Short Stories and Lyrics by J.M.


            The entire town knew of our families’ feud, though no one could agree on what caused the age-old rancor.  Some said Christopher’s great-grandfather enticed my great-grandfather’s sweetheart with the use of a wily smile.  Others said a wayward uncle was guilty of stealing fish from the Anderson nets when the fishery meant food in the cupboard or penury and disgrace.  Whatever it was, the anger from the confounded event stuck and my father despised Christopher and his, and like past men of our line, expected his children to share this sentiment.

            We did not.

            My sister and I, twins and close beyond comprehension, found nothing to dislike in Christopher.  He was kind, intelligent, and delightfully handsome.  There was great pleasure in his company and it was often sought when we figured father too busy to notice.  He did notice however, and hammered our bottoms fiercely, threatening more should he catch us wandering the Anderson way a second time.

            Sister took heed.  I could not.

I’d bonded with Christopher in a light striking way, and though we’d nothing sure in common, our feelings equaled the heat of a mid-winter’s hearth.  It fired me against my father’s will and I went to Christopher often, to talk, to feel his presence, to grow through his understanding.  His appreciative smile rewarded my every visit.

I don’t believe Father knew of my indiscretion, but as I grew it became obvious he disliked me in a terrible way.  There seemed nothing I could do to curb his jibes and jeers, to deflect his boots often colliding with my torso.  I tried to please him in different ways, but even my kindest poetry sparked his ire.  This aversion caused Mother’s softness toward me and her stiffness toward him.  He blamed her womb for this, and Mother often wept when he ranted about having received cursed twins rather than a strapping son.  This was sorrowfully uncomfortable and sowed a great wedge between myself and Mother.

Sister and I avoided their qualms by playing dress up in the attic and doing one another’s hair by the shoreline.  We talked for hours in the late night about books, dreams, and boys, pretending we both were loved.  Because though Sister wasn’t openly disliked by Father, his obsession over me and mother’s unpleasant doting forced her to feel a shadow in every room, situation, and moment.  She’d taken to cutting herself, hoping they’d soon notice.

They did not.

I followed father into his portage on rackets once, with a hope of mending our differences, or at least to broach my concerns for Sister.  Not even quarter of the way in, as I chatted alongside him, father heaved me into the air, and threw me behind him upon our trail.  My woven racket twisted awkwardly beneath me and I’d shrieked with pain of which he remained completely indifferent, though somewhat disgusted.

“Get the hell home,” he wailed.  “I can’t stand to be near you!”

He left me crumpled in the snow-covered wood.

            Christopher happened by with his father’s dog team in brilliant health.  He carefully lifted me onto his sled and cleaned my tear-streaked face.  This easy acceptance of my cursed frailty strangely induced strength, and I wished everyone in the world were like him.

Father never apologized.  Not even when the doctor bound my ankle in a cast.

Later that summer I worked hard at never being home.  The only light I’d had there was Sister, but she’d been snuffed and her darkness was more than I could stand.  In Christopher’s presence I could breathe again.  His affections cleansed my mind and heart, and when at last he moved to kiss me, I let him with such a relief I felt I should lift from the ground like a feather, to dance upon the sun-kissed breeze.

I loved him. Absolutely I did, and I wished the world to know.  Such a beautiful thing to find endearment.  I had been blessed, for I knew by way of my parents, not everyone does.  But I had fallen for Christopher.  It wasn’t allowed.  And so we kept our intimacy secret.

It was after a fresh swim in the river that he found us.  We were huddled together upon the sand shivering beneath a blanket and laughing.  I’d stepped on a flounder and my shriek had moved the surrounding birds into the blue.

A shock of pain blew me backward.

I heard Chris call my name, but it was plastic compared to the raining blows upon my head, ribs, and back.  When they stopped, a great paw lifted me by the hair.

“You disgrace me,” Father spit in my face.  “What are you doing here?  How dare you shame your family like this?”

Through the blood in my eyes I saw Chris barrel into him, and Father jerked to the side.  I crumpled to the ground mere inches from them, but could do nothing when Father easily conquered Chris and beat his beautiful face bloody.

“This is your doing, Anderson.  This is all your fault!

Christopher went limp.

“If I see you together again, I’ll kill you both!”


The next day, though I could barely walk, I was shipped off, cast out.  To a catholic school I was sent, and there I quickly learned the way of a chameleon.  Blending in became my life.  I was good at it though it gave me no joy.

