#ThursThreads, week 563


“Whoa, buckaroo! You need to calm down. We’ve got all night.” Lacey took the young man’s hand from her breast and looked him in the eye.

“I know you’ve been waiting for this for what seems like forever, but we’re going to do it right, okay?” He swallowed hard and nodded as if he wasn’t just incapable of speech, but incapable of understanding the concept of speech.

“Good. Now come here.” Lacey led him to the bed and sat him down, hoping that like all the others, he didn’t notice the crinkling sound from the bedspread. She sat down on his lap and brought his hands to her hips.

“There. Isn’t that better?”

A nod.

“We’re nice and close, aren’t we?”

Another nod.

“Do I feel good here, on your lap, with your hands on me?”

This time he nodded so fast his glasses slipped down his nose. She giggled softly and pushed them back where they belonged.

“Good. Now let’s get started. I want you to lean forward and kiss me right…here.” His eyes followed as she slowly moved her finger from the bridge of his glasses to the side of her neck. 

Her victim leaned forward hungrily, and she put a hand on his chest. “Gently.”

He nodded again and exceptionally slowly brought his lips to her neck.

Lacey sighed. “Mmmm. Yes. Good. Now…gently…taste me with your tongue.”

The instant his tongue touched her flesh, her body transformed.

Now he found his voice, but it was too late.


#ThursThreads, week 561


Marie stood in the center of her living room and wept. To her left was the laundry she’d washed and folded, strewn about like the remnants of a very localized EF-5 tornado. To her right was an intertwined network of red, purple, and black crayons, roughly two feet above the floor (what you could see of it under the clothing) marking a journey from the kitchen to the hall. Both went as far as she could see, rounding the corner and heading towards the bedrooms. 

It wasn’t supposed to be this hard, she told herself over and over again. Other parents did this – sometimes alone. Marie had a partner who did everything they could possibly do and more, but even between the two of them, sometimes it just got out of control. 

Wiping the tears from her face and trying, but failing, to have hope that the disaster ended just beyond what she could see, Marie took a step forward. And then another.

That’s when she started to hear the giggling; Anna’s high-pitched glee a counterpoint to Caleb’s rumbles. 

And *that’s* when Marie knew exactly what she would see. 

The main bedroom was a maelstrom of color and fabric, of sparkles and glitter, of music and magic. 

And sitting on her bed in the middle were two of the happiest dragons you ever did see. 

Marie loved her chaos beasts, but she’d learned right quick that being a Mother of Dragons wasn’t quite what they’d showed on the TV.


#ThursThreads, week 558

“The moon is beautiful, don’t you think?” The spring breeze was warm and smelled of flowers. Soon summer would come, and with it the scent of stagnation and pollution, but for now, it was refreshing. 

“Sorry. I wasn’t listening. What did you say?” Mollie spent most of her time in her head. It’s what allowed her to be able to spend time with me without needing to flee in exasperation at my babbling. 

“The moon. Don’t you think it’s beautiful tonight?”

She laughed, light as the spring breeze. “Of course. But I always think it’s beautiful. The question is why do you think it’s beautiful?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, what’s beautiful about it to you? Does it have pretty colors?”

“Well, no, obviously not.”

“Is it shiny? Does it sparkle in the night?”

“What? No. It’s kind of dirty grey and has no light of its own.”

“Is it perfect in form?”

“It makes a circle, and I like circles.”

“Yes, but it’s not a circle all the time. It’s not a circle tonight.”


“What else do you see when you look at it?”

“Ummm. The craters?”

“The craters from meteors and asteroids beating it up over billions of years? All that damage, and you still think it’s beautiful?”

“Yes. It’s the moon…everyone thinks it’s beautiful.”

Mollie turned to me, now serious. “If the dirty, damaged, grey moon can be beautiful to you, why would you ever think that you’re too broken to be beautiful to me?”


#ThursThreads, week 557

Charlie Collins was the lonely kid. When I say that, you might get a picture in your head of what a lonely kid looks like. Maybe it’s the girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, keeping her head down and wishing, for the hundredth time, that she was invisible. Or the guy in the corner at the birthday party watching the other kids play and believing that, while he was invited to the party, he wasn’t invited to the real party, the one where people had fun. The kid hiding in their room after school. The kid on the swings alone on the playground. The one whose nose was always in a book. Ears covered by headphones. 

