A sister and brother were lost in the forest. The smallest sound would make them jump and flinch.
“Is it getting close to my bathtime?” the little boy complained. “I feel dirty. We’ve been walking for so long.”
The girl saw the brook that had caught his eye. She considered how cold it would feel — nothing like a warm bath at home. And there was nothing with which to towel him off. Though it was tempting, she didn’t stop.
“Is it getting close to my suppertime?” the little boy complained. “I’m so very hungry. I can’t remember the last time we ate.”
The girl saw the berries that had caught his eye. She didn’t know if they were good for people or only for birds. She considered making a fire and catching a hare, but it had recently rained — the wet wood would only sputter and smoke.
“Is it getting close to my bedtime?” the little boy complained. “Sister, I’m sleepy.”
Then they heard a rustle — both children froze. The girl grabbed her brother and pulled him down into the bushes, where they waited, crouching, for whatever had made the noise.
“What is it?” the little boy said, but the girl just hissed at him.
A moment later, their father stepped into view. The little boy saw him and began to rise. “It is our fath—” he started to say, but the girl clamped a hand over his mouth. She wrestled him down and held him still when he struggled. Their father paused, looking both ways with his bloodshot eyes, while they remained hidden. Soon he continued through the forest.
The girl watched him go. She waited a very long time.
Once there was a king who loved his small dog more than anything else in the world. But the king’s palace was very large and his dog was very small. It was easy to be separated.
So the king tied a bell around his dog’s collar, to hear it from many rooms away. However, even then the dog would get lost, occasionally for days at a time. The king resolved that they must live somewhere smaller.
Although his royal advisers thought he was mad, the king and his dog moved to more modest accommodations. Their second home had fewer rooms than the palace, but still his dog would get lost and the king couldn’t hear the bell. So he resolved to move yet again.
Although his royal advisers thought he was more mad than before, the king commandeered a sheepfold from one of his subjects. Now he and his dog could live in the same small room. The king felt satisfied, but now he became annoyed by the constant ringing of the bell.
Finally he arrived at a compromise. The king would commandeer the entire sheep meadow, so that he and his dog could live outside. Now there was nowhere for the dog to get lost and the king would’ve have to endure the ringing of the bell all the time.
But on their first night a pack of wild dogs ate the king’s pet. They tore the small dog to pieces — one of them even ate his collar. The next morning the king couldn’t find his small dog anywhere. He listened for the bell, but he couldn’t hear it. From that day forward, he wandered his kingdom from glen to dale and never slept in the same place twice, truly driven mad by his missing pet
A woman suspected her child was a fake.
“My good daughter always eats the food I give her,” the woman said to herself. “She always cleans her plate.”
But no matter how long they sat together at the dinner table, her child refused to eat. Her porridge grew cold. Its surface congealed. Never once did she pick up her spoon or look at her meal, sitting instead with her eyes directed elsewhere. The woman scowled.
“My good daughter always tidies up after herself,” the woman said. “She always takes away the dishes.”
But long after they’d left the table their bowls remained in place. Dust had collected in the corners of the room and the sink was crowded from previous meals. Her child entered the kitchen, glanced around, and left, never once reaching for a broom or running hot water. The woman grimaced.
“My good daughter always comes when I call her,” the woman said. “Daughter, come here! Come here now — come at once!”
Sitting in her empty bedroom, on her thin mattress, the child listened to her mother’s voice. Very soon, she knew, she would have to leave this place or else strangle her mother — close her hands around her throat and choke the old woman until she was dead. Something had to change.
“Daughter!” her mother called out. “Daughter! Daughter! Daughter!”
This is a repository for JY's original content that's yet to be bound in a book -- essays, short fiction, etc. There's little rhyme or reason, so jump in!