Sister sent a letter once, letting me know she was about to marry.  I noted the word love had not been mentioned.

“If you married,” the letter begged “he’ll let me visit.  I need to see you, to know it’s true I exist.  I look in the mirror but it’s not the same.  Not even my reflection acknowledges me.”

Chris had survived Father’s beating, she informed, but if Father even suspected I reached out to him, he’d gladly finish Chris off.

And so I kept my distance and felt my poor heart shrink.

Two years later I wed and it was a complete farce.  Having Sister near was comforting, though meeting her husband was a blow to the stomach.  He was the image of Father in character, and after that reunion I’d not see Sister again.

Without love my marriage quickly decayed, and after playing house for twenty years we grew tired of make-believe.  Without children the divorce was easy and a great solace. 

I buried myself in work.

Last week my secretary announced a visitor was requesting my time, though no appointment had been made.  “Says he’s an old friend.”

When Christopher entered the room the world stuttered and a force of energy pulsed between us.  As my secretary closed the door behind her, I moved carefully around my desk.

There was evidence of Father’s beating in his aged face, mostly in his disfigured nose, but he was still beautiful.  And he still loved me.

At first I was self-conscious.  I’d not expected such an important meeting that day.  My hand lifted to my cheek; I’d forgotten to shave.

He recognized my embarrassment and took a tentative step closer.  “You look good Frederick.”

I was defenceless and let the tears fall and my chameleon skin shed.  When his warm arms embraced me, I was a young man once again.

Amid the thorns of my past I felt rose buds bloom in my heart.  What father thought no longer mattered because this was real, this was beautiful.  My Anderson boy held me and I felt more human than I had in decades.

“This is our time, Frederick,” he whispered, and all I could do was weep.

**For LGBT Pride Month**


            I can see people’s pain.  Like broken rainbows caught on fire its colors rage for my attention, its agony spits light that nearly blinds, and spinning wild, angry dances, the Pain eventually sees me watching it.  It reaches for me then, with fiery fingers, and if it comes too close I can feel it.
I’m scared one day I’ll burst into flame.
            I try to prevent this.
I don’t want anyone else’s pain.  I have enough of my own.
            There’s a building I walk by once a week after school.  Brown, ugly, dirty, it merely blends into the background, into the sky, into the concrete.  Its edges smudge into those of its neighbors... at least it did before Aubrey.  Though I’d passed it on my way to piano lessons for the past five years, before Aubrey, the old building hadn't existed to me.
            Aubrey soon filled it like a beacon with his hurt.
            I managed to ignore the building the first two weeks after it was given life and made it to wrinkled Mrs. Dolby and her stagnancy ahead of my usual lateness.  I had been afraid of what I saw radiating from the building down her street and my footsteps had quickened.  The Pain hadn’t noticed me, for that I was grateful.  I’ve seen the damage it wrought.  My Mother’s Pain ruined her, though its passion died long ago.  Her Pain is grey now.
New Pain is difficult to look at.  It glares.  It shelters its owner greedily, it feeds him yet feeds off him, but mostly it lives beneath the rule of its owner.  Somehow the Pain in the building was different.  It was new and old, and it had come undone.  Its owner had lost control.
My ears swore they heard it roaring, moaning, and my heart cried for the poor soul slave to it.  On the third week, instead of facing Mrs. Dolby’s strict piano instruction, I found myself standing before the once unnoticed apartment building.
It flamed iridescence.
When I entered The Pain’s domain it turned itself toward me and my skin burned, but I was drawn by wonder as well as fear, I needed to understand it, so I continued forward.  The Pain watched me find its victim’s door but didn't reach for me.  It didn't want me.  It didn't need me.
I knocked on the door but when no answer came I forgot my manners and discovered its knob unlocked.  The door opened and streaks of blazing color shot from it.  Like coils of rope they wrapped themselves tightly around me until I fled, screaming.  Outside the Pain released me. 
When I got home my Mother was upset, as I knew she would be.  I had missed my piano lesson.  She sat across the table from me, the dunes of her grey ash shifting.  That frightened me.  I prayed they wouldn't wake.
“I’m not going back...  I’m not a musician,” I told her.
My spaghetti was cold.
“You would be if you practiced!”
“I don’t have the talent and you know it.  You’re making me hate music!”
Her lips tightened.  “Day after tomorrow you will go back, and you will apologize to Mrs. Dolby.”  She finished her meal and left the table.
Later, from the library, Mom’s violin sang what she couldn't say.

