Heart, Felt – Part One

Heart, Felt Part One

Here, I’d usually write something about the story you are going to read. This time I can’t without giving anything away. I sincerely hope you enjoy.

“In my time here, much to the dismay of my betters, I have come to love the humans who inhabit the planet. Despite their near unified effort to salt the earth upon which they live, they cling to the fragments of life which they still find in abundance to their perception. Through the sound of rupturing crags in the hull of the earth and the thunder of their forests crashing down, they find joy in the little things. The things which make them so distinctly human.

The strangeness of humanity is rooted in their very bones. From creation, they have aspired for much and little altogether. Ultimately ignorant of the world and it’s purpose. Perhaps they are pleased in their ignorance, and not caring about the existence of everything beyond what they know is calming to them. Still, in my years with the humans I’ve grown fond of their peculiarities. For a society who craves to know what happens after they die, they sure spend an incredible amount of time disregarding that wonder. Their days filled to the brim with work for other, more profitable humans.

One peculiarity I’ve found myself considering on more than one occasion is the act of “Retirement.” The concept that one must work their entire life to earn money, some of which is squirreled away into an account someone else makes even more money off of, only to be withdrawn after a lifetime of service to a more wealthy person so that you can live a meager life in your end of days, balancing your spending until eventually, you are granted the sweet release of bargaining yourself into a coffin, which your descendants must pay for.

It is a silly practice, retiring. Though I’ve come to understand that people are quite simply a silly thing to exist. I question the creators for their efforts in populating this place with so many unusual beings.

All of this being said, I am writing this note to warn, and to describe, an act of humanity which transcends the silliness of their retirement parties or the fact that they rent places to live, rather than unifying against the oppressive forces established to dictate who they are allowed to be and where they are allowed to sleep. This particular series of events was one in which I was present for.

You do not know me, and you need not know me more than this: I come from a long history of otherwise known things. Outside of the veil of your world. We have long watched you from on high, or deep below, whatever your religious prejudice suggests. I bear no ill will upon this occasion, despite what you may read about me in the future from that confounded Scribe of Ivory.

This writing is to communicate to you the reason I believe the humans should be spared, with firsthand experience with them for centuries thanks to your punishment I have come to know that there are few things young humans love more than the comfort of a soft, although somewhat musty, teddy bear.”

In the year of their kind, 2008 I was possessed by a young girl, Lillia McDermott. The only daughter of the McDermott family she was a playful child. She, more than many others with whom I was cared by, was a restless soul. In the long hours of our days together she made it a point to do as many things as possible. We were always playing games of some kind. On this particular day, we were in the basement of her parent’s manor home atop a plush rug which protected her fragile knees from the concrete beneath.

“If I make this shot,” she said “You owe me your second juice pouch.”

She was speaking to her best friend of the time, the one who you sent me here to observe, Marcos Faustina. He was different from Lillia in a myriad of ways, but the least of their differences emerged when they played games with one another. Both children were fiercely competitive and despite the apparent signs of Lillia’s coming issue with gambling, they enjoyed every second of time which they played with one another.

Marcos rolled his eyes and with a quick breath replied. “Fine, but you won’t be making the shot, so I’m not worried.”

Much to the boy’s dismay, The faint pop of the large marble they referred to as a “shooter” cracked in the room and sent it sailing off to the carpet where it knocked two smaller glass marbles out of the boundary of string they’d designated as their game field.

Marcos grumbled, but obliged and handed his second juice pouch to her with a small measure of frustration.

It was out thirty third game of marbles that day and if I am honest, it was a nail biter. I remember every move taken by each to this day, and sometimes, wish I could return to such a time to relive those memories for the first time again. I must admit, in the years which have come and gone since, I still sometimes wish I could return to the basement and play games with the two of them until the end calls me. The games of hide and seek were especially thrilling, when I was declared the “sentinel” and was placed atop the bookshelf in the den to observer their hiding places it filled me with a sense of purpose which I’d been longing for since accepting my station.

On this particular day, somewhere between game thirty-three and forty, Mr. McDermott stopped to watch us for a few games and cheered his daughter on before his wife, with a frightened look about her, called him to the cellar window.

The pair observed the pounding rain and spoke in hushed tones to one another, the focus of their conversation a coming storm. Mr. McDermott, despite being a stuffy blowhard, carried with him a profound softness for his daughter. He was, in many ways, a father figure to Marcos as well. I came to know him closely, especially when I was left unattended in his office, or bedroom when Lillia, forgetful as she is, abandoned me to do something else.

