Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Because Abigail yelled at me

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Joan. Joan woke up one morning and found that she couldn't NOT tell the truth. Not only that, but she was unable to stop all the thoughts flying through her head from FLYING OUT OF HER MOUTH.

You can see how this might create some problems.

When her mother woke her up, Joan said, "I would rather set my bum on fire than go to school today." Her mother grounded her for saying bum and for implying that she might play with matches.

Joan's mother left her room with a frown and Joan threw herself off of her bed.

"BUT MY STOMACH HURTS!" she yelled at her mother. No answer. Joan sighed and stomped to the bathroom as her father was walking out.

"Phew, it stinks in here!" Joan exclaimed and her father just chuckled as he walked away. She fanned the door back and forth as she brushed her teeth. Once finished, she went back to her room to get dressed for school.

"All of my good clothes are dirty!" she shouted. "I'm not wearing a stupid stinky dress to school!"

"You'll wear a dress or you'll wear nothing," said her mother as she hurried past the door with Joan's baby brother, Bob, in her arms.

"Rather go naked," Joan mumbled, and pulled the least girly dress she could find out of her closet. She shoved it over her head and put on her favorite Chuck Taylors, the ones so worn there were holes by both of her big toes.

Joan grabbed her bookbag without looking to make sure that the homework she didn't do was in there. She raced down the stairs and flopped into her seat at the table. Her mother and father were already sitting down, both trying to trick Bob into eating some oatmeal.

"That oatmeal looks like bubotuber pus," Joan said and poured herself a bowl of Cheerios. She poured milk all the way up to the bowl's rim and took a heaping bite. She looked up to see both of her parents looking at her, mouths hanging open. "Whaa?" she asked, a stray Cheerio freedom-leaping out of her mouth back to the bowl.

"What did you just say?" her mother asked.

"The oatmeal...looks...like bubotuber pus," said Joan and took another bite of cereal. "Doesn't smell like it, though. Smells more like barf."

"EXCUSE me?" her mother said. "What's gotten into you today?"

"Dunno," shrugged Joan. "Just talking, is all." She took another big bite of cereal so she couldn't say anything else that might get her yelled at. It sort of worked and instead of saying anything bad, she said, "Mmmf aeea fowuur weww."

Her parents just looked back at her, blinking rapidly. Her father shrugged.

"She seems OK to me," he said, a twinkle in his eye. "Perhaps a little more truthful than necessary, but I think she's still our little Joanie."

"I'm not so little!" she shouted. "I'm the tallest in my class, except for the teacher, and she's like a giant, she's so tall. She looks like a giraffe but her tongue isn't purple."

"OK, dear," said her parents in unison, then they went back to feeding her brother bubotuber pus.

Joan finished her cereal and took her empty bowl to the sink. Her older sister, Beverly, just 14, came skulking to the breakfast table, sat down, and grabbed a handful of cereal straight from the box. As she munched on it, Joan walked up to her and stuck her face in front of Beverly's.

"What?" Beverly sighed around her mouthful of cereal.

"What's that thing on your nose?" asked Joan. "Is that a zit? That's the biggest zit I've ever seen! We should take a picture and put it on the internet, I bet you'd be famous."

Beverly threw the remainder of her cereal on the table, pushed Joan out of the way, and ran up the stairs crying.

"Weird," said Joan and picked up their cat, Fluffy. "Fluffy is so soft! Sometimes I rub my face on him."

"Joan," her mother sighed. "Go to school."

"OK," said Joan, and put Fluffy back in his bed. "But I'm probably going to be late. I'm going to go throw rocks at old Mr. Fitzgerald's house, and if I remember, I might look for fairies down by the riverbank."

"Joan!" her mother exclaimed. "That's ridiculous, fairies don't live by the riverbank, they live in that big oak tree in the middle of the woods." She clapped her hands to her mouth. "Crap, I wasn't supposed to tell her that, was I?"

"No," said her father. "You really weren't, but perhaps this truth-telling is catching. Anyway, since you did spill the beans, we might as well all go. I'd rather set my bum on fire than go to work today."

Note: I don't know why all (or most) of my stories end up featuring dragons or fairies or time traveling dinosaurs IT JUST HAPPENS and I'm sorry.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NaNo Story: Part One

Last year, I wrote a WHOLE NOVEL for NaNoWriMo. I started it right after Heather! Anne! told me to just write already, dammit, which is why the main character's name is, OF COURSE, Heather Anne. I've been meaning to read it and revise it since last December, but I haven't done it yet because I'm lazy. I think I'm going to start posting bits on here and revise it as I go. Unless I get to a point where it's just too bad and then I'm going to stop posting it and what are you going to do about it? Nothing, that's what. JK, I love you, please don't leave. Oh, and this story has no title. Eff.

