Stories and Poems from September Prompt of the Month
In response to The Colton Review's September Prompt of the Month (the image to the left), the Meredith community sent in stories and poems. Read them all below!
Women in Art
by Megan Roberts
It’s always an apple,
referring to Eve
and that evil knowledge
And there’s the pouty lips
and the cleavage,
the red dress and cheeks.
The symbols of harvest,
fertility, moon cycles.
We all know this painting,
and we are tired.
I want a big woman,
fat rolls flowing from her body
like waves and riches.
I want a woman,
smiling with the satisfaction
of her power. Her hair is pulled back;
her arms are muscular;
her clothes are unimportant.
I want a woman
who is not taken
with nurturing others:
she holds a cup
she brings it to her lips
only for herself
no one else.
by Ashley Hogan
The blood moon tilts
in the sky
and we tilt
our heads to watch it
ripen like a pumpkin,
white to yellow to orange
to sweet decay,
leaking strands of pulp
on the front porch.
Soon you will turn 15,
old enough to wonder
who named the moon,
to stand behind me and say
It’s been months now, Lady Lazarus.
And you’re still here,
waxing and waning,
streaking the lawn
with your pale, lovely light.
by Olivia Slack
If the moon floats atop my head
then the rivers of the world
flow through my veins
and the roots that tie the forests
down into the dirt burst from my scalp.
As I lay in the moss, it creeps up
and over my body. My eyes
fixate on the apples and acorns hanging
above me—what a feast that would be,
and yet I cannot stand up, for I have become
part of this Earth and separation
from its sweet, dark soil
would be more painful than I could bear.
I am pulled down into the ground,
and while I could not say how I came to be here
I know that this is my place, and that somehow
I have ascended beyond my existence.
Horns sprout from my hair and leaves etch
themselves upon my skin as the stars leave
the sky and fall upon my cheeks.
The Tale of Annath and Aaron
by Joanna Zhang
In the time when humanity was young there was a group of deities who had special powers. They made the rain fall in order to feed the crops; they set the flowers to bloom and the bees to fertilize them; they created floods and hurricanes to devastate the land. There were humans who coexisted in the land as well. The fairies and humans lived separately for many thousands of years. Then, one fairy, goddess of autumn, fell in love with a human. The goddess’ name was Annath, and the human’s name was Aaron.
Annath and Aaron kept their relationship a secret for a while, but when the other gods and goddesses found out, they laughed. Annath tried to shield Aaron from danger, but one fall when she was off doing her work for the land, he was caught in a flood from a hurricane and died.
When this happened, Annath grew so bitter that she pleaded with the goddess of death to release Aaron. She offered that each year, death could take the leaves and color from the trees. The goddess of death agreed, and when Aaron rose from the ground where he lay, Annath was so happy that the plants around her turned orange with joy. As Annath’s tears fell to the ground, a tree sprung up that had fruit on it. When she presented to Aaron an apple of immortality from the tree, he became a god and they lived together for the rest of eternity.
by Mada Brown
The festival was in full swing, people laughing and drinking together, children bobbing for apples out of an old barrel, couples lazily walking arm in arm around, and food being dished out and displayed everywhere. In the middle of everyone was a table, an altar, laden with candles and food. The centerpiece was a large cornucopia of grapes, blackberries, squash, corn, and more.
By the table sat the Autumn Queen, crowned with a crown of acorns, leaves, antlers and a bird’s skull. She had been loaded up with leaves and pieces of flare found or made by other festival goers. In her lap was a large bowl filled with several large Golden Delicious apples. The people around her filtered in and out, the host of the festival announcing that soon there would be a large meal and the festival would be over.
Eve Devon had looked up information on these festivals, thinking she could prepare herself for all that would come. It had been going well, nothing too outrageous and she believed it was almost over, just one final blessing for the night before the Equinox was over. Mr. Wilkes, the local mechanic called everyone’s attention and announced the last offering needed to be made to the altar. Everyone gave a cheer and gathered closer around, putting Eve at the center of their gaze.