Mrs. McDermott, on the other hand, was a nervous woman. Always quick to assume the worst about the day, and as much as it sorrows me to admit; on this particular occasion she was right to worry. The basement of the McDermott household was a sound structure, built on the desire of the madam of the house to have a “safe” place to retreat should there be some kind of natural disaster spurned upon them.

Despite being a storm shelter and food storage unit for the McDermotts, it was likewise our second or perhaps third home. Besides the den where we spent the majority of our time, and the carefully manicured back yard where we spent the next most amount of time the basement was our favorite place to be. I couldn’t recount the games we’d played, or the conversations Lillia shared with her friends in the dim basement.

There was a shelf in the lower “den” which housed all of the family board games and books, and naturally it became a place for us to gravitate. I appreciated it much more than the “real” den upstairs, as it didn’t have a fireplace for them to set me close to. It was impossible to tell them I was uncomfortable, and even if I could have I suspect it would have altered our relationship in some unforeseen ways.

The children finished their juice pouches, Lillia sure to suck every drop of juice out to remind Marcos of her victory, before they packed up their marbles and made their way to find another. We’d been in the basement for two hours or so waiting for a sign that it was safe to return to the rest of our home. A sign which Mrs. McDermott was growing more and more certain wouldn’t come judging by the frequency of her pacing, and the tears building up in her eyes.

Across the attached storage room, her brother Garrett hunched over a radio many years his senior and listened to the broadcast, repeatedly playing the same pre-recorded track over and over.

“This is an emergency broadcast: The storm has reached shore. If you can get out safely, follow the posted signs and move further inland. If you cannot, find shelter in your homes and wait for further instruction.”

“Have you tried getting ahold of Maria?” Mrs. McDermott asked her husband, wiping a stray tear from her face.

He nodded and plucked his phone from his deep pockets.

“She isn’t answering, last I heard they were in a storm shelter on the north side.”

I caught his glance back toward the boy, whose only parent, Maria Faustina had dropped him off at the beginning of the weekend while she went upstate for some kind of conference for her job. She’d returned when the news started warning of the incoming storm.

Marcos was an astute boy, and he had an inkling his mother would not be picking him up. Still, from where I was lying on the carpet I could see the worry in his eyes.

“What if something happens to them?” Mrs. McDermott asked, grabbing her husband’s arm.

“We can watch him for a while. Jinny, don’t get all worked up. Nothing is going to happen. I promise. This is the safest place for both of those kids to be. Maria doesn’t have a shelter like ours. She was going to have to leave regardless. Marcos is safe. You are safe.”

She snarled at him, ignoring the rest of his words after the first few.

“Don’t get all worked up Dale? This is isn’t a drill. You are seeing what I am seeing, right?”

He shared a glance with her out the window as her brother leaned in closer to the repeating radio signal.

Marcos slipped another board game from the shelf, Chutes and Ladders, and started setting it up beside me while Lillia sauntered away to her parents. She spoke with them in short about how bored she was in the basement, unable to do as she pleased thanks to the enforced lockdown by her father Dale, she grew restless.

“How much longer do we have to stay down here?” She groaned and weakly stomped her feet.

Dale offered her a compassionate smile.

“As long as we need to, until the storm passes, little doe.” He patter her head, a gesture which I learned, she hated.

She wandered back to us and started her game, making sure to pluck me from the carpet and clutch me tight. The fear calling out to me from within her heart was far warmer than she was, and I felt a sensation I rarely felt where I’m from. Sorrow.

The adults continued their conversation, planning and calming one another to the best of their abilities, and then it began. The repeating signal of the radio halted abruptly. It was replaced by a harsh, grating tone that screamed from the decades old box through a hazy mesh of crackling. When the droning horn came to a stop, everyone in the basement rose to their feet and scrambled to the window to look outside. I was, unfortunately, left to lie on the carpet beside a pile of plastic snakes.

“It’s happening, oh my god it’s happening.”

Jinny McDermott’s fragile facade shattered as the sound of beating rain grew stronger against the window. She collapsed into tears.

Dale wrapped his arms around the kids and knelt.

“You two listen close. We stay down here, you two stay away from the window and over in the far corner.” He pointed to where I was lying on the carpet. “Get Bugle, and go stand next to Uncle Garrett.”

“What is happening?” Lillia asked.

I watched Dale’s mind spin through various things he could say. Answers he could give without frightening her, without making her worry, but he couldn’t find one. So, he told her the truth.

