…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.


The Toll of a Secret, Part 5

The passing of time allowed Daina to carefully evaluate her surroundings. She only ceased to sweat when darkness came, and by counting the times of darkness, she determined that she had been awake in this remote box of concrete for three days and two nights. From the heat and surrounding noise, she actually thought she might be somewhere in the tropics.

The sun set on the opposite side as the door, so she had the most light in the mornings. It was during this time that she took advantage of the sunlight glowing under the door to explore as much of the room as she could.

The building had a dirt floor, and at first she though she might be able to use her hands to dig under the wall. This hope was quickly dashed, though, when she realized that almost half of the wall was underground. The door actually began about three feet up from the dirt floor. She had carefully explored each wall, both windows, and the door at least twenty times to see if there was some way to escape. There absolutely was not.

Her recurring desire had been to try to dig with her hands under the wall—however deep that went—and then up and out the other side—like a dog under a fence, only worse. Once, she almost had her gumption built up to try it, but a new discovery had quickly stopped her.

She was being watched.

Hidden discretely in the left, rear corner of the room was a tiny glass dome, behind which hid a camera. If they were watching her, she would never manage to dig out of here before they came and stopped her. What would they do to her then?

After her initial shock and bewilderment at being kidnapped, Daina had realized that she wasn’t in the custody of some creep or serial killer. She felt more like an inmate, or even a lab rat! Once she had finally grown brave enough to leave her bed, she’d found military-style MREs in a box labeled, “6 Months Rations.”

The realization that she was intended to live here for at least that long, had sent her back into bed in paralyzing desperation. After crying it out for another several hours, she had simply reached a resolve.

She was thankful they hadn’t killed her. Aside from a small red dot in the soft crook of her left arm from an IV, she was unharmed and undefiled. All she had to do now was wait patiently until she discovered an escape. With that resolved, she continued to search her surroundings. She never let herself wonder if escape was even possible. Even if it was false, she needed something resembling hope.


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The Rain is Coming

Corn Sprouts

The clouds are dark

The wind is rising

The rain is coming

Do we need more?

The wind is rising

I hear the thunder

Do we need more?

The air is cooling

I hear the thunder

Dust clouds form

The air is cooling

The corn is sprouting

Dust clouds form

The clouds are dark

The corn is sprouting

The rain is coming

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The Toll of a Secret, Part 2

Here are the ingredients I was given:

  1. Caustic tongues
  2. Pumpkin Bread
  3. Bikini Atoll (note the story title)
  4. Volleyball
  5. Hawaii
  6. Love Story

Enjoy part two!

The Toll of a Secret, Part 2

By Clayton E.

Two Weeks Earlier – London

“Your tongue is sharp as a razor,” spouted an agitated British accent, “and I’ve had quite enough of it!” The athletic twenty-something brunette grunted, as she lunged for the volleyball that came briskly at her over the net.

A male voice responded, slathered with sarcasm, “Well, surely your perception of ‘enough’ will completely demand my decision to discontinue in my sarcasm, dear lady. Pray tell your heart’s desire for the future utterances of my heretofore caustic tongue.” He spouted the words smoothly. Spiking the volleyball back across the net, he hit t

he wooden floor just before his contestant in her failed attempt at a save.

A wry smile filled Lex Walton’s face, and a dark glimmer sparkled in his eyes. He had her now, just precisely where he knew she would be most vulnerable. Though he still spoke with sarcasm, the directness with which he’d asked for her response was enough to set her off guard. He could see her considering whether or not to provide a response.

Daina Teany responded, eyes searching his. “Well, you might try…” she paused, allowing him to believe she was about to be transparent, giving him what he wanted just long enough to drive home her impending jab, “saying something intelligent for once.”

It was weak, she knew, but it accomplished its intended effect. Lex chuckled and spouted, “You tell me to stop, and then you start. Women.”

“You would, you pig.”

Lex rolled his eyes, “Listen, perhaps if you could just grow up and deal with the petty injustices of life, you’d be able to put up with a little tease. People aren’t going to ask you for your permission to speak. They’re going to say what they want. I don’t see why I need to be any exception. You act like I’m your enemy rather than your boyfriend. Not everything’s a competition, you know. By the way, I win.”

With that, he spiked the ball once more. Daina lost her third game in a row.

Lex and Daina had been together for nearly four years. It was long enough to be past the naive, sappy stage, but not quite long enough to be tired of each other…yet. Daina liked Lex. He used to be a sweet guy, tender and open.

Lately, though, Lex was almost mean in the way he spoke to her, like he was beginning to resent her. She could think of no reason for him to feel this way, but was finding such behavior to be contagious. The more his biting sarcasm got to her, the more her’s grew. She didn’t like it, but she wasn’t about to let him walk all over her for no good reason. She was his girlfriend after all, not his slave…nor his wife.

It was becoming more and more difficult to talk about anything important with Lex–really hard. She didn’t even seem to be getting across to him that she didn’t care for his incessant rudeness. If he knew, he certainly didn’t seem to care.

During one of their silly spats, she’d actually asked him if he was tired of her. His response? “No, but I might be tired of your face, if you don’t stop looking at me like you’re my mum or something.”

She’d gone off on him then, knowing he was just making a rude joke, but tired nonetheless of him avoiding the issue. Maybe things weren’t going to work out for them after all. She really didn’t know.

He never acted like he truly wanted to be away from her. He still called to “just talk.” Daina knew that Lex had suffered a rough childhood and valued her friendship. Lately, though, the more they talked, the more he treated her poorly. The more he treated her poorly, the more she pulled away from him to protect herself.

Unless he decided to treat her better soon, things might just have to be over with them. She wasn’t sure how much more she could take from him.

She let herself consider this possibility. She might be okay with things being over between them. Then she remembered that one, small complication–his secret.