The point is, we all have an image of that lonely kid. Maybe they were someone we knew growing up. Maybe they were us. 

But Charlie was different from all of those kids we hold in our mind’s eye. She wasn’t *a* lonely kid. She was *the* lonely kid, the archetype upon which all the others were built. She wasn’t lonely because she was different, or awkward, or people told her she was funny-looking, or too fat or too thin or too weird. 

It wasn’t that she lived in a world where there was nothing good left so she avoided all the bad. She lived in an empty world, one in which she was a cipher and where the rest of the people in the world had no more substance than a phantasm. 


#ThursThreads, week 556

This isn’t…good. But it’s words.


“It’s not hopeless,” I said to myself.

I wasn’t buying it. “Might as well be.”

If I was being honest, I probably wouldn’t have been so down about things. Things weren’t that bad. I’ve got a good family, a better-than-most job, a safe place to live, the ability to see doctors, and more friends than a younger me would have ever thought I’d have.

Actually, younger me never would have thought I’d have any of that. Well, maybe the job. No one as smart as me could possibly fail to be successful.

You hear the sarcasm in my voice? You’d better be able to.

“Oh shut the fuck up. There I go again. Ohhh, I shouldn’t be hopeless because everything is sooo goooood. On top of everything else, I am such a whiny loser.”

I just stared, waiting for me to finish.

I wasn’t done with myself, though. “It doesn’t matter that I have friends or a family or whateverthefuck. It’s hopeless because I am me. That’s it. Quod erat demonstrandum.”

I was right. I mean, I was wrong in nearly every possible way, but I was right about this.

I sat there quietly with myself for a bit, opening myself to the truth.

Something weird happened when I did that, though. There was another voice.

“I hate them. They had no right to do this to me.”

“Are you sure? They did this out of love.”

“Fuck that. Love that hurts isn’t okay.”

“But it’s still hopeless, right?”




It’s still dark when I wake up, the sky a deep grey that will stay that way for a while if the forecast holds. But it’s also too early, even for me, and I walk groggily to the bathroom and then the living room. I start a fire and curl up on the couch, watching the flames without really seeing them. 

My bladder is why I got out of bed, but my brain is why I wasn’t back in it, next to you. I wasn’t sure what words described what I was feeling and thinking. It wasn’t really sadness, or depression, or dissociation. It was just … nothing felt right inside or out. 

I was out there long enough that I’d needed to add more wood to the fire. By now, I had a cup of tea in my hands, but neither the sky nor my heart were any lighter. 

I heard you moving around upstairs and looked at the clock. I’d been up longer than I thought I had. I’d likely be tired early, but I was always tired, so that was kind of my norm. 

You padded softly down the stairs and into the den. I turned to look at you and watched as you came over to me. I shifted to let you sit down next to me, my arm around you as you leaned into me. 

We didn’t talk or do anything in particular. Just sat there, being together. And the day passed, as they do. You were giving me what I could accept at the moment, and I felt the love in that choice. 

At some point, we’d get up and do what needed doing, and I’d put on my mask of being a functional human. 

But not yet.


#ThursThreads, week 548


“You’re going back.”  It wasn’t a question. 

I didn’t know how to respond to him, so I stayed quiet, hunched over with my forearms on my thighs. The ground between my feet became a kaleidoscope, refracting through my tears. 

“You’re leaving me, Jen,” he hissed. “You’re leaving our kids!”

He had every right to be pissed. 

I hadn’t wanted him to find out when I was from or how I’d gotten here, but when he had, the night before our wedding, I’d made him every promise in the book that I’d be by his side ‘til death did us part. 

We’d had one child. Then another. And as I’d watched them grow from infants into teenagers and seen my marriage survive uncertainty to blossom into a true partnership, I’d begun to believe I could actually keep my promises. 


