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Fiction Teens & Young Adult Fantasy

Desire is a more fancy word for a want or need. It laces around a champagne glass, drunken thoughts, a silver and velvet cloak that unveils itself in all of its entirety. Hooded eyes looking back- a mirror that reflects decisions, dreams, life goals that may never come true. It weaves its way into the road, blocking cars from moving forward, blocking those with weaker mentalities from continuing on. It's an interruption, an advertisement in the middle of a song or video. It's the vines that venture out of the shadows to wrap itself around your ankles and attempt to lure you off the path of life. Desire isn’t fair, it doesn’t give time, it takes it away. It's a bitter taste in the back of your throat, causing you to upheave bile that spills out like ribbons, the décor on top of a Christmas present. 

Desire is the Seven Deadly Sins. More specifically: Greed. 

A type of greed that claws at you from the inside out, hollows a chest once filled with blood and arteries, a beating heart. It replaces the foundation of your structure with a dark blindfold around your eyes, blocking a view that it does not want you to ever encapture. A greed that flows in your veins fueling you with what you assume to be a natural merlot red, but in truth, it is a toxic drug that can never be rid of. A craving to fulfill, to satisfy, greed renders you defenseless against what finally reveals itself to be your own desire. 

Your own want and need, will be your greatest enemy.

Foretold by a letter framed with stains the shade of burgundy and coffee, Desire disguised as a mirror sits in the center of a dimly lit room. Four candles sprawled across a pine table elicit a soft, mellow glow that reminds you of encapsulation silk that wraps around your shoulders on the coldest of winter nights. The flame’s shadows dance on the beige and cream colored walls like ghosts. Every curve, every bend is like a ritual and its song and dance. 

The mirror which has frames telling stories, depicting pictures of war and bloodshed over one fatal enemy that everybody seems to miss: desire. 

Where it comes from is a backstreet corner alleyway in which only the most curious dare to cross a threshold of mud, stench, and a damp, intrusive sensation that anchors itself to your bones. A narrow tunnel of porous red and dirt brown bricks caving in almost as if to suffocate an intruder. But what captures the attention of most passersby that walk past this discreet entrance to what feels like a whole other dimension, is the little autumn colored lamp settled in front of a single antique shop. No promotions hanging on the door or glass, no signs or signals of human life. You wouldn’t need any of that- for curiosity brings you closer, drawing you in as a predator would do prey. 

And past a creaky door that has clearly seen better days, a shadowed room filled to the brim with shelves full of unique and foreign objects stands alone. Nobody seems to be at the front counter. You’ve entered another world. And where this mirror comes from, is exactly there. Leaned up against a musty wall with dust as décor, covered by a silver and velvet cloak; there rests the mirror. It waits to strike, and time is generous; it doesn’t take long for desire to dig its fangs into another victim. 

Desire is greed, and a simple curiosity can lead to an echo of regret. 

On the first night, the strike of the long hand on twelve, a single sound reverberates around the room like a snake would do to illustrate no return; certain death. It's a little crack crawling over the glass like a drag of crimson blood. The flawless mirror, no longer being timeless. It now has an imperfection, it is fissured.

The reflective surface begins to ripple and not before long- a scene where a businessman is waiting by the bus stop ripples into place. His figure is draped in fine clothing, speaking expensive conversation to a woman standing nearby. She dresses in cotton that is fraying and long worn. A smile decorates her face, a frown is engraved into the other’s. The watch on his wrist, composed of silver and steel is heavy, it weighs him down, leaving an icy imprint on his wrist. The woman’s woven scarf around her neck is scratchy, hand-made. It envelops her in a hug without arms, smells like apple and cinnamon in the middle of winter. It keeps her warm, like a crackling fire unafraid to emit sparks of radiating heat. 

The man stays up until the late hours of night, fingers dancing across a cacophonous keyboard in order to type out a business proposal. His eyes burn as he leans into a squeaky office chair, the moonlight with her luminescent gaze looks down to greet him with a wave, but the businessman is compelled to finish his work. He needs the deal to be sealed, needs it in sacrifice for sleepless hours, dark tear stains under eyes. But the success is a glass of sparkling champagne, a financial worry that will not have to resurface until a few months later. The satisfaction of success, greed will ensure it will never be reached. The craving is forever endless, bottomless. 

A hole he has already fallen into, but doesn't realize it yet. Pitch black like a raven’s caw, and his nails will dig into the stone to try and get out of the pit he dug, only to find it is forever fruitless. Desire only accompanies him down. 

The woman patiently waits after the man boards the bus before she slowly climbs up the few stairs, hands shakily grabbing onto the icy railing. Her palms are cold as she finds a stiff seat to settle herself down in, fingertips aching with the longing thought for a hot mug of herbal tea. The steam, traveling off from the picture in her mind of the cup full of welcoming liquid heats her blood and soon, her palms are not cold, and she finds comfort in her pockets as she looks out the window, closing her eyes. No more than a fill of home and content is all that waits for her in her apartment, and when she arrives at her stop, walking more than a few blocks, her door opens in her presence. The woman quietly brews a kettle of water, sitting at the kitchen counter to wait. 

