Open Book

The story begins here...

An experiment in collective writing!

Let's tell a story together. It's simple:  no more than 300 words and stick to the original story line as much as possible. Changes in font signify changes in author.

We've started our second story, and this time there's a twist! This story begins at the end. Each new addition will tell what happened before the previous entry. 

Send submissions to editor@nightforestpress.com

Her pen scorched the page — everything that had been building up in her for the past three years finally erupting with a fierceness that she’d never felt before. There was liberation in the words she formed as they skimmed across the flesh of what had been trees in some long-forgotten forest. An unmistakable scent of ink mixed with her nervous sweat, combining in some arcane olfactory alchemy that blurred her thoughts but not her vision; her eyes were locked on the tip of the pen where it met the paper. She was breathing through her mouth as if she were already running along the path she knew would take her to freedom, to safety, to herself. With each sentence, each paragraph, she felt herself becoming unburdened by the secrets and shame that accompanied her silence. No more. But with the unburdening came a stripping of the veneer of pretense that had been carefully and painstakingly built up over the years. Not just here behind these wall, but since she was a girl. Now, there would be no more hiding, no more pretending, no more lying. The truth, the words on the page, was like some sort of emotional sandpaper, scraping away the scabs of hurt and the crust of heartbreak.

 

She felt raw. Like a burn, or a nasty case of road rash. As though every nerve ending was exposed. Even the roots of her hair seemed to throb. And her heart – it was as though there was a cavern where her chest should be. Ache didn’t begin to cover it. But she also felt raw in the unfinished sense – the meat uncooked, the bread not yet baked. Perhaps, if she could shift her focus, she could see past all of this pain to what lay beyond. Because there was going to be loss, yes. It was utterly unavoidable. But in the fire, the phoenix. In every ending, a beginning. She folded the paper once, then twice. Slowly, deliberately, she ran her fingers along the crease. She slid the sheet into the waiting envelope, raised the flap to her mouth, tasted the bitter tang. Pressed it closed. There was, she knew, no going back. The path had been decided so long ago. There was no point in regret. She rose, and looked around herself. There was such comfort in familiar objects. Especially when faced with the alternative. A wave of nausea rolled over her. The room shifted, tiled on its axis. She placed a hand on the worn, wooden table to steady herself, and drew a deep, shuddering breath. She straightened, squared her shoulders, and without a backward glance she walked out the door for the last time.