YOU GUYS, I have been sitting here for like twenty minutes with my mouse poised over the Publish Post button and I can't make myself click it! Why is this so hard? THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID.


Many years ago, in a world much like this one, there was a young woman named Heather Anne. Heather Anne was like any other young woman in many ways. She had long hair. She wore dresses, but only sometimes. She daydreamed about love, but only when there was nothing better to daydream about. Yes, Heather Anne was like any other young woman in many ways, but she was different in more important ways. She had no use for boys or cooking or learning to be a "lady." She longed for adventure, for a purpose greater than taking care of a husband and a home. Heather Anne was much more interested in getting her powers.

Powers usually appeared by someone's fifteenth birthday, and as Heather Anne would be turning fifteen in just one week's time, she was growing more anxious by the day. She'd sit at her grandmother's window seat, staring at the other children outside whose powers had already come in. Jason could fly! Well, he'd be able to really fly at some point. As of right now, he could briefly hover above the ground if he scrunched up his face in concentration for approximately twelve minutes beforehand.

And Katie, Katie could run as fast as the wind. She was practically invisible whenever she really got going, blurring the air and bending blades of grass in her wake. Unfortunately, she could not yet stop without running into something. There were holes in buildings all over the village.

Harold could turn invisible. Not all at the same time, of course, but he could now disappear several limbs at once. He was getting better every day, practicing by disappearing his fingers one by one and then bringing them back all in one go.

Violet had grown immune to fire, and not only that, but could start her own fires wily-nily, without the use of anything bothersome like matches or flint. This was a bit of a worry to those around her, as she had not yet learned to control herself. Fires kept popping up whenever she was the least bit cold, no matter if she was outside in the snow or in front of an open refrigerator. The local firefighters had taken to having someone follow her around with a ready hose at all times.

Heather Anne was a good person, the best really, full of virtue and bravery and kindness, but she could barely contain her jealousy. What about me! she thought. Where is my power? She worried, oh, how she worried about whether her power would show up by the following Saturday. She'd heard rumors about what happened to those who never grew into their powers. If, by midnight on the day of their fifteenth birthday, not a single power had shown up, they were turned out of the village forever, never to be seen again. Heather Anne had never actually met any of these people, but she felt that only lent more credibility to the rumors. She supposed The Elders would be in charge of something like this, so she hoped for leniency. Her grandmother was one of The Elders and she could not imagine her grandmother, sharp-eyed and quiet, yet kindhearted, turning her granddaughter away from the only home she'd ever known. Heather Anne didn't want to be disappeared. She didn't understand why her powers hadn't shown up yet. She'd always been so good at everything, collecting all the school awards and good grades she could and dominating at all sports, from kickball to tennis.

Heather Anne knew a little something about people disappearing. There was a reason she lived with her grandmother. Her parents, both tall like her with similar benevolent expressions, had left right before her fifth birthday. She barely remembered either of them but every day, she went over what memories she'd managed to hold onto. Her mother was whip thin, but soft, her body malleable and inviting. Heather Anne used to toddle full-force at her mother, wrapping herself around her mother's knees until a pair of hands reached down to pull her up. She smelled like cinnamon and autumn. Her name was Anne.

Her father, golden-haired and lanky, used to spin her around and around until she was so dizzy and giggling so hard that she could barely breathe. She'd reach her arms in front of her and close her eyes, imagining that she was really flying and hoping that the steady hands holding her aloft would hold her forever. Her father had a deep, booming voice that he used to tease her and tell her stories. His name was John.

Her grandmother, her father's mother, was the exact opposite of the rest of her family. She was as short as they were tall, as stocky as they were thin, as dark-haired as they were light. She was so little that her grown son used to give her great hugs and pick her up off the floor, her legs dangling as she protested, although laughing the whole time. When he'd set her back down, so gently, he'd move on to his next victim (usually Heather Anne herself) but her grandmother would continue to watch him, to watch the way he loved his wife and child, and think fondly of her own husband.

Heather Anne's younger brother, Josh, didn't remember their parents, having just been born before they left. Sometimes, late at night after a bad dream, Josh would sneak into Heather Anne's room and crawl under the covers with her. He'd settle into the crook of her arm and ask for a story about their parents. Heather Anne couldn't help but oblige her seemingly orphaned brother and would tell him stories until he fell asleep. She soon exhausted her meager collection of stories about her parents and so she made up new ones. She told Josh all about the adventures they were having while they were away from home and she made up reasons they had left. They were doing something Important with a capital I, and that's why they weren't at home taking care of them, she told Josh, pretending that she didn't need to hear this as much as he did. They both loved their grandmother, very much, but even her love couldn't fill the great void that had been left by their parents' abrupt departure.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Olivia (part 1)

(I apologize for all the unfinished stories. They're way more fun to start than to finish, I guess.)

