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She looked down at the offering, held by such tiny hands. It had been decades, decades, she realized since she had seen the hands of a child. And now one stood before her, displaying crooked teeth that had only partially grown in.

She knelt down to the boy’s eye level. She returned the toothy grin with one of her own. Where this boy had an absence of wrinkles, she had an abundance. She doubted that her laugh lines had gotten this much exercise in recent years.

A Lovely Fire

“When you walk through the forest,” he whispered, eyes glinting, “Can you hear them? Can you hear the trees?”

I looked back at him unsure of what to make of his intensity.

“The secrets they whisper. You have to listen really close. You have to open your mind and just let them,” he leaned back with his eyes closed, inhaling deeply, “I don’t know. Just let them in I guess.” He let out his breath and smiled serenely. I liked how he smiled. His smile seemed to hold its own secrets and made me wonder what kind of things he wanted to whisper to me in the trees.

Mindless

The thrumming of the fan, just slightly off-kilter, was beating incessantly against his already exhausted brain. His eyes passed over the same sentence again, and again, and one final time before realizing he had no memory or understanding of a single word on the page. He sighed, too hot to even be angry and too apathetic to be able to focus.

Smoke Rings

He leaned back against the sleek door of his grandpa’s Cadillac and reached into his pocket for a lighter. The first bite of fall chill hung in the air but it was nothing his worn leather jacket couldn’t handle. He brought his cigarette to his lips like he’d done so many times before. The flame cut the darkness as he lit his smoke and then abruptly left him back, alone in the moonlight.