When I again stood within sight of the Pain, I knew Mrs. Dolby would receive no apology that day.
I went to the building, I went to the door, and I withstood the grasping light that shot from it.  I walked into the apartment.
The room within was dark and stale.  The room was silent.
Through the hallway I drifted, as if in a trance, afraid yet hopeful, and as I stepped into a living-room my eyes squinted against pulsating red; the Pain’s heartbeat.
I became a part of it. 
The Pain throbbed through my veins and was at once my pulse, my body’s rhythm.  And then I found Aubrey, shriveled and wilting.  He watched me through glassy eyes.
I went to him, and knelt beside the wooden rocker he was set in.  He turned his head toward me.
“Who are you?”
His voice wasn't weak as his body was.  It held a strength I couldn't have guessed he possessed.
Who are you?”
Someone answered from behind me, “A child who was just leaving.”
I scrambled to my feet.  “I’m sorry, I was just... I...”  A large woman glared down at me, past thick arms folded across her chest. The words I wished to say remained lodged in my throat.
“You were just leaving,” she reaffirmed, pointing a thick finger toward the dim hallway.  Her finger led me, she followed.  “There’s nothing to see here.  Just an old man readying to die.  Leave him be.” 
The Pain’s beat beneath my skin begged to differ.
I faced her before she could close the door in my face.  “You’re wrong.  He isn't readying to die.”
“Young girl, you know nothing of these things.  Aubrey’s wasting away.  This isn't your business, go on with you and let the man alone.”  The woman shooed me with her hands, but I didn't move.
“What’s wrong with him?  Can’t he have company?”
The woman eyed me carefully.  Again her arms crossed.  “And what sort of company do you suppose he needs?  Are you selling stuff?”
“I... found him by accident, and now that I've seen him, I don’t know… I’d just like to help.”
Her eyes softened and her arms disentangled.  “It’s a shame isn't it. Aubrey Hyme is his name and I guess you could say I’m his nurse.  ‘Nurse Agatha’ he used to say.  He hired me nearly three years ago after discovering he has Alzheimer disease.”
“Alzheimer’s… is it very bad then?  Has he forgotten lots?”
Nurse Agatha nodded her large head sadly.  “He was a violinist in his day, a real one too. I mean, music was what he did for a living. He only played the stuff he wrote.  I don’t know much about that stuff, but even I could tell his music was his life.  It took him all over the world, he once told me.  And you know, even when he forgot his name he could still play his violin.”  Nurse Agatha scratched her chin.  “Not anymore though.  A few weeks ago he lost memory of that too, and now he’s given up.  Once I tried playing violin music on his stereo but he got to howling like an old wolf.  So that was that. I don’t understand the interest you have in him, but I suppose caring isn't a bad thing.  It wouldn't hurt for you to visit from time to time, but only in the mornings before noon.  It’s his best time, he’s strongest then.”
And so I started visiting Aubrey every Saturday morning before noon.  Each time I entered his building, Aubrey’s lightening ridden Pain linked itself to my heart.  I soon got used to its throb, I understood its hunger.  Aubrey’s inability to play music was feeding his Pain, his loss was fueling it.
In other words, Aubrey’s Pain was eating him up.

“I found these,” Nurse Agatha said one day, after placing three fat binders on my lap.  “They’re his compositions, his favorites anyway.  I thought you might like to take a look at them.” 
I opened the top binder but all the lines and pretty symbols meant nothing to me.  They didn't come to life as I knew they were supposed to.  I was a child born to two brilliant musicians, whose future was supposed to have been written upon a sheet like the one I held, but I couldn't understand a wink of what I stared upon. 
Aubrey watched me quietly.
“You know, Aubrey,” I said, reaching for his hand. “I should be able to read these.  My dad could play any instrument he picked up, and the violin is my mother’s voice.  If they looked at these they’d hear music.”  I placed Aubrey’s hand upon the open sheet.  “Can you feel your music?  Can you feel it inside you?”
Who are you?”

