Author: laytonaho

An avid reader, writer, and gamer.

Invisible Evil

The capstone of the St. John’s College academic curriculum is the senior essay. The culmination of four years of reading and conversation, and a month or more of writing, the senior essay is as much an essay on your selected text as it a reflection of your personal journey at SJC.
For the past year and a half John Milton and ‘Paradise Lost’ have been rattling around inside my head. It started with a simple question: why does a writer of Milton’s caliber doubt himself?
After reading and rereading the poem, page upon page of journaling and reflection, and countless conversations, this is the resultant essay. It explores the power of language, deception and the importance of authorial intent in ‘Paradise Lost’.


This is a piece I wrote in February of 2015. With help from some friends I rewrote a few parts, gave it some polish and found it a name. It was originally published in Volume 9. No. 2 of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. I hope you enjoy.

Two cars were parked side by side in the drive of a quaint off-white house in a neighborhood lined by young oak trees. A flagstone walk led to a front door, still ajar, painted a welcoming shade of red. Over the threshold a single ordered pair of shoes lay on a mat beside the door.

Droplets from the faucet plinked into the metal bowl of the kitchen sink, each one ringing out with a hollow ping. Curtains at the windows fluttered in a lazy dance upon the breeze, streetlights blinking into existence as the evening wore on. A crème brûlée toasted to a flawless burnt orange rested on a serving dish beside the sink.

Scattered across a dining room table were the remnants of place settings for two, silverware and ornamental porcelain. The shards of a bottle along the floor, wine splashed across the wall, staining the rug below a deep blood red.

Soothing piano notes were floating out from the speakers of an old fashioned record player spinning in the sitting room corner. The last coals of a fire smoldered in the fireplace.

Fragments of a vase lay on the floor beside an accent table in the hallway, trampled roses strewn about, broken stems and crushed petals. The frame of a portrait was split having been jarred from the wall, cracks spidering through the glass pane.

Orange and lavender scents mixed with the roses in the air in the doorway into a spacious bedroom. On a nightstand a square box wrapped in cream-colored paper adorned with pale blue silk ribbon lay abandoned.

The tan covers and pillows on an ornate oak bed were still in perfect place, folded and tucked just so. A burgundy stain spread over the bedding, dripping onto the carpet beneath the bed.

From the adjoined bathroom steam billowed into the air, the wall mirror fogged over, the shower still running. The steam was blown away by the evening breeze from the open bedroom window.

Streaks of red swirled around and into the drain of the shower.