The Picture

Chapter 1

SHOOM! BLAM!

I looked on as my torpedo exploded a wooden boat, exactly on the middle point. I could see the broken parts of the ship floating away into the Pacific ocean. I glanced to see the surface of the water just in time to pull up my Mitsubishi Ki-30 up to a high altitude. I could feel the air push up against my face. I couldn’t help but wish that the exact same fate would be what would happen in the upcoming battles, to the American warships, instead of me. 

Turning on the afterburn of the thrusters, I zoomed past to the aircraft carrier ahead, the Chiyoda. I dove down and pushed down my landing gear as I put my thrusters to 30 percent, landing perfectly on the carrier. At that exact moment I wondered if I would live to see the carrier again. 

As the plane already landed, I opened the cockpit and stepped, looking out into the horizon. I never knew it could be as peaceful as this even in a time of war. But no, tomorrow the horizon would be filled with smoke and the smell of full chaos, and the screams of death.

“Hey Mitsuwa! How was the practice run?”

I turned around to see my best friend, Takehiko Ena.

“Not much, perfect as usual.”

Before Takehiko could respond, a voice called out from behind.

“Maybe if you weren’t gossiping all the time you would be able to do perfect test runs like Col. Nagoki, Lt. Ena!”

I turned to see General Yamamoto behind me. He was the commander of the aircraft fleet. It was an honor to see him as he was the leader of the military all together. In his lavish uniform and confident gaze he looked extremely intimidating.

“Yes sir, sorry sir!” replied Takehiko, very scared.

“Good now, get out of my sight. I have to talk to Mitsuwa, in private.”

“Yes, sir!” said Takehiko, walking out of sight.

“Hmmm. Good,” he said, his tone turning even more serious. “You have been invited to join the Divine Wind, the bravest of all in the world, ready to sacrifice their lives to destroy the evil Americans.”

I was suddenly taken back. The kamikazes? I would never think of getting the honor of joining the core. They were the bravest of the Japanese Air Force. But I couldn’t do it. I had sworn to destroy America for as long and as much as I could. Dying would mean my dream would never happen. I would never meet my dad in America. I would never be able to hug and laugh with my father as he had done before the war.

“I am truly sorry General Yamamoto, but I cannot. I have swore to find my father and finish the American navy, and all who support its victory. Therefore, I must refuse the offer with great respect, sir,” I replied.

“I am very sad to hear this, but I hope you all the best, and a valiant day ahead. I will tell you, you can always join, and my offer will always be on the table,” he answered. 

I watched as he left, turning to go to the main port office.

Chapter 2

2 years ago, when I was 18 years old, I received news of my fathers imprisonment in America. I was enraged. I couldn’t believe that the American government was arresting innocent Japanese citizens who had nothing to do with the war. The next day I swore to kill every American I saw, soldier or not. Soon, I found myself at a recruiting station ready to join the Air Force. 

But today was the day I would be finally ready to fulfill that wish. Today we were ready for battle.

I left my bunk, putting on my uniform and my pilot’s cap. I adjusted my goggles, opening my plane’s cockpit. At that moment, I knew what I had to do. Kamikaze or not, today was the day I was going to die. 

Chapter 3

As I began to get the thrusters to life, I heard an explosion. 

SHOOM! KABLAM!

I glanced in front of me, and I saw the hull of the ship cut off and severed. The Americans were here earlier than we thought. I put the thrusters to full, as my plane ran through the runway, as wind pushed against my face, I went up the sky with my body filled with rage. 

The American fleet was going to die today. 

Chapter 4

As I zoomed into the sky, and glanced forward I could see a fleet. I could see about five ships. Going forward, I saw even more. Instead of five, there were 45. This was going to be the biggest battle I had ever been in.

Gaining speed, I looked at my speed semi-parameter. 488 km. That was enough to make the dive. Pushing my control-nozzles down, I dived right towards the ship, firing my machine guns hoping to hit the steam compartments to ground it. 

As I aimed my shots, I could see that my machine guns were losing ammunition. Now it was time for the torpedo. I aimed right at the middle, just like in practice. 

SHOOM! BLAM!

I looked down to see the torpedo cut the ship in two hitting right in the middle. I could hear the screams of sailors as I fired my machine guns to kill any sailors that were jumping off. 

Ready to turn, I put my control-nozzles into a northeast direction turning right up to see more ships. Diving in at another destroyer, I fired my torpedoes and bombs, damaging it badly. 

PKOW! PKOW! PKOW! PKOW!

I maneuvered through, narrowly dodging the machine gun fire from a nearby F4U Corsair. I turned full up, trying to lose him in the sky. But the bullets kept coming, quickly getting closer.

BBKRAW! 

I looked at my wing to see it fully turned off. I tried to eject myself, but it was too late, as my plane headed straight down for the water, crashing below.

Chapter 5

SHOOM!

My plane dived into the water, as saltwater splashed into my eyes. Pain burned in my eyes. I couldn’t see. Worst of all, I was drowning. Trying to resurface, I moved my hands around the plane to see if I could feel the cockpit opener. 

I could feel it, a bumpy handle! I pushed up with all my strength. Soon, I could feel the water crashing down in the cockpit. Swimming to the surface, I cleared my eyes of saltwater, and glanced up. I could see the Japanese fleet being pummeled by the F4U Corsair’s circling above. 

We were losing. 

I glanced around to see anything that could help me escape being in the middle of a naval war ground. 

PKAW! PKAW! PKAW!

I could hear gunshots in the distance. I looked at the direction they were coming from, seeing a nearby island with soldiers boarding the islands from amphibious cars. Judging from their uniforms they were American. 

Consumed by rage, I swam to the island with a feeling for murder in my heart.

Chapter 6

On the shore, waiting for the American soldiers to get far away, I looked around for anything I could use to ambush the unsuspecting American soldiers. After looking around for a while, I suddenly heard a loud sound in the distance.

BLANG! BLAM!

Turning into the direction of the sound, I could see a Japanese Type 97 tank firing shells on the American soldiers from above a small hill. The American soldiers scattered behind nearby trees and bushes, trying to return fire and survive the massive barrage of shells. 

PKOW! PKOW! PKOW! PKOW! 

Their bullets ringed in the air, but the tank was too well protected, as the bullets barely hit the foot of the hill. The soldiers quickly began to drop like flies, as the tank retreated to other skirmishes in the distance. Only a few soldiers remained as they regrouped tending to the injured while some looked on, to see any other unforeseen dangers. 

Taking my chance, I ran to a dead body that was not too far from my spot on the shore. I looked at the body. It was a young American man with pale skin and blue eyes. From looking at the wounds, shards from a shell had impaled him in the stomach. 

“Poor kid,” I muttered. 

Looking for weapons I looked at the body quickly finding a picture of him and a man. The man was a sailor, and the caption looked as if it said he had died during Operation AI, or Pearl Harbor. He looked happy, and the death had obviously caused him to join their Army. 

Searching the body more,  I found a rifle, along with two grenades, and a pocket knife. Loading the rifle I aimed at the clutter of Americans and fired. Loading and firing, I could hear the screams of confusion and death as the soldiers scattered for cover. 

Quickly reacting, I threw both grenades in their area killing all of them. Sprinting, I ran through the path looting all of the bodies ready for battle.

Chapter 7

Going across the path, I looked at the map one of the soldiers had. It had English, and was hard to read with the messy handwriting, but I understood the landing point. As I looked at the drawn compass, I saw a Japanese airfield to the northwest of where I was.

Turning in that direction I began to sprint trying to get back to the battle, and my promise to kill. 

Chapter 8

Arriving at the airfield, I could see the ensuing battle. Japanese tanks and soldiers fired at the F4U Corsair circling above. American soldiers were also charged at the airfield trying to take it over and stop any aircrafts arriving to attack their fleet. Trying to help, I ran over the American line, with a newfound courage in my heart.

“BANZAI! Amerikahito o korose! Kazoku no tame ni tatakaimashou! Kōtei no tame ni tatakae! Kodomo-tachi no tame ni tatakaimashou! Sokoku no tame ni tatakae!” I yelled, charging at the Americans.

Firing at the line I threw all the 12 grenades I had on me. As I heard the explosion, a stray shard stabbed me in the shoulder. Pain filled my heart, as blood began to cover my shoulder.

Using my other shoulder to fire and load my gun, I glanced around. Other soldiers and tanks began to charge along with me as we destroyed the struggling and outmatched Americans.

I looked around looking for any aircrafts I could use to advance forward. I saw a Kawasaki Ki-10 in the distance as I opened the cockpit and climbed in, quickly turning on the thrusters as I zoomed into the sky.

To tend to my shoulder wound, I ripped off some of the leather covering the control nozzles, and wrapped it around my shoulder after ripping the shard out.

As my altitude climbed I glanced around to see if any ships were near. I saw a P-38 Lightning circling around a troop of Japanese soldiers, firing its machine guns. 

Trying to surprise the plane, I got behind its tail, and aimed right at the cockpit, firing away my machine guns. Glancing back I saw the dead body of the pilot as it crashed down into the water. 

Looking around for more targets I circled back seeing a destroyer in the distance. I knew what I had to do. Turning on my afterburn, I dived into the ship, ramming it as the plane broke down into pieces, making me black out. 

Chapter 9

“He geut uhp, yau Japp!” a voice yelled.

I suddenly woke up. My mouth was salty and my body was soaked. My eyes burned from the amount of salt that was around my body. My left arm looked really banged and teared up. 

I looked around to see a pistol aimed right at my head. A group of American soldiers were surrounding me, and they looked scared, as if this was the first time they had ever seen a Japanese soldier.

“Heu’s awakened,” one of them said. 

Even though I had learned some English from my father it clearly wasn’t enough to actually fully understand what they were saying.

From their expression they wanted me to surrender, and they looked as if they didn’t really want to hurt me, they looked as if they wanted to help me, and get me out of this mess.

“He looks really banged up,” another one of them said.

“We should bring him back to base,” a taller one said. 

Trying to signal my surrender I tore a piece of white cloth from my uniform waving it around, to try to give a bit of a thought of surrender. 

Seeing this one of the soldiers behind them stepped up to see me. He looked Japanese, and looked older than the rest, and had an old wooden pair of glasses. 

“Sorry if you can’t understand these soldiers, but they are trying to help. Please surrender,” he said.

He had the exact same voice. I knew who he was. He was my father. I suddenly realized this, getting up to give him a hug. Other Americans stepped out of the way, as I finally hugged my father.

Today was the day the sky was at peace. Today the lesson the picture had taught me from that soldier was now emitted in my heart. Sometimes revenge isn’t really the best thing.

More Information

The battle of Leyte Gulf was the biggest naval confrontation in history , with over 200,000 sailors dead, and more than 20 ships sunk during the battle. The battle was the first time that kamikaze pilots were ever deployed in battle. Many kamikaze pilots died.

Takehiko

Takehiko is a real person, who was a real person and kamikaze pilot during WW2. He fought as a kamikaze pilot, and later crashed during a battle into a naval ship but luckily survived. He wrote a book about his experiences of being a kamikaze.

His book showed that most kamikazes weren’t actually radical, and hated Americans to the core, but were forced to sacrifice their lives for the Japanese cause.

He was in the movie, Wings of Defeat. 

Kamikaze

Many people have seen kamikazes as radical and staunch supporters of Imperialist Japan. However, many of these kamikazes were forced by the government and army to sacrifice their lives for the desperate hope of winning.

Kamikazes were first used in 1944 as a demonstration of bravery, to try to gain morale for the war. 

However, kamikazes usually came dead, leaving most families in support for the American side. 

End of War

WW2 ended with the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many people believe that the bombing created a new era of arming of bombs and military weapons. But one thing’s for sure, the era of kamikazes is very done. 

The Hawk and the Clover

Milton was a hawk who lived in a nest with his family. He had three brothers, three sisters, and his mom and dad. He was different from the others because he had a white underbelly, and he loved humans. The nest where he lived was on the edge of a swamp. Not a lot of humans came to the swamp where he lived, so Milton had to go into the city to see them. In the city, he would go to the windows and spy on the humans. He wished he could talk to the humans.

Deep in the swamp, there was a human. The human had green skin and a wart on her long nose. Milton was flying home one day when he saw this witch. She had a bow and arrow and a dead hawk slung on her back. Milton was horrified and flew away. He didn’t want to get caught by this ugly human. 

One day, while Milton was flying to the city, he saw the witch picking mushrooms. He followed her. He wanted to know why she was still hunting for hawks. He was curious about her because she was not like the other humans. He was scared that the witch would notice him, since she kept turning back to make sure no one was following her. Whenever the witch looked back, Milton would tilt upward so that his white underbelly blended into the sky. 

Milton followed her deep into the swamp, all the way to her hut. She quickly passed through the door. Milton went to the window. He watched the witch put the mushrooms among a collection of items—human ears, frog legs, snake scales, lizard tongues, hawk toes and feathers. Milton thought some of them looked delicious, but others were plain disgusting. While Milton watched, the witch took some mushrooms, hawk toes and lizard tongues, and threw them into the cauldron bubbling in the fireplace. 

The witch looked toward the window and Milton ducked, falling to the ground. He started shivering in fear. He realized that he was in a garden with glowing worms. They looked so delicious. Milton loved shiny things and worms. He immediately got up and started eating every one of them. The worms were so delicious that Milton didn’t realize that he was making so much noise. The witch heard him eating and came out the door and screamed. 

“May the gods curse you for 100,000 years!” the witch cried, pointing at MIlton with an evil glare.

Scared, and not sure of what was happening, Milton tries to fly back home. But he forgot everything that he knew before he was cursed. So he doesn’t know where home is so he couldn’t fly home. All he knew is that he liked humans. He didn’t know what to do after being cursed. So he went back to the city to spy on humans like he always does.

While he is flying to the city he caught a glimpse of his nest near the edge of the swamp, but he doesn’t care about his family anymore. He hates them now. He wants to be near his friends, the humans. 

So he sat on a window sill. Inside there was a girl crying. “Are you okay? Milton asked her. 

The girl turns her head to the window. “Am I hallucinating?”

Milton was shocked as well. How did I do that, he thought.

“Why was today the worst birthday ever?” The girl asked herself. “Now I’m hallucinating. I have no luck at all. I need a four-leafed clover. That would change everything.”

Milton felt very sad for this girl. “Sorry you had the worst birthday ever.”

The girl’s jaw drops. “Are you real?” she asked.

Milton said, “Yes, I am real.”

“Who are you? Why are you here? Why are you a hawk? And why can you talk!?”

Milton replied, “I am a hawk named Milton. I don’t know why I can talk!”

The girl came to the window and reached toward him. Shocked, Milton fell off the window sill right toward the street. Milton had never fallen before. With 0.05 seconds before he hit the ground, he spread his wings and started to glide up. He flies back up to the window sill. He wanted to talk to the girl more. But the girl’s father was there. He suddenly tried to catch Milton. He threw a bean-bag pillow at Milton. 

This time Milton dropped purposely, to miss the bean bag. 

“Who are you?” Milton asked. 

“I’m a scientist. I want to trap you for a DNA test.”

“Sounds not fun.” Milton flew away.

After this encounter Milton realized the two curses. Unluckiness and talking. 

To solve the unluckiness he will need a four-leaf clover. He learned that from listening to the girl. Nothing could solve the talking problem. So he started to head in the direction of a field he knew from his childhood that was very lucky. He had always found shiny things and worms there. He started searching for the clover. 

He searched the whole field. He was unsuccessful. But he needed somewhere to sleep for the night. He searches everywhere and cannot find anywhere to sleep. Luckily he remembers the old swamp. He slept there for the night. He began the search the next day. Then he searched deeper into the swamp. Milton finally found the witch’s hut. The witch was outside her hut. And right on the witch’s doorstep was the clover. 

Milton realized that he would have to fight the witch to get the clover. He took his chances and few at the witch. The witch saw him. She took out her wand and started using it as a weapon, shooting blasts of magic. Milton dodged. 

When Milton was a baby, his mother would tell him stories about their great grandfather who saw a village crowding around a witch who was about to be burned at the stake. Milton knew he needed fire to defeat the witch. He flew away to get a match. 

He found the match in the city and flew back. 

The witch was back in her hut when he returned with the match. This was going better than Milton had planned. He flew up to the roof of the house and lit it on fire. Then he quickly grabbed the clover, lit the rest of the house on fire, and escaped. 

Milton then flew home to reunite with his family. The clover worked. 

When he arrived, he saw the hawks crowding around two graves. He soon realized who the graves were for. His parents had died, looking for him. They got killed by the witch. Milton lived in sadness for the rest of his life. 

The End.

Ant and Flower

Ant Timmy wants a beautiful pink flower that’s by his house on Nelson Road. He found it two hours ago when he was running. He thought it was perfect for his brother’s birthday. His brother likes pink. Timmy likes the flower, too. Timmy wants to take the flower to his brother’s house. 

He is trying to pull it but it’s too strong. Timmy was sad. He thinks about Greg, his friend, because Greg is strong. Greg is an army ant. Greg lives on Nelson Road, too. He is Timmy’s neighbor. Timmy met Greg when he was running a month ago. 

When he got to Greg’s house,Timmy asked Greg to pull the flower for him.

Greg said, “Sure.” 

Greg tried but he can’t pull it either. He tried again. But he still can’t.

Timmy and Greg both try, but it is too strong. Timmy said, “l have an idea!”

“What idea?” Greg asked. 

“Could you ask your army ant friends over?” 

“Sure!” 

“Okay,” Timmy said. 

Greg called his army ants. Five minutes later, they didn’t appear. Greg called them again, and 100 army ants appeared on Timmy’s lawn. They tried to pull the flower but they end up failing. They said, “Sorry, I can’t pull it.” Timmy was sad because in 10 minutes his brother’s birthday party starts, and he likes flowers.  

This is the final idea. He remembered he had a tack. He said, “I can cut it with a tack!” He pokes the flower in the middle of the stem, but he accidentally cuts it in a straight line and the petals get ripped. 

He got another flower from Greg’s house because he is tired. It’s nice and perfect, and Greg cut it just the way Timmy wanted, and he went to his brother’s house and gave the flower to his brother.

Tom the Ghost

Tom is a ghost and has a secret place, a bookshelf. If you move the bookshelf to the right or left, you will see a hole in the wall. In the hole in the wall, you will see Tom. Books cover the shelf. The bookshelf is made out of wood. It smells like smoke and dust. It is very old and there are cobwebs. Tom likes to be in the library. 

Tom goes to ghost school because he is eight years old. He wants to have a friend. He has fifteen classmates and four cousins. He has no friends because he can’t talk. Tom writes with others since he can’t talk. He reads books and so do his classmates. He likes when the teacher has a read-aloud.  

Tom has lived in the hole behind the bookshelf for a long time. He likes to have privacy.  Tom was the one who made his home. He carved the hole. It took a long time. Inside his hole, Tom brought a TV and a couch.

There is a water bottle on the library shelf next to his hole. The water bottle is dirty because it is touching the dust and cobwebs. It had been there for five weeks. A little boy threw it on the shelf.  There are lots of people in the library. It is noisy for Tom. It bothers him because he can’t hear the TV.  So he sleeps. Tom is a very good sleeper. 

When he woke up, he realized that he didn’t turn off the TV.  He watched it. There were scary movies. Tom likes scary movies. Three hours later, he turned it off. He worked on math problems to get ready for fourth grade. He did six pages of homework and read four chapter books. Tom likes homework. He ate dinner. He watched the sunset through the library window. Then he saw a caterpillar. He is scared of caterpillars, so he ran to his hole. 

Tom wants a friend. The problem is, Tom is scared of bullies. And he can’t talk. It was a serious problem.

When Tom was bored he went outside. Tom likes to play ball by himself. Tom always plays by himself. Tom is lonely. One day, while Tom was playing ball, he saw a park by his library. At the park, Tom saw other ghosts. They were playing. They were all friends. Then Tom noticed another ghost. Tom saw that ghost push the other ghosts. Those ghosts ran away. Tom felt bad. 

The ghost bully saw Tom and chased after him. Tom tried to run away, but the bully caught his leg. Tom was sad and cried. The ghost bully pushed Tom. 

Tom stood up and ran to the library, to his hole.

The next day at ghost school the same thing happened. The bully was new in school. As soon as he saw Tom, he pushed Tom. Everybody saw it, and one classmate told the teacher.  

The ghost bully got in trouble. The teacher made him say sorry about what he did.

Tom made a heart with his hand and the bully knew what Tom meant. 

The bully said, “Does it mean we’re friends?”

Tom nodded, and the bully and Tom became best friends. His new friend’s name is Ben.  They played at the playground. 

The next day, Tom and Ben played at the park. Other ghost kids were there. Tom brought his ball. At first, the other ghosts didn’t want to play with Ben, only Tom. Tom did his trick. He made a heart with his hands and the other ghosts knew what it meant.  

They played ball, and they are all best friends!

Katie and Her Pillow Adventure

Deep deep down in the Pacific Ocean, on the sandy ground of the bottom of the ocean floor, Katie the Octopus has a house made out of coral and rocks. The house is behind an enormous rock in a coral reef. There is a lot of kelp and seaweed which Katie uses to cook. The water is pretty cold, but Katie doesn’t mind. Because she’s down pretty deep, it’s really dark, and not much sunlight reaches so far down. 

Katie is a bright orange octopus. She is very nice, especially to her squid friends. She has eight arms, as a normal octopus does. One thing that stands out on her is her calm, periwinkle eyes. Katie’s base color is orange, but she has burnt round orange spots. She lives alone, but her squid friends live right next door to her, and they hang out all the time. Katie also goes to school. Her school is called Academy for Young Marine Animals, and Katie loves school.

 A few years before, Katie’s parents gave her a super super soft pillow made out of sand and coral. It was pretty small, green and with pictures of waves on it. 

But then one day, her mom and dad were in a shark attack. The shark ripped her parents apart and she lost them. She cherishes the pillow so much because it’s the only part she has left of them. It lies on her bed day and night. Another reason she loves the pillow so much is because it smells like her parents. It smelled like fried kelp and seaweed which her mom used to make for her when she was little, like the bedtime stories her dad would tell her, and it smelled like the love her parents had for her. Katie adores this pillow and if something happened to it, she would be devastated.

Then one morning, she woke up and the pillow wasn’t resting under her head like always. It was gone! She suspected that someone had stolen it. One of her top suspects was this squid in her class named Anne. Katie used to be friends with Anne, but since the shark attack she’s been Katies enemy. Anne was probably still upset because her mom also was killed in a shark attack. Then a week later she started being mean to Katie. For instance, the other day in history class, Anne got a question wrong and everyone laughed at her. “Katie was the one who laughed first,” Anne said. 

“I wasn’t the one who started laughing,” Katie said.

Anne could have easily wanted to get revenge from the day in history class. She could have gotten into Katie’s house because when they were friends she would come over to her house all the time. Katie even gave her a key. 

I bet she still has it! Katie thought to herself.

So Katie goes to Anne’s house to make her give the pillow back. On the way, she saw a big school of fish swimming really fast. Something is probably chasing them, Katie thought. A great white shark was chasing the school of fish. It saw Katie and started chasing her! 

Katie swam into a cave only to find a bunch of sea snakes hissing at her. So she swam and swam and swam. Finally, she saw a bunch of orange coral. She used her amazing octopus camouflaging skills to hide from the shark, and the shark swam away.

A few minutes later Katie was at Anne’s house. She heard something that sounded like crying. Oh no! She thought. Katie knocked on the door. 

“Go away!” Anne cried. 

“Please just let me in,” Katie said. 

Anne didn’t reply. 

Katie remembered she had a key, so she started digging through her coat pockets. Katie loved her coat. One time, she was in the mall. She went into the octopus clothing store and saw the most beautiful coat. It was bright orange, just like her. It had eight arm and leg holes. The body of the coat was quite small, but the arm and leg holes were long and glittery. 

She unlocked the door and went to Anne’s room. It looked like Anne was hugging the pillow so tight the stuffing might come out. 

“Why would you take my pillow?!” Katie asked.

 “I’m sorry. It smelled so yummy, like the fried kelp my mom made me before the shark attack,” Anne sobbed back. 

“But why would you break into my house to get it?” Katie asked, confused

Anne replied “ Because I knew you wouldn’t give it to me. It’s the only thing that’s brought me closer to my mom. She didn’t leave anything for me.” 

Katie was cross with Anne, but she couldn’t stand to see Anne like this. Katie didn’t say anything so Anne kept on talking. 

“I’m also really lonely. I dont have friends or a father. You never noticed that I had no people to play with during recess at school.” 

Katie realized that Anne wasn’t mean, just misunderstood. 

“Are you sure you NEED the pillow?” Katie asked. Katie really wanted to get her special pillow back, but Anne is making it difficult.   

Anne said, “If I knew how to cook or sew, maybe I could have things for myself.”

            Katie wanted to find a solution for Anne, and wanted to get her pillow back. Katie’s mom taught her how to cook when she was little. Maybe she could teach Anne! 

“What if I teach you how to cook?”

“I don’t know if that will be enough.” Anne said.

Then Katie got another idea. “My friend Scarlet knows how to sew, she can teach you how to make a special blanket.”

“Ok, that could work maybe,” Anne muttered.

  “Alright, first I need you to give me my pillow back,” says Katie.

“Fine,” Anne says, aggressively.

“Ok, I need to go to the store and get ingredients.” And so Katie left with her pillow and was off to the store.

A few minutes later, she saw the shark coming again. She tried to hide behind a rock but it was too late! So she swam as fast as she could. Just before the shark caught her, one of her friends, Carlos sprayed the shark with his squid ink.

“Thanks Carlos,” Katie said.

“No problem!” he said.

Katie got to the store and went to the kelp aisle. She would just pick some kelp out of her garden, but unfortunately her plants were not looking so well. A fish had been chewing on her plants. She picked up a pound of kelp and headed to the oil aisle. The oil under water is different from the kind on land. This special oil is made out of a crushed up clam and its juice. That’s all she needs for the fried kelp. She has salt at home. She paid for the food and it was only two sand dollars.

Back at home, she put the food down and went to her bedroom. She placed the pillow on her bed, and felt proud of herself for convincing Anne to give her pillow back. Then Katie remembered that she needed salt. 

She went to the kitchen and did this special trick that her dad taught her. Since she’s in the salty ocean all she has to do is grab some water with two tentacles and use them to suck the water into her body keeping the salt on top of her tentacles. She brushed the salt off of her tentacles. Vóila, salt. 

Next, she needed to call Anne so that she could come over to start the cooking lesson. Katie picked up her seashell phone and called Anne. “Alright Anne, you can come over. I got the cooking ingredients,” Katie said.

“I was watching a movie and you interrupted it, but fine, whatever, I’ll come over,” Anne said.

About ten minutes later Anne arrived at Katies coral house.

“This place looks worse than the last time I was here,” Anne said, walking through the hard rock door.

“You’re not here to criticize my house, you’re here for a cooking lesson,” Katie replied. Katie was getting frustrated by Annes mean comments, but managed to calm herself.

Katie started boiling the oil. “First you have to put the kelp in the oil and…” Katie paused. “Are you even listening to me?” 

Anne was not, she was too busy watching some fish video on her phone.

“You know I don’t have to teach you,” Katie said, frustrated. “I thought you wanted to learn how to cook!”

“I said I wanted to learn how to cook, not have you be my teacher. But fine, I’ll pay attention.”

“So next you have to add the kelp, but don’t throw it in or else the hot oil will burn you,” Katie instructed. 

But Anne threw it in anyway. The oil splashed. “OW! This is all your fault,”Anne screamed. “Just give me the kelp.” 

Katie used rock tongs to scoop some kelp up and gave it to Anne.

The next day Katie went to school. After math class, the teacher, Mrs. Squid said, “Katie, Anne, I need to talk to you.”

Katie wondered if she was in trouble.

“Katie, Anne has told me that you hurt her.”

“Yes, she did” Anne replied, pointing out her oil burnt tentacle

Mrs. Squid said, “Katie, detention.”

“But – ”

“No buts, Katie, detention for one week.”

Anne swam out, giving a mean wave goodbye.

The next day at school, Katie went to detention. In her school, you spend the whole week in detention and whoever’s the detention teacher that week gives work for you to do. She walked in the detention room and saw an octopus and a squid, both the color black, they looked creepy. 

The octopus said in a creepy voice, “Hi, Im Banshee, ”and that squid over there is named Bloody. What did you get detention for? We stole kids’ lunch money to buy black coats.” 

Katie didn’t reply to that, she was very angry at Anne for getting her in detention for something she didn’t do.

Two days later, Katie went into the detention classroom and saw her friend Scarlet.

Katie was surprised. “Scarlet, what are you doing here?” 

“Well, let me tell you the story. I saw Anne and she looked upset, so I asked her what was wrong and she told me about the cooking class you did with her, and I offered to teach her how to sew, and she said that’s what you said, so I tried to get her to agree to do a sewing class with me, but she told the math teacher that I was forcing Anne to learn how to sew, but I wasn’t, and of course the teacher wouldn’t believe me, so here I am.”

“ Wow, that’s a lot. We need to do something so that Anne won’t keep bullying us,” Katie said.

Scarlet had an idea, “All she wanted was some delicious fried kelp and a special blanket right?”

“Yeah, what are you thinking?” Katie asked

“What if you make some fried Kelp and I sew her a blanket so she will leave us alone.”

“That could work. I have some extra fried kelp from the other day,” Katie said.

“I’ll start working on the blanket tonight.”

At home, Katie went to the fridge to find the kelp. She saw some salt, sea worms and at the back of the fridge she found the bowl of kelp. She went to her room to find some fabric to tie a bow on the bowl of kelp to give to Anne. Her room is quite small. All that’s in it is her bed with her pillow lying on it, her desk where she does her homework and her closet where she keeps her cool octopus coats. Katie opened her closet and found a bit of fabric that would work perfectly. 

The next day, Anne, Scarlet and Katie were in science class. Katie brought her kelp bowl and Scarlet brought her blanket. It was purple and had indigo polka-dots. It looked just like Anne. They planned to give the items to Anne after class.

“Ok, class dismissed,” the science teacher said.

“Hey Anne, me and Scarlet made something for you,” Katie told Anne.

“What did you get me?”

“Well, Katie made some fried kelp with the instructions stuck on top, and I sewed a blanket for you. It’s purple with indigo polka dots. It looks just like you,” Scarlet replied. 

Anne gave Scarlet a slight smile. “Thanks, but don’t think just because you did this now we are suddenly friends.” Anne was still slightly smiling as she swam away.

“Some things never change,” Katie said.

But their gifts worked, and Anne never bothers Scarlet or Katie ever again.

The End.

Annie the Seeing Eye Dog

The mall looked like a huge village full of stores. The floor tasted dusty like a shoe covered in mud. The people were really loud, there was music playing and people shouting. The mall smelled like pretzels covered in salt right from the oven, or smoothies made out of fresh fruit. Near Dunkin’ Donuts, in the food court, someone had placed a water bottle next to a table. The water bottle had art all over it. A person wearing a blue jumpsuit came and put the water bottle in a trash can. 

Annie was a seeing eye dog. She was a pomeranian, which was very unusual for a seeing eye dog. Annie was puffy, with light brown fur and short legs. Every Saturday Annie came to the mall to go shopping with her owner. She liked coming to the mall. Most dogs couldn’t come to the mall, but Annie could because she was a seeing eye dog. She didn’t care if the mall was loud because she had to be with her owner 24/7.

She also liked pretty colors. When she saw the water bottle near Dunkin’ Donuts, she thought wow, it’s really colorful. But the man in the blue jumpsuit threw it in the trash. That made Annie sad and furious.  

She barked at the man. You’re so mean, she wanted to say. 

Her owner said to “be quiet.”

Annie listened. If she didn’t do her job then she won’t be able to go to the mall and she wouldn’t be able to help her owner. And she loved to help her owner. It made her feel helpful. But the water bottle was in trouble, too!

The question was, how could she save the water bottle? 

She decided to be good, stay with her owner, and later she would get the water bottle. That seemed like a good idea. So she waited until the right moment. 

When the owner told Annie to take her to the store to buy some furniture, she decided it would be good to get the water bottle now. She dragged her owner to the garbage can. But her owner refused to get it for her! Her owner didn’t understand. Her owner thought it was just trash.

Annie was so mad!!! She whined and whined to her owner that she needed the water bottle. 

“Did you lose something special?” her owner asked.

Annie barked excitedly.

The owner reached into the trash. She brought out a banana peel. Then she brought out an old pair of boots. She also found a half-eaten apple. Finally, she found the water bottle.

Annie barked happily.

The owner said, “this water bottle has stickers peeling off it, and I think it’s dirty. I don’t think it’s good for you to have this.”

Annie whined.

The owner ignored her and made her keep going. They went to the drug store. 

All of a sudden, Annie spotted an aisle full of water bottles, and they looked more beautiful than the other water bottle that she had spotted!!!  They were shiny new! The problem was that all of them were so pretty!! She wanted all of them! 

Annie was so excited that she leapt up, knocking water bottles off the shelf.  The store manager rushed over. He told the owner that Annie was crashing the water bottles, so then the owner apologized. 

She asked, “are the water bottles from the trash?”

And the store manager said, “no, they’re brand new.”

The owner told Annie, “you can have one water bottle.’

  Annie spotted the same water bottle from the trash, except it was new. Annie thought it looked better than the old one and she liked the newer one better. She whined to her owner, and knocked it off the shelf. 

The manager said, “I’ve had enough of this!” 

The owner said, “we’ll buy that water bottle.” 

The manager sold them the water bottle, but said, “after today, you and your dog are banned from this store.”

So Annie and her owner bought the water bottle and left. 

Annie felt sad that she had knocked all the water bottles on the floor and gotten her owner banned. 

But her owner wasn’t mad. The owner heard from a friend that there was a better store where there were more seeing eye dogs, and even random dogs were allowed. That store was called PETS FROM EVERYWHERE. 

And Annie and her owner went there every Saturday instead of the mall.

 The End

Acornburg

A dark cloud filled the sky with gloom, and spread an uneasy shadow over the town of Acornburg like a chilling blanket of blackness. The usually sweet and scented air that would fill the surrounding areas with cherry blossom petals and fireflies at night seemed to be all but gone, and left in its place a thick and chilled atmosphere, that sent all the animals scurrying back into their various homes and holes. The cherry blossom leaves crumpled up, their vibrant coloring turning to a sickly brownish black as they slowly withered and fell from their trees. It was as though all life had suddenly abandoned Acornburg, leaving its former glory to lay to rest among the ashes. Not a sound could be heard from anywhere in the ghostly town, all the houses silent, waiting for some sign of the Acornburg they used to know. The fountains stopped churning water, the plants stopped growing, the businesses stopped their sales, all at once everything had come to a halt and nobody would ever know why. The usually bustling streets of Acornburg had practically fallen to rubble overnight. 

Interesting Topics

Table of Contents:

  1. Ortho-K Lenses
  2. Gardening Tips
  3. Michael Phelps Facts

Ortho-K Lenses  

What are Ortho-K lenses? They are lenses that you wear at night. Every night, the lenses correct your eyesight, and in the morning you have the best eyesight possible. Although they’re expensive (about $2,000 – $4,000 dollars, plus the cost of equipment), kids should definitely wear these lenses. If your eyesight is growing worse, you should immediately wear these lenses. If you have good eyesight, you should still prepare to wear these lenses, because your eyesight will grow worse in the future. Plus, wearing Ortho-K lenses can help remove your eye problems. 

So when should kids wear the lenses? Ortho-K is recommended for kids and teenagers, because that’s when people’s eyesight grows the most. By the time you are 22, your eyesight slowly stops growing, and you can decide if you want to continue wearing lenses, wear glasses, wear contact lenses, or have laser surgery. When you turn 24, the age when your eyesight stops growing, you can do what you decided to do.

Let’s learn some science behind Ortho-K lenses. Part of your eyeball is your cornea. If your cornea is attached to your eyeball, then you have great eyesight. If it’s far away from you eyeball, then it will be hard for you to see. During the night, when you are sleeping, the lens pushes your cornea closer to your eyeball. In conclusion, the lenses improve your eyesight. Remember, it will take a few days, about 3, before it will be completely good.

Author’s note: If you are planning to wear Ortho-K lenses, you can go to two places. One is in the Golden Horseshoe in Scarsdale. Although the place is less expensive than the other one (it’s around $2,000 dollars), it isn’t customized, making it not as safe. Ortho-K Specialty in Bayside, Flushing is more expensive ($4,000 dollars), since it has customized lenses. My doctor, Dr. Cho, told me the information in the first section. 

Gardening Tips

Are your garden plants being eaten by bunnies? One way to get rid of them is to put powder, such as red pepper powder, around the plants or anywhere you feel like will be most effective. For more complicated experiments, check the resources at the end of this article. 

Birds can eat some of your plants, too. Shiny objects scare them away. You can place DVDs, aluminum foil, or any other shiny objects around the plants. It can be dangling from a string, or just lying around. Getting a scarecrow might be another good idea. 

Sources:

https://www.callnorthwest.com/2020/01/5-home-remedies-to-keep-birds-away/ (Gardening tips to keep birds away)

https://www.almanac.com/pest/rabbits (Gardening tips to keep bunnies away)

Things You Might Want To See:

https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/keep-animals-out-of-your-garden/5426.html (More information about keeping animals away from you garden)

Michael Phelps Facts

Michael Phelps has won 28 medals in his life: 23 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 2 bronze medals. 13 of the gold medals he won individually, and the other 10 were relays. During his career, Michael Phelps also set 39 world records — more than any other person.

Does anyone know what Michael Phelps’ best strokes are? Butterfly and freestyle. Although Micheal is very good at butterfly, he first learned how to do backstroke because, when he was young, he didn’t like putting his head in the water, so he just floated on his back.

Want to hear a really surprising fact? Michael Phelps can do 34 pullups!

You can also check out the video I put at the bottom of this article.

Sources:

https://www.biography.com/athlete/michael-phelps (Biography of Michael Phelps)

Things You Might Want To See:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o7I0FxFNeQ (MIchael Phelps 8 gold medals in Beijing, 2008)

The Three Adventurers and the Big Monster

Chapter 1

One day, a girl named Giselle came along and found a secret door in the woods. It was locked, so she looked in the bushes and she saw the key. She unlocked the door before she went in, and she looked around and saw her sister, Sydney. She said, “Sydney, come quick!” and ran as fast as she could. They saw someone outside and they shut the door super fast. “Where were you, I texted you?” Giselle whispered.

Sydney said, ”My phone was dead, I couldn’t text you back.”

They heard a loud THUMP, BOOM, BAM! Sydney quietly opened the door a tiny bit… it was big and scary… IT WAS A MONSTER!

The monster was green and yellowish. Giselle shut the door and Giselle was very scared. She screamed very loudly.

“Shhh! We don’t want anyone knowing where we are,” Sydney said. There was a big bug. Giselle hated bugs. She stepped on the bug — but she had her new Vans on, and they were rose gold. She was trying not to cry but she was really upset. Sydney was just on her phone paying no attention to her. Giselle quietly went out of the room. Sydney heard the door and she looked out and saw Giselle. Sydney ran to Giselle. The monster was trying to come for her but it walked too slowly. It had two legs like a human but it was big and walked super slow. Sydney was running as fast as possible.

Giselle said, “Sydney you were just on your phone the whole time!” Sydney and Giselle were scared, but she tried to stay calm because the monster was right behind them. They finally escaped, but the monster kept following them, but they weren’t scared because they got used to it, though they still didn’t like it.

“OMG, runnnn, ahhh! It’s coming for us!” Sydney said.

“Shhh, mom is probably worried! Hurry, hope we don’t get lost!” Giselle said.

“Quickly, someone’s calling me,” Sydney said. “It’s probably mom, but keep running.”

“I see something weird farther up! Oh, it’s a book, I’m gonna pick it up,” Giselle said.

“No, just keep running. Ahhh! Help, the monster got me!” Sydney yelled.

“Sydney, I’m gonna dump water on it so it lets go of you. 1, 2, 3, splash!”

“Okay, keep running faster this time. I see rainbow!” Sydney said.

“Just pay attention! You don’t want to get caught by the monster again, right?”

“Just keep going! Don’t pay attention to anything else for the last time!”

“Okay, Giselle, now focus and keep running faster” said Sydney.                                                                                                                        

Sydney said, “Stop bossing me around all the time, Giselle!”

They both yelled,  “Ahhhhhh! The monster runs as fast as possible! Faster!”

Giselle and Sydney were both scared. They ran as fast as they could, trying to get away from the monster, but it was too slippery. The monster picked both of them up off of the ground, but the two girls slipped right out of the monster’s hands. The monster was about to eat them, they were out in time! He put his hands right to his mouth but they weren’t there; they were running farther from the monster.                                                                                                                                                        

Chapter 2

They were hungry because they hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours, they were starving! They had camp the next day but they missed it because they didn’t make it home in time. They needed to have a snack or something, they could be like a human that never got full, that was how hungry they were. They were trying to find food but they were still running as the monster came along. They were trying to get back home but they didn’t know where it was.                                                                                                                 

“Oh no, Mom’s calling me. I think she’s worried. I’m gonna answer… “

Mom asked where they were. Sydney said Isabella had asked for a sleepover for 9 days, and she also said they were playing a game of checkers so that she actually believed it because she didn’t want her mom to know that they were lost. They tried to call Isabella and tell her if her mom calls and asks if they’re there or having a good time say, just say YES.

Mom didn’t know that they were lost in the woods. They knew where Isabella’s house was, so they decided to go come so their mom thought they were there the whole time.

“Giselle we’re going to Isabella’s house, turn around,” Sydney said. They did not walk too far but the monster showed up! “You can walk because it can’t jump,” Sydney said, and the branches and bushes they were walking through were poisonous to them and the monster because the monster was walking through it and it got small purple bumps on its slimy and gooey skin.

Their mom said that she was going to pick them up from Isabella’s house tomorrow because Isabella had dance, but she told her that she would go to dance with her so she was picking them up on the last day of this week. “We better hurry there, fast, run!” Giselle said. “We can stay for a while. We’ve never had a sleepover for this long. We are pretty far from her house. We have to run as fast as possible.”

“Giselle? Oh, come on, hurry, why are you behind me? You need to be next to me or in front of me or be behind me.”

“I don’t care anymore! Blah blah blah, whatever, I don’t care. We’re almost at Isabella’s house but it’s hot, we should get ice cream or an icy.”

“It’s very hot and I’m starving! When we get to Isabella’s house, I’m gonna ask for something to eat, maybe even two whole watermelons. Welp, I’m starving, so why not, I’ll eat the whole watermelon, except the skin.”

This ice cream was super good and creamy and cold. Since they were close to her house, they decided they should bike.

“Let’s go to the bike store! It’s right there. It’ll take like ten minutes,” Giselle said.

Gisella had gone here the other day. Her mom had called asking if Isabella could take them to school because they went to the same school and Mom was always so tired in the morning, and she said yes.

“I see Isabella’s house! It’s on the next block. We’re here! I’m gonna ring the doorbell,” Giselle said.

She opened the door, and Giselle said, “Hi.”

Isabella said “hi” back. She had two dogs, their names were Elinore and Frank. Frank was a pug and Elinore was a teacup. They went inside and washed their hands because they had been outside all day. Since they were so hungry, they had lunch and dinner at the same time. Since they were having a sleepover, they could stay up as long as they wanted, so they could play on their phones or maybe play Roblox or pottery life or pottery life HD. They could stay up all night! It would be so fun on their phones because remember, when they were at Isabella’s house, they could stay up all night.

“Where is Isabella?” Giselle asked.

“Oh, she is in the kitchen doing I don’t know what, I’m gonna go check. Hey, Isabella, what are you doing?” Sydney asked.

“I’m about to go to b — oh, right, we are staying up all night. But don’t you think it’s a little late to stay up? I’m a little tired.”

“Yeah, I guess I am a little tired, I’ll go let Giselle know,” Sydney said.

Chapter 3

Sydney asked Giselle if she thought they should tell Isabella about the — you know, monster. GIselle said she’d be scared or something like that. Sydney didn’t think she’d be scared. So she told Isabella and she obviously didn’t believe Sydney, but luckily she took a quick picture of the monster. Now she believed Sydney.

She was very scared and Sydney knew she was gonna scream so she covered Isabella’s mouth and told her to be quiet because no one could know about it except for them three. She asked why no one could know about it and Sydney told her,

“Because if anyone else knows about it, they will get attacked too, but don’t worry, you’re safe.” Then she whispered, “I think.”

Then Sydney told Giselle that she’d told Isabella and Giselle freaked out because she may get attacked but Sydney told her probably not because the monster could only hear things that are a regular tone but if it was a whisper, it could not hear what they were saying.

So if someone said something about the monster in a regular tone, it could hear and attack the people that knew about the monster. Since the monster was huge, it had huge body parts. The monster’s biggest body part was its ears, so it could listen to everything that was about it regularly.

Isabella was just putting her dishes in the sink. “I’ll be right there, I’m coming,” she said. She was putting her dishes in the sink.

“She’s coming and she’s getting water with ice in it,” Sydney told Giselle. “She has dance tomorrow, we’re doing it with her. She takes hip hop, the song she does is Tootsie Slide. It’s a good song. When Isabella comes in the room, she’s gonna teach us the dance. The dance has more moves than you think, oh, here she comes. Hi, Isabella, do you want me to play the song on my — “

 “Yes, please, because my mom hid my phone, ok…  “

“Now I’m hot from all that dancing, can I get some water?” Giselle asked.

“Yes, of course, mi casa es tu casa, right!” exclaimed Isabella. “Sydney, do you want anything?”

“Yes, please, can I have some iced tea?”

“Isabella said, “Perfect.” 

Once it was bedtime, they ate dinner, took a shower, put on their pajamas, brushed their teeth, then went to bed. In the morning, they ate pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then they watched Netflix. They watched To All The Boys: Always and Forever.

Sydney didn’t like that show so she was doing gymnastics in the living room. When they were done watching their little show, they decided to go to the movie theater to see A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place II, and before you say anything, Giselle is 17 and Isabella and Sydney were 16, so don’t come for them.

They took out their three-person bike, it was super cool. Giselle kept spilling the popcorn so Sydney held the popcorn. Then we went to the second movie and made it just in time for the movie.

She had a 1-person bike and a passenger bike. Once they got to the movie theaters, their mom called just to check in on them. They told her where they were and she told them to enjoy, then they all turned their phones off and took their seats. Sydney got the snacks, Giselle saved the seats and Isabella — well, Isabella ate all the snacks.

Sydney wasn’t scared the tiniest bit but Giselle was — the one screaming and spilling the popcorn, so Sydney held the popcorn instead, then Isabella said she had to go to the bathroom. 30 minutes later, she still wasn’t back, so Giselle went to check the bathroom and she wasn’t there. Sooner or later, Sydney got a text saying, “HELP!”

Sydney ran to the bathroom to tell Giselle and they ran outside and saw the monster about to put Isabella in i’s eye (which is where it eats from). They ran to punch the monster and it dropped Isabella out of its gross and slimy wet hands. When the monster dropped her, she was all wet and her white shirt was tinted a bright green and yellow. Once she was on the ground, a piece of the monster’s slimy skin fell onto Isabella and then grew back. They all were grossed out.

Chapter 4

They made a secret name for the monster, its name was Doug. From now on, if they were to even think about that monster, they would find a way to try to stop it, but if you did think about it, you had to tell the rest of the group because they all do most things together.

Giselle went to go write more of her book called Strikers, Author: Giselle McCraw, Illustrator: Chastity Hampton. She made her first book in 2018-2019. Now, she was working on her second book. The monster got a new power which was reading minds no matter where you were. So now they couldn’t think about the monster or else he would come to get them and eat them.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day they got picked up but they still had the monster probl — Sydney gasped, then yelled for Isabella and Giselle. “ISABELLA, GISELLE! I SAID THE WORD THAT DOUG IS!” Sydney said.

“The m word,” Isabella said.

Sydney yelled, “YES, THAT ONE!”

“In the show I watched, I think we have to clap, clap, stomp, stomp, and say, ‘Keep the thing away!’ for it not to come.”

“Uhhhhh, Isabella, it may or may not be right behind you.”

She slowly turned around and screamed. Giselle, Isabella, and Sydney all yelled and clapped twice, stomped twice, and yelled, “Keep the thing away!” It roared and moved away as quickly as it could, but it was still super slow.

Today was the day they were going to picked up but they were gonna ask their mom if they could stay for two more weeks. She said, “Fine, but we have to be home by 9:30.”

Sydney said, “Fine,” but she didn’t tell Giselle until Giselle said,

“Sydney, we have to leave now.”

Sydney told her she was staying and she said, “Then I am too because won’t want to get hurt by the monster.”

The next couple of days, they went out for dinner. On their way back home, they encountered the monster.

Can you guess what happened next?

They unfortunately got eaten. There were so many more people in there. Isabella got lost and couldn’t find her mother when she was 12 but now they know where she was, in the monster’s stomach. Isabella gave her mom a huge hug but then realized it was the wrong person. They tried to climb out of its left eye but that didn’t work. They tried climbing out of its right eye and that kind of worked but they slid right back in and ZAP! They got zapped. Isabella got them free by sticking her shoe through its eye and put her sweater where they slipped. Then once they were all through, they grabbed all of their belongings and went home to get them all squeaky clean, but Isabella was on Giselle’s back because one of her shoes wasn’t clean. Giselle said, “Phew we’re home!” as she dropped Isabella off at her stop, which was her bed.

Chapter 5

                                         

 Giselle wanted to watch some YouTube, but as usual, she ended up watching Netflix instead. Then Isabella got a call from her friend Mari (Short for Mariana) who moved to Miami with her mom. Her sister stayed in New York because she has a job and so did her dad. Mari surprised Isabella by FaceTiming her right in front of her door and just showing up by surprise. They were all now having a three-person sleepover together. Isabella was sleeping in her bed, Giselle was sleeping on Isabella’s Mom’s bed, and Mari was sleeping on the couch. Mari was sleeping over until Saturday and so were they (probably).

“We are leaving for dinner in 15 minutes” Isabella exclaimed. “We are going to Panera Bread, their food is sooooo good.”

They left to go to Panera Bread at 4:00 PM. They ended up leaving at 6:00 PM and got home around 6:30. They decided to have doughnuts for dessert and tomorrow, they were going to have ice cream. At 10:00 PM, they decided to go to bed because they had a long day. But also fun!

“Good night everyone, see you tomorrow!”

“Good morning, who wants pancakes!” Giselle, Isabella, and Sydney all woke up and thought,

Who is that? We have no one else in the house besides — Mari!

They got out of bed and went to the kitchen. “You’re making breakfast!”

Mari said, “Yep,” as the oven went ding! Mari said “Oh, the pão de queijo is ready.” Pão de queijo is brazilian cheese bread. Sydney then said,

“Como você está?” That meant, “How are you.”

And Mari said, “Eu estou bem.” That meant, “I’m fine,” and she said, “E você?” That meant, “And you.” 

Sydney said the same thing that Mari said. Mari was Brazilian and Sydney learned a lot from her three friends, Gabriella, Beatrice, and Clara. They all went to her school. Giselle, Isabella, Mari, and Sydney all went to the same school, that was how they met each other. BOOM, THUMP, THUMP! Isabella and Sydney saw the monster outside. Isabella showed Mari around to get her away while Sydney tried to get the monster away. She clapped her hands twice, stomped twice, and said, “Get the thing away!” but the monster didn’t go away this time. The monster started banging on the roof for the 4th time and Mari asked what the sound was, but Isabella ignored her and said,

“Get on my back, I am going to give you a small rollercoaster ride.”

Mari said, “No!” and went to the living room to look out the window and see what it was. Sydney pulled her away from the window as the monster shrank and went underneath the door and grew back when it was on the other side of the door. Mari slowly turned around and screamed. The monster had now put Mari in its stomach.

 To Be Continued…

   

Sticky Consequences

Max sat in his room thinking about the different ways to prank friends and start fights. It was his only thing to do while he was grounded in his room for starting the biggest syrup fight in the Slider’s house history. It was his dad who grounded him, of course.

Max sighed as he took out his book of how to cause trouble and flipped to the “grounded” chapter. Flipping through the pages, he read to see what trouble he could cause. The best he could find was how to make people think you were severely injured.

  1. Put out something that might be the cause of how you were hurt.
  2. Lie down and put where your “hurt part” is to a point where you have to move it to get it to show.
  3. Prepare what you are going to say to alarm everyone. For example: A gasp and then a screech.
  4. When they come and ask where it hurts, say that you can’t move the part and show.
  5. Then when they freak out, tell them that it was a prank and they might get really mad or give a lecture about pranking.

Max followed the instructions and his dad came running in, but instead of a lecture or a screech, his dad just grounded him for a longer amount of time. Max silently screamed in his head. Why can’t my dad be like other dads!? Let Mom do the grounding. He should be doing the screeching. ARRRRGGGGHHHH! he thought. But because Angie walked in and saw him first, his dad thought it was also her too. So she got grounded with him.

While he was still reading how to cause trouble, he heard Angie scowling. He turned around and told her, “It’s not that bad, is it?”  

Angie glared at him. “YOU might not care, but I do!”

“Then just don’t care!” Max suggested.

“I can’t!” Angie muttered.

“If you say so,” Max shrugged

Then there was a knock on the door and Max’s mom came in.

“I hereby grant you permission to take steps out of this room!” she declared

“It’s not like Dad to just let us go, is this a trap?” Angie asked.

“It’s not a trap, but I never actually asked Dad. I mean… I’m a parent, too!” Max’s mom shrugged.

As they walked out of the room, Angie skipping, Max cheesily smiling, and their mom’s head held high, they heard the thump of Max’s dad’s foot slamming the floor.

“YOU LET THEM OUT?! Surely, you know better than THIS?!?!?!” he screeched.

“I’m a parent too, just like you, I get these privileges too. I don’t need to ask. I’m not your copycat,” Max’s mom insisted.

“Very well… just clean up the syrup, okay? And do NOT get into a fight again, or else you’re getting grounded for longer. All three of you,” he sighed.

“Okay!” Angie and her mom said together.

“And Max?”

“Fine.”

When they got to the dining room table, Max started licking the table. It was the fun way to clean up. Not the boring way. He noted that in his head. Then he noticed Jack standing in front of the snack cabinet. “Hey, want help with the licking business?” Jack offered. “There are no good snacks left.” 

Max shrugged. “Sure, I mean, if you were here, we probably would have less of a chance of getting grounded. Dad just likes you because you help Angie more.”

“You might get grounded without me then,” Jack predicted.

Max’s mom turned around. “Let’s not talk about grounding now, shall we? Just don’t get in trouble, ‘k?”

“I’ll try. But don’t be that sure. Actually, don’t be sure at all,” Max replied with a sly smile.

His mom smiled. “Well, ok! Now let’s finish cleaning!”

Kenzie’s Failing School

~

Traveling Chapter

1

Now, before we begin, I think that you need to know some things about Kenzie. For one, she’s an A – A+ student. For two, her full name is Kenzie Marian Brian Albus Margerete Renaya Roberts. It’s quite a mouthful, we can all agree on that. For three, she goes to Wolf Creek High. Her homeroom teacher is Mr. Amnesee, a kind-looking man with a very wide smile. His hair is shabby brown, and there’s a long scar running down the side of his cheek, making him look like he had been attacked by a tiger or something. Even though Mr. Amnesee has a very kind face, it makes his appearance very eerie, or at least uncomfortable. Kenzie has seen Mrs. Sapphire (the school’s vice-principal) shiver when he was present. And the final thing that you should know about Kenzie is that her parents are divorced (she lives with her dad because her mom left her when she was only 1 month old), and that she has a very annoying brother who’s in the last year of high school, whereas she’s still a sophomore. But the most important thing for you to know is that Kenzie’s a demigod (an offspring who is born from a god and mortal). Though she doesn’t know it. Her mom is Aphrodite. 

Kenzie has a story to share with you, a story that she couldn’t bear to admit, but it was simply the truth. HER GRADES WERE DROPPING! I hope that you, my dear reader, will pick out an important message, no matter what land this train is bringing you across. Now let’s get started! 

I couldn’t think straight. The creaking of the train’s wheel’s sounds was so irritating. I was on a train off to a nightclub place with her best friend, Peyton Alora Fleur Aisling Bexley Emerson Garcia. She had never told her her real name until I had forced her to, threatening to make a bee sting her if she didn’t tell. Something touched my ear. Oh. Just Peyton’s long, blonde hair. I went back to trying to concentrate. In the midst of the super annoying train — wheel — creaking — sounds, I remembered what my dad had once said:

“Life unfolds in chapters, whether you like it or not. They come in varieties, meaning that they can be all kinds of wicked and mean. But some are nice. So just take the time to enjoy that particular (nice) chapter when you can, and absorb all the happiness that you can while it’s still there. Remember: this happiness can really keep you enthusiastic sometimes, even in the bad and horrid chapters.”

