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The Talon

The Talon

February Literary Magazine

Stop and smell the roses
Art by Jason Dennis
This month’s theme was to include a rose(s) in your work. Art by Jason Dennis


By K.E.M.

“Roses to Bristol”

Been watching through a window,

That unnamed walking widow.

Who always carries roses,

Story continues below advertisement

On her way up to Bristol.


She walks them for her Moses,

Who died by unknown pistol.

Oh we all miss him oh-so,

But none more than that widow.

Short Story

By Taylor Walker

“Struck By Thorns”

“I’m plucking rose petals,” she responded to his anxious questioning. 

Her fingers removed a petal from the luscious flower and cooed at it with a smile. She did not feel the thorns of the stem poking into her skin, nor did she feel the liquid red trickling down her wrist. 

His presence didn’t seem to bother her, although he had just told her he was seeing someone else and that he would most definitely have to leave her behind. 

His figure sat down next to her on the bench and he could see her brow furrow only slightly. 

“How long have you been sitting out here?” His hand touched her shoulder lightly, but she didn’t give him any form of acknowledgement. “There are people who are looking for you.” 

There were in fact people who were looking for her, but she wouldn’t stand up. She would not move to go meet those people who were looking, and she wouldn’t run from them either. 

They would just have to find her themselves. 

“What are you doing?” He pleaded. 

She had pulled all the petals off the flower; they were scattered around her tarnished shoes on the concrete ground. A car sped by and whizzed in both their ears, but neither of them moved. 

The fast and sudden movement of her throwing only what the flower remained shocked him. He flinched as he watched her arm rest peacefully back in her lap. He looked out as another car came towards the stem and thorns and drove it over with its tire, squishing it into the Earth. 

“I told you,” she huffed. “I was plucking rose petals!” She marched away from him. 

He couldn’t help but follow after her, a few droplets of her blood had somehow smeared along his own pale wrist. 

By Cael Fahrmann

The trees in the forest swayed, creaking and moaning with each gust of wind. Two people were alone in this forest. One, Rose, was a tan-skinned woman with long, dark hair. The second, Mike, was a round, middle-aged man with a beard. Tonight, they had one thing left to do. One last task from the Ranger.

“Are you sure this is where we are supposed to be?” Rose said, questioning where they were.

“Yes, yes.” Mike replied, scratching his beard. “This is the path the Ranger said to go down.” 

 The jeep the two were on continued down the path, leaving behind a trail in the mud. It continued going, climbing hills and winding past trees. Eventually, the GPS monitor’s steely voice muttered;

“You have arrived.” 

 The thing was, they hadn’t. They were supposed to be going to the supply cabin, not a rusty gate in the middle of the woods. 

“How long has this been here, Mike? I mean, you’ve worked here forever, haven’t you?” Rose asked.

“There’s never been anything here, Rose.” Mike said, when suddenly, the ground beneath them began to vibrate.

The two bolted out of the jeep, glancing at the ground.

“An earthquake, here?” Mike said, confused.

Then, the grass that covered the ground began to squirm and crawl, as if infested with maggots. The jeep then was overtaken by the earth, the rumbling and vibrating continuing until it suddenly stopped. The jeep became visible once more, except it was no longer a jeep. Only sheets of metal and miscellaneous other car parts stood before them, glinting in the moonlight.

“Okay, that’s it, we’re done. I’m not about to die just to get some supplies,” Mike muttered.

Mike rambled on, but he was interrupted as another rumble happened.

“Mike, help!” Rose shouted, the earth beginning to swallow her.

Mike panicked, reaching for her hand, but it was too late. Once the earth sunk back down, there was nothing but a rose where Rose once stood. 

“This has got to be a bad dream.” Mike muttered, shaking his head.

“Believe me, it’s not.” said Rose.

“Maybe to you. Wait, Rose?” Mike said suddenly, searching for the source of the noise.

He searched and soon found it had come from the rose that was planted right beside him.

