Somewhere, far below, a car speeds down Colfax, looking at the Noodles or the T-Mobile or CVS. But this room isn’t part of that world. It’s divided off by solid white walls. They curve up where they met the ceiling, like a cave, but without the dampness or the unpleasantness. Just the isolation.
And, is it so impossible, for a room so divided from space, to also be divided from time?
Imagine what this place looked like one hundred years ago. Take the green carpet from the floor, the tables and desks and bookshelves, the conference table in the middle, the fixings of a house for writers.
This room was a ballroom, once. A ballroom on the top floor, overlooking the city. Picture the men and women, all dressed in nineteenth century finery, trudging up two flights of stairs, no doubt sweating and huffing and puffing the whole way up. And picture the scene that greeted them—people dancing, drinking, tables set up around the periphery.
In some ways, it’s not so hard. That little alcove might have been a bandstand, with a cello and a violin.
A top floor ballroom must have meant a lot of things. For one, isolation. It must have been just as much of a thing then as it is now. Or even more so, before the house was surrounded by skyscrapers and peeping neighbors. This wasn’t the kind of party you could just come in off the street. You had to be invited, to know people. And, in such an isolated space, the parties must have gone on all night. What was stopping them?
For another, guests had to walk through almost the entire house to get up there. The fancy staircase is in the front of the house, but only the back one goes all the way up. Did they walk through the first floor, with the formal and informal living rooms? The dining room wallpapered with gold? Or did they walk up the nice staircase and cross to the back on the second floor? Walk past the bedrooms?
And, for a third, the party must have dominated the entire house. The music must have been audible on the first floor, and people dancing must have shaken the rafters and the walls. It must have been possible to eavesdrop on the gossip from the second story bathroom or the first story kitchen.
The house is still like that, sometimes. Even with the carpet, the desks and the bookshelves. All of those parties, all of those years ago, have left their mark on the space. The rafters know what it’s like to feel people dancing, the claw-foot tub knows what gossip sounds like, and the back stairs would like your invitation, please.
After all, if the parties didn’t know when to stop then, why would they now?
By Madison Hart
She ambled past the row of headstones, some sunk into the plush grass, so old no one visited them. At the end, was one chiseled from marble, still new and glimmering in the afternoon sun. Margaret Leland, born May 2nd 1850, died June 21st 1902. She sighed, sinking to her knees and caressing the opulent marker. Ten years to the day, she thought. Checking her small chain watch she decided to head back home. It was nearing time for her husband to return from work. Dozens of faces flooded past her on the walkway, she smiled at each one, but no one noticed her. She arrived back at her house, entering through the kitchen door. Their few maids bustled about, preparing the meal for the master. They too brushed right past her without a simple hello. She glided through the doorway, tracing the details along the frame and fingering the cool gold of the hinges. The formal receiving room sat empty, one of her grandchild’s dolls carelessly strewn on the wicker furniture. Small giggles rang from the adjacent room. She parted the sliding doors. Two rosy cheeked faces turned to her, eyes wide and mouths ajar. The toys fell from their hands as the children ran screaming up the stairs crying “Mother, mother!” Her head hung low. She wasn’t sure she could take this misery much longer. Mounting the stairs, she climbed five before ducking into the little alcove and seating herself on the short seat. The light waned from the front of the house, so she turned on the dancing lady with flower-shaped bulb holders for hands. Her shadowy hand parted the lace curtain from the geometric crystal window. Here, she would wait for her husband to return so that she might be the first to greet him. She used to have several passersby wave to her from the street, but now, she was invisible. Ah, yes! Here was her husband. His tall, willowy figure ascended the steps and entered the house. She jumped from her seat, floating down the stairs, only to have her embrace interrupted by her two grandchildren and daughter. “Hello Papa, we missed you today!” She shrunk back into the alcove. Here she had sat for the past ten years–unnoticed. And for the next ten years I shall remain. Their marriage vows ran through her mind, “Till death do you part.” Yet not even death could separate true loyalty and love.
Marline and John threw open all the windows of the house. Pro of living in an old house: big windows. Con of living in an old house: no AC. But they had made the decision to live there, and now they had to live with it.