“The storm is going to get really bad right now, and we need to wait it out. Don’t worry. We will be just fine if we’re careful.” He clasped her shoulders. “What does daddy always say?”

“You’ll always be okay if you’re o-careful?” She repeated a phrase often used in the house, especially around their hunting trips.

Dale grinned and wrapped his arms around her.

“What about my mom?” Master Faustina stepped away from the father and daughter embrace.

“Marcos, your mom is okay, we just heard from her, she made it to a storm shelter up north. We’ll get you guys together as soon as we can. I promise.”

Marcos swallowed hard.

Promises were hard to keep when one had no control over the outcome.

Lillia clutched his hand and took him to retrieve me, both of the kids grabbed my arms and we walked together to the radio, the same screaming tone still droning in the uncertain basement air.

“I’m glad we’re friends, Marcos.” She said, her voice carried a fear I don’t think she understood.

He nodded. “Me too.”

We remained like that for some time. Garrett turned the radio off and left us with the sound of wind thrashing above. The scrape of garbage cans and unsecured lawn furniture racing across the pavement scratched above us. The rain only grew more violent with each passing minute. The sound of banging came sparsely between the chorus of destruction above, and then the basement lights flickered. For a moment, we were bathed in complete darkness before they returned.

Then a boom like lightning echoed through the house and the lights fell dark again, this time, refusing to relight. Following the false thunder, a groan emerged above us like a closet door in heaven that didn’t want to close. It quickly evolved into a roar as something crashed into the house above. Beyond the basement door, a terrible crack brought the third story of the McDermott house crumbling down, and in the moments that followed the rest of the house collapsed. Above us, a fallen telephone pole ruptured the weak ceiling of the basement, or perhaps the weak floorboards of the kitchen. It would have depended on who you asked between Mr. and Mrs. McDermott.

Either way, we all looked up to see a torrent of water rushing into the basement. Live wires from the pole slipped into the opening and dangled above the carpet, quickly sopping up the pouring water.

This was not the first storm I’d seen. Certainly not the worst I’d seen, but I was alive long before the McDermott family line came into being. It was another peculiarity of humans, which I didn’t know until after this day, that they named their storms. It seemed to be a practice to keep track of their progress, to give them an easily identifiable name. I think, though, they understood like we do, that nature cannot be halted. What is set into motion can rarely be stopped, and I think they name the storms so that they can personify the thing that threatens them. To give a face to their fear.

This one, they named “Ike.”

Thank you so much for reading Part one!

Heart, Felt – Part Two is live now!

I’ve wanted to write this series for a long time but haven’t ever gotten around to it. When I first came up with the idea, it was somewhere around 2011, 2012 or so. A lot of what you’ll see this month was spawned from back in the day. A decade ago my plans for my writing were far different than what they are now, and I’m so grateful to get to share them with you now.

Thank you for participating once more in the Lifeis+ celebration. I’ve got a lot to celebrate this time around so you’ll be hearing from me often. If you’d like to read more, you can check out me current fiction project Sisters of Westwinter & The Portmanteaux Series below!

If you’d like to support what I’m doing here, you can click either of the links below to be taken to ways you can help you (if you feel so inclined!)


I’ve recently started a Ko-fi Shop online where, if you would like to help support me as I continue to work on my various writing projects here and over on Vocal, I would be so, so appreciative.

As of the publication of this post, it’s a little barebones but I’m working on getting it spruced up! I’ll be linking it at the end of each of my posts going forward if you are interested in helping me keep my eyes open at all. Anything offered through Ko-fi will go directly back into the blog, or toward other projects I can’t afford at the time.

Regardless of your decision, thank you for being here. 🔺

A.T. Baines Ko-Fi

Mental Health Support

Consider donating to a charity with the intention of aiding those struggling with thoughts of Suicide, Self Harm or Depression.

Below I’ve listed a few charities and non-profit organizations you can donate to. if you’d like to support groups trying to make the world a little bit less sad.

If you don’t see your preferred charity here, pick one! Or go give someone’s dog a treat. Anything kind will work. ❤️




More from Me:

SOW: Chapter Five, Part Five: A Single Spark

The Nail Ward, as they called it, was as miserable as it looked from the outside. The thousands of needles covering the floor and walls made it impossible to relax, and sleep was terribly out of the question. So Kerrick stood in the corner waiting, patiently, for the sunrise.

One Reply to “Heart, Felt – Part One”

  1. […] Last Entry: Heart, Felt Part One […]


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