“It isn’t a bad dream, Mike. All this can be fixed, as long as you finish your task,” Rose said. 

Mike finally understood. So, he got up and walked over to the gate. Nearby, a skeleton key lay on the ground. Using this, he opened the gate. Then the ground rumbled again. A pile of dirt on the top of the hill began to squirm, and soon, a rickety old shack lay in its place. Walking in, he grabbed what he needed. The supplies.

“Nice job, Mike,” Rose said, except she was blue.

And soon, the colors of the midnight sky began to change and blur until there was nothing left but a wild swirl of color. And Mike was falling, falling, falling, down to the eternal abyss of nothingness. And just then, nothingness went to everything, and he was real again.

“Okay, yep, that’s about it,” the Ranger said, handing Mike his paycheck.

Mike gasped, suddenly aware.

“What? S’it less than you was hoping for?” the Ranger questioned.

“Where’s the jeep? Where’s the park? Where’s Rose?” Mike said, wondering.

“What is you talkin’ ’bout? Mike, you work at a gas station.” 

By Reagan Prendergast

The farm was beautiful. The red gate that surrounded our farm made it look welcoming or a place people could go to for help. The jeep in our gravel driveway seemed to persuade others that we were the type of family that was at peace. Our chickens ran wild around the property like lions in the desert. The forest by our farm was my favorite part of our land. It was my safe place. It ran for miles long and I could hide with no one being able to find me.

If judging a book by its cover, people would think because we have a beautiful home, our family was probably beautiful as well. I wish that was true, but it’s not. I was an only child and my mom had passed. It was just me and my dad. He had been an alcoholic since my mom died and had abused me several times. The key to the jeep was hidden so the only way to escape was going to the forest. I could pretend to be someone else and forget about my family’s issues in the forest. 

 One day, my dad had been drinking all day and was angry at me for not putting  the dishes away. He was close to hitting me, so I ran toward the door and out to my hiding spot. 

“Don’t you dare go back out to the forest. I know what you’re doing,” he said to me. 

I kept running, but when I looked back, he was running towards me. His eyes were filled with resentment and I was scared of what he was going to do next. He took something out of his pocket. It looked like a tiny box, but when I looked more closely, it was a box of matches. He took one of the matches, lit it up, and threw it into the forest. The fire spread fast and wildly. The orange flames filled the blue sky and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. No more hiding or safe spots. The rickety trees collapsed one by one. An hour later, the place that I went to everyday was gone. It was burned to the ground. The one thing left standing was a rose.

By Sareena Casady

“The Gift”

On the 13th of September, Nicolette Carver received a visit from the local postman. While this in itself would not have been abnormal, Nicolete rarely ever got mail in her small cottage on the outskirts of town. 

Having grown up an orphan, she was used to being alone, and this day was no different. Startled by the harsh rapping on her door, Nicolette jumped away from her morning reading and stopped cautiously before the door, her hand poised on the handle. An eerie feeling was pulling at her gut as if to tell her something was about to change. 

Nicolette opened the door, only to have a small blue package shoved eagerly into her hands. It was a small piece of cloth, tight with a neat small string. Retreating to her tiny kitchen, she placed the package down and stared in bewilderment. After 30 seconds with no apparent clues jumping out at her, Nicolette cautiously grabbed for the item. She untied the bow, revealing a small brass key and a note with just one line of writing. “Blackthorne forest, a gift from your parents.” 

Even as Nicolette stared in shock, questions swirling in her mind, she felt the beginning of excitement fluttering in her stomach. She grabbed the key, ambled outside to her jeep, and set her GPS to one Blackthorne forest. Twenty minutes later she arrived at what she was told was her location, a small path leading into the woods. Figuring she had come this far Nicolette set forth down the path. 

She eventually came to an old rickety gate that had long been out of use. Nicolette tried to push through but was met with a groan as the gate fought against the lock. Remembering the key, Nicolette quickly fished it out of her pocket and nervously tried it in the lock. With some maneuvering, the gate gave way to something Nicolette never could have guessed. A beautiful wild rose garden stared back at her all. 