“Kenzie.” Maybe I didn’t hear anything because I was so engrossed in my thoughts. “Kenzie!” The sound was like a whip to my skin.
“What?”

“We’re almost there!” Peyton exclaimed. Her eyes were glistening, like the sun itself was inside each of them. As bright as the sun, I thought. Strange. Literally just as bright as the sun. The exact same gold, blaring light. Beaming outwards, from her eyes. 

She snapped loudly right in front of my eyes, making me have to cross-eye to see her blue-gradient painted nails. “KENZIE!”

I looked up, to meet those sunny eyes again. 

~

Understand Chapter

2       

I reluctantly looked up. The building was vast, making me look as if I were an ant compared to an elephant. The windows were all made of glass and clear. I put her hand to the doorknob, which, I noticed, had the word “ON” carved in. With a deep breath, I pushed it open, to be greeted with a strangely warm gush of wind. Looking around, I sucked in the view. There was a DJ with a load of gears set up on a table. There was a stage in the very front of the room, with a microphone set there. I wondered why they still needed one if the music was already played by the DJ.  Platters of a variety of assorted fruits were all fanned out around the room. The room was strangely hot, but it all made sense since a tinge of excitement hung in the air. 

“Hey, I’m going to the bathroom,” Peyton said. I nodded.

While I waited, I sucked in all of the people, some looking as if they had hoped their whole life to be here, some looking as if some had been forced to come. Someone walked right into me. I toppled off-balance, trying to find somewhere that I could hold to steady myself, but instead felt my skin meet contact with a sharp edge. 

“Ouch!” I could feel my finger bleeding freely. 

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to bump into you!” A middle-aged woman with albino skin exclaimed. 

“It’s okay,” I murmured. “Hey, do you have any idea why there’s a microphone up there? Isn’t the music already played by the DJ?”

“Oh, you’re new to this as well, aren’t you? My daughter’s also plenty confused. She still doesn’t know that her dad’s Apollo,” she replied.

“What? You mean Apollo, god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the sun and light, and poetry?” My brain was filling with thoughts. “How could  somebody be an offspring of Apollo?”

“Oh, silly, you don’t know, either? Well then, you’re a half-blood; half-god, half-human! Well, I guess that today’s your lucky day! I’ll give you a history lesson, if you don’t mind. I used to be a history teacher as well, you know. Now, long before the Greek Gods came to power, millennials before, the world was ruled by titans, led by the evilest of all, the titan Kronos. He was evil enough to devour his own children, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus with a single gulp. Yet the three who were later to become the big three and ruler of the gods found a way out. They sliced Kronos to pieces and banished his remains to the depths of Tartarus. Kronos has been waiting all of these years to get revenge and be brought back to power. Yet only one demigod can defeat him — ”

“Hold your horses, what’s a demigod?”

“A demigod is the offspring of a god and mortal.”

“Oh, so that’s why my parents are divorced. My mom must be the god, then!”

“Yes, indeed.”

I was shocked, “Thank you very much. I have learned so much!” 

     ~

Mysterious Chapter

3           

I pushed past her without waiting for her reply. I needed to find Peyton. I needed to find her and tell her everything. Just as I was outside the girls’ bathroom, someone stepped out — an old hag with rotted black teeth with a hood over her head, but there were loose pieces of deathly white hair atop the black hood. She pushed past me without a glance. Weird. I opened the door, and called Peyton’s name.

“Peyton?”

No response. 

“Peyton, are you there? This is no time to play games!”

Still no reply.

“PEYTON?”

I knew that Peyton would have responded. She must not be here! But my eyes were pinned to this door while I was talking to the lady! The only way that Peyton could have gone out was through the pipes, which was a ridiculous idea. She had never been great at climbing, especially squeezing through tight, black places. 

But that’s when I spotted the old hag. I didn’t know why, but I decided to follow her. She wasn’t too far away, anyways. I dove behind, sliding between people, tailing the old hag. That’s when I noticed that she’d sat down at a table with the person I least expected to be here. I moved closer to eavesdrop, having a feeling that this would be good. The hag leaned closer.

“I’ve called her,” she whispered. Her voice was low, husky… and beautiful. 

“Thank you,” said Mr. Amnesee, nodding as he spoke. I slid under the nearest vacant table so that they wouldn’t spot me, though it didn’t seem to matter because they both seemed so sophisticated. 

“She will be very relieved once she hears,” the old had said. Rosmerta quickly opened her bag, revealing a photo of a woman with kind eyes, smiling, an aurora of power floating around. Thinking that I’d seen enough, I quickly moved between adjacent tables, making sure that I didn’t hit any of anybody’s feet. But only did I stop mid-pace when the old hag moved toward an abandoned hallway, near the entrance to what looked like a cellar. Looking behind herself, she scurried away, moving like death itself. I quickly debated with myself, wondering what I should do. I decided to follow the hag, maybe I could squeeze some information out of her.  I frantically looked back, making sure one last time that Peyton wasn’t here, or at least near, and tailed Rosmerta. I just noticed that, for an old lady, she scampered quite quickly. I was breathing heavily when I finally reached my destination, feeling as if I had already ran a mile.

I could feel something was going to happen. I looked around, searching for Rosmerta, but she was nowhere to be seen. Weird. My breaths grew ragged, my breathing frantic. Then I started to get nervous. WHAT IF ROSMERTA KNEW THAT I WAS HERE? WAS SHE JUST TRYING TO LURE ME INTO A TRAP? DID SHE KNOW THAT I WAS HERE AND WAS PLANNING SOMETHING? WAIT, WHAT IF SHE SAW ME THE WHOLE TIME? AHHHHH!          

Thinking about the possibilities, I shuddered. That’s when I spotted Rosmerta in the deepest part, cowering. That’s when she took out something. This something was very surprising indeed. It was a roll of tape. What could she possibly do with that? I wondered. But that’s when I heard a soft click. I saw the old hag take hold of a piece of tape, and stick it to a bare wall. I didn’t know exactly what she was doing, so I just watched. 

She was breathing heavily when she finally finished, so that the tape framed a small door big enough for her (and me) to fit in. I crouched behind a loose piece of wood, sweating for the unsureness. That’s when I noticed the tape had disappeared, so had the block of wall on where Rosmerta had framed the tape. I blinked several times, making sure that what I was seeing was correct. It was. I watched tentatively as the old hag stepped inside, took one deep breath, and changed right into Peyton. Wait, was I seeing right? Yup, I was. I WAS! I was so shell-shocked that I almost fell right out of my hiding place! I couldn’t believe my eyes!!      

I stayed still, listening. Then, with the whoosh of wind, a woman identical to the woman in the photograph appeared, looking around, eyes hard. Then, she stared at the exact spot that I was, eyes softening. 

Noticing my confusion, she said, “I’m your mother.” Her voice sounded soprano. I could’ve sworn that she would be a great female singer. “And you can come out now, Apollo. ”

A middle-aged white man appeared from the doorway. He waved his hand and left, hands in his pockets. 

~

Explanation Chapter

4

Aphrodite led me into the room where Apollo had transformed. 

“Why did you and dad divorce?” I blurted out. 

“It’s complicated.” Aphrodite fidgeted with her hands, which seemed very ungodly to me. 

It’s always been a sensitive subject for me, and I knew that, compared to being part of the chaos herself, Aphrodite may have a more specific reason. 

“Well, the simple explanation is that it didn’t work out. After I explained everything to him, you know, the fact that I’m not normal, and he freaked out.” Her eyes were like a portal to the past. I could almost see dad’s freaked face. 

“Anyways,” she took a breath and shook her head, the portal unwinded. 

I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful Aphrodite was. She wore a long robe, woven with exquisite silver fabric. Whenever she moved, it was as if the whole world bowed down to her. Every step she took, there was an era of power flowing around. Sometimes, there was an angry flash in her eyes whenever she was irritated. This warned the surrounding people now to deal with her. Not that any fool would want to without her signal. 

Her skin was a light shade of peach, not too dark, but not too pale. Her blonde hair, tied back into a perfect knot, was placed right splat at the back of her head. Her eyes were ocean blue, warm and kind, but also very stricken. Her lips were coated with sparkly red lip gloss, everything about her was so gentle, calm, yet at the same time powerful and forceful. You could tell that she wasn’t someone to mess around with, even if you didn’t know she was a Greek god. 

I looked up to meet those ocean blue eyes, sad.

“I have some questions to ask you,” I barreled on. Aphrodite immediately sat up straight, composing herself. 

“Anything.” Her face was warm, sadness long forgotten. “But, if these somehow reach out of my authority line, I cannot do anything to help you. Hera will be extremely angry with me. And when she’s mad, she’s MAD,” she said, her face suddenly serious. Shaking her head, she peeked at me. I couldn’t hold her gaze. 

“So… ” I stuttered for words. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, this is the first time that I’ve even spoken to someone with authority, let alone a goddess. 

“I want to know why you left daddy,” I settled with something straightforward. 

I knew nothing about being a god. That was probably pretty off since I was the daughter of Aphrodite, the god of love and beauty. But I still wasn’t her. AT ALL. Literally. 

“Oh.. ” She spoke as if she knew what was coming, yet she feared it. I couldn’t bear to admit it, but I liked the look on her face. It was a mixture of annoyance and overwhelmingness. It was quite unusual for a god to look like that. Yet there is a difference between reality and fantasy. And if you took a look at my mom’s face then, you would’ve guessed that she just got stabbed in the back with a dagger. 

“Well, I need you to know that we, well, separated because of the rules passed on through generations. I loved him very much. I wouldn’t have made the choice to divorce if I were a regular mortal. In fact, I love him with all my life. I might even die for him. But you need to know that things are the way they are, even if you wish that they weren’t. I always thought of playing with the thought of being normal. To be a typical mortal with a happy family, living a normal life. But when you’re, well, me, that would be a dream come true if it actually happened.”

A single tear slipped down her cheek. 

“Rules are rules, aren’t they?” She forced a sad smile, her voice trembling.

“Oh,” I said again. What can I say? I was preparing myself to hear my own mother tell me the real reason, but a wave of nausea still wrapped around my gut. I felt my nails bite into my hand. Then a strange thing happened. A smell of smoke. Then a flash of light. And before my eyes, Aphrodite was gone. 

“So, class, the answer to this problem is π^2. Any questions?!” Mr. Amnesee announced to the class. I looked up, deciding to stop picking my nails. The polish was peeling off, anyway. I was going to make mom proud. I was going to become an A+ student again. 

The Importance of Art

Many people in this world do not have the privilege to make and create types of art at school. When you are doing art, time may fly by, but during the time that you are creating the art, your head can relax and calm down. During that time, nothing matters more than you and creating the art. Art may take up a lot of time, but when you get good at art, it is fun for you and will make you happy. Today, I am going to be talking about art, and how it helps people with their mental health, and why principals should provide fun art-related programs for their students to help them learn.

One reason why schools should have art programs is because art lets people be as creative as they want. Everybody’s artwork will be different, for art is one of the only classes that has a special feature. Even if you are following a set of steps, when you are coloring, or decorating your drawing, they will be different. Also, art is no competition, you can take as long as you want to finish a piece of artwork. It may take a few weeks, and those weeks may turn into months, and maybe even into years! It doesn’t matter how long it took you to draw your artwork, all that matters is what it turned into, and how much you like it. It is scientifically proven that when you are creating art, it makes you happier, and who doesn’t want to be happy?

The next reason why is because most people get stressed out after classes. If you are in a class that is very challenging for you, then you have to have a break, even if you don’t have art classes, you can bring a notepad and pencil to school, and even if you’re not good at drawing, you can still just start drawing random lines and let all you tension out. 5th grader Anna states, “Art is important in school because you have time to let your creative self shine out, it is also very fun to do art because most kids enjoy art. Lastly, you need to have a break from your brain because most classes there is a procedure you need to follow but in art, there is no specific rule, basically, you can do anything you want.” I 100% agree with Anna.

The last reason is that art makes you persevere. When you mess up, you have to restart and try a new tactic. This may help you with other work, like math, if you are trying a math problem, but you get the answer wrong, art may encourage you to retry and be patient. 4th Grader Sarah says, “I love to do art, and sometimes if I am doing homework and it gets kinda hard and I get stuck, I take a little break and do some sketching for art. It helps me relax and after ten minutes I try and go back to do my homework, and it makes me feel better doing it.” And once again, I agree with you, Sarah.

Art makes you persevere, be as creative as you want, and makes you happier. These are three out of the many reasons why you should create art. Even if you’re not good at it, try art if you have these problems. Art will make you proud of your artwork, just wait until you see it!

Ouch! Goes the Weasel, Books 1 & 2

Squeaks to you all! 

My name is Ronalds Squeak-sq, and I am the youngest weasel in Utteramma Field. My brother, Carl, is the leader of Squeak Scouts. Squeak Scouts is another name for your “Boy/Girl Scouts.” Anyway, back to my family. 

My father is the Executive Director of Utteramma Field Electricity Institute (UFEI). The UFEI produces electricity to every weasel in town during the Weasel Uprising in 2123, when the Handemolen peeps are protecting every weasel in the world of the TSSA. 

Eventually, we smart weasels learned to use human materials, so we used them on our own as well. Back in my family, my mom just took a job as a nurse in Utteramma Field Hospital (UFH). With no one in my family guarding me, I had to figure out a way to get a babysitter. 

I dialed 167-999-9998 on the weaselphone in my house. A babysitter named Alexia came. Instead of making Mom mad, my mom was… well, actually proud of me. My dad, on the other hand, wasn’t so amused. 

He usually is the most easy-to-get-angry weasel in town, but sometimes, if I finish my homework early, my dad will reward me with three-quarters of an hour of TV time. 

This story is just the beginning of a story of what had happened to me and my family. Happy reading and exploring my inner self!

______________________________________________________________________________

“Ronalds, hurry up,” Carl whined, “or you will be late for your first day of nursery school.” Carl and I were eating breakfast on a chilly fall day. We had to block our entrance hole up with a huge plate to keep out the leaves from falling into our house. 

Yup. A weasel like me is going to nursery school already. That’s because we weasels’ generations have been separated by three years. That’s why weasel schools don’t earn much money, though the teachers have to spend so much energy controlling 3-year-olds. 

My dad, with a tough-looking face, glared at me with impatience, but didn’t even make a single squeak. I’ve got to hurry to school. Everyone in my family was impatiently waiting for me. Unusually, even my mom was glaring at me with impatience (that’s not common in my family). 

Alright, diary, see you at school!


Here in my school, Weaselmentry Nursery School (or as I like to call it, the WNS {pronounced WHNNS}), everyone gathered up, and I gazed out the window. Earthworms tumbled in the mud. I guess my new teacher put the window there for a reason. 

Finally, the bell rang. 

BLING! BLING! BLING!

“Alright, class,” the teacher announced, “my name is Mrs. Olaf. I am also the Phys Ed coach here. You have a very special teacher.” 

Everyone oohed and ahhed. All except for me. I sat there, still as a statue. (Well, I had to admit I was still blinking.) After Mrs. Olaf calmed everyone down, she announced another thing: “This is also my first day here.” I opened my mouth to squeak, but nothing came out. 

Despite my silence, I did manage to squeak up. “You — you just came?” I gasped. I paused to catch my breath. “Lie — like us?!” 

“Sure, hon,” Mrs. Olaf replied, “I just moved into Utteramma Field.” 

I guess school wasn’t so bad after all:* after all, I did have a teacher who had lots of things in common with me! 

*Oops, I forgot to mention that I didn’t want to go to school earlier in this book! So sorry for interrupting the story. Go on reading, now.

Just then, a booming voice came from the hallway. Every classmate in my class had their fur standing on their tips. I can’t tell if they were sweating or not, but I was. 

“Today, my new friends, I would like to announce the new staff and students in this school. First, our new Physical Education coach: Mrs. Dorriana Olaf!”

Everyone cheered during the 10-second-pause. Then, the strange voice continued. 

“Next, our new Computer teacher: Mr. Rockliff Anderson!”

We heard some cheering in the neighboring classes. The voice went on. 

“Finally, let me introduce the new generation of students. In Mrs. Olaf’s class, welcome the new students of Mrs. Olaf!”

We smiled to ourselves. 

“Next, welcome the students of Mr. Jankerson!”

Okay, so this is going to be a long announcement, so I will put it together in one piece. 

“Next up: Mr. McUnterson’s class!
Last but not least, welcome Ms. Lankeran’s class to this school!

Now, I want to announce that we are in a lockout drill. An eagle is coming! Lock everything!”

“What’s a lockout drill?” I heard someone ask. 

“It means ‘Lock everything,’ ” Mrs. Olaf replied, “because we can’t let eagles and other predators come and snatch us. Good question, Kiki.” Kiki. Now I know a new friend, I thought. 


After 10 minutes of waiting, we finally could squeak. The thing is, we were actually working pretty hard as nursery schoolers. We learned shapes, size, how to count to five, and a bunch of other things, including word study (that one was the hardest). 

After all that mind-cooking learning, it was finally time for recess. We had an extraordinary playground: lots of rides and also brainworking challenges and even steep slides. SO STEEP. It was going straight down! 

I was deciding to meet Kiki when the bell rang that ended recess. 

BLING! BLING! BLING!

Everything was now harder, even harder than the word study. We learned to use a ruler to measure. We even met numbers up to 10! 


On my way home, I thought about how far nursery school is taking me. It sounded so hard! HARD! By the time I got home, I was half panting, half shivering. And why? Because I was afraid to go back to school! 

When Carl saw me shivering, he asked, “Hey, Pooper-Ronalds, are you cold?” I didn’t answer because 1) He would reply with a much meaner thing than “Pooper-Ronalds” and 2) He would ask me more stupid questions. (Why did I use the word “stupid”?!)

When my dad saw me shivering, he asked the same thing, only politely: “Ronalds, my boy, aren’t you cold? Let me give you a cup of warm water. Meanwhile, borrow my jacket.” 

“No thanks,” I said, “I’m just afraid of school.” 

Unfortunately, Carl heard me and teased me: “Ronalds is afraid of school! Ronalds is a loser!” Just then, a voice shot down from the stairs as fast as the fastest bullet. 

“CARL!” Mom scolded. “Get over here right now. Time out for three hours!”

I was now quarter scared of school, quarter shivering, quarter sweating.* It was just too much to handle! I can’t believe my family is like this. Meanwhile, upstairs, I could hear my brother crying out, “Momma, don’t throw away my video games! NOOO!”

“I am too,” Mom said, “and I mean now.” What did that mean? I thought. This is what I do know: my mom locked the so-called “detention door” and trudged downstairs to the basement, where she threw away a video game console and a gadget. 

*Sorry, that was just three quarters, not four. And also, HOW AM I GOING TO GET TO SCHOOL WITHOUT KNOWING MY FRACTIONS?!

After heading downstairs to see what the commotion was all about, my dad pushed open the detention door and locked it again. I was expecting for Dad to punish him with 4th grade homework, but instead went there just to give a good shout to Carl. 

Although I was happy that Carl was now punished, I also feel kind of bad for him. I decided that we have a pretty breakable family. This is what I mean. I made a list below. 


Ronalds’ recipe for Family connection

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Ingredients: a family

How to make: Imagine that all your family members have a Wi-Fi love transmitting heart. If someone’s heart breaks, the entire Wi-Fi is disconnected and everyone is in a bad mood. (My family is like that.) So, to always connect, let each other calm down during a Wi-Fi free period. That way, your family could reconnect. 

Thanks for listening and making the recipe at home!


Whew, that was just too much writing! I’d better go and eat my lunch. After that, I’d take my afternoon nap. Good Noon, Diary!


Oh, hello again! Good morning!* Oh, right… I have to tell you what happened next! Silly me. 

*Sorry again! I just remembered, it is the afternoon! And, also, HOW AM I GOING TO GO TO SCHOOL IF I DON’T KNOW HOW TO READ TIME?!

Unfortunately, during my afternoon nap, Carl video-taped me talking in my sleep. He then burst out laughing when I awoke. He then played the video over and over. It sounded something like this:

Someone’s taking Ronalds away, poopsy pants! Leave Carl alone! Call Ronalds “Pickle Face”! Someone’s taking Ronalds away, poopsy pants!

That video — IT! THAT’S IT! My brother is just too obnoxious. He is just too… bad. Sorry, can’t think of another word. To my most luckiest luck, though, Dad heard the video being played. But that wasn’t just the only thing that was lucky; Dad also scolded him because — well, I’ll use markers to draw this. 

“NEVER DO THAT TO YOUR BROTHER! WHY ARE YOU TRICKING HIM THAT IT WAS RONALDS THAT WAS TALKING, NOT YOU?! YOU ARE GROUNDED FOR ONE MORE YEAR!!!”

Uff, I try to cover my tiny but sensitive weasel ears to drain out Dad’s ear-splitting noise. I could even hear his sound loud and clear even when I plugged my ears with my dad’s earplugs. But a punishment for Carl for more than a year?! Even the bullied victim (me!) felt sad for the bully (Carl). I was also relieved to hear that it wasn’t me talking, it was Carl. 

That night, I couldn’t sleep. Not because of school, but because of Carl’s punishment.


At school the next morning, I just couldn’t concentrate on my work. I kept on thinking about Carl. When I was to read a sentence with a vocabulary word, I answered with a squeaky voice, a voice kind of like this:

Wah cuas Wah Aqash Chew!

Everyone stared at me. And also, do you even know what “Wah cuas Wah Aqash Chew” means? 

Answer: “Wah Cuas Wah Aquash Chew” means “One plus one equals two.”

I started to sweat. In a bad way, that is (not in the way you sweat when you are relieved). No one figured out the answer, though. Only you did in the little script above.* 

*I could write even smaller than the answer I wrote. I was forced to write at the minimum of one-millimeter type.

Also, school was getting worse. Way worse. But I didn’t know that an exception was coming to town…


It was Wednesday, and it was Writopia Day. We started our stories that we are supposed to send for the governor to read last week. Now, we were finishing up our stories. Today was the deadline and the day the governor was coming to our school for Writopia Day. 

I was writing with so much concentration, I couldn’t even hear what Leo, the weasel sitting next to me, was saying to Lina, the weasel in front of my seat who usually blocks my view of the blackboard. I finished before anyone else did. Then, it hit me: the title was wrong:

A Onlman World

I was actually meaning to write

An Onlman World

Just as I was about to erase the mistake, Mrs. Olaf finally spoke up. “Class,” she said, “stop where you are. If you are not finished, you could finish tomorrow and the governor will read your piece tomorrow.”

I stood up and jogged to the door. No, more like rushing. My classmates came after me. Then, I saw a black car backing up into the parking lot outside. It must be the governor, I thought. I felt a shiver going down my spine. 

As my class strolled into the auditorium, I quivered. I’m not a brave weasel. I’m often shy and I don’t squeak up very often. When my class was assigned to an area, I gulped. Will the governor award me first place? Second? Third? Last? I just couldn’t hold a breath more, and it felt as if my throat were plugged. Ulp!

Finally, the governor strolled onto the stage. He took a microphone. I plugged my ears. I don’t like loud sounds. 

“Attention Everyone! Welcome to today, Writopia Day. First, let’s start by handing your brilliant pieces of writing to me.” 

And then, it hit me. I had made a mistake on my cover. And now it was too late. I felt tears fill my eyes. Everything was blurry. In no more than five seconds, I was crying. 

Finally, my teacher comforted me. I was one of the last weasels to hand in their work. I, with a trembling hand, handed in my work. I then tip-toed as fast as I could off the stage. 

Finally, the governor started to read the books out loud. All of them were boring. But the worst part came when my book was being read. I felt guilty for some reason that I had written the book. My book was lamer than the others. But then, after what felt like a million hours, the most exciting part came: the selections. The awards. I squealed. 

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

“Attention, everyone!”

came from the governor’s microphone. 

“The awards have been discussed by my fellow helpers. We will announce the winners.” 

I held my breath. 

“3rd place: Ira Lemising for the book The Trouble With Monkeys [2nd version]!
2nd place: Israel Knoma for the book The Ghosts with the Surprise!
And finally…”  

Some drum-rolling was played behind the curtains of the stage. 

“1st place is awarded to Ronalds Squeak-sq for the book
A Olman World!” 

What?! No way, I thought. I got first place? Impossible times a hundred.

Meanwhile, all of my friends were crowding around me like I was a hero or something like that. Yay, I had finally achieved fame! Now, it was just the right time to change my very-strict dad — read on to find out how I did it. 


I made sure everything on my list was present:

  1. Certificate and Trophy
  2. Bravery
  3. Smiling face
  4. Working brain

I knew that I already had #1 on my list. #2 was pretty hard and took some practice to overcome. But I still checked off #2. #3 was just as hard as #2; it made me panic! Finally, #4 was automatically checked off because I really didn’t need a working brain except when I’m panicking. That’s why I erased it. Actually, I really don’t need #2 and #3, either. That’s why I had a really big space; I just erased too many things! I just needed my certificate and trophy, which was, in fact, already beside me. 

Then, I slowly crept towards Dad’s door to his room (I don’t want to be tricked by Carl again for the third time this week.) Then, I nudged toward the door. It budged open. 

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeak!

“Hmm?” Dad said. 

“I just wanted to say,” I replied. Ronalds, that was such a stupid answer, I thought to myself. 

“What, Ronalds?” Dad asked. “I just wanted to say that I really don’t want you to be so not-thoughtful and careless,” I said, “and I have some things to cheer you up.” I handed him my certificate and trophy. 

“Why, good job!” my dad said. I have never seen him be so excited. 

And although I cured my dad, something was still not part of the plan… 

To be continued in…
OUCH! GOES THE WEASEL BOOK #2

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Ouch! Goes the Weasel
{Book #2: Ronalds’ Fourth Year}

By Enhao Ren

Author of Enhao’s Adventures and Crazy Days with Enhao, the best-selling series

Why, welcome back, everybody!

It is your old pal, Ronalds Squeak-sq. Remember what happened last week? Yes, that’s right. My brother Carl got in trouble for bullying me and was sentenced to be grounded for an entire year and two weeks. This week is now Carl’s second grounded week, and he still has 365 days to go. 

Because of this, Carl can’t be the leader of Utteramma Field Squeak Scouts. Squeak Scouts is what you call “Boy Scouts” or “Girl Scouts.”

Back in my family talk, my father is the Executive Director of Utteramma Field Electricity Institute (UFEI). The UFEI produces electricity to every weasel in town during the Weasel Uprising in 2123, when the Handemolen peeps are protecting every weasel in the world of the TSSA. 

Eventually, we smart weasels learned to use human materials, so we used them on our own as well. Back in my family, my mom just took a job as a nurse in Utteramma Field Hospital (UFH) a month ago. With no one in my family guarding me, I had to figure out a way to get a babysitter. 

I dialed 167-999-9998 on the weaselphone in my house. A babysitter named Alexia came. Instead of making Mom mad, my mom was… well, actually proud of me. My dad, on the other hand, wasn’t so amused. 

He usually is the most easy-to-get-angry weasel in town, but sometimes, if I finish my homework early, my dad will reward me with three quarters of an hour of TV time. 

Oh, sorry. I forgot we were talking about what happened last week. Well, I got first prize at this year’s Writopia Day, which is a holiday in Utteramma Field for all schools. The governor comes and reads our stories. Then, he and his helpers nominate the first, second and third place winners. 

After that crazy week, my dad had been pretty nice to me. But after the weekend, nothing went right anymore…


It all started when something covered in a huge cardboard box with wheels rolled into our door. 

@Rumble Rumble Rumble@

Carl trudged downstairs to peek at the commotion. “What the hell is that thing?” he asked in total disbelief. “Is it a monster? A dragon with wheels? An automobile?” 

Well, I’ll definitely tell you this: 

It was scary to look at it.

It really was. I shuddered. I don’t like creepy things. Just then, Dad galloped downstairs. Yes, he really galloped. “Well, well, well!” he said with pride, “our piano is here.” 

“What’s a piano?” I asked. “A type of monster? No, thank you!” 

“Don’t be silly,” Dad replied, “it is an instrument. An instrument is something that you use your hands or mouth to make the instrument make noise. The noise will sound very pleasant in a song. Here, I’ll teach you. I’m a real piano man.”

And you know what? A shiver ran down my spine faster than you could say, “Uh-oh.”


Yep, I really didn’t like the sound of that. My dad is the worst teacher ever. He always loses control of his feelings when something goes wrong. So, playing the piano with Dad’s way of education was rather hurtful. 

Before I knew it, Dad was placing me on the piano chair. “Alright, buddy, sit still.” 

“Yes, I will,” I squeaked, sitting up like a student really paying attention. 

“Alright, could you find ‘Middle C’ for me?” 

“Dad,” I said, “I don’t know where ‘Middle C’ is.” 

That got my dad ready. “THE ‘MIDDLE C’ IS AT THE CENTER OF THE KEYBOARD!” he screamed. Then, I pressed the center of the keyboard. But it definitely wasn’t “Middle C.” “THAT’S ‘MIDDLE B’! MOVE MORE RIGHT!” 

I moved right. I pressed the key, and I knew I got it. “That’s better,” said Dad, lowering his voice. “We use ‘Middle C’ as our guide,” Dad explained, “and ‘Middle C” is the first note, though there are notes at the bottom of it.” I didn’t get that. 

The rest of the piano time was just junk. Dad kept on urging me to find “Middle C” without looking at the keyboard. My dad kept track of how many times I got it:

None out of 20

My eyes went blurry after I was told the score. You know what was happening. I was crying. In a split second, I felt a teardrop trickle down my cheeks. My cheek pouches, to be exact. 

That night, I couldn’t sleep a wink. I was scared to practice the piano again. And because of that, I didn’t close my eyes until it was half past midnight. 


Because I only slept like, the first hour of the next day, guess what? I overslept. When I arrived at school, my friends were already having their daily snack break. When I stepped into the classroom, everyone froze, and they did, literally. Then, they burst out laughing. 

“Class, class, I don’t know why I am yelling,” Ms. Olaf, our class’ teacher and school phys-ed coach, screamed. Well, not literally screaming, but at the minimum, err… voice.* *Let’s go with that.**

**You see those two interacting single stars (*)? Well, I was supposed to put them here. I’m so sorry for the accident. 

Everyone quieted down in an instant. Katie, the most beautiful girl in the school, put up an “L” sign with her paw. Though Katie may be beautiful, she is often very serious. 

Recess was worse than ever. Many kids from older grades bullied me for being late. I hate being bullied. I hate it so much,

It is even a bit creepy for me. 

Yup. I hate experiencing something creepy. I like everything to be butterflies and lollipops.

Ahh… it just makes me dreamy when I see that font I wrote above. I love the handwriting for script type. (Although I printed it to glue in this notebook.) Oops, I forgot we were talking about something serious. 

Continuing on the “serious path,”

I was bullied so much, I cried for the first time in school. And it was very embarrassing. More and more kids came and said,

“This guy is a noob,”

and

“This guy is a crybaby.” .

Oh, and did you see that period? Sorry, I’ll erase that. There. Until, something happened. Did you see that mark, at the “guy is” and the “bab”? That’s right, two teardrops. Maybe I was a crybaby after all.


I, once again, couldn’t sleep a wink. This time, because I was afraid of piano practice and going back to school, because of that feeling when, you know, when something that’s your best dream ever happens to go wrong and it becomes your lifetime nightmare? 

I don’t know if you know the feeling or not, but let me tell you this: that was the case with me. And, unfortunately, I, once again, overslept. When I arrived at school, everyone was already in recess, playing after D/E/A/R* time which is after lunch. 

*Everyone in your family should know D/E/A/R time. It stands for
Drop Everything And Read.

And, even more unfortunate, was that I was sleeping on my desk the entire time in class:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZ… 

And, if that was not bad enough, I had drool all over my face and papers (I’ll show you my paper):

Please write a word that starts with the letter “T” and ends with the letter “E.” For example, tongue.


Please write a word that begins with the letter “M” and ends with the letter “E.” For example, mile


As you could see, our class is working on words ending with “E.” When I woke up, I was surprised to see myself on my booster seat. Guess what? I was in my car, being driven from school back home. “How was school today? I see you are very tired,” Mom cooed. 

“Good,” I lied, “very good. We studied to find words ending in the letter ‘E.’” At least I got some truths in, I thought. 

“Oh, really?” Mom asked in a voice that made her sound a bit excited. “May I see your piece of paper you worked on?”

I twitched around on my booster seat. I couldn’t show her that I had drooled on it. I didn’t want Mom to know that I was lying. I had to make an excuse. “Err… I lost it during lunch.”

That turned out to be a pretty dumb move, because the second Mom heard that, she made a U-turn that almost flung me out of the grasp of my seat belt. “Honey,” Mom cooed, “let me help find it for you.” 

I thought for a moment and called out to her, “Mom! The custodians had already shoved it into the trash basket!” That did the trick. Mom came running back toward me. She then climbed into the driver’s seat and made another U-turn that almost made me throw up. 


Back at my house, Carl was helping to wash the dishes from lunch. The second he saw me walk in, he shoved me with his dirty hands and called, “Ronalds Poopypants, Ronalds the Loser, and Ronalds the Crybaby is back!” His words ended after a big, long cackle. 

HEE HEE HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH!

Just then, Mom came skipping downstairs three at a time. Yup, she really did. She then ran over to Carl holding a piece of duct tape. What was that for? I thought. But before my eyes could even turn around, Mom was taping the duct tape onto Carl’s mouth. I giggled to myself. 

Tonight was the best dinner I have ever had. Usually, Carl was the “root” of the commotion that usually takes place. But with his mouth duct-taped, no one even had to make a squeak


Remember the super-good night at my house? Well, let me just say that school isn’t the same. It is surprisingly because Carl is not there. Yup, I don’t like anyone from my family being away from me for even a minute. And in this case, I have to be away from everyone in my family for an entire seven hours. 

You might be wondering why I want Carl to be there, not anyone else. Well, that’s because Carl is the only weasel I know th________

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


So sorry. I just don’t know why I just keep on falling asleep. Carl is definitely going to laugh at me for his entire life when he sees my notebook. The book you are reading right now. 

Anyway, I’m just too tired to write more. I quit on this book and I’m working on a new one two years later. See you then!

To be continued in…
Ouch! Goes the Weasel Book #3

Ouch! Goes the Weasel {Book #3: Ronalds, Welcome to Elementary School}

Why, hello for the third time!

Ronalds Squeak-Sq, reporting for fun! Whew, I could finally fill out my third out of 100 notebooks placed on my humongous shelf. Ouch! Silly me. I forgot to tell you something exciting. I graduated from preschool. Goodbye, Weaselmentary! 

Yup, it might seem pretty confusing when you should be in first grade when you are six years old. But remember! This is Utteramma Field, the field of weirdness (in your perspective, that is). Here, preschoolers graduate when they are six. 

Now, I’m in Kindergarten. So remember to be KINDergarten! Oh, and I almost forgot to put something I just learned from my classmates: LOL! 

As you guys already know, my brother and botherer, Carl, is the leader of Utteramma Field’s Squeak Scouts, the boy/girl scouts of your kind. 

My father is the Executive Director of Utteramma Field Electricity Institute (UFEI). The UFEI produces electricity to every weasel in town during the Weasel Uprising in 2123, when the Handemolen peeps are protecting every weasel in the world of the TSSA. 

Eventually, we smart weasels learned to use human materials, so we used them on our own as well. Back in my family, my mom just took a job as a nurse in Utteramma Field Hospital (UFH) a month ago. With no one in my family guarding me, I had to figure out a way to get a babysitter. 

I dialed 167-999-9998 on the weaselphone in my house. A babysitter named Alexia came. Instead of making Mom mad, my Mom was… well, actually proud of me. My dad, on the other hand, wasn’t so amused. 

He usually is the most easy-to-get-angry weasel in town, but sometimes, if I finish my homework early, my dad will reward me with three-quarters of an hour of TV time. 

Oh, sorry. I forgot we were talking about what happened last — well, let’s say the last time you saw me.* Remember? My troubles with learning the piano with my dad and oversleeping two times in a row and being laughed at? 

I hope you didn’t remember, because just thinking about it makes me twitch like crazy. And I mean crazy. Oh, there I go. Finally. Whew! *Oh, and I finally remembered: The last time you saw me was two years ago. Long time no SEA! Hah! LOL! (Again!) 

I know you are itching for me to start my story, so here we go!


(Connect the second to last paragraph to this next section.)

Oops, I forgot we were talking about something serious (seriously, I have made that mistake over and over for the last six years, which means my entire lifetime. So far, that is.). So, I made a list of what mistakes to avoid. 

Ronalds Squeak-Sq’s Avoid-Mistake List

* (Rule 1) NEVER stammer

* (Rule 2) NEVER have spelling errors

* (Rule 3) NEVER forget that we are talking about something serious

* (Rule 4)  NEVER listen to Carl

* (Rule 5) NEVER accept Dad’s tutorial

Okay, you might think that this list is a little too ambitious. But for a weasel like me, this list is just a little beyond my level. 

Oops, I forgot to add something to the list. 

* (Rule 6) NEVER get carried away

There. That’s better. Squeaking about better, school was way better than Weaselmentary, my nursery school. (Sorry, I forgot to add that part into my intro.) No one is bullying me, I’m not having a negative attitude, you name it. 

When you were reading that, did your mind think that your brain was playing tricks on you? Well, if you said “yes,” you are completely WRONG! What I was saying to you was the truth. The complete truth. 

And — I disobeyed my rule #6. I got carried away again. *SIGH* When would I grow up?! URGH! I disobeyed rule #6 again!!! Ugh. I should have added a 7th rule. 

* (Rule 7) NEVER get out of control 

Wow. The list is getting better and better. Now, back to my story. 

Well, I couldn’t even concentrate on writing because of all this Utteramma Field afternoon sun. I stayed up all noon writing this. I should be taking my afternoon nap. See ya!


Good morning!* Let’s move on with our story now that we are no longer blinded by the Utteramma Field sun. 

*You do remember me making the morning-afternoon mistake in my first book, right? Well, you might have thought I made that mistake again. But nooo… surprisingly, I overslept. I didn’t notice until now. So that’s why I erased “Good afternoon” and put “Good morning” instead.

School was awesome. We learned about math, science, and even the vocabulary word “excited.” We even had some very interesting homework. So turn the page to see my worksheet. 

Word Study Worksheet
{Review Sheet 2}

Name: Ronalds Squeak-Sq


Section 1: Word Identification

  1. REMEMBER, a synonym is a word that means another. So what is a synonym of the word “mad”?

____________________________________________________________________________

  1. What is the definition of “excited”?

____________________________________________________________________________

  1. REMEMBER, an antonym is a word that is opposite of another word. So what is an antonym for the word “full”?

____________________________________________________________________________

Section 2: Verbs

  1. Mark is doing something after lunch. What could he have been doing? Circle the possibilities. There’s more than one.

(jogging)
(eating dessert)
(watching TV)
(Chilling out)

  1. After circling the possibilities, name what all your answers have in common. 

____________________________________________________________________________

Ouch! That’s a lot of homework. I’ve also got a math sheet, but this tiny notebook won’t fit that many homework copies for me to glue in. Double Ouch! I always get close calls of being spotted by my dad. He wants me to do homework, not to glue in copies to write a book. 

You might be thinking, “Oh, poor little Ronalds!” No, I’m not that poor in the family. I’m just a… er, a neutral guy, that’s it. But there’s just something that’s itching me… 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Oh, hello, Mr. Poop!” That wasn’t something that made my feelings better. I turned around. Sure enough, it was Carl. “Me, the brave pilot, will be eating Ronalds, the little helpless chickie.” Then, I defended myself using a new “passcode.” The latest passcode was:

56197398

But today, a new passcode has formed:

~!@#$%^&*()_+QWERTYUIOP}|ASDFGHJKL:”ZXCVM<>?

Perfect passcode, as Carl won’t be able to guess it in the five tries I give him. Yup, that’s right. Five tries. Last time, Carl’s guesses were

“89702?”
“901876?”
“801909?”
“54321?”
“OLKA2ME?”

This time, Carl wasn’t even close. There were no numbers in my passcode, right? Well, all of Carl’s guesses were with numbers. And that’s what I call an Ouch! Goes the Weasel!! LOL! 

Arrrgh! I disobeyed my rule #3! Hmmph. And I would call that a double Ouch! Goes the Weasel. Anyway, I really need to calm down here. Let me take a good nap. See you tomorrow then, diary! 


Anyway, it had been a long day. I learned to ride my bike: the worst thing ever. My bike always wobbled from side to side. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s because my dad didn’t know there was such thing as training wheels. 

Next came an equally bad thing: I had to study* chess and tennis with my dad. 

*Know me! You must remember this: remember in my last book, where I was forced to study the piano with my dad as well? Remember how my dad was the worst tutor in the world? REMEMBER?!

That was what I would call an infinite Ouch! Goes the Weasel. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Oush! Boush! Burrech! Sorry. You know those times when you say a word too many times, it just sounds all weird? Well, that’s what happened to me. A–BBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOSH! 

Arggh! What the hell had just happened?! 

*Blink Blink*

Oofy! Owwy! That’s when I had to cover my ears. My dad was screaming. 

CARL! GET OFF OF RONALDS!!!!!!!!!! (x10,000 !’s)

I blinked again. 

*Blink Blink*

Okay, tell me if this is true. Carl was — jumping on my bed, with me in it?! Okay, I must be dreaming. Let me check my eyes. 

*Blink Blink*
*Rub Rub*
(Repeat x10)

Okay, I get it. I’m not dreaming. Wait, yes I am… 

Hurr? Wait, was I daydreaming? Give me a moment to think about
th_____    =’’’

To be continued in…
Ouch! Goes the Weasel Book #4

The Singularity

CHAPTER ONE: Getting Ready

In year 4077, the King of Avalon told every person in the city to take themselves to the palace for a war. Noah went to the palace. He put his fingerprint on the scanner and the voice replied, “BED WARS.” 

Noah didn’t want to go to the Bed Wars. He wanted to go to the Snowball Fights. The reason why he didn’t want to go to Bed Wars is because he has to go to a really really high place up in the world. He doesn’t want to get killed by a sword or get knocked out with a snowball and fall like a million feet down. Next day, he went to the arena for Bed Wars. He was surprised that he had to build a bridge to other forts with blocks of wool. Even more awkward is that he saw that the forts are made out of wool. He was on the Blue team because he wore a blue armour. He has three other teammates and a blue bed. One of his teammates built a fort made out of blue wool and every one was armed with fire charges to break or set on fire the wool that opponents are building to raid your fort and pickaxes for breaking the beds and wool. There were also swords to kill enemies and bow and arrows for long range distance. When the countdown ended, all the people were building bridges of wool and protecting. Suddenly, the bridge that he was building was trembling. He looked behind him and saw someone throw a fire charge at him and his bridge. But Noah was fast; he ran to the green team’s fort and saw defenders charging at him. 

CHAPTER TWO: Awake

He started feeling brave and threw a snowball at a person and it knocked him off his fort and fell down to the kraken (under the island’s hole and then you die from it). The other defender charged at Noah, but he missed and fell on the ground. He was on the edge of the island, which was made of ice and then he couldn’t hold it anymore so he fell into the kraken too. He broke the green bed and he heard a giant voice and said, “Green team eliminated.” He raced back to his fort and his teammates were there eating lunch. 

Later they introduced themselves. “I’m Kyle, he is Alex and this is Andy.”

 Suddenly they heard the same voice and heard, “Yellow team eliminated.” Andy told him that the Red team are Cheaters and they have a better upgrade and they have better fighters.

CHAPTER THREE: Outcoming

They saw a red armoured person who was trying to shear wool, so Kyle got angry and kicked him off the island. Alex and Andy charged to the Red team fort. The defenders were raging like a bull when they saw the defenders and ran back to their fort out of breath. Noah went to the Red team’s fort and lastly without a defender seeing him, he broke the bed. 

He heard the voice say, “Red and Blue team eliminated.’’ 

Noah thought to himself, “How can two teams lose at the same time?” 

Suddenly, he heard the voice say, “Deathmatch!”

CHAPTER FOUR: Deathmatch

The island became smaller and a pulsed line was getting closer. If the pulse hits you, you are dead. (The pulsed line is a line that is made of dark matter and hydroelectric.) Some guy from the Red team knocked Alex off the island and to the kraken. At the same time, the defender killed Andy and threw him to the pulsed line. 

Kyle fell to the kraken because someone threw a firecharge at him. Noah was the only person left on the Blue team. He was feeling angry and stabbed the person who was charging at him. Some person kicked him on the back, then Noah kicked him to the kraken. Now it was Noah and another person. They fought till sunset. Noah remembered the time he felt scared. So he kicked the guy to the edge made out of ice and threw a snowball, and then he fell to the kraken. Suddenly he heard the voice say, “Blue team wins.’’ 

He felt really happy and proud of himself.

Obsessions

Nature is one of the things that stayed with me as I got older. When I was little, I would spend hours outside looking for cicada shells that I collected in my pocket. I would climb trees and admire the beautiful plants I could see when I went hiking in the forest. I loved to feel the cool spring breeze brush against my arm and go through my body filling my heart with happiness.

The four elements are fire, water, air, and earth. When I was asked to choose the one I felt most attached to, I chose earth, but now I don’t know if that is true. When I think of the four elements, I think of Magic, sorcery, and mystery. I think that those elements are all a part of earth, but just different parts of it. 

I love to think of different worlds that have magic in them. Magic is something that I wish this world had. Not the kind of magic we see every day in nature and people, but magic that goes against science and our beliefs. If I ever saw magic I don’t know if I would know that it’s there. The magic on TV and in books is just one type that it could be. Some people think that magic has to do with witches and witchcraft. Witches are known by some people to communicate with the devil, which is interesting and kind of creepy.

I remember when I went on a hike one time. I went into a concrete passageway that was used during the war. The passageways were all over and very old. It was dark and filled with garbage. I thought I could see the end of it. When I was already about halfway in, I started getting disgusted by the crickets on the ceiling. But I knew that I was almost to the end, and if I kept going, it wouldn’t be any slower than going back. So I decided to walk to the end where I could see the light. When I got there, I saw that that wasn’t actually the end of the passage, but the rest was closed off by erosion. There was a hole in the ceiling, and I pulled myself back up and took a deep breath.

The Thought Trilogy


1

Secrets


I have a secret

It is mine, only mine

Fine, I will tell you

But

      Only

  If

    You

Do

    Something

For

      Me

Here is what you need to do:

Tell me a secret

A tale for a tale

Something

      That

  Drips

Down

Your

Soul

Just a little secret 

A tiny tale

A cookie crumb

An apple seed

It’s good to share secrets

Shavings of the heart

Sometimes those secrets

Can  t e a r    y o u a p a r t

Oh, my secret?

Come, come over here

Bend down over

Let me whisper in your ear

Maybe

My

    Secret

    Is

        That…

Maybe I don’t have a secret

Don’t be silly, everyone does

Without secrets,

Life would be like static fuzz!

Well…

What if your secret changes?

Then mine will too. 

You’ll have to find a new one.

It’s

Up

To

You

Can a secret be big? 

Can a secret be small?

Yes, they can!

They encompass them all. 

Shhhhhh!

Did you hear that?

The slip

Slippery

Slip?

It’s just like the drip

Drippity

Drip

It brings us back in a circle. 

Maybe that’s all that a secret is. 

A circle, going

Near to Far

And

Far to Near

Oh, but what about about my secret?

I guess you’ll never know. 

And if you’ll excuse me,

It’s

     Time

To

    Go

2

Lies

I have told a lie

Have you?

Mine was very small

Was yours?

Or was it very big

Was it?

A lie can be a blizzard

Or a tiny little flake

A boulder 

A pebble

A dragon

A snake

One lie leads to another. From two, to three. Three, to four. On, and on, and on, and on. Around and around and around. Music playing, in my mind. Drowns out the truth. What if you replace one with two? Is that a lie? Or is it true? Could it be? One, two, three? Is everything connected? Or will it fall apart? Am I a lie? Am I true? Are you a lie? Are you?

Lies are false. But… wait! Are they true? It’s up to me, and it’s up to you. 

If 

   I 

     Tell

You

      A

Lie,

Will

      You

Tell

      Me

One

Too?

If you write down a lie, it becomes material,

Dripping

  Down

The

      Page.

But, no, it doesn’t become true. It stays as

False

As 

If

It

Were

Unsaid. 

Left behind,

Far away,

You will soon,

Soon say,

“What was I thinking, telling that lie?

It couldn’t have gone worse. 

Truth always brings forth light.”

And the truth of this matter, 

It’s time to say,

Goodbye!

3

Dreams


Wait! Did you see that? 

Deep inside your mind?

It’s buried very deep. 

Truly hard to find.

A dream is a whole entire world, buried inside your head. 

It is an animal and, coming awake at night, it sneaks through your thoughts, 

leaving behind telltale traces. 

To find one you must delve

Down

And

Down

And 

Down

I cannot

 I

M

A

G

I

N

E

Having no dreams. 

Life would be boring,

Falling apart at the seams. 

Dreams are real.

But then, they are not.

Hot is cold

And cold is hot. 

Hidden away 

behind the beams

There you will find

The source of dreams

A wisp of mist

A curl of smoke

A wave of water

Ready to soak. 

But… 

Could the source of dreams be us?

The human soul?

But no, dreams control us

They control

Why are there dreams?

I’ll tell you why. 

For 

When

You

Want

To

Linger

When you don’t want to wake up to the world

But eventually you have to

You have to say goodbye to this sweet, sweet, dreamland.

But now, it’s time to leave. 

Wake up!

?

Epilogue


We’ve shown you secrets and lies and dreams. But those were ours, not yours. You have many as well. Bring them out to the surface. 

F

 A

  R

   E

    W

     E

      L

       L

Lost in Time

Once upon a time, there was a genius inventor named Steve who created a time machine that could go backwards and forwards in time. He would use this time machine to improve his research and hopefully bring back an extinct creature.

When he invited a few friends to see the machine, they were fascinated. They were also inventors and scientists, so they studied the machine so much that they were there for hours. Unfortunately, one of them accidentally activated the time machine and zapped them all back in time into the Paleozoic Era. 

When they landed, the time machine had gone with them, but the power was drained, so they had to find a new power source. The problem was that they were at the age before dinosaurs! 

The scientists were panicking and didn’t know what to do. When Steve studied the time machine and found out that the energy was completely drained, he told the others that they needed to find a new power source. Since the scientists were in the middle of nowhere, they didn’t know where they could find a new source to power up the time machine so they could go back to their time.

As the scientists were searching, the time machine glitched and teleported them to the Ice Age. It was freezing cold, so the scientists found a cave to shelter from the snow. Steve knew that he would have to get back to the present, so the scientists started to search again, and they found a metal that could be melted into a power source for the time machine. The only problem was that they couldn’t melt it because they were in the Ice Age. Then, Steve had an idea of making a fire to melt the metal. 

He started to search for stuff that could ignite, and instead he discovered a frozen woolly mammoth in the snow. Steve got really excited and took it back to the cave to show the other scientists. He told them to keep it safe while he went to find something that would burn. When Steve came back empty-handed, he took some fur from the frozen specimen to study, if they could ever get back to the lab.

Suddenly, the time machine glitched again, and they were thrown back into the start of humanity. Steve didn’t panic — he figured that the early humans could lend them materials to create fire to melt the metal so they could get back home.

At the same time, Steve and the scientists were really starting to get hungry. They would have to share food with the early humans. The scientists and the early humans worked together. The scientists would make a fire to cook meat, and the early humans would hunt for food. The early humans hadn’t invented fire yet, so the scientists taught them how to make a fire and how to use it. 

Once the scientists were full, they found out that they had forgotten to take the metal that could get the time machine to work properly and running again. Now Steve and the scientists needed to find a new power source, but had no idea where to start. 

While Steve and the others were scattered all over the place trying to find a power source, the time machine glitched again, and now they were in the Jurassic time period. Steve and the scientists didn’t hesitate to keep searching for a power source to bring them back to their time, but because they were in the Jurassic time period, they had to be on the lookout for carnivorous dinosaurs such as the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Velociraptor. 

When Steve and the scientists were searching for an energy source for the time machine to work, they were greeted by a pack of Utahraptors that were looking for a nice little appetizer. The scientists froze trying, just as they were attacked the time machine glitched yet again because of the heat, and teleported them just in time. Steve and the others found themselves back in the Ice Age again.

This is great! Steve thought. Now he could find the metal that he lost here. He also needed to bury the time machine in the snow to protect it from being trampled. Unfortunately, it got too cold and glitched again before they found the metal that could get them back. Once the scientists found the metal, they were ready to go back to the early humans to melt the metal so they could then go back to the present. However, they now needed to force the time machine to glitch again so they could get back to the early humans. 

Steve guessed that a dramatic and quick change in temperature would trigger it. He dug the time machine out from the snow, and it worked; the time machine glitched again. Once they were back in the time of the early humans, they melted the metal and headed home.

Upon their return, they were going to celebrate by eating ice cream, and Steve was going to present the time machine to the government. He and the scientists walked outside the minute they got back to the present, but they were shocked to see that the world was so much more advanced than it was when they left. To their surprise, time machines had already been invented! They eventually realized that the present time got altered because they changed the past — they introduced fire to the Neanderthals too early, and everything changed slightly after that. 

Steve got really angry, so he started to think of a solution that would make him famous anyway. Steve thought, What if I made a forgetting machine to wipe the memory of fire from the Neaderthals… That was a story for another day.


Do You Want Me

CHAPTER 1: Sophie?

“Mom!’’ Angela yelled. “Sophie’s here!” Sophie! Sophie as in the girl who slides me bacon under the table when she sleeps over? 

“How long will Angela’s stupid friend be staying?” groaned Alex, my other owner. 

“One month, and Sophie’s not stupid!”  Mom said. 

Alex rubbed me behind the ears (my favorite spot to rubbed) and said: “I guess it’s just you and me Randy!” I barked in approval. Ding dong.  That means doorbell! I ran towards the door to say hi to Sophie. 

“Traitor.” Alex laughed under his breath, walking towards the door. 

When Sophie opened the door, she screamed really loud and ran back to her car, buckled her seatbelt and closed the door. 

Oh! I get it now! Sophie wants to play chase! 

I barked in agreement, gave a big yawn and ran. Sophie screeched. Angela caught my collar right before I reached the car. If I had 2 legs instead of 4 and had gotten a headstart like Sophie, I would have totally beat her. 

Angela walked me back into the house and got in the car with Sophie. It sounded like something serious was going on in there. Even Sophie’s dad joined the conversation. At the end of their “small talk,” Sophie and Angela hugged. Angela beckened mom come in the car with them and told Alex to hold me while she climbed into the back of the car. When she heard the news she looked very surprised, but then put a hand Sophie’s shoulder. 

When they opened the car door, Sophie stayed in while mom and Angela told Alex to put me in our parents’ room. 

Oh! They probably want to play hide and seek! I ran up the stairs, onto the bed and flipped covers on my head. 

“Randy!’’ Alex muttered, roughly pulling the sheets from over my head. 

I jumped off the bed and onto my dog bed near the “pond window” and watched Alex leave the room, closing the door firmly. Wait, did I just let him lock me here?! What now? Will I ever see Angela graduate? Will I ever play football with Alex and his team again? Will I ever stuff bacon into my mouth when Know ones looking? Will I—Oh never mind! My bacon brain is too tired to think anymore about this situation. I’m just going to do my favorite thing besides stuff my mouth with bacon, which you all do just not as much as me probably and which I will do on the count of three. 1…2…3!…ZZZZZZZZZ!

***

The sounds of footsteps woke me up. I yawned widely. My paws quietly scampered across the rug, my feet making little marks on the rug floor. I walked over to the door, my eyes still closed, and hit something hard. Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Owwoo! Well, don’t wanna do that again. Oh look Bacon, Bacon 2, Bacon 3 and Bacon 4 are here. The Bacons are my chew toys. Okay, here’s the plan boys. I’m gonna knock on the door on the count of three. You ready? 1…2…3! 

I run towards the door and… BANG! The pain learches at my body again. Owweee that hurts! But, I am Randy. And Randy is known for trying again! So this Randy is trying again and again!

I again run towards the door and the pain learches. Oh! I get it now, they probably don’t know that I’m up here! Alex, Angela! Mom, Dad! I start jumping up and down so they can feel the vibrations in the house. Come on, Angela! Alex, you know I’m up here- car! Car means Dad, and Dad means freedom! Bacon 3, you’re the heaviest, so jump with me! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! I’m up here! 

“Eeeeeek!”  

That was Sophie! She must be in trouble! I have to see what’s going on! Why is Sophie screaming so much? Why have they locked me in here? And, most of all, why does Bacon 4 smell like baby powder? 

“Uh Randy?” Angela? Angela! Angela sat down beside me. She rubbed me behind the ears and said: “Randy Sophie has gotten a fear. A fear we cannot control.  Now, and for a little while, you will not be in the same room as Sophie. Sophie has gotten cynophobia.”