Not a bad decision, Marline thought to herself as she looked out over the green and blues from her attic window as the breeze began to cold the room. Still, John had been strategic about getting them to move in when it was still bearable.
Six months. It had been six months, and Marlin still felt she couldn’t move in her own home. The walls held so many memories; they had seen the lives of so many men and women. A few deaths, too, no doubt. She shook herself, if she started to tell herself ghost stories now she would never get to bed.
She stepped carefully back down the steep steps. John’s family had lived in the house for generations. When his cousin moved out in the early fall, John had jumped at the chance to move in. Marline was still unsure about her husband’s hasty decisions, but he was happy and promised their kids would be too. Kids. She smiled at the thought. John still didn’t know how soon he would have to come through on that promise.
“Happy, Love?” He asked from his place on the couch. It had to be from the twenties. It was hideous.
Marline turned her smile on him and dropped her hand. “Couldn’t be happier.” She grabbed her bag. “I’ll see you after work, don’t get up to too much trouble.”
They were laying in bed. Wind blow through their room. The days were too hot and the nights were too cold. Marline tried to sleep, but it was so hard. She tossed and turned. John always slept hot not matter what.
Finally, she gave up on the idea of sleep. She grabbed her sleeping gown and walked down the kitchen. The wind was blowing throw the whole house, that seemed about right. Without turning on the light, she started making tea. At least someone had thought about indoor plumbing and electricity.
The street light shown into the window giving the whole room a light caramel feel. The street was still. Carm. Good neighborhood.
Marline stopped. The wind was blowing through the room. It was blowing in her hair. The pages of John’s book on the table were rolling over slowly. The trees outside were still. Like a picture. Dead still. She shook her head. No thoughts like that were bad. Bad thoughts.
The kettle started whistling, and she jumped. She hadn’t been paying attention for it to get that loud….that fast.
I think there’s someone in the walls. At first I considered the possibility that this was just an old house, and that the noises it made didn’t indicate anything remotely special. But the thing is, eventually I realized the house wasn’t actually making noise. Why I believed it was, I couldn’t tell you, I think my mind was scrambling for the best possible explanation for the sensation I was feeling, so it created whispers and creaks emanating from behind the plaster. But when you really pay attention, there’s nothing there at all.
One could blame it all on paranoia, I suppose, and yes, I considered that possibility, too. How else would you explain this? I believe someone’s here with me, though I can’t see or hear them. But they’re tangible. You can feel the air moving around them. At one point I even considered it might be a ghost.
I gouged a hole in the kitchen wall with a crowbar when I was finally too curious to put up with it anymore. And what did I find but a very angry and malnourished raccoon, who had nested behind the cabinets. Upon calling animal control, I decided that was that.
But the feeling persisted. I punched holes in every room of the house, hiding them all behind posters after the fact in case anyone ever cared to visit. Wouldn’t want to worry them.
I ended up sitting inside the walls quite a lot after a while. By that point I’d given up looking for anything in particular, but the walls were cool and pleasantly dim and it was nice to know that there was a place no one else could find.
And of course I absolutely jinxed it by thinking that. On an afternoon on a Saturday I sat inside the wall for a while and eventually looked up to notice a girl, who, I should add, I had never met before, sitting next to me with a book in hand and a can of soda. Not a ghost, mind you, a real, physical girl, who apparently just enjoyed spending her time reading inside the walls of my house.
Time got on the bus
Wearing brown snow pants
He stretched his arms out
Wide, fingers pointing and
Reaching and collecting the
Flowing end of his explanation
The bus driver–
A known time waster,
A money collecting
Paid by the hour
Smacked on graying gum
With jagged canyon teeth
While bubbly spit
Situated itself on his chin
“You gotta pay”
Squeaky and rhythmic
“You gotta pay”
Time curled his arms
In like two C’s and
Pointed to the chain
Around his neck
It was heavy and industrial
Even heavier holding
A Gold padlock
It seemed an anchor
Keeping his nikes on
The crumby ground
He licked his lips
“The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates.”
