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Oct 16, 2018

The Paths We Take #34: One Day Left   

      KATIE   My sister thinks that I should just go back to him. I see myself ringing the doorbell — poor little me standing there, probably in the rain, probably soaked through to the bones, probably with black tears mixing with the rain as it streams down my cheeks. I see him […]

Oct 09, 2018

The Paths We Take #33: Dangerous World

          MICHAEL     “I want to see Nikki,” I told the grunt at the door. I knew that I’d made a mistake with my tone when he took a step towards me and bowed out his chest. He crossed his arms, looked at my hands, and then glared at me […]

Oct 02, 2018

The Paths We Take #32: Fight  

        CLAIRE   I watched the spinning of the fan blades as the ceiling seemed to start to collapse in on me. I couldn’t gasp. His fingers clamped like a vice on my throat and the only thing I could manage was to search the comforter with my hands in a blind […]

Sep 25, 2018

The Paths We Take #31: Guardian

          DETECTIVE TOWNSEND   Every second counted. As they stood in the burn of the headlights, I heard the shots splintering the tree trunks and cracking against the boulders. They were shooting blind, their targets shielded by red pine, silver maple, and black gum trees that covered the steep hillside between […]

Sep 18, 2018

The Paths We Take #30: Shotgun

        LUKE   The slow blinking of the “OPEN” sign teased my eyes as I sat in the parking lot of The Dollhouse. ON — She stood at the door teasing a smooth-faced frat boy as her fingers grazed her lips. OFF — A lone leather-coat clad man smoking a cigarette sank […]

Sep 04, 2018

The Paths We Take #29: Three Days Left

      Katie He leaves our apartment, but he isn’t thinking of us. I have zero missed calls, no response to my texts, and he never even glanced at me the day I walked out. He continues to ignore my letters and the photographs that I tuck between the creases. I am forgotten. So […]

Aug 28, 2018

The Paths We Take #28: Knives and Lullabies

      Claire   It had been years since I prayed, but when you only have three inches of numbing steel between you and a bullet, God is the only one who can save you. “This is a destructive habit, Claire.” Donnelly’s voice slipped through the rays of blinding sunlight. His shadowy silhouette was […]

Aug 21, 2018

The Paths We Take #27: Rats

        Detective Townsend   “Where’s Luke Dawson?” The tap-tap-tap of the pen on the case jacket matched the beat of the pounding in my head. It was the second time in less than twelve hours that I found myself in Lieutenant Mason’s office. I looked around at the placards on the wall […]

Aug 14, 2018

The Paths We Take #26: Pain

        Luke   I watched the couple walk past my car as I pretended to look for something in the glove compartment. As they traipsed down the sidewalk, the white fog of their breaths collided against the backdrop of the noir sky. I scanned the alley again, waited until the lovers turned […]

Aug 07, 2018

The Paths We Take #25: Open Your Eyes

      Claire   Open your eyes . . .   I blinked. I was alive — whether I wanted to be or not. The warm tears trickled down the sides of my face as I thawed in the sunlight. The soft fleece itched my bare skin as I tried to lift my arms, […]

Jul 31, 2018

The Paths We Take #24: Bleed

          Detective Townsend   The call from Molly came in while Luke was asleep in the back room. I let him stay at the cabin for the rest of the day; it wasn’t safe for him to go home — it wasn’t safe for him anywhere. “You screwed me. I gave […]

Jul 24, 2018

The Paths We Take #23: Too Young

        Luke   They said we were too young; we didn’t care. We were ready – ready to destroy each other. “That’s my favorite,” were the first words that melted off her tongue and dripped into my ears. I was three bites into my mint chocolate-chip ice cream when I shifted my […]

Jul 19, 2018

The Paths We Take #22: New Girl

        Claire   I sat across from New Girl – perky, wild, loquacious New Girl. She introduced herself before pouring a glass of Girard Zinfandel. She told me to call her Rae; I wasn’t sure if that was her real name, but it didn’t really matter. She was sixteen, I learned later, […]

Jul 10, 2018

The Paths We Take #21: Burn

      Michael   I imagined her dangling from the rocks below… reaching, calling out to me, her fingernails clawing at the stone as her hands slipped further towards the edge. I stretched out my arms to her and she gripped my hands, her red nails slicing into my wrists. The frantic, wide-eyed fear […]

Jul 03, 2018

The Paths We Take #20: Get Out Now

        Luke   Jennifer was no stranger to bodies ripped open from hot metal, so when she opened the door to find me standing there with my sweatshirt soaked in blood, the first thing that she said was, “Couldn’t you have called first?” She motioned me inside like she was hurrying a […]

Jun 26, 2018

The Paths We Take #19: Falling Apart

        Detective Townsend   The hardest part about seeing a lifeless body isn’t the grotesqueness of the blood or bone fragments, it’s thinking about the life that was still left to live and the people who remain behind to suffer. A young girl would never walk down the aisle into the arms […]

Jun 12, 2018

The Paths We Take #18: Fly Away

        Claire   The cool metal circled my skin as Donnelly caressed my temple with the barrel of the gun. He told me, “You try to take away something of mine again and I won’t be so gentle.” They blamed me for what happened to Ariel. I just sat there, stone-like. Silent… […]

Jun 05, 2018

The Paths We Take #17: Die Soon Enough

      Luke   When I left The Dollhouse, I decided to drop into Phil’s Diner. Phil wasn’t anything like I had imagined; I pictured the stereotypical grandpa wearing some type of sweater and khaki combo. Phil was in his early forties, and his “happy” belly was the result of years of consuming syrupy […]

May 29, 2018

The Paths We Take #16: Officer Down

        Detective Townsend   The call came in around 5:45 AM. Lieutenant Mason’s rough voice roared even when he whispered, and the words “it’s one of our own,” gave me that sick feeling that starts at the bottom of your stomach and works its way up into your mouth until you can […]

May 22, 2018

The Paths We Take #15: Ghosts by Morning

        Claire   I hesitated to open the door, as if the door were protecting me from the outside instead of keeping me there. I was another forgotten girl. Sometimes the damsel must save herself, I thought. The first step was like daring myself to stick my foot in smoldering lava, but […]

May 15, 2018

The Paths We Take #14: The Dollhouse

          Luke   The “XXX” blinked in fluorescent magnificence against the obsidian sky. It was a red beacon of hope for the sex-starved, downtrodden, and desperate men who needed to escape into an X-rated fantasy. The Dollhouse was partially hidden from Route 15 by the trees and might have been disregarded […]

May 08, 2018

The Paths We Take #13: So Beautiful

        Claire   I had never felt so hollow. I was furious at myself for not fighting back, for just allowing them to enslave me to this world that smelled of latex and rose petals. After Michael, a handful of clients came to see Nikki. Most of them the business types, balding […]

May 01, 2018

The Paths We Take #12: The Witness

          Detective Townsend   Molly was late. We had agreed to meet, 7:00 AM, at the Adams Library on campus. I sat at a small rectangular table on the second level that overlooked the front half of the first floor. From where I was sitting, I could see anyone coming up […]

Apr 24, 2018

The Paths We Take #11: The Warning

        Michael   I’m in love, I thought to myself as I shut the oak door behind me. The older guy who met me at the gate when I arrived, was lounging on a brown leather armchair in the sitting room, leering at the door as it shut, and then looked at […]