What does that mean? Is she scared of bacon? I can help her overcome that fear! 

“Cynophobia does not mean that Sophie’s scared of bacon,” said Angela, reading my mind again. 

Okay, then what does it mean? 

“Cynophobia means that Sophie is scared of dogs.” 

My heart dropped. Sophie was scared of me? But why? Was it my fault she’s scared of dogs? And why don’t pancakes have bacon instead of chocolate chips? All these thoughts started swishing around in my brain like Cheerios in a cereal bowl (especially the one about pancakes) until all that was left was mush and questions floating in my peanut-sized dog brain. 

“It’s not your fault Randy,” Angela said, smiling as if she was reading my mind. “She’s afraid for reasons like getting tackled by a life size dog and her Aunt got bit by a dog and had to go to the hospital.” 

“Angela?” Sophie asked nervously. 

Sophie? I barked really loud so she could hear me, but then I sensed Sophie was scared as she jumped back and ran to Angela’s room. I remembered what Angela had just told me. The shivering sensation started to rumble around in my stomach like it did when I hit the door. Right, Sophie is scared of me. I slowly walked back to my dog bed and, with every step, my tail felt heavier and heavier. I sadly snuggled onto my bed and faced the window, chewing on Bacon 2. Angela patted me on the head and left the room, closing the door very quietly because I didn’t hear it, or care. All I could sense right now was my own sadness swallowing me up. 

I stared out the window at Mom leaving the driveway and the pizza man arriving on his bike. His dark red suit with a slice of cheesy pizza on the back of his yellow coat hanging lightly in the sunset- wait, pizza man! Everyone knows that pizza man means pizza. 

I ran out of my bed, but stopped in my tracks. Angela had left the door open! I ran past the door and quietly walked past Angela and Sophie, but dance partied down the stairs shaking what my momma gave me!

CHAPTER 2: A Pizza man in disguise!

When I got downstairs, the pizza man was already at the door and took a leap in the door, making Dad abruptly step back. 

“Hello! And who is this?” The pizza man asked, slyly pointing at me. I sat up straight, looked the pizza man in the eye, and barked.  

“This is Randy,” replied Dad, patting me on the head. 

“Yes, of course! I mean, nice to meet you Randy!”
“Well how much is it? I’m sure the girls are getting hungry,” said Dad. 

“That will be $18.99.” Dad paid the pizza man and went into the kitchen to set the table and put out the pizza. 

I nodded towards the pizza man as in goodbye, and I was about to turn around when I smelled something delicious. It was a white ball. I licked it. It tasted so good! I ate the whole thing. Sugar coated my whole face. Ooh! Another delicious ball. I ate it all up. The ball trail went through the door, followed by many more balls. Until I reached the pizza man. 

“I’ve been waiting for you.” The pizza man smiled. 

My eyes started getting heavy; my brain started filling with bacon. 

“Randy no! Don’t do it!” yelled a familiar voice.  

“Shut up fur bag!” yelled the pizza  man. 

How rude! I thought. That was the last thing I said before I blacked out. The last thing I remembered was climbing into that pizza man’s bag (what a dumb dog I am!) because I was tired. The pizza man whisked me away.

***

“Shut up you dumb dog!” yelled the pizza man, whipping Randy’s dad with his own leash. “Tell me what I want to know and no one gets hurt!”

Yawn. I try to get up out of this dog bed, but it’s zippered! Who zippers a dog- oooohhhh, right. This isn’t a dog bed, it’s a pizza box bag! 

“Help! Help me voices I heard before Iblacked out! It’s hard to breathe in here! Help me! Please.’’ My voice got more and more hoarse every time I spoke. 

That’s it, I knew nothing good came from pizza men. I was gonna die here. I felt myself leaving as my breath started slowing and my heart started slowing down. Falling onto the bag, letting myself fall didn’t matter anymore. I was LEAVING! 

“Randy!” 

The zipper opened and I immediately jumped out and smelled the fresh air. I coughed up a fit, leading myself out of the bag. A face I’ll never forget jumped out at me. It was the face a crying baby couldn’t forget, it was my…

……Mother. I started to cry. All these thoughts and emotions whirled around in my head. “Mom… Mother?” I sobbed all over her. What was I to do? I was just a puppy all alone in this big big world. I was a small puppy, a helpless puppy. No, I wasn’t, I wasn’t. I wasn’t completely confident in myself, but all I could do was cry. My thoughts were all fused together. I didn’t know which ones to believe in, which ones to turn away, or which ones would just make me cry all over again, so I just believed in all of them. What was happening to me? Where was I? Who was the pizza man really? Do they serve bacon when you’re kidnapped? And, most of all, would I ever see my human family again? Angela? 

“Hey look!” said a dog who looked exactly like me. It was my twin brother, Charlie! 

“Charlie!” Charlie looked EXACTLY like me except I have a black spot under my left ear and Charlie has one under his right, but we still look like the same Irish Setter as our loving dad, who I noticed wasn’t here. All eight sisters were here (What? I had a big family!) who looked like my mother. She was a golden retriever, but not a golden retriever more like a white retriever. 

When I was a newborn, I remember we wouldn’t be able to find either my mom or the sisters when it snowed and my dad would take us on days out. We would go to a nearby deli and the manager would always give us fresh bacon and other meats for breakfast and in the afternoon we would go to the Houston, Texas dog park, but the old days weren’t always good. We were street dogs, but lived on grass (it’s complicated) in Houston, Texas. There weren’t pounds nearby, so we were safe for now, but one day things got a little shaky.

A truck rolled forward and the gravel on the road shook as it passed. There was a peculiar feeling as the truck stopped in front of my family and me. And then we noticed the big sign. In big, blue inky letters the sign spelled out

ROB’S POUND

For all your furry friends in need!

FOR HELP CALL 555-555-5555

We do:

Rabies checks/antibiotics 

Euthanization (put your dog to sleep) 

Pet capture

And many more!

Mom tried to hide us, but it was too late. The man grabbed me and Charlie. Dad jumped in front of us, but the man kicked Dad out of the way. 

“Help! Help!” I called, but no one could save me. 

The man who took us looked a lot like the pizza man. He had dirty brown hair that messed around on his forehead. He had an uneven beard and dark brown eyes and his millions of tattoos over his tan skin would haunt me forever. Oooooohhhhh. When I said the pizza man looked like the pound dude now I realized…THE PIZZA MAN WAS THE POUND DUDE! 

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHGH! Okay enough small talk. THE CROWD GOES WILD! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Okay really. THE CROWD GOES WILD! AAAAAAAAHHHHHH- COULD YOU SHUT UP QUARTER OF BRAIN THAT ISN’T BACON?!  

Now this all makes sense now! In Texas, the pound dude took us and was whipping us for weeks! Those were dark days. I didn’t get to see Charlie very much. The only times I got to see him was when Charlie was in pain and then I wouldn’t be able to see because I was crying too hard. The most important question in my mind right now was if they served duck bacon in puppy prison. Don’t tell my mom I said this but the… pound. YYEEEEEEEOOOOOOPPPPEEEEERRRRRSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HERE COMES HOME! NNNNNNNOOOOOO!   

The pound dude made a really bad decision one night when he was out late and drank too much. He drove the pups outside into a really crowded park (like I said a really bad decision) and started whipping us out on the grass. It just so happened to be that one year old Angela and four year old Alex and their parents were there. When they saw Charlie and me getting whipped, they demanded all the dogs in Rob’s pound for all your furry friends in need! They found them nice homes all around the world and things have been like that for a long time.

“YOU STUPID, STUPID FUR BAG!!!!!” screamed a voice from down the hall. 

My family and I huddled close. 

“TELL MEEEEE!!!!” yelled the voice. 

My family jumped out of the door that the pound dude had left open when he left. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  

We stepped into a murky room with a big ol’ chandelier hanging from above. Charlie and I peeked into a doorway and beckoned the ladies to come over. There was another door, and inside there was a pitch black room with a flamey fire pit and the last person I wanted to see was there: the pizza man. 

He was holding some sort of rope thing and a lantern was set at the table nearby. We all leaned in and saw something so painful to watch that we wished we never saw it. It was my dad. And the pizza man was holding his leash, one he used on special occasions with the metal part on the end. He was getting hit with it. More like getting whipped. And if that wasn’t enough, he was locked in metal chains.

CHAPTER 3:

My dad’s last chapter

“TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW YOU F***N DOG! WHERE’S YOUR FORTUNE  AND THE CROWN? THAT HEIR WILL BELONG TO ME!” screamed the pizza man, whipping my dad again. 

“I will,” my dad breathed calmly, “never tell you where our fortune is. The heir belongs to my sons, Charlie and Randy, and even if it didn’t I would never give the heir to a human.” 

I’m puppy royalty? (drool, drool, drool, drool) 

“IF YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, YOU AND YOUR FAMILY’S FLUFFY TAILS WILL BE GONE!” yelled the pizza man. 

The pizza man was getting more violent by the second. He was hitting my dad harder now and had locked him in metal chains that jingled when he struggled to get out. I couldn’t bear it. I started to silent cry. My dad. My loving father. The one who always had my back even when no one else had. He had sacrificed so much for me and the rest of my family and I had to find a way to help him! 

“If you would like to cut off my family’s fluffy tails, you may, but you will have to go through me first,” said my dad, resisting. 

“YOU MUTT-”  

“I’m an Irish Setter.” 

“JUST SHUT UP! YOU JUST TELL ME WHERE THE F***’N FORTUNE IS AND NO ONE GETS HURT!” 

I really couldn’t help it. I ran out into the room and yelled: “YO! You want my old man? Well den you ‘ave to go through me first!” 

“AHA!” the pizza man yelled. 

My heart started beating. Had I made matters worse? The next thing that happened scared me and it also scared my dad. The pizza man pulled out a knife and grabbed me by the scruff of my neck. He held the knife up to my neck. 

“TELL ME OR THIS GUY, THE HEIR TO THE STUPID PUPPY THRONE, WILL DIE!” yelled the pizza man, his yellow teeth shining. 

“Alright, alright! I’ll tell you! Just don’t hurt my son,” said my dad softly. 

“No, Dad, no! Don’t! Don’t do it! Daddy?” I couldn’t do it. Who knew what would happen to me and the rest of my family after the pizza man took our fortune? Would I ever see Angela again? Would I ever eat Pancetta bacon again? 

“Listen to me and bend down so you can hear me,” said my dad. 

The pizza man bent down with the knife in my dad’s face and was still clutching me in the other. 

“Dad, no. Don’t do it!” I yelled, but I couldn’t convince him. 

My dad leaned in and pulled the knife up to his face and… pushed it slowly through his neck. 

I couldn’t watch. 

“WHAT!” screamed the pizza man. He stomped out of the room and started whipping the rest of my family. 

I was a little shocked myself. I didn’t know my dad would do such a thing. I started to walk out when I heard my name being called by a familiar voice. 

“Randy.” 

“Dad?” I heard the voice again and walked over to where my dad was lying. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying, but he was talking and I could see his lips moving. 

“Randy,” my dad started. 

I didn’t want to interrupt him because this would probably be the last thing he said to me. 

“There is a map. A very old map. It has the way to the fortune. The map’s at… at.” My dad had ended. All his hard work had been sacrificed to the underworld. 

I started to cry. I felt so alone in the world. One of my most trusted dogs was gone. The world was too big for me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. The thing I most loved was gone. 

I dragged my dad back to where the rest of my family was being whipped and an idea sparked into my head. I got in line and started getting whipped. I whispered something to Charlie who whispered something to my sister and so on. I barked and we attacked. 

The family bit into the pizza man’s leg. I took the first bite and Charlie took the second. We ran over to my dad’s dead body and brought him over to the pizza man. We had 2 more to go. My sisters, Abby and Shyla, and the rest of us helped put my dad around the pizza man’s ankle (he had his eyes closed because of the pain; that’s what you get for messing with my family) and Charlie, who had the best impression of my dad, said: “I will haunt you in your dreams!” 

The pizza man ran out of the room like we planned, his squeaky shoes made high pitched squeaks as he left. I didn’t know it, but I was going to have a topsy turvy life from then on out. The room looked murkier than before.

“So…” started my sister Anna. 

“Do you think…” added my other sister Shannon. 

“We should…’’ ended my other, other sister Jordan. 

“Eat bacon?” I suggested. 

“NO!” yelled all three. 

“I think we should…” began my sister Hannah.  

“Bury him.” My mom sniffled. 

That wasn’t the worst thing. It started raining outside. Not only the skies were pouring, but so were we. Now only eleven of our living, breathing, souls dragged ourselves outside into the dark, gray rain. The twelfth was dead, being dragged  by his loved ones. 

As the rain poured, we were all lost in thought. I couldn’t figure out where to go, what to do, and who needed me most. Should I go back to Angela or stick with Charlie? My mother was pretty sad too and she was getting old, maybe I could take care of her. 

“You two are now the men of the family now,” said a voice in my ear. 

I knew she was talking to me and Charlie and that the voice was my mother’s. Her cold wet fur rubbed against mine for a second; it felt like the world had stopped and kept fast forwarding. The moment when I was a carefree newborn on the streets of Houston, Texas. And fast forward to all those good times with Angela and Alex and Sophie before she got Cnya- whatever you call it. All those football games with Alex, dog courses with Angela, even the movie nights with the whole family. 

I dragged my dad’s feet to help with my mom, who was now a couple steps in front of me and my thoughts dragged off. 

I wonder how Pancetta would taste with duck bacon at breakfast? If ham was smoked bacon then why is it called smoked bacon? As my thoughts started to buzz, my surroundings started to seep in. We were passing houses and nothing really caught my eye except for when a woman said that it was August 16th and time to take the trash out. Was it already August? How long had it been? 

As the woman dumped her trash out, she missed the garbage can, but didn’t care. How rude! She just slapped Mother Nature in the face! Now, I realized why these people didn’t care that a bunch of dogs walked by. There were dogs everywhere. There was a particular group of dogs that had a white retriever like the girls, a tiny goldendoodle, a HUMONGOUS Berger Picard, and and an Alaskan Malamute all eating from the trash can the woman dumped outside. They waved and we sadly waved back. The dogs shrugged and went back to eating.

CHAPTER 4: THE END

We walked a little farther and got to a sandy beach and sat down for rest. We were all starving and almost dead, so we decided after the funeral we would part ways. I didn’t know where to go. 

“Now,” muttered my mom almost crying, “we can’t make this a proper funeral, but right now I want you to pray to your father and then we’ll share.” 

I had to just close my eyes and think. I was remembering all the great times I had with my father and all the laughs we had together, when I heard a voice that sounded quite like my dad’s. 

“Randy. Listen to me and don’t talk. I’m not allowed to tell you where the map is or anything about it, but I can give you a piece of advice. When the world lets you down and you can’t get back up, all you need to do is try, try, try again and you will never fail.” The voice died down and I just stood there with my eyes closed, staring into the darkness of my grief. 

Who was that voice? Was he telling me something important? 

“Does anyone feel like sharing?” sniffled my mom.

No one raised a paw. We all just stood there with our heads lowered down.

“I guess it’s time,” I muttered. 

We all walked our different ways. My mother stayed at the beach, lying with my father. Some of my sisters went right and some went left, but we all left. Charlie shook his head at me, walked past the beach shed and hung his head low. I couldn’t believe it. Did Charlie think that it was my fault that Daddy died? Well, maybe it was. If I didn’t go out through the door, the pizza man wouldn’t have been able to rebel against him. Is that why everyone was mad? 

I walked a little farther to the right when I heard a high pitched scream. Where was the scream coming from? I heard it again. It was coming from the way Charlie went. I ran towards the shed and peeked around it. There were three men and one woman. 

“So, what do you want fur ball?” said one of the men. He had a thick body and dark black hair and I guess he was the leader of the group. He had two colleagues with the same red hair and buff chests. 

“Stop, just stop!” said the woman, but the man ignored her. 

Then, I thought: If I don’t go out there then things won’t go as they did before. 

I was wrong. The gangsters apparently were drunk and killed my brother. I was the only man of the family now. 

Running towards the sea of unknown and landing on the road, I took a couple steps forward and got used to the rocks under my feet. I kept walking. The steps felt unworthy and despicable, like I didn’t deserve to take them. I just kept walking and walking, and kept thinking to myself thoughts that, for once, I didn’t want to think about. 

I saw a familiar car and went closer. The car belonged to Angela and Alex’s parents! But then I got scared. They were parked outside a hospital. Was everyone okay? I was scared to go inside. I had faced way too many deaths for a lifetime, but I stepped inside anyway. 

The thing that surprised me most was being able to find them so easily. They were sitting on the first bench. Mom’s head was on Dad’s shoulder and Dad’s was on top of hers; both were crying. I came up and sat on Mom’s lap. He looked as I did seeing them crying. 

“Oh Randy,” Mom started, “they’re gone.” 

Oh no, who was gone? 

“Randy, Alex, Angela, and Sophie have all died in a car crash,” said Mom. 

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t. But I had to close this story with a word so I said…. 

BACON.


The Pearl Necklace

Once upon a time, there was a mermaid. She used to always sing with her sisters, and it was by far the most beautiful sound she had ever heard. She missed hearing and singing with them a lot. She had six sisters.

A half-bald man had a stepdaughter who became a “sister” with the mermaids because she so badly wanted to get away from her stepfather. He was mean and cruel and hated his stepdaughter and the mermaids more than anything else, and he hated a whole lot of things. 

He hated the mermaids so much because his own stepdaughter left him to go to them. The half-bald man’s stepdaughter’s name was Charlotte, and she heard the most divine sound in her life — the seven mermaids singing that very moment. Charlotte, at that point, was thinking about her mother, who was presently on a seven-month business trip. When Charlotte heard the singing, she walked toward the ocean, which just happened to be right outside her house. Charlotte listened to the sounds of the mermaids and knew her stepdad wouldn’t understand to care to listen to them. 

“Here.” Charlotte heard a thin and high-pitched voice. She turned and saw one mermaid, with six following behind her. For some strange reason, Charlotte was attracted to both their beauty and the thought that mermaids actually existed.

“Become one of us,” said the first mermaid. 

“Grow into us,” said the second.

“Develop into us,” said the third. 

“Turn into us,” said the fourth.

“Emerge as us,’’ said the fifth.

“Eventually be us,” said the sixth.

“Come to us,” said the seventh.

“Um, no offense, but you’re making this whole ‘come be us’ thing weird to the extreme,” said Charlotte.

“Sorry,” said the first. 

“Regrets,” said the second. 

“Apologies,” said the third. 

“Remorse,” said the fourth. The fifth mermaid was about to say another synonym for ‘sorry,’ but Charlotte interrupted, “It’s okay. But why do you have to use a different word for everything you say?” 

“It’s our thing,” said the first.

“Instinct,” said the second.

“Sixth sense,” said the third.

“Intuition,” said the fourth.

“Aptitude,” said the fifth.

“Impulse,” said the sixth.

“Inclination,” said the seventh.

“Please, one of you talk. I can barely understand what you’re saying, and if this is typed, it would be extremely long and tedious work for the typer. Agree?” said Charlotte.

“Yes,” said the first.

“Precisely,” said the second.

“Gladly,” said the third.

“Beyond a doubt,” said the fourth.

“Naturally,” said the fifth.

“Unquestionably,” said the sixth.

“Yep,” simply said the seventh.

“Okay, do not answer me. This is all too much for the typer. If I ask a question, one of you will get to answer me and explain what is happening.”

“Wait, someone’s recording what we’re saying?” said the first. “That’s awesome!”

“That’s amazing!” giggled the second.

“Psychoneurotically disturbing,” muttered the third. 

“Sick!” exclaimed the fourth.

Stop talking!” screamed Charlotte.”We need to find a way to settle this.”

“She’s triggered!” whispered-screamed the scared first.

“I swear, if any of you join in, I will lose it,” said a triggered Charlotte, trying so hard to stop them. 

“One person,” started Charlotte, “I mean, mermaid, will explain everything to me. And there’s a lot I’m confused about. I don’t know how to choose though, because I realize how much you all love to talk.”

“Rock paper scissors!” exclaimed the first.

Charlotte agreed, and all seven mermaids played at the same time. The first mermaid beat the second, who was also beaten by the fifth and seventh who were both beaten by the sixth, who was beaten by the third and fourth, and the fourth beat the third who was beaten by the first. This was all very complex. Charlotte figured the first mermaid won. 

“Okay, you are officially one of us mermaids. We can’t stay in such shallow water for much longer so come in with us,” said the first mermaid.

Charlotte dove in the water with the first mermaid and her sisters. 

“Here, this may sound ridiculous, but trust me, if you use something of mine, like this pearl necklace, you will be able to breathe.”

Charlotte took the necklace and held it to her lips. It actually worked, but strangely Charlotte wasn’t surprised. That was probably because of the series of astonishing events that had just happened.

Emma didn’t mention the fact that whoever wore the necklace would transform into a mermaid, but Charlotte found out soon enough. In Charlotte’s eyes, everything turned black for a nanosecond. Charlotte’s eyes weren’t closed, but soon the faze stopped. She looked down and didn’t know what to think. I mean, she put on a pearl necklace and now looked exactly like Emma and her sisters. I don’t exactly have experience with that kind of situation either.

“Um, how do I turn back into… into myself?”

“Take off the necklace.”

Easy enough, I guess.

“So where do you sleep?” asked Charlotte. 

“In a pineapple under the sea,” said the first mermaid, rolling her eyes. 

“Really?’’ asked Charlotte. 

“No, I’m not a sponge. I’ve heard it before, but don’t ask questions just yet. We don’t really sleep, only swim around, not exactly thinking at that moment. It’s really hard to explain.”

“What’s your name, anyway?” asked the first mermaid. “Mine’s Emma.”

 “Charlotte. Charlotte Olivia Williams. What’s your last name?” asked Charlotte.

“Well, I don’t have a last name, or even a middle one. I can’t remember who my dad is or even if I have one. Did anyone ever mention you have the initials ‘COW’?” said Emma.

“Yes, I realized that. But everyone has a dad. Maybe not mermaids, though, as I’ve never even seen one before today,” said Charlotte.

“I’m not really sure, but we have more necessary things to talk about,” said Emma.

“Significant,” said the second.

“Crucial,” said the third.

“Relevant,” said the fourth.

“Essential,” said the fifth.

“Urgent,” said the sixth.

“Substantial,” said the seventh.

“You promised that you wouldn’t all talk at the same time!” cried Charlotte. 

“As I was saying… ” started Emma. 

“You were saying we had more important things to talk about. Here’s one. Why do you and your sisters always use a different synonym for every word?” asked Charlotte.

“That’s insignificant in comparison to what you really need to know,” said the third mermaid.

“Shut up,” said Emma.

I never knew that even mermaid sisters said “shut up” to each other. Anyway, Emma explained Charlotte’s question.

“Well, we’re so close that we used to say the same exact thing at the same exact time. So my sister, Sophie, the sixth one in line, thought we should think of other words while we’re talking in line and all use synonyms for every common word, so we don’t sound so ‘weird to the extreme’ like you mentioned earlier. We don’t get all that many chances to talk to other mermaids, much less humans, besides ourselves because both acquaintances are quite rare, so we take the chances we can get,” Emma explained.

“I’m sorry I said that. I’d like to see you guys tomorrow. What should I tell my stepdad I was doing? I’ll figure it out by the time I get home, in about seventeen seconds.”

But Charlotte’s stepdad did notice. Charlotte’s mom definitely would have noticed, if she wasn’t on a seven-month business trip. Charlotte’s stepdad noticed because every night Charlotte would leave to go to the ocean. He was horrified that anyone would prefer someone else more so than him. Even if it wasn’t a human. (That’s how ignorant he was.) He noticed her move her lips and go deeper into the ocean on Day One. Charlotte clearly never noticed his watching because she would have informed the other mermaids. Day One was the first day Charlotte saw the mermaids. That was 33 days ago.

Soon, Charlotte became good friends with each of the mermaids and memorized all their names. In the line in which Charlotte saw them on Day One their names were Emma, Grace, Hannah, Lily, Nora, Sophie, and Zoe. The seven mermaids had a thing with alphabetical order. 

They all looked very similar, and each resembled her sister even more so than herself. I don’t know if that is physically possible, but it was true for them. All of them kind of had the same face, yet different color eyes, colored hair, and texture hair.

Charlotte came to the ocean and met the mermaids. She loved them more than anything. She asked to become one of the mermaids, as that was what the mermaids wanted her to do on Day One. But the mermaids regretted saying that because they thought she should stay with her own kind above the waves, because she should get used to not being around the mermaids so much. The mermaids didn’t want her to have a hard time in the real world and didn’t want her to become a sister with them, regardless of their love for her. It was because of what happened the last time they made a human girl a sister of theirs.

 But then the mermaids learned that she was too sick without the care of the mermaids, and if she stayed with her cruel stepfather, she would surely die. They noticed her changes in behavior, like how she seemed to never want to leave the mermaids and knew she needed their help. And so the mermaids relented, and one night Charlotte joined them, and there were eight sisters. Charlotte loved being one of them, and she was no longer sad. The only reason she was sad was because she was without them. Pain can only be felt if experienced.

Charlotte soon realized that her stepfather was furious. He went out to the ocean with an extraordinarily large fishing net. He was an especially good swimmer, and he put his one and only talent to work. Of course, he didn’t hear the mermaids singing. Only people who really cared about the mermaids could hear them singing. Neither Charlotte nor the mermaids knew about the half-bald stepfather and his trying to murder mermaids, until Charlotte did, which was too late.

Before I go on, I suppose I should tell you several things about that ugly half-bald stepfather of Charlotte’s. The first thing is his name is Farley. Yeah, you heard it right. His name is Farley. That was part of the reason he was so evil, corrupt, unpleasant, cruel, vicious, bad, and downright ugly. I don’t think I had to use seven synonyms for the same kind of word, but I was kind of used to doing it because that’s one of the things the mermaids would say in line. 

So when Farley (yes, Farley, get over it, I have to call him Farley too) first set out with the net, Charlotte quickly went over to the mermaids to warn them. But that was no help. Grace was long gone. (I think that was the most depressing sentence I’ve written so far besides “his name was Farley.”) Emma and her sisters realized that the seaweed beds and plentiful food were a trap from Farley, so they made sure to steer clear of them. Charlotte informed them to move to the colder, more dangerous waters where Farley (hopefully) wouldn’t find them. Unfortunately, the mermaids weren’t very lucky, and the results weren’t very hopeful. Charlotte had no idea how it happened, and she would soon find out, but about a month later, he had captured Hannah, Sophie, Lily, and Zoe. A week later Farley had Nora in his clutches. Emma and Charlotte were worried sick about the other mermaids and devastated, dismal, sorrowful, perimmistic, sympathetic, pitiful, and very, very, depressed. (Again with the seven synonyms for one word thing. I need to stop.)

Charlotte didn’t want to, but she had to. She bid Emma farewell.

Charlotte thought she knew where Farley was spending all his free time — at home, but it wasn’t there. Charlotte decided to follow Farley to wherever he was keeping the mermaids. In order to rescue them, she needed to know where they were, of course. From their house, Farley swam underwater until he reached a continuous dim and shady tunnel. There was an immense glass box filled with water where Lily and Hannah, the mermaids three and four, were in. Their vivid and innocent eyes shone with delight in hopes that Charlotte would be able to rescue them. Of course, they couldn’t talk, because Farley still hadn’t seen that Charlotte was right behind him, and Charlotte hoped he wouldn’t. 

Charlotte saw the other tanks in front of her. She looked at the spiral staircase where viewers could go up and see the mermaids from there if it was too crowded, which of course had never happened before. There were a lot of ways to see the mermaids. For example, next to the risers above the staircase, one could sit on the reclining comfortable and large chairs. 

Charlotte viewed the modern and comfortable looking aquarium. The well-lit room easily expressed the mermaids in a beautiful way. A soft and mellifluous voice echoed through the room. 

“Charlotte, we’re here… ” the mermaids’ voices drifted off. 

“We have so much to tell you!” the mermaids whisper-shouted at once.

Charlotte turned on the opposite side of the glass and walked under the glass arched tunnel where mermaids could swim inside. Charlotte could see Emma right beside her inside the glass. Charlotte didn’t know how to react or respond to Emma. She hadn’t seen her in months. 

“I’ll find a way. I promise,” Charlotte declared. 

“What we need most is a plan. We can discuss it after Farley leaves but please don’t talk, because I know how much you love to, and it can get way out of control.”

All the mermaids seemed extremely excited to speak for the first time in months.

“Okay,” said the first mermaid.

“All right,” replied the second.

“Permitted,” declared the third.

“Fine by me,” said the fourth.

“Approved,” replied the fifth.

“Tolerable,” said the sixth.

“Surely,” declared the seventh.

Charlotte tried to be sensitive about how the mermaids hadn’t spoken in such a long time and allowed them to talk as much as they did, but it became difficult for her to tolerate. Charlotte gritted her teeth while smiling. She attempted doing this a lot, and most times she didn’t realize how ridiculous she looked while doing it. It is, as one most likely knows, one of the most preposterous actions one can do. 

“I have to find out more about Farley before I can help you, okay?” Charlotte said hastily.

Charlotte sprinted past the glass tunnel, tanks, and an unfinished kind of snack shack on the far left through an exit. She found another door with buttons for numbers locks, a keyboard, and switches. I know the drill by now, Charlotte thought confidently. She turned the handle and grinned as the door creaked open. 

Charlotte was shocked by what she observed in the bright modern-looking corner of the room. A desk. No, not a desk, but what was on the desk. A laptop. Well, not that either. Charlotte didn’t find laptops that exciting and exotic. It was a progress report on Word on the screen. Charlotte didn’t find it shocking until she read it. Charlotte revised all the spelling and grammar mistakes and changed the font as she read the reports. She also interpreted it the best she could because it could be vague and difficult to read. After revisions, it read:

Progress Report #1 4/7

I captured the mermaids today. Two of them. They all look the same so I can’t tell which one is which, though. I only realized that there were mermaids today anyway. I was wondering why Charlotte was spending so much time in the ocean. She appeared to be talking, also. I thought maybe she had gone insane, like me.

So I thought there was something in there. I decided to look. I couldn’t find anything at first. But I began to discover, little by little, more about mermaids. They like to rest near beds of seaweed. They love coral and live near it. They also can’t stand to be away from fish and all sea creatures and their sisters. I made all of these things they like happen. And they were baited. 

My plan had worked, and I was so proud! And I found a few things in Charlotte’s room. She had journal entries describing what she had learned about the mermaids, which also helped me grasp the knowledge. I figured out that mermaids only present themselves to little girls, so this was going to be more difficult than I thought. The mermaids had given Charlotte the gift of being able to transform into a mermaid whenever she wanted. 

Anyway, I baited the mermaids. I knew that the best time to capture them was when Charlotte and the mermaids were talking together. The mermaids were so close to me, I felt the urge to just snatch them. 

I don’t know why.

Now Charlotte just wanted to hurl the laptop against the wall. She wasn’t even editing the report that much. She knew that it was important, in order to see change, to not edit. By the end, it didn’t even sound like Farley anymore. But it was. She continued reading. Barely even editing. Regardless, back to the report:

I grabbed my fishing net and tugged it underwater. I scooped up the mermaids with the net. Mermaids #1 and 2 were light and easy to pull. I had already created the tanks. On the bottom ocean floor, I created a path of stones to the tanks. After following the stones for a long time, I reached a small, round red door. But when the door opened, water wouldn’t gush in, either. I don’t know how it works, it just another thing that’s magical I discovered.

I repeated this process several times, until there were no more mermaids seen. They tried, they tried, they tried to escape but it didn’t work. NO. Nothing worked for them. They were emotionally hurt, vulnerable and I just mindlessly took them away, out of a place where they were once so happy… 

She pressed her head against the keyboard as she struggled to think up a plan. A plan that would work. But she couldn’t think here. The perfect corners in the room seemed to be limiting her imagination. 

But the gears in her brain began to turn as she gathered all her information and researched more. At first, Charlotte thought it wasn’t complicated at all. 

“All I have to do to rescue you,” Charlotte started explaining, “is come to the aquarium at a time where Farley isn’t, smash the glass tanks, and bring you right back into the ocean. Then all will be settled, and we’ll live happily together. I know it has to be more complicated than that because everything looks easier on the surface than it actually is.” 

“I know.”

Charlotte was used to hearing that response. Emma knew everything Charlotte knew.

“I mean, I feel, like you, as if nothing will work, and my sisters and I will be worse off than now,” Emma added.

If a mermaid shuts down your idea to save their life, well, let’s just say you need another plan. Mermaids are known for some awful lies like taking sailors to the bottom of the sea and drowning them in the process, but you won’t hear about a pessimistic mermaid. Like, ever. 

Charlotte wasn’t about to waste her time reading another progress report or research any longer. Now, she was onto doing. 

“It’s now or never,” Charlotte began, “I’ll rescue you now, or never. It’s simple. Either it happens or it doesn’t. Farley’s gone, but soon he’ll have security guards. My mom’s gone now, but in a few days? She’ll just have to know about you. And some things are just easier not to have to explain. So is this what you want? To stay here forever and never had tried to escape? Do you want to feel hopeless for the rest of your life? If we do get caught, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Farley’s an idiot, but not idiot enough to have you killed. He realizes how important you are. If we wait any longer, the whole world will know about you. Do you want that to happen? You know what? I’m going to try, no matter what you say about it. I don’t care if it doesn’t work. I don’t care if you don’t want to risk it. I’m doing it for you.”

“I didn’t predict that that was going to come out of your mouth,” Emma admitted. “And I’m sorry for what I said.”

“Also, your mother would completely understand years ago, but not anymore. What I need to tell you is that the mermaid who abandoned us years and years ago is uh, well, there’s no easy way to say this. She’s your mother,” said Emma. 

Soon, all the mermaids emerged into Charlotte’s sight next to the transparent tunnel.

“We detect regret,” Grace announced. “That doesn’t exactly happen frequently to us.”

“What’s the matter? My sixth sense has been off all day,” said another.

“I told Emma my true feelings, and I want to rescue you, if you’re down for it or not,” Charlotte explained.

The sisters smiled sadly and for once, in unison said, “My beautiful, brave girl. Even though you’ll free us now anyway, we’re down for it.”

The mermaids watched as Charlotte vanished away to Farley’s headquarters. The doors were all created with those pulleys, codes, and combinations, and all had the same way to unlock them. The top-secret room with the most valuable items was located in one of the most genius and basic ways possible. It was located from the tanks in the rudiment of a paradiddle. I don’t even know how Charlotte knew to find it this way. My guess is that she had way too much experience in locating things by now. Anyway, she took the exits in the order of right-left-right-right, then looked for the room. It wasn’t there. Then she took the opposite paradiddle – left-right-left-left. She found a small round red door with the same pulleys, codes, and combinations. Charlotte smiled as she turned the doorknob open, but she wasn’t grinning anymore when she heard a blaring alarm go off.

Farley probably only created this alarm because he realized if anyone was smart enough to get into the building and figure out the order to finding the most valuable room in the building, they are most likely something along the lines of psychoneurotically disturbed. 

Charlotte’s mouth dropped open at the sound. She looked inside the room and saw that there was nothing at all in the room besides a fishing net. It wasn’t valuable, but was all she needed at this point to free her sisters. 

Charlotte had never run so quickly in her life as she had that day. Nothing mattered right now besides the mermaids, and it was her job to save them.

The fishing net trailed behind Charlotte as she struggled to remember which turns she had made. She found herself in the wrong place several times, and was not merely nervous about it. She was completely anxious. Nervous and anxious are two very, very different words. I’m joking. I’m not going to explain something to you that you already know at a time like this. Also, I have no desire to be educational. You are probably one of those two while reading this — nervous or anxious. If I were reading this instead of writing it, I wouldn’t be nervous or anxious because I would have no control over what was written. I know, I know. No one asked me.

Charlotte was anxious because she had complete control over what would happen. But she wasn’t feeling or thinking as she gripped the fishing net harder and sprinted faster. Trial and error, she thought. She wasn’t doing trial and error, but thinking about the paradiddle. She thought about how the mermaids needed her desperately. She thought about how it was it her fault if she didn’t succeed. And the alarm was still going off. Charlotte grit her teeth, and, eventually, out of sheer willpower, got back to the mermaids.

Charlotte sprinted past the mermaids. She opened the entrance to underground, as it was the easiest and fastest escape route. Charlotte first followed the path she had taken to get to the aquarium following Farley to make sure that it would lead her to the ocean. As she darted along, she noticed a perfectly ordinary, barely noticeable, heavy rusted door. 

The door creaked as Charlotte pushed it open. 

She took in the briny sea air and observed the vast and turbulent body of water in front of her. Her eyes lit up at the thought of rescuing her sisters.

Charlotte knew that she had an opportunity, and she had to take it right away or else she’d never be able to save the mermaids. Eventually she’d forget about them and if not forget, she wouldn’t care about them anymore. The mermaids told her that. When they had made one other girl with them, the new sisters weren’t faithful to their promise — to never forget about her sisters and always help them through tough times. “It was one,” Emma told Charlotte months before. “We were sad for so long, and we tried to forget her but we couldn’t. We promised not to forget her even if she forgot us, but it was so, so hard to get past the thought that she would abandon us that way.”

Charlotte had always wondered why they spoke about her so frequently. It was about her connection to her mom. The mermaids had always hinted at it but never had gotten into detail. Charlotte wondered why her mom abandoned the mermaids — her guess was that it was because of Farley, her work, Charlotte, and mostly the whole scheme of things.

Charlotte left the small iron door open as she ran toward the mermaids’ tanks. She spotted all of them fluttering around anxiously in the tall water. 

“I have an escape plan!” Charlotte declared.

Of course, for any sea creature to survive in captivity, over the tank there must be an opening. If the glass is hacked away with an axe, it will all shatter, and the mermaids will not be able to survive without water. They can survive without water for about 30 seconds, at most. It’s not like how humans can stay underwater for about two minutes for mermaids. 

“I have something to tell you, even though it may seem ridiculous,” Zoe, the last mermaid said. “Because I’m last in everything I wanted to tell you this: Us mermaids can live above water for as long as we want if we are holding the seashell we had given you way back. It works for mermaids on land as it does for humans on water. Do you still have it?”

Charlotte undid a hook-latch in her neck and showed the seashell necklace to Zoe. “Tonight you’ll be the first one saved,” Charlotte said.

With that, Charlotte vaulted, grasping the fishing net, up to the top of the tank. She gripped the top end of the glass with her right hand. Pain surged through her body, but Charlotte was willing to experience pain for the mermaids. Charlotte dropped the fishing net, and Zoe got in, while swimming to the top of the tank. She pulled herself over and plummeted into Charlotte’s arms. Charlotte quickly put the pearl necklace around Zoe and placed her on the ground. If it weren’t for the necklace, there would probably be no other way for the mermaids to be set free.

Charlotte and Zoe didn’t at all talk the whole way, except when Charlotte asked about 20 times in five minutes if she was breathing all right. She was so worried about Zoe that she nearly missed the open exit. Charlotte finally reached the opened door. There was a very short walkway outside it. Charlotte ran onto it and dropped Zoe into the water, already inches away. 

Charlotte repeated this process with Sophie, and she joined Zoe in waiting for the rest of the mermaids. The process was then repeated five more times. 

When Emma and all the sisters were freed, Charlotte joined the mermaids, bright-colored fish tails shimmering in the dark and deep sea.

Even though they had their differences and an entire world that set them apart, the eight sisters would never forget each other, because they were sisters no matter what.

Epilogue

Farley notices the mermaids gone, and now realizes that it’s better that way. He was wrong, and like most bad things, misunderstood. Regardless, Charlotte’s mother realizes the truth about him.

At 40 years of age, Charlotte continues to visit the mermaids daily. She has a daughter who learns about the mermaids and how her mother saved them. She eventually becomes a mermaid, too.


Diary of a 10-year-old Artist

September 17th, 2045

Okay. First off the bat, I just want to say one thing. I am not doing this on purpose! My name is Hannah Froll, I am 10 years old, and I am an artist!!! This is just a stupid assignment that I have to do for stupid school. If I don’t finish it by December, my art class will get cancelled!!! This is what Mrs. Beliani (my principal) wrote:

Dear Camilla and Stan Froll,

I regret to inform you that your daughter, Hannah, is failing in all of her classes except for art class. Enclosed, please find a journal that Hannah must complete before September 30th. Otherwise, Hannah will have to stop going to art class.

Deepest Sympathies,

Rholok Beliani

See what I mean?! I wish I could just fill this book with doodles, but no such luck. I have to do only writing, or it doesn’t count!!! Y’know what? I’m just going to start tomorrow. ‘Night!

September 18th, 2045

You would never believe what happened today. After school, I had soccer, and then math club, and then I had to go to this writing practice that my mom makes me go to.

But at writing class there’s this girl named Miela, and she is so mean! The worst part is, all the teachers think she’s an angel because she’s so good at writing. Her stories aren’t even that good!! She just writes about totally boring “perfect writing” stories that are “extremely well-written.” But today Ms. Perfect finally got in trouble. I know, right? Long overdue. The teacher caught her at last, being a jerk to me about my story, which was about a pig with superpowers.

She leaned over and said, “Really, Frolly.” (Her pet nickname for me.) “A pig could never get superpowers. Really.” That was when the teacher walked over.

Miela immediately switched back to “perfect mode,” but it was too late. The teacher had heard everything that she had said.

“Miela! I thought that you were better than that!”

I smiled, and Miela gulped. The teacher walked back to her desk and started filling out papers.

Miela glared at me and whispered through clenched teeth, “I’ll get you for this, Frolly.”

Oh, jeez. I never imagined that I would write this much. So, ‘night, future readers.

September 19th, 2045

Believe it or not, writing class might actually be bearable now!

I just found out that Miela was expelled!!!

She is such a tensndl! Oops. I forgot that I would get in trouble. I have to hand this in!!

But before that happened, I had a really weird day.

First, my best friend and I, Kiriana, had art, so I was really excited. We were talking about how we might get a new student tomorrow, so we were kind of happy (for school). But halfway there, my stomach seemed to contract, and I barfed all the way around the hallway, slipping and falling.

I woke up at home with my mom sitting over me, phone in hand.

“Hey,” she said. “Your writing class just called.”

That was when I learned that Miela had been expelled. I whipped out my diary, but then I realized what I was doing.

So, I’m just letting you know I still don’t like writing. Right?

September 20th, 2045

Today is officially the worst day of my life. You know the new student that I was talking about? It’s Miela!!! So now, I have made three enemies in school: Samson the football star, Onyo the cheerleader, and you-know-what. Mr. Aatri, my homeroom teacher, made an announcement to the class at the beginning of the day.

“Class, please welcome our new student, Miela.”

I was drinking a glass of water at the time and sprayed it all over Kalnis, who was sitting in front of me. He whipped around and glared at me.

“Watch it, dweeb,” he hissed, glaring at me.

At recess, Miela walked over to me, but I noticed a change in the way she looked at me. She looked almost… sorry.

“Hey,” she said. Then, she quickly said something like, “Really sorry. Do you want to be friends?” She looked up, and I smiled. She understood.

September 21, 2048

Guess what? Today, Mrs. Beliani called me to her office. The announcement was met with the typical response.

“OooOOOoooh,” the class said. All except for my now two friends.

I walked up the long hallway to my principal’s office. I was holding this diary in my hands, and I passed it to Mrs. Beliani. She flipped through it for a second, then looked up at me.

“Your work has improved greatly.” I was confused, so she spelled it out for me.

“You don’t have to do this anymore.” She expected me to smile, but I asked one question.

“Can I put in one more entry?”

She let me, but also asked me if I wanted to do it again.

And maybe I will.


The Donkeys

The donkeys wait at the side of the road. One Westerly Hill Close. A dead end. No one has traveled down there for years until the doctor. The Doctor. The one. The ruler that changed everything.

 

The donkeys watched when he arrived. They didn’t know. They anticipated fear. Of themselves, of course. The traveler was just a lone man. He would survive. Maybe.

The donkeys didn’t know that he would survive, of course. They had no way of changing the course of nature. No cures could be invented, for the donkeys were just billboards, after all, advertising houses that would never be sold. However, what made them the donkeys, and not signs, was that they were sentient, and that is why the Doctor came. To cure them.

He had heard the rumors. That the donkeys enticed people through mesmerization and broke them mentally. There was only one rumor, of a young lad on a dare who never came back, but it was enough. Shattered. Mentally. Forever. That’s how those unfortunate souls were until their death.

He wanted to fix the donkeys, being the good doctor he believed himself to be.

At the tender age of twenty-one, he was already in medical school. He thought he knew what to do. The Doctor believed himself superior to all of his peers, skipping classes and refusing to take exams, saying he wanted to give the other students a fair shot. But if he had taken his classes, the fate that lay ahead of him at this moment would have had a chance of being averted.

The donkeys sensed his approach. From afar they knew he would be arriving soon. After conversing amongst themselves, they agreed to let him upon them. It’s not like they had much choice; they had no way of stopping him from coming. But making it sound like they were deciding to let him made the donkeys feel more confident.

The doctor edged upon them, noting their larger than life flanks and all of the grime and dirt covering the billboard (no wonder people weren’t buying those houses!). From the side of his long, white jacket, he drew his lethal weapon: a bar of soap.

The donkeys were in shock. He scrubbed and scrubbed the donkeys until you could see every speck of shine on them.

The donkeys were not used to this sensation of godliness and cleanliness. It felt pleasant, but almost as if they were bare. Vulnerable. This contrasted greatly to the mud balls they were used to, thrown by the schoolboys every Tuesday and Thursday, though the donkeys didn’t seem to find a pattern in the days that those muddy splotches were fired.

But the Doctor, being his cocky self, forgot to put on gloves when applying the “treatment.” That was his biggest mistake.

The donkeys, meanwhile, were in awe of this role that a person could play in helping the lives of others.

They wanted more. More of it. All of it. Soap. More.

Slowly, they started creaking. Back and forth. Back and forth.

If anyone were listening closely to the sounds they made, they could make out the word “soap” being chanted over and over again. But the doctor wasn’t paying any attention to them. He was staring at his hands, which were turning green.

The donkeys knew what was happening to the Doctor, but they couldn’t stop it. The real criminal was Microbial Mat, or Mat for short. He had driven the first man to see them in years, the one that the original rumor was about, insane, and now he was doing it again.

They wanted that soap bad, though, and the Doctor for sure was going to be the one that gave it to them.

The green hands were stage one, the donkeys recalled from last time. Stone hard knuckles happened around stage two, and mind brokenness was stage three, the final stage.

The doctor was freaking. He had never seen anything like this in all of his life. Why in the world this was happening, he had no idea. And then, when stage two rolled around, his hands drooped down to his sides, and he couldn’t pick them up.

The donkeys started to worry. This clean man had the soap that would make them all shiny and new. They could not let this opportunity slip away.

They creaked. Louder and louder. But alas, the man had slipped into insanity and was now walking to the highway.

The poor Doctor was never sighted by the public again. Alive.

 

The donkeys slowly stopped their chorus of creaks. The doctor had wandered away a while ago, and they felt almost certain that there were more stages, much worse stages, that they were unaware of.

They then focused on the new prize laying on the ground, a bar of soap that had fallen out of the man in the white coat.

The donkeys wanted that soap. They needed to feel cleaner and fresher, unlike the old, dirty selves they were moments before.

They needed that soap. Unfortunately, he soap they had on them had since been flung mistakenly. Wasted.

They tried. But alas, it was too far away for even the longest elder to take a whack at.

For time and time they tried. Their life had this purpose now. To be clean. To feel clean. But they needed more soap.

Day turned into night and night into day, and so on time went. It meant nothing to the donkeys. It never had. All that mattered in life was soap. Soap, and nothing else.

 

It was twilight and months later when their pleas were finally heard.

A stray mudball hit the soap exactly right so that it flew into the air, landing right at the donkeys’ leader’s figurative feet. Huzzah! was the word of the year while this feat, miraculous for all witnessing, happened. However, there was a small issue. No one could use the soap.

It lay on the ground. The soap had melted and reformed with the seasons, and it was now partially made up of sticks and mud. And Microbial Mat, of course, though the donkeys were unaware of that small matter.

There was nothing, once again, that any one of the donkeys could do. So simple, to pick up the filthy but clean morsel, yet none of them could.

On the five hundred and seventy-second day of waiting, just out of reach from the soap, the donkeys made a new note: the skies were full of birds migrating. One of those birds could come down and steal their precious soap!

They conversed about what they could possibly do, but no suggestions were made. Therefore, when a bird swooped down and plucked the soap from the grassy area, the donkeys just stayed still. No objections.

 

The bird later on would fly to a worldwide famous animal hospital in LA while it was migrating, where it would go crazy of a mental illness and later on die. Doctors were unsure of the cause, but noted that the bird, during its last days alive, was turning green and weighed significantly more than when he first entered their care.

 

Doctors that went to school with the one that will henceforth be referenced under the title “The Unfortunate” found his mentally insane self right before he died. Their notes were the same as the doctors under the care of the bird. As soon as the story of the bird hit the paper, the doctors that worked with “The Unfortunate” reached out to that LA animal hospital. The doctors, now to be referred to as “The Unfortunate’s Peers,” said that they knew what “killed the cat,” so to speak. They knew where he was before he died, and they thought that there should be something against this terror that no one was certain of. All they wanted was money. Money for info.

The hospital doctors agreed.

 

The donkeys were in dismay. All that seemed worthwhile in their lives was gone.

Gone.

Forever.

Or so they thought, until the guys in hazmat suits and oxygen masks showed up.

People! was their first reaction.

Soap! was their second.

 

The donkeys had no idea where they were.

They had gone through a machine that was taking photos of them, and then were scanned before placed in a giant tub of water where they were cleaned (soap!), and are now lying in.

They knew Mat must have followed them, and that Mat must be what they were trying to get rid of.

They knew that Mat could kill them all.

But the donkeys didn’t care. They had soap, and that was all that mattered.

Well, that was all that mattered until someone in the background confirmed that the donkeys had Microbial Mat, or Microbialis Mattias as they called it.

All of a sudden, the donkeys were whisked into the air, and, from gloved hands, were passed onto a conveyor belt. Gloves, water, everything that had touched the donkeys, including a poor cat, was thrown onto it.

“Send them to the shredder!” a person who appeared to be in charge proclaimed.

The conveyor belt slowly chugged to life and started to accelerate towards a furnace of a sort.

The donkeys, however, did not know what was going on. They understood that people were talking, but not what they were saying, and they thought this would lead them to Soapy Wonders Palace™.

Seventeen minutes later, all that remained of the donkeys was smoke, paper shreds, and ashes.

Eighteen minutes later, all that remained of the cat was a stain on the conveyor belt, from where she had a nervous accident.

 

However, the doctors were unaware of one thing: the bird that caused the unfortunate deaths of the donkeys had come in contact with no less than twenty objects and animals, all of which in doing so passed on Microbialis Mattias. Therefore, Mat was, and is, not dead. And, though the donkeys didn’t know it, they had Mat inside of them. That was why “The Unfortunate” got contaminated and why the scan showed up positive. So, while destroying the donkeys felt important, it means nothing unless all things contaminated by Microbialis Mattias are destroyed. And, as time goes on, more things are not only going to get contaminated, but many more living things will go insane and die.

So, the foolish plan to destroy the donkeys, therefore destroying Mat, was worthless, as of now, at least. Especially because the doctors now believe that Microbialis Mattias is an extinct germ.

The worst part of it all? The hospital notified the government after destroying every single sample they had of Microbialis Mattias. Now, not only is the “leader” fired, but they have nothing to reference to if there is an outbreak, or to find a cure for the people infected.

Boy, was that a mistake.

 

The remnants of the donkeys had hit a man’s pants. This man happened to be the person that yelled for the donkeys to be set to the shredder. He must have brushed past the conveyor belt as he was walking out. He was unaware of it, however, and proceeded to go home and wash his outfit with his little son’s clothes.

Those clothes were the first to touch the brand new slide of the public elementary school. As soon as that happened, fate was sealed.

Mat was there. Spread. And, it being July, he had plenty of time to grow.

The snake was born on that day. The slide didn’t believe himself to be the lousy self that he was moments before. He was the snake, and there was peanut butter in the air.

From his days as the slide, kids rode on him, with peanut butter dripping everywhere. He hated being dirty, but loved the smell of peanut butter.

The snake wanted peanut butter.

And would stop at nothing, just to taste peanut butter.

Nothing.

 

Mom

              

The road that leads you down to greatness.

The person who picks you up when you fall.

The person who gives up whatever she has so that you can have whatever you want.

The person who you can depend on.

The person who lifts up your family to its highest, even if it means she has to stay at her lowest.

The shoulder you lean on.

The person who shows you your true path when you fall into your friend’s path.

The person who shows you that there is no limit to how great you can be.

The person who cares nothing about her secret struggles, but only focuses on yours.

The one who works endlessly to lift you off your bed of thorns so that you can enjoy your bed of roses, but who cares nothing about getting off her own.

The person who may work you to your limits so that you don’t trail behind her, so that soon, she could be one of the millions trailing behind you.

The person who loves you more than she loves herself.

The person who doesn’t care about how much acknowledgement she gets.

Who wants nothing from you except a bit of love.

 

That person is a mom.

 

A Japanese Poem: Life in Stories

         

Life Is A Story

Little Red Goes To Granny

Muffins Muffins Yum

 

Her Granny Is Sick

She Goes With Lots Of Delight

Off To Her Granny’s

 

But Who Should Appear

Why That Bad And Hungry Wolf

He Sniffs And He Sniffs

 

And Makes A Bad Plan

His Name Was Nothing But Bad

That Is Who He Was

 

Then The Wolf Appears

Where Are You Going My Dear?

The Bad Sly Wolf Asks

 

Little Red Answers

I Am Off To Granny’s House

To Give Her Muffins

 

Then He Ran and Ran

Yes That Is What That Wolf Did

He Ran, Ran, And Ran

 

While Red Keeps Going

Singing Her Song While She Goes

I’m Off To Granny’s

 

I Will See Her Soon

When She Reaches Her Granny’s House

She Opens The Door

 

She Says To Granny

In A Voice That Shakes The Floor

What Big Teeth You Have

 

Granny Replies Back

The Better To Eat You With

Red Knew That Loud Voice

 

Then Raises Her Basket

Boom Boom Blast Kaboom Shazam

Red Was A Ninja

 

Then She Hears A Voice

Then She Hears A Muffled Voice

‘Twas From The Closet

 

She Opens The Door

‘Twas Her Favorite Granny

All Tied Up In Rope

 

She Learned A Lesson

Never To Trust A Stranger

Or A Big Bad Wolf

 

The Horror Mustache

Once upon a time, there was a mustache who ruled the mustache world. He was chosen! He said the vomit mustache was going to be the next King Mustache.

“Hey, what about me,” said all the mustaches.

 

Chapter Two: The Mustache Race

“Just do a race,” said King Mustache.

Every mustache lined up to compete for the kingship while King Mustache faded away. They started. Blue mustache was in first, Red was in second, and Orange was in third out of 20 mustaches. Blue started to fade away. Then, Red started to fade away. Orange started to fade away, and then 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19. Only last place, which was Black Mustache, made it to the finish. He saw another mustache who appeared there. It was the Horror Mustache. He had 50 scars, a tooth coming out of his nose, and he looked dull and gray.

 

Chapter Three: Horror is the Only One

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” said Black Mustache.

The Horror will take all the hair out of you. Oh no. Black Mustache, the coward, was dead.

Turns out, a man just shaved.

 

The Purple Thing

Chapter One

“If magic exists, I’ll eat my underwear,” Ash scoffed at me as he shoved me away.

He spit out the gum he had in his mouth and started on a new stick of gum as he and his cronies walked away.

“I know what I saw. That guy just disappeared into that portal thingy!” I told Reggie, my best friend.

Reggie shrugged. “Ash is just a jerk. I mean, I don’t exactly believe you either, but I don’t not, if that makes any sense.”

“It makes no sense. But, I don’t blame you,” I replied.

“I just don’t understand what the heck you even thought you saw.”

“I was walking to school, and I see this guy. He looks around to see if anyone is there. Then he does some weird thing with his hands and says some word I couldn’t understand. Then this big, swirly, purple thing opens in front of him. He steps through it, and then he’s gone. The purple thing goes away after that too.”

“No, I understood that. I just don’t understand that.”

I shook my head at him and walked to art. All I could think of during art was what in the world it could have been. So while the teacher was talking about whatever we were supposed to be drawing, I just kept sketching drafts of the purple thing, and the guy walking through it. From what I could remember he was bald and short, wearing a sweatshirt rolled up to his elbows. He was wearing jeans and cheap sneakers.

“Let’s see what some of you have drawn,” said Mrs. Relcke. “Aiden?” She walked up to me.

I turned around my sketchpad to show the class the sketch of the man walking into the purple thing.

