She Played Dead… by Toni Cross

This morning, as I scanned through the headlines, this headline caught my eye: This 6-Year-Old Survivor’s Story May Be the Most Intense from Newtown Yet – Politics – The Atlantic Wire. As I thought about that little girl and all she survived, a poem started to form in my mind…



She played dead

Escaped inside her head

All around her everything

Turned blood-red

Her memory defaced

Can’t be erased

This horror is

Her breathing space

She survived

Til help arrived

Now any sentiment

Just seems contrived


locket… by Toni L.A. Cross


my eternal captive

memory with worn edges

a gritty film of nostalgia

forever living yesterday

contained inside a metal cocoon

hammered into shape

hidden just here

warmed by my chest

hot with the pulse

of my aging heart

Me n’ Selina: A short story inspired by the song, “My Immortal”

This is the first story that I have ever written, based solely on my impression of a song. Call it fan-fiction… a tribute… whatever you want. I hope you enjoy it!


Sometimes I feel as if I am half of a person walking about in the shadow of what was not meant to be.

You see, I was born a twin. I was the eldest, by 15 minutes.

While my first gasping cries were still filling the hospital room where I was born, all the doctors and nurses were gathered about my mother, trying to coax my sister into life.

She was born small, blue, and silent. I was healthy, kicking and screaming all by myself, forgotten in a mess of birthing fluid.

Soon enough, someone remembered me and I was ushered off to a sterile little incubator of my own.

My mother said the nurses told her I was constantly groping about with my squinty eyes and red face, as if I had lost something. The only time I calmed down was when I was reunited with my womb mate. My mother wears a locket against her heart, even today. Our first official baby picture. Tiny and perfect, nestled together, my infant arm protectively around my sister. That was the picture that foretold the first five years of our lives.

 Selina and I were inseparable. Her lungs didn’t allow for the normal tumbling and playing that most children enjoyed, so I always set my pace by her.

When she got sick, which was often, I brought the outside into her room. She breathed sunshine, not air. I fed her with flowers and fireflies caught in mason jars. I snuck in the house with frogs in my pockets, just to hear the squeal of delight I knew would come.

The year we turned five, we spent our birthday in the hospital. We didn’t have a real cake… To be honest, I think everyone forgot.

I remember finding a corner of cold linoleum in the darkest corner of her hospital room. All the relatives and doctors and nurses were bustling about and whispering scary things.

I was wearing my new pink birthday dress, but Selina’s matching one was back home, laid out on the dresser.

She had pneumonia and the nurses said that nothing was working. I fell asleep and when I woke up, there were no adults around. I pattered into the bathroom to get a drink.

When I came back, Selina’s eyes were open. She tried to say something, but she couldn’t. She lifted her hand, the one that didn’t have an IV in, and motioned to a spot on the bed. I crawled under the sheets with her. Everything smelled cold and sharp. I drifted back into my dreams with her head in the little hollow beneath my chin.

Somehow, when I woke again, I was home in my own bed. The following days were a blur of tears and black and gray, casseroles and strong-smelling flowers.

Selina did finally get to wear her birthday dress. I’ll never forget how she looked.

Her hair was so blonde and her face was so white. I wanted to pinch her, to make her open her eyes. The pink and lace looked so wrong. I was sure she was sleeping in that coffin.

 How could she be gone forever? How could she stop breathing without me dying too? She couldn’t go without me…



throwaway… by Toni Cross

This is another photo challenge from Charles Martin.

i huddle in the refuse

part of excess and castoffs
and i blend into my corner perfectly

i am helpless and bare and somewhat ugly
pathetically needing your help

if i was cute
i bet you’d scoop me up and love me
i bet if I was darling, you’d maybe even feed me

but i’m awkward, dirty and wobbly
you don’t want to touch me

so all i get are kicks from hard shiny shoes
uneasy pitying glances
or rocks thrown by taller creatures

nothing to keep me safe
or fill my poor lil tummy

i’m not good enough for that
the world deems that i don’t deserve
anything at all