This is an email from The Story Box, a newsletter by Scribe.
The year 2019 is coming to an end and it is with immense joy that I write this last letter to you before entering a new decade.
And if I am so happy, it is thanks to all of you: the writers who knocked at the Scribe’s door and wrote stories and poems with all their heart, the readers who were always present throughout the year, supporting the talented pens with their claps, their answers, and their sharing.
Thank you so much for continuing to make this publication shine around you thanks to your daily contribution. Thank you for sharing its values and cultivating its difference which makes it a unique publication on Medium.
This year has been incredible, rich in words and emotions. I can’t count the number of times your stories have sent shivers down my spine.
This last month, Marianna Saver, Lisa Wathen, J.D. Harms, and Erios De Kir were the featured writers in the Scribe’s column. I hope you were able to discover their stories directly via the publication’s homepage!
This column dedicated to Scribe’s talented writers will continue in 2020, with perhaps a little sister to be born! Other featured sections will also appear next year to highlight more great stories on Scribe’s homepage!
To celebrate the end of the year, here is a selection of more than 90 stories and poems that I have had the privilege of publishing over the past twelve months.
I hope you will take as much pleasure as I do in delving into these stories. Feel free to share in the responses the stories that have thrilled you the most in 2019!
Happy reading and happy New Year! Take care of yourself and your loved ones, and never stop reading and writing. See you next year to continue our journey to the land of words!
My brother’s story is sad, heart wrenching. Why? Because his struggles began before he even took his first breath of air.
When he was born, he had FAS (fetal alcohol syndrom) and was born addicted to cocaine.
When he was about one-and-a-half, my parents were contacted about accepting a new foster child.
I will never forget that day.
It is a perfectly square box, with diagonal wooden panels. On the top, there is a missing piece with jagged remains; never to be repaired but always holding the threat of administering splinters. A worn golden latch protects its contents, the photographs partially peeking through the broken slit.
Lorsque, plus jeune, on partait avec mon père dans les Calanques à Marseille le matin (assez tôt : il devait être sept heures, sept heure et demi), je me souviens, je prenais avec moi des barres de céréales chocolatées bon marché et ma gourde en plastique qui sentait le plastique et faisait que l’eau aussi sentait, et goûtait, le plastique.
Maman dormait encore lorsqu’on refermait délicatement la porte derrière nous.
Plus tard, on arrivait à l’entrée des Calanques (généralement Sugiton ou Morgiou, mais cela pouvait être celles d’En-Vau aussi), face à la pierre et à l’herbe sèche, à cette odeur si particulière de la mer le matin caressant le thym et la mousse oubliée au creux de la roche.
Pour écrire, j’ai besoin de temps, d’espace, j’ai besoin d’avoir l’esprit libre. Toutes contraintes devraient alors disparaitre pour permettre à mes doigts de filer sur le clavier, capable de créer des phrases, des idées, peaufiner un article…
Si la liberté n’existe pas alors la créativité se tarit et je me sens démunie face à une page blanche qui inlassablement le reste. Ainsi, j’attends, je laisse passer les heures, les jours, les mois, je me fais patiente et me trouve l’excuse de ne pouvoir vraiment écrire puisque mon esprit n’est pas libre de toutes contraintes.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that every woman who has ever given birth had fears of the unknown while they were pregnant — especially the first-timers.
I was full of fear from the first moment I found out I was pregnant up until the actual birth. In fact, I think I was still in shock that I was even pregnant at all for most of my pregnancy.
“Why’s a girl like you alone?” he slurred, weaving his hands through mine, pushing a curl of my hair behind my ear. Every neurotransmitter in my body filled with preparatory breath for one, big, harmonious, panicked song.
“You’re beautiful and smart and funny.” The skin on my neck tightened–tiny cracks spreading like wild rivers across my trapped knuckles. I forced my lips to curl and my eyes to sparkle, while I thought about slamming his weathered face into the coffee table.
I stood facing the water and my legs felt strong beneath me. The cool breeze prickled my bare arms and whistled through my thin cotton shirt as I wrapped my arms across my chest. I’d built up some heat on my walk, had stripped off first my jacket and then my sweatshirt, and now it felt good to be cool. When was the last time I felt the wind on my skin, I wondered. Did it always feel this good?