“Very good, Aiden. But we were supposed to be drawing sugar skulls.”

She slapped the sketch pad out of my hand and stomped on it. She pointed to my seat.

***

I went to math next and got stuck on problem eight, and when I asked the teacher for help, he told me to shut up and sit down.

The rest of the day went the same, with the teachers being jerks. Even the lunch lady gave me less slop than usual.

“I feel like all the teachers are being jerks to me today,” I told Reggie.

“C’mon, Aiden. Maybe they all are having cruddy days?”

Mr. Costin walked into the lunchroom.

“Let’s see if it’s just all the teachers having a bad day,” I said.

Mr. Costin is the nicest teacher in school. If he’s having a cruddy day, he’ll just try harder to make sure no one else does.

“Mr. Costin! Hi,” I said as I walked up to him.

“Shut up and eat your lunch,” he snapped at me.

“Yeah, no, something’s going on,” Reggie said.

I nodded in agreement. By the end of the day, I made a list of all the teachers that I talked too, and because of that, all the teachers that had been jerks. I put Ash on the list too, but only after a few other kids. Nancy and Julia were mean too, but they’re usually nice, so you can see why I put them on the list as well.

“Okay, so now the nicest kids in school are being jerks… you don’t think it could have something to do with the purple thing you saw?” Reggie asked.

“I don’t really think that, but maybe — wait!” I grinned. “You acknowledged it! You believe me!”

“That’s not important right now. Back to the topic on hand. I don’t know what it could’ve done, but I don’t know, maybe you weren’t supposed to see it, and it, like, cursed you?”

“Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. Sherlock Holmes.”

“So, some messed up magic thing cursed you. What do we do to fix it?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed.

***

As the day ended, I went home, and after about an hour or so, Reggie came over.

We started a couple rounds of Splatoon 2, when Reggie put down his control and yelled, “I’ve got it!”

“Might as well yell ‘Eureka,’” I laughed.

“If you do whatever that guy did to allow him to see the portal without being cursed, maybe you can reverse your curse!”

My older sister, Hannah, poked her head out of the kitchen. “What are you talking about?” she asked us.

“Nothing,” Reggie and I said in unison.

She shrugged and walked back into the kitchen.

“Okay… that’s a good plan. If we can find that guy again, at least. We could follow him and see if he goes to some magic place or something.”

“But first, let’s finish this round. Our team is losing,” Reggie said as he picked his controller back up.

***

Later, I sketched the man and showed it to Reggie. “He looks almost like Joe from the Wooden Dime, maybe?”

“I don’t go in there much. Grab your bike.”

The Wooden Dime is the sandwich place in town.

Reggie and I put our bikes into the nearest bike lock to the Wooden Dime, which was down the street at the train station.

“Joe’s the owner, right?”

“Yeah. He’s pretty nice, but maybe you should stay outside because, well, you know.”

Someone threw a candy wrapper at my head. I sat down on a bench and waited for Reggie. I don’t exactly know what happened inside, but he came out and told me that once he held the drawing up to Joe, he noticed how thin Joe was compared to the plump, little guy I had drawn.

“But, he did say that guy came in one time, and when Joe asked for his name, he said it was Herbert,” Reggie noted.

“Okay, so now we know that he’s been to the Wooden Dime, and that his name is Herbert. Whether or not we know where he is, we still know more than we did before,” I added.

“And I know that you two are nerds,” Ash said from behind me.
Ash punched me in the back hard enough to send me stumbling, and then I tripped on a rock and fell on my face. Reggie helped me up, before Ash punched me in the face again and gave me a bloody nose. I wiped the blood away and tried to grab a napkin from Reggie’s pocket. Did I mention he bought a sandwich while he was in there? I stuck it up my nose (the napkin, not the sandwich) to stop the bleeding, and I started running towards my bike. Some invisible force stopped me from running up the street; it was almost like I was on a treadmill. Then, everything around me was encased in a big, purple bubble. Around the edges, gravity seemed to go away. A trash can floated up and released a volley of trash onto Ash.

“Karma!” Reggie yelled.

Then suddenly, in the middle of all of it, a purple vortex like the one Herbert stepped into appeared.

Herbert stepped out. “Oh crud,” he muttered.

“Ash, time to eat your underwear,” I said.

Herbert stepped back through it as he said, “Pitet elling lor eps,” and just like that, every thing fell back to the ground, and the portal collapsed.

Ash sighed. “I’m a man of my word.”

He walked into the Wooden Dime, and came back out a second later with a pair of boxer shorts sticking out of his mouth.

“Okay, but what in the world was that?” (I’ve taken the liberty of translating the noises he made because he could not speak with a pair of underwear in his mouth.)

“Magic,” said Reggie.

One of Ash’s cronies walked out of the Wooden Dime. He looked at Ash, then said, “Now that I think about it, I can’t remember any reason why I ever thought you were cool.”

He shoved Ash, and took a bite of a BLT.

“He was my best minion, why is he trying to trash talk me?”

“Because you saw that,” I told him.

“Yeah, we think it curses whoever sees it with bad luck,” Reggie chimed in.

“Well then, I don’t think my luck could get any worse.”

A girl with black hair, wearing a ratty old sweatshirt walked out of the alleyway.

“Who are you?” Ash asked.

“The name’s Violet.”

There was one thing I had noticed that was bothering me about the whole situation. No one outside the bubble seemed to have noticed the bubble. Everyone continued walking down the street or sitting on a bench.

“So we all saw that, but no one else did… I wonder, is my luck better?” I walked up to someone sitting at a bench. “Hello.”

The person frowned, before smiling, and saying, “Hello. You seem nice. Buy yourself something.” They handed me a folded five-dollar bill.

I walked back towards Reggie. “My luck’s better. Now what?”

Reggie turned to Violet and Ash. “Whether or not we like each other, we should probably stick together and try to work out a way to break our curses. After all, four heads are better than one.”

Ash scoffed, “Hang out with you dweebs? No way.” He started walking away, but the crossing guard stopped him.

“I’m not letting you pass.” He looked at me, and smiled. He looked back at Ash, and shoved him away.

Ash sighed. “I guess I am sticking with you dweebs.”

 

Chapter Two

“Where are your cronies, loser?” Damon shoved Ash.

“Leave him alone,” I told him.

“Okay.” He smiled and walked back to his table. He did an “I’m watching you” gesture to Ash and went back to his burrito.

“I guess we should keep tracking down Herbert,” Reggie said.

“Who?” Violet asked as she sat down.

“The guy who stepped out of the portal,” Reggie told her.

“Okay, what do we have so far?” she asked.

“Well, we know his name is Herbert, and he was at the Wooden Dime once.”

“That’s all you guys have? You really don’t know how to track someone down,” Violet sighed.

“What are we even gonna do when we find him?” Ash asked. “Blackmail?” he asked hopefully.

“No,” said Reggie. “We’ll just ask him.”

“You mean I’ll ask him. If you guys ask, he’ll probably just punch you or something,” I said.

“He has a point,” Violet said through a mouthful of pizza.

“I wish I didn’t have to have that point…” I stared down at my taco.

After lunch, I had gym with Ash and Reggie. There was a point where I had to actually tell the teacher to bug off when he was threatening Ash with a frisbee to the head.

“You know, at this point, I wouldn’t really call it bad luck, just, like, a jerk magnet.” I paused. “Your luck hasn’t changed, only the amount of people being jerks to you,” I said as I threw the dive ball into the other team’s goal.

“You’re right,” panted Reggie as he ran across the field.

A quick reminder, dive ball is a simple game: each team has four goals, the smallest being the most points, the largest the least, and they are allowed to spread them out on the field. Everyone is required to wear gloves because the ball is very rough, so it will stick to the rim of the goals, and sometimes your gloves. After seven minutes and eighteen seconds, whoever has more points wins.

“Thirty seconds!” yelled Coach Hafinburg.

Ash smacked the ball out of Damon’s hands and sprinted to the other end of the field. He passed it to Reggie, who passed it to me. I threw it back to Ash who scored us four points at the last second, winning us the game.

Ash sighed as he took a sip from his water bottle. “I may hate you, but you played well,” he told me and Reggie.

“And I may have just gotten us a lead,” Violet walked towards us on the bench. “I saw Herbert drop this.”

She held up a small bit of some odd material.

“It fell out of his pocket. I tricked Lionel into analysing the material, and it is thinking putty.”

“And the only place in town that sells thinking putty must have sold it to him!” Reggie grabbed his baseball cap off the bench.

“Exactly,” said Violet.

“Well, I have tryouts for the town dive ball team after school, so I can’t do it, and if any of you do it, well you know,” I told them.

“I don’t think it matters anyway. POP is closed on Wednesdays.”

“I didn’t think you had it in you to score one goal, nonetheless four.”

Damon slapped Ash with his glove.

“And I don’t like losing.”

He slapped him again, harder this time, and Ash hit him in the stomach, crouching him over on his knees. Ash slapped him across the face, grabbed his bag, and left.

“I’m gonna get you back, Musro!” he yelled to Ash.

“What was that? All I heard was FAILURE,” Ash scoffed and went back into the building.

Every year at tryouts, they split us up into three-person teams, and have a Dive Ball tournament, the top four teams make the team.

I was going up against Jake, Andrew, and Declan, three kids that I knew, but barely. I was with Reggie and Blake, and it was our third match. If we won, we went on to go up against Drake, Charlie, and Phil, and the winner of that was the winner of the tournament. So, at the moment, we had a spot confirmed, but we all wanted to be team captain, so we wanted to win.

Jake’s team was up three, and there was one minute left on the clock. It was our ball, and Blake was running down the field. He threw it to Reggie, who dodged a grab from Andrew. Declan stole the ball, but I got it from him quick enough. I start running down the field, and I looked into the stands. I saw Herbert, and I dropped the ball in surprise. Jake swept the ball up, and scored on our large goal from mid field.

With ten seconds left, Jake was playing keep away, and just stalling until the end, when they won.

“What happened?” Reggie and Blake asked.

“He did,” I pointed to Herbert.

“Who’s he?” Blake asked.

“Not important,” I said as Reggie began jogging towards him. I stopped him. “No, the curse, remember?”

Reggie sighed. “I guess it’s all you man.”

I gathered my courage and walked to the stands. It was like Herbert disappeared. When I turned around, I came face to face with him. “You are dealing with powerful forces you cannot attempt to comprehend. I’ll cure your friend’s curse, but after that, you forget about me.”
“I have three friends that are cursed.”

“Choose which you like most and give him this.”

He handed me a small bracelet.

“And you could have gotten the ball from number 14 when he was playing. Keep away by simply getting the guy on your team with the cap to get it.”

He dissolved into the air.

“Get Violet and Ash,” I told Reggie as I walked down to the field. “Put this on.”

I tossed him the bracelet. I looked to Blake. “If anything interesting happens, tell us tomorrow.”

I walked to the edge of the field, and unlocked my bike.

I rode home and pulled a half-whiteboard, half-bulletin board from the garage and hung it up in my room. I put down everything I knew about Herbert on it.

When Reggie, Ash, and Violet walked into my room, they all said, “Whoa!” When they spotted the board.

In the center of the bulletin board was the best sketch I had of him.  

“This is everything we know,” I paused. “And this is what he told me.”

I repeated what he had told me, although I didn’t tell them about the bracelet. Well, I told them that I didn’t know that it would dissolve when it touched Reggie, and I thought they could all use it.

“It’s not all we know,” Violet stuck a ziploc bag with the chunk of putty inside of it to the bulletin board.

“And a few minutes ago, I realized he was there at the seventy-fifth-year celebration of our school with the alumni,” Reggie added as he jotted it down on a sticky note and stuck it up there.

“And he’s my uncle who went missing twenty years ago.”

We all stared at Ash.

“It’s true. When I saw him, I thought maybe. When I heard his name was Herbert, I knew it.”

“Well then, we just need to find him again, and he’ll probably un-curse you because you’re his family,” Reggie said.

“Yeah, and you can ask him to un-curse me,” Violet noted.

“That’s the problem. There’s a reason he went missing. He hates my entire family.” Ash paused. “If anything, it’d be a reason that he’d curse us more. My crazy, old grandma always said he’d dabbled in the dark arts, but we all just thought she was weird.”

“Okay… that changes a lot,” I said.

“First of all, we actually know who he is,” Reggie noted.

“Aiden, I think I know where he is…” Violet looked at the board again. “Follow me, there’s no time to lose.”

She walked out of the room, with all of us following.

***

Violet stopped at a old warehouse down by the junkyard. “Ash, I think it might be best if you stay out here, and maybe even hide.”

Ash nodded.

We entered the warehouse. At the center of the first room was a half-destroyed reception desk, and chairs were all over the room, on their sides, even a few split in half.

We entered the second room slowly, and it was almost completely empty. In the corner was a bunch of soda cans, and some plastic take-out food shells. And, off to the side a bit, the thinking putty.

Stuck to the top of one of the take-out containers was a note that read: I warned you. Turn back now if you want a chance.

Then suddenly, we heard Herbert. “Heed my warning in three, two, on-”

Reggie shoved him aside as we sprinted out.

“One.”

 

Chapter Three

At the end of the hallway was a raging, purple fire, creeping towards us. At the other end was an insane man.

My mind was racing, thinking of any way we could get out alive.

“Pitet elling lor eps!” I yelled as the fire reached us.

We dropped a few feet into the front of the warehouse.

“Where’d you guys come from?” Ash asked.

“I don’t know how you did that kid, but you’re going down!” Herbert sprinted out of the building, holding a crowbar as a weapon.

I braced myself for impact. Just before the crowbar hit me, Herbert dropped to the ground, and I saw Ash standing where he had been.

“We need to get out of here,” he said as he ran to his bike.

***

“Well, we’re screwed.”

Ash looked at the crossing guard that had stopped him the other day.

“No we’re not… look! He’s beckoning us!” Reggie exclaimed.

“Our curses our gone!” Violet smiled ear to ear.

“But Herbet isn’t, and there’s no jail that could hold him if he knows those magic teleporting words, so either we have to find a way to hold him, or we live the rest of our lives scared out of our minds that he’ll come and kill us,” Ash paused. “Unless we kill him?”

“No,” I told him. “We’re not killing him. But I think I know what we can do.”

Ever since I said those magic words, I’d felt a sort of energy flowing through me. And at that moment, I understood what it was. I could use magic! To an extent…

“The teleporting words were gibberish, so I’d bet ones to take powers away from somebody would be gibberish too, so we can’t find it that way. What else could we do?” Violet asked.

“I’d say try gibberish, but we’d probably just end up casting some other spell,” I said.

“Well, how’d he get the gibberish to teleport then?” asked Ash.

“What if we just write it down, and scramble the letters? I mean I know it won’t work, but it’s the best idea we’ve got,” Reggie shrugged.

I wrote down: ‘Power Removing Spell.’ The letters rearranged themselves into: ‘Wemp elrol ros piving.’

“I guess it worked,” said Violet as she peered over my shoulder.

“Wemp elrol ro-” I began as I felt a hand over my mouth.

“Do you really want to wipe out electricity on this whole block?” I heard Ash say as he pulled his hand away.

“He has a point,” Reggie said as he picked up a video camera.

We all looked at him.

“What? A magic battle will be awesome on YouTube.”

“Oh, you reminded me. I should probably make some sort of temporary paralysis spell in case this one doesn’t work for some reason,” I said.

Once I had a small arsenal of spells that could slow him down if need be, we hopped on our bikes to head to the warehouse.

Our plan was to have Reggie distract him, while I snuck up and cast the power removing spell. Ash and Violet would be backup in case of an emergency.

All of that, of course, was thinking he’d be conscious again. He wasn’t. He was still lying in the yard of the warehouse, with the crowbar lying next to him. I approached cautiously.

“Wemp elrol ros piving,” I read out.

A flash of light struck Herbert, and he disappeared. An arm wrapped around my neck, choking me. I fought and kicked whoever was holding me, until I hit them in the stomach, and they dropped me just as I was beginning to gasp for air.

I whirled around and saw Herbert.

“Haedtlelps!”  

He screamed as I dodged a bolt of white lightning.

“Death spell!” Reggie yelled at me. “He’s casting a death spell!”

“Ash!” I screamed as I grabbed a garbage can top as a shield.

I deflected another bolt into the ground.

I saw Ash round the corner.

“Haedtlelps!” Herbert yelled as Ash started running towards me.

“Get down!” I yelled as I fumbled around with the paper. “Wemp elrol ros piving!”

A bolt flashed towards Herbert, but narrowly missed. I tried again and again, all missing.

Ash snuck around to the crowbar. He hefted it up, and ran towards Herbert.

“Ash! Move!” I yelled as he swung at Herbert.

Herbert bent over, dodging the blow, and Ash took off like a track runner once Herbert saw him. He ran around the yard and hid behind a dumpster, still hefting the crowbar.

“Wemp elrol ros piving!”

The bolt struck Herbert down, crumpling him onto his knees. The magical powers flew out of him, a purple bolt flying into the sky.

“Where am I?” he asked me. “You. Where am I?” he pointed to me. “Who am I?”

“You’re my uncle. Let me take you home. You hit your head.” Ash dropped the crowbar and helped Herbert up. “Your name is Herbert.”

I walked out from behind my garbage can. I glared at Herbert. “Get out.” I growled as I pointed to the exit.

Violet ran out from behind her dumpster. “He doesn’t have any memory. Be nice to him. He has no grudge against you.”

I thought for a second and simply walked away towards Reggie.

Violet grabbed me. “Be nice to him. He might end up liking you.”

“I don’t want that monster to like me! He nearly killed me!” I snapped.

Herbert stood and walked to me. “I… I did what?”

He stared down at his feet.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.” He paused. “I’m sorry,” he repeated.

“I accept your apology… I guess.”

 

The Awesome Story of Tommy

“Seriously? The Awesome Story of Tommy? That is the worst title ever.”

Leave it to my cat to criticize me six seconds into writing this.

“I like it!” I protest.

“Really, Tommy. No one would want to read a story called The Awesome Story of Tommy. Try this.”

My cat, Ariana, hops up on the table and picks up the pencil. She writes next to the title, in slightly wobbly handwriting, and Ariana.

“Of course this story has to involve you in the title,” I say.

In fact, The Awesome Story of Tommy and Ariana actually sounds a lot better, but I decide not to mention that.

“You tried to give the impression you dislike it,” Ariana meows. “But your expression suggests otherwise.”

Oh well.

“We can go with that for now, but we should see where the story goes before we decide on the official title,” I say.

“Sure,” Ariana agrees.

If you’re asking why I have a talking cat, Ariana was a lab experiment. They were attempting to make her live longer. Instead, she ended up as the only cat in the world with the ability to talk. She escaped from the lab, and we adopted her. Ariana has brown and white fur, and green eyes. She looks pretty cute, but don’t be fooled. She’s almost certainly the sassiest person I know, if cats count as people.

“Okay. So now what do I write?” I ask Ariana.

“You said you started this because you wanted to write an adventure featuring yourself. And me,” Ariana quickly adds. “So write it. Someone is trying to sleep here.”

She then plops down on the table and begins fake snoring.

“Thanks for the help,” I say, and start thinking of something to write for the story.

About half an hour later, I still have no idea what to write. You’d think writing an adventure story about yourself (and, possibly, your cat) would be easier.

I’ve always wanted to have an adventure like something out of a book: journeying across mountain ranges, finding out I have powers, defeating an evil supervillain, etc. Problem: Mom would never let anything like that happen. It’s not that she’s overprotective. She’s just a normal mom, and a normal mom would probably never, ever let her kid quest across another dimension. So I’ve settled for writing a story about something of the sort.

But I have no ideas for a story.

I start banging my head into the table. A few seconds later, I hear Ariana meow.

“Hey! Hey! Whatcha doin’? Tommy! Stop that!”

I look up and see her sitting on my piece of paper.

“No ideas yet?” she asks.

I shake my head.

“After at least a half hour of sitting here thinking of an idea for a story?”

“Yep.”

Ariana’s eyes flick over to the wall.

“There is a fly on the wall. Stand back, Tommy! I will protect you.”

She then launches herself off the table at the wall, misses, and falls onto the rug. Paper goes flying everywhere. I sigh. Cats don’t exactly make the best writing assistants.

***

By the time dinner is ready, I’ve officially given up for the day. I have no ideas at all. And besides, I could think of something to write tomorrow.

Dinner is pizza. Mom ordered the generic tomato and cheese. The pizza dude drops it off, and Mom brings it into the kitchen. I love pizza.

“I don’t understand why you humans like this strange, gooey substance so much,” Ariana comments. She usually sits on the table when I eat. Don’t ask me why. “It smells horrendous.”

“Ariana, it’s pizza. Everyone likes it,” I tell her.

“Actually, I know a bunch of people in town that hate it. I was walking down the road past Mina’s house and heard her saying, ‘Pizza? That stuff is disgusting,’” Ariana counters.

Well, that’s… controversial.

“You should try it,” I suggest. “You’d like it.”

I take off a small piece of the pizza. Ariana puts it in her mouth and chews on it. Then, she kind of choke-coughs, the kind of sound people make when they really hate the taste of something. Ariana leaps onto the counter and spits out the pizza into the trash.

“That was so gross!” Ariana sticks out her tongue. “It tasted like squished ladybugs mixed with slime!”

She then jumps back onto the table. “What other repulsive things do you humans eat?”

“Vegetables?”

***

Mornings. When you picture mornings, what do you see? The alarm beeping, you slamming your hand down on it, all that? Those are pretty much what my mornings are like. Except I have a cat instead of an alarm clock. You wake up to the alarm. I wake up to Ariana meowing her head off from my nightstand.

“Tommy! Get up! I don’t have all day, you know! Hello? Hellooo? Anybody home?”

“Yes, Ariana, I get it. You can stop meowing now.”

Ariana starts licking one paw. The morning from there is pretty normal. Breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth. Done. Now, I have the whole day to myself.

Little did I know what would happen in the next hour or so.

***

Ooh, suspense!

So, in the next hour or so, I go outside to see if I can think of anything to write about. Sometimes, I do that when I write short stories. I’ll be sitting on the porch when I see a lady walking her dog, and I’ll think, Hey, that dog could be evil and break off its leash and terrorize the neighborhood. Then the Super Cats can step in. And yes, I am writing a short story series called “The Super Cats.” There. I’ve said it. Sue me.

Getting back to the story, I walk to the door. Ariana pads along with me, sticking close to my left foot. I sit down and put on my sneakers. While I do that, Ariana sniffs one of my Nikes.

“Why on earth do you humans put these odd shells on your paws? They just slow you down!”

“We use them so we don’t get, say, thorns stuck in our paws-er, feet,” I respond.

Pfft. Everyone gets thorns stuck in their paws every once in awhile. It’s part of life. Get used to it.”

I keep trying to convince Ariana that things like clothes are necessary, or pizza tastes good. But each time, I end up feeling less convinced. I am slowly turning into a cat.

When I open the door, the first thing I see is my front yard. The second thing I see is that the sky was rapidly darkening.

“What the-” I start, but I am interrupted by a thunderclap, plus a lightning bolt thrown in for good measure.

Ariana comes out and leaps onto the railing. “What in the name of Fancy Feast is- Oh my god.”

I look up and see that the lightning is turning-

Green lightning?! That’s not normal, right?” I yell.

“Well, if it were, I think I’d know!” Ariana yowls above the wind.

Soon, the wind is so loud, I can’t tell what Ariana is yowling to me.

Just as I figure out that she’s saying, an enormous, green lightning bolt strikes right in the middle of the front yard. For a fraction of a second, everything is green.

Then we both die. The end.

***

Just kidding.

About one eighth of a second later, I am sitting in a random tree. Why am I sitting in a random tree?

That’s when I hear Ariana frantically meowing from somewhere off to my right. “Tommy? Where are you? Are you alive?”

“I’m alive! And as for where I am… I have no idea.”

Ariana’s head pops out of the leaves of a neighboring tree.

“So, you lived through the kamikaze green-lightning strike.”

“Don’t sound so surprised!” I say. “Do you have any idea where we are?”

“How am I supposed to know?” Ariana meows in an irritated tone. “We’re in a different **%^$#@ dimension!”

I look around. Hmm, let’s see… blue sky, clouds, sun, green grass, normal looking trees…

“Is it just me, or does this look a lot like Central Park?”

“Well, it’s not Central Park,” Ariana furrows her brow, if cats have brows. “Why would a freak green lightning bolt magically teleport us to Central Park?”

“Good point,” I say as I  jump off the tree.

Ariana leaps off her branch and onto my head.

“Okay, first of all,” I tell her, “Don’t do that. Second of all, let’s find out where we are and hope we get back home in time for lunch.”

***

We aren’t in Kansas anymore, that’s for sure.

I have been walking for awhile, and I’m now in an evergreen forest. I don’t know what else to say.

It is getting dark now, the kind of dark with no moon or stars. As a bonus, I hear weird noises. Yay!

Then, I bump into someone in the dark.

Yipe!” I leap backwards.

Was it a monster or something? I look around for the nearest weapon and settle for a stick.

A female voice says, “Hi, random person. Before you threaten me with your terrifying stick, here’s a flashlight.”

Out of reflex, I catch the flashlight and shine it at whoever is talking to me. Standing in front of me is a girl. She looks to be about thirteen. I am eleven, so she is a good several inches taller. The girl has black hair, and her eyes are a shade of blue that scream: Try me and you die.

I glance down at her feet and see three cats. One is black, with three purple stripes on her back, and has green eyes. Another is gray and has blue eyes. The third one is white with eyes the color of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

“Uh… hi, I’m Tommy. I’m from a different dimension. Oh, and my cat can talk.”

The girl grins, “I’m Shaye. These are my cats, who can also talk. The black-and-purple one is Chara, the gray one is Debbie, and the white one is Allie.”

“You’re serious about the talking?” I ask. “Because I am.”

“I am completely serious about the talking. I am also completely serious about that.”

Shaye gestures to Chara, who immediately whips out two slender, wickedly sharp, black blades.

“Your cats have katanas?!” I exclaim.

“Well, I do.” Chara replies. “Debbie has nunchucks, and Allie has throwing stars.”

Debbie and Allie show off their weapons, which flash even in the pitch-black woods.

“Your cats can talk, and they are ninjas,” I say. “Anything else?”

***

Ten minutes later, Ariana and I are following Shaye and her trio of ninja cats.

“Where, exactly, are we going?” I ask.

“Uh, duh? To my treehouse?” Shaye says.

“Why?”

“I am walking through a dark, evergreen forest in the middle of the night with a kid and a talking cat from a different dimension. Where else would I be going?”

Ariana rolls her eyes, “Tommy, you are clueless.” She then adds, to Shaye, “There are rare moments in life when Tommy says or does something sensible. But mostly, they happen at home.”

“Ariana,” I say.

“What? It’s true!” meows Ariana.

I sigh.

The rest of the walk to Shaye’s treehouse is mostly Ariana chatting with Chara, Debbie, and Allie. Shaye occasionally interjects a comment. I don’t say anything at all. Judging from the fact that her cats are laughing, Ariana is probably telling them more embarrassing stuff about me. Like the elevator incident.

No. I am not telling you what happened. I refuse. And anyway, it wasn’t my fault when the hotel elevator stopped. I was panicking and screaming for help the entire hour we were stuck in there. I was nine!

Wait. I just told you. Darn it.

Soon, we’ve arrived. I look up. In the highest branches is the dark shape of a treehouse.

“You live there?!”

“Yup,” Shaye nods.

“Just one question.”

“Yeah?”

“How am I supposed to get up there? There’s no ladder.”

“Did it not occur to you to climb the tree?” Shaye asks.

We’re climbing up the tree, and her head is a good couple inches higher than mine. The cats have gone ahead and are already in the treehouse.

Frankly, it didn’t occur to me to climb up the tree. But then again, it’s at least thirty feet tall and, therefore, towers above the rest of the forest. I decide not to tell her that, but instead ask her how she’d built the treehouse.

“I didn’t build it. Someone lived here before me. I was walking through here, I saw it, and I decided to live in it,” Shaye explains.

That explanation needs an explanation,” I say.

Without clarifying, Shaye pulls herself up the final branch and disappears onto the balcony of her treehouse. Or should I say porch? Do treehouses have porches? I pull myself up onto the balcony. It’s just wooden boards, and I am wondering if this is safe when Shaye opens the door of her treehouse and waves me in.

I walk in and look around. It looks pretty normal. A bed, a desk with a journal and pencil, and a cat bed in the corner. In the other corner, there are basic survival gear: a flashlight, a knife, a bottle of water, three pairs of identical camouflage shirts, and tan shorts, because apparently Shaye does not approve of shopping at the mall. Outside the window, which is really just a square hole in the side wall, I can see more of the same outfit hanging on a line.

Shaye removes her shoes and put them in the corner.

“Well, you can hang here until we find a way to get you back to your dimension.”

“Okay, then.”

I walk over to the corner, where Ariana is presently napping.

“Night, person. Wait, what was your name again?”

“Tommy, okay?”

***

I’ve never been a morning person. But when I wake up to Debbie banging a gong right next to my ear and yelling “Get up, you lazy human!” at four thirty in the morning… well, yeah.

I have to drag myself out of the treehouse, but I forget where I am and end up falling thirty feet out of the air. Ariana has to catch me. It is extremely embarrassing, especially since all the cats are watching. But Shaye isn’t, so I guess I’m lucky.

The first thing we do is get some food. While Shaye goes out to hunt and sends her cats and Ariana in a hunting group, I am supposed to gather berries and stuff. Why couldn’t I hunt?

Ariana says I’m not allowed to hunt the first day because I can be a bit of a mouse. That’s apparently cat slang for a baby. But she adds that I’m not nearly as bad as some people, so that’s a real relief.

I may not be an expert hunter, but I do know a little about plants. I pick some plants like blueberries (who knew blueberries grow in forests?) and leave the rest alone.

I know this is completely unrelated, but what’s in Caesar salad?

Ariana is shouting, “Beware the Ides of March!”

Yes, Ariana, I know. Can you please stick a sock in it?

And then I come across some kind of plant I’d never seen before. It looks like poison ivy. In that case, I’d better not step in it.

Then I think, It might come in handy later on. So I start looking around for a good stick. I find one right by my foot and carefully pick up the poison ivy or whatever it is.

Just as I do that, I see Allie bursting through the trees. Shaye said earlier that she’d send a cat to find me when she wanted me to return to the treehouse. I start after Allie through the woods.

We arrive back at the treehouse before Shaye and the other cats. I manage to get a little ways up the tree before they get here. Shaye walks over and is somehow right next to me before I can even move up another branch. How does she do it?!

I pull myself up another branch. Shaye climbs up another two. It turns into a sort of weird competition to see who can reach the treehouse first. Of course, Shaye wins.

When I finally get onto the porch, Shaye is sitting there with a couple of dead rabbits and a squirrel. When she sees my expression, she shrugs.

“I would’ve gotten a deer,” she says, “except I only hunt those when I’m really hungry. It’s difficult to climb a tree with a dead deer.”

I am too shocked, amazed, and impressed right now to reply. Is there a word for that?

“So, what’d you get?” she asks.

I take out the blueberries and drop them on the porch. They roll around like small, blue marbles. And then, hesitantly, I take out the poison ivy or whatever it is, with a stick, of course.

“Mint?” Shaye raises her eyebrows.

“Oh, this is mint? I thought it was poison ivy, and I figured it might be useful if I ever needed to get away from something, so…”

Shaye looks interested, and (could it be?) a tiny bit impressed.

“That’s actually a decent idea. And mint is edible. You’ve never seen mint before?”

“Well, I’ve only ever seen them on the fronts of hygiene products, and even then, they look kinda different.”

“Well,” Shaye responds, “It is edible, and that is all that matters. Now grab the blueberries, and let’s go in.”

“Does the five-second rule apply in this case?” I ask.

“What is this ‘five-second rule’ that you speak of?”

“Never mind.”

***

Inside, Shaye grabs a piece of wood, a little table thing, and a stick that looks like a match. She then runs outside. I run out after her, and watch as she climbs down and then jumps the remaining few feet. I just climb down.

Shaye comes over with a lot of dried leaves and strikes the match stick on the wood. Both immediately set on fire. She drops both into the pile of leaves and puts the table thing over it. I watch as Shaye puts the rabbits on it and hacks the squirrel into fourths with her knife, then tosses them over to where the cats are.

While we sit and wait for breakfast to be ready, I try to make small talk.

“So… uh… do you have any idea what to talk about?”

“No,” Shaye glances over at the cats, who are busy eating their little squirrel bites, then back at me.

The rabbits are ready then. Shaye takes them off and hands one to me. I cautiously take a small bite.

This is so good!

I then take a huge bite. Oh, this is delicious. Who knew that I, the kid who tried to convince his cat to eat pizza, am now eating a roasted rabbit as quickly as humanly possible?

I finish. Shaye is staring at me and cracks a grin.

And then I hiccup. Loudly. So loudly that the cats, who are now finished with their squirrel, run yowling into the forest with fat tails. So loudly that Shaye gives a start.

Oh no. I cover my mouth with one hand. This is so embarrassing. Ariana will tease me about it for the next decade of my life. And what will Shaye do? I don’t know, but…

Shaye bursts out laughing. I realize this is the first time I’ve ever heard her laugh. But it’s a good laugh. I start laughing too. And I notice, out of the corner of my eye, that the cats are back, and trying to steal Shaye’s rabbit.

***

After lots of laughing, chatting, and reprimanding the cats about trying to steal the rabbit, it’s about 8:30 at night. If I were back in my house, I’d be in bed by now. This did not go over well with Shaye.

“8:30? That’s so early! Who would be insane enough to go to bed that early? I stay up until 10:30 at the earliest.”

My jaw drops. 10:30 at the earliest?! I’d be willing to bet she almost never actually goes to bed that early.

I start considering staying up for another half hour or so. And yes, it’s a little bit because of the pressure thing. But for most of my life, I’ve followed the rules. This is my chance to finally break some. And I’ll gladly take it.

I end up staying up till approximately 9:35. Shaye is hunting to stock up for winter because as she said, “You can never stock up too early.” I eventually get into the corner and try to ignore the fact that Ariana is busy chatting with the other cats several branches down.

To help, I start thinking about how we first got Ariana. I was walking down the road when I saw a little cat crossing the street. She was bordering on underweight by then, but she wasn’t so bad. I went over as quietly as possible so as not to scare her, but when I tried to pick her up, she gave a start.

“Sweet mother of Garfield! Don’t do that! Jeez.”

My eyebrows shot up so high they almost went off my face. “What the heck?”

“Oh, yeah, I can talk. Believe it, buddy,” Ariana swished her tail across the ground.

“Why are you a talking cat?”

“Well, I was an ordinary stray cat before these scientist people picked me up and put me in this cage in their building thing. Then they came in with a needle and gave me some kind of shot. Then I could talk in their language and called them some very unflattering names. They started talking about not working and living longer and stuff. I was stuck in there for a couple weeks until they came in with another needle and opened the cage door.”

“For dramatic effect,” she continued, “I’ll go into detail. I was like, ‘Here comes the needle…’ and then I jumped out of the cage and started running for the door like, ‘Go, go, go, go, go!!!’ And yeah, I got out of there, and now here I am.”

I nodded, “Oookay. Any chance I could adopt you?”

“Definitely.”

When I brought her home, I admit to having been like, “Can we keep her?” Mom said yes, and I named her Ariana because why not? It’s a good name.

***

At 4:30 the next morning, Debbie wakes me up with the gong again. I’m beginning to wonder how Shaye functions on six hours of sleep at the most.

This time, I don’t fall out of the tree. Instead, I climb down really carefully for the first twenty feet, then I go down a lot faster. Today, Shaye meets up with me down there and gives me her spare dagger, which is smaller but lighter.

“You can find some plants, but if you see any small animals, go after them,” she says.

I take it, and we split up. I head for the spot where I collected the blueberries yesterday. Sure enough, there’s more there. I pick them so as not to accidentally burst one, although I do burst some a couple times and my hand gets covered in berry juice.

And then, I see a flash of brown out of the corner of my eye. A squirrel! I’m after it immediately. This will make the cats happy, and you’ll want three talking ninja cats on your side in an unfamiliar dimension.

The squirrel is headed right for a tree. If it reaches the tree, there’s no way I’ll get it. I pull the dagger out of my pocket and throw it as hard as I can.

Luckily, I have a fairly good aim.

I walk over to the dead squirrel and hesitate for a minute. I’m not sure about picking this thing up. So I first remove the dagger, then pick it up by the tail and hold it out at arm’s length while I go back to retrieve the blueberries.

I realize there’s a couple fewer than I had picked. Some animal must have eaten them while I was chasing the squirrel. With a sigh, I pick them up and put them in my pocket just as Allie runs up to me.

“Shaye wants you back at the — oh, wow,” she says.

I know she’s seen the squirrel.

I shake my head and smile, “Let’s get back, then.”

***

When I get back, Shaye’s waiting for me with the fire going.

“A squirrel? Nice. Just know, Chara really likes squirrels, so be careful of-”

Chara zooms right up to me and starts meowing excitedly. “Squirrel!”

Shaye snorts, “Okay, Chara. Yes, you’ll get it soon. Wait five minutes.”

Shaye takes the squirrel and the several crows she’s gotten this morning and puts them on the fire.

Then she says, “The dagger?”

I hand it to her. Shaye takes it over to a stream behind the treehouse I’ve never even noticed.

“I clean them back here,” she explains. “Otherwise, they get all sticky and don’t do as good of a job.”

I nod. Why do I find this so easy to understand?

While the cats enjoy their breakfast of a small mammal, we eat a couple crows. They’re not rabbits, but they’re still pretty good.

“You know, I should try this at home,” I say.

“I’d highly suggest you do. But do it for five minutes for the best results,” Shaye replies.

Then, I have a thought.

“Remember how you said you ‘came here”? Why did you say that?”

Shaye doesn’t say anything for a minute.

“I can’t lie on that one,” she finally says. “Not that I’d have any reason to. I really don’t know how I was born or anything, but I do know that when I was… six, maybe? I discovered the treehouse, and there was already all that stuff in there. Someone lived here before me. And now I live here with my cats.”

To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me. In books, people like Shaye always have a very shady backstory. The more strange they are, the more shady the backstory. And Shaye isn’t really that odd.

When I point this out, Shaye seems to think this over for a minute.

“I guess that makes sense. Maybe — oh my god.”

I turn to look and see the same thing happening from a couple days ago. The sky is darkening really fast, and the lightning is turning green. Ariana runs over. I stand up as quickly as possible.

“Get in the treehouse! Fast!” I yell to Shaye.

She gives a nod and climbs up the tree as quickly as possible with the cats behind her. Then, she looks down at me.

“I’ll see you around!” she yells, and runs inside the treehouse just as the lightning strikes right in front of us and everything is suddenly green.

Again.

***

When I finally find the way home, I really did not plan on falling three feet and face planting on the front deck. I stand up and notice Ariana on the railing.

“Well, that was awesome,” she says.

“Yeah,” I say. “And I just had an idea.”

I run inside and see my paper on the table. I sit down and grab the pencil, erasing the title. I then write at the top of the page in big letters: Untitled Adventure.

I begin to write a several page story about me and Ariana and our adventures in another dimension. Ariana takes a pencil and doodles funny pictures in the margins, like right next to the lightning strike that takes us to Shaye’s dimension, where she draws us as X-rays. It really adds something.

And just as I’m almost done, Ariana runs to the window.

“Look!” she exclaims.

I look out the window and see a girl and three cats in the backyard. The girl has black hair, and her eyes are a shade of blue that scream: ‘Try me and you die.’ One is black with three purple stripes on her back and has green eyes. Another is gray and has blue eyes. The third one is white with eyes the color of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

Shaye waves and yells, “Hi, Tommy!”

Before I go to the back door, I write on the paper just under the last sentence: The End.

 

The Prophecy

Introduction:

Once, in the harsh, sandy Gobi Desert, there lived a ten-year-old girl named Caterina. She was very adventurous and reckless. She lived in a bamboo house with her mother, father, and five older sisters, who were doctors and who got perfect scores on their SAT’s. Caterina’s hobby was digging for gold. The Chinese currency was Bao-Bao, which is shells, so the gold didn’t have any use. Caterina’s mother Priscilla complained that she didn’t put enough effort towards her school work and would go to a community college, which is the worst college to go to. But Caterina knew she was just plain ungifted at schoolwork, and she would have to do something excellent, such as being first chair at All China Band and Orchestra, so that a good college would accept her.

 

Caterina

I awoke to the sounds of screeching, hollering, and cries of pain. For a second, I thought the cruel Lord Mao, the so-called Devil, had come to punish us. But when I looked out the window, I saw barbarians. Thousands of them were on the horizon! I had to warn the village before it was too late! I hopped on my horse, Meadow, put my tabby cat, Mr. Furry-Paws, in a basket, and told my family to hide in the underground shelter.

Then, I hit the temple gong, hollering, “The barbarians are coming! Hide, run, or die!” I sped back to my house and hid just in time, as I heard barbarians storm into our house. I also heard the sound of lighting torches and the crackling of the fire. Normally, I would be comfortable with the reassuring fire, but now, all it did was make me feel like getting revenge on the cold-hearted barbarians.

 

Mr. Furry-Paws

I do not like this moment. Not. One. Single. Bit. First of all, Caterina is covering my mouth because she thinks I will start meowing and the barbarians will discover us. Honestly, I am not so absent-minded as to meow right now. Also, I can’t imagine how the barbarians would hear my meows with all this commotion going on anyway. We hide silently for about two hours. Then, when we don’t hear anything, we take a peek out. There is nothing but destroyed furniture and fire. We get out of the underground shelter, stretch ourselves, and gather bamboo to make a new house. By the time we finish the house, the sky is dark. Caterina’s father catches a fish, fries it for ten minutes over a fire, and we eat a quick dinner. We say our prayers and fall asleep.

 

Caterina

I hate those cursed barbarians even more. All I dream of are barbarians riding on short, speedy horses. But all of a sudden, I hear a mysterious voice ringing in my head.

Five shall go out in the night,

And give those barbarians a mighty fright,

Torch their sheepskin yurts,

And make sure they get some hurts.

I can’t sleep for the rest of the night.

 

Mr. Furry-Paws

I don’t know what is up with Caterina. It seems like something is troubling her.

Out of the blue, I ask her, “What is troubling you?”

I have no idea how I just talked, but anyway, Caterina, a little surprised, replies, “It was last night. A mysterious voice in my head was telling me that five should ambush the Mongolians at night, with torches to set their yurts on fire. I guess you are coming with me, now that you can talk.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s think; who else should come with us?’’ I wonder aloud.

“Definitely my best friends, Lux and Nandini. Also, I think we need a boy. How about the general’s son, Takumi? Yep, that’s it. Come on, let’s get started!” Caterina replies.

We ride on Meadow to Lux’s house. It is made of slate. I like it. Caterina tells Lux about the mysterious voice. Then, Lux gets her horse, Amber, and we ride to the Military Academy where Takumi probably is training. This time, before anyone else can open their mouths, I do the talking. I explain the mysterious voice to Takumi. Everyone in the room looks at me in awe. But Takumi seems to realize. He gets his sword; gets some sticks, flint, and steel for torches; gets on his charcoal-colored horse, Ming-Li, which means “swift ashes” and we go to our last stop: Nandini’s house.

 

Lux

Honestly, I am actually nervous. I know that if we succeed on our mission, we will be famous, but still, if we fail, we won’t be famous, and my parents will mourn me! We dismount our horses and explain the mysterious voice in Caterina’s head to Nandini. Nandini looks a bit concerned, but she gets her horse, Daylight, out of her family’s stall. She goes in her house to get something. It looks like a clock.

“Don’t forget a compass!” She says. Then, when looking at our confused faces she explained, “A compass is a tool used for finding the right direction. We should head in the direction pointing to the N because Mongolia is north of China.” Then, we speed to the direction of Mongolia, following Nandini because she has the compass.

 

Takumi

As we are riding, I see a light a few acres away.

I yell, “Stop!” I tell everyone in our group that the Mongolian camps are getting near. We have to be very quiet so we don’t get caught. We carefully set the yurts on fire. Then, we slip away. Apparently, we aren’t so quiet because five Mongolians are chasing us, right on our tail! I grab my metal spikes and throw them on the ground. The Mongolian horses cry in pain and throw the Mongolians off their backs into the Yellow River. Just as we think we are done with the Mongolians, there is one Mongolian left: Genghis Khan himself!

Mr. Furry-Paws says, “Guys! Don’t let him chase us! Surround him!” Mr. Furry-Paws is speaking Chinese, so not only do we have an advantage — that Genghis Khan is stunned because he saw a strange thing with pointy ears and whiskers for the first time in his life — but Mr. Furry-Paws is speaking Chinese so Genghis Khan doesn’t have a clue of what he is saying. We all make a circle around Genghis Khan and point our swords at his neck. Before we can do anything, he disappears in a flash of green light. We are very stunned. How can somebody, even a general, disappear like that? I guess if a cat can talk, a general can disappear in green light!

“I think we should go back home,” I say.  Everyone else nods in agreement. We speed like the wind back to our village.

 

Nandini

In the morning, we go to the temple and hit the gong. When everybody comes, we explain what happened. Fortunately, they believe us. They even celebrate our success with a feast! There are gold and red dragons flying and even the Emperor of China comes!

“Caterina, I am so proud of you. The Beijing College is interested in you,” says Caterina’s mother. Even Mr. Furry-Paws gets a Nobel Prize for the wittiest cat! We are famous, and the writers are writing stories about us because someday, we will be in history! We have no clue where Genghis Khan is right now, but the Emperor has sent military troops to Mongolia to find him. Also, military troops are guarding the borders of China so that these catastrophes don’t happen again. So far, we are pretty safe from those runty barbarians!

 

Bee’s Best Desire

One day, a while ago, there was a small, small bee. That bee had one wish, to become the most beautiful bee in the history of living things. However, he needed to obtain a flower so divine that even humans wished they could have it too. On a silent November day, the bee set out for an adventure.

He packed his things into one massive, purple, shiny backpack and said, “Watch out world ‘cause here I come!”

After flying a mile or two, he spotted a person riding a skateboard right past him. The strong winds caused the small little bee to freak out and land in a pile of garbage.

“Seriously, not even the window. Frankly, I would’ve prefered the window,” he said, glaring at the cafe window nearby. A human was holding a small bee by a leash, as a pet, and they both laughed at the small bee. The bee slithered its way out of the stinky garbage pile, plugging its nose. “That was more gross than my father’s socks after five months of no-washing!”

The bee carried on his mission with only slight regret of his choice to find the flower. He hiked up a treacherous mountain, then stared at the long way down. “Yikes…”

Suddenly, BAM! A person by the name of Ben slid backwards down the mountain and plucked off a small strip of vine. The bee couldn’t just let Ben take his one goal in life! So he flew as fast as he could down that mountain and pleaded for the specimen.

“Please let me have it! I only want to make my mom proud of me! Ever since I was a little baby bee, she wanted me to be a model just like her,” he said. “When she was smacked by a fly swatter, I knew I had to make her dream come true! Please!” Ben flashed a minimal smile, while the little bee trembled in anxiety.

“Well, do you really need it?” Ben asked smugly. The small bee swiftly nodded his head yes and zipped up to eye level with Ben.

“But I really need it,” Ben said, “Would you do anything for it?”

The bee replied, “Yes! Yes, I would!” Ben revealed another sly smirk.

“Would you, say, race me for it?” Ben asked. The bee thought for a minute or two, then decided that he a had dedication to this dream and would do anything to achieve it.

“Yes! Here and now!” The bee exclaimed. They both lined up near a huge rock, whoever got to a tree over the bend first won.

“Three… Two… One… GO!” they said in unison. Ben started in the lead, but the bee tried hard.

“I’m not giving up on my mother!” he yelled. He forced his wings to fly fast as he could and zipped around the bend. He closed his eyes and expected the worst, but it turned out, he won! He happily marched over to the flower and picked it up. “Sorry, amigo, but rules are rules, and races are won!” The bee said.

In the end, the bee became the best known model in the history of bees, making his mother proud. He wore the flower in many ways and in many photoshoots. He was like a celebrity amongst humans and bees.  He was even scouted by a famous manager who managed his mom. The bee lived happily ever after, for right now!

 

Quest for the Leaf

Once there lived a beetle named Walter who was frustrated that he was ordinary. Every other beetle had different markings, like spots or stars, but all he had was plain, boring, white stripes. He wanted to make himself unique.

One afternoon, Walter was resting on a leaf in the thick shrubbery, watching the other beetles that were all better than him — more beautiful than him — go by, when he saw a glimmer in the distance, shimmering red. Curious, he peeked out beyond the leaves.

The glimmer was gone. He sighed.

“I guess no ordinary beetle like me will ever see anything exciting.”

He headed back to his leaf.

The next day, Walter saw a group of beetles, that he’d known for a long time, flying around and buzzing to each other. He flew over, expecting to be welcomed into the conversation.

When he came near the other beetles, he noticed that they flew away, ignoring him.

“Hey, it’s me, Walter. Remember?”

No reply came. Confused, he flew over to them, and before they could fly away again, he stopped them.

“We don’t want to hang out with boring, ugly beetles like you anymore,” one of them said.

The words hit him with the force of a brick wall. All he could do was hover in silence as his “friends” snickered and flew off.

With a heavy heart, Walter flew back to his leaf and decided he would never get off it again. He didn’t belong — all the other beetles were beautiful, and he was ugly!

His promise to himself was broken after a few days when he saw the glimmer again. Like a mystical force, it lured him off his leaf and into the sunshine. This time, the glimmer didn’t disappear. It seemed as if the shimmer was persisting, pulling him forward.

Dazed, Walter followed. Suddenly, he flew into a leaf and nearly fell off. He gripped the smooth, flat object with his legs and scrambled on.

Then he realized where he was.

He was in the human’s garden.

Every beetle, since they hatched from their egg, was taught to fear humans. Their folktales told of horrific things. Humans, ever since the beginning of time, had been tormenting beetles. They squashed them, stuck them with pins to be on display, and even roasted and ate them in some parts of the world.

Beetles in this area had been taught to never go near the garden, which was part of the nearest human’s territory. When Walter realized that he’d gone in, he gulped. How could he have let himself fly out of the shrubbery?

How could I let that stupid glimmer lead me to the human’s garden? He thought.

Then he saw it. A cool breeze blew the tree that Walter was resting on. There was a red flash, and a beautiful maple leaf fluttered down from above. It was perfectly shaped, and the edges of it were tinted orange. He stood there, dazed, and he forgot all about going into the human’s garden.

Determination filled his mind. He had to get the leaf to make himself better. He had to show the other beetles that he was just as beautiful as them.

Slowly and carefully, he crawled down the tree and reached his leg out to touch the leaf.

Suddenly, he heard a slam. He turned around quickly, just in time to see a human open the garden gate.

He stood there, unable to move, until he realized the danger that would befall him if he did not move away. Quickly, with a thudding heart, he flew back to a branch on the maple tree.

Phew, I’m safe. And then, as the human skipped over, he thought, Oh no — the maple leaf!

He nearly cried as the human bent down and picked up the leaf. It seemed to have as much admiration for the leaf as Walter did. But instead of using it to decorate itself, the human slipped the leaf into its pocket.

A sense of dread came over him. I’ll never be able to get the leaf back now… Unless…

Was he willing to take the risk of being killed for one leaf?

Without thinking, Walter flew into the human’s pocket, and again, felt the smoothness of the leaf. Walter grabbed the leaf in his pincers and pulled with all his might. Seeing the light coming in from the opening in the pocket, he beat his wings as hard as he could and flew to the light, but fell back when he heard a voice that belonged to a human.

“Isabella, it’s time for dinner!”

“I’ll be there in the second!” the human, Isabella, called back.

Oh, great! Walter knew that he was heading into the human’s territory. There was no escaping now, and if anyone found him, he would be killed.

Something big and warm reached into the pocket. It felt around for a second, nearly touching Walter. Then it grabbed the stem of the leaf and with almost no effort at all, took the leaf out. At the last second Walter grabbed on.

In that moment, Walter talked to himself. What are you doing? Do you want to get yourself killed?

Isabella moved, and for a second, he thought that she saw him. But Isabella was too rushed to notice a small beetle. She gently set the leaf down on the table and walked out of the room.

Walter was more relieved than he’d ever been when Isabella left the room. Now’s my chance to escape with the leaf, he thought.

He flew and crawled around the room for some time. Finally, he found a perfect escape path. The window above her bed was open a crack, just enough for Walter to crawl under with the leaf. Now the only problem was getting there.

Just crawling a few inches with the leaf tired Walter out, and flying was nearly impossible. Soon he felt just as helpless as he’d been in the tree, watching Isabella take the leaf.

The only thing that kept him moving was the thought of how the the other day his “friends” had said that they were done being friends with a boring, ugly beetle like him.

I have to do this, he thought, and dragged the leaf a couple more inches across the desk.  After using every bit of his might to drag the leaf to the edge of the desk, he heard the door knob turn.

Walter was sorry that he had to leave the leaf behind, but he had enough sense to fly to a corner of the room where the human would never find him.

Walter could see Isabella take what looked like big, colorful, human-shaped leaves and slipped into them. Then she spotted the leaf and asked herself, “How did that leaf get to the edge of my desk?” Then she saw that the window was open a crack and said, “Oh, it was just the wind.”

She let out a yawn and turned a white stick near the door down. The lights went off, and Walter couldn’t see anything. He would have to wait until tomorrow to get the leaf.

The next morning, Walter was awakened by the loud sound of a human’s voice. He looked up and saw that he was on the palm of a human hand. It took him a minute to realize what was going on — Isabella had found him. But he was shocked that the she hadn’t killed him already.

A cold feeling arose in his stomach. He closed his eyes and prepared to die, or worse.

Moments passed, and nothing happened. He saw that Isabella was moving him over to a clear box with dirt in it. Panicking, Walter flew away.

“Hey!” Isabella exclaimed.

But Walter couldn’t escape from the human. Quicker than a cheetah, she placed a cup on top of him and slid a paper board underneath the cup. With ease, she picked up the cup and again started to move toward the large glass box. Now all he could do was sit and wait.

The human came to the glass box and opened the lid. She dropped Walter, the cup, and the paper into it. The lid slammed shut.

This can’t be happening. Desperately, he flew around the box, looking for a hole or even a crack that he might be able to escape through. But no, there was no way to escape.

He didn’t even know what was going on, or what he should think. Why had Isabella put him in here? Should he feel grateful that she didn’t squash him, or angry that she had trapped him in this weird contraption?

The lid of the box screeched open, and for a second, Walter thought he could escape. But then the lid slammed shut again. Something drifted down from above. The leaf! It looked exactly the same, just as perfect as it had been before.

A loud, deep, slow voice vibrated the box.

“Eat the leaf,” the human seemed to bellow.

So this is what the human is doing to me? Making me eat that perfect, beautiful leaf? Walter backed away. No way was he going to eat it! He knew that it was the only thing that would make himself more beautiful.

Isabella’s face pressed against the side of the box. Her mouth turned down when she saw that Walter wasn’t eating the leaf. She looked unhappy, even worried.

“Maybe the leaf is too big,” The voice echoed again.

The lid screeched open again and Isabella reached in and took the leaf by its stem. She put it down by her desk on the side of the tank, and in front of Walter’s wide eyes, began to tear it into pieces. His heart shattered. How could that evil human destroy the only thing he wanted? How could it bear to destroy that beautiful leaf?

His life without the leaf flashed before his eyes. The other beetles snickered around him and called him ugly. He saw himself growing up all alone, nobody liking him. And then he saw himself slowly fade away as he died as an old beetle.

Walter trembled. He couldn’t live a life like that– he didn’t deserve to live a life like that. But nothing would ever change his life. He would just have to grit his teeth and live with it. His only thought now was to get back to the shrubbery. The leaf, his beautiful leaf, was gone, but at least he wouldn’t have to spend his life in a tiny box.

Somehow, he had to convince Isabella that he didn’t belong in the box. What did she think he was, a pet? He had to think of something. Obviously, he couldn’t just break through the wire mesh lid. He wasn’t that strong. Could he just try to annoy Isabella? No, there was no way she would be affected by him.

This wouldn’t do. Walter had to think of what he had, not what was out of his reach. So what was in the box? Dirt, leaves, twigs- Wait, maybe I could use something to break the wire mesh!

He grabbed the twig with his pincers and tried to punch a hole through the mesh. He couldn’t even make a dent. There had to be another way.

I have to trick Isabella. But how?  He racked his brain for ideas, but he couldn’t think of anything. I guess I’ll be stuck here forever, as an ugly, stupid beetle that nobody likes. But I’ll die if I’m stuck here forever!

In that moment of despair he thought of something. A common trick for beetles when they were facing predators was to pretend that they were dead. Most predators were birds, so he hadn’t thought of that earlier. Birds didn’t like eating beetles that looked as if they had been dead for a long time, so usually they left the beetles alone.

