“The Changeling”

A deceiver—it doesn’t belong.


A villanelle…

Something is off about Myrtle today–

Her spirit has lost its song;

Her eyes are ghostly and far away.


Where is the lamb who used to play?

She has gone all terribly wrong.

Something is off about Myrtle today.


Goblins and redcaps have led her astray.

By starlight, she reels with their throng;

Her eyes are ghostly and far away.


Perfumed with foxglove, mushrooms, decay,

Her muddied fists grow strong.

Something is off about Myrtle today.


Call Father Thomas without delay,

She’s marked with the Devil’s prong.

Her eyes are ghostly and far away.


This poppet of cloth sent by the Fey,

A deceiver—it doesn’t belong.

Something is off about Myrtle today.

Her eyes are ghostly and far away.


[Photo is ca 1880s cabinet card, unknown subject]


The Waiting Dark

The house always changes slightly, in height and style, but it’s always old…with a grand staircase that spirals up into hidden zeniths.

Leisel Heitzmann

73 Perelacher St. #4

Munich, Germany



January 18, 1932

My Dearest Leisel,

I miss you so. I just woke up from a horrible dream, but you’re not here to whisper the fright away. Just as it began, I half awoke and a part of me knew that I’d had the dream before, that it would be awful, and that I would see it to the end anyway. By the end I awakened with tears streaming down my cheeks, and with no one here to really talk to, I thought binding my nightmare in ink might purge it from my thoughts … So I’m sending it across the ocean to you.

The house always changes slightly, in height and style, but it’s always old, dimly lit, and painfully white with a grand staircase that spirals up into hidden zeniths. At the bottom, there is a white marble table with a candelabra—the five quivering flames are the only light to be found. I reach out and grasp the graceful silver in my fist, then begin to climb, holding up the crisp skirts of a beautiful silk gown.


Floor after floor, the metal becomes heavier and heavier. My fingers tingle and I stop to switch the candles from one shaking hand to the other. And as I ascend higher, I can feel the pressure increase until it feels like I’m deep under water—there is a weight on my chest, sound becomes muffled. I have to force myself forward. And this sound begins to build in my ears, painful and encompassing, as if it’s coming from the walls themselves. It’s like the engine of a motorcycle—a bleating, ripping and grinding sound all combined—but decelerated to a fearful grating vibration. It gets worse and worse until there is also a ringing in my ears.


I don’t know what compels me to keep going, but I’m in such a hurry to get to the top. I must reach my destination, despite the growing dread and the fact that I already know a terror awaits me. Step by step, I continue into the dark and stifling heat of the upper levels until I’m faced with a wooden door looming thick and heavy in the flickering light. I’m sticky with sweat, and those deathly vibrations feel like they’re rattling my bones apart.


I reach out a hand and pull on the cold, metal handle to no avail. The pressure has immobilized by lungs. Following some masochistic instinct, I set down my light and throw my whole body at the door as hard as I can. On the third try, it rips open into complete blackness. I’m frozen in horror. I want to scream but my lips are sealed shut. Some minuscule part of me whispers that if I can utter some small sound, even a gasp, into the deafening, paralyzing, throbbing silence, it will break the hold this crushing void, this maddening nothingness, has on me.

I force my hands up to my face, trying to find the seam of my lips but I can’t find my mouth. It’s gone. Nauseated and panicking, I scratch at the smooth expanse of featureless skin. I trace where my lips should be then gouge through the soft tissue and worm my bloody fingers between my teeth and gums, forcing open a tiny gap for a half teaspoon of air to escape. I push out a breathless, senseless screech—more animal than human—and stumble backward out of the room.

I turn to run, but trip over the candelabra. The five white tapers fall and as I watch, the floor and wall where they land start to darken and thin lines of smoke rise up, swaying like cobras. As the air thickens, I gather my skirts and throw myself over the banister … only to fall forever.

Your Loving Sister,

Yael Adelstein


1329 49th St

Brooklyn, New York

United States of America





*”Waiting Dark” photos by M.C. Chavez*