On the shores of the swamp, two teenagers fell in love during the twilight of an autumn night. He kicked off his shoes and rolled up his pants; she slid from her sandals and held the hem of her dress in her right hand. There were grimy jars underneath the back steps of the house. He unscrewed the lids and handed her one. She let go of the hem of her dress, and they waded into the water together. Dashing through the shallows, they caught an odd dozen of fireflies. After releasing their catch, he brushed a stray hair behind her ear and kissed her for the first time.
There is a set of grimy jars near the back door, never put into a proper place. Some still have traces of swamp water inside, now stagnant and reeking of rotting vegetation and algae. They rest near a doormat, now too dirty to be of any good, and a pair of muddy work boots. The laces have never been done up.
This summer the swamp rose ten feet in some places; five here. We replaced some of the floorboards, but most are still rotting. It is now the last day of autumn. In our corner of the world, the seasons don’t change to a large degree. It’s always warm, and it’s always wet. The trees never lose their leaves. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
There’s a hole in the kitchen wall. Now and again, fireflies come in and make a home out of the pendant lamp. When the lights go off, they glide through the cold air and roost in the corners. You can’t blame them for wanting to get out of the kitchen.
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On the dirty tabletop lay the remains of a few glass bottles. The only comprehensible pieces are the long, graceful necks of the bottles. Swans amongst shards. There are no white birds here. Only raptors and scavengers.
Another breaks. I flinch in my seat.
“Why is it so dirty here?”
I glance upwards.
Have you ever stepped on glass?
I have vague memories of a young girl who had it better than this. She didn’t run into the swamp to escape. She ran into the waters to enjoy herself. She’d let the hem of her dress get dirty and allowed her hair to fall down.
“Why is it always dirty here?”
I have vague memories of a young boy who knew better than this. He always took his shoes off outside. He threw caution into the wind and didn’t listen to anything but what his gut told him. He wanted to go wherever life sent him.
He’s got me now.
Skin to skin, hand to neck, back to wall.
I have vague memories of the day we fell in love.