Maybe Isabella would feel the same, he thought. A burst of determination filled him. Despite the risk of being killed, he decided that he was going to do it.

As the minutes of anxiousness passed, Walter began to think about the terrible possibilities if the plan failed. Isabella could squash him, throw him in the huge, towering bin that unwanted things disappeared into, or even worse, pin him to a board for a display! But Isabella walked into the room, and there was no time to come up with another plan — he had to act!

As Isabella walked over to the box, Walter immediately flipped over on his back, closed his eyes, and made himself go limp. Fear of the plan going wrong nearly overcame him, but he forced himself to stay still.

He heard a loud gasp and the words that were music to his ears: “Eww, the beetle’s dead!” Isabella scooped him up in the cup and started to move. His heart dropped as they walked past the room with the bin. He could tell by the sizzling sounds of a human heating meat up or, as they called it, “cooking”. But Isabella walked right past it.

He felt victorious as the human opened the huge wooden block, he had learned the humans called “the door”, and walked into the cool air of the outside. He felt the cup drop to the ground, and the vibrations of Isabella’s footsteps getting weaker and weaker, until they were all gone.

He couldn’t believe how clever he was. Maybe he wasn’t so stupid and ugly after all. He actually had managed to escape from a human! Maybe it doesn’t matter how beautiful a beetle is on the outside — that doesn’t help with anything. Maybe I’m lucky. My beauty is on the inside, where I’m clever and compassionate. He couldn’t believe that he had risked his life just for a leaf to make himself more beautiful, when he was already beautiful in the way that mattered most. For a second, he thought of the other beetles taunting him, but he pushed that thought from his mind. As long as I like myself, I’ll be happy.

Filled with newfound confidence, he ventured home to the shrubbery, a place he knew he was never going to leave for anything again.

Soon, Walter’s life was almost back to normal again. He was back at the shrubbery, crawling and flying around leaves. Lots of leaves had already been half-eaten by other insects, and he was looking for fresh uneaten ones. Walter looked weary and tired. He hadn’t gotten any sleep when Isabella trapped him. And when he had gotten back to the shrubbery, the beetles had taunted him just as he expected. But he ignored them, and they left him alone. He’d finally gotten some peace and quiet. Then, as he gazed at the shimmering maple tree in the distance, it looked just as beautiful as it had been before. But Walter no longer wanted any of its leaves. He had realized that he already belonged.

 

Bailey, Harley, and the Dead Bear

      

BAILEY

Do you want to play outside?

 

HARLEY

Sure.

 

BAILEY

What do you want to play?

 

HARLEY

We could play basketball.

 

BAILEY

Okay.

 

HARLEY

The first person to get 18 points wins.

 

BAILEY

Did you see that?

 

HARLEY

WHAT?

 

BAILEY

HA, I win! Let’s go to the park and play on the monkey bars.

 

HARLEY

Okay, that sounds really fun, and we can go on the swings.

 

BAILEY

Mom, can we go to the park?

 

MOM

Okay. Be back by three.

 

HARLEY

Okay, bye!

 

BAILEY

Last one to the swings is a rotten egg!

 

HARLEY

I win!

 

BAILEY

Did you see that in the woods?

 

HARLEY

What?

 

BAILEY

Something moved in the bushes!

 

HARLEY

Let’s go follow it.

 

BAILEY

But what if it’s dangerous?

 

HARLEY

But what if it’s not?

 

BAILEY

I guess we can go.

 

HARLEY

Let’s bring our phones so we have a flashlight just in case it is dark.

 

BAILEY

AHAHAHAHAH, there’s a bear!

 

HARLEY

RRRRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNN!

 

BAILEY

AH! The bear grabbed us! He’s gonna eat us!

 

HARLEY

Goodbye, Bailey.

 

BAILEY

Goodbye, Harley.

 

BEAR

(Swallows)

 

HARLEY

I think I have a paper clip. What if we cut open the bear?

 

BAILEY

Okay, hand me it. I’m almost done… got it!

 

HARLEY

I think we killed it.

 

BAILEY’S MOM

Harley, Bailey, want me to give you a ride home?

 

BAILEY

Let’s go. My mom is here.

 

HARLEY

We should go play more basketball at my house.

 

A Green Galaxy

     

Something was always strange about green,

The color was never really a sheen

The color green always reminded me of money,

The color was never really funny

 

Imagine a big bright sun mixed with a beautiful teal ocean

Imagine a sour sweet lemon mixed with a dark cerulean sky

Imagine dark yellow summer squash mixed with bright blue blueberries,

Imagine a wonderful feeling of dazzling daffodils mixed with ultramarine taffy,

Imagine glistening melted butter mixed with twinkling sapphires,

Imagine luscious gleaming honey mixed with a dramatic azure moonstone,

These are all objects that make green

 

Green has a feeling of being secure,

Unlike the feelings of being immature,

Green represents greed,

But it is the color of those who succeed

Who have to decide if they’ll sprout like weeds

Or flourish instead like rich, golden seeds

 

Sophie’s Perspective

Part One

I woke up in the morning, after a fitful night of sleep.

“Britney?” I called out to my nanny who had spent the night because my parents were on a business trip.

“Oh, hi, Sophie!” I heard a strange, female voice call from downstairs. “Britney had to go, but I’m here — my name is Brooke!”

What is happening? I feel nervous and scared. Will this Brooke be nice or mean? Why was she here? She’s probably hiding something… I wandered down the stairs, still in my bathrobe, where this “Brooke” was drinking coffee. She stayed lounging in her chair.

“What do you want for breakfast?”  

“I’ll have pancakes,” I said.  

While she was baking them, I took a better look at Brooke. She was tall with long, blonde hair and way too much makeup. But if you looked at her closely, she had about eight piercings, which made me wonder what she did besides babysit. And then she put the pancakes in front of me, sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

“You know I am allergic to all nuts, right?” My eyes were bulging, and my face turned red.  “Didn’t my mom tell you?!”

Brooke seemed to panic. She hesitated for a minute.

“Uh, they were for me.”

“Then why did you give them to me?”  I said firmly.

“Well, then make your own breakfast!” she yelled. “Uh, I mean, I will make you something else that’s nut-free.”  

Something definitely was not right.

“No thanks,” I said. “I am just going to go to my room.”

I wasn’t really going to stay in my room when there was a stranger that I didn’t trust, who thinks that she can all of a sudden come into my house and babysit me! I decided to do what any normal eleven-year-old girl would do and called my Uncle Frank. However, there was no answer.  He always answered his phone. I called again — still no answer. Finally, on my third try, he picked up.

“Yes, Sophie?”

“Something fishy is going on here, Frank!” I whispered. “Come and get me!”

“Give me twenty minutes,” he said.

I looked at my phone. “That’s at 9:15 — I’ll be there on the curb waiting for you!”

Then out of nowhere, I heard some music with the words, “I hate kids, I hate kids, I hate kids.” It kept going, and I realized it must’ve been her phone ringing. I snuck down the stairs to investigate, careful so she wouldn’t catch me. I took a peek at her phone and it read, surprisingly, the fake grandparents of Sophie.

I heard them talking about a letter that Brooke was trying to keep from me and how she hid it under the loose floor board in the kitchen. I thought to myself, I knew she was not my babysitter! I have to stay and hear more of the conversation to know what’s really going on. So I listened more and heard that Brooke was supposed to take me to England so I could go see the people that were trying to take me. I listened more.

I thought to myself, I have to get out of here.           

 

Part Two

I packed as fast and as secretly as I could. It was almost 9:15, and I was ready to tell Fred everything. I decided to escape out the window because my room was on the second floor. By now, I was so worried she had found out what I was going to do, that it took me forever to get the letter. It is hard when you find out someone’s true identity and you know that they’re dangerous. When I finally had the letter in my hands, I opened it, and it read:

 

Dear Sophie,

We think you are ready to know who we really are. We’re spies. And every time we told you we were doing architecture in different countries, we were really on a spy mission. Our organization is called the Insiders. And when we get back, we will explain everything. But for now, don’t open any of the doors.

 

I thought to myself, Why? I mean they’re overprotective, but why?

                                                                                                              

Also your grandparents have been missing.                         

Love,

Mom & Dad

 

What? My parents were spies?  So they were trying to tell me that my parents, the nerdiest, most overprotective couple in the world, are spies?  Ha ha, very funny. I didn’t believe it for a second, and who would name their spy organisation the Insiders?  Well, I guess with all that traveling, it kind of made sense.  Still, why didn’t they tell me before?  My heart started pounding out of my chest, and that’s when the shaking began.  

 

Part Three   

I was starving — I should have asked Fred to bring me some food! I had an idea of how I would escape. But it was a risky one.

First, I’m going to sneak downstairs and get a banana for the trip. Then, I’m going to shove that in my bag and sneak out my bedroom window. There is poison ivy beneath the window, but I’ll manage. Next, I’ll build a clothes chain with extra clothing I didn’t pack. Last, I will sneak to Fred’s car and try to dodge Brooke’s sight.

And that’s when everything started to go wrong.

I started to sneak down to the fridge, but before I reached it, Brooke caught me and asked me what I was doing.

“Just getting a banana for breakfast,” I said nervously.

I was still shaking, but not enough for her to notice. Step one: Get the banana. Check. By that time, I was so scared I would forget something that I made a list for myself. Then, I tied my extra clothes together and made a chain. Step two: check. Next I tied the rope of clothes to the window so I could climb down easily and not worry about falling. Step three: check. Last, when I was on the ground, I took a sigh of relief, not noticing the poison ivy I had stepped in when I had come down. I didn’t care though. All I did care about was getting to Fred and not being noticed.

But then, all of a sudden the sprinkler turned on, which caught Brooke’s eye. She came out and looked to see what had happened, and then she went back inside to try to shut it off. When she came out, I had to hide in the thorn bush. But when Brooke wasn’t looking, I ran to Fred’s car, by then crying with fear. Once I got into Fred’s car, I explained everything. He seemed shocked, but even I was shocked too when he told me that he was sworn not to tell that they were spies. I was kind of upset that he wouldn’t tell me. I thought I trusted him, but then I remembered how overprotective my parents are.

I told Fred to drive me to Alaska, where my parents were on a business trip, or mission. I still had a hard time believing they were spies. Finally, I got Fred to take me to Alaska because I guess he understood what I was going through. As we were about to leave, suddenly I heard another car turn on. It was Brooke, and since I had told Fred about her and how she was working for these people that kidnapped my grandparents, we had to go. She was speeding, which made us have to speed too because we didn’t want to get caught. I’d never gone that fast in a car. 

We headed to the airport to catch the flight at one o’clock. It was about a half hour from our house. When we got there, we rushed to buy tickets before Brooke could stop us.

 

Part Four

When we got the tickets, we also went to the lost and found clothes to borrow for some disguises. Although it was gross, we didn’t want to risk getting caught. It was 12:56, and we were about to board the flight when Brooke came up to us. I told Fred to stay back and that I would talk to her, but he wanted to stay right behind me in case she tried to take me.

“Why did you run away? I thought we were having fun. I made you a nice breakfast… ”

“Which I couldn’t eat,” I interrupted, which made Brooke lose her temper.

She started screaming at me. She hollered, “I tried to do everything for you! Do you know how hard it is to please you… ”

“I know that you’re not my babysitter. I heard you talking on the phone. I heard everything, and I don’t want you to take me to the people who took my grandparents,” I interrupted again.

She was furious. It seemed like she was going to explode with anger. At first I got nervous, so did Fred, so he picked me up. It was one o’clock, and the plane was about to fly away. We jumped on the plane just in time, but so did Brooke. We had first class tickets because it was just the two of us, but, thankfully, Brooke didn’t.  The plane ride was ten hours and forty-five minutes to Alaska from California, so it seemed like forever. Also Brooke was on the plane too, which made me more anxious. What if she caught me? Is something bad going to happen if she uses the bathroom in first class and is so close to me that she just takes me? All these uncomfortable thoughts spinning in my head just made it harder for me to relax. Fred seemed relaxed, but I knew he wasn’t.

“So, Fred. I’m nervous. Are you nervous? Cause I can tell that you’re a little nervous. When I’m nervous, I talk fast, but this time, I just have so many things to talk about in my head. You know, I have this and that and information about someone trying to kidnap me. I’m not nervous. What are you talking about? You don’t know I’m nervous. How do you know I’m nervous? It’s not like I’m talking fast or anything.”

“You’re nervous, but it’s okay. I get nervous too, sometimes. And I am a bit nervous now. But if we both just sit back and enjoy the six hours we have left, we’ll be alright. And don’t worry, as long as I’m here, no one will hurt you.” And then he mumbled to himself, “At least, I hope not.”

 

Part Five

Six hours later…    

We got off the plane, and I was so happy, and Fred was too. But we still had to make a run for it so Brooke wouldn’t catch us. We rented a car to drive to where my parents were. I needed answers, and I was getting very impatient. I still couldn’t wait to see them. That feeling of happiness didn’t last very long because there were so many things to worry about. For example, if Brooke caught me, and I got taken for good, and if I didn’t find my grandparents or my parents, I would be stuck with my uncle. Not that that would be a bad thing, but I really did miss my parents. Meanwhile we were driving to Juneau, Alaska, and we finally found the hotel where my parents were staying at.

  We went into the hotel and got my parents’ room number. The number was 315. When we got there, we knocked on the door and started searching for them. They were nowhere in sight. By now, so many things were happening, that I was so scared. I didn’t want to talk because if I did, I would start crying. But I did anyways. I wanted to tell Fred that we should leave, but before I could say anything, he came up to me with a note in his hand and a shocked look on his face.    

“Here, Sophie. I think you should see this,” said Fred.

I took all the courage I had left in me and opened the note.

 

Dear Sophie,

If you are reading this, we are not at the hotel and you are searching for us. Don’t worry. We’re at your grandparents’ house, and when you come over, we’ll explain everything to you. Oh, and how is Brooke? We told her to make your favorite pancakes with walnuts. Hope you liked them! The address to you grandparents’ house is 26 Telegraph Creek.

From,

Your parents

 

“This letter doesn’t seem as real,” I said.

“I agree, but we should go to their house just in case. Because what if your parents and grandparents are there?”

“Obviously someone kidnapped my grandparents. But since I’ve never met my real grandparents, I don’t know which one’s which. What if they try to trick me?” I said with fear.

 

Part Six   

“It will be alright. As long as I’m here.”

There was always something different about Fred, but right now he seemed more sad — like he was hiding something that he didn’t want to. When we finally got to Telegraph Creek, I started to look for the number 26. By the time we found their house, it was already getting dark out. Fred knocked on the door, but when it opened, no one was there. I don’t know what had happened — maybe there was a robbery, or maybe this was not their real house.  

But before I could investigate, Fred, out of nowhere, said, “I’m sorry.” But there was no time for that because one minute I was standing there, trying to search for everyone, and the next minute, I found myself tied to a chair, in a room with a bright light glaring at me. I heard people talking. I had no idea how much time had passed.

They were talking about my parents and grandparents. It seemed like someone saw me, so they came into the room. I couldn’t see those people because the lights were shining on me, so I told them to come into the light. There were four people. I saw Brooke, Fred, and a couple. Fred? What was he doing there?

At first I thought they might be my grandparents, but then I realized they looked nothing like me; my mom told me that I have my grandpa’s brown eyes and my grandma’s dirty blonde hair. So I had a sense that they were the kidnappers.   

But, boy, was I mad at Uncle Fred!

“I thought I trusted you, Fred. After all we’ve been through, this is how you repay our family?”

“I’m sorry,” Fred said, not looking me in the eye.

It seemed like he felt bad.  

“But I’m broke — and being poor makes my life very hard. And when I asked your parents for money, they said no.”

“But, but…”

“Shut up, Sophie.”                                                                                                                       

“I am so tired of listening to you, and do you even know how hard it is to put up with you?” interrupted Brooke.

“I always knew you weren’t my babysitter. I never found you to be such a good actor,” I said.

Brooke lunged at me, but Fred grabbed her and held her back.

I learned a few things while I was in kidnapping. The main fact I learned was the couple that kidnapped my parents’ names. Their names were David and Barbara, which was very useful information. I also learned that Brooke had anger issues, and most importantly, to never trust the person you feel most safe with.

They kept me there for another day with no food, water, and no bathroom breaks.

Luckily, I found out where my parents and grandparents were. They were in the same room. I was so excited because I also found a way to escape.

 

Part Seven

I always kept a pocket knife with me, so once I was able to reach and get it, I cut the rope, my skin with it. Ouch! When I was free from this chair-dungeon place, I had to sneak to my parents’ room. But when I finally found it, my parents and grandparents were not there. I think they were moved to another room, I thought to myself. But it was just a trick. There were security cameras everywhere.

Then out of nowhere, I was caught and taken to the real room where my parents and grandparents were. I was so happy when I saw them and finally met my grandparents. They did look like me! But they also looked sad and unhappy that they were with my parents. And then, out of nowhere, my parents blasted me with questions like:

“Are you okay? Did Brooke hurt you? I never knew Fred was a traitor.”

But that was only the first blast of questions.  They started again.

“Why is your hand bleeding? Do you feel faint? Do you need to go to the hospital after the mission?  Honey, talk to me. Honey, tell me.”

 “I’m fine, you guys. Let’s get out of here — I still have my pocket knife with me.”  

After I cut them free, we snuck out to the car and took off to the airport, once again not noticing that Brooke was driving behind us.

 

Will they escape? Did they complete the mission? Will they ever find out who the mastermind of this enterprise really was? And what about Fred?

 

Bloody Funny Story

I lay in my bed and shivered under the covers. Thunder boomed outside the window, and the wind was howling outside. A streak of thunder flashed and revealed the number 13 written in blood on my door. I shivered again. Outside the window, I saw a pitch-black figure advancing towards me.

A raspy voice chanted, “Blood. Blood.”

Then a clawed hand caught my neck. I screamed, grabbed my baseball bat, and whacked it on the head.

“Geez! Hey! What the heck was that for? I’m telling!”

I was confused. Monsters didn’t really tell on kids.

“Um, sorry. I… uh… didn’t mean that. It… sorry.”

When I said that, I noticed there was another dark figure next to him. It was another monster. There were several more smaller monsters behind the two of them.

“Oh no, you’re okay. My friend here just called me a butthead. Anyways, I’m telling on you, Spiritgrabber! You’re so mean!” said the second monster. “So, wanna be friends? I mean, I don’t really want to be the ‘bad guy’ here.”

“Hey, dude. I’m Spiritgrabber. This is my friend, Blooddrinker,” said the other monster.

“Um, okay. Sure. If you want, I have some juice in the fridge. Want some? I can go get it,” I said.

“Sure, if you wouldn’t mind, I’m very thirsty. Oh, and some for Spiritgrabber too,” said Blooddrinker.

“Okay. But can you carry me? I’m scared,” I said.

He lifted me up onto his shoulders.

“Wheee!” I said.

We went downstairs. I switched on the light. My friend looked like an evil crow. But he wasn’t evil, he was my friend.

“Here. It’s orange juice,” I said, handing him two glasses.

We went back upstairs. I told him that my name was Kraken, that my parents were dead, and I had no one to care for me. He felt sorry for me.

“I know! I’ll be your caretaker!” he suddenly said.

So without any more words, Spiritgrabber and all the monsters in the house lived happily ever after with me.

Actually, no. Kraken, what about the rest of the book?

Oh yeah. Here’s the rest.

The day after, we went shopping.

“Can I have some bread?” said Bloody.

“Sure,” I said.

So we went to the grain aisle and picked up a bag of pumpernickel bread. It was Bloody’s favorite food.

“I want chocolate spread,” said Spiritgrabber.

Suddenly, a murderer jumped in the store!

Roar!!”

Blooddrinker took a baseball bat and hit the murderer on the head.

“Ow! Mommy!!” screamed the murderer, running out of the store.

I hugged Bloody. He hugged me back. So did Grabby. But no one saw because we were at the shop at night. We didn’t even need to pay. We didn’t need a car. Bloody just flew us home with his mighty wings.

“Guys! Dinner!” I called.

“Ooh, melted chocolate and bread!” the other monsters said excitedly.

“Dig in, everybody! I made a big platter of it as a special treat!” I called.

Everybody took forks and spoons, and they hungrily broke the chocolate brulee into a big, empty platter pan.

After dinner, we watched “Mocha and Belize: Stranded on First Cup Tee.” It was their favorite movie, but it was pretty long, so we had to watch it in parts.

Then, we slept. I cuddled Bloody and Grabby. I had made a big bed with wood from Spooky Pine Woods and at least twelve mattresses.

No, Kraken. There’s more, right?

Oh, yeah. Here’s the last part.

The next day, it was cold and stormy outside. In the dim light, I looked at myself. I had grown hair all over, a furry tail, and claws!

I had turned into a kid Werewolf! I didn’t really care, though. We couldn’t go outdoors to play monsterball or tag, so we watched a comedy show. It was called “Drake’s Comedy Crash.”

Then, it stopped raining, but Drake’s jokes weren’t funny enough to keep my monsters awake. They fell asleep on me. So I fell asleep too.

 

Stephanie’s Fear

“Wake up, Stephanie! Wake up!” said Stephanie’s teacher, Mrs. Booksworth.

“What happened?” asked Stephanie.

“You fell asleep again,” said Mrs. Booksworth.

“Sorry,” said Stephanie.

The whole class giggled except Eliot and Paige, Stephanie’s best friends. Eliot and Paige were twins. They didn’t laugh because they knew what had been going on. After school, Stephanie was so embarrassed. Her friends came over to her, and they invited her over to their house to get the topic off of her mind.

At their house, Eliot and Paige thought that they could help her get over her fear of monsters under her bed. They decided that they would organize a sleepover to show her that monsters are not real.

“You guys might not believe me, but I swear I have seen it before. Monsters are real,” said Stephanie. “I think I am just going to go home.”

Stephanie was going to prove that she was telling the truth.

***

Finally, the day of the sleepover came. At about 5, her friends came over to her house.

“Are you ready to get over your fear?” they asked her.

“I guess so,” she said.

They watched a couple movies and ate dinner, and then they went to Stephanie’s room.  

“We will help you have the courage to look under your bed so you know there is no monster,” Paige said.

“I still can’t believe you guys don’t believe me,” Stephanie responded.

“We’re sorry. It’s just… we don’t believe in monsters,” said Eliot.

“When we were younger, we thought there was a monster under our bed, but our parents helped us get over our fear,” said Paige.

“I get you guys don’t believe in them, but I do,” said Stephanie. “At around 11, I will prove to you guys that monsters are real.”

At 11, they turned the lights on.

“Ready to look under your bed?” Paige asked.

“Kind of,” said Stephanie.

“Great,” said Eliot.

They all were about to say something when they heard a snore.

“Was that any of you because it was not me,” said Stephanie.

“It definitely was not me,” said Paige.

“That wasn’t me, either,” said Eliot. “Maybe monsters are real.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Paige. “I will look under the bed. I’m sure nothing will be there.”

“Be careful,” said Stephanie. “Just so you know, it has red eyes, blue skin, sharp claws, and puffy, gray hair.”

“Okay. Here I go,” said Paige.

She leaned over the bed, but then she gasped, screamed, and sat straight up.

Shh!” said Stephanie.

“Monsters are real!” said Paige.

“I told you so!” said Stephanie.

“That monster looked exactly like the one me and Eliot thought was real in our room!” said Paige. Her heart was pounding out of her chest.

“Do you know if he has a name?” asked Stephanie.

“No,” said Paige.

“But we named him Auggie,” said Eliot.

“We need to find a way to get rid of him!” whispered Stephanie.

“But is there really a way of getting rid of a monster? He is probably dangerous!” said Eliot.

“There has to be a way,” said Paige.

“Maybe we don’t need to get rid of him,” said Stephanie.

“What do you mean?!” asked Paige.

“Why would you let him stay?!” asked Eliot.

“Maybe if we try to become friends with him, we can let him stay, and I won’t be scared any more,” said Stephanie.

“Why would a monster want to be friends with us?” asked Eliot.

“Why wouldn’t a monster want to be friends with people? Because he is the only monster here?” asked Stephanie.

“I guess that might work,” said Paige.

“Let’s ask him to come out,” said Eliot.

“But before we do anything, you guys need to promise you won’t scream, gasp, or do anything that would make him not want to be friends with us when you see him,” said Stephanie.

“We promise,” said Paige.

“I will ask him,” said Stephanie.

“Okay,” said Eliot.

“Be careful,” said Paige.  

“I will,” said Stephanie.

She approached her bed.

“Hey, monster,” she said “Do you want to come out from under there and talk to me and my friends?”

“Why would you talk to me?” asked Auggie.

“Because I want to be friends with you,” said Stephanie.

“But I am an ugly monster. No one has ever wanted to be friends with me before,” said Auggie.

“I know. But in school, I have been getting in trouble for falling asleep during class,” said Stephanie.

“What does that have to do with me?” asked Auggie.

“Because I was scared of you, so I couldn’t fall asleep,” she replied. “If I am friends with you, I won’t be scared anymore.”

“Okay, I will come out,” said Auggie.

“Yay!” said Stephanie.

“Please don’t scream,” said Auggie.

“We won’t,” said Stephanie.

Auggie came out from under the bed. He was a little scary to them at first, but then they found him to be really kind.

“Hi,” said Eliot.

“Hi,” said Auggie.

“Do you remember me and my sister? You used to live under our bed,” said Eliot.

“I do remember you guys. You were terrified of me, so I left for this room,” said Auggie.

“Sorry about that,” said Paige.

“It is okay,” said Auggie.

“Do you have a name?” asked Paige

“No. I wish I did. Where I come from, we don’t get names,” said Auggie.

“Do like the name Auggie? That’s what we used to call you,” said Eliot.

“Auggie… I like that name. Sure, you can call me that!” said Auggie.

“Yay!” said Eliot.

The girls and Auggie talked for hours and became best friends. Auggie stayed for as long as he wanted. Stephanie, Paige, and Eliot promised they would never tell anyone about him. Stephanie gave him pillows under the bed for him to sleep on. From then on, Stephanie was not afraid of Auggie, and she never got in trouble for falling asleep in class again.

 

Caterina’s Gold

Once upon a time, there was an adventurous girl named Caterina who lived in the Gobi Desert. She liked digging for gold. Her parents wanted her to study, not just dig for gold. Caterina’s three older brothers and two older sisters were all good at academics, but Caterina hated studies. She never got an A on her report card, but she didn’t care.

One day, Caterina heard a huge panic going on in her village. She stopped digging to see what was going on. In the distance, Caterina saw people she had never seen before.

People were screaming, “Help! Help! The Mongolians are invading!”  

Caterina looked at her shovel, then at the only piece of gold that she had ever found. She remembered, however, that since she found the gold, snakes and crocodiles had attacked her. She remembered how the mysterious man had helped her find that piece of gold. The gold was cursed. The man was evil.

 

Chapter One

“Where is the man? Where is the man?” Caterina kept on asking herself.

She remembered how he had ran away while she was in the house. Caterina didn’t know which way he ran, but she knew whom to ask.

Her cat, Mr. Furrypaws, was good at finding tracks. Mr. Furrypaws bit things, so he would scare the man away. That was part of Caterina’s plan. Caterina went outside with Mr. Furrypaws. Sure enough, he found the path. Caterina and Mr. Furrypaws kept on going. They didn’t see the man yet. Finally, Caterina and Mr. Furrypaws took a break. Caterina found herself in a totally different place than she had expected.

 

Chapter Two

“Where am I?” Caterina whispered.

Suddenly, she found herself in a cave.

A huge voice boomed in the distance, “Your people are suffering. Your house is destroyed.  Now, I shall destroy you and your cat!”

The man came out of the dark. Caterina was speechless. The man was a giant. He stomped toward them, nearly stepping on Mr. Furrypaws. Mr. Furrypaws bit the giant’s leg. The giant grew red with rage as he tried to step on Mr. Furrypaws. Caterina hit the giant’s other leg with her shovel. The giant picked up Caterina and Mr. Furrypaws.

“Help! Help!” Caterina screamed.

Mr. Furrypaws was hanging from the giant’s hand, unconscious.

“Help! Help!” she screamed again.

But no one came.

 

Chapter Three

“Meow!” Mr. Furrypaws woke Caterina up.

She sat up, dazed.

“Where is the giant?” she wondered out loud. Suddenly, she heard a hunting horn. “Uh-oh!” she said.

The Mongolians were invading. Caterina quickly ran toward the Mongolians with Mr. Furrypaws.

“Don’t bite them. Only threaten them,” Caterina whispered.

Mr. Furrypaws did the exact opposite of what he was told. He bit the Mongolians really hard, one after the other. He also ran quickly so that they would get distracted and couldn’t catch him. Caterina thought that Mr. Furrypaws’s plan would backfire, but Mr. Furrypaws was smarter than she thought. Soon, the Mongolians surrendered, and her village was free.

 

Nothing

                                

I fixed my pencil by sharpening it.

I fixed my face by smashing it on the ceiling.

I fixed the ceiling after I fixed my face.

Then I fixed my iPhone and fixed the ice by getting some more of it from the ice store.

It was at 14223 Devil’s Park.

It was just a plain park. There were two people at the store, and they told me, “Break your face if you steal!”

Then I didn’t steal, but I still broke face!

I had to break dough: $5 million.

I broke all my dough. I felt good.

 

Loop

Mason Sheppard.

Pretty much the opposite of the poster boy almost every kid wanted to be.

Whiny, stupid, and spoiled.

He got into fights all the time at school.

Detention, detention, detention.

Once he hit the triple digits, his parents stopped caring about the constant calls that would wake them up from their afternoon nap.

“Your son, Mason, received a detention today for — ”, followed by a dial tone.

These fights he got into, however, didn’t just stay at school.

If you came to Mason’s house one day, you would usually open the door to see Mason in a heated argument with his parents.

One day, after one of these fights, Mason’s parents sent him to his room and opened the front door.

His mother shouted, “Mason! We’re going outside for 30 minutes to get away from you and these stupid arguments. Stay in your room and don’t even think about leaving the house!”

Mason flopped on the bed and opened up his phone.

Almost immediately, he received a text message from an unknown number.

“Mason, I assume this is your current number, 202-555-0189. Please, I need you to listen to me.”


Mason sent one back.


“Ugh, why? Is this one of those stupid pranks?”


Ignoring what he sent, the unknown person sent back a text.

“You need to stop being a whiny little brat to your parents and to your teachers. Bad things that you can’t even comprehend are going to happen.”


Mason thought for a second, then replied, “What? Why?”


The reply came back immediately.

“This phone has insufficient funds to send messages.”

Mason sent back, “Is this a prank?”

“This phone has insufficient funds to send messages.”


Realizing that this was an automatic message, Mason turned off his phone.


Thirty minutes passed.

His parents were not home yet.

One hour passed.

Not yet.

Two hours passed.

Nothing.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.

Mason opened the door, and a policeman stood there.

“Son, your parents died in a car crash. We are on the phone with Child Services right now.”


Mason was sent to an orphanage. In the years that passed, the fights continued at school.

When he was 18, Mason was convicted of assault and murder, and he was sent to prison for 20 years.

When he got out of prison, he was homeless and living on the streets with nothing but the clothes on his back.
One day, a man in all-black attire came up to him.

“Hey, do you want my phone? It only has a couple of minutes left, but you look like you need it more than I do.”
Mason replied, “Yes sir! Thank you so much!”


The man gave a curt nod and walked off.

Mason opened up messages, punched in the number on the keypad, and typed in a message.

“Mason, I assume this is your current number, 202-555-0189. Please, I need you to listen to me.”

 

Talent Show Drama

“Okay, I’m ready if you guys are,” I said, handing the girl holding a flute my talent show sign-up sheet. “Here. Pass it on when you’re done.”

The girl pushed her hair behind her ear and smiled.

“Hey, are you practicing, too?” she asked. “Well, as soon as a few more band members come, we’re good. Sorry to bother you.”

“Bother?” I repeated. “Excuse me, aren’t you participating in the talent show?”

“Yes. Why? Are you not?” she asked.

“No. I mean, I am in the talent show. Are you playing the flute? My band will rock with a lovely, soft blow.”

“Your band?” She cocked her head to the side. “You’re joining? What’s your name?”

“Mary.”

“Strange. Are you new? I didn’t see your name on my sign-up sheet. Oh, wait, I didn’t give it to you yet!” She handed me her sign-up sheet.

“Aren’t you joining my band?” I asked.

She laughed.

“No,” she replied. “I’m part of Splashing Tale Wonders, not your band. What’s your band name?”

“I haven’t chosen one yet . . .”

Soon, three band players rushed in, and everyone filed out of the room. I glanced at the clock. 4:08. 4:13. 4:15. I pulled out my phone as it chimed.

 

Sasha: Mary, are you putting a band together for the talent show?

Mary: Yes. Why?

Sasha: I really want that free scholarship prize. If I’m in your band, will you help me get it?

 

My heart sank. She only wanted to come into my dorky band for a scholarship? So not happening.

 

Mary: I mean, no, I’m not. I changed my mind. I have too much schoolwork, homework, and work. Too many classes too.

Sasha: You’re the best dancer & singer in the school. It wouldn’t hurt to be in my band, then, right? Come on, aren’t you a true friend?

Mary: Sorry.

 

When the school bell rang, I rushed outside, shouldering my backpack. Violet walked up to me.

“Mary, are you still entering the talent show?” she asked. “You’re so talented, and I really want to be in the talent show with you. Please? I bet John would be in it too.”

“You want to be in my band?” I asked, my eyes growing wide. “No way! Really? You’re going to ask John? Isn’t he the most talented drum player in the school? No way he’d want to hang out dorkily with me!”

Violet shrugged.

“He said he’s dying to rock in any band that’s entering the talent show!” she exclaimed, giving me jazz hands.

“Sure, I’ll come back in,” I agreed. “What should we call ourselves? Oh, I’ve got one! Break-Dancing Bookworms! It sounds so cute, right?”

“I love it!” Violet yelled, giving me a high five. “I bet I could get a few other friends to join, if it’s okay with you.”

“Sure, we can practice in the band room tomorrow during all lunch recesses for two weeks!”

 

***

My mom, when I got home, said, “Mary, darling, your aunt, Sienna, is getting married in a week! Maybe you could skip lunch on Thursday, next week, to come? Your lunch is three hours, anyways, and the wedding will only take two.”

“Thursday?” I asked. “Like, during next week? One week before the talent show?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Well, Violet and John and I and some other friends are starting a band for the talent show,” I explained. “We’re practicing every day from tomorrow, including Thursday, during lunch recess.”
“You have to go, even if you lead the band.”

The next day, Violet got Chloe and Zoey, her best friends, to join. John got Jessica, a girl crushing on him, to join.

“Violet, me, Chloe, Zoey, John, and Jessica!” I cheered. “Wait, we need at least two more boys!”

“Well, I know someone who’s an excellent bass guitar player and a good violin player. Can they join? Of course they’re boys,” John said.

“Sure,” I responded. “Can you ask them to come to our band practice today? Tell them we’re Break-Dancing Bookworms.”

During lunch, Sasha marched over to my lunch table angrily.

“I thought you weren’t putting together a band,” she said. “Mia, one of my friends who’s just joining your band, told me that Violet, Marcus, Tim, and Sam are just joining your band, too. Why did you lie?”

“W-w-well, Sasha, I thought about it at the last minute,” I stammered. “I mean, Violet asked me if I was still putting together a band because she wanted to hang out with me. I have a really cute idea for Break-Dancing Bookworms! We’re going to write a song about books and libraries! We’re going to wear fuzzy, purple outfits and carry books! I think Mia and Sam could be in my band.”
“I already talked them out of your band,” she snapped. “Good luck. I’m putting together a dance group. We’re dancing to “It Ain’t Me.” Hmm . . . my group is going to be called . . . Dance Of The Death.”

I scrunched up my nose. “You mean, dances that dead people do?” I asked. “No one would ever join.”

“Fine. Sashie’s Dancies!” Sasha replied. “It rhymes.”

I told my band about the wedding, and they understood.

Finally, two weeks later, the day of the talent show on Saturday came. I was a nervous wreck, and my friends and I were sweating bullets. We reviewed our song during the talent show warm-ups.

 

Library is a wonderful thing,

l-l-l-library, l-l-l-library.

Books ’n’ , books ’n’, books ’n’ library.

Reading helps your brain

understand more things.

It comes all to reading, all to reading, reading is the free-time fill-up.

Get funny books, read all day

Nothing, not even games can get in the way

of books.

Books, books, books ’n’ books.

Wonderful reading, never regret

reading all day, morning to night.

It’s fun, get learning, never ever think you’re wrong.

Books, books, books ’n’ books.

Out of the world, yeah, out of the world, yeah

we could read forever, yeah.

Why regret reading, why regret reading, that’s the reason

you’re smart.

Why are you you, yeah, why are you you, yeah

maybe soon you’ll be in a book.

Get famous, happy, all comes to why your brains work

and reading just did all the work . . . ’cause of books.

Books are such a wonderful thing.

 

I smiled. “Perfect! What do you guys think?”

“Awesome!” Tim said happily, strumming his bass guitar. “You know what? I think we do stand a chance to win.”

“Sashie’s Dancies are so lame!” Frank, Sam’s replacement, added. He was playing the regular guitar.

Chloe and Zoey were dancers and singers, and Violet was on the keyboard. I was a dancer and singer, too.

We were first up.

“Now, a band made up of Chloe, Zoey, Mary, Violet, John, Frank, Tim, and Jessica . . .  BREAK-DANCING BOOKWORMS!!!”

My band and I took our places and sang the song again.

 

Library is a wonderful thing,

l-l-l-library, l-l-l-library.

Books ’n’ , books ’n’, books ’n’ library.

Reading helps your brain

understand more things…

 

“That was awesome, guys! Please, step off the stage, and Sashie’s Dances are next. Over.”

Finally, it was over.

“Do you guys think we won?” I asked. “Sasha’s group was super good.”

“And the winner is . . . Sashie’s Dancies! Losers, report to the gym.”

“I knew it!” I said sadly. “We were going to lose.”

Not so quick! My group got second place, and our very own TV channel! Sasha’s group only got a TV news section, but I got that too.

 

The Final Battle

It’s a dark night tonight, but the sky is clear, and for the first time in a long time, I can see the stars. I duck out of my tent into camp and view it for the last time. The place I’ve lived for the last three months. Miles and miles of deerskin tents, with posts bearing torches glowing golden bright. The rain is moving at a fast pace now. How strange that the sky is clear, yet rain falls from it. I step forward and mud squishes beneath my bare feet. I should be in my tent, where it’s safe, but I have a message for The Great One that must get to him before morning. I pass the horses, all tied to their posts, and they neigh for oats. I can’t stop now, though.

As I walk through the darkness, I see sparks flying, and I smell the rotting of meat. I look up again at the sky and see small specks of red flying through the air. It’s normal, but I can’t help but cringe as they hit the east side of camp, and it bursts into flame. I hear the shouts of men as they frantically pass water- filled wooden buckets in a line and try to save their few belongings.

Finally, when my legs are ready to collapse from exhaustion, I reach his tent. It’s beautiful. Made of white elk pelt and at least nine feet tall. He ducks out of his tent. I can’t help staring at him for a moment. He has long, silver- white hair to his waist and a beard nearly as long. He is dressed very simply, in a long, dark blue robe sprinkled with golden moons. He smiles when he sees me, and it brings me a feeling of complete joy. But then I remember what I’m here for and the joy leaves me.

“Why are you here, child?,” he asks me in a voice as soothing as star dust.

I straighten.

“I have a message for you.”

“Excellent. Whisper it into my ear.” He leans down, and I whisper my message to him. He nods and straightens.

“Thank you, child. This information is crucial to winning the war. Come in, come in. The least I could do is pay you for your services.” He lifts the flap of his tent and beckons me to come in. I follow and am immediately greeted with the smell of incense and the familiar flickering of candles. The Great One goes to the back of his tent and returns holding a small knapsack.

“There’s food in there,” he says, nodding to it. “And some other things you may need. Best eat up while you can though, you may not get another chance after tonight.” He gives a hollow laugh and places his hand on my head. His other hand slips a coin into mine. He sighs.

“You’d best be going now, before the bombing starts.”

I nod, and he bids me a last farewell. I slip into the night, but I can’t go back to my tent now. I keep finding myself making detours. This is the first place I’ve actually had a purpose. It’s the first place I’ve actually felt important. When this war ends, I’ll have to go back to the streets. The streets full of sewage and carcasses of dead animals. The streets where rat and caterpillar stew is common and where you must not own anything except the clothes on your back, or it will mysteriously disappear. I can’t go back there. Now that I’ve seen the world… and now I’m crying. Crying so hard my whole body shakes. I sink down into the mud and bring my knees to my chin and sob. I feel two arms around me, lifting me up.

“Sshh,” The Great One whispers. “Everything will be okay.” He carries me back to his tent and sits me in a chair woven from Goosespur weed. I sit there for a long time until my sobbing subsides. The Great One kneels beside me.

 

Sherman

Sherman walked the streets alone, like he always did. He wondered what time of day it was, but he didn’t even know. The sun never came up anymore, the stars never came out. It was as if they had died long, long ago. This was normal for Sherman though.                   

For as long as he could remember, Sherman had been walking the streets, sleeping in caves (if they weren’t reduced to rubble), eating from the resource dump (surprisingly, the food was better than the food that people with actual homes ate), and evading the resource collectors.

The resource collectors were sent out to displace people so the government could use their house resources. Since 2246, over 100,000,000 people were displaced (or, at least, that’s what he heard from others.)

Sherman had tried to search for water to fill up his canteen that was mostly just rust. But there had been no rainfall for a decade. Most of the streams had dried up, and people could barely sustain themselves.

The entire world seemed to be broken. Fires raged across the crumbled cities. People disappeared and reappeared in the shadows, judging how well their victims would taste.

Sherman didn’t even want to eat people, but sometimes… he just didn’t have enough food.

There was still worse though.

The sun’s deadly rays had become more intense than they had been in over 200 years. And the sun put out more solar flares than usual.

Walking around the roads (mostly reduced to rubble), Sherman found two, tall figures standing near one of the only alleyways that hadn’t been blocked by decaying buildings.

The men started to move towards Sherman, and Sherman knew it was either the resource collectors or two people who were displaced. No matter who they were, they were equally as dangerous. Sherman had to run.

Stumbling over the mountains of rubble, Sherman didn’t know how he would get away. It was easy if they were far away and didn’t notice him until after a while, but these two were, at most, five yards away. He wouldn’t be able to outrun them.

But he knew that he had to outrun them, or they would strip him of his resources.

The resource collectors didn’t just collect resources from streams and buildings, they also took people who were on the run and would drain them of their natural resources. Which was why Sherman needed to leave quickly.

Grabbing onto a pole, from a crumbling casino building, Sherman hoisted himself up onto the roof. Standing, he watched the men slowly inch closer. Their movements didn’t seem erratic, but Sherman could tell that they were distressed about something.

It could have possibly been the small fissure that had just opened up between them but, in a world like this one, that was normal. Fissures (larger than the one that had just opened) were scattered around the entire area. But this one seemed to give off some sort of red glow. Sherman did not have any time to think about that though.

Running across the roof, Sherman jumped from the next roof to the next. The men ran below Sherman, continuously following him. Sherman realized that these people were probably scavengers, like him. Resource collectors wouldn’t waste this much time on him. Sherman realized he maybe had something that these people wanted.

But that wasn’t possible. Sherman didn’t really have much. A pack of burnt playing cards, a small whistle, a rusty canteen, and a golden locket that his mother had given him. He had attached it to his neck with a piece of string that he had found when scavenging the resource dump. It flowed in the wind behind him, almost making him seem fiercer than he really was.

As he went to jump, he slipped. Tripping off the side of the building, Sherman crashed into a small alleyway. Getting up, Sherman saw the two men advance towards him quicker now. He looked around for a hole to climb through, but he saw nothing.

As the men came towards Sherman, the air seemed to chill (which was strange considering that it was always above 104°F.)

One of the men took off his glove to reveal a crippled and scarred hand. The bruises looked like they had taken a long time to heal, and the scars seemed oddly fresh, as if he had just fought someone.

The man took his hand and started to reach for Sherman. Backing up, Sherman realized there was no way out. He would be captured and sent to a tube and drained of his organs and other resources, most likely so these two could go on living. He felt like he should just give up because what was the point of fighting for a lost cause?

Before Sherman realized that the chills were probably making him think this, the ground opened up at his feet.

The man who was about to touch Sherman stopped, and backed away. The two men ran away quickly and disappeared.

Sherman regained thoughts of his own when the air started to get warmer. He had barely managed two steps before he slipped, fell, and was swallowed by the red glow of the fissure.

***

Sherman didn’t even know if he was conscious during the fall. He had hit his head right after he had fallen into the fissure and, after that, he couldn’t move his body.

He vaguely remembered the wind in his ears, the feeling of gravity pulling him downwards, but that didn’t matter. His brain was still trying to process what had happened. Why did the two men leave when the hole opened? Did they see something else that Sherman didn’t see? Sherman didn’t know.

As soon as he hit the water, Sherman’s nerves kicked into full gear: he felt an unbearable pain in his chest, his brain banged against his skull, and he was almost certain his leg was broken.

He still managed to kick to the surface and barely made it to the shore. He looked down at his right leg and saw, to his horror, blood spread across his entire leg. Besides that, nothing else seemed to be severely damaged.

Though, that wasn’t the thing Sherman was most surprised about. One word kept coursing through his brain, removing any other pain he felt. Water, Sherman thought. How is that possible?

Sherman had never seen this much water in his entire life. Usually, he found tiny springs, or a trickle of what was left of a stream, and took it gratefully, but this seemed like too much.

There were at least five huge pools of water next to each other.

Sherman walked over to the pools of water and touched it. A cold feeling washed over Sherman. He bent down and started to drink from the pools.

The water felt so refreshing, trickling to the back of his mouth as he drank. It felt as if he was in the North Pole (if the North Pole hadn’t melted 100 years ago.)

Sherman filled up his canteen and dragged his leg with him into a dark cave that seemed to be staring him in the face.

Strangely, it reminded him of home. His house was mostly stone. But that didn’t matter to the government. They took it anyway.

He had been kicked out of his home as well as the other millions. The locket was the only thing he had left that reminded him of his family and of his sorrow.

He remembered his mom being dragged away by the resource collectors. He remembered her screams echoing in the cave that Sherman had hid in to evade the collectors. It took many days for Sherman to muster the courage to come out. And when he did, his mother was nowhere to be found.

Sherman instinctively touched the slash mark on his face, where the resource collectors had hit him when he tried to protect his mother.

His mother was probably dead, drained of her resources. But Sherman had always held on to a little hope. Hope that his mother was still alive.

Walking through the cave, Sherman looked around at the strange drawings on the walls, trying to make sense of them. The drawings didn’t make sense to Sherman. Some had very large marks on them, and others were very small. They just seemed to be regular sketch marks, but he gazed at every picture as if it would save his life someday.

Then, he found a collection that almost made his heart stop. It showed a boy and his mother being attacked by two people in cloaks and masks.The next one showed a boy hiding in a cave with marks on his head. After, it showed the boy walking through a broken city, grown up. And very faintly on the next wall, it showed a boy falling down into a chasm. This seemed to be the only drawing that was in color. The chasm was painted red. The next one confused Sherman. It was blurred, but he could make out two faces fighting side by side. But he knew one thing. None were his mother. Then, Sherman saw the last picture. A picture of (presumably) the same boy hugging the mother that was in the first picture, as a giant tower collapsed on the two.

Sherman backed away from the paintings. It couldn’t be possible.

The red chasm had happened, at most, an hour ago. No one could have drawn that, that quickly.

No one could have written Sherman’s entire life in advance. Then again, there shouldn’t have been water down here with the harsh climate looming above.

He stared at the last painting. Was it true that his mother was still alive? Had she really not been killed or drained?

He found it hard to believe his mother was still alive. But if everything up to this point had already happened, maybe he would see her again.

Then, he realized, this would mean they would die in the end. The building… no one could escape that, even if they were the fastest people alive.

Then Sherman realized there was no reason to dawdle on the fact that these paintings may or may not be true. What was more important was to find a way out of this cave.

Sherman looked around to find a way to escape. All of the tunnels seemed to be blocked off. And all that was in this room-like cave was water, string, sticks, rocks, flint… and the paintings. No food. The prospect of not having (at least) a morsel of food scared Sherman.

Sherman decided to make the best of it. He found some sticks and rested them on a rock. He took some flint out of the wall and nearly cut himself. But to stay warm, Sherman would take any risk. Funny, you wish you could be in a normal climate up above, but once it gets cold, all you want to do is seek warmth.

Sherman took the flint and tried to remember how to light a fire. He remembered hazily that he needed steel. But he didn’t have that down here. So, he decided to do the more tortuous method. Sherman grabbed two sticks and anxiously rubbed them together. One spark flew, then two. Suddenly, Sherman saw a tiny flame erupt from the two sticks. Shocked, Sherman almost dropped it. But he managed to keep the flames going on the sticks and not on his tattered shirt. He blew the flames to the larger pile of sticks, and immediately, a roar was heard.

Flames erupted, and for once, Sherman felt proud of himself. He remembered how to make a fire.

Sherman sat around the flames for a while, looking around to find any place that could serve as an exit.

He admired the embers giving off warmth and smoke. Smoke, Sherman thought. Where was the smoke going to go to? He looked around to find a place where the smoke left. Then, he saw it. A small cave, maybe six inches tall, leading into this one. And just maybe, it led back out into the world above. Though, Sherman had a problem. How could he get up there?

The cave seemed to be perched on a ledge, almost at the top of the cave.

Then he saw it.

Spider webs. They didn’t seem strong enough to hold a human for 24 hours, but they could hold him for maybe five minutes. Just enough time to grab a ledge closer to the bottom. And then start climbing up to the higher ledge.

Sherman decided to take his chances.

Not knowing when he would get another drink of water, Sherman used some sticks stuck together with spider webs, to make a makeshift canteen. He made three and filled all of them with cool, refreshing water. Sherman was surprised that the webs could hold all of the sticks and water. It was as if the spider that made them had some magical properties. After, Sherman decided to start making his journey upwards.

He ran over to where he found the spider web and jumped on. He felt the shake of the web and the breaking of some strands, but he continued to climb.

Sherman found many small bugs and critters in the web on his way up. He had never been fond of these creatures. But he continued to climb.

Just before he could jump to the second to last ledge, the web gave way. Without a second thought, adrenaline now coursing through his veins, Sherman jumped and reached for the ledge.

He felt a stab of pain on his hand. He winced but managed to pull himself up.

Feeling a wash of relief, Sherman looked for the last ledge that housed the small cave that he had saw before. There, right on the ledge, was the cave.

Sherman had done too much to turn back now. The cave was only a few inches away.

If only he could reach the ledge and pull himself up…

He heard a growl. Thinking it was his stomach, Sherman continued to try and reach for the ledge. Then, he heard another growl. Followed by a stomp. Followed by one more growl.

Sherman turned around. Just in time.

He hit the spider with his fist. Sending it flying backwards. It hit the ground with a satisfying thud. It shuddered for a bit, then got back up.

Usually, Sherman would just squash a normal spider out of disgust. But this wasn’t an ordinary spider.

It was 10 times its size. 10 inches. Bigger than Sherman. Its eyes were green. It didn’t look as lifeless as the other spiders Sherman had seen. It was as if it had been awakened. With the intent to kill.

Sherman backed away from the giant creature. Smaller spiders started to crawl down from the walls of the cavern. But they weren’t small enough to easily get rid of. Sherman tried to run in the other direction of the spiders but stopped when he realized he was behind a ledge. He was cornered.

The spiders drew closer to Sherman, their mouths foaming with the poison in their bite. Poison, Sherman thought. And just as fast as the spiders had leaped at him, he came up with a plan.

Sherman kicked one of the smaller spiders jumping at him. Sherman stomped on the spider, turning it into a gooey mess. Quickly, Sherman reached into the spider and pulled out one of its teeth.

With a weapon in his hand, Sherman ran towards the spiders. A small spider lunged at him, its jaw open. Sherman looked for a weak point. Then he saw it. A small, dark bruise in the spider’s chest. It was as if the spider had been hit there before.

Sherman took the deceased spider’s venomous tooth and jabbed it at the bruise of the spider.

The tooth collided with the bruise, and the spider screeched, shuddered, then collapsed. The venom had destroyed the target in a matter of seconds.

Sherman looked down at his hand. It was oozing blood. But the blood wasn’t red. It was purple. The venom had entered his bloodstream. Sherman’s eyes blurred. He could barely make out the large, fuzzy shape in front of him. Sherman knew he had to do something. If this spider ever got out, the world could be in serious danger. He took the spider fang and lunged towards the spider. He heard a screech right before he collapsed. His vision swam. He saw the spider collapse as well. He had done it. He had killed the spider. While not his goal in the beginning, he had saved at least one life. He closed his eyes and drifted off into unconsciousness.

 

 

Life

 

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there are footprints on the moon.” – Paul Brandt

 

Prologue

My mom and I were making chocolate pudding as the sunlight streamed through the window. Dad had already gone to work. He was proud to have a job in the World Trade Center, NYC. Who knew that early Tuesday morning would hold a lot of surprises?

***

At around nine, we got a call from my brother, Austin, in college.

“Mom,” he said, his voice all shaky, “Something bad has happened.”

I wish, now, that I didn’t hear those words. It was all wrong. I was so scared. He continued talking.

“Guys, I’m coming back home.”

I glanced out the window. It started drizzling. Split. Splat. Drip. Drop. Mom dropped the phone. She leaned against the mahogany table and knocked over the bowl of pudding. It spilled all over the shiny, white floor. Mom didn’t clean it up, but her eyes got all misty and the coat of fresh mascara dripped down her face.

 

9/9 Sunday

“Where are we going?” I asked aloud.

“Somewhere.” Dad grinned.

When we finally arrived at our destination, I still didn’t get it until we reached the ticket booth.

“Wicked!”

We bought some bright candies and went into the theatre.

The lights flashed and people chattered.

GROARRR! The dragon’s roar had the “quiet-down-now-I’m-starting” effect like Mrs. Tackus, the school principal. As the volume of the theater went down, the stage curtains went up.

A group of munchkins burst into song while Glinda came down in a bubble.

“And Goodness knows

The Wicked’s lives are lonely

Goodness knows

The Wicked die alone

It just shows when you’re Wicked

You’re left only

On your own”

 

9/10 Monday

“See you later, just going to pick your grandpops.”

“Kay, see you.”

I stared at the white cadillac until it rounded the corner and went off to JFK. Or, as my arch nemesis, Bridget, would say, #THEAIRPORTOFTHENYC. I hated any type of hashtags and puns. Not the “popular girl”, if you know what I mean. I went into my room and took out my diary.

 

9/10

Someday, I hope the world will be easier to understand. Anyway, today I have sooo much homework! Mrs. Robinson had us read two chapters of Esperanza Rising, a math worksheet, vocab words of the week, spelling words of the week, studying for the science test, a social studies worksheet and… well I have to stop now, partly because there is no other homework assignments.

 

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

 

9/11 Tuesday

I was working on a math worksheet when I heard Mrs. Robinson’s phone ringing. It seemed as if no time had passed, but when I looked back, I saw her phone on the ground. A look of confusement, surprise, and fear passed across her face, and it seemed long before that first tear fell off her face.

She asked for all the people that had a parent working in the World Trade Center to raise their hands. She then told those people(including me) to go out into the hallway with her.

“My husband works in the World Trade Center,” she started, “and… sniffle… the um… sorry, some terrorists… “

With that, everyone was looking at everybody else. To me, the word, terrorists, was a bright, green, neon sign.

I looked outside the window.

A tower.

I looked back into the classroom and saw Bobby doodling in his notebook.

A bomb.

I heard someone screaming in the distance. This isn’t your life, Brooklyn. It’s okay, it has to be a mistake.

But I realized that it wasn’t mistaken. It was all real.

My limp body dropped to the ground, and I screamed even louder.

 

9/12 Wednesday

“I don’t want to go to school today.” I looked up from my cereal expectantly, waiting for an answer.

“Well, Mrs. Brooks just texted me.” I peered across the table and read:

Caroline, I hope that Brooklyn can make it to school today. Just having someone that understands will help me, and her too.

I decided then that I would go.

***

In school, Mrs. Brooks went easy on all of us. She asked us to write a poem.

 

Colors swirl through the universe bringing hope to all people

Wind swirls through the world bringing dreams that will flower

Smoke swirls out of the brick chimney and out beyond

Sneakers screech and slide across the floors of the gym

Flowers open and bloom across a bright and sunny field

Summer brings freedom and sunshine where it’s needed the most

Snow makes the bitter cold fall upon those not lucky

There is no light or warmth here; it’s pitch Black

Queen sits proudly on her never-melting throne of ice

Tower

 

I stopped abruptly, tears streaming down my face again. I turned on my heel and ran to the bathroom, ignoring everyone’s stares and Mrs. Robinson’s exclamation.

