Short Stories

The Loss (Short Story)

She sat at the end of the bed with her feet propped up on the memory chest, a position she took up every morning when she would talk with James as he got ready for work. James…it was turning out to be a long wait for her husband to come home from the event. It had been nearly four hours now. A part of her nagged that she should have went with him, but it was too hard. There was too much pain and heartache, so she opted to stay at home, perched in her favorite spot. He should be home any minute, she thought to herself as she ran her hands over the deep red comforter.

She remembered when they first bought it. There were no opinions spared as James told her, “it gave fugly a bad name.” Yet, her chuckle died down as she became restless, never being one to sit idle. Walking around the room, she continued to relive old memories, content to live in a past world over the cruel present. Her hand drifted out, touching all the trinkets on her vanity, stopping on the ornate wooden jewelry box. It was Christmas morning when she received it, nearly twenty years ago. James had woken at exactly 12:01 am to wish her a merry Christmas and give her this gift. She begrudgingly opened it, claiming coffee would have made the best gift. She was wrong. A beautiful diamond ring sat in the center. A ring she rarely had taken off since.

Her eyes turned from the jewelry box to the picture on the wall, the light having caught it just so. It was a picture of the first vacation they had taken as a married couple. They sat at a small table in a local restaurant in Italy overlooking the ocean. A local woman took it for them. The woman laughed when they had posed a strand of spaghetti being shared by the two of them, just like in the movie. Right after the picture was taken, she went to get the camera and the spaghetti strand snapped. It swung in a glorious arch, right onto James’ face. She wished they could go back.

A door shut and steps followed. James was home. It was time.

She walked over the bed again and sat slowly, waiting for him to reach the top of the stairs. James came through the door to the bedroom looking absolutely exhausted. The bags under his eyes were dark, his hair frayed, his clothes wrinkled. He was hopeless, sometimes, but she was always there to guide him. He slumped to the bed, his head falling right into his hands.

“James, I’m so sorry.” She gently moved across the bed to him, trying to hold back the emotions that threatened to break free. “I know it hurts now, but I promise, it will get better.”

James shifted away, and paced, until the light caught just right on the picture from Italy. “You looked so beautiful that night, like an angel. I looked at you and all I could do was thank God for letting me find you.” A tear fell from his face onto the frame. Then a second. A third.

“Oh, James. I’m so sorry I hurt you. If I could…fix it…I would.” She wrapped her arms around him as she whispered against his back. “I love you. I always have. Please, don’t ever forget that.”

James stroked the picture, right over her cheek and his control broke. Tears fled his eyes as he clutched the picture to his chest. His sobs wracked his whole body. “God, Anna. I miss you so much.”

Anna could only cry in silence as she laid her ghostly head against his shoulder.

Short Stories

The Fool (Tarot Inspired Short Story)

It always seems as if everyone follows the same path. Large, even stones lay before them in a uniform line and they follow willingly. Each one the perfect size, the perfect fit, the perfect life. Each step they take they are content in the peace those gray stones bring. Graduate High School, go to college, graduate college, fall in love, get married, have children…on and on and on each one like the last. Only the names, faces, and places change. But what if someone wasn’t looking for peace. What if they wanted something more unique, more colorful? Was there a path of stones for them?

If someone were to step off that cobbled path and sink their feet into the warm earth, what would await them? Would the grass tickle their toes, the earth greet them with a welcoming embrace? Or would the world rebel and the trees turn brittle, the ground cold, and a never-ending winter hold fast? Would it be worth it? Was that risk worth the freedom the unknown granted them?

These questions tormented me with each clap of sound my foot made when it hit cobblestone. I feared what would be waiting for me if I just took a side step. What would others think? Would they even notice, or would the monotony drown out everything else?

It came down to one question, something I heard an old man ask his son. His weathered feet stood just on the edge of the path as he walked parallel to it, his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “Is it worth it, to you, to live this life never knowing if you could live another way?”

He must have thought so, as the young man spoke no words, only continued down the pre-laid path in silence. The old man did not seem angry, or even disappointed, just gave a sigh and turned away. His frame slowly disappeared into the distance, as I contemplated his question.

“Was it worth it?”

I am proud to say I stepped off that path. I realized it wasn’t for me and there was another journey I was ready to take. This new path wasn’t always clear like those stones, but it was my own and it brought to me a new beauty, a new understanding of what it meant to live, to be alive. At times, I tripped over a stray root, slid down a hill, or was pelted with freezing rain and hail. In those times, I felt as if I couldn’t go on, even dared to regret my rebellion. It was hard to face it alone, but in my perseverance, I found a new strength.

I faced those rainstorms and was greeted with the rainbow at the end. Those others, who walked the ‘normal’ path, they didn’t see it. So lost were they in the next step, their eyes turned down to match each next step, they didn’t see what other beauty the world had to offer. They didn’t take a moment to look up to the sky and allow the beautiful colors to embrace them, as I had.

I felt sorry for them, pitied them at times. They were missing so much for the sake of being like everyone else. With looks of wonder they viewed new things but never had the thought to step away even if for a moment. But not all can have the courage to do that.

There is nothing wrong with following the set path, but it isn’t for everyone. That is what my experience taught me. But what I lost in knowing my next step, I gained in so much greater purpose. In the dark forest with the predators closing in, their critical eyes watching, it can be hard to keep your mind calm. It is times like that when you find that little piece inside of you that gives you strength.

I discovered that immeasurable joy when you find another like you, enjoying the summer sun, drinking from the stream, content to just be there in the moment. I welcomed those strangers and greeted them as old friends. For those who take a leap of faith and dare to be different, to be who they were meant to be, they were not fools to me, but family.