My mom hadn't spoken much after I’d made it clear I was done seeing Mrs. Dolby, but her violin had cut through me every night after.  It was her music, that expression of what lived inside her that became my punishment.  Her sorrow drifted through our home as a torment.  I prayed for the ash to leave her but it was all she had left, and she clung to it without end.
“Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”  My meal was untouched, I wasn't hungry.  “I know you’re upset with me, about giving up piano—
“Just like you gave up violin,” she interrupted.
I watched her chew.  She was cold and colorless, a copy of the grey beach which clung to her, the ash that comforted and tortured her.  I wondered if she could taste.
I've been visiting on old man named Aubrey.  He has Alzheimer’s.”  She stopped chewing and looked at me, icy and still.  I braved the silence.  “He loves music, like you do.  ...Like dad did.”
Her dunes shivered.  “Be quiet.”
“He only played the music he composed—
“Be quiet.”  Her dunes shook.
“But now he’s forgotten how.  His mind doesn't remember music, Mom, but his heart does, and it needs to feel what it created—
“I’m warning you.”
“I can’t help him, but you can.  Play his music for him, please.  He loved music like you do, like dad did—
“Nobody loved music as your father did; nobody.
Her dunes were no longer dunes, but a grey sea, they had become waves.
“Aubrey does.”
Mom pushed her chair backward and it toppled behind her.  “I don’t care who Aubrey is and I don’t care what he’s forgotten.  This conversation is over.”
I started to cry.  “Let it go Mom, why can’t you just let your hurt go?”
Music flashed through her eyes.  “All the talent you could have,” she seethed, “if only you’d take hold of it!”  Her composure slackened, her ocean swelled.  “Your father… your father was so gifted—
“Dad’s greatest gift wasn't that he knew music. It was that he knew how to wield it. His greatest gift was that he didn't use it to hurt others.  Dad used his talent to heal hurts and to make things grow.  Dad played music for those who couldn't so they might feel it as he did.  He shared his talent mom.  He didn't turn it into a weapon.”
Carefully, so that I wouldn't fall upon the floor in surrender, I stood, and before me she shook.  Sadly, I watched her waves once again turn to flame.
“I’m going there today,” I whispered.  “And I’ll leave the address behind.  Maybe you’ll visit us there.  I hope you do.”

Again I faced the building and again the Pain there didn't look at me.  It was bored with me and my visits, and unafraid.  The Pain had seen the extent of my strengths and laughed at my presence. It continued to eat through Aubrey’s soul.
When my mother arrived the Pain was unsuspecting and unprepared. It hadn't thought there’d be a new change to its order.  Neither had I.
“Who are you?” Aubrey asked when she walked into his vision.
The room was still, the room was quiet.
“She’s my mother,” I answered, awed and afraid.  “She’s come to play your music for you Aubrey.” I handed her a binder.
The violin sang.
For Aubrey it sang, for Mom.  The violin sang for me.
Its music danced with Aubrey’s Pain and made it beautiful.  It flowed through our hearts, through our souls, until we wept, until we sobbed, because each of us knew how love can be a terrible hurt.  Mom’s gift brought Aubrey’s music to life, and as she used her power as she was born to do, I watched her come to life as well.  Her raging flames burned to ash, and the ash lifted from her shoulders, it drifted into the wrenching, aching notes she sent soaring through the air.
And then, the music found Aubrey.
It caressed him gently, in sorrow and with love, and it wove through him and about him as it spoke words to his heart.
The notes shivered, the notes eased, and the room fell silent.
Aubrey straightened in his chair.
He looked at me through eyes that were as clear as his voice.
“I wrote that song,” he said, “for my wife, a long time ago.”
My mother, tears streaming down her face, set down her violin and moved toward us.  She knelt, and placed a gentle hand on Aubrey’s leg.
“Thank you,” she said, and it was then I noticed the room’s color had changed.
The building, like my mother, had lost its flame.

