When I learned to do it too, my wish was to do it with you, not to do it better than you.
When I learned to do it too, my wish was to do it with you, not to do it better than you.
Who knows when people stop believing in monsters? It’s something every child looks for. In the closet, under the bed, every child has, at least once in his or her life, checked these places for monsters. It’s a strange fear almost everyone has shared at some stage in their lives. Almost everyone shares the fear of monsters. And almost everyone thinks of them the wrong way. What comes to your mind when you think of a monster? Do you think of something large, covered in fur, bearing long claws and sharp teeth? I’ll admit, that image would more than enough to put anyone to fear. But monsters aren’t always so fearsome. What makes monsters truly terrifying isn’t the fact that they look evil, it’s the fact that they can be beautiful.
I was nothing but a kid when I first stepped onboard a ship. No older than 16, I dreamed of making my fortune at sea. When I first took to sea I still lived under the belief that I could see what a monster looked like. I believed that monsters were nothing more than the creatures who lived in stories. I never expected that the creatures I came across in Cobh to be so beautiful. But let me first tell you how I met them. We’d been out fishing later than usual that night ten years ago. It was a good catch, the best we’d had in months. The weather, however, wasn’t so kind. It just so happened that me and my two brothers sailed into the worst storm the southern coast had suffered in the past twenty years. And in that storm, we were thrown horribly off course. For about three days we tried to find our way back to the mainland, praying that by some miracles we wouldn’t end up shipwrecked. But the fate that almost became of us on the morning of 28th August 2008 was far worse than being shipwrecked. The morning brought a thick mist, one that prevented you from seeing more than a few feet in front of you. And through that mist, we came across the small island, not more than a mile from Cobh. At first, we saw not a soul as we approached. It was only as we sailed closer that we heard it. Cutting through the mist, was the sound of song. Not a single person was in site, but there was no denying the sound of sweet song that reached our restless ears. I don’t truly know how to describe it, but the sound was warm and inviting. Inviting us closer. And closer we sailed, eager to find the source of that welcoming tune. And, within minutes we saw them.
The monsters we saw were nothing like I’d imagined. They didn’t have horrible claws or terrible teeth that promised certain doom. They simply had smiling faces and sweet voices of song that promised joy and safety. The closer we came the sweeter the sound, the tune like honey. The creatures were beautiful, standing like angels, all happiness and loveliness. Could something so beautiful be so monstrous? I counted at least ten of the singing angels, enticing us in with their song. It was a tune you couldn’t help but give in to. And, eagerly wanting to hear their song, we stopped our ship. My youngest brother was the first to climb out of the ships, the song of the sirens filling his ears. He was so taken in by the song that he didn’t even see their demeanor change. At first, neither did I or my older brother. Just like the youngest, we’d also climbed overboard and ran towards the celestial singers. The sound of the sirens turned us mad for more. We didn’t question their nature, the song was so enticing, it erased all scepticism from my mind. I would soon pay for my mistake. In an instance I saw the creatures change; beautiful angels one moment, cruel sirens the next. My younger brother, who was much closer to them than I, had no chance to realise what was happening before the sirens had pounced on him, seizing him in cruel arms. My older brother, who had always been a faster runner than me, had a front row seat of the spectacle, and barely had time to give me a shout of warning before he soon met a similar fate, the cruel monsters taking him as their feast. In that instant I questioned my own sanity, wondering how such a song could entice me to such a violent end. I turned and ran the moment the spell of the siren song was broken, living to tell the tale.
But, in the end, I will never forget what I saw that day. I will never forget how quickly something so friendly turned into something so cruel. In a mere second, the sirens who enticed us to their island with their honeyed words, turned to vicious animals who turned my brothers into their feast. Even now, ten years later, I still remember the moment they seized my brothers in their merciless, strong arms. I still remember the violent end they met. It was something no man or woman should see. For years I’d told myself that there was no such thing as monsters. I tricked myself into believing that sirens, those terrible, alluring creatures who tempt sailors to their end with beautiful voices, were nothing more than monsters from fairy tales. But to this day, I can still hear the sweet song of the sirens playing in my head. So, I ask you, do you believe in monsters? Who knew that something so evil could, at first, seem so beautiful?
I played myself a lullaby
As the daytime turned into the night.
The light left like velvet
Slipping sulkily into the dusk
Into the vibrant city silence.
Stealing away, into the darkness it went,
Gathering its trailing glowing ribbons
Into and around its shrinking self
Like a tattered cloak
Wrapping itself up in the last few steaks of sunset coloured clouds
To be unwrapped again
The next fresh dawn,
As always, the following morn.