*Note from Shanna:

Hello, everyone! I hope you have enjoyed this little short story. It is the first of many I am working on inspired by the imagery and meaning behind the Tarot deck. Writing these pieces has been so much fun and fulfilling, I wanted to share one of them with you. This one is the first I wrote, and the first card in the Major Arcana.  Thank you for your support, for reading, and I hope you enjoy what is to come!


Short Stories

Survival (Dark Fiction Short Story)

The booming sound with each strike of light causes me to flinch as my mind travels to a place of terror. Too long has that sound haunted my nightmares, too long has the coming storm followed my every step. It was time to take back my freedom so I could survive for just another day.

I could only watch the sky brighten as the bolt of fire and light streaked across the sky. It wasn’t the lightning that bothered me, nor the coming storm. Those things didn’t matter anymore. Instead my mind focused on the sounds around me. That thundering upon the wind, the way it started so softly in the distance, but then became unbearable as the rumbling came closer. And closer. So close it makes my heart shake and pound with each beat.

I despised that sound, almost as much as I despised the creatures who made me fear it. It’s too similar to those who hunt me and the horses of hell they ride on. It almost made what I was about to do easier, knowing that soon those monsters would ride no more… almost.

The first time I did this it was on accident. I fought off the reaction, tried to retain my humanity, but the monster got the better of me. My body shook, my hands twitched. I felt unnatural, disgusting, as my body separated from my mind and acted on pure instinct. My body sought out its victim without any remorse. It beat down, ripped open, and devoured the first meal it stumbled across.

Only when the deed was done, as one life sustained another, that my mind came crashing back. I remember trying to wretch, sobbing over the life that I took. But it was too late. I had become the monster that stalked this destroyed earth. I had become the creature I prayed that I would never become.

But then a feeling overtook me. I had always wondered what became of those that were turned. Did they remember their old lives? Did they ever feel pain? Why did they come after those who still had their humanity? I understood in that moment. It wasn’t that they had lost their humanity, it was that they had found a second life and simply wanted a chance to live it.

Life rushed back into me. The meal I had consumed caused an almost euphoric feeling to overtake me, a strength I hadn’t known rose in my body. It was so sudden, so unexpected that I never thought to open my eyes to see the world in color again, to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I wasn’t a monster, as I had thought when that one bite changed my life. I was just a girl. And I wanted to survive.

The others of…my kind…never took notice of me after my change. They left me be as I fought against my mind. As much as I wanted to live, I had to ask myself if it was worth it if it meant I would claim another’s life. In the dark nights I would wander alone, debating the best course. If I continued out here, eventually the hunger would take me again.

Could I let that happen? Could I let my hunger take such a hold that I lose my humanity and feed on any innocent I come across? Could I live with those lives on my hands?

But…Was it so monstrous to want to live? All animals, all creatures, need to feed. I was no different. The only thing that changed was my food. Was I really a monster if I did it only because I wanted to survive? Needed to survive?

Those questions rummaged around in my head for three days. Three days until the hunger began to nag at me. Three days before the thunder began to follow my every step.

When the rumbling came up the road, I didn’t think what could come along with it. I had wrongly assumed that if I stayed still and kept to myself, they would pass. But those who carry vengeance with them do not leave those who killed their friend.

The First. My first…meal. He wasn’t alone in this world, as I had tried to tell myself after that day. He had friends, a family of sorts. All of his brothers wore the same crest, rode upon the same thundering machines. And when he fell, his brothers became enraged. They would stop at nothing to hunt and kill the creature who took their brother from them.


When they came for me that night, it wasn’t the hunger that caused me to act. It was the want to survive. I didn’t want…I wouldn’t die like this. The man came at me, a sharp hatchet in his hand. He swung, but in the darkness, he couldn’t see, and I overtook him easily.

I heard their cries and screams of anguish as I fled, when they had found the Second, their brother’s body. As I ran into the wilderness I heard them following behind me. The storm of hunters had mounted their machines and were ready to hunt the monster.

I can’t recall when I decided to fight back, to take action instead of reaction. Perhaps it was between Two and Three as they quickly caught up to me in the woods, or maybe Three and Four when I hid in a hollowed-out tree and took them unaware. I decided I would fight for my survival when they attacked, and in that instance, had a way to survive. But the anxiety of the hunt was too much. Every sound I heard made me shake as I wondered if that night would be the night I would fail to survive. That was no way to live, so I made a final decision.

The hunters became the hunted.

The Angels of Vengeance, that was what they called themselves. That’s what was emblazoned on each of their backs. It was a little detail I noticed on Five, or maybe Six. It didn’t matter anymore. If I wanted to survive, they had to die. This hunt had to end.

One by one they fell. I would find them as they followed my trail, or maybe fixing their ride, or loading their weapons. Each one taken by surprise by a creature they didn’t expect to haunt them in return. Survival was my goal, the only reason I was doing this. I just wanted…to live.

Seven, Eight, and Nine fell by my hand over the course of an hour. It was easy when I just let the monster within me play. Only with the final one left, Ten, was I able to find a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I would soon be free to live. Soon, I wouldn’t have to fear the sounds of thunder and engines. I wouldn’t have to fear those distant lights and sounds.

Ten knows I am coming for him, of that I have no doubt. Why else would he have circled back to this place? This was the place where One had fallen.

I paused at that thought. One…that man. Surely, he had a name, but I never knew it. A small part of my mind chastised me for calling them by numbers. But how else would I know of them? They were hunters, killers. And me? I was just a survivor.

As night fell, I watched as Ten walked past the window of the run-down bar. He knew tonight would be his last night.

This last one would be the end of it. No more would the roaring sounds of the bike engines haunt my mind. No more would the smell of exhaust or smoke make me tremble in fear. I would be free. I would be free to just survive.

Just one more.

Only one.