By J.M. Lavallee     



            The very first time I saw Hannah I fell in love.  Laughin’ with a circle’ a friends her smile enchanted me, and though I watched from a distance I just knew she was a woman’ a good, and that, no matter how hard I tried, I’d never find another like her.
Her dark hair shined like new copper under the midday sun and I remember wishin’ I’d had more gumption.  I wanted somethin’ bad to walk up to her and run my fingers through all those smooth strands but, I never was a brave boy. And besides, these digits bein’ nothin’ but callused knobs, had I’d done so that pretty hair, not yet knowin’ this boney fool, might ‘a coiled from my clumsy touch.
I studied her for a good long time before she noticed me, but, when she did she was all cute and bashful at seein’ my hungry eyes, her creamy skin glowin’ nicely, and it was then that I discovered the sweet dimple in her chin that only appeared when she smiled.
That smart crevice made me weak in the knees.
            Hannah was a large woman, yes, made up’ a gentle slopes and warm soft folds.  I’m gangly, lanky, tall and scrawny.  Beanpole was what they called me in my school days, and I s’pose the title still fits.
Got taller I did, but though my Ma promised it, I never once filled out.
I got used to the name callin’ a long time ago, never did bother me too much, but my Hannah, well... it hurt her, as it always had I ‘magine. 
I’ll admit we must’ a looked the couple, Hannah and I, me all shootin’ up into the air and she takin’ up so much space and all, but how cruelty could be found where there’s love, I don’t s’pose I’ll ever understand.
There are a lot’ a things that go over my head. I’ll never be what they call a genius, but when it comes to my Hannah I know plenty, and so, on a day when she and I had been eatin’ out, (right here at Sammy’s Diner wouldn’ you know), I knew somethin’ awful had happened when I returned to her from visitin’ the washroom.
Hannah’s soft face was pinched, her eyes all red and puffy, and in her hand I noticed she clutched a hand full’ a wet napkins.
“Well Hannah, what’s happened?”  I asked.
“Nothing at all Graham,” she whispered.  “Some water got sipped down the wrong pipe is all.  You didn’t hear me coughin’?”
I hadn’t, and I knew she was lyin’ but I didn’ press.
After that day I started noticin’ changes in my sweet Hannah.  Not too long after she began even to look different.  I watched with my heart breakin’ as her glow slowly faded, turnin’ white and then just plain sickly.  Her hair, that shiny smooth hair I so loved to touch, became coarse and wiry, thin even.  Her fine dimple I saw less and less.
I really got to worryin’ when I started to see all her carefully chosen outfits seemin’ suddenly to sag over empty space, and I realized my girl was shrinkin’. 
“Hannah, are you sick?  We should go to Doctor Theodore.  He’ll whip things up.”
But it never did any good.
It took me awhile, like I said, I’m no genius, but eventually I realized Hannah was disappearin’ after our meals, all sly like.  The last day’ a this I did some sneakin’ myself, followin’ her t’ward the basement washroom after tellin’ her I was goin’ out for a stroll.
Throwin’ up she was. Regurgitatin’.  And through the open crack’ o’ the doorway, I had seen she had brought it on herself by stickin’ a toothbrush a darn ways down her throat.
I was horrified.
She cried as we drove along in the pick-up toward Doctor Theodore’s office, all the way beggin’ me not to tell others and sobbin’ that she had been doin’ it for me.
“For me,” I cried, and it was the first time I had ever spoken to her in anger.  “How, in any way, would you makin’ yourself sick be any help to me?  How Hannah?  Can you answer me that?”
Oh, did the look on her face grieve me.  Shame, embarrassment, hurt, I could hardly look into her sunken eyes, so changed had they become.  But because I loved her so dearly I steeled myself against the desire to give in to her pleas, for I knew she was in trouble.  And I was scared.
God woman, I love you so much.  Why would you get to doin’ such a thing?  Was it to get skinny?  Was that it?  Were you doin’ it to look all rake-like, like this ol’ pole?”  I tried t’ smile but darned if it weren’t hard to do.  “You said you were doin’ it for me, but don’t you know by now I don’t want you that way?  Why, from the beginnin’ I’ve loved you large.  I love to wrap my arms around your big body Hannah, to feel your warmth.  You are the most beautiful woman I have ever known, and I’m not talkin’ it’s the inside that countsYou are beautiful; you, the way God made you, the way you can’t help but be, and I love you now as I did the very first day I met you.”
I had been watchin’ the road as I spoke, tryin’ hard not to speed in my panic to see the Doc., and so I was right startled when I glanced t’ward her and saw the cloud’ a darkness that then hovered over her face.
It was a look’ a hatred if I’d ever seen one, and comin’ from her, my darlin’ angel Hannah, I felt I were drownin’.
All you!” she screamed.  “You made me think all these cursed years that I was beautiful, some rare treasure brought up from the bottom’ a the sea.  You who made me think my struttin’ all around town with my slim, handsome husband was a fine thing, when all along, I’ been the joke’ o’ the town!”
My hands gripped the wheel with white knuckled strength. 
“Graham,” she continued, sobbin’.  “Do you remember that day at Sammy’s, the day you asked if anything was wrong and I said no?”
I did.
“I lied.”
I’d known.
“While you had gone Graham, Joey came and asked if I was done, I wasn’t, but he had known that already, hadn’t he?”
“What are you talkin’ about?”  My right foot pushed further t’ward ground.
That’s good,’ he said to me, with this terrible, greasy ol’ grin.  ‘Because we’ve got a whole cow yet in the back for you, all topped off with whipped cream.  How ‘bout it, Wide Load?’  I s’pose I turned red then.  Because then he said, ‘you must color like that in the bedroom eh Hannah?  I really did always wish to know how a straw manages to screw a grapefruit.’  And then they laughed, Graham.  There I was, surrounded by all those familiar faces, and not one was left unsmilin’.”
There was rage then, as I had never before experienced, and so red was that anger that I hurt.  I kept seein’ her as I had that day we first met, the way she had shined with laughter and shy smiles. 
I didn’ even see the moose ‘til its legs were beatin’ at my face, at hers.  I thought, I must be dreamin’, but then came all these strange lights and eerie sirens, strange voices too, and I thought, not a dream, a nightmare.
But it wasn’ a nightmare, at least not in the sleepin’ sense, and it bein’ but four nights ago, you all know it.  I see tears in some’ o’ your eyes as you sit with your meals waitin’.  And you Joey, what’s on your face, guilt?  Or regret for havin’ lost your mask?
I came here straight away because you all deserve to hear first.
She’s dead.
I hope the truth of it sits upon your wretched souls forever.   Yeah, I get it, a skinny man and a fat woman; hilarious.  So amusing we must have been.
Go to hell.
I’ll never see that dimple again.  I’ll be cold now.
You can finish your cursed meals.  I hope every swallow is drenched in shame.