And I, happily alone but for these walls,
A sweet and sultry solitude,
The dusk, my undemanding companion,
As the night flowed in to replace the day.
If only life
Were like the the straight of a ruler
Unwinding, unbending, linear.
Where things happen in order
And events made sense
Almost straight away.
As the crow flies,
Only going to its destination.
I have argued about this,
Night after night as lay awake.
It would be nice
If I could make sense of life
But yet, something troubled me.
If life were as straight
As the crow flies,
I cannot debate with myself as I do now.
I cannot philosophize
Only live life as a ghost going through purgatory.
So maybe it’s a good thing
That I experience life as it is,
And not experience it
As the crow flies.
This poem is a short and simple feminist poem about female empowerment. It is written in a child-friendly way and addressed towards little girls in the hopes that they will grow up with the belief that they can be powerful and succeed. The “dragons” mentioned are a metaphor for anything that may prevent a girl from reaching her true potential, be it societal standards, sexism or insecurities; and the poem is about encouraging girls to break free from and defy these things so that they may become who they wish to be, and not who the “dragons” wish for them to be. The poem also notes that girls must support one another in order to do this.
When the dragons come for you –
Run wild and don’t stop running.
Set your Rapunzel hair free and trip them up.
Scream at the top of your lungs
To the edge of the kingdom
Until all the other princesses
Trapped in all the other towers,
Can hear you
(and join you as your sisters).
When they spit fireballs at you –
Dodge them all with your glass slipper
Become The Beast
They don’t want you to become.
When they attempt to take chunks out of your
Skin with their claws
Let the roses in your hair become thorns
Let those dragons be sorry
That they ever stepped on your castle territory in the first place.
It was uncanny, the resemblance between the twins. From the moment of their birth, they were declared to be identical. In the years that would follow, they would only prove to be carbon copies of one another. The first twin, Olivia, had fiery red hair that stopped at the shoulders, and deep blue eyes that shimmered in light. Being an identical twin, her sister Niamh was exactly the same. The same red hair and same shimmering blue eyes. They were also the same height, not a centimetre in difference. They looked so similar that even their parents could hardly tell them apart. It was truly a remarkable similarity between the twins. Growing up in Derry at the height of the Troubles, their lives had not come easy, but they were inseparable all the same. Where you’d find one sister, her twin would surely be nearby. That was something that continued well into their teenage years. They did everything together. They went to the same school, took the same subjects, read the same books and had the same interests. There was no denying that they were practically the same person. For years their bond seemed unbreakable. But it’s a sadly believed fact that nothing lasts forever. It was in October 1972, both twins at the age of 16, when it all started to go wrong. You see, although the sisters had always been together, there had always been an underlying conflict in their relationship. Olivia was spectacularly intelligent and got outstanding results in every test or exam she ever took part in. She was multitalented and was full of potential. Niamh too was bright and full of talent, but it was Olivia who was always treated as the Golden Girl of the family. Niamh loved her sister but there were times she felt overwhelmingly jealous of how much better her sibling was treated. And it was jealousy that caused her to turn the way she did.
At first, her behaviour only changed slightly. She’d suddenly stopped walking home from school with her sister, which was something they’d done every day for years. She’d started coming home a lot later with no explanation for where she was. Then there was the trouble she was getting into in school. Teachers reported her acting out in class or picking on other students. Despite the amount of times her parents asked her about it, Niamh always failed to explain why her behaviour was changing. What was worse was the new groups of people she started hanging around with. She no longer spoke to her best friends from years ago, and she’d do her best to ignore them whenever they tried to speak to her. Instead, she started hanging around with the more aggressive people in the school, people who also caused trouble in school. Before long, people reported seeing her ditching class with her new friends, spending her time drinking and smoking instead of staying in school. Instead of going to mass on Sundays with her family, she’d be out smoking with her friends. Her family and friends began to see less and less of her, unable to explain why she had changed so much. Not even Olivia, who knew her more than anyone, could get any explanations from her. Her sister, her beloved twin, was a completely different person, a stranger to her.
By December, Niamh O’Kelly was known as a troublemaker. Her more aggressive behaviour was no longer confined to school. Multiple times she was seen doing damage to property or stealing from shops. It was very dangerous activities she was doing, and still, no one could explain what was happening to her. She had once been a very polite, sweet and well-spoken girl, just like her sister, but now she was someone people longed to avoid. Before long, she was in debt. Her bad habits starting to catch up, she started owing money to her new “friends”. Before long, even they abandoned her, not wanting to speak with her until she paid them large amounts of money. After that, she did once again speak to Olivia, her twin. She confessed to her sister why she’d changed so much, she confessed her jealousy of her sibling, that she was simply tired of being treated as the second of the two sisters. Olivia did her best to support her sister, helped her give up the drink and drugs that had led her into addiction. She went as far as giving her money to repay some of her debts. But not even the love of her sister could prevent what was going to happen.
