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  • Route 7 Review

Mold by Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is an emerging writer based in Mt. Baldy, California. She has graduated in 2023 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in theater from Azusa Pacific University along with a minor in creative writing. Her published short works include Dead Between Walls, Uprooted, and Max Byers. She continues to not only publish more essays but also expand herself to works involving the stage and screen.


I traverse along the sandy shores and molt from my skin if necessary. The way I walk—mostly

sideways—is far from the ordinary. What am I?

I have a big allergy to mold, so much that my lungs practically give out within a certain

moment of time. They become like a time-ticking bomb; the louder they squeak on every exhale,

the sooner I need to leave.

One day, I visited a cabin across the street from my house to help my dad clean it up after

the previous owner had left. From what he told me, she was probably one of the worst tenants

that ever lived in this cabin, despite her cordiality.

I hang above your head, swinging to and fro. I can be full of candy, but you may never know.

What am I?

I remember how this tenant and I used to talk almost all of the time. It seemed like she

was an additional family figure; she desired the best for me and never wished me any harm. For

example, I reached out to her one day because she forgot to return my heating pad. Not only did

she give it back, but she also added a sweet apologetic note and box of Girl Scout cookies for my

troubles. It was such an unexpected yet lovely gesture. Apparently, it was cordial enough to seem

slightly uncanny. I questioned why that was. I even tried to shake the feeling away by telling

myself that she was just being nice. Little did I know that my intuition screamed “you’ll find


I am a boneless, structureless mass able to mold into something new. You can stretch me, squeeze

me, into whatever you choose. What am I?

It didn’t take that many steps into the cabin to notice that there were contents everywhere

on the rug. While I was throwing them away, I found needles, edible wrappers, pills, and

cigarettes. What has she been doing the entire time she was there? Just then, my lungs began to

squeak and I started sneezing. My dad guided me to the bathroom, and that’s when I saw another

creature within the walls: a large patch of mold festering itself on the tiles. It certainly looked

like it was feeding off of something while reproducing again and again. I approached it to try and

clean it up. The squeaking in my lungs turned into an alarm, and I began coughing violently. I

quickly left the room, trying not to step on any stray needle or broken glass. I refused to be a part

of what happened.

I am a delicious dish that will fill you up fast; though, I made need a bit of stirring in order for

the sauce to last. What am I?

My dad decided not to get long-term tenants anymore. After seeing the state of what it

was, I never blamed him a bit. Therefore, we decided to turn it into an Airbnb. During that time,

the mold was cleaned, and it ended up looking like a different place. However, it was still the

same place.

I am weak and frail...all my thoughts and willpower have failed. What am I?

Whenever I would come into the cabin to help mop the floors or gather the sheets, I still

felt my lungs tremble from within me. The physical mold wasn’t there on the walls anymore, yet

there was something else festering itself. The idea that something potentially illegal happened

within these walls left the overall place to be a desolate spot. Despite its adorable interior from

the new decor, the air still left a chill along with the gloomy silence. The newly fixed heater

barely warmed the space in which the furniture appeared to stray further from the center. The

couches and stools remained closer to the walls, almost trying to sniff out the mold themselves

then freezing when finding out.

Mold is strangely skillful at hiding what’s there—whatever clean tiles they manage to

shroud. However, the toxicity that they leave behind will remain inside whomever is unfortunate

enough to inhale it. I, for one, was one of those unfortunate people. The friend that I thought I

could spend the rest of my life with is most likely spending her life behind bars due to addiction

or some other influenced act. I wish I hadn’t known about any of it, yet, in cases like these,

ignorance is never bliss.

During the aftermath of a fire that broke out in the LaLaurie Mansion in April of 1834, witnesses

entered the building to see if there were any survivors. Despite suspicious pleas from the owner

to not enter, they managed to break into a room upstairs. They then saw something that was

enough to make their hearts stop. Several slaves were kept into that room, chained up and

emaciated. One slave’s joints were so disconnected that they walked like a crab. Another was

seen hanging with his intestines tied around the waist. One was stretched so much that their

limbs were detached. Another had a spoon sitting through a hole in his head, apparently meant

to stir the brains. Finally, one other victim had a gash on her head, thus keeping her from being

able to move around freely.


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