground, his mouth opened instinctually. Earth, dew, wet mud. He bit his lip as he rolled deeper into the trench. In the distance he’d heard screams, gunfire, the pulsing stomp of so many feet. He heard him.
“I’m coming with you,” Nathan had said. Judah’s jacket was too big on him, but he wore it like a second skin. The cuffs crawled down from where he’d rolled them up to his elbows, following his bad decision like baby ducklings.
“Maybe you shouldn’t—“ he’d tried to argue, tried to be the responsible older sibling he knew he should be, but he couldn’t hide his smile well enough. He was tired of being alone. “Oh, she’ll hate me for this,” he laughed as he pulled his brother under his arm, ruffling his already messy hair.
She’ll hate me for this. He couldn’t sleep.
His sister jumped into the dip in the path. A five foot drop, a somersault, two grass-stained knees. “Don’t leave me here alone!” She called from where nature reclaimed her. They weren’t supposed to go this far into the woods without an adult. “Jude!” she yelled.
“Gabby, I don’t know,” Judah hedged, but she turned away from him and began to climb over a tree root curved around the shape of a wheel.
“I’m not going to wait for you,” her voice carried her body into the dark, like every warning story he’d ever ignored. He climbed down slowly, carefully, and hoped their parents were too busy with the others to notice they were gone.
I’m not going to wait for you. He couldn’t sleep.
The Fever took the money first. The money. The food. The light in their eyes, in their voice, in their last breaths. “You stay in school,” Gabby said, a baby on her hip, a new husband in her hand. “I can keep it steady. I can do it.”
Nathan was eleven. He didn’t understand how bad things might get, but he could keep a secret. “Let me come with you!” he whispered in the night, but Judah made him promise to stay behind. He had an important duty. He’d tell her that Judah enlisted and show her the compensation figures.
She wouldn’t get mad at him. Not for long. He was still a kid. “I’m older,” Judah told him. “It’s my job to look out for you.”
It’s my job to look out for you. He couldn’t sleep.
“I can’t wait to go home,” Nathan said the night before. Judah’s jacket is torn on the left sleeve, but it finally fits him. Nathan folds it into a pillow and settles down while the wind whips their daydreaming memories into sharp focus.
Judah’s still there when it happens. In the woods, in the waiting room, in the window of the night he can’t take back. He’s at home and gone as the red seeps into the hand-me-down fabric, as it seeps out, as his brother—as Nathan bleeds out between his fingers. He urges him to say something.
Nothing happens. Judah can’t find his words. His voice fails him.
His voice fails him. He can’t sleep.
He’s given an out. He can go home with the body or sign on for another mission. He doesn’t think twice about doubling down on the distance, signing away a future destined to be buried with his old coat. All he can pass down now is a sense of accomplishment, a vindication, the relief of providing.
He won’t return without proving himself. Without honoring him, honoring her, honoring them. Something good, or at least worthwhile, will come from this. It has to. He’s sure of it.
He can’t sleep.
This piece was inspired by epiphany and a little bit of seven, both by Taylor Swift. It’s a character study of one of the main characters of my novel. I immediately thought of him the first time I heard this song and I can’t wait to listen to it on repeat as I return to revisions.
I am @LilyMeade on most social networks, but most active on Twitter.