Without all of her debts repaid, the wrong crowd of people Niamh had been hanging around with soon grew restless. Tired of waiting, they decided they wanted to do something about Niamh. And at the height of the Troubles, where anyone could get some sort of weapon if they knew the right people, one of the particularly violent boys of Derry managed to get his hands on a gun. It was early in the morning in late December when it happened. On her way to school, a girl who looked exactly like Niamh walked down the road. She had exactly the same fiery red hair and identical deep blue eyes that shimmered in light. It was this same person who was approached by the boy. The boy, who had heard that Niamh had a twin, but had never seen them standing beside each other, had no idea how similar they looked. He had no idea that two people could look so similar. And not once did he consider that the person he was following was the wrong twin.
When the ambulance came, it was too late to save her. The shot had hit her right through the heart, she died instantly. Through eye witness accounts and police deduction, the truth of the story reached the girl’s family. Olivia O’Kelly had been walking to school that morning when a violent aggressive young boy mistook her for her sister, who had owed him money, and took her life. It was a sad case of mistaken identity. Identical twins were very rare, after all. But there was one fact that only Olivia could know; that she died thinking of her sister.
Have you ever gotten that you’re unsafe in your own home? And no, before you say it, I’m not talking about that clichéd feeling of being watched. What I’m talking about is the cold feeling inside your heart that you’re unsafe, that someone or something means to do you harm. That’s the feeling that’s been dwelling in my heart for quite some time. Here’s how it started.
My name is Aaron. About two weeks ago, I moved into an apartment on my college campus. It was irregular that I’d have gotten accommodation this late into the year, usually the student apartments would’ve been long since taken by now. And they were. But just about two weeks ago, I got the call that the campus suddenly had an opening for me and asked would I be willing to move in immediately. Not thinking anything of it, I accepted, thinking myself lucky that I should suddenly have my accommodation sorted for the academic year. And, just like that, I moved into the apartment. It was small, nothing more than a bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen area. Before she handed me the key, the landlady gave me a worried look and told me “Be careful of the mirror, dear. It doesn’t like people staring for too long.” That statement immediately made me confused, but the moment I questioned her about it, she immediately thrust the key into my hand and quickly ran down the hall, ending the conversation.
It started off simple. I’d hear knocking at the window, a light tapping on the glass in the middle of the night. You’d probably pass that off as one of the other students playing a prank on me at night but given that my apartment is on the third floor of the building, I find that unlikely. I did my best to rationalise it, saying that it was probably the wind blowing a leaf against the glass every so often. But even at that, I got the feeling that it wasn’t the answer. Like how sometimes, you tell yourself something to explain a strange situation, forcing yourself to believe it, even though you know it isn’t true. For about three nights in a room, that same tapping on the window happened, and each time I looked, nothing was there. Not even a leaf. But that’s only where this story begins.
I started noticing things about the mirror last week. When I first noticed it, it was subtle things, like a shadow standing in the corner of the room while I was brushing my teeth, only for me to look and see no one there, or seeing a someone through the reflection, standing in the doorway, again only to find myself alone in the bathroom. But, in the past few days, it’s been getting worse. One night, I could’ve sworn I heard whispering. The words being spoken were nowhere near audible, but I was certain that, on the other side of that glass, there was someone whispering. And whoever it was, they didn’t sound happy. After that, I started asking around, trying to find out why there was suddenly an opening in the building a few weeks after the first semester had started. I’d originally thought whoever the student was had dropped out, but the answer I got was much more sinister. One of my neighbours, a pale-looking girl with long jet-black hair, explained to me in a nervous, shaky voice that the boy who last lived in my apartment disappeared. She’d only talked to him a few times, but she’d noticed how distraught he’d looked as the days went on, like he was becoming scared. He’d told her that something was living in his mirror, that his reflection wanted to hurt him. She’d called him crazy as she didn’t believe in ghost stories and had a naturally sceptical personality. But, all of a sudden, the boy disappeared without a trace. The police searched his apartment and found nothing. No signs of forced entry, or any indication of him leaving town. All his clothes and books were left behind, undisturbed. It was quite literally as if he’d disappeared into thin air. All that they found was a toothbrush, left on the bathroom sink, with fresh toothpaste on it. So, wherever he went, it was as if the bathroom was the last place he was. When the girl, who introduced herself as Paige, told me the story, I could feel myself turning cold. Thinking that’s the real reason why I got that apartment, I didn’t feel right being there. However, thinking of the story, I took it upon myself to find out what had happened to the boy who disappeared. I practically marched into my bathroom and scanned the place, desperately looking for clues. Pausing for a moment, I stared at my reflection in the mirror. For about five minutes I simply started at the mirror. And that’s when I saw it. My reflection. Was I hallucinating or was my reflection smiling at me? I rubbed my eyes and looked again. No doubt about it. My reflection was bearing a grin. A grin that I wasn’t wearing on my own face. In fact, my own face bore a reflection of horror. The reflection, the other me, was looking back at me with the most sinister looking smile on its face. Regardless of what has happening in reality, the reflection was smiling a sinister smile. The moment I saw it, my heart started hammering. No matter what I did, my reflection didn’t copy. When I raised my hands, wiggled my fingers, or even made a funny face, the reflection simply stared at me, maintaining that same horrible smile. Immediately I moved, trying to get as far away from the room, away from the mirror, as I could. But all I could think about was how, as I left, the reflection’s head turned to watch me left, still wearing that horrible smile.