It was magical, each rose blood red and creating a sweet perfume. Behind it stood a gleaming manor, the house of her dreams. Nicolette felt a sudden longing for her parents taken from her too soon, which left her this enchanting paradise. But she felt something else too, a warm feeling growing, seeping throughout her body. She wasn’t alone, she had a piece of them now she thought she would never have.

By Saydie Burgos

Blue was a force to be reckoned with. Well, she was until she lost her twin sister and older brother.

The day she lost Mark began like any other day in Forest Lee Creek. It was April 7th, 2019, when it started to rain at 2:34 a.m. That morning at 6:57 a.m, the last thing Blue said to Mark was to be safe. He had responded the same thing he said every day it rained: “Blue, I know how to drive in the rain. It rains every day here.”

Blue knew he was right; it did rain every day here.

She turned to the kitchen window looking at him for the last time. She can still hear the deck’s rickety boards as he left for the jeep he cared too much about.

On April 7th, 2019, at 3:59 p.m., Mark’s body and the old blue jeep were found turned towards its side in a ditch. When police and the coroner’s office arrived, the clock struck at 4:30 p.m. In the final report, it was noted his body had begun rigor mortis; the final time of death was 8:56 a.m. 

The day she lost Christina began on December 5th, 2020, with her preparing breakfast. At 7:30 a.m., Blue and Christina walked to the school gates. Christina turned to her for the last time, mentioning some guy she was meeting up with after school, and she needed the car keys. At 1:59 p.m., Blue was called into the principal’s office. There she was about to hear how Christina wasn’t in Literacy or Home Ed class. Each question they asked made her realize the impending doom of her being dead.

December 9th, 2020, Christina Loften was found dead in the forest where her body was found with a singular vine of a white wild rose intangible in her arms.

Today, January 1st, 2026, Blue was found standing on the townie’s locket bridge ledge. There she meets her end… the end of her misery, and where the town’s perfect quarter-back, Ashton Lee McCormick, jogs. They talk for hours there and the misery of being alone dissipates.

By Bella Beeman

Leila rose from her bed. She got up slowly with not an ounce of joy left. She made her way down the hallway, past the picture frames on the wall that still had the photos of a fake family inside, with a print that read 11×12. 

Her pajama pants dragged on the floor and her sleeves hung from her arms. She grabbed her black robe and put it on. She made it down the squeaky steps and to the front door. She swung it open. She made her way down the sidewalk covered in weeds, as a cold gust almost knocked her off of her feet. She was still wearing her makeup from yesterday. She looked across the street and saw the children in the backyard on their swings, laughing and jumping. 

She stood at the mailbox and let out a sigh. She opened the mailbox and gasped. This was the most exhilarating thing that has happened in a long time. Inside the mailbox was an envelope. Tied to the envelope with a red ribbon was a white rose. She searched for clues as to who it could be that sent this but had none. She had no choice but to open the envelope.

By Sophia Hughes

The calm forest spoke in comforting sounds: the wind brushing through the outstretched pine nettles, birds singing gently, their words carrying for miles, small creatures going about their days quietly as they roamed their world with familiar and confident steps, and the deer gracefully walking along soft sandy beds of babbling rivers. All was calm in the forest, just like it always was. Something stirred in the forest, a new sound, harsh and growling it overtook the calm of the forest. The animals no longer walked with familiar steps, instead moving in frightened prances as they tried to distance themselves from the noise. This was no growl of the forest, no bear or wolf or lynx or fox spoke in such loud and scratchy voices. No matter how far the animals stayed from the noise it always found them, bouncing off the trees and clawing through the grass to find them. Dusk did not scare the growl away, nor did night, nor rain, nor storms, nor dawn, nor fog. It simply did not leave.