Why did I write TOWER on my poem? Why? Why? Why?

***

Three years later…

I wake up with gum stuck in my hair and moan. Today isn’t going to be that bad, I think, trying to trick myself. Today is the day we call, “Mourning.” It is either the beginning or the end. It doesn’t matter though, it’s a sad, personal holiday.

I slip out of bed and did what I never do: I made my bed. Dad deserves that, I think. The last time I saw him…  

Mom is in the kitchen cooking something when I come down. She gives me a weak smile, but I see the worry on her face. I need to be ready for what was coming next. For both of us.

My knees feel like cooked spaghetti.

Mom didn’t say anything, but I knew what she was thinking. I don’t think I was ready. “Wait…” I wanted to say, so I could run into my room and hide under the covers. It was too late.

I go upstairs and put my black dress on. As soon as I am downstairs, we drive off. It is snowing very hard. I feel the graveness settling over the church.  I see a bunch of old grannies crying into lace handkerchiefs. That’s what I saw, but other people had lost something more important in their lives. A part of their soul was taken away. Everyone in the room just lost something important in their lives.

My father.

I pause and look up at the congregation in the synagogue and see Mom dabbing her eyes. I realize that she is now a widow. I smile weakly at her.

“It was special, the relationship I had with my dad, but I was too full of teenage angst to see it. But I think he knows how much we all loved him. He is still going to be with me every time I play poker or bingo, or watch the movies that he loved, and all of the movies I loved. He’ll be with me whenever I eat popcorn or have a starburst.”

I look my mom right in the eye.

“He’ll be with all of you too, in all of your favorite activities. Nobody can take away our memories of him. Nobody can, unless you let them. Things happen, and we just have to move on.”

And then there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Dad will be with us all, forever, until the end of time.

***

 

12/11

Someday, I hope the world will be easier to understand.

“When it’s raining, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.”

 

Jeff and Timmy Save the World

The glass shattered. The clock stopped. It felt like the whole world stopped. It was the end — game over. First, the lights went out, and then, the cars stopped. Next, the weapons broke in half and, as the disease spread, the virus hit the people nearest to it first — spreading forward, backward, and all over.

People started to run like the wind, and they didn’t stop until they got to where they were safe.

* * *

It was the smell that woke Jeff up every morning. He wished that he didn’t have to wake up, that he could keep on dreaming. He wanted to keep on dreaming about the way life used to be, instead of laying on the floor of his school gym with at least a hundred other people who hadn’t taken a shower since they had locked themselves away in the school.

He didn’t understand how his parents and the other grown ups could tell who had been infected with the Merde Disease or not – for all he knew, the person next to him could be infected, or HE could be himself. He also didn’t understand why they all had to lock themselves in the gym and huddle together at nighttime when, during the day, they could roam the school. He DID know that some of the grown ups were arguing that they needed to go out and scavenge for food and another water source – Jeff couldn’t argue with that. All they had been eating were the very moldy and old, canned dog food and beans, and they were drinking the salted and rusted sink water.

So, of course he wanted to go with whoever volunteered.

Who happened to be his own mother.

When the virus from the Merde Disease infects a body, it looks as if leeches are covering its face, arms, and torso – and each of the leeches have two brains. It’s a fact – so that’s double, evil brains. I know, it’s horrible, and I wrote this for you future guys.  And you’re lucky you have fresh water and a real bathroom, and I bet the 21-year-old Maserati Project is done.  

Anyway, back to the story of Jeff, who also happens to be me if you haven’t figured that out by now.

My mother wasn’t too keen on letting me come along. After all, I was only eleven.

“But mom – I’m dying in here! And I can help – you know I can.” And nobody else had volunteered.

“Oh, let him go Giselle,” my dad said. “We’ve got a 50/50 chance wherever we are.”

My dad walked us down to the front doors and unbolted them. We stepped outside and breathed in the delicious fresh air — the world hadn’t quite ended, just as I’d suspected. Still, my heart gave a little jump when I heard the door lock behind me.

“Ready, Jeff?” Mom said.

“Ready,” I said firmly.

“There’s the car,” Giselle said.

“Yup,” I said. “That’s the car.”

“Yep.”

“Oh.” There really wasn’t much to say.

So, we drove around, hoping to find some water and food. We had already scavenged our town, so we had to head over to the next one. After driving for a long time, we saw a broken deli with the roof blown off and the windows cracked and shattered. We got out of the car and started walking towards the store. I looked at the windows, and I saw my reflection – my orange flat hair and my freckles looked darker than ever, and my skin was so pale because I was too nervous to be hopeful. We peeked into the store, and I fell to my knees with joy because I saw candy and milk, and no zombies. I dared to hope that there were other supplies as well. The refrigerators were broken, so we didn’t want the milk, but there were plenty of bottles of water. Looking around some more, we found a few bags of chips and several cans of tuna, along with the water and candy. We went back and forth a bunch of times to the car to get as much as we could. On my last look around, I heard a sound and went in the back of the store. There was a scrawny, black alley cat meowing. I picked him up, and he had a collar on. TIMMY, it read.

“Hey, Timmy,” I said, and he purred.

My mom was taking money out of the cash register. There was only about $50.

“Yeah, we don’t use cash anymore, but you never know.”

Then, she saw Timmy in my arms and raised her eyebrows at me.

“We’re keeping him.” She just nodded. We got back into the car, and Mom started driving.

Soon, the car sputtered.

“Oh darn. We must need gas or something.” The odometer had been broken, so we never knew how much gas was in the car. It came to a complete stop.

“We saw a gas station nearby, didn’t we?” I asked Mom.

“Let’s go.”

We got out of the car, and as I closed the door, I saw Timmy’s pouty face and big cat eyes. I couldn’t leave him behind – what if something happened to him? So I picked him up, settled him in my arms, and we started walking, hoping to find a gas station. Fortunately, it wasn’t far, and it looked like someone was there.

But as we got closer, we realized he looked dead – but he was alive. His body made spastic movements, going crazy for sure. So we grabbed a bottle of gas and began walking back to the car. But when we looked behind us, he was slowly following us. But then he started running, so we ran as fast as we could back to the car. He was running fast for an infected person. I was terrified, and Timmy was shrieking, but then he fell down and scraped up his face which slowed him down only a little.

In the meantime, my mom was able to quickly pour the gas in the hole of the car. We were able to get away and drive off.

By the time we got home, everyone was so happy to see us and the food. However, a few members of our community had passed. I started looking at everyone closely for signs of infection.

But we still needed to celebrate, so we had a big feast.

But before we went to bed, Timmy and I had an idea to go out alone and try to find a cure for this sickness before everyone got even more infected.

So when we went out in the morning, Timmy started sniffing the air right away, and then, he started to lick me! I knelt down to pet him, and he licked my arms and hands. I started to walk out, but Timmy wouldn’t budge, so I decided to stay back yet another day.

People were really starting to get sick and I didn’t know how long we were going to last. Timmy licked my mom, but he wouldn’t lick anybody else. (Well, he tried to lick my dad, but my dad pushed him away saying, “I don’t want to be licked by a stray cat!”)

The next morning I woke up and started to wake everyone else up. After that, I asked my mom if we could go out and take a walk to just get to know everything.

“Yes honey, just stay close.” So, we walked out with Timmy following us and met a man. Although he looked okay, I stayed away.  Then, I recognized him — it was the crazy guy!

“Mom! It’s the guy! Let’s go!”  

We started running, but he was prepared this time. He had a knife and started slashing at us. He missed and then threw it at Timmy! Right in the heart!

We picked Timmy up and ran back inside.

“Timmy! I’m sorry are you okay?” I said, holding him in my arms. When I looked at Timmy, his eyes were still open and his heart was pumping, but he had metal sticking out of him.

“Is that the knife?” My mom asked.

“I don’t think… Wow!” I took out the piece of metal and realized that Timmy was a robot. Timmy was made of metal and covered in fur. But he was holding some kind of blue poison or liquid which was leaking, so I opened it more (it was strange to think I was opening Timmy!). I saw that he was kind of like a case protecting the liquid, so I thought that maybe the liquid was very important. On the case was a label that said: ANTIDOTE FOR THE MERDE DISEASE!!!

My mom was so surprised that she started jumping and yelling. “Everyone! Jeff found a cure! Jeff found a cure!”  

“I think the way to be cured is through Timmy’s saliva. So, we should put the antidote back in him and let him lick everyone.”

My mom responded by giving me a big hug.

It was a good thing I did, too, because Timmy had been frozen when I took out the case. When I put it back in him, he was back to his old self. “Ready to save the world Timmy?”

Everyone gathered around, and Timmy started licking them. But I wondered where dad was, and we looked everywhere, but we couldn’t find him. In the last place we looked, we found him he was in the bathroom, dead. He was 100% D-E-A-D.

At least, I had my mom and a billion dollars for finding and duplicating the cure for the world. I lived the rest of my life knowing that I saved the world.

 

I Know the World

             

 I know how wind whistles,

                               I know how leaves speak,

    I know how snow dances down

                                from the highest peak,

I know how trees cry,

 I know how rain sings,

    I know a lot,

    I know everything

 

Karen’s Diary

Saturday, May 1

O-M-G! The craziest thing in the world happened last night! Sandra had made me lose my boyfriend, and I wanted to seek revenge. So, I planned to throw her dolls in the attic while she was doing her homework.

I went to the playroom to grab her dolls when I forgot that all of her favorites, including Elsie number two, were in her room, and that was where she was doing her homework! I realized I could trick her into leaving the room long enough to grab all of those dolls and throw them through the attic door.

I got a great idea to tell her that Mom wanted her to help wash the dishes. Sandra always listened to Mom. Going down the stairs (Sandra was very slow when it involved stairs), and finding Mom (I don’t know where in the world she was.) gave me more than enough time to do my plan.

The crazy part started here: after I tricked her, she was slowly dragging her feet down the stairs. So I grabbed the dolls and climbed the ladder to the attic. When I got there, I couldn’t believe who I saw: Mom!

She was suspicious, so I stammered that Sandra wanted me to throw the dolls into the attic for her. My mom reluctantly believed me. I dumped the dolls onto the attic floor, scrambled down the ladder, and jumped to my desk, pretending to read, just in time to hear my sister come up the stairs and scream, “Where are my dolls?!”

I know my mom will know I was lying to her, eventually, but who cares? Even if I get into trouble, all Sandra’s favorite dolls are covered in attic dust, so we are basically even!

 

Monday, May 3

I am freaking out right now. Last night I had a nightmare involving Elsie (the original one). In my dream, I was in the attic for some reason, where all the dolls were.

Sandra screaming, “Where are my dolls?!” was echoing all around me, and I kept hearing thump thump thump, as if somebody was walking towards me. I wanted to get out of the attic, but suddenly, everything grew silent, and I could make out the shape of a doll.

Elsie. Sandra’s favorite doll. She was walking by herself. There was no hair on her head. I don’t know why I dreamed of that, because even though I gave her a “haircut” before, it wasn’t a bald one.

“Ah, it’s you again, Karen Maxwell. I have come for revenge,” Elsie said.

Her voice was eerie, echoing, yet calm.

All of a sudden, every single doll in the attic stood up. Their eyes were glowing red. They were all chanting in Elsie’s calm but eerie voice, “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!”

Their echo was peculiar. Sandra’s voice screaming, “Where are my dolls?!” started again. It was all a mess of random voices echoing everywhere. I couldn’t bear it.

“AUGH!!!” I screamed in my nightmare. “I can’t take it anymore!”

Then, I woke up.

I am having an absolute breakdown right now. I am in my bed shaking and writing in my diary. Now, I suddenly have the urge to check the dolls in the attic. Goodbye for now. (And wish me luck.)

* * *

There were no dolls in the attic. I suddenly got a scary feeling that the dolls got up and left, but I came to my senses and told myself that was ridiculous. I guess Mom figured it out and put the dolls back in Sandra’s room.

I started worrying about what my mom would say when I went downstairs. Mom was crazy about us lying to her. Once, Sandra lied to her saying that she wanted to do some chores outside but ended up going to her friend’s house. Mom was so mad that she grounded Sandra in her room for a month!

I went downstairs, and Mom was glaring at me as I expected her to be.

“Karen Jane Maxwell! I think you lied to me last night! You are to apologize to Sandra and to me. And you are grounded in your room for a month. Do you understand me, young lady?”

“Yeah,” I muttered.

I hate it when my mom talks to me like a little girl (even though I might still be a little immature. Just a little.) Later.

 

Wednesday, May 5

Getting grounded was never a big deal for me, until I suddenly remembered that the middle school dance was the day after tomorrow and I couldn’t go! This also reminded me of the boyfriend problem! This was a big deal, and my friends would definitely think I was a pathetic idiot.

Sandra told me that she had a five-hour science class on Friday, Mom was out, and as always, Dad was still on his work trip. I was going to be home alone, and the sudden thought of being alone with those crazy dolls struck me. For a second, I seemed to be in the attic again.

I shook myself out of it. It was ridiculous! What was it with me being afraid of those crazy dolls?

I realized that because everybody was going to be out, I could possibly, secretly sneak out of the house to go the party. I liked that idea. I then reminded myself that I couldn’t go to the dance without a boyfriend.

I seriously needed to find a new boyfriend by text, email, phone, anything! I was desperate. I reached out for my cell phone and dialed 348-493… the number of a boy in my class named Austin, who was pretty cute.

“Hello?”

It was a gruff voice, not like Austin’s voice. Maybe it’s his dad, I thought to myself.

“Um, th-this is Karen Maxwell. B-by any chance, are you Austin Grewal’s father?”

“I don’t know who the hell Austin Grewal is, and I shall never care.”

I heard the phone hang up. Did I dial the wrong number? Maybe it was 348-493….

I decided to try again with 348-493… I bit my lip and pressed each number so slowly and carefully that I was pretty sure my phone would explode from impatience.

Beep. Beep. Hi. Leave a message if you must but I, Austin, ain’t have no time to check it. Now bye. Beeep.

I sighed. Austin was off my list for now. I thought about Christopher, my old boyfriend who broke up with me (because of Sandra). The truth was, I still liked him, so I decided to call him. Maybe we could get along again.

Oops, Mom is calling me. I’ll call him tomorrow!

 

Thursday, May 6

AUGH!!! The reason why I’m screaming is because of Chris and Sandra. I hate them! I called Chris today. My fingers were shaking when I reached for my phone, but somehow I managed to dial his number. He picked up on the first ring.

“Hello?”

“Um, hi. I-I w-was wondering i-if you w-would be interested in going to the dance with me. S-sorry about the, you know…” I stopped myself.

I had forgotten to introduce myself. AUGH! I felt like crying because I messed up. But before I could say my name…

“Who is this?”

“Uh, this is like, uhm Karen, y-you know. Uh, yeah, so…”

Stop being nervous! I told myself.

“Oh, right. Karen. I’m kind of busy. Could you make this quick?”

“Uh, yeah, sure! So, uhm, are you available f-for the dance on Friday, so, like, we can go, like, together and stuff?”

“Sorry. I’m going with someone else.”

I was filled with grief.

“Oh, okay.”

Suddenly I got hyper.

“Who you goin’ with?” I demanded.

I heard muffled voices. Then. . .

“Yeah, Sandra. Your sister’s on the phone.”

“Wait, what?”

Was he talking to Sandra? But how?

“Sorry, your sister was just telling me how excited she was for the dance. Who’s your date? That gross kid Mark?”

“No, of course not! Wait, is Sandra–” I stopped myself again.

I understood. Sandra was at Chris’s house. They were going to the dance together. Hold on! What about that five-hour science class that Sandra was supposed to go to when the dance took place? Sandra loved science, so she couldn’t possibly miss science to go to a dance! Did she make Chris break up with me just so she could go to the dance with him? Everything was mixed up, and I was so confused.

“At my house? Yeah. Duh! And yes, Sandra did lie about the class. She prefers me! Did you really think you could get me back that easily? I broke up with you because you were creepy. You’re just too paranoid, girl!”

“Uhm, okay. I need to go.”

“Bye, Carrot Maxwell.”

Beeep.

That was what happened. I don’t feel like writing right now. Bye.

 

Friday, May 7

I am so happy right now. I finally got a boyfriend! And, in case you are not paying attention to the date, today is the dance.

Okay, so this is what happened yesterday. After writing in my diary, I had a complete meltdown, and then I cursed Chris’s name and my sister’s for, like, three hours, which totally made me feel a whole lot better about the incident.

Then, I grabbed my phone and texted with my BFFs for, like, another three hours.

After that, it was two o’clock. My sister was at Chris’s house, and Mom left for work.

Then, I decided to do part three for my boyfriend thing. I knew this was already the day of the dance, so it was kinda late, but there were always a couple of other stragglers like me hanging around, trying to find a date. You never know!

Suddenly, before I could grab my phone from the charger (it was running low at 2%), it started ringing like crazy.

I hastily ran to the phone and answered on the second ring.

“Hello? Karen Maxwell speaking.”

“Uh, hi. I’m Alex Rieful, from, y’know, math class?”

I was excited! This was Sandra’s boss! I was sure that he was going to ask me to the dance. I crossed my fingers (and my toes for extra luck).

“Yeah, and…?”

I thought I might’ve made myself sound too demanding, but I just couldn’t help it!

“Well, I was wondering if y-you weren’t yet occupied for the dance, no?”

Yes! Finally! Yes! Yes! Yes!

“Well, I am actually also looking for a date, so yes!” I tried to hide my excitement, but I just couldn’t.

I then covered my phone with a tissue and ran to the other side of the room and screamed, “Yes! I Finally have a date! And a good one! Hula! Wooo!”

I was pretty sure Alex was doing the same thing because when I came back to my phone, he didn’t ask something like, “What was that about?”

“Okay, then, how about you come over for a while, and then we can carpool to the high school?”

There was excitement in his voice.

“Oh, yes! Of course!”

I was so glad that I finally found a boyfriend just in time! Hula!

I will have a lot of things to write about in my next entry, about the dance, etc. Well, no time to write. Gotta dress up!

 

The Crime

Breaking news… someone has stolen the precious Pink Panther diamond from the museum. According to the police chief, the video surveillance cameras do not show who stole the diamond, although they contain the entire video footage of the museum rooms, including the room where the famous Pink Panther diamond was. The police are surprised and aren’t sure whether there really is a thief or if this is the work of a magician!

The case is assigned to Police Detective Longbottom who, after careful review of the video surveillance cameras, comes up with the following suspects: Boris — the Russian cook, Jimmy — the security guard for the museum, Shanti — the museum janitor, Al Capone — the notorious thief, and Craig — the museum owner. Based on eyewitness accounts, Longbottom concludes that the robbery occurred on Sunday between the hours of 4:00-5:00 PM, just before the museum closing time at 5:00PM. The authorities are working on finding the criminal and are announcing a reward of $500,000 to whoever helps identify the thief or thieves.

Detective Longbottom has been solving robberies for 20+ years, and it is not lost on him that the robbery could be the work of more than one person, as it would take more than one pair of hands to steal, disable museum security systems, and tamper with the video surveillance. Indeed, the thief could have tampered with the video surveillance in a manner to assign the blame on somebody innocent. Longbottom starts investigating the suspect’s daily schedule, job profile, credit history, bank accounts, recent travel and whereabouts, and criminal history, and he prepares the following worksheet for his analysis:

After another week of investigation and analyzing the clues, Longbottom’s initial conclusions are:

  1. It’s unlikely for Al Capone to get involved in the robbery himself, especially when visiting with his family (he could have any of his underlings do this).
  2. Shanti appears apprehensive, but there are no definite clues. Moreover, she has been a janitor for 10+ years and never had an incident like this.
  3. Craig appears very helpful, and no clues point to him.
  4. Jimmy, the security guard, has been questioned repeatedly by the police, but no clues point to him. He was seen interviewing for higher paying jobs.
  5. Boris does not seem to have much motive but is a person of interest. He has been spending a lot of money since the robbery occurred. He needs to be tracked even more closely.

Longbottom obtains search warrants and starts visiting each of the suspect’s houses and interviewing the residents, including family members. He finds a bag of museum maps, wire cutters, electric wire, and tape in Boris’ car garage at home, which makes Boris a top suspect. However, Longbottom is not sure what Boris’ motive is, since he does not have prior history of theft. And how can he pull off a grand robbery without any prior experience in disabling security systems and tampering cameras? If Boris is involved, he must have gotten help — meaning there is another thief.

One day, Longbottom follows Jimmy’s car and sees him pull into a car wash, where he sits next to a person for one hour while his car is being washed. Longbottom cannot identify the person who appears to be in some form of disguise, but he’s careful to note this person’s license plate. The police department report indicates that the car belongs to Craig Edgar — the museum owner! Longbottom is surprised and thinks he should interview Craig more closely. Up to now, he thought Craig was the most unlikely suspect.

Craig sounds upset and irritated when Longbottom starts to interview him. He goes to the extent of asking Longbottom why he is not questioning Jimmy, the security guard. Craig tells Longbottom that he was not in the museum room for long and that the detective could check the video footage. This makes Longbottom wonder when and how did Craig manage to change the video tapes. He starts following Craig and learns that Craig’s girlfriend is a graphic designer. Longbottom decides to visit with Craig again.

“Have a seat. Please. Now, Craig — where were you the night the diamond disappeared?

“I was at home watching TV!”

“What program were you watching?”

“Freeform, where all the movies are!”

“Anyone with you when you were watching TV?”

“No!”

“Then we just have your word for it. How do I know you’re not lying? How do I know you weren’t out there stealing a diamond?”

“Check the camera footage!”

“I have. The camera near the gas station next to the museum captures you briefly in front of the gas station close to the time of the theft, mumbling to yourself. What do you have to say about that?”

What?! Jimmy probably came and changed it!

“Here. Take a look yourself.” Longbottom shows him the image. “Isn’t that you?”

“I just said Jimmy changed it!”

“But Jimmy works at your museum and not at the gas station next to the museum.”

“I do not know. I swear I was not there.”

“Do you happen to know a lovely housekeeper named Shanti?”

“Yes!”

“She said she saw you right at the museum when you said you were watching TV at home.”

“She is also a big, fat liar. Plus, nobody likes her!”

“I seem to like her. Everyone seems to like Shanti. But from what I can gather, very few people like you.”

“What, I thought nobody liked her in real life!”

“She’s everyone’s favorite housekeeper. But you, Craig, you have a very bad disposition, which makes you unpopular. Now, tell me about that girlfriend of yours, who you wanted to buy a diamond for but didn’t, because you decided to steal one instead!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“The police just took your girlfriend into custody, as they found video files of the museum theft in her apartment. She has confessed that she helped you and Boris steal it. The police are just picking up Boris!”

Craig is unable to speak.

Longbottom says, “Game over, Craig! By the way, that was a nice mask you gave Boris to steal the diamond.”

 

The Cloud Race

Coral’s wings beat hard as she dove towards a cloud and swooshed right through it. She executed perfect loops and dove through the sky. Coral swirled around a huge cloud and sped forward. Then, she smacked into a cloud and spun in midair.

She always messed up that part.

Coral sighed and slowly flew home with her dark hair swirling around her. If she was going to win the yearly Cloud Race, Coral would have to work harder. She did not notice the sky turning grey.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning ripped through the sky. Thunder crashed in her ears like the sound of waves. Frightened, Coral dodged another bolt and flew as fast as she could. Coral zipped through the storm towards a big cloud, and flew inside the cloud.

Coral then landed on the kitchen floor with a light thump. Her mother was at the stove.

“Hi, Mom,” she said.

Her mom turned around, “Oh, Coral, you got caught in the storm, didn’t you?”

Coral nodded.

“I made lentils and cookies. You can have two cookies after you eat dinner.”

Coral almost jumped for joy and almost yelled, “YES!”

But she didn’t. She sat down for dinner.

***

It was the day of the Cloud Race. Coral was nervously flying around the starting line. The fastest cloud racers in the whole sky were there. Coral identified Emaline Flisch, Sunna Kalibru, Sydney Jamonje, and several unfamiliar boys and girls.

Coral was determined to win the race.

The horn blew, and the racers began.

Coral had memorized the track.

She swished through a cloud. The unfamiliar racers all hit the cloud and didn’t get through.

Coral looped and dove through the sky, but Sunna got lost somewhere around the third big cloud.

Coral turned over around a cloud and lost Emaline.

Only Sidney was left. He gave her an aggravating grin and zoomed forward. Coral zoomed forward as well.

The last cloud was ahead. Coral swallowed, and suddenly swooped downward and dodged the cloud.

Sidney crashed into the cloud, and Coral passed the finish line!

She got the gold trophy for Racer of the Year!

The smile on Coral’s face was almost to her ears.

 

Fort Knox

Hunter swallowed the small packet of powder. He felt empty inside, quite literally.

The weight-destroying powder made him completely weightless, and therefore, immune to Fort Knox’s motion detectors. It also made him fly, as gravity would have no effect on him without weight. He sprayed himself once, twice, and then thrice. This made him immune to visible light cameras, infrared cameras, and heat cameras. He sprayed his bag as well. He sprayed himself and his bag one more time to be able to go through the wall. The spray would add extra stems to his brain, which allowed him to split his and his bag’s atoms at will.

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then floated through the wall. He had one hour before his extra brain stems would overload his body, and he would die. He had to make it back out with the gold to spray himself with the mixture that would safely destroy the brain stems, as well as remove all of his masking effects.

He would have to bring this gold to the UWDA (Underground World Domination Association,) which was going to take over the world. They had promised him a position in the new world.

A security guard stood at the entrance of Fort Knox. Hunter floated over the man, but his leg brushed against a wire in the air.

Immediately, the alarms sounded. Fifteen armed men entered the building, holding guns and firing everywhere. Hunter heard twenty helicopters emerging from the night patrol.

“Oh shoot,” he muttered very inaudibly.

But not inaudible enough. Fifteen lasers aimed directly at his head and fired. Hunter immediately ducked. The lasers burst through the wall where he just was. Hunter immediately pulled out a small unconsciousness grenade and tossed it below him. The men shouted something he couldn’t hear, but their voices were cut short as they fell unconscious. Hunter reminded himself of his second main priority: Do not kill anyone. The best thing he could do besides that is knock them out.

He slid through the next door, and checked his Series Two $1200 Hermes Apple Watch. 0:55. Only five minutes had passed. Suddenly, Hunter peered to the side to see a small cone-shaped detector with an antenna in it.

Oh shoot, again. It was a sound detector. Hunter hadn’t had the money to buy soundproof spray. The alarm went off. Lights blared everywhere, and Hunter heard a railgun shot.

Oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot! There was a boom as the room exploded in a flash of light. Hunter beamed himself through the wall just in time as the room burst into flames.

Cries were heard, along with fire truck sirens in the distance.

Just grab the gold and go, Hunter told himself.

He tried to go into the next room, but the fire was spreading, and it was spreading fast. Just grab the gold and go, just grab the gold and… suddenly, the invisible spray wore off. Hunter reached into his rucksack quickly and grabbed the spray, but fifteen light detectors were aiming lasers at his head. Thirty marines immediately arrived.

“Target visualized! Neutralize immediately!”

Hunter sprayed himself again, and he put his invisible spray back into the bag. The marines looked at each other.

“Where did he go?”

The light sensors turned off, and Hunter moved on, still flying.

Hunter burst into the room with the gold. Just take it and go. True to his word, Hunter broke into the metal safe holding the gold. Gold bars were inside. He grabbed as much as would fit into his rucksack, and he left the safe. He left the room, and smelled the rain that was starting to fall. Hunter took out his spray, and prepared to spray it on himself. He left the area and checked his watch. Thirteen minutes left.

He sprayed himself, and he fell to the ground. Ow. He brushed himself off.

“That’s what you should be doing.”
A marine was standing behind him, aiming a gun straight at Hunter. The marine grabbed a small towel from his pocket and threw it at him. Hunter caught it with one hand.

“Wipe yourself off, man,” he said, “You’re dead.”

The man fired. Hunter caught the bullet in his hand. He grabbed the towel in his hand and wiped the bullet clean.

“Not today!” he said.

He threw one of his grenades at the marine and heard him crumple to the ground.

Then, Hunter remembered. That was an infinite coma grenade.

Oh shoot.

Hunter pressed his finger against the small sensor. The marshy ground in front of him opened up, revealing a small marble staircase. He walked down heavily, holding his bag of gold on his back. The ground above him closed up, and he walked into a small living room.

A tall, muscular man with chocolate brown skin stood there. He stared at the wall, not even looking to the side.

“Operation Flying Fortress. Status?”

Hunter replied calmly, without shuddering at the man’s sonorous voice, “Success.”

The man turned to the side, revealing the scars on his face. His face eased.

“Good. Now prepare to attack the White House. Spend the funds at will.”

Hunter walked out of the room, hearing the man say one last thing, “It’s time to take over the world.”

 

Bakery

        

The kids are lining up by the bakery
With orders for donuts, and muffins,
Or cakes of delight,
Or blissful brownie trifles,
Or just some plain coffee ice cream
With a hint of cookie dough.
The smell of jasmine and cinnamon
Fill the kitchen with sweet smells.
But we also make lunch.
The salty curry that the spring rolls are dipped in smell like spicy, salty, lentils.

Travels in Time: Rosie in the Revolution

Chapter One

Homework done?

Check!

Piano played?

Check!

This was the short checklist Rosie Lubliner mentally went through every time she wanted to time travel. This 9-year-old, unusually clever, inventive girl had actually created the very first time machine. She loved her brand new invention. She had accidentally invented it after she had finished her homework. One day, she was messing around, trying to build a time machine… then she went in and just pressed some buttons, and it worked. She had been so excited.

Rosie stepped inside the giant box, and pressed some buttons. Her time machine was a big metal box. It was a very simple machine. It had five buttons in it, and a keypad for typing in what year you wanted to go to.

She shut her eyes, and wondered what it would be like to live during the time of the American Revolution. The last time she had time traveled, Rosie had accidentally changed Egyptian history. A couple of days before his actual death, a pyramid had fallen on King Tut’s head. This time, hopefully things would stay as they were intended to.

The sharp buzzing sound shook Rosie back into the present, or rather, the past. The doors to the time machine opened and said two words: Thirteen colonies.

Rosie nervously stepped outside. The geeky girl had traveled to 1765, which was the time of the Stamp Act. She knew that this time was a dangerous one. The Patriots HATED the Stamp tax. People were tarred and feathered every day. Stamps were burned on the streets. Angry mobs attacked tax collectors.

A deep loud voice startled her out of her day dream. “Hello! I’m John Baker, fighter in the Continental Army. Who art thou?”

“Um… Er… Uhh…” In all of her time-travel experiences, nobody had ever spoken directly to her, nor had anyone asked her name. “I’m Rosie. Rosie Lubliner.”

“Hello, Rosie Lubliner. Art thou a patriot?”

“Yes… er… certainly.”    

“Wonderful,” John Baker said. “But the battlefield is no place for a young girl such as you. Let me lead you to a safe place.”

“Okay.” Even though she wanted to see action, she didn’t want to die!

“Follow me.” So Rosie followed John. He lead her to a horse cart. “I will take it upon myself to lead you to Pennsylvania. I have a friend named Benjamin Franklin who works at the gazette.”

Rosie was thrilled. What could be better than meeting an all-time famous man who was practically the hero of the American Revolution? She jumped at the chance.

“Sure! I would love to! I think I have heard of him.”

“Splendid. He is quite a nice man,” John Baker replied. Little did he know that his friend Benjamin Franklin was soon to be world-famous.

The carriage bumped along the dirt path for a good three hours.

This future Militia leader sure is nice! she thought.

When John and Rosie arrived in Pennsylvania, she was so tired she could have fallen asleep while she was walking. But then she caught a glimpse of Ben Franklin, and she straightened.  

OMG, OMG, OMG!!! Rosie was super excited. She loved Benjamin Franklin. He was her idol. After all, he was a founding father! And a great inventor, just like her! She was so psyched to meet him.

“Hello, young lady. I am Benjamin Franklin,” Benjamin said. “What art thou name?”

“Hello! I’m Rosie! Rosie Lubliner,”  Rosie said.

“Benjamin, would it be okay if Rosie stayed here and helped you with the gazette?” John Baker asked.

“Why, yes! I would be delighted to have such a lovely young lady working in my shop.”

“Farewell, Rosie,” John said.

“Goodbye,” Ben and Rosie spoke at the same time.

Rosie looked around the gazette shop. She glanced at the printing press. It looked so cool. So old fashioned. It was the original Benjamin Franklin printing press! It was so awesome to see it in person when it was still being used! The press was big and wooden. She touched it. It felt smooth.

“Rosie, would you like to print this piece that I just wrote?” Benjamin asked Rosie

“Um… okay. But I don’t know how to use one,” she said.

“I shall teach thou, then.”

“Okay!” Rosie was thrilled to learn how to use a real printing press from the 1700s!

There was a moment of silence between them.  

“Are you any good at writing?” Ben asked suddenly.

Rosie blushed. She didn’t want to brag, even though, at school she aced every class, including language arts. “Uh… yes.”

Benjamin Franklin didn’t seem to notice her slight hesitation. “Wonderful. Then let us get started!”

 

Lorenza’s Eventful Day

I woke up excited.

“I GET TO SEE MY LITTLE CADENZA.”

I’m Lorenza if you didn’t notice! I ran off to Centa Academy as fast as possible, since I missed the flying shuttle. I snuck up behind her. “BOO!” I yelled, scaring Cadenza. She jumped pretty high. I took her hand and jumped up and down. “OH MY GLOB IT’S BEEN FOREVER.”

She looked pretty tired, but oh well. Cadenza grumbled pretty softly, ”Hey Lorenza.”

I waved ultra fast, showing my enthusiasm. “Aren’t you happy to see your bestest friend for beyond life!” I declared very loudly.

Her friends, or what I assumed were her friends, walked over. “Hi! Hi! Hi!” I greeted everyone jumping around in joy. They all shrugged and smiled except for two. The girl I believed whose name was Ruba was smiling extra wide with her dog in her arms. The girl named Ying came over.

”You look so nice!” I jumped around.

“You do toooooo!”

Later on in the day I woke up after taking a nap. I couldn’t help being excited again! I knocked on team Sera’s door which is where she normally is. “HEY GUYS WHAT’S DOWN,” I exclaimed. I hugged Cadenza extra, extra tight.

“Hey Lorenza, can you, like, give me air?”

I got off her. “Oh sorry Cade, just haven’t seen you in, like, forever.” I noticed Zwea. “Aw, hi little guy.” I kneeled down to his height. I chased him around the room wreaking havoc. “WEEEEEEEEEEEE.” This is more than I could ever ask for. After a while I got tired. I tucked myself inside an extra bed inside beacon. And off to sleep I went. “Zzzzzz squi squi squi squi. Zzzzz squi squi.”

Nikki’s Message

Violet stared at her screen, sighed, and buried her face in her hands, feeling stuck. What was she going to say to her best friend about the move? She wasn’t even sure what to tell herself. Suddenly, #ultra_giggles sent her an instant message.

“Hi Violet, it’s me, Nikki,” Violet read aloud.

She typed, “Hi, back,” and hit send.

“U have a creative IM name,” came the reply. That was sarcasm, of course. Her IM name was just simply Violet. Violet smiled and changed her IM username to “books4life”. She was the 5th grade’s #1 nerd. Nikki was the most popular, so since Violet was her best friend, it protected her from the usual treatment for nerds. No, Nikki wasn’t just Violet’s friend so that Violet could do her homework. Not once had Nikki asked Violet to do it for her. Instead, she only asked for help and guidance. The other popular girls could never figure it out.

Once, Miranda had complimented Nikki, “That’s smart, now that you have Violet, you don’t have to do school projects anymore.” Nikki had gotten so mad that Miranda isn’t part of the popular group anymore.

Nikki messaged, “So, about the move…😢”

Violet took a deep breath and poured her heart out. “Well, I’m not really sure what to tell myself. I’m mad at my dad for losing his job and getting another in London. He says London is going to be amazing, which is why he got a job there. I can’t believe he did that without even consulting me and mom. I’m afraid to leave my friends, but I guess I really have no choice. I’m afraid that without you, people will do horrible things to me, like what we see when we look at other nerds, who are teased and harassed. I know I’m afraid of a lot of things, but you would be too, if you were in my place. Yes, I also know that it’s not soft on you either because I’m your best friend and I’m moving, but I just hate that we might not ever see each other again.” She pressed send.

“Whoa. These heartfelt things are supposed to be for letters, not IM. And who said I was ur best friend? JK. I am.😄” replied Nikki. It may sound arrogant and annoying for other people, but Violet knew Nikki better than anybody. Nikki was just avoiding her own emotions. She often did this, especially because she liked discussing other people’s emotions rather than hers.

Even though the two friends lived next door, they were using IM just to get into the habit, since this is how they planned to keep in touch.

“Maybe we should text everyday at 4:30 pm so we’re not constantly asking ‘R u there’ and ‘Hello?’ over and over.”

“Now she was avoiding the move topic,” Violet thought. “It’s crazy how if you’re around someone for a long time you develop a sixth sense about what they’re thinking and doing.”

“Okay. Maybe. I still don’t know what my new schedule is, so it’s confusing sometimes. I have to go. See you at 4:30 pm tomorrow. I mean, text you.”

She didn’t really have to go, but Violet needed a break. She felt overwhelmed by the whole thing, even though they didn’t really touch on the main subject at all. She stood up and flopped on her bare bed. She stared at her sky-themed ceiling, the only thing that was the same as before in her room. Everything else was boxed up, ready to be imported to London.

She liked her home here in New York. She closed her eyes and remembered the terrible things she’d yelled at her dad earlier. “You could’ve got a job in New York too, you know!” and “It’s ALL your fault!” coursed through her mind.

She inhaled deeply, and sat up, looking around the room. She stood up and walked across the room and entered the hall. She took a look at the boxes and flew down the stairs, feeling sick of the brown boxes with “To London” scrawled across the tops, reminding her of what was to come, making it impossible to be happy.

She burst out of the front door and slammed it behind her and leaned against it, panting. She laid on the grass, and looked into the robin’s egg sky. Tomorrow, at this time, she would be in London already. Her family was boarding the plane in a few hours.  Just then, Nikki leaned over her vision. “Aaah!” cried Violet, scrambling to her feet. “Nikki! You scared me out of my skin!” she exclaimed.

“Hey, frieeeeeend!” Nikki laughed. “I just wanted to give you this.” She handed Violet a leather-bound book, then watching, amused, as Violet’s face turned from happy to shocked.

“OMG! This is so cool!” Violet hugged Nikki. “I can’t believe it! How did you get everyone’s picture?”

Nikki shrugged. “I know a lot of people.” She blushed. In the book were pictures of everyone Violet knew, reading, just as Violet usually was, with a note and a signature underneath. Nikki had written “U will always be a bookworm in my heart.😀–Nikki XOXO.” Violet smiled.

“I have something to give you, too. Wait here.” Then she ran inside the house and searched the crate of things that weren’t supposed to be packed, like the family’s backpacks, toothbrushes, and a framed picture. Violet took the picture and bolted down the hall and into the front lawn, where Nikki was sitting cross-legged, picking at the grass.

“Here.” She held out the picture frame and then it was her turn to watch Nikki’s reaction.

“Whoa. You still have it?” Nikki asked, eyes wide, clutching the picture. Violet shrugged. Nikki had drawn that picture in kindergarten, giving the finished product to Violet, insisting that she keep it, saying that it was the ugliest picture anyone had ever made in the whole wide world. Violet had accepted it, and because she thought it was rather pretty, stuck it on her bookshelf, and it had been there ever since. It consisted of Violet and Nikki in front of the tree they had planted together, all by themselves.

“VIOLET!!” came a voice from the house.

“Oh, that’s my mom,” said Violet, feeling sad that she might have to go.

“VIOLET!!!” the voice called.

“Coming!” Violet called back. “Listen, I have to go. I’ll see you after a few.” Then, she waved and dragged her feet back to the house, through the front door and into the kitchen, where her mom was cleaning out the cabinets.

“You know you can’t just go outside without telling me. That’s dangerous,” her mom said, eyes still trained on her task of packing the plates. The plates were the only things that weren’t packed up, but her mom was almost finished.

“I was only on the front lawn, so I technically wasn’t even off the property. I can take care of myself now, mom. We’re even moving to London.” Violet’s voice broke.

“Are you still mad at dad?”

Violet nodded to her mom’s question.

“Well, we’ll have to forgive him someday, and I’m sorry for you but you know, it’s hard on dad, too.” she gave Violet a hug, and Violet breathed in her mom’s scent deeply.

Then, remembering Nikki’s gift, she said, “Look, mom. Look at what Nikki gave me.” She held out the album and looked through it for a moment with her mom before adding, “And speaking of Nikki, I have to go to her house to say goodbye one more time.”

Her mom smiled sadly. “Alright. You go on then.”

Violet went outside and crossed the street, running up Nikki’s front steps. She had barely rang the doorbell before Nikki flung the front door wide open. She wasn’t smiling, but she wasn’t frowning either. She was there to embrace Violet, and she was there to support her when Violet started crying.  “I’ll miss you.”

“Me too. Work on your English accent for me.” Nikki tried to be firm.

“I will.” Violet’s voice was squeaky, and Nikki had never heard her voice like that before.

“Bye. IM me when you get on the plane. Hopefully there’s Wifi.” Nikki had a determined look on her face, as if she was bent on keeping her eyes dry. Violet nodded, wiping away tears. Nikki hugged Violet tighter.

“You’re hurting me.” Violet whispered.

“Let’s savor our last hug.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll really, really miss you. Don’t ever make another BFF. We have to stay best friends, promise me that.”

“I promise.”

“Good. Now go away before I start crying.”

“Your eyes are glassy.”

“I know.” Nikki smiled. Then she broke the hug and said, “Let’s do our handshake for the last time.” The two girls repeated the handshake that they made on the first day of their friendship, on the first day of preschool. Clap three times. Shake hands while pressing thumbs together. Fist bump. Turnaround and high five.

“Bye, V.” Nikki was crying now.

“Bye.” Violet was crying, too.

“IM me.”

“Okay.”

“Go now.” Nikki pushed Violet away, turning towards her front door.

“Bye, Nikki.”

“Bye.”

Violet ran towards her house, crying silently. That was the last time she would probably ever see Nikki in person. It was so overwhelming.

She skipped up the front steps and flung open her front door, face to face with her father.

Violet pretended not to see him, pushing past him and going up the stairs. Her dad yelled after her, trying to get her attention, but she still made sure to ignore him and slam her bedroom door loud enough to get the message to her father. I hate you. Go away. You ruined everything.

Her phone chimed. “#ultra_giggles has messaged you.” She rushed to her phone.

#ultra_giggles: hi.

books4life: hey.

#ultra_giggles: 😢😢😡😡😔😔

books4life: don’t make it worse.

#ultra_giggles: sry.

books4life: sok.

#ultra_giggles: did u 4give ur dad yet?

Books4life: no.

#ultra_giggles: maybe you should. It’s not his fault he got fired.

Books4life: ya it is. If he didn’t show up late for that conference, we  wouldn’t have to move. So, if he picked his job over a doughnut, we would still be here.

#ultra_giggles: get over it. Accept ur fate. *virtually shakes shoulder*

Books4life: gtg

Conversation ended.

Violet stared. Accept her fate? “Had Nikki already gotten over the fact that I’m moving?” Violet thought. She brushed that away. That’s not possible. Then Nikki must be saying something else. Maybe, she was saying that everything is going to be okay? Or maybe she was saying, since it was already done, there was no use in regretting the past?

She made a mental note to text Nikki, “Whoa. These heartfelt things are supposed to be for letters, not IM,” when she got on the plane. That was what Nikki had said earlier, when Violet had poured her heart out about the move.

Violet plopped on her bed for the second time today. She closed her eyes. She was going to have a new life, that’s for sure.  She could do this positively or negatively, and what Nikki was saying, is that it’s better to do this happily than grumpily. Violet smiled to herself.

She gathered herself up, opened her door, and cheerfully called down the stairs, “Hey dad, when is our flight?”

My Chicken Experiences

Part 1

Many people thought that my family was crazy for owning chickens, but believe it or not, raising chickens shaped my life in a healthy way. My mom first had the idea to raise chickens about two and a half years ago. She thought it would be a fun learning experience for me and my sisters, but wasn’t sure it was practical. My dad never really loved the idea of farm life, but he loved seeing us happy, so he was willing to put up with it. At that time, my two younger sisters, Brynnley and Ainsley, were sleeping in the same room, and never really cleaned it that often. My mom proposed that if Ainsley could keep her shared room clean at all times, for eight months, we could try owning chickens.  Ainsley was determined to have chickens; she was insistent that she would help all three of us get chickens. Every day she went over her room, making sure it was clean and tidy. Eight months went by quickly, and soon we had ordered chicks.

We got three plymouth rock chicks and six silkie chickens through the mail. They took about a week to get to my house, but it seemed like forever, because we were eager to see the babies. It might sound crazy that you could buy chicks through the mail, but it was true. And to make things even better, they were only five dollars, and they were born on Ainsley’s birthday, April 20th!

It was love at first sight. When we came home from school, we were excited to see what the baby chicks looked like. We ran downstairs to the basement and heard small peeps, smelled the faint scent of wood shavings, and saw my mom reaching into a small box with a heating lamp over it.

We peeked over the edge of the box and saw nine tiny miracles, one of which my mom was holding and teaching how to eat.  To teach a chicken how to eat, you only need one chicken to eat, and that chicken will teach the rest of the flock how to eat.  She led the little head down to the small pebbles of food, and slowly it started to peck. Soon, the whole flock was doing it.   

It was the best feeling to hold a baby chick, nice and warm up to your chest so it could hear your heartbeat.  When we wanted them to sleep, all we had to do was turn off the basement light, and  all the happy chicks’ peeping stopped. When we returned to the chicks in the morning, they would all be on top of each other in a bundle of warmth.  

Part 2

Weeks went by, and the chicks grew faster than the blink of an eye.  Before I knew it, they were big enough to be outside in a giant wooden pen.  My mom had bought a chunnel, or a chicken tunnel, for the chicks to exercise. She also got a smaller pen for broody chickens. When a chicken is broody, it means that it won’t get up to eat, or drink, or exercise. It will only sit on the other chickens’ eggs.  

We raised our chickens free range, and taught them to return to their warm safe pen every night. Soon, we started giving our chickens some names, so we could keep track of them.  We knew in an instant that the name of the chicken that had the biggest hair and attitude would be Bruno, after Bruno Mars. The three Plymouth Rock chickens would be named Max, Fama, and Wicked.  We named the twin silkies Oodles and Doodles, because they stuck together at all times.  Finally, there was Chubbs, the runt of the flock, who could fit a grape in his cheek. We had a few others, but we never truly decided names for them.  

Did you know that chickens like to take dirt baths?  They will rub themselves in the dirt in the garden as protection from the sun, and when they are done, they will shake all of it out and look as clean as ever.  Then, they do it all over again. Did you know that chickens eat very messily?  Well it’s true.  If you put raspberries in your hand, they will take a piece, shake it, and then gulp it down.  It is the silliest thing to watch.  

Often, we snuck the chickens in the house without my dad noticing, just to surprise my mom with a chicken snuggle. She held the chickens close to her chest, in pure happiness. Soon the chickens fell asleep in her arms, and she let it rest until it would be time for her to go. We did this frequently with different chickens, but we always knew that Bruno was my mom’s favorite. After all, silkies were called the best lap chickens and were the most kid-friendly.

Everything and everyone seemed happy on the McKee Farm. Nothing could go wrong.  

Unfortunately, our first loss came early in the process. One of our chickens never returned to the pen.  We went looking for it until late in the night, but we had to give up trying to find it.  

A few weeks went by, and we realized that only one chicken was beginning to lay eggs, even though all of them should have been. Another peculiar thing was going on: we had a garden in the backyard, and we could see almost every part of  the garden from our kitchen window.  We loved that view, but Max seemed to want the window all to herself, and blocked it, looking inside at us!  

We thought it was adorable that Max wanted to see us, and we didn’t mind her blocking  the view, but we didn’t really know why Max was doing it until later that summer month. One hot summer day, my sisters and I were working in the garden and we found a huge bunch of eggs right under the window! We quickly rushed over and counted the eggs. There were 15 of them.  We gathered all of them and told my mom what we found. That had to be the reason that Max had been blocking the window, to guard the eggs and keep close watch over them, careful that we didn’t take them.

Every morning we looked for changes in the attitude and look of the chickens. Once, I noticed there were a fair amount of feathers in the coop, and a small amount of blood.  

I was frightened that something might have hurt our chickens, and asked my mom what was happening to them. My mom immediately realized what was going on, and told me that they were figuring out the “pecking order,” to see who was in charge so that they could assign different jobs, like which chicken sat on the eggs. The pecking order was determined pretty quickly. Max was the leader but would let Bruno sleep on her. Wicked and Fama were Max’s sidekicks, and the rest of the flock were her royal subjects. Although Max was not supposed to favor any one member of the flock, she loved Bruno the most; they would even sleep together.

Though Max was at the top, she didn’t have an easy life. Fama and Wicked sometimes gave another shot at becoming the top chicken, but they never won. Max also had to protect the flock if they were in trouble, because the silkies could not fight very well — since they had  so much hair on their heads, they couldn’t see predators very well.

Part 3  

About three months after getting the chicks, our new babysitter brought her puppy to the house and let him play outside. He started chasing one of our silkies, one of the ones we hadn’t named yet.  

I was so scared.  I ran inside told my mom what was happening and she ran outside.  

Ainsley was trying to stop the dog but couldn’t. She started crying and went inside, and so did Brynnley and my mom, because the dog had come out with the chicken’s fuzz in its mouth and blood on it. I cried, ran inside, and went to my room. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, and I was scared half to death, replaying and replaying that picture of the dog over and over again inside my head. I had never seen my mom cry before, but that day she did.

We were upset and angry over the loss we had experienced. That loss was the hardest,  because it came unexpectedly, and because we had never experienced death before. Though the first death was hard, it did get easier.

After a while of peacefulness, darkness struck again in the henhouse. Another silkie, Oodles, had died because a raccoon got into the coop. It was another hard death, because we didn’t realize that raccoons could unlock and lift things. There was a small latch that we used to close the laying box every night. Somehow, the raccoon had unlatched it, opened the laying box, and killed the chicken right there, while it was sleeping. Luckily, the other chickens were able to get away in time, and none of them were killed that night. If that raccoon had gotten hold of any others, it would have surely killed them too. I would never underestimate the skills of a very hungry raccoon again.

Unfortunately, my mom was the first to see the bloody masterpiece. She was going out to feed and water the chickens, and collect any eggs they might have laid that night. She saw a ripped open, half-eaten silkie with no head.  She was heartbroken and again, couldn’t restrain herself from crying. I went out to see it for myself, and I was scarred from that picture in my head, where it will be forever. After that, Doodles didn’t have that bounce in her feathery feet any more.

We didn’t have enough time to recover from that until we were introduced to the HAWK HORROR.  

We had seen hawks flying around our house, spying on our chickens, and got protective. But we didn’t realize how bold the hawks were, or how they weren’t that scared of humans. It would take a lot of time to drag a hawk away from a chicken.  

Sometimes, my mom thought about having me take out my bow and arrows and shoot him down — that was, until we figured out that it was illegal.  

One autumn afternoon, while my sisters and I were at school and my mom was at home, some men came to mow the lawn. We had moved the chickens and the coop into the garage so that they could mow the lawn. The garage door was left ajar, and the chickens were clucking just like before, until…everything went silent. It was like you could hear a pin drop. My mom was used to the peeping of the chickens, and hearing this silence, she knew that something was wrong.  

She dashed to the garage, just as a vicious hawk snapped its beak shut on little Chubbs’ body. I don’t know how she reacted because I wasn’t there, but she told me that she cleaned up the bloody and feathery mess alone. She told us what happened when we came home from school, but she didn’t know that Chubbs had been killed.  

Ainsley ran into the garage immediately after we parked the car, only to melt into tears like a candlestick over her dead chicken.

She counted the chickens. “Oodles… Doodles… Bruno… Fama… Max… Chubbs is dead!” she wailed.  

It was something she would never forget. We comforted her, and tried to calm her down.  She never did fully recover, and still to this day talks about Chubbs with a tear in her eye.  

At that time, on top of everything else, Bruno was broody. Every day, we had to make Bruno get up, eat, drink, and run around. Sometimes we put her in the exercise chunnel. Doodles was still depressed that Oodles was dead, so once in awhile, we took the two hens and gave them a bath, then dried and brushed their long silky feathers.  

Part 4

Soon, it was time for Ainsley’s birthday again, and we would celebrate not only her birthday, but the first birthday of our now well-grown chickens.

The morning of, we had a great time, until I went to feed the chickens. I counted all of the chickens on the bottom half of the pen, and realized that one was gone, when it hit me that Bruno was still broody.  

Yet again, another attack — except this time I was the first to see it dead. It was my mom’s favorite chicken, Bruno, and her death was on my sister’s birthday. I became stiff. I was angry, sad, and sorry all at the same time. I went inside, and instantaneously, my mom recognized my pale face and sad eyes.  I told her that Bruno was gone, and that was the start of my sister’s birthday.  I realized that day, that the deaths were never going to get any easier, but I knew that there was a price to pay for such dear love, and that was it.  

Part 5

As spring went by, and days became longer and hotter, the chickens started to have the same happy bounce that they’d had when we first got them. They were energetic and happy chickens once more.

One day, while I was playing softball, my mom and littlest sister Brynnley went to a chicken fair where people showed off their chickens and won prizes. There were contests for the fattest, biggest, and most beautiful chickens, and there were also chickens available for purchase and rent.  

While my mom and Brynnley were there, they spotted two identical, adorable chickens who reminded them of Bruno. They quickly bought them in a small cage, without telling my dad, Ainsley, or myself. My mom had already named the two Olive and Teeny. On their way back home they stopped by my softball game and told me about the chickens. They opened the trunk, and there they were, two beautiful silkies: fat, cute, and very huggable. They were the central attraction of the game.  

When I came home, I was especially excited because I wanted to see how my old chickens would react to the new ones. They would probably have to go over the pecking order all over again, and I didn’t want to see that happen. To my surprise, instead of putting Olive and Teeny outside with the rest of the chickens, my mom put them in the chunnel so that Fama, Max, Wicked, and Doodles could get used to having them around. Once in awhile, one of the chickens would visit Olive and Teeny to check them out, but Olive and Teeny would just act like they weren’t there.  

It was a while before Olive and Teeny passed, or so it seemed. It was late August, and one day when we came home from the supermarket, we went out to check on the chickens and play with them. When we did, we saw that Olive was in her small cage, not moving. We thought that she might be sitting on an egg, because she looked unharmed; there was no blood, and she looked like she was sleeping. But we got closer and couldn’t hear any peeps from her. When we tapped her, she didn’t move. I called my mom over, and she came to see what was happening.  She knelt down, lifted her, and told me that she must have had a heat stroke or a sun stroke, and that there was nothing we could do now.  

Later that day, Brynnley decided that we should make a grave for Olive. My mom helped her make one. It still stands there in my old backyard with a large stone over it, and I bet that if you spread the dirt around, you would find the small piece of paper, in bad handwriting, marking Olive’s place in the small grave and stone.  

Unfortunately, Teeny went quickly after Olive because of an unknown disease. We guessed that she was exposed to diseases in the chicken show and might have had it for a while, but by the time Olive died, the disease had taken over. We mourned our twins, and considered not owning chickens anymore, because so many were dying in our hands, but we couldn’t give up, and we didn’t.

Part 6

Soon it was fall, and the chickens had to prepare for the winter ahead of them. We refurbished their henquarters (headquarters) with new wood shavings and moved their pen to a patch of nicely cut grass.  

Doodles had become broody, so we moved her into the smaller pen. The first night she stayed in that pen she was fine, but the second night she was in for a fight.

That night, a raccoon lifted the roof of Doodles’s pen, and we guessed that he was trying to grab her, but she fought back and eventually won the battle. She hadn’t been killed, but had been badly wounded. She had lost many feathers, and it was wintertime then, so she was exposed to the cold weather. Without feathers, she might freeze or get frostbite.

That winter, we nursed her back to health and kept her inside the house for a while.  When spring returned, Doodles was much better, and was allowed to free range once again, but only for a matter of time…

Soon after, the raccoon attacked the small pen again, and this time the raccoon succeeded in killing and eating Doodles. That morning, my mom had gone out to check on Doodles and the other chickens.  The small door that let the chickens into the small pen was unlatched and open.  The raccoon had unlatched the door and eaten Doodles. This loss was especially hard because she was the last silkie, and she had been through so much. I loved Doodles so much, and this story always makes me teary.