By J.M. Lavallee

Here's a short story I wrote years ago which later inspired my up and coming novel Deep Calling...


His heart thumped ominously but he ignored it, or tried to, as he waited, squat within a tight crevice of damp, moss-encrusted rock.  He knew he shouldn’t be there, had been warned, but that voice, so enticing, so hauntingly beautiful, so mournful, made heeding the words of the weathered locals and their looks of unspoken, pity-stitched disdain, impossible.

Had he ignored the sweet sadness of the Spell-Song he would easily have died of grief.

For seven days the song had fallen upon his ears, always by sea, always mingled with the roar of raging waters, whose mist, texturing his awe-slackened face, moistened what little clothing he wore to chill his very bones.

The townspeople of dismally titled Lurking Mist rewarded him no words of explanation, or surprise.  In answer to his questioning he had largely received forced whispers and lip-locked silence.  From those who did choose to speak, the words were always the same, uttered in fear and then re-swallowed with unexplained regret.  “The Spell-Song...” they would sigh, and then, with eyes of terrible gravity, they would caution; “Forget what you’ve heard, block it out and keep from the sea.  Do this, or her song will be your end.”

No more could be pried from those carrying uneasy acceptance of what seemed a secret shared by the town.  His only knowledge had passed, perhaps accidentally, from the Bed and Breakfast owner with whom he shared a roof.

“There’s a woman past the breakwater!” he had hollered after first hearing the call by sea, bursting through the Boarding Home’s faded green, wooden doors.  “She may have fallen into a cliff crevice, she may be trapped, and she’s wounded.  I can hear her wailing but when I searched I couldn’t find the poor thing.  We must get help!”

The old lady had grasped him by his left wrist, her skin-folded and faded eyes sparkling panicked shine where they had previously been a tired glaze.  “Was she singing?  Did you hear singing son?”

The strength of the elderly grip had surprised him.  “No, not a song, a terrible scream, a herald for help...”

Her eyes narrowed, her fingers tightened.  “Did you answer her then?  Did you call your voice into her mists?”

Blinking confusion at the absurdity of her question, he’d sputtered in answer.  “Of course I did!  The woman is hurt, she...  We should be getting help...”

He’d been mildly repulsed to see age return to his holder, her fingers limply loosening about his skin, her body sagging feebly away from him, but alarm quickly replaced the sensation when he saw, for him, dark sympathy shadowing her pale face.

“You poor boy, it’s too late then.  She called, and you answered.  You will be spelled by her song before too long.  Fight it if you can son.  Fight her tune with all you can muster.”  And then, uttered through an exhalation of breath, he’d heard her say, “Fine as you are boy, it is better this way.  Better one than hundreds...”

“She’s... she is hurt...”

“No dear, there is nobody hurt, there is nobody to rescue.  Be bothered about it no more.”

When she left him he had run, had ripped himself from the worn house’s doorway toward the foot-trodden path which led to the sea, toward the wide and sweeping rock-walls that dropped their ragged edges into dark water, and had listened.  The air had been clear, the grey depths calm.  The crash of frothing tongues unaccompanied by screams.