L’ironie a voulu que vienne de moi la partie qui manquait à mon âme… Ma longue période d’abstinence rédactionnelle m’a poussé à revenir sur mes pas. Au fil de l’étude de mes œuvres passées, sans doute lancée par une naïve quête de la Flamme Perdue, j’ai repéré un gimmick, aussi malsain qu’inconscient. Tous mes personnages principaux partageaient la même névrose : l’absence d’une figure paternelle.
The Remington Standard, a good typewriter in its day, collected dust in the loft. Its keys were old and cranky. Yet, they longed to speak.
“If only,” they thought, “someone would tap out a story.” “Or, better still, let ‘us’ tell a tale.”
“What would you type?” inquired an ancient broom, who remembered the days when she swept cobwebs and debris to reveal fine parquetry, but now was as redundant as the typewriter.
When I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety, some of my black family disapproved. I remember my aunt telling me, “You’re not an anxious girl, you’re just shy. Black women aren’t supposed to be weak, and neither are you. You need to stop acting like you have problems when you don’t!”
Those words seared into my mind like a branding iron. I was denied my chance to end the stereotype. Even worse, I was feeling “not black enough.” As a black woman, weakness is never an option.
My fingers froze an inch above my keyboard as I stared at a picture of my parents. One of my father’s arms draped around my mother’s shoulder. My father’s smile rarely looks natural in a picture (it always looks a bit like a forced passport photo smile) but in this pictures, both my parents were smiling naturally, beaming with happiness.
It was taken August last year, on my mother’s 48th birthday. Her last birthday celebration. She passed away the next month.
Hi, my name is Elle. Except legally, it’s not. Elle is (phonetically) my first initial and it means, simply, “she” in French, a language I studied and love. As for Rogers, that name is a combination of both my maiden and married names.
It’s like an encrypted cipher key, no?
So this is my confession.
I hesitated to publish my story on sexual abuse in the workplace for fear of oversharing and to avoid criticism or judgment, which victims typically experience when they come out and tell their story. Especially because I never reported the boss who sexually assaulted me.
Victims face criticism and disbelief when telling their story; it’s the ugly truth. And the victims who share their story of abuse years later, but never filed a report or told anyone when it happened to them have to deal with self-inflicted guilt and externalized shame.They are criticized for waiting to speak up and never reporting their abuser.
I had a wonderful time last night, hanging out with my best friends. We did yoga, cooked dinner, played some table games. It has been a while since the last time we got to spend the whole evening together, and within minutes after walking into their apartment, I realized just how much I had missed them.
Mid-way through the dinner, my friend asked me if I had any plans for tomorrow. They were going to watch the second episode of Game of Thrones on a home projector with a couple of other friends.
I said “yes” — and just as the word came out of my mouth, I felt both ashamed and frustrated with myself.
Once again reflecting on the variety of my 50 posts to date which give an insight to the person I am, i.e., someone who can drown in Weltschmerz, fill to the brim with pity and sadness for other people’s trauma, and feel anger at injustice.
All of which I work into a frenzy of writing, to finally emerge from the abyss — I like the drama — and settle back into my balanced happy old self. This is reflected in my writings on the more humorous, kinder side of life. What a mix, indeed, of different feelings and emotions. Can you relate to this?
Him, “What if I cheat?”
Me, “You are human, yes?”
Him, “Well, yes.”
Me, “So you may fail and so may I. Just tell me the truth and allow me to accept your imperfections.”
Him, “That’s it?”
Me, “Telling me will be harder than you think, but yes. Bring me the truth and allow me to navigate those murky waters with you because not knowing is far worse than understanding.”
The power of art is the power to wake us up, strike us to our depths, change us. What are we searching for when we read a novel, see a film, listen to a piece of music? We are searching for something that alters us, that we weren’t aware of before. We want to transform ourselves, just as the work of my favorite writers transformed me. Books are my private mean to overcome reality, they are reliable, warm, and always available.
I have always fervently believed exes shouldn’t be friends. I’ve made it clear in no uncertain terms before, dividing opinions and pissing a lot of people off. But then I guess that’s my bad. Who knew implying some people might be psychopaths just because they remain friends with an ex could make anyone so rilled up?
Looking out my window this morning
I spied a flock of kingfishers soaring upwards
Their wings whirring at an alarming rate,
You can’t help but envy the happy souls!