What will my next story be about? You decide!

I want to write a new short story…but I need your help!

Please leave a one or two word comment on this post, and I will weave all of the comments into a story! I will need names, locations, activities, personality traits, plot themes, and whatever else you all can give me. We are starting from a blank page.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Follow my blog to see what kind of story I end up posting. While you wait, feel free to read some of my other stories and poems. I’d love to hear what you think!


“Calderwood” Part IV

A story is more than just an explanation of events. It reveals life. It unveils the unseen elements of everyday life that are not always noticed at the time they occur.

These are the reasons I love to write stories. I love to think back through a memory and pull out all of the thoughts that went along with an activity and recreate them on paper in such a way that even the simplest of moments seem almost magical in the way they all work together into something so much bigger than anyone could have imagined at the time of their occurrence.

It’s the bigger picture of life–the elements of life that show there is a purpose for even the most unexpected and coincidental of circumstances–that makes life so beautiful. It is the complexity of life itself that makes a story worth telling. I cherish the moments that come to me as such clear examples of this orchestration of events into a larger plan.

The morning after meeting the young stranger in the canoe was one such example.


I was moving before my eyes were even completely open.

The morning sun had just started to lend some light to my tree sheltered cabin, and, as my eyelids moved out of their sleeping rest, my eyes caught the silhouette of a fleeing intruder.

I grabbed for the large knife hidden just beside my bed, and lurched after the shadow.

“You can either stop now, or wait until I stop you!” I growled, “The former would be better for both of us.”

It didn’t work. The intruder dashed out the door, and I followed just a few steps behind him. My newly awakened body wasn’t extremely anxious about moving this much freshly awakened from a deep sleep, but I pushed forward and started gaining on him. The light was stronger in the clearing outside my cabin, and I could now see that the trespasser was none other than the young stranger I had been hosting. With this knowledge, I slowed my pursuit and changed directions. He was running toward the river, and I was pretty sure I knew why. If he was planning to lose me in the woods and then escape in his canoe, I would just beat him at his game and go straight for his canoe. I solidified my suspicion of his intent, when I realized that he really didn’t have any other options.

Why all the secrecy? I wondered again, as I jogged silently toward my writing sycamore.

I reached the canoe just as he came out of the woods a few paces downstream. Because of the darkness and the fact that he was spending more time looking behind him, he didn’t see me waiting by his canoe until he was only a few steps away. He shouted a yelp of surprise when realized my presence, but froze as our eyes connected. For a moment, the night was still again.

There was a dark stubbornness in his eyes, unlike any I’d seen before. I remember the thought crossing my mind, as our eyes locked for those few moments, that whatever he was running from had to have a real hold on him. He was a young man overcome by something he’d tried desperately to hide, and my lack of pretense was a language with which he was not familiar.

The stillness between us ended quickly, being that he was much less interested in waiting than I. Realizing that his flight instincts hadn’t helped him as he’d hoped, he went for the next best thing–fighting. He was surely a trained fighter, but I had a knife and he didn’t. Before he’d moved more than a step toward me, I gave him pause with the harshest growl I could muster.

“Don’t be a fool.” It was all I said, but the flash of steel from my hunting piece in the moonlight spoke loudly enough to convey my implications to him. He stepped back in aggitation, and threw the pack he’d been carrying down on the ground.

“Fine, if you want your junk back, you can have it. I don’t need it anyway! I can take care of myself.” He spat the words, more than spoke them, but his eyes were fixed on the ground. He was still such a kid; couldn’t even look a man in the eyes.

“If you needed supplies, all you would have needed to do was ask.” The sternness still hadn’t left my voice. “Why…”

“Don’t ask me any more questions, okay.”

For the first time since I’d met him, my young guest, intruder, thief had let down his guard, looked me square in the eye, and had spoken plainly.

“Look, I know I should have just talked to you, but things aren’t that easy. The more you know about me, the easier it will be for them to track me. I never should have stopped here, and I apologize that all I’ve been is trouble. All I really want to do is get far away from this place, and I would really appreciate it if you’d just let me go. If you have supplies that you’d be willing to give me, I would be very grateful, but I really just need to get out of here.”

He fell silent and his eyes fell too. The troubled youth that I’d seen looking through his eyes only moments ago, now enveloped his entire posture.

“You don’t need a fight. You need a friend.” My voice had softened now, and, stepping forward, I put my hand firmly on his shoulder. “I don’t know who or what you’re running from, but I do know you’re going to need a better plan if you’re going to make it in these woods. You won’t find many in these parts as gracious as I. You’d probably be dead if you’d broken into anyone else’s home tonight. You don’t know how to hunt, trap, or lie for that matter.” I waited for his reaction. “If you’re going to live the life of a loner, you’ve got to be able to take care of yourself.”

“I can take care of myself.” He interjected.

“I think tonight’s events prove otherwise.” His eyes admitted his agreement.

“Now, if you want to get in that canoe and head off into the darkness, that’s your prerogative, but these woods are not tame. The farther north you travel, the more dangerous they become. This river, for one, turns into white water just a day and a half upstream from here. Then there are the mountains, and the Namerians beyond them. If you want to survive, you’re going to need a plan. That’s just all there is to it.”

He stood looking torn for several minutes, then nodded like he’d arrived at some internal resolve. “So you’ll help me, then?”

I laughed, “Well, it appears I just volunteered myself!”

He smiled, but his determination had returned. “What do we do first?”

“I’d say we should move this canoe off the water to start with, but first things first. For the last time, what is your name, son?”

The last bit of reluctance fell away from him, as his eyes looked through the growing dawn into mine. “I am Gnamel, son of Leen, nephew of King Garman of Calderwood.”

~By C. Evans