It simmers, soon boils, and she gets up to grab a mug and tea bag. Pouring the liquid into the cup, water now infused with an essence of dandelion and sage, her hands wrap around the ceramic. 

Palms toasty, fingertips tingling with newfound sensation, there is no hole, no pit dug by greed. Instead, there is a garden blooming day by day, watered by each sip of herbal tea, weeds pulled by shaky hands and warm palms. 

The clock ticks silently, basking in time as the hands move according to each other. The short follows the long after an hour and a chime resounds in the room. The candle flame’s shadows still, fire flickering briefly as midnight passes without a trace. No footprints left behind except a few more cracks that suddenly appear on a flawed mirror. 

Desire waits- waits for another victim, and time is generous. It doesn’t take long for Desire to morph into a whirlpool, dragging another curious onlooker into its depths. 

Now, the cracked mirror narrates an artist sitting in front of a large canvas, paintbrush in a steady hand and a palette containing a variety of colors in the other. The off-white of the tarp is readily covered by an acrylic paint. Each stroke permanent, painting a picture of a single mother who carefully caresses a sleeping baby in her arms. The wrap of a blanket around the infant is drawn by a brush carrying ivory and eggshell, the chubby, full cheeks dotted with a little birthmark that is applied with a burnt sienna. 

The artist sighs, arms drooping with exhaustion and head aching with dehydration and a hollow in his bones not filled with marrow. The canvas before him is far from done, but his mind is too encompassed with doubts, frustrations, and a craving to succeed and be successful. To show absent parents that hopeless is far, and he is on a different road to prove them wrong. 

But an insatiable hunger for validation for his gods is a determination to count the stars; there will be no end. He will find that a door to satisfaction does not exist. And even if the paint in his bottles runs out and his brushes become stiff, hard, and unusable, he will use his blood to create a tarp of red, brown, and tears. 

His blood will run out, veins will dry, and canvas will be left unfinished. There will be no end in finding satisfaction, never enough validation. And what he gives for it will be futile.

Futile in the way that the mother in the picture attempts to quiet her child with a loving whisper, stroking chubby cheeks with graceful fingers. Futile as she tries to comfort a weeping, empty belly, but to no avail. Her pockets are full of yarn and thread, not pennies nor bills. Hands are calloused and broken, joints in his wrist and arms like a stem blooming with a flower at the end. Those gentle buds brush soft skin in hope of replacing the pain of famine with love. To fill up a waiting stomach with a mother’s whispers and tears. A drink of salt from her cheeks, prevent a cold with a pair of arms that can weave a blanket to endure a biting chill. 

The mother’s love is endless, her pain in frail bones and thin skin, wrinkles of aging and sunken eyes just as infinite as the warmth in her heart though the winds tear through flesh. And through minutes that turn to hours, she sings. 

Sings a song about fresh sourdough out of the oven, a bed where the pillows are made from the feathers of doves, a roof that can withstand the cruelest of storms, and somebody to love, to wrap in arms that can fill a bottomless hole to the brim. Bring one out of misery, replace greed and desire with love. Fingers that weave a barrier to protect a child who now rests in their mother’s hold, no longer crying. All is silent, except the mother’s song. 

In the tranquility, a grandfather clock rests in the far background, the pendulum swinging back and forth, back and forth in an ominous rhythm. Never ceasing nor stopping the resounding thumps of a tick and a tock. The long hand reaches the twelve first, before the short hand follows. In which there is a chime, signaling the end of one day, and the beginning of a new one. 

Desire in its mirror form cracks, nearly shattering, but the glass upholds itself. Now, the candles no longer dance, the shadows no longer depict ghosts swaying and curving with a singular grace. The flames however, continue to burn with a spark going in and out every once in a while. The liquid wax runs down the edges and overflows the little trench they’ve burned. They dry up on the pine table like a pool of chardonnay, a little polish and glaze of something sweet. It tastes like ash, like the burning of those overcome by their desire to fulfill and satisfy. 

In the glass, the surface ripples, and a new depiction leisurely comes into focus. It reveals a small boy holding a vanilla letter with an emblem of a school logo. His face is drawn to the tiles of the kitchen floor, eyes locked on the crevices and porcelain spaces. And in front of him stands a stern looking lady with her hair up in a neat bun, eyes narrowed like the beak of an eagle, hand reaching out for the letter as if counting invisible numbers until she loses her patience. The boy slowly looks up before lifting his hand and placing the paper in the illusion of a mother who paints a deceptive picture. Tearing away the barrier between just a few symbols and letters that determine memorization and a never-ending stream of stress, her eyes scan the rows, reports, and notes as if she were a falcon ready to latch onto an innocent target. 

In the next few moments, there is a sharp strike of skin hitting skin, and the gritting of teeth as paper is thrown onto the floor like a useless scrap of garbage. A hand that burns with anger, and a cheek that stings with failure. Irises that are damp with oncoming tears, lips that are twitching with words barely restrained on a cutting tongue. 