The bus driver unperturbed
With midsummer sweat stains
And a fairy circle of white hair
Like a laurel wreath decorating
An angry pimply dome
Regurgitated his predestined line:
“You gotta pay”
Time laughed, big and sweet
“Oh we all gotta pay man, but time passes for free, no amount of coin will change that”
By Lucy Earl
Okay, there’s this room at Lighthouse that used to be covered with gold, so that when the light hit it, it would light up. So I was thinking, there’s this thing called Lit Fest, I’ll put a picture of the flyer here:
[Insert Picture Here]
And I was thinking that for a workshop at Lit Fest we could have a gathering of people that we put in that room and made them all as small as ants. Little, if you will. And all these people could read, they’d be literate. But even though they’d be small, they’d litter. A lot. And since they’d be the size of ants, you could say they would be litterbugs. They’d litter so much that they’d even litter books, or litter literature. In fact, they’d litter so many books that we’d have to give them bags to litter their books in, or literature litter bags.
And then, they’d have so many bags that they’d have to pile them all together and use 1,000 cubic centimeters of lighter fluid to actually set them on fire. Or a liter of lighter literally lit literature litter bags. Now in order to extinguish the fire, they’d have to use some kind of absorbent, granular material or cat litter.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed what I’m doing here, so I’ll write out the sentence we’ve created. The Lit up room had little literate litterbugs that litter literature into litter bags and used a liter of lighter that literally lit literature litter bags that was put out by cat litter during Lit Fest. Now I’m sure you are admiring that lovely alliteration but we’re not done yet. All of the important words in this sentence can be abbreviated by the letters l-i-t…Oh yes, this is where we are heading with this. So, if we take out the useless words like “that” or “during” but keep “Fest” and we abbreviate all the other words with l-i-t, we would have the following sentence: Lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit lit Lit Fest…
Hi. You’re welcome. Feel free to say that that sentence was lit. After all it was literature (as in something published on a particular subject, like “lit”) and I’m sure some people would like to print this out and light it on fire, so it’d be lit. 🔥
Pictures that won’t stay
Cabinets that won’t stay
Lost boys that won’t stay
Stranded ghosts, they won’t
her leave the window, won’t give
Time to run, it’s time to
By Aiyana Spear
Ghostly fingers stroked the keys and beautiful music resulted.
It was a party, and some say that you hear the most lovely music in the world at parties.
No one seemed to notice that it didn’t appear that anyone was playing the instrument; it is more important for the music to be heard than it
is for the musician to be seen after all.
Sonatas and concertos filled the room, shoes clicking in time with the rhythm, dresses of every color only enhancing the magnificent gold decorations.
“Thump. Thump. Thump.” ….. hide hide hide
Whispers, fabric rustling, heels clicking, music silenced
Silence, eyes following movement, muffled breathing
“Thump. Thump. Thump.” ….. come out come out dance dance
Colorful dresses, a sonata continued, heels tapping the rhythm
Maybe it wasn’t a party now, the
music not as lovely as before, the dancing not as lively.
Apprehension now lived on their faces, not fear-yet, but nerves.
What if she comes back?
By Madison Hart
“The road before and behind you matters little if you can push to follow the path that calls from within.”
This quote stayed with me throughout the entire book The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier, and continues to bounce around in my brain even after completing it. What a great reminder that dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, doesn’t matter when I follow the purpose of my life. In fact, dwelling on these things will only hinder my progress.
Throughout the entirety of the book, Sackier dropped multiple little nuggets of wisdom such as this in the most opportune of places. What I loved, was that she wasn’t preaching them, but truly applied them and portrayed them in love through her characters.
Sackier’s characters are another thing I truly admired about The Freemason’s Daughter. The main character, Jenna, would appear at first impression to be a stereotypical stubborn, fiery, Scottish woman. At first, I was a little worried she would be plain. I was completely wrong! Jenna made me laugh and cry and grip each side of the book until my knuckles were white! There was never a dull moment with her and her reactions always surprised me.
As for the eight Scottish men she lives with, one being her father and the rest her adopted family, well, I wish I was Jenna. They so obviously loved her and cared for her that I continuously choked back tears. Maybe I’m a little sensitive…or maybe, Shelley Sackier did a fantastic job with her character development. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter! (more…)