Then without warning it stopped, after days and days of it biting and crawling through the forest it went silent. No animal moved, afraid of alerting whatever made the sound as if waking it from a deep slumber to continue its growling. Finally a few brave animals went to investigate. The strongest and smartest of the forest, to find what had haunted them for endless days before vanishing without warning. The trek back was long, they had all gone so far to try and escape the noise only for it to continue to follow, as if clinging tight to their shadows and chasing them forever.

Eventually they followed the silence to the edge of the forest, a long odd thorn bush stopping them from going further. The small animals like the fox, the squirrel, the badger, and the rabbit dug under the fence while sky-born animals like the owl, the raven, the sparrow, and the hawk flew high above the grasping thorns that covered the top of the wooden fence. But the doe, the moose, the bear, and the wolf could not pass, whenever they tried the fence would snag on their pelts and rake its frigid claws across them. The other animals tried to think, they knew this was human made, which meant humans must have a way in for they could not fly or dig. So while the larger animals walked along the forest side, the smaller animals walked along the inside, and the birds flew high above to keep watch they all followed the fencing, the air dry and silent.

When the bright blue sky of the day began to fade into the deep blue of the night they discovered what had made the growl, and then the silence. It was something human made, lodged into the fence gate at an odd angle, large black paws lifted high to the sky and back to the dirt-covered earth, a foul scent and a form of black blood spilling across the ground. The clever fox knew this was what the humans had called a jeep, a curious invention that bleed toxic into the ground and poisoned the air with its breath. The brave wolf stepped forward, gently tapping the thing, careful and cautious as they did not know if it would awaken. When the wolf touched its side with a gentle paw it groaned as its rickety body shook, sending the animals jumping back in fear, these could strike down animals of the forest, they were wild and dangerous especially when off their black and acidic path, they would trample anything in their path and not stop. They seemed indestructible.

But here one was. Laying flat with its back to the ground, injured and alone. They were more dangerous in packs or herds, alone they could be avoided. The moose bore scares from a few, they seemed to be the only creature in the entire forest capable of hurting them. But this was not done by any animal of the forest. None of them could understand what had happened to it. The growl must have been a call for help, sent out to any that could hear. But no one had come to help them. The fox leapt onto the beat’s belly, it whispered complaint but made no move to shoo the fox away. However something jingled, startling the animals. There was a faint clink and something glittering clattered to the ground. The clever fox knew it as keys, humans had many but no one was sure why. They had a harsh smell to them, different from the smell around it, but still bitter. The fox leapt down from the beast’s belly and it made no sound. It had passed, the animals were not sure where it would go, would it return to the earth, would it vanish entirely?

They did know that the humans had not been seen in a while, and when these beasts spilled their black blood over the earth it needed cleaning or it poisoned the ground and the water. They had to stop it from spreading, but how? Their arguments took them till the moon was high before they agreed on a solution. They would dig a small trench around it to keep it contained, then they would bring roses, they would prevent the spread, wishing for the forest herself to take pity on the fallen beast and bring their body peace in the end. The flowers and the scent would bring peace while the thorns and the brambles brought protection, for both beast and forest. The animals of the ground quickly began digging, hooves, claws, and paws raking into the dirt and dying grass while the animals of the sky flew around to find the roses to border the trench. It took them to near dawn to finish digging and replanting the roses. They set the last rose and looked over the fallen beast, the foul scent had been masked by the pleasant flowers, the peaceful scent gently coating the air in calm.

As the sun rose the animals turned, heading back to the forest. As they did the peace spread and the forest began to whisper the comfort once more. Wind brushing the outstretched pine arms of the trees, birds once again beginning their songs that carried on for miles, small creatures began to go about their days in their world with familiar and confident steps, the deer re-beginning their graceful dance in the soft sandy beds of the once again babbling rivers. The calm comforted by the soft scent of roses that was carried on the wind, in the trees, in the water, and on the backs of the creatures that roamed there. The once toxic clawing of a fallen beast’s cries gentled by the forest and a circle of protective roses meant for mercy and peace.

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