Part 7

After Doodles’ death, it was hard to think about owning chickens… until my school saved the day. They had a school auction, and my mom was assigned to auction off something. She came up with chicken rentals. She loved the idea so much that she decided to try it herself.  Before we knew it, we had a small rental pen and three beautiful chickens. They were so sweet, and got along well with Max, Fama, and Wicked. They were soft and looked a lot like our Plymouth rock chickens, except with different patterns. One was white, one was orange, and one was black with white spots. The one with white spots was named Dotty, and she was the friendliest out of the rentals. Even when it came time to let the chickens go, my mom asked if she could keep Dotty and pay for her.  The company didn’t agree, and she was taken away from us.  

Part 8

After the rental chickens were taken back, tragedy struck again. One Sunday afternoon, after returning from running errands, we went outside to see if our chickens had laid any eggs while we were gone. My mom went outside to look for Max, Fama, and Wicked. She only found Wicked and Max. She looked in the front and back of the house, and then in the garden.

There she saw what was left of Fama: a carcass and blood everywhere. I went outside to see, and the second I did, I wished I hadn’t. That night, we made a grave for her in honor of her long life.

Part 9

Right after Fama died, we moved. I am still not completely settled, but when I did move, we moved the chicken coop to the back of the house, and my mom set up a security camera, so that she could tell if anything was trying to get into the chickens’ pen.  

Later that week, one night at midnight, my mom woke up and checked her phone for notices of anything breaking into the chicken pen, and she saw nothing. She woke up again early in the morning, and checked her phone for any signs of the chickens being attacked.  She found three video clips.  One of a raccoonlike badger sneaking through a small crack of the chicken pen.  The second video clip was of a fox, who somehow broke into the pen at night. The third just seemed like a blanket of snow, until my mom figured out that it wasn’t snow … it was feathers.  

That morning, as I hopped downstairs for breakfast, my mom looked uneasy. She told me what happened, and I was both sad and shocked. My mom told me not to tell my sisters, but eventually they figured it out. The morning dragged on slowly, until my mom realized one of the chickens wasn’t dead. She thought she saw it slightly moving, so she told me to go check and see if it was still alive.

My littlest sister, Brynnley, came with me, and she got closer than I did. She was too scared to speak, but cried and ran off into the house before I could stop her. I inched closer, to take a peek at whether the chicken was alive or dead, and I saw it move its demented head.

I rushed into the house, and told my mom that the chicken was alive, but I couldn’t tell what chicken it was. It had blood all over its head, and had lost many of its feathers.

My mom ran out and took a look at the chicken. Tears ran down her face as she carried it back to the porch. I couldn’t look at the chicken — it was in too much pain. It was painful to watch.  

The chicken survived for two more days, until my mom decided it was time for the vet to put her down. I wasn’t there when the vet put her down, but my mom told me all about it. The vet said that it was a miracle that she survived, because she had been impaled in the head by a raccoon tooth, and was very sick. To prove it, as he put the sweet chicken’s body to rest, maggots came crawling out of her body, because they had been eating her alive already.  

Part 10

That day I was sad, astonished, confused, and my life was impacted in a way both good and bad, and everything in between. Although my chicken experience was filled with sadness, if I had to I’d do it all over again.

Love for the Amazon

Chapter One

There are a few things you need to know about me before I start the story.

I am Elizabeth Andrews, and I am eleven years old. I do not go to school, and that is because I live in the Amazon Rainforest.

We have lived there ever since our plane ride home from Australia. As we were flying over Venezuela, our plane had a malfunction and crashed. Everyone but my family was killed in the accident. My family is Ma, Pa, Alexander, and me, Elizabeth.

Before we crashed, Ma worked in a South American restaurant, so she knows how to treat and cook the plants and animals we find in the forest. Pa was an architect, so he built our hut out of trees from the forest.

Even Alexander is good for something. He’s great as whittling, so he made things like our silverware, cups, and anything else that can be whittled. He is thirteen, and I think it’s cool that he can whittle so well.

I don’t know what I’m good for. Whenever I think about it, all I can settle on is writing. Whenever I go on a plane trip, I bring a bunch of journals in my suitcase. I document every little thing that I see in the rainforest. If I find a pretty flower or interesting leaf, I usually sketch or close it in my nature journal. I even have a book for drawings, though I’m not a very talented artist.

Our plane crashed when I was only seven, so we have been here for four years.

Miraculously, nothing happened to any of our luggage in the crash. That’s why we have regular clothes in the middle of the Amazon. Ma washes them, so we can wear them over and over again.

I really hope that we don’t go back to civilization, because I most likely would not remember anything about New York City.

We sleep in hammocks that Ma and Pa made out of these huge leaves. They are actually pretty, pretty comfortable!

I actually really like living in the Amazon Rainforest. The only problem about it is that we have to be careful about what we eat. There are lots of poisonous plants, but also we can’t cook a baby animal.  If we did, then Ma would find out and be mad at us.

Sometimes, I have random memories of the crash. When it actually happened, it went by so quickly that I could barely remember it for a while. Once I realized that the only way to remember was to get to work helping my family, my mind was still blank as a piece of paper.

That is almost everything you need to know about me for the story to make sense. When the plane crashed, all of the passengers but me and my family were killed. All of their luggage was really ruined, but ours didn’t even have a single scratch. Also, every member of our family was in different aisles.

Chapter One and a Half

I looked out of the window, seeing the tops of trees. “Ma, how much longer?” I asked.

She looked at her watch, and then at the screen on the back of the seat in front of her. “About twelve hours, Elizabeth.”

All of a sudden, we felt a huge jolt. Out of instinct, I looked out of the window. “Ma?” I asked, my voice shaking. “Either those trees are growing really fast, or… ”

“WE’RE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY!” a man yelled.

Even though I was only a seven-year-old writer and traveler, I was smart enough to know that it was fine to be scared right now.

I heard the pilot yelling very unsettling things, like: “The radio’s down!” “The engine’s busted!” “The controls are stuck!” and “Dang plane!”

I closed my eyes to shut myself out of the chaos and terror.

My whole entire life flashed before my eyes. The first day of kindergarten, I was crying and holding onto Ma. The start of first grade, hugging Ma goodbye. The beginning of second grade, dodging Ma’s kiss and running over to my friends. The end of second grade, posing for pictures. So far, nothing significant had happened to me. I then realized that if I died in the next ten minutes, my life would be a big waste of seven years. Then, I opened my eyes. As far as I could tell, no time had passed since I’d closed them.

Chaos was erupting in that small airplane that seemed like the end of me. All of a sudden, the overhead lights flickered and then went off. Then the overhead bins popped open and a few of the smaller suitcases and bags fell out. All of the people who were in aisle seats now leaned in and lifted their legs.

I put my face in between my knees and when I lifted it up, my knees were wet. I then felt my cheeks and realized tears were rolling down them. I took a deep breath.

Soon, I heard a crash that nearly deafened me. I looked out the window and saw both wings caught on trees on either side. The plane seemed to be too heavy; I saw it gradually sagging.

All of a sudden, the wings snapped off the plane, and we tumbled to the ground.

And then the world went black.

Chapter Two

I dropped down from the tree I was in, and grabbed Ma’s woven basket that I had filled with fresh mangoes from the tree. I hurried back through the trees I had known so well. Once I was only a little ways away from our hut, I stopped and listened to the sounds of the rainforest. A few different birds chirped, a limb on a tree cracked, and I heard Pa yelling for me.

“Come on, Sammy, there’s more over here!” I heard a man yell.

Wait… That’s not Pa or Alexander… I quickly sprinted away from the voices I didn’t recognize. Once the hut was in sight, I dropped the basket of mangoes and ran to Pa.

“Pa!” I yelled.

“Oh, Elizabeth, there you are. Where is that basket of fruit you were going to bring back?” I don’t think he noticed the sweat on my forehead. I tried to slow my fast breathing and panting.

I said, “I heard a man talking to another person named Sammy.”

Pa laughed. “Do not be silly, Elizabeth. There is no one here but us.” Then, he left the hut, grabbing his handmade axe. I stood there, feeling dejected.

***

Later, when I was collecting berries for Ma, I heard a different voice. “Jim, the sun’s going down. Can’t we just camp here?” This time, it was a woman. “This is ridiculous!” I guessed that it was Sammy.

I grabbed the basket of berries I had filled and raced back to the hut. When I arrived, I saw Ma and Pa sitting at the table.

“Ma, Pa!” I exclaimed. “I heard more voices. It was a man and a woman.”

I looked back and forth between them. Ma walked forward and took the basket of berries in my hand.

“Well, Elizabeth, this is a very… interesting matter, but can we eat supper now?” She put her hand on my golden brown cheek. “Nobody is here but us, love. I don’t think you got enough sleep last night.”

She sent me to an early sleep, but instead, I ran away from the hut and far into the trees. I found one that I could easily climb, and I did. I sat atop the highest branch and looked at the sunset. The place where the orange melted into that blue, blue sky was a gorgeous pink. The colors looked like someone had painted strips with lumpy acrylics and smudged it with their finger. I closed my eyes and laid my head against the thick tree trunk.

Images of myself growing up flooded my mind. Baby Elizabeth, toddler Elizabeth, first smile, starting daycare, and everything up until second grade ended.

There was no more to think about. All the other significant events were trapped in a lost, locked box in the back of my mind, and they were never going to be released. Each year that passes, that box is going to get bigger and bigger.

I opened my eyes only to discover more darkness. The sun had gone away completely, and I couldn’t see the hut. I quickly jumped down the tree and ran in the direction I thought I came from. But then I found nothing. I ran in the other direction, but again I found nothing. Then I ran back in the way I thought I would find the tree, but instead I saw a dim light, and I expected it to be coming from the hut. I ran toward the light, and it got brighter as I got closer.

All of a sudden, I came into a clearing that was the source. Instead of our hut, I saw a campfire with two small tents. On a long log, there was a man in a tan shirt and tan shorts. There was also a woman in a matching wardrobe. He stared, seeming as surprised to see me as I was him.

“Jim, it’s a girl!” the woman said.

The man, Jim, said, “I see, Sammy. There must be a whole family of them.”

Sammy and Jim stood up, and then they approached me slowly. “Slow, Jim. We don’t want her to attack. She probably can’t speak.”

Then, Jim slowly said, “Hola. Us, Jim.” He pointed to himself. “And Sammy.” He pointed to Sammy.

“I can talk, but I don’t speak Spanish,” I said.

Both Jim and Sammy flinched and did double takes, fighting hard not to laugh.

Chapter Two and a Half

When I first opened my eyes, I didn’t know where I was. All I could think about was Alexander, only nine at the time. The first thing I did when I woke up was cry out, “Alexander!” Then, I sat up.

The sight that I saw was the most awful thing I had seen. The ruins of the plane were all around me. I couldn’t see any bodies, but I already knew they were all gone. Then, a pile of rubble stirred, and Alexander appeared from under it.

“Hello?” he yelled.

“Alexander,” I called. He looked over.

“Elizabeth, are you hurt?”

“No, are you?” I said.

“My legs are stuck under the seat,” he said.

I stood up and made my way over to him. I helped him lift that blue ripped leather seat. He stood up with me, and we looked around. We held onto each other, and I was trying hard not to sob.

Suddenly, I heard Ma’s voice, muffled. “Hello? Anybody?”

Alexander and I hurried over to the voice. “Mom! It’s Elizabeth and Alexander!” I called.

“Children, let me out please. I am under this pile of clothes,” she said. A suitcase had popped open and spilled on her. All the clothes were dirty and ripped. Once we had moved the clothes, we walked around looking for Pa.

As Ma was stepping on the rubble and trash, Pa’s voice yelled, “Ow! Where are we? What happened?” We dropped to our knees and dug through the mess. Soon, we found him. “Who stepped on my arm?” he said. None of us answered. “Are you guys alright?” We all nodded and fell into a long hug.

I finally broke the silence by saying, “What do we do now?” We all sat there, but the question wasn’t letting me think about my family. Would we ever get home? Would we be stuck here forever?

Chapter Three

Jim and Sammy offered me a piece of meat. I told them about my family in the forest.

“How did you get here?” Sammy finally asked.

So I told them about the crash, that the only survivors were me and my family, and how our luggage escaped without a scratch.

Sammy’s last question was, “How long have you been here?” She looked a bit worried about what the answer would be.

“We’ve been here four years. I was seven when we crashed, and now I am eleven.” Sammy then came forward and embraced me with a hug. “It’s fine, I really like it in the rainforest,” I said. She didn’t seem to believe me. So then I pushed Sammy away gently and told them both, “I have to go. My family is going to be waiting.”

This wasn’t true, because I had snuck out of a window in my sleeping area, but I knew my family wouldn’t bother to have checked on me. Then I ran away, and not long after, I found my hut. I was right, my family didn’t know I had been gone. I decided not to tell Ma and Pa about Jim and Sammy, because they would tell me that I was wrong.

I got into the hammock and fell into a light sleep. My family had never even known I had left.  

***

The next morning, I wrote in my article journal that I keep. In that journal, I pretty much just write every few weeks in a journalism style. It’s fun. Then, I walked over to Ma and Pa.

“Ah, Elizabeth,” Pa said.

Then, Alexander walked in. “Ma, do you need me to do anything for you?”

“No, I do not need you. Alexander, don’t work yourself ragged. Take a break from all of this work,” Ma told him.

“But then, I will have no choice but to think about the airplane crash!” he exclaimed.

“Do you mean that you haven’t thought about it yet?” I asked.

“No, and I really don’t want to.”

“Well, you can’t hide forever. Just go and do some whittling,” I advised.

He grabbed his tools and sat outside of the hut. I shook my head to myself and picked up a piece of fruit Ma had laid out. Then, I hurried out to the river with one of Pa’s fishing nets. The net seemed so much smaller when compared with the rushing water. So I tossed it out over the rough waves and sat down with my journal.

This was my drawing book, so I drew a line down the middle of the page. Then, I added a circle. Then many more shapes, until I had a big structure in the shape of something else. I couldn’t remember what it was, but I knew it would mean something.

Suddenly, as a fish leapt out of the water, I snapped out of my trance. Once I had looked up, I realized it was two fish. Then, they touched each other in the air before falling onto the net. I thought of the shape my design had made. A heart.

I picked up the net and hurried back to the hut. Once Ma had the fish cooking in the oven, I suddenly heard a gruff voice call, “Come on out. We know you are in there.”

I felt my heart start beating a million miles an hour. What’s going on? Who is that? How did he find us? I thought frantically.

We all hurried to stand outside the hut.

“Gather your belongings,” an officer said. His uniform was covered in medals and badges.

“What’s going on?!” I asked.

“Get in that helicopter, you’re coming back to civilization.”

M.I.A.

Vinny and I had been best friends ever since kindergarten. We always had playdates, and we’d go together everywhere. Or that’s what I thought. I mean, we’d always be having fun together. Vinny seemed to be having fun. So today, I asked him if he wanted to come over to my house.

He said, “I uh, um — sorry, I can’t.” And then he ran off.

That’s weird, I thought. So I went home, did my homework, and didn’t do much the rest of the day.

The next day, while we were taking a math test, I whispered, “Wanna come over?”

He said he’d talk to me after school. So after school, I went to his locker, but nobody was there. After about ten minutes, I gave up and went home. The same thing happened the next day. I thought maybe his dog or ferret died, and he was just really sad and upset. So I gave it a rest. Later on, I started following him around, and he didn’t seem to mind. But then, I thought that maybe he didn’t like it. He also started to hang out with other kids.

So I figured out that there was some problem with me, at least in Vinny’s eyes. I had no idea what was up. I took some time to think if I had done anything to upset him. I couldn’t think what was going on at ALL. I mean, I couldn’t think of anything bad that I did to Vinny recently. I needed to figure it out. What could I do, you might be asking. Well to me, this is kinda rude, but it was the only way — spying on Vinny. I called it operation “Spying on Vinny!” Good name, huh?!

I started my work on Monday so I could have a good whole week to work it out. If I didn’t figure it out, I would quit the idea of trying to figure out what was going on. I started to watch what he did, who he talked to, and what he said. By Wednesday, I had no information and was getting worried. The day went by, and on Thursday, Vinny was sick. That means I only had Friday to figure out what was going on. When I got home from school, I didn’t know what to do. So I went with the only thing I could think of: Ask Vinny what the problem was. Luckily, Vinny was at school on Friday, so in fourth period, I went for it.

“Vinny,” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry — I just.” Then, he ran off.

I needed to know what was going on. When school ended, I realized that the day wasn’t done yet. I ran up to my room, hopped on my computer (not literally), and opened my email. I then decided that I shouldn’t send an email because he might not respond very quickly. I opened my iMessage and went to Vinny’s contact.

Me: Hey

Vinny: What

Me: R u ok?

Me: Honestly

Vinny: No…

Me: Then what’s up?

Vinny: You know my dad is in the army

Vinny: Well he went MIA

Me: I’m really really really sry

Vinny: It’s ok

Vinny: Dude, i’m sry i was mean to u, i just couldn’t, im sry

Vinny: Can we just be friends again?

Me: yea but who r those othr kids

Vinny: Oh they r my cousins, they r just visiting for a month because it is a hard time 4 our family

Me: Cool

Vinny: There’s someone i want u to meet

To Be Continued…

Summer

    

Scorching weather.

I glance at the blue summer sky with cotton candy clouds.

It’s time for a hot day down at the beach.

It’s time for a night in paradise.

It’s time for a pitcher of freshly brewed iced tea.

It’s time for a quick day in the pool.

It’s time for a season of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s time for the birds to twitter and the dragonflies to dance.

It’s time for those burgers sizzling on the grill.

It’s time for delicious, cold ice cream.

It’s time for a day in the sun.

It’s time for the fluttering butterflies in your yard.

It’s time for the true colors of sunshine.

It’s time for watermelon.

It’s time for water parks with water slides.

It’s time for the wasps.

It’s time for warmth.

It’s time for some volleyball.

It’s time for a good vacation spot.

It’s time to travel.

It’s time to have fun on trampolines!

It’s time to play tennis.

It’s time to wear tank tops.

It’s time for tan skin, as brown as maple syrup.

It’s time for tall grass.

It’s time for campfires.

It’s time for fun.

It’s time for a sip of summer.

 

The New Dentist (Part II)

“Mom, why do we have to get braces?!” I yell at her. I am not happy at all.

“You have to get braces. I don’t,” she answers, as if nothing was wrong. How does she do it?

I’ll look hideous. Headgear stinks. My friend Lipa had to wear it. She looked so bad. I can’t shave all of my big hair. Then, I’ll look like I time traveled.

Mom could have at least told me why I had to switch dentists, or not switch and have two. I should have known Mom’s little plan. I was super suspicious of her. Why didn’t I ask? Because, she knew I was suspicious? Now, I can’t help but feel really mad at not just Mom, but even myself. How could I let her get to me?

“Ninaloo!” I hear her call my name. It may be Ninaloo, but I go by Nina. I’ve told her that a million times.

“CALL ME NINA. NOT NINALOO! I’m not coming,” I say.

That’s when Mom sees how mad I really am! So, is she going to do anything? Of course not. She’s a mom. What’s she going to do, magically make my teeth perfect? Even if she did have those powers, she’d probably still let headgear do the work. Just because we’re rich does not mean we don’t need headgear.

Mom always says that I’m fortunate. Some kids don’t get headgear and have real problems with their jaws and may not be able to eat. Too bad. Mom’s also a dentist. Bleh. I hope when I’m an adult or go to an adult dentist, I don’t have to go to her. By then, I think I can pick my own dentist.

Don’t you readers think so? I mean, it’s just so unfair. Mom does not understand at all. It’s frustrating.

 

The New Dentist (Part I)

Nina

I’ll code after I do my homework. My mom always says do your homework before you code. Today’s different. I have to go to the dentist. I hate the dentist. It takes so long to get there, even though they only check your teeth for five minutes. My dentist is way too serious. He has this way of “amusing” his patients. He’s not very good at it. His idea of amusing is when he says, “I’m a plane coming through your mouth.”

How babyish! Today I’m relieved I have a new dentist. Her name is Catie. I think it stands for Catherine. I hope she has a sense of humor.

It turns out she’s super nice. She also has a great sense of humour. At first she was a bit crazy but now she’s super fun! She always finds ways to amuse me. Once she even said, “Being a dentist is like being a super smart nerd.”

Sometimes I just don’t get her. When I asked my mom, “What did she mean mom?”

She said, “Ask her yourself.”

I wasn’t trying to be funny but it might have come out that way because I said, “I can’t. I sound like blo blah glab. So mom, what are you going to do?”

“I’ll tell her to make more sense.”

So next time I saw her she said, “My dentist likes pizza.”

“Whatever,” I said. I hate pizza. It’s sooo gross.

Next week mom said, “We have to go to the dentist.”

I answered, “Why do we go to the dentist every month?”

“I thought you liked your new dentist,” Mom said.

“Mom, is there something wrong with my teeth?”

“Darling, stop complaining. She’s just getting to know you.”

So off we went to Catie’s office yet again. Hooray. Mom said we had to. The car smelled like chocolate & grape tylenol. Yuck!

Mom why is there grape Tylenol in the car?” I asked.

“There is no Tylenol in the car,” Mom stated. I did not care. Did she think I would? When we arrived, I saw my friend Lipa coming out of the office.

“Lipa, your dentist is Dr. John,” (my old dentist). “Why are you here?” I asked.

 

Mom

Nina always is complaining about the dentist. She hates Dr. John. She thinks he’s super babyish. Nina doesn’t really understand why he is so serious. It’s because he really cares about his job. Today I took her to the orthodontist. She thinks Catie’s a dentist instead of being an orthodontist. She won’t go to the orthodontist so she may flip out when I tell her Catie’s an orthodontist. In the office Nina finds all the machines overwhelming. She can’t figure out why there are so many machines in the office. I think Catie’s a bit annoyed with us. She gives Nina lots of x-rays. Nina is getting really suspicious. I think I’m going to need some help. I guess we’ll just have to wait for Mike to come home from his business trip. I have no idea what to do.

It’s a disgrace. Nina is driving me crazy. I think she’ll never like me, if not love me. It’s crazy her feelings depend on what I make her do. It’s really annoying she doesn’t understand why braces are so important. I wish she knew what I meant. Sometimes it’s really hard to know she doesn’t always love me like she should. She should think about her actions. I can’t really see in the grown up world. After all, her 13th birthday is coming up.

On the phone with Mike:

“Hi Mike. What should we do for her birthday?” I asked him.

And he answered, “Don’t do anything.” He hung up. I guess I’m not getting much out of this phone call.

“Should I call my mom?” I asked myself. No. Mom may be napping. Shoot, she’s home, I thought. I really was hoping she’d ask for a sleepover and of course she comes straight up to my room.

Whaaaa.

 

Catherine

Jeez, Lily’s crazy. Why do I have to be “a dentist.” I think that Lily should just tell Ninaloo, A.K.A Nina, I hate being the new amusing dentist. It stinks. I’m thinking about quitting because of them. I’m an orthodontist for her best friend who had to wear headgear. She thinks it looks hideous. She’s turning 13. I think she can handle knowing I’m an orthodontist. I also don’t see why Lily made me write an entry in the braces diary.

By the way, Lily is Nina’s mom. Nina complains about having machines in the room she’s in. She’s a scaredy cat. Once I was pricking at a loose tooth and she flipped out. I was an hour behind because of her. Too bad Nina’s mom was at the store. The worst time was when I molded her retainer. I put edible silly putty in her mouth and I said it was an X-ray. She thought I was crazy. What can I say. My one question is why Lily won’t let me be serious? Lily just tells me to be humorous. I really hate Lily. She’s completely crazy. She needs to get more sleep. I don’t know. Not that I care. What’s her problem? I can’t see why she is so outrageous. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. Well, here they are. Today I’m doing a normal tooth check. I don’t do this kind of stuff. It’s not my expertise.

I think Lily has lost reality. Lipa is coming to the orthodontist before Nina. I’m so telling her to tell Nina who I really am. I did, and she didn’t listen to me of course.

 

Dr. John

Why does Nina hate me? It makes no sense. Lily says everything with Catie is going well. I’m losing a lot of money since she stopped coming to my office. Thank goodness she’s coming back today. Last night I was on the phone with Lily.

“What should I tell Nina when she comes here instead of Catie’s office?” I asked, and of course she gave me the worst answer she could probably possibly give.   

“I’ll deal with that. You really don’t have to worry.” I worried anyway. Guess what Nina’s first question was when she walked in? “Why am I at Dr. John’s office and not Catie’s?” I went straight over to Lily.

“You said you’d take care of this!!!” I screamed at Lily. All of a sudden Nina got sort of shy and quiet. I was getting really irritated. Why did I ever want them back? Guess what Lily answered?

“I did. It’s just Nina. Oh, she’s suspicious of you.”

“How do you know that, Lilyann Carlee?!!!” I screamed again.

“I’m her mom. I’ve lived with her her whole life,” she answered quite calmly compared to my tone. I hate Lily. Catie and I have been communicating about Lily. We both agree about her. I wish we were done with them. Too bad Nina has to be 16 to start going to an adult dentist. Too bad she’s only turning 13. I wish I kept my old job. I can’t wait for them to move. Which I don’t think they’re thinking about doing. Too bad. That would be nice though. Catie and I can only wish. When will our lives get any bit easier? It’s hard to go through this drama. Can’t Nina be just a bit more responsible? (sighs)

That night I was on the phone with Catie.

“Hi Catie, how are Nina and Lily doing at your office?” I asked her.

“Annoying, of course. Shouldn’t Nina be old enough to handle braces?” She sounded very annoyed.

“How about I write Lily a letter?” I asked, hoping to cheer her up.

“Let me take care of the letter.” I bet she was smirking. I think we had set a trap. A good one. Hopefully she could pull off her part. I wish I could write our plan but that wouldn’t be appropriate because Lily and Nina both write in this journal. I don’t think Nina cares about what anyone writes, even hers. All I know is she’ll be really mad at me later today when I show up at Catie’s office. I don’t think Lily will either. I’m really worried what will happen. I think Catie and I both have a risk of losing our jobs. I hope that won’t happen. I’m not very good at interrogating. I know Nina is. I hope I can get around it. I have to go now. I’ll ship it to Mike ( Nina’s father ) in Las Vegas. Him, I can tolerate.

 

Mike

Lily may be the worst wife anyone could have. I wish I could be in charge of this family, not that I care. It’s only that Lily didn’t make much money to begin with. Now that she’s fired, she makes no money at all. I have to make all the money for nothing in return. That’s the only reason I was so rude to her that night on the phone. I really care about Nina and I want her to lead a good life. Lily is planning all these stupid braces. I wish she’d pay more attention to being fired. I hate her idea to get Nina braces. Every orthodontist Nina’s been to says she has perfect teeth. I really wish I could be around Nina more. I wish Lily and I could just get a divorce and be done. I love Nina. I want to get a divorce while Lily doesn’t have a job because then I’d  be the only responsible parent.  

Nina

Dad and I have been looking into jobs for dentists in Maine for Mom. Dad’s trying to get a divorce. I hope this all works out for Dad and me. Mom is so mean. I know Dad’s trying his best to handle Mom but it’s not working out too well. I hope Dad solves all these problems.  

 

Awkward Family Reunions

Time after time, day after day, people have family reunions. I don’t think anyone really likes them that much. Well, at least, I don’t. So why do we have them? They’re so awkward. We ask our parents countless times, “Why are they so important? Do we have to go?” and honestly, they don’t give a good enough reason for me. I think that is my parents’ way of saying, “I don’t want to go either.” Back to the point: why are family reunions so awkward, and what can we do make them less awkward?

“What makes family reunions so awkward?” you might ask. Well, here you go. One time, a middle-aged woman who was a stranger came up to me and said, “Oh my, Sey, you’ve grown so much. I remember when you were a little baby.” I was asking myself who she was. I asked my dad, and he didn’t give me an answer, so to this day I still wonder who she was.

Other times, I have no one to talk to, and I’m just at a table with some adults discussing politics. And there is always that aunt or uncle who you just can’t stand, who will ask you so enthusiastically the same boring questions that kids just don’t want to hear, like, “How’s your school year going?” or, “Are you getting good grades?” Seriously? Don’t you remember your childhood? NO kid wants those questions asked. These adults just make everything awkward. Even for my dad; he has that cousin who just talks too much, and when he saw him, he said to the whole family, “Rush by.” I kept on asking why he said it, and finally my mom said, “Daddy doesn’t want to talk to him; Daddy doesn’t want to start a whole conversation.” Then, I realized my dad thought my second cousin was annoying as heck. Honestly, once I met him, I realized I’d been standing there for longer than I meant to. By that point, I ran off to talk to my cousin about how I just had the longest conversation about my school year. Point is, avoid these people, because once you are sucked in, it’s very hard to get out again.  

So now I will give you some tricks for making family reunions less awkward for you (but maybe not for others). One, arrive at least one hour later than you are supposed to. You avoid the awkwardness of standing around making small talk with the other early arrivers (who are the absolute worst), and then, your family reunion is only half as long and half as painful. Secondly, pack your own food. Unless you are lucky enough to have your own private chef, you are going to have to eat that lousy, inexpensive, catered food. Take preventative measures and sneak off into the corner with a bag of num-nums. Do not share, unless you dare. Lastly, lie about your life. Before you head into the batcave, create a fictional story and memorize it. Here’s an example: say you live in some exotic place and have a huge house with a private chef, and that you have to call your private cricket instructor to say that you’ll be missing your appointment. I know these tips might sound overly rude, but really, don’t you want to test them out? Pass these tips on. They are sacred. But choose wisely, or everything could go wrong.

So now you know that family reunions are not only your most horrific moment of existence, but also others feel the same way, so you will never be alone on that note. Although you now know some ways to make family reunions less awkward, family reunions will still be that event that no one can say they had fun afterwards. So don’t feel alone, feel awkward. Just kidding. Let’s make these events less awkward and less painful!

 

Dramatic Fall: The Dramatic Story of When George Washington Went Skiing

It was December 25th, 1776, when George Washington buckled his boots and slid his feet into place on the dreaded wooden skis.

“I can do this,” he said to himself, nervously, before hopping onto the oncoming lift. He closed his eyes as his feet slid off the wooden plank. He took big, long breaths and tried to calm himself down. After he thought he was a good distance off the ground, he opened his eyes. Immediately, the chair lift stopped.

“It’s okay,” he said to himself. “It will start up soon. I will just lean back and…” He had fallen from the chair lift!

“I hold these truths to be self evident, that all men will survive falling to their deaths from chair lifts,” he chanted all the way down to the snow below.

When he hit the snow, he rolled all the way down to the the next flat landing. He stayed there curled up into a ball for at least ten minutes. When he finally had the courage to stand up again, he found his troops standing in front of him.

“Are you ok, General Washington?” they politely asked.

“Yes, I am fine,” George Washington replied.

“Let’s go to my house for tea!” one of the soldiers stated.

“Yes, but the only way there from here is to cross the Delaware river…”

 

Ice Cream Is Great

   

with milk inside, and the 14 grams of sugar, and the variety of flavors, strawberry, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, chocolate, and superman, plus the taste in your mouth, and how your tongue turns into a glacier when you eat too much at once, also how sometimes the cone is edible, so your parents can’t scold you for wasting anything, and how the edible cones are sometimes made of waffles which are also great and add to the sweet taste of ice cream, and how, with sundaes, there are a bunch of different flavors plus the literal meaning of the phrase “with a cherry on top,” and how you can choose your own toppings like rainbow sprinkles or chocolate sprinkles or pretty-much-whatever, and that is why I love ice cream, what do you think?

sundaes with the fancy glass and how you can combine different flavors and how at some places you get a fancy spoon and you can stuff your face and how you would have a fudge mustache and then your parents get mad but it is still worth it because you have five scoops of ice cream and it’s way better than normal ice cream because it lasts way longer and you get a brain freeze but your tongue is still like antarctica.

at 7g of fat, 29 mg of cholesterol, 53 mg of sodium, 131 mg of potassium, carbohydrates, 16g protein, 2.3g vitamin A, 5% Ben and Jerry’s

And don’t forget Peachwave!

going to Ben and Jerry’s

with my dad

me and him

laughing

marshmallow sauce mustache

strawberry ice cream dribbling down my chin

laughing while licking

with everything everywhere

people looking at us like we’re crazy

I can’t imagine

anything better than that.

Ogre and Sophie and Most of All Sophia

Once upon a time… wait! I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Sophocles –– Sophie for short. I love the cool colors; blue, purple, and green. I am a boy. I am a leprechaun who is kind, and NOT full of mischief. I want to make the world better.

All the people in my village were scared of the ogre, but I thought that the ogre was probably actually kind. The ogre was just misunderstood.

One day, I was playing with my best friend Sophia, and we started talking about the ogre.

“Why are they scared of the ogre? I think he’s just nice. What has he done?” I asked.

“I agree with you,” Sophia said.

“Let’s find out, and let’s talk to her.”

“Sophie, why? I’m really glad you want to go see the ogre, but we need to do it in secret.  We can’t tell our parents. They’d be worried. Do you agree?”

“Yeah.”

“But I hate lying to our parents. What should we do?” Sophia was worried.

“Maybe just say ‘Hi’ to the ogre and run away?”

“That’s a good idea. Maybe we should tell them after. Then it’s not really lying.”

“That’s a good idea.”

They walk through the forest.  

“It’s so dark in this wood. Hold my hand, Sophie! I’m scared,” Sophia said.

An owl hooted.

“What’s that?” Sophia screamed.

“It’s just an owl.”

“Oh! Look!” Sophia pointed. “It’s her.”  

The ogre was singing a song about loneliness and love and how she wanted to have friends. She was playing the cello.

“Oh, how I wish I had friends, but I’m so ugly to the end. Oh, how I wish I had love, but I sigh and eat a dove.” She was holding a dove and apologizing for using the rhyme.

“Hello!” The ogre said, noticing us. “Who are you? You’re so cute!”

“I’m Sophie, and this is my friend Sophia! Who are you?”

“Why, I’m Pip Bounce.”

“I just wanted to know why the villagers are afraid of you.”

“I don’t know, maybe because I’m ugly. I was a princess, but a witch turned me into an ugly ogre! The only way to break the curse is if I become friends with the people of the village!”  

“M-maybe you could help the villagers. We’re having a harvest and we could use your height!” Sophia suggested.

“Good idea,” Pip Bounce said.

“Sophie!” My mom entered the clearing. “Where have you been?” She saw the ogre and screamed while running away, “AHH!”  

We all ran after her, and Pip Bounce followed us all the way into town, filling a large basket with apples.

“They’re friends with the ogre!” someone cried. Pip Bounce leaned down and handed apples to the people. With a flash, she transformed back into the princess she was. Everyone now knew she was a trustworthy princess who was actually kind.

Song of the Wolves

Tala

I trekked through the damp forest, which had been washed recently from the rain during day. The night air felt damp against my skin. My moccasins made no sound as I walked on the soggy grass. I was quiet, trying not to disturb the newborn fawns and the deer who were sleeping. The wind brushed lightly against the trees, making them move and rock like a crib. The sound of water became louder, which made me know I was going in the right direction.

I finally made it to the clearing of my favorite spot. I sat down on a log as I watched the waterfall blend in with the moon, making the water look like stars coming out of the moon. The creek rushed the stars to a place I don’t know. I sighed, looking at the marvelous picture that was set before me. I love it here. Peace and quiet. It was a full moon, and the moon seemed bigger and brighter here than any other part of the land. It made me feel like I could touch it, even though it was impossible. The rushing of the water soothed my troubles and the view erased all of my thoughts. I sighed as I listened to the water splashing and closed my eyes. I knew that someday I wouldn’t be able to listen to this sound anymore. Something told me that there would be a time when I wouldn’t be able to sing in harmony with the water and the wolves at this place.

The wolves where our tribe is are named the Wolf Clan. I opened my mouth and let out a still note that echoed across the valley. I stopped and heard a wolf let out the same note. I started to sing the stories our ancestral people told us about the wolves, as the elders said. I sang songs of wishing for peace and forever bonding with the magnificent creatures. The wolf accompanied me as we sang a duet that no other Cherokee people can sing. A song so full of harmony that it seemed to be a single language. When we ended, I heard something run on the soggy grass. I turned around and saw a wolf, a young pup. Its eyes were like the moon, glistening and shining. It came close to me and sniffed my hand when I reached out. I walked in circles and it followed me.

“You should be my pet wolf. I will name you Usgiyi, which means ‘Snow Moon.’ You like the ancient songs, and while it is the snow moon, the elders tell stories in the village,” I said.  Usgiyi gave a playful yip and I rubbed its silver fur.

“My name is Tala, and you will be my companion forever,” I whispered. Usgiyi rubbed its face in my arm.  

**********************************

Ama

I was lying in my teepee, listening to the breathing of my sister, who was asleep next to me. I crept from the blanket and pulled on my moccasins. I opened the flap of the teepee slowly, and then crept outside. I almost tripped over my grandmother Tala’s old moccasins. I put them back where they were supposed to be and continued to go out. My moccasins thumped loudly against the dry dirt ground. I ran around the neighbors’ gardens and their huge wagons that they used from the marching, and bumped into a few rocks. I reached the huge lake a little bit away from the camp. I was sweating from the run and the warm, humid air stuck to my arm like flies. I breathed in the freshness of the lake and saw the moon’s reflection on the lake along with the stars, even though there was no waterfall like great-grandmother Tala had described to my mother. She had told me the stars shone brightly around the moon, like it was saying that the moon was special and important.

The mysterious owls hooted around and fluttered here and there, their feathers falling like the moon’s light dropping to the ground. I heard footsteps and turned around. I saw one of the wolves from our tribe. I sighed in relief and reached my hand out. I rubbed the silver coat and hummed the song my mother always sang, saying that Tala started the song with the wolves. The wolf caught on and we sang quietly, the song of the ancestors. The song that brought peace to the clan and helped us be at peace with the wolves who help us when we are in trouble. I knew it wasn’t as good as Tala’s, but I finally knew what it felt like to bond with a wolf like Tala. A bond I knew would last forever.

“I will name you… Svnoyi. I am Ama. I want you to be my partner forever,” I said, like Tala had said to her wolf. It liked that name. I smiled as I rubbed its soft, warm head against my cold arm. I remembered the stories of the old tribal camp and the march that the whites’ government made us march. I was angry at them. Because of them we had to move to new, filthy land with not many trees. A lot of our tribe, the Cherokee, died from the journey. I remembered the stories the elders told, the stories that Tala knew and  named her wolf after. I also remembered what Tala did for the tribe, and I wanted to be like her. To be brave and carry on the tradition of the wolves and our forever bond with them. I gave Svnoyi a necklace I was wearing.

“Here is a necklace I made. I have another one. I will wear it and you will wear yours.  This will show our bond. We will work together to save our people, like what Tala did,” I said.  Svnoyi nodded and jumped up and down, determined to do that.

 

****************************************

Immokalee

I was walking on a frozen path, huddled in a worn, faded jacket, my bracelet jingling from my shivers. I kept scolding myself that I was crazy, being outside in the middle of the night in winter in Alaska, the coldest state, but I kept going. Tonight was a full moon, and I wasn’t going to miss it. It was going to be a beautiful night. The coldness touched my arm, and making it ice cold and giving me goosebumps. The wind flew through the icy bare trees and made a howl against the icicles. Ice crunched under my tight leather shoes, sort of like a moccasin that was way too small for me. I wished that it was warmer, like in Oklahoma where great-grandmother Ama was. I hiked through the woods and finally reached my destination.

I swept away the snow on a stump with my hand, covered by a part of the jacket, before sitting down. I was staring at a river, which froze a few weeks ago. The moon reflected onto the ice, like it was stuck frozen in the river. The stars were twinkling, like they was trying to get out and help the moon to break free from the ice. I breathed, and my breath hung in the air like father’s tobacco smoke. I couldn’t stop myself from going open-eyed at the sight.

I was happy we didn’t have to pay to watch this scene, because our family didn’t have money since the Great Depression. I knew that looking at the moon angled on top of water was a family tradition in my Wolf’s Clan. I remembered stories that my mother used to tell me before she passed away from a disease that my father never told me about. Stories like what my ancestor Tala did when she hiked to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears and what my great-great grandmother Ama did to save the tribe. I remembered that they all had wolves, and they bonded with them. I also remembered that it was Tala who first sang a song full of peace and forever bonding with the wolves who helped us when we were in trouble.

I sang the song, my voice echoing through the icicles. I sang the stories that were passed down by mouth and of the forgotten people who died while protecting our tribe and those who died while we were forcibly moved to Oklahoma. A howl accompanied me and I stopped, surprised. I looked around and saw a wolf. I sang, looking at the wolf. It sang with me and we continued to sing to the end of the song. I felt a huge bond between me and the wolf. It was a warm feeling, a feeling that someone loved and trusted me. It walked up to me and nuzzled its muzzle onto my leg.

“Hey, I am Imookalee,” I whispered.

It yapped.

“I think I will name you Nvda,” I said.

It nodded.  

“I want you to be my partner forever,” I said.

Nvda nodded.

I took off my cold bracelet and motioned Nvda to lift it’s paw. I put the bracelet on it’s leg. “This will represent our bond,” I said.

It nodded and I wondered how I was going to feed it. Father didn’t have a job and there are no animals in the winter time. But, I figured that Nvda would figure out on its own.

“I will make one like it and we will wear it always,” I concluded. I touched the glossy silver fur and Nvda gave a happy yap.

*****************************************

Amadahy

I stayed still in my bed. I made sure no one was awake when I crept out of my bed. My ancestor Tala’s moccasins, my other ancestor (a few generations younger) Ama’s necklace, and my great-great-grandmother Immokalee’s bracelet were in their special spot on my desk, glimmering from the moon’s light.

I slowly opened my door, little groans coming from the hinges, and crept down the stairs. I tiptoed across the living room and into the kitchen. I made sure not to rattle the pots and pans  on the drying rack. I shoved on my worn-out blue Nike sneakers and opened the back door slowly. I went outside, closed it, and walked to the woods in my backyard. I walked on the trail we made, but swerved to the left around a fourth of it and walked straight ahead. The trees swayed a little from the breeze and the leaves rustled. Fireflies blinked everywhere, making little lights to guide my way through the forest. The wind tickled my arm and my pajama shirt fluttered a little. I finally came upon a waterfall and a creek rushed the water to somewhere else. The moon blended in with the moon in the water, and the water was like stars coming out of the moon and rushing along the creek, like what Tala saw a few centuries ago. I am in the exact place where Tala saw her waterfall and met Usgiyi.

Here is my brief description of my family, Tala, Ama, and Immookalee, and me. I am currently in Tennessee, where the Wolf’s Clan was before. The Wolf Clan was part of a Native American tribe called the Cherokee. Tala lived near the end of the 1700s, around when the European settlers moved west in the United States. A few decades later, in about 1835, they were forced to move to Oklahoma. Ama’s story takes place in Oklahoma, about 20 or more years after the move. Then, Immokalee’s parents moved to Alaska when the Great Depression hit, which was about 1929, by horse and wagon, which took a really long time. All of them were pretty well known in the Cherokee history for their bonding with wolves and what they did with them. Tala and Usgiyi were the most well known out of the three of them, and were very well known for saving the tribe a lot of times. She sang about the stories when the tribe was fighting against the wolves when the wolves were too close to the clan. She sang that it was no use to fight them and that the wolves would help the tribe later. The wolves stayed and they helped the tribe when the ‘evil’ Beaver Clan went into the tribe to take over the land.

The wolves helped and they won the battle by taking the weapons and biting them. Tala also brought the idea of helping animals, which helped the tribe a lot. She gave hope to the Cherokees when they were marching to Oklahoma. She sang the stories and helped the others continue to remember the stories of their ancestors and the myths. Usgiyi had pups, which stayed with the tribe forever. She got the title “Singer of Hope and Peace,” and continued to help the tribe. She had a daughter later on, who later had Ama.  Ama loved Tala and she helped the tribe by also bonding with a wolf.

When the white people came, Tala and Ama stood up for the tribe and helped fight, and later they died together. Ama saved the tribe and the wolf helped too, which gave her the title “Warrior of the Wolves.” She had a girl before she died, who had the grandmother of Immokalee. Immokalee’s father moved to Alaska with her mother because he wanted to see the world, but was at the wrong time. He moved to Alaska, hoping to find leftover gold, which he never found.

After bonding, Immokalee stayed in Alaska, had a few kids, and lived with the wolves. She protected them from harm and poachers. She later moved back to the clan, who were still living in the same spot in Oklaholma. She lived there and inspired a few people to protect the land of the Cherokee. She got the title “The Bringer of Justice and Truth.” One of her kids had my great-grandmother. I came later on and here I am, in the 21st century. I feel proud of them, each facing a difficult time with a fellow wolf, who they trusted and stayed loyal to.

I closed my eyes and breathed in the air. I was sad that I couldn’t sing the song. It had gotten lost someplace in history after Immookalee sang the song with her wolf. Someone didn’t sing the song or didn’t pass it down, so no one knows what the exact words were. Not many people remember the stories the ancestors told of the wolves and the tribe, or even knew there was a song about it at all.

Not many people even know the Wolf Clan; only the people whose ancestors were in our tribe. Most are still in the same spot where Ama was about two centuries ago. I was sort of envious of my ancestors. They got to sing the song, but here I am, a descendent of some of the greatest people in Cherokee history, and I don’t even know half the lyrics of the song my ancestors sang.  

I opened my eyes and sighed. I knew I had to enjoy the view. There isn’t much chance to see it, since there is school on most of the nights there is a full moon.

I sang the beginning unknowingly, singing the first few lines. Then I forgot the rest, like I usually did when I tried to sing the song. I sighed, annoyed at myself. Then, I heard a faint howling in the rhythm of the song. I followed its lead and we sang, without words, of the song that my ancestors sang. I sang the parts I knew, but sang the notes for the places I didn’t. I heard the song echoing in the woods when we finished our duet. I heard something come behind me and I whirled around, my body in defensive mode. You never can be sure if a person might kidnap you, which is sort of common in the 21st century, but not really in Tennessee.

I relaxed my pose when I saw a wolf pup. It whined and put his head onto my lap. I awkwardly pet its head. I don’t have a pet. Its blue, beady eyes looked at me and it started to howl the song. I realized this was the wolf who sang the song with me.

“You are the one who sang it with me?” I asked the wolf, hoping it knew some English.  It nodded and yapped a few times.

“I am Amadahy. Nice to meet you, uh… wolf,” I said.  It sighed at the word “wolf.”

“I guess I will have to name you. I will name you Waya,” I said, thinking of my limited Cherokee language. Waya is basically “wolf” in Cherokee, one of the words my mother told me to memorize. It yapped (I am pretty sure it doesn’t know the meaning) happily. I remembered a story of the bonding, and I held out my bandana I was wearing.

“I want you to be my partner forever,” I said.

It nodded and lifted its paw, like it knew what to do. I wrapped the bandana around the leg and knotted it twice, making sure it couldn’t fall off. When I finished, it jumped into my lap and slept soundly. I smiled as I brushed its fur. I knew that I would pass on the rhythm of the song forever and ever and not make a mistake. I also knew that it was my turn to continue the tradition of the ancient song that brought peace and forever bonding to my clan.

Moon Shadows

We amble on the sidewalks,

The crevices connecting our hearts.

The brilliant glow of the moon

Lighting our path to destiny.

We think we have it figured out,

Old and polished.

But we realize that we’re wrong

As we stumble blindly through the shadows of the moon

Submerged in blue.

Sometimes we fall asleep under the stars,

Because we are not ready to be ordinary.

We’re extraordinary.

As for the moment, at least.

Darling, we’re adventurers

And there’s definitely not anything wrong with that.

We’re ready to see the world,

So bring it on Planet Earth.

Prince Almando

When he reached sixteen, Prince Almando refused to be treated like a child, unlike his siblings, Williant, Sarafina, and Gretona.

The day after his birthday, instead of leaving his pajamas on, he put on his royal robe of red silk. He sat down straight like a king. My, he thought, my sisters and brother look so young compared to me in their silk pajamas.

Gretona sat on Father’s lap. Williant was eleven, and allowed Mother’s arm to be around him. And Serafina was almost ten and still cuddled with her china doll. Almando was so deep in thought that he spilled his porridge on his lap, leaving a gray, gooey stain.

“Almando, my dear, dear boy,” Maid Sylvia cried. “How many times do we have to talk about table manners!?”

“I am not a child,” Almando declared. “I would like to no longer be called ‘my dear boy.’”

“Almando,” his father said sternly, adjusting Gretona on his knee. “Please go change.”

Almando stood up politely and took steps one at a time like a gentlemen. In his room he slid on his horseback riding uniform, blue with gold trimming. Then, he quietly walked down the stairs.

“There’s a nice mud pit outside from that rain,” the children’s ‘playmate’ said, “you just yank on those ol’ mud bathin’ suits and you’ be ready to go.”

“I will not be prancing around with that diaper on!” Almando declared.

“Almando,” Lilika, the Queen, said. “They are not diapers. And I think it was very generous of Harry to offer to take you out. If you continue to have this behavior you will go upstairs.

Almando scowled at his mother. “Ma’am…”

“Almando!” the King thundered, “She is your mother! I appreciate your politeness but it is not needed!”

Angrily, Almando got up. “I’m going horseback riding.”

Two hours later, Almando’s uniform was torn and he was bleeding. The royal horse was running around in circles trying to get the too-small bridle out of his mouth. Almando pulled himself to his feet and stumbled to the castle.

After escaping his father’s scolding, Almando went up to the boys’ room, which used to be a nursery before he was sixteen. Williant sat on his bed, smushing the blue comforter.

“Still trying to be a man?” he asked, sounding almost pitiful. “You’re brave, Almando.”

Pondering the meaning of his little brother’s words, Almando strolled to the bathroom in a would-be casual way, as if he hadn’t been bleeding. Hoping not be caught by a maid, he crept into the crystal bathroom. Finding it empty of people, he wrapped bandages around his bleeding fingers.

He walked back downstairs, wanting to read one of his father’s books just to prove that he could. Almando read quickly, mostly to get to the good part: the end. It was some book about rules and courtesies, and it was very boring. Almando’s father walked in and sat down on the couch next to him. Almando’s father pointed to rule number two hundred and one.

“What does this mean?” his father asked.

“When one reaches the age of eighteen years he will be considered a grown man and shall be treated like one,” Almando read aloud. He frowned. The king smiled wisely.

“Almando, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. You are sixteen. I know this will ruffle your feathers, but you are still a child. Manhood will come, Almando, manhood will come.”

He wrapped his arm around Almando’s shoulders, and, Almando, even though he was sixteen, leaned his head on his father’s shoulder.

The Lonely Glimmer of the Moon

The stars on navy black nights

wink at humans who stare up at the lonely glimmer of the moon.

The mystery girl sits on the dusty pewter gray surface

her lanky legs hanging down, dangling above the world she knew so well.

She hums a lullaby for the people to drift off to sleep,

into the world of dreams.

Where the world’s sins and rainy days are forgotten,

where there is a new glimmer of hope for each and every one of us.

The map in the center sets us on our path to destiny,

and at the end of the day,

the mystery girl dances among the stars.

Rose Red

The rain compacts with the light,

the colors shine in my face.

Rose red,

ripe peach orange.

Sunset yellow,

mint leaf green.

Ocean blue,

and plump grape purple.

 

The window shades are pulled back,

and all eyes are staring out.

Rose red,

ripe peach orange.

Sunset yellow,

mint leaf green.

Ocean blue,

and plump grape purple.

 

And as soon as it arrives,

it disappears just like that.

Rose red…

is the last to leave.

 

Buzzer’s Adventure

“Buzz!” said the bee, “I’m awful thirsty for some nectar.”

He looked at the garden next door, and wondered about how beautiful the flowers looked and if he could find some nectar there. He flew over, and he was almost there. His wings grew tired, and just when he was about to reach the garden, a giant planet crashed directly in the middle of his path! The bee tried to fly over it, but his wings were still too tired. Then, the bee tried to walk around it. But, the bee wasn’t quite used to walking.

Suddenly, the bee felt sleepy from trying to fly and walk. So, he decided to take a nap, but, while he was sleeping, the planet snatched him! When the bee woke up, he felt dizzy and confused. After all, he was inside a planet. The bee was worried, and desperately wanted to get out. He noticed that the creatures surrounding him were not bees at all. They were big, scary, and slimy monsters!

“Now I’ll never get my nectar,” wondered the bee aloud.

Soon after, a monster came forward, screaming. The words didn’t make much sense at first. Then, the bee heard his name.

“Buzzer! Buzzer! Is that you?” The monster kept screaming. The bee grew very scared and did not respond.

“Buzzer? Are you asleep? Talk to me or something!” yelled the monster, still thinking Buzzer was asleep.

“Who are you? And why do you know my name?” asked Buzzer.

“Don’t you know that everybody knows everybody’s name on this planet?” roared the monster as though it were obvious.

The bee shook his head.

“Nevermind. Anyway, what are you doing on the floor?” Asked the monster, changing the subject.

“I felt dizzy, so I fell down,” said the bee. The conversation grew friendlier. The bee and the monster weren’t so scared of each other anymore.

“Do you know a way out of here?” inquired the bee.

“No, but I’ll help you find a way out,” responded the monster.

The two began to walk, only to hear a deep voice. The voice was rough like a rock: all hard and edgy. Buzzer and Mr. Monster froze.

“Who are you?” boomed the voice. The pair looked around, only to find an orange and purple polka-dotted troll.

“ It is I, Buzzer and Mr. Monster,” stuttered the bee.

The bee points to a wobbly and unsturdy bridge, indicating that he and Mr. Monster want to cross it.

“You may not pass unless you answer my riddle.”

“Ok, what is your riddle?” asked the bee.

If you know what ‘beep bop boop’ means,” questioned the troll.

“Ummm. Not really,” exclaimed Buzzer.

But Mr. Monster knew what it meant. Those strange words translate to “cheeseburger.”

Finally, the pair walked across the rickety bridge. Once on solid ground, Buzzer asked a question.

“What is a cheeseburger?” inquired Buzzer.

“You don’t know what a cheeseburger is?! Well, I guess we’re going to have to stop for lunch,” said Mr. Monster, who didn’t seem so much like a monster anymore.

They all cheered. They walked and walked until their legs couldn’t carry them. They saw the lunch place, first. Next, they thought they saw a slimey monster, but really, it was an alien from Jotsifooja, a planet tucked in a far away galaxy. lt looked brown, scrawny, and was very short.

Buzzer exclaimed, “I didn’t know how many monsters were on this planet!”

“That’s not a monster from this planet! That’s an intruder!” screams Mr. Monster, scaring the rest of his friends.

“Woah, woah. There’s no need to scream. I’m Sapphire, a visitor from Jotsifooja. All I wanted was a cup of coffee and a cheeseburger,” Sapphire calmly explained.

“Again with the cheeseburgers! When am I going to have one?” joked Buzzer.

The restaurant was a narrow, tall building with a pointy top. Inside, the walls were grey and chipped. It looked as though someone had smeared slime all over it. The tables were unsturdy and rusty.

They went to get a cheeseburger. Still, they ran into more problems. A silly waiter told the crew that cheeseburgers were scarce because another employee kept eating them. Buzzer didn’t mind, though. He was a little scared to try new foods. What if it wasn’t good for him? However, Mr. Monster reacted differently. He had a total meltdown. He wanted Buzzer to try a cheeseburger. In fact, he wanted everyone to try a cheeseburger.

Mr. Monster ran out the door without a word. He kept running until he reached the edge of the planet.

“Wait up!” Buzzer yelled, flying as fast as his wings could carry him.

“A cheeseburger would have solved all the planet’s problems! World peace and everything! There’s no point in staying now,” Mr. Monster weeped.

“So I’m going home?” Buzzer asked.

“No. We’re both going home,” Mr. Monster said.

But before they could make the final jump, a trail of smoke wrapped around the pair. The air was black. Then, a witch appeared! Now, you would expect a witch to be green, but this was no regular witch. She was blue, purple, and orange all over. Her hair was messy, long with short pieces sticking out. It was brown, a very ugly color. She hopped off the burning vacuum cleaner, which was her favorite way to get around. Also, it caused all the smoke.

“Nobody leaves this planet without my permission! Unless they have a license, of course,” the witch said, her voice becoming lighter at the end.

“But, I got sucked into the planet. I don’t have a license,” said Buzzer, while Mr. Monster tried to shake a license out of his ball of goo.

“Here! Here’s our license,” Mr. Monster said, handing the witch his license.

“Oh, yes. You may go, “said the witch without even looking at it.

“Yes, oh yes! We’re out! You know, I can’t believe I wanted nectar. Now I have something even better: a friend,” Buzzer said aloud, hugging Mr. Monster as they jumped.

The Art Thief

 

Chapter 1

 

May 17th, 2014, 2:47 p.m.

