Things had a tendency to show up in Twinlake. From a teenage boy who’d last been spotted at a roller skating rink three years ago, to celebrities everyone had forgotten, to relics of the past found in unruly bushes and beneath the floorboards of the town hall.

That was probably where the town got its motto. “If it’s not here, it’s nowhere!” It was probably referring to the many artisans that sat on the streets on Sundays to sell porcelain trees and paintings of dreams you’d forgotten, and wine glasses made from the sands of beaches that had broken your heart. But for those who lived there, there was a hidden meaning. 

Twinlake was perfect for people who wanted to hide. The town was positioned deep in the forests of Vermont, the heart of which was a lake that was more of a pond, and streets that were more like paths, and buildings that were more like old dollhouses, teetering and ornate, filled with dust and memories. 

The people who lived there kept to themselves. Everyone had the same deep, melancholic core, like a rock in their chest, never able to get rid of it. Maybe it was more like a magnet, the way it drew everyone to Cheshire Lake and Twenty-Second St, and the inn with soft quilts and fine china.


Trap shuffled his way around Cheshire Lake, clutching an old rake. He probably once had a different name, one lovingly handed to him, wrapped in silk and good intentions, but he hadn’t kept it. Maybe he had pawned it on a whim, in exchange for the map to a town where everyone had a deep melancholic core rooting them to pine trees and sallow rocks. It didn’t matter, because once he had arrived, this name had been given to him, tucked in a box that looked like a coffin, alongside rusty house keys and a book of poetry leafed with advice and a crow’s feather.

Trap lived off of milky tea and paint on soft shirts. He raked around the lake because it got him out and about, and when he finished, he would take a trip to the bakery, where it smelled like memories, and the scones tasted like the old wood and rockwork of places you had never been.

As he walked, metal leg scraping the ground, arthritis stricken fingers holding the rake like a lifeline, he felt his good foot hit something. He looked down. Light wash denim overalls and a black button down. This was the first new arrival in months. Covered in moss and a film of misery that would take days of hot showers to clean off, and it often stuck around, in the crevices of ears, clinging to eyelashes and between fingers.

Trap waited, sitting down with a squeak, as the metal that took the place of the leg he had given up for just one more year to live, which had stretched into decades, because time was strange here.

He watched the new arrival, probably in their early twenties, watched their hair drift like a being of its own. It would do that, now, and before his hair had been taken by something that had no name in exchange for a sketchbook that would never fill and a palette that would never empty, his had done that, too.

The new arrival whispered a name they would forget upon waking, and fluttered their eyelids. 

“You wake.” Trap whispered with a voice that was not his. “Do not try to speak. Marian!” He stood with a creak, and watched the treeline, as a lithe figure that moved like dancing reeds on the shores of Cheshire lake danced over. 

Marian appraised the new arrival, and took their hand. “Come with me.” She said, pulling them up.


Marian had picked the cabin on the hill, with the large porcelain bath, and the ornate copper telescope, and the woodstove near the bed. 

The new arrival was confused, but seemed to understand some of what was going on. The moss had fallen in a sheet when they walked through the door, a woven green blanket in its place. 

“Welcome home.” Marian had said, handing them a box that looked like a coffin, and walking back into the treeline. They opened it. Minthe. A book of poetry. A crow’s feather. Inside of the book was a leaflet. 

Welcome home

  • This is where you belong
  • It is normal to be disoriented, you are in the process of forgetting
  • Please speak to Marian if the confusion gets worse
  • Sundays are market days, where our citizens may sell their wares
  • We don’t use money here, so no need to worry
  • Your clothes are in the closet of your new house
  • Uttering the name of a citizen will alert them that you need them
  • The library is always open, and the librarian knows what you need
  • Jade will be by with a meal, your first days here might be difficult
  • You are safe here

There was a knock at the door, and Minthe opened it to reveal someone that smelled like freight trains and red sand. 

“I’m Jade.” the person said, extending a black gloved hand. “Don’t speak yet.” She handed them a tray that contained a bowl of tomato soup with two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich, and a handmade mug filled with a warm brown drink that smelled like board games by a fire. “It’s very nice to meet you. I’m your neighbor. Please, get me if you need anything.”


The food was lush and filling, the drink softening Minthe’s vocal cords and easing their stiff muscles. Looking around their home, they noticed a map on their countertop. It showed the town, hand drawn by someone who knew what they were doing. It listed places. The Bakery, The Library, Cheshire Lake. They ran a hot bath, noticing spiderwebs clinging in their hair and vines pressing into their arms that didn’t wither or die in the steaming water. 

The closet had soft blue clothes that fit Minthe well, the vines and spiderwebs holding tight. When they tested their voice, whispering, “Jade?” there had been a knock on the door barely a minute later. 

“You can speak.” Jade had smiled. “Walk with me.”

Arms intertwined, Jade led Minthe to the library. “This is where Aurora works. She knows almost everything. Would you like to ask her a question?” 

“Yes please.” Minthe whispered in a voice that was not theirs.

The pair walked into the library, and were greeted by Aurora, who’s name fit perfectly.  “Welcome.” she smiled. “Do you need anything?”

“Minthe has a question.” Jade nudged the new arrival, who cleared their throat.

“Why am I here?” they asked.

Aurora smiled. “You belong here. You’re home now.”

December 05, 2022 18:15

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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