For their careless freedom and their quills
When they glide through a calm spring breeze
Or suddenly fly off into the wide blue yonder
To say this morning is hectic is a massive understatement. I reassessed the time needed for my morning routine resulting in hitting the snooze button one too many times. My children were slow to rise, and breakfast took longer than expected. We are lost in the bustle of teeth brushing, the kids dressing themselves, me redressing the kids appropriately for the weather, and scavenging for lost shoes and socks.
Ces derniers temps je regarde beaucoup de photos de mon père. Elles ont été prises quelques mois avant son départ. Il était bien vivant, il faisait beau. Il était devant moi, assis sur un banc avec ma mère, elle était tout sourire. Lui a le regard quelque peu dans le vague, on le croirait absent.
Pourtant il était bien là, pourtant j’ai bien vécu ces moments avec lui, ces vacances en Ardèche, cette journée à Vals-les-Bains sous un soleil de plomb.
Every morning, every evening, every free minute of my day. The question bounces around within me. What shall I write today?
The options are limitless, the possibilities are endless. Like the ocean stretching out in front of me when I stand by the shore.
I could write about a young girl and her family who crash-landed on Earth a decade ago, during a vacation to another planet.
7 Days, by Agnes Louis
Here is a story. Told in my mother’s voice, post-death. This tale will be a fusion of true accounts laced with fiction. I hope I can provide you a glimpse of my world, my culture and maybe, you can take a thing or two for yourself too. This is the prologue — the beginning of an end — of the ‘7 Days’ tale.
Cela fait longtemps que je n’ai pas écrit.
Que je n’ai pas vraiment écrit.
Alors oui bien sûr, je pense à des phrases, il y a des mots qui me viennent.
Parfois même c’est très beau.
Je veux dire: je suis étonné par la beauté de ce qui me passe par la tête.
De ce qui me traverse.
Mais cela ne peut cacher le fait que lorsque je m’assois pour écrire ou lorsque je m’arrête de faire ce que je fais pour écrire, rien ne vient. C’est comme si il y avait l’envie et l’innocence mais rien d’autre à récolter que le silence.
Sometimes I can’t believe
That my dad is actually dead
That my mom does not seem to miss me much, call or talk
That my sister isn’t talking to me, still, for years
It’s true that I battle these feelings
Briefly and in confusion a bit every day
And yesterday when I mentioned
Wild Heart, by Annie Bell
Our hearts. Separate. Free, whole, capable and strong.
Wild and to ourselves they belong.
Individual, but connected by love.
Together, but nurturing what each individual is capable of.
Neither heart is fragile but we treat each tenderly.
We are on the same side, our shields are down, we embrace vulnerability.
Paintbrush gracefully glides by his hand
Like a prism disperses white light.
The flow of his lines threatens to wake the sleeping Labrador.
He can hear her sighing, breathing heavily.
Eyes shut tight she sees only what’s in her dreams;
Paws clawing through the sand, longing to swim in the cool, Atlantic waters;
The allure of chasing the Snapper, to bite through its flesh;
The flavor of domestic, canine victory.
She says the empty house is like a cemetery now, full of strange sounds and creeping shadows. A house without people is like a morgue, only the dead remain. All that lingers are floorboards and stone, cold stone without warm feet to weather away at their molecules.
A few months ago I was in a very dark place. The darkest I think I’ve ever experienced.
I had completely lost myself and life didn’t make sense. Going through difficult times is challenging enough but it’s made worse when dark thoughts keep trying to convince you that life is pointless.
After weeks of trying to ignore this darkness, I got really mad one day and wrote a letter to it.
Standing still at the center of the living room, she looks to a painting on the wall. She is absent-minded, she doesn’t hear him walking towards her, in slow pacing, as if time is suspended.
He stops in front of her. Cupping her pale face in his hands, fixing her dark brown eyes, he asks her “What are you feeling?”
She takes a step back, increases the distance between them, one so short they could hear each other’s breathing.
I was forever taking headcounts of my students, as if somehow, by constantly staying abreast of exactly how many other bodies occupied the classroom, I was mentally exerting some type of control over the situation. Just as any confident, competent educator should. (…) And since I’d recently learned that one of my younger brothers was set to spend the next 35 years in prison, no quantity or quality of thinking was going to change the situation or make it any easier to handle.
My grandmother is a saint, at least that’s what Father John called her, and he should know, even if he did drink and smoke and curse like a sailor. She did, after all, raise five children in a house built only for two, cooked all their meals, made sure they said their prayers. She raised them in the Catholic Church, raised them to be altar servers, ushers, and Eucharistic ministers, raised them to devote every weekend to the Lord. She and her children and later her grandchildren volunteered at every Lenten fish fry, every summer church festival.