After hours of searching he had escaped the sounds of the ocean feeling unfulfilled and empty.

It was night before the song had begun its taunt.

Rising from sleep, high lamenting notes of lonely despair had pulled him with fingers of greedy need, had wrapped him with visions of tenderness and unforgiving beauty.  Near naked he had scrambled from bed, his sight blurred with tears, and followed the sounds of the mystical and infinitely feminine song, toward its strange melody of unattainable translation.

During each separate scramble toward the Spell-Song’s conjurer he had been touched with hot visions of soft breasts and red lips, floating hair and matured caresses.  Over and over he was brought to stand atop a rock ledge to stare into sea, while, upon each new note delivered by the Spell-Song, horrid emotions twisted him with heartache until eventually changing into something powerful, and relentlessly passionate.

He had throbbed with desire and mind-crowding hunger.

And then he saw her, the fountain which was the music’s source, the wave of doom that was both heaven and hell for his love-struck soul, the caster of the Spell-Song he could not bear to deny.

She had floated just below the surface of the bobbing sea, her image distorted by the moving waters and dimmed by the light of night.  He had watched her red mouth moving his song, her white body floating gracefully, her slim thighs inviting his kisses, but when the sun had come, drying the fogged mists that had hugged him, she faded from his vision.

He had not since moved from the spread water-breaking rock that traced the coastline of Lurking Mist, and now, in a fevered heat that continually grew, he waited, tucked between the crevice walls, feeling not the oddity of his ravenous obsession or his disappearing thread of sanity.

And she returned.  Her song, more powerful than ever before, pulled his shivering body from his nest of biding, singing promises to his softened mind, invisible caresses to his impatient skin and mouth.  Breaking past the crevice’s edge he stood upon a narrow protrusion which overlooked the now vicious waters, and gazing down, his starving heart hysterically racing, he saw her once again.

Her beauty was hard to endure, so perfect was its design.

She called to him and this time he understood.

“Come to me,” were the words of her song, “Come to me and need me.  Come to me and love me.  Come to me and sleep...”

He jumped into the frothing sea, its folding arms tearing him downward, his mistress entwined within his own.  Beneath the suffocating blanket of grey she became his, she fulfilled her promises, pleasing him as no other, fuelling his ardour unnaturally, viciously.  He took her with thirsting zeal... until she did the same.


Within the shelter of the green and white Bed and Breakfast of Lurking Mists, Ms. Slatterly sipped timidly from her porcelain cup of steaming tea.  Anathema had feasted again, sooner than they had all thought, or hoped.  Even thinking the sea-creature’s name sent shivers down the old woman’s spine.

She was well named, thought the tired spinster, ‘thing devoted to evil’ as the Greek’s had put it.  And so she was, and so she is.

Ms. Slatterly sighed as the image of the poor young traveller again forced itself into her mind, as it had been doing all day since seeing his remains early that morning.  His broken body had been shrivelled to the point of being unrecognizable; but of course, they had all known who it was... he had heard her call, her mate-cry, and he had answered it.

And then Anathema’s Spell-Song had taken him.

She had a terrible hunger, that witch of the deep, and it seemed she would live forever.  How long since she had cursed their Coasts?  Why, the very town had been named by her spread fingers, her cold and spying mists.

Ms. Slatterly thought of her great-grandfather who had once said it was the mating that gave the ancient sea-monster its longevity, that the act’s energy sustained its otherwise mythical existence.

But it was best that it feasted in that way, thought she, harmlessly luring him with pleasure, mating him, and then...

How any could be taken by the green scales and long, twisting, eye-dotted arms of the fish-like creature, though, she could not understand.

She had seen Anathema twice.  She wished to see her no more.

But it was better, for, unable to lure a mate, which in the end became a feast, the reverence of her victims being what filled her, Anathema took to wild fits of anger, throwing waves that ate land, sunk ships, and drowned what life their mists could reach.  Forced to suffer hunger the sea-creature was merciless.  Through her bouts of vengeful rage she cared not, then, of what she devoured, swallowing even the unsatisfying flesh of women and children, the weak and the old.

The poor boy’s skin had been taught grey leather, and his face, drawn tightly backward, had displayed the skeletal grimace of death.

But it was better that way... it was better.

By J.M. Lavallee


Do you miss too much Youth’s first touch?
The wildness of new fire,
Being left on a hot wire?
Is there a stain beneath your gold?

Our kisses are still sweet,
Are warm and still give heat.
Is that enough to sate your lust
When there’re children running around your feet?

