what then i was, a collection of stories.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want, and what I fear.” -Joan Didion.

If you’ve made it this far, you already know my name is Ali Rae and I am an aspiring writer.  What Then I Was is a collection of original fictional short stories and nonfiction essays that I’ve written over the past two years with the purpose of practice, personal enjoyment, and exploring themes from my imagination and from my life. The title What Then I Was was insipired by “Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth, in which he says “I cannot paint what then I was.” Just like Wordsworth, as a writer I strive to capture snapshots of who I am and who I used to be not in paint, but in prose. I hope you enjoy reading through my creations, and my desire is that every person who does can learn something new about me, about life, or about themselves. Please contact me with any comments, questions, or feedback you might have.

Continue reading for an excerpt of my debut short story, DARK WATER.

To check out my collection of writing, use the link below.


The colors flashed bright across the screen.

Florida 1 news, channel 7

Jill turned her face away when Jenny’s picture appeared, an old photo of her smiling face surrounded by green and orange letters. Margo picked up the remote, turning the newscaster’s voice down to a soft buzz.

“She’s seventeen,” Jill sniffled.

“Almost.” Margo remembered the countdown on the calendar in Jenny’s room.

“That’s how old you were…”

“I remember.”

It was twenty-three hours since Jenny had been reported missing. The protocol was to wait until someone had been missing for twenty-four until police began searching, but Spring Hill was a small town and everyone knew the Allans. They began searching at hour six.

“She was supposed to come home.”

“I know, Jill.”

“She always obeys her curfew-“

“I know.”

The grandfather clock in the hall rang six times, echoing in the empty house.

“We’re halfway there,” Jill said quietly, sinking back into the couch with eyes fixed on nothing in particular.


“They say if you don’t find the person within 48 hours then you probably never will.” Jill’s voice cracked. Margo pulled the quilt up around her and draped her legs up over the arm of the chair.

“They’ll find her.”



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