“Kelly! Ryan! Shoe time!” We tumbled out the door, backpacks and lunches bouncing and thumping as we raced to school. You’d think after doing this a couple thousand times I wouldn’t still be trying to beat the bell. Thankfully, the rain held off, and they disappeared into the building with just enough time to avoid tardies. 

I turned to look over my left shoulder and pulled into traffic, my mind already lost in thoughts about my first meeting. 

“It’s time, Jen.”

My implant spoke for the first time in 17 years. 


“You can’t go, Jen. You can’t.”

I looked up at him. I had no choice. 

My implant activated, and I vanished. 


#ThursThreads, week 547


I wiped sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. Benny was hanging over my shoulder, his heart pounding loud enough that I could almost see the vibrations.

The clock attached to the dynamite continued its inexorable countdown to our obliteration and I didn’t have any better idea how to disarm it now than I had when we’d first discovered the bomb.

Benny’s anxiety wasn’t helping, but I suppose it was understandable. I hadn’t known that he was in the back of the van when I’d stolen it, and he’d been too stoned to wake up even as we bounced through the desert. 

By the time we were aware of each other, we were running from what seemed like a fleet of black SUVs and the temperature gauge on the van was buried in the red. He was screaming at me to find out where we were, I was screaming at him to be quiet, and I didn’t even stop to think that the conveniently van-sized cave was a trap. A rockslide later, I knew I’d screwed up, and it wasn’t long before our entire world was consumed by the red LEDs that counted down the last minutes of our lives.

“Ummm, Miranda?”

“What, Benny? I’m a little busy.”

“What are we going to do about that?”

“I’m trying to disarm it. Please be quiet.”

“No, not that.” Benny pointed off to his left, but he didn’t really need to. 

I could hear the rattling just fine.


#ThursThreads, week 546

I’ll think of something else.

Something happy. 

I’ll think of my kids, laughing and running to me. 

The swirl of snow on the open road, dancing in eddies that disappeared into the night. 

My wife, looking up at me and telling me yes. Yes. There’s so much power in that little word. Yes. 

All these things come into my mind. I know they should make me happy. 

All these things leave my mind, pushed aside by the sadness that is always there. 

Okay, I say. Talk to me. What do I not know that you are trying to tell me?

But the sadness doesn’t speak. It demands. 

So I sit there as if happiness was an option. 

It waits. It knows me. 

It knows that I’m going to light a fire. Grab a drink. Try to lose myself in my senses. 

But I don’t hear the crackling of the wood. Don’t smell the smoke or taste the burn of the whisky. 

They’re there. I just don’t have access to them. 

The sadness won’t let me. 

It just sits there. Impassive. Unyielding. Blue. Formless and rigid. Waiting. 

I don’t cry. Not really. My throat gets tight and my eyes well up, but crying comes with its own release, its own catharsis. 

The sadness doesn’t want that. 

It wants me just where I am, sipping my tasteless drink by a fire that casts no heat in a room that provides no shelter living a life offering no respite from its demands. 



#ThursThreads, week 545


“You didn’t tell me you were going to do…do this.” I could barely get the words out, my throat was so tight. “Not this.”

“Had to look real.” Janie snorted. “You got what you asked for, didn’t you?”

My eyes could barely focus on any one bit of carnage, there was so much. The bodies. The crimson splatters on the wall. And – oh god – were those…bones on the floor?

I couldn’t make it to the sink before everything that I’d ever eaten came up from the depths of wherever we store such things. It made an awful, thick splattering sound when it hit the floor, and Janie cursed.

“Asshole! Keep it together! Now you’ve left DNA all over the place.”

“Sor…sorry. This is my first…what is this exactly?”

Janie was moving around the room like a cat, somehow not stepping in any of the mess she’d made. “The news will probably call it a ‘massacre,’ but I prefer ‘ritual disemboweling.’ Did you bring the stuff?”

“The stuff?”

“The spell components. The glowing ball. The whatever you magicians use to make reality go all wonky.”

“I’m not…” It didn’t really matter that I wasn’t, technically, a magician. I was, or at least had been before I ordered a massacre, an accountant. It had been my desire to figure out why the numbers were off in the books that led me to discover that magic was real and that a great evil was coming.

“Oh. Right here.”

“Then let’s get started!”