Take my hand Man,
And fly with me to before.
Let’s remember why we promised forever
Take my hand,
And together we’ll fly to the end.

Do you often recall when the world was small?
When no road was too long?
When everyone but us was wrong?
Then we were trained by our gold.

Your eyes reflect my soul and it feels right.
You are my best friend,
Secrets only to you I lend,
With you I’ll never grow old.


What do I have to show for these calluses I bear?
The scars in my mind,
The ceaseless wear and tear?
Merely the years I fought to be wanted, and those I fought to be alone.
These knobs about my palms warn others, of how old and hard I’ve grown.

Thick and ugly my extra skin reminds me of who I’ve been,
Of all the wrongs I’ve gone and done, and all the shit that I’ve seen,
Like a nameless collar around my neck, it marks me as a stray,
But without its familiar cinch,
I don’t know what it is I’d be.

I hide within this map which reveals the time I’ve gone and wasted,
And look ahead in a clouded daze,
Fueled by protective hatred.
I’ll be alone when that last hour comes to crack the shell and release me,
It’s my last chance to forget this skin, and why it was it encased me.

What do I have to show, for these calluses I bear?
Feelings numbed, time lost,
God, get me out of here!
What do I have to show, for these calluses I bear?
Wasted years, useless tears, and damn no good despair.

Will ivory hands rest upon my head and lift the weight that anchors?
Will darkness be my eternal sight with a cold black hand that clenches?
I’m damn tired of fighting against, and for, blind of understanding.
Be it black or white wont someone please, snatch me from this hiding.


I rest my palm against this silent guitar,
And remember when her music rang for the stars.
The only time she was quiet was when I slept upon my back,
Or words sped through my head on a one-way track.

My back is not bent and my joints are not worn,
It’s merely my pride that has been mangled and torn.
This cloud in my mind holds me needing and weak,
And hoping each day for a positive leap,
Toward a spell of remission,
So I forget my condition,
I’d make my own decisions,
And once again strum my love… and make her sing.

Now her strings are tuneless, her body’s covered with dust,
And though sitting she haunts my musician’s lust.
The words come ever freely though now I’m forced to dictate,
And stare at my heart as they say I must wait.

My lyrics are flat when merely ink upon paper,
I want to feel them move, to drift and caper.
But when sung by another they don’t feel the same,
And unable to bring them life I battle with my rage.

I often scream cause not even God knows,
What it is my future holds,
I’m afraid my body will forever be a cage,
That shouldn't have barred me until I aged.

My back is not bent and my joints are not worn,
It’s merely my pride that has been mangled and torn.
This cloud in my mind holds me needing and weak,
And hoping each day for a positive leap,
Toward a spell of remission,
So I forget my condition,
I’d make my own decisions,
And once again strum my love… and make her sing.

Sitting on star
Dreaming of your face
And your heart
I'm waiting on a star
And I'm smiling, because you are the wish
That came true, you’re my wish upon a star

The world caved in, My feet could not feel the floor
So brand new, how could there be this much more?
When I met you, what could I do but love you?

Your hands they change
They're no longer tiny in mine
I want to hold fast, but I have to let you grow
How much fear do I own, how much love
how much pride? When it comes to you

The world caved in, My feet could not feel the floor
So brand new, how could there be this much more?
When I met you, what could I do but love you?


I wonder what it is my shadows see,
When they’re looking up to and making mountains of me?
Lines and shelter, authority,
They don’t see the man I used to be.
Wild and remiss, and free to roam,
Always with a crowd yet forever alone,
Many strange faces, including my own,
My reflection and I sat upon a throne.

Looking back, there is some shame,
If I could turn around would I do the same?
You choose your own cards when you deal in the game...
When you chance to be risky and feed the flame,
When you carry the courage to not be the same,
That’s living the game of life.

I raced with fast women.  I raced with fast toys.
Wherever I went I made lots of noise.
I lived half dead to lead the pace of the boys,
Even good girls gave into my ploys.
Many times now I turn my head to forget,
How far away I was from knowing what’s best,
My head was a brick and fate was for the rest,
All I thought real was a misguided mess.

I carry a novel upon my face,
Whose lines tell of times my memory erased,
Light from my shadows assure it wasn’t a waste,
Gone if I hadn’t taken the time to taste?
I’m no longer alone when I play King of the night,
And despite my skin’s poetry I’m still able to fight,
With a wiser head for knowing what’s right,
I realize now my hand, in the game of life.


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