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Shorter Works

The following section is broken up into two sections: fiction and non-fiction.


Large Scandinavian Women

Class starts at nine every morning, and I am promptly up at seven. The next two hours are intended for coffee, makeup and hair. With a low rumble of the morning news on, the first forty-five minutes is makeup: layer after layer until I am designer pretty, meant for a photoshoot where I wouldn’t be photo shopped. My skin is paled to become one shade without any question of freckles or pimples, and then it comes to the deliberate marks on my skin to make me look as if I have cheekbones that stick out and to make my eyes look wider so the green enthralls. The next forty-five minutes is the perfect space for my hair, where every hair is straightened without any thought of wave or frizz, and it frames my face. The clothes are already set out on my bed, and I slip one limb in at a time, like armor for battle. I maneuver the tight shirt across my torso until it fits into place.

            For the last ten minutes before I head off to class, I carefully eat the granola not to ruin my makeup. I put on my heels that make me another two and a half inches taller, and I know I will tower over anyone I encounter.

Protect the Institution

Slowly, I slip my dress back on as James runs his thumb in circles on my shoulder. He beckons me back to bed, but I pull myself away with an embarrassed smile. I have told him so many times that someone will notice if I am here late, and I want this kept secret. He always smiles mysteriously with an upturned corner of his mouth, and his blue eyes twinkle. He begs me to stay, and I remind him of my job. “It is very important,” I say.

            His smile broadens. “I love you, Rosie.”

            The words play on my lips, ready to say them too for a second. “Go to bed. You have a big day tomorrow.”

            He laughs. “I have a big day every day.”

            I know he watches me as I leave, and I do not look back. His bedroom door closes softly behind me, and I tiptoe to a corner. When I look around the corner, I expect to see the maids, butlers, bodyguards and everyone else that roam the halls in the early mornings, yet I stand alone in the hallway. I slip on my high heels and stride happily toward the main office.

            People stand around in eerie quietness, and then one phone rings. No one answers it. The roar of the television comes to life. My fearful colleagues stare at the news, and I move among them. “What do we do?” whispers Daniel, a new bodyguard with hope in his eyes but a hard stance.

            “Protect the Institution.”

            Marching myself back upstairs, I knock on James’ door, like I had done times before. I don’t wait to open it. On the floor, James lays on his side, trembling and eyes wet. I do not hesitate like others would in my place. Settling down next to him, he puts his head on my lap, and I brush my fingers through his hair.

           “I love you, Rosalind MacTavish,” he sobs. His fingers curl into my dress. “You’re the only one I have left. What are we going to do?”

            In this moment, I have a choice, and I have worked all my life to be here. Whatever the cost, I will reign. “Carry on.”

Ceard san Adher

A Candle in the Window

            “Jess, I’m going out for a bit,” Johnny called, moving toward the old rusty car.

            I looked to my older brother as I hunted for my younger one. “What are you doing?”

            I knew it was something to do with a girl in town. “I’ll be back before our parents.”

            “Get me ice cream on the way back!”

            Johnny opened the car’s door and asked, “Is that the only way to buy your silence?”

            “Hell yeah.”

            “Will do.” A large grin crossed over his face, and he yelled out for Joey, “Be good!”

            Wherever Joey was hiding in the woods, he didn’t give away his position. The only sound came from a rustling of leaves, which marked his response.

            “Leave the candle burning, yeah?” Johnny drove off down the long driveway.

Our house arose in the distance, tall and lengthy, stretching out of the ground. With the house built up, it was a fortress and a pain to climb, offering a guiding light. In the top window of the attic was burning candle, as my father always lit it to guide us kids home. With an eye on the house, I went in search of my younger brother.

While Joey was small for his age, he didn’t hide easily, mostly because he was scared of the dark, and it did start to get dark. Tall shadows sprang from every large bush. From behind the tree, my hand grasped him and yanked him out. He screamed in terror, falling on his knees and covering his head. My laugh spiraled into the air.

Please note: This story is unfinished and was originally started for a class in college. I hope to continue this story in the future.


Many of my short non-fiction works are travel based. Please enjoy.

A Lone, Red Buoy

I ran with my little legs in the ocean water off the coast of California. Offshore, a lone, red buoy floated in the water, placing the line of reality versus imagination. The air of California was cold by their standards but warm from where I stood, as I was used to the Minnesotan winters. The water might have been chilled, but my excitement overran that. I splashed and ran in circles. My mom called for me to come closer to shore, no more than a foot out, so I would sink in. I complied, only to run out again. My brother went further out. I dreamed of the day would be able to do that. He didn’t swim, but at least he got to go out. The waves only lapped across my feet, barely touching. Clouded, sandy foam brushed my feet. It almost knocked me backward.

Pain Builds Character

Off the shore rested darkened clouds. Surely rain was on the horizon. For now, I was determined to stay under the hot sun. The breeze had indeed picked up, threatening to knock me over into the shallow water. The problem wasn’t getting wet, but the pain that was to follow.

            My feet hurt. It ran up my legs and hit my spine. Even my arms hurt for some reason. My bare feet stood on a slowly brown-turning-pink coral reef of the lophelia pertusa, which are the only coral in British waters. Down the beach, North Berwick turned into Mingulay, which held the deepest coral reefs in the Northern Hemisphere, and it was a breeding ground for sharks.

No Beach is Like Another

       On the horizon rested storm clouds that slowly turned from bright white, like fresh snow, to a misty gray. The ocean water began to shift to a dark blue. The rest of the water, closer to me, rested a soft blue. The closer the water got to shore, the clearer it became, waves flapped over each other and rolled to a stop at my feet.

        It was oddly hot in Scotland. The sand was too hot to touch. The water grazed against my feet with each passing lap. My friends and I had come to North Berwick for just an afternoon. It was just another beach to them. To me, it was another chance to be at a beach.

        I had left my friends in my wake as I walked. They were too slow and too loud for my taste. I kicked up water, and it misted in the air. Droplets came down again, coating my jeans and shirt. I thought about bringing my swimsuit, but I had an hour train ride back to Edinburgh and then an hour bus ride back to Dalkeith, where I was staying for an exchange program.

Stay in Silence



For more of Johnson's fiction writing, please click on the link. Most of Johnson's fiction writing are longer in hopes of someday in being published into novels. You are welcome to read them as they are works in progress.

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