The schoolboy retreats back to his room and picks up the discarded report card as he does so, keeping an effort to not look back. Soft, padded footsteps across hard, wooden planks echo in the suffocating atmosphere. And soon enough, in the privacy of the schoolboy’s own room, he rips the letter to shreds. The numbers and letters- the cause for a draining rage and weld into his heart that speaks no more than grades. All there is in the eyes of his mother, and now, him. 

A chain latched onto his wrists and ankles, fastened to a paper. He can’t get free. No amount of praise, A’s, perfects will ever find a key to unlock the bounds. There is no end to the desire to fulfill, to be enough for somebody that cannot ever be satisfied. And in the muffled cries of a little boy, salt staining youthful cheeks made for smiling and playing, a mother resides in the kitchen, listening to the barely concealed whimpers and sniffles. 

The mother’s heart aches, aches like a carved out hollow cave has been placed in her chest. Aches like a deep cut and scar across her arms never could. She aches like words that she wished had been said, wished that she was brave enough to say- but she knew she wasn’t. A pain in her fingers that itches to write, to type out sentences, apologies, promises she could only hope her mouth would speak. 

A mother- once a writer, who knows, she isn’t enough and no amount of stories, chapters, nor ideas will ever fill the hole in her chest that she carved herself. She knows her own failures in life will confine her to imaginary ropes she ties to her own wrists. Knows her tree will only ever produce rotten apples. Concedes that the love she gives is sharp enough to pierce skin, her palms burn with anger enough to burn a heart. But no matter what she wishes, what she cannot give will never fill a hollow chest, will never unshackle her son’s chains and free him from a captivity that she knows will drag him down to a bottomless, pitch-black ravine.

And she knows, in the silence that ensues, the tears she and her son cry will never fill up the emptiness in her chest. For the burden is twice as big, resting as the centerpiece in their slumber. And they both anchor each other down.

In that silence, in an empty room with nothing but a pine table, candles, and a mirror, there stands an alarm clock, and it ticks. 

The long hand reaches the twelve before the short hand can, and together- it rings. The vibration of the alarm clock is high-pitched, a warning. 

The shadows on the walls are no longer, the room filled with dark instead of an eerie glow. The ghosts that once used to dance upon beige and cream-colored walls now rest in the corners of the expanse that holds no way out. And upon a pine table, there stands four candles. 

The candles have gone out. Everything is cold. 

The cracks on the mirror finally fall apart- shattering. They burst into a million pieces that hold no purchase in being glued back together. The shards decorate the polished, wooden floors like shimmering diamonds, rain that had fallen after a year's worth of drought. Out of the tiny interstices and fractures, a deep carmine leaks from a reflective gash. 

Those who fail to fulfill their desires shall reap what they sow. 

In the engravings of the mirror’s frame, it depicts one who fell into the sharp edges that cut into skin, drew out rivers of blood and scarlet. Spilled a truth that most could not ever find. 

Desire is insatiable, it isn’t fair, it's fruitless. Desire is endless, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. 

More specifically: Greed.

Your own want and need, will be your greatest enemy. 

But perhaps one might find a subdued peace in a steaming cup of herbal tea that warms the bitter cold; or maybe a mother's loving song and tender touch that calms a wishful hunger.

After all, while it can become your greatest enemy- that doesn't mean you can't fight it.

November 24, 2023 01:00

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4 comments

James Lane
02:40 Dec 02, 2023

Very poetic entry Mei! You have some excellent use of symbolism and as the story progresses it gets better and better. The sentence "And she knows, in the silence that ensues, the tears she and her son cry will never fill up the emptiness in her chest." was an excellent climax to it all - such a powerful moment. For a critique - the intro paragraphs had me a bit lost. Though I understand it is a matter of style, I think the first two p's could be shortened to one to introduce the theme, and some of the language simplified. That being sai...

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Mei Ling Ho
21:59 Dec 11, 2023

I apologize for the late response- Thank you so much for the compliment and critique, it means a lot to me since this is my first time using this website. I didn't think too much of that quote at first when I wrote it, but I'm so glad you found that little bit memorable! Now that I look back at my story, I completely agree with your advice; the first two paragraphs were rather wordy, and combining them into one would definitely make it a lot easier to read! Nonetheless, thank you for reading my story.

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Kristi Gott
20:12 Nov 30, 2023

This beautifully written story has depths, metaphors and symbolism that are wonderfully evocative. The imagery makes me think of the mythopoetic genre and it has mystery and magic. The stories inside the mirror draw the reader in and the concept of addressing desire and greed make it inspirational and engaging. We all have fallen into those depths at times. Excellent writing and deeply well thought out The creativity and originality of this story make it stand out. Well done!!

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Mei Ling Ho
22:01 Dec 11, 2023

Ah- I see the relation to the mythopoetic genre, that's truly a great comparison and I'm so glad you caught it since that was kinda the vibe I was going for! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you don't mind my late response!

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