Mr. Wilkes, Mr. Rose, and Mrs. Gordon came through the crowd, leading something towards Eve. She thought they must be bringing some large produce that had been saved for last, something special. Instead, she watched as the snowy white fur of a goat was revealed through the legs of the festival goers, its bleating coming closer and closer to her. The goat was led directly in front of her, and she looked up at Mr. Wilkes, confused.
He ignored her confusion and turned to the crowd. “A sacrifice for the God and Goddess to show our devotion and sincerity for the bountiful harvest,” he stated.
He had a knife, large and shining in the moonlight that she had not seen in his hands before. Eve moved a bowl of apples off her lap, preparing to stand up to make room for whatever it was he was about to do, one apple had fallen off and she held it up just as Mr. Wilkes held the goat. He’d maneuvered it to aim it’s neck at Eve and as she started to stand up, he quickly slit its throat, blood spurting forth directly onto her and the apple in her hands.
There was silence, for a moment before cheers were heard around her. The crowd didn’t seem to really see her or what was happening to her anymore, only seeing the blood seeping from the goat and what food they could find. No one noticed the wisps of black that started to emerge from beneath her feet or the way the apple in her hands had begun to shrivel and die. Standing straight up, Eve slowly opened her eyes, looking out at them, blood dripping down her cheeks.
“Blessing to your festival,” she whispered, power crackling above her head and startling those around her. “I hope you enjoyed the fun.”
Until Next November
By Krista Wiese
When I think of you, I think of ember orange trees and acorns the color of freckles. And when brown leaves start to fall and designer pumpkins line the ornate doorways of Independence Avenue, I am overwhelmed by expectancy because I know that before leaves coat the ground, you’ll be here, waving at me through the window across the street, shyly as though we hadn’t met the year before, and gifting my family caramel apples that you and your aunt covered with green and purple sprinkles.
I remember the first time you knocked on my door. That was two years ago. I was walking home from school, nearly finished with my first semester of high school, when I spotted you, standing in front of my house with your aunt who I only knew then as Mrs. Whitaker.
“Hello!” I called out as I approached. I remember grinning easily until you turned around at which point grinning—and even standing—became tricky. You were beautiful. You are beautiful. With your golden brown curls and darkly rimmed eyes, you felt like someone I’d see fly by through the window of the metro and always wonder whether you were real or not. But there you were, all too real, staring at me with unveiled judgement in your eyes and a basket of desserts in your arms. You were sizing me up and I knew it and I didn’t mind at all so long as you were thinking of me. I could already tell that you were the kind of person whose attention was hard to keep.
Your aunt introduced you then. This is my niece, Addie. She gleamed at you. Her family moved to North Carolina, just four hours away, which means I finally get company for Thanksgiving every year. Isn’t that nice?
I agreed that it was very nice, and then took the basket of desserts from your outstretched arm. I remember nearly dropping it when our fingers brushed. You’ve always called me dramatic, and I don’t deny it, but you have a way of teasing out my strongest emotions. At first it was joy. The joy I felt during our late-night adventures—those nights spent racing down the streets of DC on our rickety bikes, eating ice cream on pitch black benches, making out in the shadows of towering monuments—that joy was unbridled. You made me fall in love. I didn’t want to—somehow I knew how it would end. I was forced; you were everything I wanted, and I only had you for a week. Of course I fell in love.
You love me, don’t you, you said one time. It wasn’t a question.
Then you leave, and I regret all that unbridling of joy. There are boys at school who get summer girlfriends every year. I’ve started to envy them because their relationships end when school and football and the clamor of autumn begins. You leave me with winter and too much time to think of you.
That’s the point of this letter. To tell you that I miss you. But I’ll never send it because I know you won’t read it. You don’t miss me after autumn. I know because I call you four hours after you leave every year, to see if you made it home safely, and you never answer. Because I text you that I’m thinking of you and you don’t open the message. Because you don’t love me, and I know it. The caramel apples you bring every year are not gifts. They’re invitations. But I will always accept them.
Until next November,