“Kumo to Chō”

Story written by Franklin Rayeski — Please do not use without crediting me

          There once was a spider named Shizuka, who spent her days weaving webs between dead trees, separating herself far from any other living thing. She lived her lonesome years silently, trudging through her life with no other intent than to live. Her body bore a deep gray hue that reflected the world in which she saw. This was her way of life, vegetative and still, until one fateful evening, when she fell in love with a butterfly named Yasushi. He fluttered into her gaze with his cherry blossom wings that kissed the lapis sky. The world breathed new colors that she had never seen before; her purpose was reborn by this single, magnificent creature. He is beautiful, she thought and stared from the shadows, He is so beautiful.
          But other insects flew beside her newfound love, wrecking Shizuka’s view of her jewel. Disgusting pests swarmed her beloved and a deep rage befell the spider. When Yasushi was out of sight, Shizuka would lure the other insects into her web. As they approached, she wrapped her sharp silk around their quivering bodies and wrung them out of existence. She climbed about their crushed corpses and devoured the remains; she washed away the red and polished her web into a clean, shimmering silver.
          After all was done and no other insect was in sight, Yasushi was drawn to her gleaming nest. He landed on her inviting trap and Shizuka gently tied her web around him. By the time he knew what she was doing, it was far too late; he was eternally bound to the spider and the spider’s web. Shizuka smiled at her permanent guest and treated him with all the adoration her dead heart could offer. She caressed her love with her long black fingers; she pet her darling Yasushi with the utmost tenderly care. He is beautiful. She thought, stroking his vibrant pure wings. And, he is mine.

“The Fruit of Our Labor”

Story written by Franklin Rayeski — Please do not use without crediting me

          I entered Joann’s apartment and placed my bags on the front coffee table. All the lights were off, so I checked her bedroom; she was sound asleep. I wanted to cook her some breakfast, but when I opened the fridge, it was practically empty. Instead of waking the woman up and asking her to call her grocer, I decided to go out to the store myself, pick up her favorite things and surprise her when I got back. I grabbed my bags and left the nursing home.
          I walked to the grocery store that was just a few blocks away, making a mental list of all the things I was going to get Joann. I had been seeing her for almost a year now, so I had a pretty good idea of what she did and didn’t like. I knew she couldn’t eat anything with a hard texture, she hated citrus but she loved any kind of fruit or berry. She could eat all the fruit jams, pies and cakes in the world.
          After grabbing milk, honey, tea and other breakfast essentials, I scoured the store for fruit goodies. I ended up buying some strawberry scones, grape gelatin and a bundle of blueberries. The only thing I could imagine as I was checking out was the bright smile she’d wear when I return.
          “I’m sorry I was late today,” I said gently as I carefully opened her door, “your fridge was empty, so I went to get groceries.” I half expected the little old lady to come to my side and help me with my bags, but when I turned around, she wasn’t anywhere in sight. The light in her room was on, so I quickly started to prepare breakfast. I put the scones in the oven to soften them and set a kettle on the stove to boil.
          I knocked on her bedroom door and then slowly opened it when she didn’t answer. The first thing I heard as I opened the door was her sobbing. I looked up and saw the bed was undone with the sheets spilling onto the floor. The bathroom door was ajar with the lights shining through the door frame.
          “Joann?” I asked aloud as I crept closer, her sobbing getting louder and louder. I opened the door and saw Joann, the poor woman, in her pink nightdress, sitting on the toilet, lifting a fist full of pills to her lips.
          “Joann!” I grabbed her frail wrist in a quick panic; the pills scattered and lightly clanged against the floor tiles. “How many did you take!?” Her eyes were staring off into space; she shook her head frantically. “None?” I asked. She nodded with tears streaming down her cheeks. I held her little head to my chest as I let out a sigh of relief. She wrapped her arms around me and continued to cry.
          “I’m sorry,” she croaked into the fabric of my shirt, “I just…after Howard died, the kids stopped seeing me and then Nancy left and I thought you weren’t going to come back.” I kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back.
          “I’m here,” I whispered as I picked her up and helped her walk to the kitchen, “I’m here, Joann. No need to worry. Everything is okay.” When she saw the groceries, her lips folded into the bright smile I was so glad to see. I grabbed a napkin and wiped her tears away. I poured her a warm cup of tea and pulled out scones from the oven.
          They ended up being a little burnt, but they still tasted good to me.

“Gilded Dreams”

Story written by Franklin Rayeski – Please do not use without crediting me

          I made my rounds about the suburban streets of Rosewood Lane when I, in passing, witnessed a strange sight. The house that sat on the corner of Rosewood and Hollow Drive, the beautiful Victorian manor, was having its insides piled into a single moving van. I sat in my car, vexed, staring at the gorgeously decorated home, one that I had envied every since I moved down the block. I had always been in love with its detailed friezes and rose-colored panes.
          My eyes fixed upon Jane Iris as she jovially exited her property for the last time and locked the doors behind her. When I first stopped, I was convinced that she was getting repossessed, and felt an immense amount of pity for her, but, seeing as how gleeful she was to leave, that pity turned into resentment. I was utterly disgusted with her behavior; how could anyone give up such an amazing possession such as that house?
          I later learned, from my circle of friends, the truth about Ms. Iris’ decision. She had sold her beloved home in order to pay for a gilded Steinway and that she had moved to a shabby trailer at the edge of town to house it. I happened to drive around the new property with my own astonished eyes. This must be some sort of joke, I thought, no one in their right mind would give away a masterpiece for this subpar residence. Yet, there she was, as content as can be, having her grand piano hauled into her new home. It was all infuriating and stressful seeing her and her predicament; I wanted to walk up to her and tell her how she should be feeling, but I stayed put.
          I continually drove around that trailer on Hope Avenue with utter confusion and bitterness. Slowly, as time passed, crowds started to form around the house in awe. I had heard that she, when she wasn’t working or sleeping, would perform original compositions day and night.  I even found myself joining one gathering, to be a true role model to the children present. I was utterly disappointed that she would even consider passing her influence onto them. I spent my time flustered and ready to complain to anyone who would listen.
          But then, she started to play. It was soft at first, but crescendoed into a beautifully written ballad; my anger vanished. The notes spoke with a serene sense of passion that no normal pianist could perform. I slowly started to understand; this was what she wanted. She sat in her new home, filled with something she loved, playing for her herself and no one else. We were only lucky to be able to hear her aspiration flourish. She gave up something nice, her home, for something beautiful: her passion, her love, her dream.
          She stole my breath away and I frantically returned to my own house brimming with inspiration. I peered into the well of my forgotten dreams and fished for something to live for.