Edge of a Memory

By: Katie Stevenson

Revelry looks out across the glade, her muddy red, wiry hair creating a curtain around her face, illuminating her peripheral vision, hiding where she stands and only showing where she wishes to go. She sees the sprites in the marsh and hears their giggling as they push one another from the rolling stone backs of the dozing trolls into the murky water. She can even spots the open backs of the Huldra in the forest beyond, their cow’s tails swishing from the branches.

She pays them all no heed besides a glance and rather basks in the glory of the brown peaks above them. The face of which is made of rocky creatures—but only this side, for across the peaks is the Fabric. Beyond: the human realm.

Revelry has heard that word over and over from Fae mouths as they come to the glade with their nets, traps and cages. “Human Filth.” “Meek mortal humans.” “Ugly humans—they’re much prettier on this side of the Fabric.”

Gazing at these mountains, through all of her memory, has always looked… wrong. On the edge of her memory, it whispers in a nearly inaudible tone, wrong side.

The brittle looking, brown thorns that are her, that grow out from the small of her back, attack her. Stabbing and clawing at her green skin, sharper and stronger than barbed wire. Revelry endures as it tightens around her forearms, peeling up the leaf-like skin there. She endures, begging and hoping to herself that she will cross the edge of her memory, see what this curse doesn’t want her to remember.

A hiss of pain whistles through her teeth as she scrambles to imagine a world on the other side of that Fabric. What the humans look like. What the Fae mean when they say through their sharp teeth, “prettier on this side.”

With excruciating consequences, Revelry keeps her tawny green eyes on that mountain range even as they well up with red-liquid blood—tears.

A cry that is more a roar, bubbles from her throat and she pulls her gaze away from the mountain tops as all the other creatures turn towards her, not alarmed, or worried, anymore.

The thorns pull her arms back towards her hollow tree, telling her to melt into it, to forget the Fabric, the humans, the memories, to fight, and become what she is: plant life.

As the leafy skin on her fingertips matures into bark and spreads over her body, her eyes grow heavy with exhaustion—hopelessness—and the vines grow from her to grab onto the tree, to pull her into its hollowed middle.

Revelry, with only phantom feelings of energy, surges forward, clawing towards the peaks, as if she could grip them and pull herself away. But those thorns—those awful thorns—pull her arms behind her harshly—painfully—to where they’re flush against her bare back and backside. With another hard pull, she falls against the back of that hollow into that rough bark, and where armored skin meets the tree, they mold together, form together, until she is only that damned plant.

A Riddle with an Answer, Sevens

By: Katie Stevenson

He is made of self-promises, an uncanny wish to make something—accomplish—do—be, and of beginnings. His eyes hold the rising of the sun over wild grasses of greens and golden ones of age. Hair the color of beams settling themselves in place, glinting with refracted light.

She is of whispers, of families coming back together, unfinished things and accomplished ones. Her hair is the darkness that follows after the disappearing light. Her eyes of the bright moonlight. Skin cooler every time you touch.

The one only sees those leaving with glazed eyes from slumbering homes, reluctance in their gaits. Only hears complaints, soft words and music, and good mornings.

The other is troubled by those returning, their right foot heavy upon metal, hearts filled with at lasts, curses, plans and music that beats hearts.

One feels hope and regret wafting off of patrons. The other anger of not finishing, but oh so glad that it’s over.

One cannot wait for the other to take the weight from them. The other all too happy—but very reluctant to give it back.

They are the Sevens.

Enemies and forbidden lovers doomed to never meet—touch—love.

Twelve hours apart and forever between.

So much change. An endless journey that never pauses, never waits, never lets one breathe.

Those who wish to stay with Her, coddled in the noise and memories and chaos She creates, must be forced away with the ticking of clocks.

Those who wish to stay with Him, wrapped in His lover-like embrace are always taken away only to be returned more desperate to remain.

He hates Her for that. Returning them broken.

She hates Him for making it Her duty to try and renew the fun in them, hand them off to Her and demand that they be shown a time they remember when young. Force Her to play a game that will damage or refresh.

But when all is played right, She loves watching His eyes of dayrise fill with thanks as He cradles who She has passed to him, their heads listening to His heart of hope and promise.

And He loves Her for the ideas. Ones made through the day or just before sleep, so that He may hold their hand as they fall into a craze of creating. Thanks to Her, He can see determination and excitement in their eyes—see them rush to jot it all down.

She loves Him for giving Her the tired—tired of fighting—the stuck, and the burnt out and return them to Him with a loud or quiet decision—answer—for Him to accomplish.

He loves Her for that.

They are the Sevens.

Enemies and forbidden lovers doomed to never meet—touch—love.

Twelve hours apart and forever between.

So much change. An endless journey that never pauses, never waits, never lets one breathe.

Red Dust

By: Katie Stevenson

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard, awakening me from dreams of the house being mine. Curious, and heart seizing with worry, I follow the sound, to the porch where I promised myself that I would live here while looking over at the forest that coddles the back yard. But that forest—that forest that I heard the cicadas cry from and where little things and big things of life stalked and roamed—is now nothing but red dust.

Buzzing, hungry machinery denigrates the shade—the barrier between highway and home. Saws carve at great trunks that are too big to be pushed over by bulldozers, their sprays of woodchips absorbed by the red. And as it falls—as it all falls, tears stain my dusty cheeks. The great whoomphs as the trees smack the ground, I feel it like a great punch to the chest. The snapping branches as they cave under the weight, the same sound and feeling of my soul breaking and twisting.

My heart breaking for just yesterday, where in the watery sunlight that made the green of the trees baby new and the shadows set by them over the pool, dark as sapphire, I promised myself that I would live in this house. Raise my kids in the same rooms as my siblings and I, sit them in the same kitchen, keep the band aids just where they were then, build them a playset where mine once was.

But that place, that view, that dream, is now nothing but red, red dust.