Olivia met her new friend in the attic. She was digging through old trunks that had belonged to her great-grandmother and out her new friend had popped!

"Oh!" she said, staring up at Olivia from a crumple of papers on the floor. She was only six inches tall, maybe six and a half if you counted her tall hat, which Olivia did. She had long, purple hair and a twitchy pink nose, which sneezed as a result of the dust Olivia had kicked up. She smoothed her orange dress and straightened her pink tights and asked, "Who are you?"

"Olivia," said Olivia. "What's your name?"

"Felix," said Felix.

"Felix is a BOY'S name," laughed Olivia. Felix stomped her feet and sighed heavily.

"What happened to Millicent?" asked Felix. "I haven't seen her in ages."

Olivia crinkled her nose in thought and then exclaimed, "Oh! You must mean Grammy Em!"

"Can't be," laughed Felix. "Millicent isn't a Grammy, she's your age."

"Nope," said Olivia. "She's way old now. She has wrinkles and everything, plus her teeth pop right out of her mouth. How long you been in that trunk, anyway?"

"Longer than I thought," muttered Felix. She started pacing across the spilled contents of Grammy Em's trunk, stepping carefully over the smooth stones Millicent used to collect and then skip-skip-skip over the pond where she had met Felix so very many years ago.

"D'ya wanna know what year it is?" asked Olivia.

Felix shook her head and answered, "Human years don't count. I need to talk to another sprite."

"What's a sprite?" Olivia asked. Felix smiled at her and patted her on the hand. She had to stand on the very tips of her toes to do so, but she managed.

"I'll explain on the way," she said. "I need you to take me somewhere."

"OK," said Olivia. "But I'll have to wait until tomorrow, I'm not allowed outside after dark."

"How bothersome," sighed Felix. "I suppose that'll have to do. Mind giving me a lift back into the trunk? I need a bit of rest before the journey."

Olivia put her hand on the ground and Felix climbed onto it. She placed Felix gently back into the trunk, closed the lid, and raced down to her bedroom, giddy with anticipation for the next day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Malcolm (part one, I guess)

Malcolm wanted to fly more than anything in the world.

Last year, on his birthday, his parents had taken him on a plane ride. Not a big plane ride, like the time they flew to California to visit his grandparents. This was a little plane that had only enough room for the pilot, his parents, and Malcolm himself, who spent most of the flight with his nose pressed against the window, watching the tiny ant-people walk in and out of tiny ant-buildings and drive tiny ant-cars.

As fun as that was, Malcolm really wanted to fly without the aid of any plane, small as it was, so he took on the great task of learning how to fly.

First, he swiped a cardboard box from the curb before the garbage collectors came. It had once housed a big TV, and he could sit comfortably in it and even stretch out his legs in front of him. He pulled the flaps off of the box, fashioned them into wings, and taped them back to the sides. Unfortunately, his mother caught him trying to pull his makeshift plane up a ladder to the roof of the house. His first test flight failed before it even began.

Malcolm didn't give up, though. He tried using a flying carpet, only it turned out that their bathroom rug must not have flying carpet capabilities, which is always a disappointing thing to discover. He tried tying a bunch of balloons to a lawn chair, but he forgot to use helium. He tried thinking happy thoughts, but it seemed none of his happy thoughts were quite happy enough to lift him off of the ground.

Malcolm remembered that Mary Poppins used only an umbrella to fly, so he pulled his dad's golf umbrella out of the car. His mom had hidden the ladder after she found him trying to climb up to the roof, so he went to the highest place he could find -- the jungle gym at the park next to his house.

The park was deserted, which Malcolm considered a blessing. If his plan worked, he didn't want all the neighborhood kids to know his secret or they'd be wanting free flights all the time. Malcolm climbed to the top of the jungle gym, opened the umbrella, shouted, "UP UP AND AWAAAAY!" and jumped.

Malcolm landed on the ground in a heap. He'd scraped his knee in the fall and crumpled one side of his dad's umbrella. He blinked away tears and looked up to see a small man walking toward him.

"What's wrong, son?" the man asked. He was short and squat, with a woolly mustache perched atop his lip. He was wearing dress pants, a white button-down shirt, and a polka dot bow tie with matching suspenders. The flight goggles he had placed on his forehead kept slipping down over his eyes, and he had to push them back up every few seconds with a cigar-holding hand.

