Cory’s Story: flashbacks in red/12 burdens by the bedside

red ink trailing in water
Photo by Anni Roenkae on

How are you Scarlet?

I am feeling…I am.

Are you doing better than yesterday?

What is yesterday? What are you?

I’m Cory. Remember?

I remember. Fuzzy bloody a body and blood…blood…

Scarlet, those are flashbacks. Can you hear me?

Scarlet? Hello?

Scarlet, you’re having flashbacks.

I’m Scarlet.

Yes. You are Scarlet.

Where am I?

You’re in the canyon. This is our inner world.

Inner…inner…fountaining blood from in…

No no no Scarlet!

In a body…fountaining blood…


Scarlet, do you hear me? You’re having flashbacks. Scarlet?


Back to the bed. Back to the bed, with the shouting gone silent, with his feet cramped in his boots, his hands cold from snow collecting.

“I told you I would get water today,” he muttered to the droopy cactus on the windowsill, potted soil wet and black.

Cory pried off his boots, opened the trunk to set them on the top step, laid on the floor and stared at the dust balls underneath the bed.

Back to the bed. Back to tomorrow. Back to the same unending list as today.

One. The floor was always cold. He would stumble to the dresser first thing in the morning to find socks.

Two. That would remind him of his boots sitting on the top step in the trunk, how he should visit Jasmine and ask about Sam, see how Rimira was doing and if she could get a blanket to Winnie, tell her things were going to be okay.

Three. Since he was already down there, he would tell himself he needed to explore the canyon and see if any new alters had shown up, since nobody else regularly checked the canyon for alters, or really anywhere for that matter, so he might need to check the house too.

Which led to four, climbing back up the winding staircase and leaving his room and walking through the halls.

Five. There were shouting people in the hallways, screaming littles clawing upon the roof. Cory wanted to avoid them. But they all lived in the house and he could never really be alone.

Six. Go outside to collect snow.

Seven. Bring the snow back in, check if the plants needed fertilizer, or more sunlight, or pruning, the drooping cactus in the tiny white pot might need a new pot anyway, wait for the snow to melt, pour water on the plants and then eight.

Go back out because the watering can never held enough snow on the first trip.

Nine, look presentable. Ten, the dust balls under the bed needed swept. Eleven, he thought Mina had a broom, but she was one of the shouting people, so should he steal the broom from the kitchen or interrupt and ask her? Twelve, that was the list for tomorrow, just like the list for today.

Relief of a set-down burden lasted as long as the night. Cory ripped off his socks. Tossed them to the corner. Crawled up to the bed, tomorrow’s list burdening itself through his head.


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