How dare you command me to smile.
We are nothing more than complete strangers yet you assume you have enough power over me to demand such a thing and I’ll comply?
You’re teasing. You think it’s cute, or funny, and that I’m the unacceptable one for not playing your game. But the truth is,
You don’t know me —
Asa personal essay writer, it shouldn’t surprise me when someone who I hoped would never find my writing, finds it. It happens, and it isn’t ideal, but as long as they aren’t reaching out to me or harassing me, I accept it’s just part of the job.
If there’s anything about myself that I want to keep private, well, I just don’t write about it.
Everything else that I’ve shared, I’ve shared truthfully and happily, knowing that someday my ex-boyfriends, my old friends, co-workers, or family members might stumble upon my personal essays.
As a young girl, I was infinitely creative, sweetly mischievous and alive through and through. Over the years of growing into a woman, I felt more and more overwhelmed with the road that life took me on. What started at the beginning of puberty was an innate fight with existence.
I stopped trusting myself, god, and other people. I built the habit of victimizing myself, feeling like everybody was able to deal with the harshness that the human experience entailed, besides me.
Mama was a green thumb.
She always had a plant nearby. In the family room. The laundry. On her bookshelf. Framing the kitchen sink. Posted on sun-drenched windowsills. She couldn’t help herself.
Even among the tidy chaos of her desk in my father’s office, between valleys of stacked paper copies, jagged manila envelopes, and oak-framed candid photos of her children, a vine would snake, or a random bloom — brilliant pops of pink or canary yellow or explosive red petals — to punctuate the bland with a splash of life.
My journey since I finished my bachelor in Sound and Image was bumpy. Crossroads are full of possibilities. At the time I was desperately trying to chase what I thought were my dreams — animation, cinema, digital games.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always fallen in love with stories, might be they from books, songs, movies or games. Ever since I could talk and write, those stories were never enough for me. I always needed to create my own.
“Don’t be lonely” said my aunt. I couldn’t fathom what she meant until I realized many people aren’t comfortable by themselves. Unlike me, they think it’s important to be with someone all the time.
When there’s no one around, they fill the environment with distractions — switch on the TV or radio — because the background noise helps them feel less alone.
I consider knowing solitude has the potential to be beneficial a gift.
I love rain and the green deep forest burning me with its thaw of thorough tales, verdant spaces so full of presence they permeate my dazed skin. I want to learn more of these ageless layers, how the pine needles crumble silkily back to a thousand prayers each year; the way the world of imagination begins anew whenever I come here.
Nothing is better than story, whatever form it comes in. Cave paintings tell us that we’ve been storytellers since before written language, probably going back to the earliest stirrings of spoken language. Our ability and drive to tell stories, and the unquenchable desire to hear them, is the soul of what it means to be human.
Story is palliative when we are ill, refreshing when we are jaded. It is instructive, encouraging, inspirational and, of course, just plain entertaining.
Okay, at the moment potions and lotions are a delight to the senses and the sparkle of jewelry puts a twinkle in the eye, edible gifts are always appreciated for the moment on the lips and novelty items a source of mirth and merriment in the spirit of the season. But moments pass, they are fleeting and the objects of our affection today all too often become just more stuff in our lives tomorrow. It is the same where toys are concerned.
In fact, when it comes to gifts for children I think there is great merit in the saying ‘less is more’; my fear is that more may lead to sensory overload and divert the attention from the kind of concentrated focus that is important developmentally.
A few years back I wrote a guest blog for an Aussie based site called Little Wren. The blog was titled ‘The Sweet Art of Doing Nothing’.
It was written at a time when the concept of doing nothing was imposed on me due to current circumstances, rather than an active choice. Although I tried to take this in my stride and embrace the gaps of nothing that seemed to swallow up my days, I was relieved when I transitioned into a different and busier phase of life.
A young boy stood before the forest. ‘I am here now’, he said, but the forest didn’t reply. “I could hear you over the fields”, he persistently insisted, “What do you want?”.
The forest looked at him. For a moment, the wind stopped, and with the cracking sound of trees awakening, it mumbled softly, “What I want is nothing, what I give is everything”.
I saw a picture of you today
With your half a smile
and wandering gaze
Maybe the pain of losing
you hasn’t entirely gone away.