"Who are you?" Malcolm asked. He stood up and closed the ruined umbrella as best he could.

"I'm Lieutenant Bailey Baldridge. I'm from Baldridge's Institute for Young Fliers," he said.

"Young fliers?" asked Malcolm.

"That's right, Malcolm. We've been watching your flight attempts and we think you're an excellent candidate for the school. We're impressed with your ingenuity, but you're missing something important," Baldridge explained.

"What's that?"

"Your co-pilot."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Frank part 3

Frank Part 1
Frank Part 2

"Whoa," said Kim.

"Whoa," said Clark.

"Ow," said Frank as he pulled a wayward nail out of his hide.

"But...you're like, a DRAGON," Kim exclaimed. Her eyes were wide and she nudged Clark. "A dragon!" she hissed at her brother. He just shrugged.

"Yes, yes, I'm a dragon," said Frank, dusting himself off. "And you two are very noisy boys. What are your names?" he asked.

"BOYS?!" huffed Kim and crossed her arms indignantly. "I'm a GIRL."

"So sorry," said Frank. "How rude of me. I have such a difficult time telling the difference."

"It's fine," Kim said, with a wave of her hand. "I'm Kim and this is my brother Clark. And you're a freakin' DRAGON."

Frank sighed, closed his eyes, and rubbed his temples.

"Yes," he said. "I'm a dragon. But please, lower your voices. I don't particularly like attracting attention and as you can see, my house just exploded. I'm going to go stay at my old cave until I can get this sorted." He rummaged through his house rubble and eventually extracted a blanket and pillow, both covered in dust and bits of drywall.

"Can we come, too?" asked Kim.

"Uh," said Frank. "What?"

"Yeah, it'll be great!" shouted Clark. "We'll go home and tell our mom that we're spending the night at a friend's, and we'll pack some sandwiches and stuff to make s'mores and some hot dogs and it'll be so fun! We haven't been camping in forever!"

Frank scratched his beard and took a moment to think. He knew he didn't have any food at the cave and he didn't really want to spend the evening foraging for food. He wasn't sure he could convince a pizza place to make deliveries to the middle of the woods and he was awfully fond of s'mores. And maybe the tiny humans would provide good company, or at least some entertainmet. He was without his TV, after all.

"Fine, you can come," Frank said. Kim and Clark high-fived each other. Kim held up her hand for Frank to high-five but he stared at her blankly until she lowered it.

"OK, we'll be there soon...um, where is your cave?" asked Kim.

"There's only one cave in the woods. Have you seen it before?" Frank asked.

"Oh, yeah, we went there today," said Clark.

"Well, then," said Frank. "I think you know where to go. And remember, don't tell anyone. You wouldn't believe how many towns I've been run out just because of a little fire-breathing."

Kim and Clark's eyes both widened at the mention of fire-breathing. Both were hoping to see a demonstration of that later. They had to make the s'mores somehow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

the box

Carolina's mom died last year. She was still sad, of course, but some days she was more sad than others.

She got out the box on those days. The box was full of special things that reminded her of her mom.

On bad days, she sat alone in her room, carefully removed each item from the box, and laid each on the floor in front of her.

First, she pulled out the half-used lipstick that she had taken from her mom's purse on the day that she died. Carolina remembered her mom putting on the lipstick every morning. Sometimes she would pass it to Carolina when she was done. Carolina would apply it to her lips just like her mom had done, but she could never make it look as perfect as her mom's did. Her mom would smile, grab a tissue, and wipe off Carolina's clown mouth.

Next, she pulled out the bookmark she'd found in one of her mom's favorite books. Sometimes, when her mom was reading, Carolina would slip next to her on the sofa and curl up in the crook of her arm. Her mom would smile down at her and then go back to her book. Carolina would rest her head on her mom's chest, feeling the rise and fall of breath going in and out of her mom's lungs, and let her eyes close as her mother twirled Carolina's long hair through her fingers.

The final thing Carolina pulled out of the box was the last picture that was taken of the two of them. Carolina's dad had taken it on their beach vacation. Carolina's mom taught her how to body surf on that trip, the gentle waves carrying them to the shore, giggling and gasping for breath. Afterward, they'd all sit on their towels under the beach umbrella and snack on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drops of thick jelly falling on their tanned legs.

Carolina crawled into bed and put the picture of her mom on the pillow next to her. She closed her eyes and imagined her mom sitting next to her on the bed, reading her a story. Carolina even imagined she felt the ghost of a soft kiss on her forehead, just before she fell asleep.