the curse: wishful inkers issue no. 3

Issue 3: Only Human

What do you think about when you hear the word human nature?
Six Inkers came together to bring you a  themed anthology all about their interpretations of what human nature means to them.

This issue is a compilation of short stories, flash fiction and poetry that will make you smile, cry and think.

Our featured writer, which we are calling the “Editor” for this issue is  Alexandre Allouch-Micati. Check out his Q & A at the back of this issue!

All proceeds from the sale of this issue will be going to the charity Papyrus, which focuses on shattering the stigma around suicide and equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognize and respond to suicidal behaviour.

~ Wishful Inkers

Issue 3 is about Human Nature, here is a piece from my short story. You can read the rest by buying the issue on our eBook page. Proceeds go to a charity.

Juls sat by the window, rain dripped down the thick glass, while orange city lights were blurred against a grey sky. Sirens sounded below, while the bustle of people rushing to work and school filled the air with hum. She could smell toasted bread from the kitchen and hear the tea kettle, as her auntie was busy with breakfast. The sixteen year old girl looked from the dreary weather outside to her right arm, and touched the spot were her skin was gold. Like a birthmark blotch, smooth unmistakable gold was her flesh on her forearm below the wrist. It didn’t hurt. It didn’t feel like anything, but metal. She noticed a pulse still beat under her skin, this thing never made sense. Surely, if it continued to grow, the pulse would stop. Would she lose her hand?

She swallowed the pain, the cringe of fear, and pulled on a sweater. A new hole found its way into the elbow, she noticed as she looked into the mirror hanging next to her bed. No matter, the sleeves were long enough to cover her gold patches. She brushed her thick, black hair and checked for zits…or gold…on her face before rushing from her tiny, tiny room to the kitchen where toast and butter waited.

“After class, you coming home?” Aunt Tia asked. She smiled at Juls and handed over a cup of black tea. Juls took it, though the taste was bitter. There was no sense complaining, they couldn’t afford sugar, or even milk this week. Thank the gods, they still could buy butter. It was the cheap butter, but was still better than plain toast. Juls sipped the tea and chowed down the bread slice.

“Yeah, I’m gonna just stop by the caf’ to see Red and the others, see if there’s more work, then I’ll be back,” Juls said.

“You don’t need to work. I’ll take care of you,” Tia said.

“I know, I know. I just like milk in my coffee. Gotta make that dough.” Juls said. She smiled at Tia.

“You gonna buy the good stuff?”

“Soy, for real soy.”

Tia shook her, still smiling. “And where would you get the rations for this?”

“I’d figure something out,” Juls said. She grabbed her bag and headed to the door, tugging on her right arm sleeve again. Tia’s smile faded. Her dark eyes turned away.

“You know, I’m proud of you, right?” Tia said.

Juls looked out the tiny window in the door, just enough space to see the grey building across the way. Outside, a world the streets filled with people, most of which didn’t care about Juls. They didn’t care about anyone. There was the bright city above, where all the well-fed people in nice clothes lived. Where they talked about blueprints, salt-free water, and they drink real milk. Then there was the underside, the shadow city where she lived, where the workers turned the gears in the dirt and ate stale white bread. But in the this tiny apartment, this square space of old blankets and tea, she was loved by family. Something that not everyone gets to feel. Why couldn’t she just stay there, in this cozy nest where things made sense.

Sirens sounded below and she was brought back.

“Yeah, thanks,” Juls said. “I know.” She had to go out there, to take care of what was in here. She had to work hard too. Tia worked everyday, scrubbing bots and greasing the wheels. The great machine damned work if you wanted to live. She opened the door and the smell of smog and oil and smoke rolled in, the noise of life was louder.

“Love you,” Tia said.

“Love you too, auntie,” Juls said.

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