Whenever I passed the mirror, I noticed the reflection. No matter what I did, no matter what I was doing, the reflection didn’t mimic me. It simply stood there, watching what I was doing with that sickly grin. Whenever I tried looking at it through a camera lens, the picture would simply show the reflection acting as it should, holding a camera. But, outside the camera, the reflection simply watched me with a smile. It was driving me crazy. Before long, I couldn’t bear looking at my reflection in any form of surface, not just mirrors. I lived in fear of that horrible reflection, acting of its own accord, living by its own free will. I tried telling people about it, but they called me crazy. And, to tell you the truth, I think I might be. Think about it; who would believe that a one’s reflection was acting of its own accord, trying to haunt the mirror or those who looked at it? I know it’s crazy, but deep down, I’m beginning to think I know what happened to the boy who went missing. And I know that the reflection is behind it.
There’s why I’m telling you this tonight. I’m looking at the clock. It read 12:00am, but it isn’t ticking anymore. The moment it struck midnight, the clock froze, refusing to change its figures. That’s when the tapping started again. I’m no longer checking the window, I know by now that nothing’s there. As I said, there’s a reason I’m telling you this story. It’s because I just heard a crash, the smashing of glass. You see, the tapping was never coming from the window. It was coming from the mirror. And I think I hear something, standing outside my door.
By Paul Swaine
Old clogged boots, one man left standing near,
Two ragged tools, sordid laced, backward fire.
No treasure made, hidden maw worships fear,
I begin to drag, marrowed-claw in mire.
1-45, Cesarean and dire,
Knew you once, fooled me twice, stark reminder.
Severed veins tied, a husk of one’s gyre,
Churned Orange, Rotten Pink, lay beside her.
Tired eyes, broken face, engrailed decider.
With Summer’s dew, an open wound, charming romance;
In scent, whittled prowess, fragile farrier.
If I knew sooner, to prove one more chance.
The crescent open hole asks for its feeding.
Not one, not two, the husk left me reeling.
1-48, I took my leaving.
We are really excited to announce our blog post. We have been discussing it for a while now, and we really wanted to create a space where we can publish all of our members’ work. As a creative writing society our goal is to help you to explore your creative abilities and hopefully inspire you to write more.
Writing is something that anyone can do, and we welcome all levels of writers to our society; whether you’ve already published your first novel to having never written a creative piece in your entire life. And everyone can always improve in some way, no one is perfect here! And all it takes is just a little bit of practice. We have created this blog not only to publish your work but also so that we can all read and share one another’s work. By posting your writing here, everyone can read it, compliment it (because we all need a boost sometimes), critique it (because it’s the only way we can get better) and just share ideas. Yes, when we write we usually do it alone, but writers cannot be alone if they want to improve their writing. We need to be surrounded by other creative people, so that was can bounce ideas off one another and ask others’ opinions on our own ideas. So, we also encourage everyone to respond to each other’s work; what you liked, what you think could be improved, something that was said that you hadn’t thought of before… Share, share, share.
Every week at our events we get a good few people reading out their work, and we would love for those works to be posted here. Sharing our work can be daunting – I know I always get nervous of someone else reading my stories and if I ever had to read them out in public… Lord help me! But it is also liberating, and we don’t want anyone in our society to be afraid of sharing their talents. So, if you have read something out at an event previously, or do so in the future, please please send it to us so that we can share it on here. If you wish to remain anonymous we will not publish your name along with your piece, but of course if you want your name attached that’s perfect too! There is no wrong way to do this; all we want to do is appreciate your talents and create a space where our members can share work and gain inspiration.
And of course, we welcome ALL styles and forms of writing.
Happy Writing Everyone!