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Find new, previously unpublished works by our site’s founder, Portia Graf. Read original poetry, prose, short stories, novel excerpts, and more, only available here.

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The Timeless Room

Flashes of silver shimmer against the blood orange haze of the harvest moon. I look over my shoulder to the east and strain my ears. My footsteps are distracting. Hot air escapes my cracked lips in a long huff. My diaphragm is sore and my lungs are shrinking down in the cold; though I struggle to breath, I must press onward. The grotesque cabin assimilated into the overgrown forest is my last chance for survival.

The wrath of the fire unleashes behind me. A three hundred foot high wall of flames licks the forest trees, reducing every rabbit and every leaflet to a matte black dust with a single caress. Each flame swirls and dances, like a multiplicity of lovely gypsies, flowing with the earth around them, as singular bandits and as a collective band.

I stumble into bark, heaving. I wipe the film of frozen sweat from my neck. A bloodcurdling howl echoes through the wood, sending a physical tremor through my chest and the sea of tree trunks in front me. The moon taunts me above--a mother tainted by an animalistic blood lust.

A sheet of ice snatches my balance. I drag myself through the slush to the log cabin, and lock myself in. The door clicks shut, and silence deafens me. Time disappears in here. It is unrecorded, untracked like escaping to a dark mesh of foliage without the familiarity of a path. Likewise, with a single step, back to the turbulent winds with the slews of stress and frantic movements just outside, time rushes back. It hits with an intensity, a pressure misunderstood within the confines of the four walls left behind. Time also does the opposite of disappear here. It waits, lurking in the depths of the outer atmosphere, building pressure until that single step is taken, and it is released.

But my cracked window faces it's death, blinded with forest soot and clouded with dirty gray smoke. It melts under the pressure, weeping from perceiving such beauty. Each creature of fire, hair floating around their glowing figures, floats farther and farther into my circle of vision, burning my eyes for merely witnessing. The flames dance before me, coiling and pouncing, contorting their mesmerizing flit to the molded screams of the foliage and the burning creatures.

Nearby, a girl manifests out of the flames. More of a princess than a gypsy, her silky hair flowing above her head, she dances with the neighboring tree. She slides gracefully around it, lighting the ground she steps across, her dress drifting around her ankles, until she stops to pull a twig close to her face, and swiftly brushes the cheek of a leaf with a kiss. Before I could marvel with fear at such elegance, she winks at me, and wisps into fiery nothingness, leaving the green tree leaves to be consumed by scarlet and orange.

The window shatters, and the frozen magic flees the heat. Time is released upon me. I barely hear my own soprano add to the dark melody. Nightfall comes, and yet the moon blends with the sun’s demons. They remain, covering the stars above with smoke and slicing the air with a brilliant red. The sky cracks open and bleeds.

(Portia Graf 2015)

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