Art Museum

Albany, New York

 

A great piece of art called, “The Finch,” was about to be revealed today at 2:50. Crowds gathered all around to see this masterpiece.

The clock ticked slowly. Each tick filled with anticipation and wonder. Finally the clock read 2:50, and the curtains dropped. Their mouths agape when they saw it. Nothing. Behind the curtains was pitch black. Nothing to be seen.

“Robbery! Robbery!” a voice screamed from the hallway. “Someone has stolen my masterpiece!” De’Livito yelled, worry on his face. “How will I ever find it?”

Thankfully, a security guard turned around to find a person in a dark cloak running. A painting next to him.

“Thief!” the guard yelled. The chase was on.

The  owner, Se’delava, quickly ushered his guards to chase the thief. The guards quickly took off.

“I hope they catch this fool. That painting cost a fortune.”

Crashing through paintings and exquisite pottery, the thief seemed determined.

He knocked over another beautiful sculpture made out of glass, creating an ear splitting shatter, as glass covered the ground.

Defeat hovered over the guards heads as they turned back. The art thief had won that day.

  

 

Chapter 2

 

May 18th, 2014, 6:22 p.m.

Joplin Family Residence

Albany, New York:

 

Lucas threw the football to Van. It sailed through the air, and Van surprisingly managed to catch it. He threw it back to Lucas, and Lucas got hit in the face with the football and fell to the ground.

“You alright?” Van asked Lucas, giving him a hand.

“Yeah I’m fine. Just surprised me, that’s all.”

“Lucas and Van Joplin! Come into the house this instant!” a voice sounded from the inside.

“Okay, Mom!” Lucas and Van said in unison, and started to walk to their house.

“What did you do this time?” Lucas said pushing Van, a smile on his face.

Van gave him a shove too as they walked inside.

“Dinner time!” Van and Lucas’s Mom yelled from the kitchen.

“Don’t scare us like that, Mom.” Lucas said. “We thought you found Dad’s bowling ball that we scratched.

“What?!” their mom yelled without thinking.

“Oh, nothing…” Van said as he pushed Lucas away from their Mom.

“Anyway boys, check this out,” their mom said as she turned the TV on to show a reporter was talking.

“I am standing outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There has been a robbery where a new painting called, “The Finch” has been stolen. Mr. De’Livito is devastated. If you see the painting or someone acting suspicious, please call 9-1-1.”

Lucas and Van’s Mom shut off the TV.

“De’Livito!” Lucas exclaimed.

“Who?” Van asked.

“Our neighbors next door. You know crazy Maggie?”

“Yes,” Van said.

“She’s Maggie De’Livito.”

“Maggie is NOT crazy,” their Mom said. “You’ve just never met her. In fact, you’re going to go over there and say sorry that her father lost his painting.”

“Aw, Mom! But…” Lucas didn’t even finish his sentence.

“No buts. You’ll go in the morning.”

  

Chapter 3

 

May 19th, 2014, 9:33 a.m.

De’Livito Residence

Albany, New York

 

Maggie groggily got out of bed. She put on her glasses, went downstairs, poured herself a bowl of cereal, and waited for her parents to get back from New York.

The doorbell rang, and Maggie rushed to the door. Had her parents really come back so early? But it wasn’t her parents. She opened the door to find her next door neighbor, Lucas, standing there.

“Um…hey,” Lucas said. His eyes wide like he expected no one to open the door.

“Hi? What do you want?” Maggie inquired.

“I just wanted to say sorry for your dad losing his art to the jerk thief,” Lucas started. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” Maggie said and opened the door a little bit wider for him.

“Wow…” Lucas said, eyeing all the paintings. “Your dad definitely does a lot of painting in his free time.

“Yeah I always come home from school to find three new paintings hanging up in my room,” Maggie chuckled.

“What does your mom do?”

“Oh, she’s the owner of De’Livito Tech,” Maggie said.

“I would have never guessed…” Lucas said, rolling his eyes.

“Oh, this is one he did recently,” Maggie said starting up the conversation again. She pointed to one of the attacks of 9/11 her father had done five days ago, showing planes hitting the twin towers and people running everywhere, flooding the streets. Grief hit Lucas in the face hard.

“What’s wrong?” Maggie asked.

“My dad was killed during 9/11.” Lucas said. Shock hit Maggie even harder. “He was on the 84th floor when the planes hit,” Lucas said, choking on his words. “He didn’t make it.”

“I’m so sorry.” Maggie said, not knowing what it was like to lose a family member. “At least they didn’t PLAN to kill your father.” 

“Plan! That’s it!” Lucas said. “Maggie. We’re going to catch the art thief!”

                    

 

Chapter 4

                    

May 19th, 2014, 12:39 p.m.

De’Livito Residence Backyard

Albany, New York

 

Maggie and Lucas strategized their plan. “So where do you think the art thief is going to break into next?” Lucas asked.

“Stop playing dumb! You SAW my house! It was like World War Two was going on with paintings in there!” Maggie yelled.

“Okay. So if everything goes according to plan, then the art thief will strike at 2:45, like before, and we can catch and unmask him.

“Alright.” Maggie said. “Now we wait.”

              

May 19th, 2014, 2:39 p.m.

 

The thief hid under the bushes. Using a paper clip, he picked at the De’Livitos’ door and opened it. Inside were paintings galore. “I could make a fortune out of this,” he said under his breath.

Quickly he began stuffing all the paintings that he could fit into his big duffel bag. He was about to walk out the door when his foot hit something. It was a little string, almost like a tripwire.

“Oh no…” the art thief said. He had barely any time to ponder when a net fell on him, trapping him securely to the ground.

“Ha! We got you,” a voice yelled from the kitchen. Maggie stepped into the light and grabbed a phone. “Hello? 9-1-1. Yes, this is Maggie at the De’Livito residence. We have the thief.” Then she hung up.

Lucas stepped out from the other corner and pointed a flashlight at the robber’s face. “Let’s see who this jerk is.” Lucas said, pulling off the mask. His eyes widened. His voice choked. “D… d… da… dad?”

 

Chapter 5

 

May 19th, 2014, 2:53 p.m.

De’Livito Residence

Albany, New York

 

“But…you’re dead!” Lucas said, his eyes wide in fear and disbelief.

“Your dad!” Maggie said, rushing over.

“No, son, I was not dead. I’m sorry, Lucas. I’m sorry,” Lucas’s father began to speak. “I had crawled out the back door just as the towers exploded, burying everyone in the rubble. The rescuers couldn’t find my body, so they thought I must have been buried under the rubble. So I ran. I began stealing and selling paintings to make a living now that your mom wasn’t there to help me. I had to let the whole world believe I was dead so that none of these thefts would get traced back to me. ”

“You lied to me…” Lucas said, his eyes dark. Fear and disbelief now washed out with anger and pure hatred. “You lied to our family! You lied to the entire world! I thought I could look up to you as a business man. But you’re no better than those rat thieves. I called you a jerk, Dad. A JERK! I’m not going to tell anyone this! But you mark my words: I will now always hate you.” His words had a piercing sting. And, just then, officers barged in, knocking down the door.

 

2 Days Later…

 

“Lucas! Van! Look!” their mother said, turning up the TV.

 

“The art thief has been captured but refuses to be named,” the reporter said. “This is a happy day for the De’Livitos but a dark day for the thief.”

“Thankfully that man is now in jail,” their mom said. “How could anyone love him for what he’s done?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know…” Lucas muttered under his breath.

THE END

The Mermaid Who Stole a Diamond

The moment Pearl saw the diamond, she wanted it, but the diamond was being guarded very securely. There were two guards, four bars, and an alarm. If Pearl tried to get the diamond, she would be caught for sure. Pearl had to think of a plan. She knew that if she didn’t have a plan, a police submarine would come after her. She thought and thought all afternoon.

Pearl swam into her small, cramped home. Her home was shaped as a circle. There were six doors leading off the main room. Three doors lead to bedrooms: Hers, her mom’s, and her brother’s. One door lead to the bathroom. The last door lead to their kitchen. Pearl swam down the hall that lead to her room. Pearl flopped down on her tiny, but comfortable bed.

Pearl’s room was decorated with a lot of posters. The posters had pictures of  very valuable items. There was even a small piece of gold in the corner of the room! She had gotten the gold when she won the lottery. Pearl had never wanted anything so much. She was a collector of valuables. Pearl was obsessed with diamonds and gold. She became obsessed when she first saw a block of gold. She was six. Now at twelve years she still loved valuables. Pearl got out a roll of parchment and a bottle of ink.

Pearl was going to make a plan. She dipped her quill into the ink and wrote a list. The list was of what Pearl was going to bring on her expedition. The list included a rock, a pair of large pliers, and an invisibility potion. The rock was to make a distraction. Pearl would throw the rock away from her to cause a distraction. Pearl would use the pliers to pry open the bars. She would drink the invisibility potion so that the guards won’t see her. As for the alarm, well, the rock would set the alarm off anyway.

Pearl went to the kitchen and got a pack of sea snacks. Since Pearl was going to get the diamond at midnight she knew that she had to rest. Pearl sat down on her bed and opened her snack. She found herself dreaming about the diamond. She dreamt about the way it glistened…

Before Pearl knew it, the time was 11:59. Pearl swam to the museum with the sack slung over her shoulder. Pearl thought of the way the diamond would feel if it was in her hands. Pearl was breathing heavily as she threw the rock through the bars. The rock landed right by the guards. Perfect. The guards looked around stupidly as the alarm went off. They walked to the entrance of the museum and shone their flashlights into the night. One of the guards pointed their flashlight at the other one. The two guards started tackling each other out of the museum. This gave Pearl the perfect chance to pry open the bars. Suddenly, the alarm stopped ringing. She couldn’t help but smile.

Pearl took out the pliers and pried open the bars. She had her hands on the diamond. Just as Pearl was about to take the diamond and go home, she stopped in her tracks. One of the museum guards had spotted her. Pearl dropped her bag and swam for her house as fast as she could. Pearl was breathing heavily as she entered her house. Pearl sank down onto her bed and started to cry.

The next morning Pearl was surprised to see her Dad standing over her. She barely ever saw her dad.

“Pearl, somebody tried to steal the diamond at the museum last night.” Pearl’s heart skipped a beat. Did he know? “The museum decided that the diamond wasn’t safe. So, they gave it to me. I’ve decided to give it to you.” Pearl smiled at her Dad as he handed her the diamond. Pearl had gotten the diamond and she didn’t even have to do a thing.   

 

When I Went Down the Rabbit Hole

Dedicated to:

Isabella for being the coolest writing buddy

Maddie  for ALWAYS commenting on my stories

Amanda S. for always knowing the coolest video to share

Amanda C. for all of your awesome help

Lena I have known you for only a few months but I feel like I have known you for a few years.

Emily S. for having the coolest quirkiest stories to share

—-

When I went down the rabbit hole,

I saw the sky come to a hold.

The echo of the Cheshire Cat

wearing the Mad Hatter’s hat.

As my blue dress flows in the wind,

my head feels like it’s in mid-spin.

I hear the rabbit!

“Late, so late.”

As he runs through a flying gate,

I duck with hands over my head

because I saw a flying bed.

“When will I get out of here?”

I scream and I scream with fear.

Until I hit into a wall

and on my back a baby crawls.

A glass shard that is oh so tall

reads the words

“Eat me.”

I climb on top a table top

and brace myself for the big hop

to land on top the mystery liquid,

and get ready for lots of sippin’.

I hear the noise of my own slurp,

and then I hear a birdy chirp.

It’s body was all big and fat,

and it pecks on the wall with a rat a tat tat.

When I went down the rabbit hole

I saw the sky come to a hold.

The Lady Sings

I’m jumping so high but it’s not me

She’s jumping so high her boots can’t touch the ground

No color, no touch, no smell, nothing in such sort

Still, there’s laughter and joy

Black and white all over

Now i can see the picture

1945, the year has come

‘Hooray,’ the lady sings.

Everything is coming to come together

The light is coming

The darkness will fall

I’m coming together

Now I am here

The lady will cheer

As the sun comes up

 

*Inspired by “Cut” by Kara Walker

The Unbelievable Man

A man swirling around like a fish

The grass follows the man

The sky as blue as the ocean with the red yellow and pink following

He says something very faint like a cricket playing their music in the water

His clothes are like oceans on a body

His face, as pale as white, but as yellow as a sun

He is special unlike the other people

He stays there like a statue but moving in 3D

As the people walk he slows down

He then stops

Everything stops

They are under his command

I am always still so I am free

He moves once more

So does the earth

As he finishes the earth finishes except for me

 

*Inspired by “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

 

Switching Sides

HOPE

HI!

I am shy.

There is one syllable in my name.

My favorite type of ice cream is vanilla.

Now you know something about me, so let’s get this story started.

 

Chapter 1

The locker wouldn’t budge.

“Rats!” I said. Why did this always have to happen to me? I looked down the long hallway, teeming with other kids.

Pause — wait! I didn’t get to know you yet — so, I’m Hope, if you didn’t know already, like everybody else. There are groups of people at my school. Like, there are popular kids, sporty kids, music kids, and me and the geeks. My friends and I are tech geeks [I actually like soccer]. Is it like that at your school?

Anyway. There I was, struggling with my locker for the tenth time since school started (and we had only been back from summer vacation for three days!), when I heard the Principal say my name!

“Hope Solo! I hope that you’re settling alright,” she said to me. I knew that my face was turning red. The last thing I needed was attention from Ms. Monroe. Yeah, that’s correct, our principal was Marilyn Monroe.

Because no normal kid likes going to the principal’s office, when you leave you get a chocolate bar with her face on it. The picture is always updated. All the other teachers are mean, but not in front of Ms. Monroe.

 

Chapter 2

If I told Ms. Monroe that kids were gluing my locker shut, then that would make her cry, and I didn’t want that to happen, and I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble or else they would do worse things to me.

So I looked at Ms.Monroe and said, “I have to get to lunch. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”

“What about your locker?” she asked kindly. She put her fingers around the lock and it magically unclasped.

“Thanks, Ms. Monroe!”

“I think that you need a new lock, Hope. This one is very sticky.” She smiled at me. Maybe kids weren’t gluing my locker.

 

Chapter 3

After lunch I had gym.

Our gym teacher was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. You probably don’t understand.

I just got moved to a new school and  it’s a school for famous children. So who am I? People think I am  Albert Einstein’s niece, but in reality, I am the daughter of world-famous soccer player, Abby Wambach. My mom is training me to follow in her footsteps. You might think I’m smart and all, but I play travel soccer. It isn’t my real dream.

I always wanted to dance, but I guess I will never accomplish that dream…  

After school in LA, I went to New York in a helicopter to play soccer.

It was so much work. I also watched my mom play soccer. That part was fun because she’s so good at it, while I’m only pretty good.  I feel underestimated compared to how good her team is at soccer.

 

Chapter 4

“Hi, I am your coach for gym today,” The Rock barked. “So lay down and do 50 pushups, stat!”

I pretended I was suffering, but actually I could do it in 30 sec.

After gym, I had biology with Alex.

If you didn’t know, I like Alex. He’s the cutest boy in school.

I walked into biology and my seat was next to his. Alex is the son of David Beckham, and he was the only one who was nice to me when I first came to the school. Even though his father is famous, he isn’t shallow like the rest of the kids.

The bell rung. Everyone filed into their classes except for me. I had to go straight to New York to practice.

I wasn’t in the mood. I wish I could’ve gone to art class because soccer is so boring. When we got to New York, my mom was ready to coach us.

My team started off doing sprints down the field.

After, we went straight to push ups and sit ups.

We started doing all kinds of dribbling techniques after that, and then we went right into scrimmage.

My team won.

After, we all went home, and flew back to LA.

 

Chapter 5

I did my homework on the helicopter ride home.

By the time I got back, school was over.

So now I had to go train for soccer, otherwise my parents would get angry at me.

So I practiced till Georgia, my nanny, called for dinner. I had mashed potatoes for dinner with mac and cheese.

It was so good.

After, I got to go into my room to have some computer time.

I went on my laptop and went on Youtube and watched “The End of Time Target Dance,” by Todrick Hall.

I went to bed at  10:00pm.

 

Chapter 6

In the morning, I woke up excited for dance class.

Why dance you ask?

I booked a dance class every Thursday afternoon because I don’t have soccer practice on Thursdays.

Before I knew it, I was at the dance class.

I realized Alex was there. My face started to burn up.

The teacher made partners.

Guess who she partnered me with? You guessed it. Alex and I had to make up a 30 second dance to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

“So, what do you want to do?” I asked shyly.

“I was thinking a hip hop cross, move side to side, jump to the left, rollercoaster, clap, pose,” said Alex.

“Okay,” I said, trying to remember it all.

We practiced the dance a couple times.

They finally called our name.

It went very smoothly.

We got a grade on our dance because they were trying to improve us. I got an A+. It made me feel good.

I was so happy. I had a great time. It was much more fun than soccer.

But now I have to make an excuse up.

Oh! I could just say I was at the library to keep up my cover.

I walked into my room and I flopped on my bed. I was so tired I could have fallen asleep.

 

Chapter 7

The next morning, I woke up and ran to the bus. I made it right on time.

I sat in the back right seat next to Alex.

It was the only seat left.

We didn’t talk the whole time.

When the bus ride was over, I went to my first class, Spanish.

I didn’t pay attention. I was all in my own brain thinking of dance class. It was the best class ever.

I had to end my daydream, because the teacher called on me. I stood up in my chair, like I was a princess.

The question she asked was, “What does ‘muchas gracias’ mean?”

I answer with an incorrect answer. I said, “Merry Christmas,” and shrugged my shoulders.

“You failed,” the teacher said in disappointment.

After school I went to dance class.

My mom was there.

I couldn’t believe it. I was doomed.

“You, little Missy, why didn’t you tell me you were taking dance class?” Mom said in disappointment.

“I am so sorry.” I said bursting out in tears, “I couldn’t help it. Dance is my real dream! I didn’t want you to be angry at me, so I kept it a secret from you!”

“Oh Honey, all I want to do is what makes you happy. Parents like me just want to know what you like. I can help you pursue your dreams! I wouldn’t get angry. You’re so sweet,” Mom said, confused.

I hugged mom as tight as I could! I felt like I was loved.

Bluemoon

I rested my head on a log. The moon came five times since the wolves left. I was beginning to worry.

The baby chipmunk who lived in a burrow near the rock fence, Chip, claimed that they will return soon, but the snowy owl, Hoot, said they will never come. Today, I overheard the foxes talk about my mom, Bluemoon. They said that she probably died from old age, or was badly hurt. I didn’t believe a word of it. The foxes were usually known for not always telling the truth anyway. I looked up at the stars, and wished that the wolf pack will come back soon. I listened to the empty sound of the forest at night. Chip crawled out of his burrow, and scampered next to me. Chip was basically my best friend, not counting my mom.

Right then, I heard howling, and running from afar. I sat up a little, and Chip’s ears perked up. The sound didn’t get any closer. It seemed the wolves weren’t trying to come home.  I tried to listen better. It sounded like they needed help! I stood up fully, and let Chip run up my arm onto my shoulder. We walked over to the sound. It was dark, but I could see the outline of a couple wolves. I ran over to them. Goose bumps filled my arms.  

When I reached them, I saw they were all crowded over something. I pushed aside two wolves to get the spot in the circle.

Mom.

She was lying on the ground; dead. There was blood gushing out of a hole in her beautiful body. I looked away. I could not bear to look at her any longer. I felt the tears run down my cheeks. She was gone.

 

The Coat of Nature

Chestnut is from the bark of the towering trees, in the forest yet to be explored.

Bay is from the rich soil on the ground in that forest, dark and wild, not yet trodden on by foot or hoof.

Palomino is from the golden rays of sunlight peeking through the leaves of the trees

and buckskin from the light dancing across and illuminating the shadow underneath the branches.

Paint is from the splotchy patterns of the leaves and the sky, the light and the shadow, the trees and the ground

as you spin around and around in the forest, the colors mix together like an elaborate painting.

Roan is from the earth and the water, the ripe wild berries growing in small clusters, and the river reflecting the bright blue sky.

Black is from the darkness of the night as the sun sets under the horizon, the moon and stars decorating the night sky as shadows embrace the forest.

The color of all the forest at peace, blending together into the darkness, to be awoken again by the rising sun to show the coat of nature once more.   

Camp

I put the suitcase on the bed. I had just gotten home from sleepaway camp. I never wanted to go back to Camp Lakota. It was awful! I stayed for one week. On the first day I fell into a mud puddle, bumped into a tree (I still have a bump on my forehead), and got stung by eight bees. On the second day, my iPod fell in the lake, I fell in the lake, and I tripped over a rock and my phone cracked. At least I still had my iPad. That night my dorm buddies put on relaxing whale sounds to help them go to sleep, but it kept me up all night. All I heard was demented cow sounds. I didn’t know how that was supposed to sound like a whale, or get them to sleep, but oh well.

On the third day, I was so tired that I fell asleep on a tree, and when I woke up I couldn’t see my group. It took me an hour to get back to the dining hall to get lunch, but lunch was already over. It was time for the afternoon classes. I went to look for my bridge building class when, out of nowhere, it started to rain. I found my class, and by the time it was over I was soaked. I went to to my room and decided to skip dinner. The day was finally over. I could sleep tonight because the whale sounds were off.  

I woke up and went to breakfast and there was no more food. I dropped my iPad in an ancient well, and at the end of the day, I fell into a bush of roses. I was scraped up from head to toe.  Finally, it was the last night. I didn’t sleep because I was so excited to go home. The last day was also horrible. I woke up and went to breakfast. They were serving scrambled eggs, my least favorite breakfast ever. I just hoped that the rest of the day would be good but it wasn’t.

In the morning we went to explore the woods and I brought my watch. It was the only thing I had. You think I would have learned to not bring anything in the woods, but I didn’t. While I was busy running away from wasps (I got stung by 2), I fell into poison ivy. My watch probably got loose and fell off, because it wasn’t on my wrist anymore. So we kept walking and when we came back to the rooms I realized I had ticks. It was awful. I went to the nurse and got them removed.  It was finally lunch and after lunch we were leaving.  We had sandwiches for lunch, and this girl sitting at my table wanted mayo on her sandwich. She couldn’t get the mayo out so she was trying to squirt it and the bottle was aiming at my face so when the mayo came out, it came out on my face.  

It was finally time to go home. I was so happy! We got on the bus. I was so happy to go home. I finally arrived at my house, so I put the suitcase on the bed and here we are again. I was just sitting by my window, reading, when my mom came in and told me, “Your friend wants to go to Camp Lakota with you, so you are going again in two weeks.” I almost died. Now to pack again.  

Elimination

It was large,

Wooden,

Bright,

And it smelled of all nature.

Fragile leaves nesting on the ground.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, I hear.

Footsteps following me.

I jump up the damp tree trunk to hide.

But it wasn’t a human-

No, a small robin scrounging for food under the thick layer of leaves.

I jump down into a freshly fallen pile of leaves,

and they spew everywhere.

I see a small grey squirrel trying to gather the nuts fallen from the giving tree.

This tree was different:

Colorful,

Mysterious.

Happy,

Frightened.

This is why I love fall.

This is why,

                        This

                                  Tree

                                             Is

                                                   Mine

Mourning in its own Light

Mourning in its own light

Attention to those unweak

Tenders do not belong here to criticize

Terrains filled with beautiful sounds

 

Hissing the snake like words of the haters

Craning at my thoughts

Everything to love crumbling down

Whatever they say

Antonyms for happy is how I explain them

 

Never ending comments

Deadly words killing many and leaving shrapnel to pierce me

 

Justifying the odds they will try again

Bringing darkness not light

Everything dying

Slithering along my flaws

 

Striking me with pressure

Everlasting hell

The Young and the Youth

I can see it

Living its way up

Over the hills of mind

Venus and Mars colliding

Echoing in my head

Minding itself

Years of loving the thoughts

Moving parts

Over the mountains

Mind blowing

So important

Over times

My thoughts blasted into light

Under the stars

Coming out of the dark

Hiding feelings

Inner love

Like marching through stars

Yelling across light

Telling itself to fly to the moon

Teaching the sun to dance

Making memories

Attending to the clouds

Bringing brightness to you

Taking life

Imagination living

Amongst us

Before special love

As It Floats Down

As I walk around, I stare and see. The many leaves of the autumn tree. No two are identical. Like snowflakes. As it gets colder, winter time settles down. The tree loses its leaves. As the birds and bears gather around. To see and stare as the leaves fall to the ground. They know it’s coming. One of the chilliest times of the year. The autumn tree whispers.

Saving Santa

The other elves rush into the room. We watch the newly updated YouTube video. I see a woman on the screen with a scratchy voice, a plasticky face, and green-tinted hair speaking.

“Yeah, I so wish Santa was real! Shame he’s not…”

I scowl and clench my fists. Nasty Grinches spreading lies! I watch underneath as the video accumulates dislikes and comments like:

“You ruined my childhood!”

“I wish there was a warning! Grrr!”

“Santa’s not real?”

“OMG! I’m so sad! My childhood is a lie!”

The Grinches have been doing this a couple years after Santa started delivering presents. They are trying to whittle down Christmas cheer until Santa’s sleigh can’t get an inch off the ground.

Then I know what will happen.

The other elves desperately try to comment, “She’s lying!” but the bunch of YouTube-goers don’t believe them.

“This is a disgrace. Santa is real. This is outrageous!” says an old elf.

“I am very sad people are forever spreading stupid rumors like this. Every time someone says ‘Santa isn’t real,’  a baby elf dies. 90,000 elves have died this year! It is too bad.” I open another video.

“Santa is not REAL!!!! He is a lie. All you people who believe in Santa are living under a ROCK!!! SANTA ISN’T REAL. SANTA ISN’T REAL. SANTA ISN’T REAL!!!!” the video says.

I shake my head in disgust. Santa is obviously real… how can nobody tell? Who else did they think put the presents under the tree? Parents just pretend it’s them at a certain age so that the kids don’t get laughed at for knowing the truth.

I type a comment. “Santa is real. Also, because you said ‘Santa isn’t real’ four times, you just killed four baby elves. No wonder the elf population is going down. You monster.”

I get a reply a few minutes later. “Obvious troll.” How dare they say this! Isn’t it obvious that I’m an elf, not a troll? Uncultured swines. I bet they’ve never seen an elf in their life.

I tell this to that person in a reply, but then I turn off my computer. I need to do something about this Grinch menace. I can’t take their Christmas-ruining any longer! It’s absolute madness — something must happen.

I think of a plan, but it’ll be difficult. What I’ll need to do is climb into the house of the Head Grinch and punch him in the face. The reason why this will work is that Grinches believe that elves are weaker than them: this is why they say that Santa isn’t real, because they’re not scared of our retaliation. If I punch the head grinch in the face, they’ll all realize that elves aren’t weak. And slowly, they’ll stop mocking Christmas and ruining the spirit.

I get into my car and drive away from my house. I don’t know his address, but I’ll know it when I see it.

Finally, after hours of driving, I recognize a cave. This is it!

The Head Grinch will lose today.

Rusty

My dog is really important to me. He smells really bad sometimes though. He is a Tibetan Terrier. He is white with a big brown spot in the middle. He is very cute. I can’t imagine my life without my dog. He is a bad dog sometimes too though. He is sooo cute that mom says, “it’s okay Rusty” (Rusty is his name).

 

I first saw Rusty in a parking lot with his breeders. We took him to our house for a trial. The trial was supposed to be for 1 week, but on wednesday (the trial started on Sunday) my sister and I found out that mommy had already called to say that it was working out really well, and that we were going to keep him. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy that I sat down with Rusty and sat talking to mom for at least 30 minutes.

 

Rusty is really important to me because he’s the only dog that didn’t die or had to be given away. My sister says that he’s important because he listens when you talk to him and he’s really cute. My mommy says that he is important to her because he is around for us to snuggle with when we are feeling down. My daddy says that he is important to him because he makes us happy. Rusty is also very important to me because he makes me laugh and I love him more every day.

Elliot’s Adventure

“Elliot,” my mother yells, “Time for bed!”

I groan. “Do I have to?” I ask, yelling back. My mom (I call her Ma) comes to my room where I’m playing with Legos.

She puts her hands on her hips.

“Elliot Robert James! You go to bed right now!” Ma yells.

“Fine,” I grumble, and get up and go to the bathroom. Moments later, I come out all dressed in my PJ’s. I mumble a hasty “Goodnight” to Ma and she grunts to me in return. I go to my bed. While I get into my bed, I think of my father, who is away on a business trip. I don’t have any brothers or sisters, but I wish I had some. And on top of that, I don’t have any friends because everyone thinks I’m weird. No friends at school, no nice mom, not seeing dad, NO NOTHING! Dad is almost always away. I sigh. My father really is a good laugh. Then I think of Ma, who DOESN’T let me stay up past 7:45, even though I’m 8 years old!!!! Ugh. I’m lonely. I don’t have any freedom at all. But, enough of that. Here I am, crawling into bed.

I snuggle under the covers and I drift off into a deep sleep….

BANG! BANG! BONG! BONG!

I wake up. I am in a strange place, full of funny people.

They look a lot like us, but with SUPER LONG, and LARGE noses, kind of like Proboscis Monkeys. (Search it up on the web.)

One of these “people” comes up to me and says, “Hello, my name is Kate.” She looks about my age. She then follows my strange look and says, “We are called Sefs, and this is our land, Sef’s Land.”

My head whirls with millions of questions I would like to ask Kate, but all that comes out is, “Will you show me around? The name’s Elliot, by the way.”  

Kate looks surprised. I think I even might like her, or be falling in love with her. To me she is beautiful.

“Why, of course I can show you around,” She pauses for a moment, and then continues, “Elliot.”

Then she beckons me to begin my tour.

“This is the tower of Mr. Leman,” Kate says, pointing to a SUPER tall tower. “He’s the smartest of us all. Whenever we need help, we go to him. He always knows exactly what to do.”

We continue. “This,” she shows me a beautiful house, “is the orphanage. I myself live here, with many others. Shall we proceed?” She asks. I nod.

We come to the village square. There is a huge Town Hall, towering over us.

“Whoa,” I whisper.

“Yes.” She nods. “It’s where all us villagers gather when we all need to talk.”

After that, she shows me some other people’s houses, Auntie Marta’s, Tommy and Poppy, two 6-year-old twins, and some others. Poppy and Tommy decide to come with us on our tour. Poppy looks at me and says, “Who are you? Where did you come from?”

All eyes are now on me. I stare at her.

“Like I told you earlier, my name is Elliot. I come from a planet called Earth. What planet is this?”

Poppy narrows her eyes. “This is the planet Laseford. Like Kate already told you, this particular part is called Sef’s Land.”

I must look worried as Poppy says this, so Kate quickly cuts in. “I hear that there is a market and a play at the village square. Shall we?”

Everybody nods yes, but Poppy is still peering at me. When we get to the market, we all get some ice cream, and watch a play. I don’t pay much attention though. I’m thinking of ways to get out of Sef’s Land and take Kate with me.

Or I could stay here.

Hmm, it’s a toughie. How would I stay? I miss my parents. A lot. But leaving Kate…

No, I have to get out of this world with Kate and without anyone else knowing, especially Poppy. I know now that I love Kate.  

“Elliot?” Kate’s voice interrupts my thoughts. I jerk around to face her.

“Yes?” I ask.

She looks at me suspiciously too. “Did you like the show?” She asks slowly.

I put on what I hope looks like a confused face. Then I say, “Like it? Of course!”

Kate looks relieved. “Would you like to go to the orphanage with me and spend the night there?”

I nod yes. We say goodbye to Tommy and Poppy and set off. It’s nearly dusk. As soon as we’re alone, I ask, “Kate?”

Kate looks at me, “Yes?”

My face turns red. “Um, how can I get out of Sef’s Land, and go back to Earth? Also, if you know how,” I cough, “will you like to come with me?”

She is completely taken aback.  “Actually no, I don’t know how to get out of Sef’s Land, but if I did, I actually would go with you.” Now she is the one with the red face.

But then her face lights up. “I’ve heard from folk tales, that if you walk to the Sef’s wizard’s cave, he can tell you how to get to a portal that takes you to Earth.”

I whoop for joy. Then I yell “Wahoo! Let’s go to the wizard and get to the portal!”

Kate laughs. “First we sleep, and then in the morning we pack and go.”

“Okay” I reply, And we set off to the orphanage.

***

The next morning, when I wake up, Kate is already up and packed. Wordlessly, she hands me a bowl of cereal and goes out of the room. As soon as I’m finished with my cereal and dressed, we set off to the wizard.

Along the way, Kate suddenly says, “Morning. Sorry I didn’t say it before, it’s just hard on me leaving Poppy, Tommy, and…. Sef’s Land.”

I nod. I’ve already gotten to love Sef’s Land. Kate sighs, and shakes her head sadly.  After a half an hour of walking, we turn into an alleyway and Kate points at a door. Then she turns to me. “This is the place,” she says.

I raise my eyebrows. “Really?” In reply, Kate opens the door. I gasp.

As Kate closes the door, I see that this is actually a cave. It’s a muddy place, but there are tables of potions and other magical things everywhere. In the very center of the cave, there is a cauldron with a wizard stirring it. Kate walks up to him.

“Mr. Wizard?” she says.

The wizard looks up. “I know why you are here. Do not waste time explaining, Elliot,” he says. “If you jump into this cauldron, it will transfer you to the portal. Then you will be on Earth.”

“Thank you Mr. Wizard!” Kate shouts as we jump into the cauldron. We’re going back to Earth! That is all I can think at this happy time.

“Elliot!” Ma yells. “Get up or you will be late to school.”

I look at her with a puzzled face. “Where’s Kate?” I ask.

Ma raises her eyebrows. “You know already?”

“What?” I say.

“A girl just moved into the house next door. And her name is Kate.” I fling open the door and run to our porch. There is Kate, without a long nose, waving at me.

“Hello Elliot!” she yells.

“Hello!” I yell back, and wave like mad back. Life is going to be good, I think, as I wave to Kate. Yes, it will be.

 

The End

The End of Time

Prologue

Grandpa lay down and went to sleep for a long time. I thought that Grandpa was just taking a long nap. Verena thought so too. But now, Claire, Vanessa, and I know that he died. Verena took a little more time to grow up than the rest of us. Claire, the oldest, called herself ten years young. Me, the middle, wanted to stay four forever. Vanessa, the second middle sister, had made me sing happy birthday to her 100 times when she turned eight because she was still young. Verena, well, who knows?

Claire’s birthday came and passed by like a car on the highway. Then mine, then Verena’s, then Vanessa’s. We were all so close in age but we started to separate and separate and separate. What ages were we when Grandpa died? Claire was sixteen, I was twelve, Vanessa was ten, and Verena was eight. When I say we all separated, I mean that Claire went off to use some big study tubes and do her science smart stuff (I like to call it S.S.S.). I went to volleyball practice six times a week, and Vanessa went to hip hop team practice. Verena goes to an after school for kids, ages 8-10, who have trouble reading.

Volleyball was my life, and I never missed a game.

Except for Friday, October 13th 2013.

 

Chapter 1

“Riley, are you OK?” My best friend Sophie Moon said.

“Of course I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be fine? Are you fine? You’re not fine!” I said like Derek Jeter throwing a ball to first base. If you didn’t know, that meant I was zoom-talking.

“You know, tomorrow is Friday the 13th and it’s October. This is the third year that this has happened in our short lifetimes,” Sophie said.

“So?” I said.

“Haven’t you seen the movie? Friday the 13th? Well, it’s about… no wait. I’m not telling you.”

“Why?”

“You have to watch it yourself.”

“Is it scary?”

“Yes. Very.”

I got home and ran to my room. I typed my password into my computer. 675902. I searched Friday the 13th. It came up on my computer. A two-hour movie. I had three hours until volleyball.

Two hours later…

I’m scared for my life.

Volleyball was a flunk. We lost our game ten to zero. I was to nervous to hit the ball, so I just let it pass me every time. All I could think about was the movie. Tomorrow is going to be the worst day of my life.

Friday the 13th…

I walked into school looking like a mess. On my way to school, I had slipped on a banana peel, walked into a door, and fell on the back of my head.

“Make it stop! Make it stop!” I yelled at Sophie.

“So you saw the movie,” she said.

“Yep. Horrific and tragic,” I said.

“Totally,” she said.

First period was Science. I was making up random science mixtures when the class phone rang. Mr. Klein answered it.

“Of course. Mmhh. Yep, I’ll get her now. Oh, no problem. Were just reviewing things.” He hung up and stared at me.

“Riley, pack up and go down to the main office. You’re getting picked up early.”

“Ok?” I said confused. I was relieved because I had no clue what to do.

I walked down to the office and sat down on one of the uncomfortable seats. The main secretary, Mrs. Greenday, smiled at me.

“Sweetie, your mom should be here any minute.”

“Ok,” I said.

My mom walked into the school wearing a purple dress with blue flowers on it. She was holding a pink skirt with a white shirt for me to wear.

“Go to the bathroom and change,” she said.

I went to the bathroom and changed.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Grandpa isn’t with us anymore.” She shoved the doors open.

“His funeral is today?” I said.

“Yes,” she said.

Hold the phone. Let’s recount what happened to me so far today? It’s now only 6:00 a.m and this is what happened: I slipped on a banana peel, fell on the back of my head, walked into a door, a volleyball hit my head, and my Grandpa just died.

When I got into the car I saw all my sisters already together. Claire was in the passenger’s seat, Verena was in the middle, Vanessa was on the right side, and I was on the left side.

“Move over!” Vanessa said.

“No you move over!” Verena said.

“You!”

“You!”

“You!”

“Fine, I will,” they said at the same time.

“I will!”

“I will!”

“I will!”

Could this day get any worse?

 

Chapter 2

We walked into the church and saw our Grandpa lying dead in a coffin. But then he woke up. As a ghost.

“Help me! Help me!” he yelled at Claire, Vanessa, Verena and I.

We all ran out to the graveyard. After a couple minutes we went inside. We found everyone… dead! Our mom was lying on the ground with her arm split in half. Aunt Alex was next to her and she had her eyes open, but she was dead too. It was quiet. The only person alive besides all of my sisters and I was my Uncle Mike.

“Girls! Thank God you’re alive. You guys are going to live with me now,” Uncle Mike said.

We got into his car and we drove to his house. We got to his house and we started to set up our new rooms. Claire and I slept in a room on the second floor. The wallpaper was white with leaves on it. Vanessa and Verena slept on the pull out couch on the first floor. Uncle Mike was a firefighter, so he knew what he was doing.

Verena                                                ________________    October 23rd 2019

 

Why did Uncle Mike give Claire and Riley the better room? Because we’re better than you -R                                                                                   

And we are older! -C I agree with Claire and Riley -V______                 

Stop writing in my notebook! -other V____________________________

Back to what I was saying. We are going to have to go to a new school. This school goes from ages 8-18 and it’s called Kimberley Kingsdale High.______________________________   ______                      

We have to wear a denim skirt and a pink shirt with knee high socks.________                                                                                               

It’s a school for only girls. That’s a bad example for our outfit -R       

Hey! -Other V_                                                                                                      

Riley is right. -C    Can we please get back to the story. I don’t like Verena’s Notebook! -V                                                                                         

Hey! -Other V                                                                                                       

Ok fine! -R_____________________________________________________    

 

Chapter 3

It was the first day of school. I got on my phone and started to text Sophie.

Me: Friday the 13th is over!
Sophie: Actually it lasts all weekend.

Me: What?

Sophie: Do you have school on the weekends?

Me: Yes.

Sophie: Good luck!

Me: Thanks! Can I text you all day?

Sophie: Sure.

I needed to get to school on time, so I stopped texting Sophie. I got dressed in our uniform and went downstairs to grab a granola bar and go.

“Hi, Uncle Mike!” I said.

“Hi, Chicken. What do you want for breakfast?” my uncle said.

“I got to go so I’m just going to get a chocolate chip granola bar,” I said.

I got the granola bar and went down stairs to the garage. I rode my scooter to school because the school was so close. I had a weird talent with the scooter. I could unwrap my granola bar and eat it while riding it.

I parked my scooter at the gate of our school. There was a password to our school. 1029. The gate opened and I walked in.  I looked at my schedule and saw that the whole school had an assembly before first period. Before we walked into the big cafetorium, we got name tags. I walked over to a seat that was open and had no one next to it. I saw all my sisters had made friends already.

“Is this seat taken?” a girl asked, pointing at the seat next to me. She had long blond hair with blue eyes.

“No. No one is sitting there,” I said back.

She was the total opposite of me. I had brown hair with green eyes and freckles all over my face. Some people in my old school called me freckle face.

She sat down.

“What’s your name?” she said.

“My name is Riley Larson. What’s yours?” I said back. I had a little more confidence.

“My name is Rosie Rowan,” Rosie said.

Kimberley is our principal’s name. She walked into the cafetorium. She held a red megaphone. She talked into it.

“You little tiny peasants get on my nerves.”

“She’s mean,” I whispered to Rosie.

“This is my first year here,” she said.

“Me too,” I said.

 

***

 

Monday

Friday the 13th was finally over! It was Monday morning and everything was going perfectly! Even better than perfect. I did the password to the gate of our school and walked in. And then I slipped on a banana peel, bumped into a wall, and then the ghost took my soul. I drifted into the clouds.

 

The End

When You Kiss Me Goodnight

Autumn

Oh, that soft little kiss goodnight when I was young. Daddy was taller than that mobile of butterflies that hung above my crib. He used to kiss me goodnight. Something so long ago, yet so dear to my heart. That soft, sour kiss. Lips pressed against my tiny cheek. But, we all know, that is taken away. Fast forward to today, sitting in my room, staring at that mobile.  Now hanging over nothing. My bed moved to the other side of the room, a distant memory, easily remembered.

 

Dad

My sweet daughter, Autumn Starlight. One remarkable girl. Ever since Autumn was born, we knew she was special. She had turqouise-blue eyes with tints of green that turned gray when she was sad, and brown hair with auburn highlights. She never cried. When she came into this world, not a tear in sight. My dear Autumn crawled on the floor, pounding on the door until I let her out. But Autumn had a problem. As she got older and older, she never talked. She wouldn’t say a word. This was until she was 8 years old.  Her mother and I prayed every night for our sweet girl, Autumn Starlight, until her mother died when our dear Autumn was 6.

 

Autumn

When daddy and I were younger, I could fly. He lifted me up into the sorrowful air and swayed me around. Like a baby duck experimenting his swimming abilities. Daddy called me cupcake when I was little because I was a little angel. Tiny pink dresses and cute light brown curls, a mini angel for my daddy. Just he and I and the world to take on. The mobile, what brought us together. I smiled when he hit his head on the mobile and hiccuped when he tickled me. Me, his sweet daughter, Autumn Starlight.

 

Dad

Our sweet girl, Autumn, was sad one day. I patted her on the back and cradled her perfect, fragile body in our arms. She did not cry, not a peep. I pondered what was wrong.  She turned over, and I noticed that she had stapled a perfect star onto her leg. We rushed her to the hospital. When we got there, she was gushing blood, and she was paler than usual. It just made her more of our little angel. The nurses took out the staples and gave her a few bandaids on her leg. They said that she was one special little girl because she didn’t cry. They said she was a beautiful little angel, and I agreed. They said she was put on this Earth for a reason. 4 pulled muscles, 12 stitches, and a sprained ankle.  The sweet smell of cherry blossoms wafting from her tiny body. So perfect, yes, so perfect, our sweet daughter. Yes, she was put on this Earth for a reason, and if she was not here today, there would be a missing piece every day. She took my breath away. Autumn Starlight.

 

Autumn

When I was a little girl, I hated fairies. I hated princesses. I was always drawn to the beautiful stars.  An extravagant party for the night sky. The stars. I never had a big backyard.  It felt like I lived in a neighborhood where the houses are very close together. That old, rugged fence, seeming hundreds of years old, falling down, breaking, chipping, and swinging.  Me and daddy use the yard as our little star lab.  Our secret, what has brought us together.  Tonight, we lay on the grass, watch the sun escape underground to prepare for it’s welcoming the next day. The moon arrives to the star’s party and made its way to the center of all of them.  A beautiful, long, thin crescent moon. We keep our telescope on the edge of the porch and stargaze on the most beautiful nights. But the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen through that little breath-taking object, was Saturn. I almost cried that night, for the first time. But I didn’t cry. As the stars move east with late night clouds, I see my butterfly mobile.  The stars, twinkling like that dear butterfly mobile.

 

Dad

When we left the hospital that day, her cast was tightly wrapped around her leg. One of the nurses wrote, “Most beautiful child I have ever seen.” Another wrote, “Do me a favor, and call her star chaser. One remarkable, but mysterious girl.” Autumn’s smile lit up a room, in fact, better lighting then a 2,000 watt light bulb. And that tiny bundle of joy came with many unexpected problems. Autumn and I have a small secret that we have never told anyone. When she was born, she had a beautiful birthmark shaped like a star. It was on her back, almost at her shoulder, but as her beautiful brown hair grew out, our little Autumn’s beautiful birthmark was not seen.  It was what made her different, what separated her from the rest of us. Autumn realized at one point in her life that it was okay to be different and that different people were special. We all knew that Autumn was not going to be the popular kid when she was born, but we knew she was going to be one special little girl. I cried for my dear Autumn, the only person that has ever made me cry. That salty discharge, for a beautiful, blossoming little girl.

 

Autumn

I never had any siblings. I begged and begged. But at one point, something changed.  When I first saw the stars and understood what they were in 5th grade, my whole perspective of life was completely blown away. The stars felt like my family, a distant relationship. I threw that sibling thing out the window in the snap of a finger. The stars were my siblings. When I started to see some of the same stars each night, I named them, like my mother would have. One was June, another was August, and the last was Summer.  Summer always felt like my closest sister. She seemed to be around my age, loved the stars, was a fangirl of Echosmith.  Echosmith’s music blew me away when I first heard it on the radio. I tapped to the rhythm onto the railing of the deck as daddy and I star gazed.  

 

Dad

Autumn always surprised us, something new each and every day. She broke my heart into a million pieces and then mended it again. Today. Here I am. Sitting at my desk, staring into space and remembering those times when I would stand up in front of the crib and kiss Autumn goodnight, and when I came up, I hit my head, and Autumn and I would have a laughing fit. I tickled her around in her crib, wrestling her tiny body. Today, Autumn tells me to leave her alone. Although Autumn is still my beautiful little girl, she is 5 foot 4 inches and not a baby anymore. I miss those times. I knock on the door to her room. She yells at me, but I proceed to open the door. One big Echosmith posters hangs above her bed, and she is sitting in her beanbag chair, listening to music through headphones. I look up above me, and I see something that I have never seen before.

 

Autumn

Sitting in my room today, I lift up the bottom of my ripped jeans and stare at the scar in my leg that I had when I was little. I think about my daddy and how lonely he must feel without my love. I let that thought drain out of my brain, like extra water from a shower.  As I lift my head up to stretch my back, my head turns to the mobile. I walk over from my beanbag chair, which settles back into it’s normal shape. I touch that beautiful mobile, and it takes a small spin. The butterflies whirl around in a circle, chasing each other. This is when my dad knocks on the door. Sigh. I was remembering those times with the mobile.  I get back to my beanbag chair and put the headphones in my ears, still staring at the beautiful piece that brought us together.

 

Dad

That very ceiling was one to remember. My dear Autumn has colored the ceiling navy blue and had drawn yellow-white stars. It was breath-taking. A very touching and unforgettable moment in my life. I could not remember something as remarkable as this. As soon as I looked down from the masterpiece, she rolled her eyes at me. The next day, I drove dear Autumn to school, and dropped her off in the staff parking lot, as always. She hung out with the physics teacher for an hour before school each day and drank coffee. They talk about the stars, and the different patterns that are coming. Mr. Edelman.  He was my daughter’s happiness. Her heart and soul. The end of her heart.

 

Autumn

Dad drops me off in the staff parking lot. I always get dropped off in the staff parking lot to talk with Mr. Edelman. I walked out to the middle of the parking lot. All of a sudden, it starts to rain. I am far from the school. Not just a small rain, pouring. I look, and that’s when it comes down. It’s bright, and yellow. Weirdly shaped. It’s coming down fast. I pull my head down and take a jump, but it does not save me. It zigs and hits me. That is all that I remember before it was all black. I can hear the buzzing of their voices in the back of my head and it gives me a headache.  Buzz.  Buzz.

 

Dad

As soon as I am down the road from the school, rain starts to pour down really hard. I get to the house and sit down at the kitchen table. I begin to drink coffee. The warmth of the brown liquid fogs on my face. I lean forwards for a sip. Before a droplet of coffee hits my tongue, the phone starts ringing. I don’t even listen to the caller ID, I just run for the phone. I pick it up.  

“Hello? Who is this?” I ask, sipping coffee and running upstairs at the same time to put on my pajamas. Have I mentioned that I love rainy days? They make me feel so comfortable and cozy.

“This is the school, calling about your daughter, Autumn Starlight. Unfortunately, We think that she is dead. Mr. Edelman was waiting in the staff lounge, that looks over the staff parking lot, and watched her come in. He said she was struck by lightning,” the woman on the other side of the phone said.  Nicely, but I don’t know how you can just say something like this to someone.  It dawned on me: I needed to get her.

“I will be there right now!” I say, my voice teary with anger and sadness combined.  I call 911 while I am in the car. In all of this action, I find a way to calm down.  I think about our memories. But, that just makes me cry even more.

 

Autumn

I had no idea what was going on. All that I knew was that I was dead. I felt as if I was floating. I was looking down below me, my body sitting in the middle of that parking lot. All of a sudden, stuff starts falling down from the sky in slow motion. My cat, Scribbles is falling, waving goodbye to me. When it gets to the ground—there is no ground, it just keeps going on and on for forever. My stuffed bear named Lovely falls next to my journal from sixth grade. I turn around to see what is falling on the other side of me. That butterfly mobile is falling. Everything is still in it’s place in real life, but a photocopy is falling for me. All, except that butterfly mobile. The paint is chipped in the same places.  And one tiny star, falling below. A real one.

 

Dad

The ambulance comes and picks her up and puts her in the back of the truck. They drive at the speed of lighting, like that terrible lightning bolt that hit my now dead daughter. I follow them close behind in my VW bug. Autumn loves it because she thinks that it is so old-fashioned compared to the fancy cars they have today. The siren sounds as I but down the road, seeming like I’m on a car chase, chasing the ambulance. I come to a stop at the hospital. Two middle-aged women run out of the door holding a stretcher. Four men pull her from out of the back of the truck. The doctor checks her heart rate as everyone runs inside, holding the stretcher. I follow them up to room 437. Weird, it was the same as the beginning of Autumn’s locker combination. She lays in a bed, machines hooked up to her body. IV’s are stuck into her arm, taking blood, and doctor’s mumbling words back and forth to each other. They will not even let me into the room to check in on her. I take peeks while the doctor’s are out seeing other patients. It pains me to see my daughter in pain. The doctor’s walk out of the room, some wearing scrubs, and some wearing white coats. They come over to the chair that I am sitting in.

“Well, we have some news.” A doctor grits his teeth.

 

Autumn

In this weird world that I am in, I do not wake up. No reality checks, no wake up calls.  What a dumbo I am. I’m dead! How did I not know.  My body still lies in the parking lot of Glenville High. In Little, California. Where am I now? Am I in Oklahoma? My heart will always stay with Little. Are my intestines in Waco, Texas? Is my fifth rib in Knoxing, Oklahoma? Is my ankle bone in New York City, NY? Is my gold specked eye in Orlando, Florida? The questions can go on and on forever. But, I will always know where my heart and soul is, in Little, California, my sleepy town, beautiful victorian homes, and lovely from sunrise to sunset.  

 

Dad

“Your daughter is dead. I am so sorry for your loss. We tried our best to save her, sir,”  the doctors reported, sadly.

This brought me to my knees. I wept on a black leather jacket. Oh, well, for the second time in my life? The first, my wife. Why was I alive now? Somebody else should have to experience this death. Why me? Why me, God? My sweet daughter cannot be dead! Autumn Starlight, up in the sky, I say to you right now, I love you like you could never imagine. You have always been there for me in my dark times, and helped me through hard places. We have had so many memories together, laughs, cries, nights in, laughing fits, renovating our house, and many more times that I may never forget for my the rest of my life, and when I am dead, too. When I die, we will be together again. I hope that you and your mom have reunited up there. I miss you more than to the moon, to the stars, back, and back to the moon 50 million times. You have truly amazed me. I walk into the room where Autumn lies dead.  Her eyelashes drooping below her under-eye.  Machines beeping and buzzing.  No sign of life.

 

Autumn

Here in heaven, I look for mom. There are no shops, though I secretly wish that is was a mall. A butterfly mobile hangs above my head everywhere that I walk. All I can see for miles and miles is treeless plains with road signs. The song “Home” by Phillip Phillips plays over and over in my head. No cars pass, no noise. That is when I see a lady. She is petite, but cute. She had long brown hair with auburn highlights, and turqouise-blue eyes with tints of green, just like mine. She held her head up high, wearing a salmon-colored tunic and khaki pants. She had salmon colored Ked’s, and finished it off with a pair of diamond earrings. Mom. It just felt like a relationship from long ago. Something that I could just feel, felt right.

“What’s your name?” I casually strolled over to this mother-option. If she was really my mom, her name would be Summer Starlight.

“Summer Starlight.  Some people call me Sum.” I almost died. Again.

“I think I might be your daughter. I’m Autumn Starlight, and I recently died,” I say to her. Her cheeks turn bright red.

“Y-you can speak! You’re my daughter! The missing piece of me.” She grabbed me in for a hug. I never wanted to stop. I tried to let go once, but she just kept hugging, so I put my arms back around her.

 

Dad

Today was the funeral. I put a copy of the butterfly mobile into her coffin. Everybody wore black, her friends, her family, her closest teachers. Everyone sat there, sad. This was in fact, the biggest loss that I have ever had in my life. The priest said many words. It was time to let people come up and say what they would never forget about her. First was her group of friends, Evangelia, MIchelle, Adaline, Elle.  

“We will never forget Autumn.  She was a one in a million girl.  She was funny, sweet, and held us together like glue when we were falling apart. Thank you.” They began to cry. Many more came up, saying wonderful things about her that she would love to hear. When it was my turn to come up to the microphone, I wiped away my tears and began to speak.

“Autumn Starlight was one amazing girl, she took my breath away and then brought it back to me. She broke my heart into a million pieces and then mended it again. I cannot be any more proud of one person the I am of my very own daughter. I love her so much, and she is one girl to never forget. She was hilarious, beautiful, kind and was drawn to the stars, her siblings. Thank you.” There are many gasps in the crowd. People blowing their noses, some just crying into other’s shoulders.

 

Autumn

I could not believe that this was my mother. But after that, she just walked away.  Walked down the street, passed lampposts, passed a wishing fountain and tossed a few coins in. I called her name, yelled and yelled until she was not insight. My mother had just left me.  I just felt so overwhelmed. I looked above my head where the butterfly mobile hang. I sit down on a big rock at the top of a hill. It sits under a prematurely blossomed cherry tree,  I flashback to a happy time.

I hear my dad calling my name from inside the house. I yell back happily that we need more time. My friend, Maple is over, and we are on my slip n’ slide. We’re taking turns sliding down that mysteriously fun object. We dump buckets full of ice water on each others head, and then laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt. We run inside, shivering like innocent mice. My dad wraps pink towels around us, and we drink some of his freshly squeezed lemonade. Delicious. Fresh. Tears drip from my eyes and make a pile of mud beneath my feet. I wish that I was still on the earth’s surface.  

 

Dad

The funeral was over. A kind elderly woman named Olga played the Organ as everyone walked out of the church. Three strong men came in wearing black sunglasses and black tuxedos. They grabbed the coffin, and brought it into the parking lot. They loaded it into the back of a big truck. I kissed it before they drove away. I waved goodbye to my now dead daughter. I thought that she would never have to depart from me. I planned on keeping her home from college. She got accepted into the Georgia Institute of Tech and never showed me the signing papers. She just signed them all by herself. Like my Autumn would do. I drove home. Scared to leave again. I could not go anywhere. A hole this big in my heart could not be fixed. This time, she broke my heart into a million pieces and never mended it again. Not this time. I went out to the store. Trying to fill the hole in my heart, like a cavity. I went to Heather Williams General store. I bought the local newspaper, The Little Ledger.  I opened up to the first page when I got home. I lie on the couch, sipping my hot coffee, looking through ads. It catches my eyes like an entomologist capturing a butterfly in their cruel nets.

 

Obituaries For This Week

Name: Autumn Elle Starlight

Birthday: 5/21/98

Age: 17

Family: Summer Angel Starlight, David Jason Starlight-Cooper

 

“This 17 year old amazing girl recently died in the parking lot of Glenville High. She has lived a long and healthy life, until she was unexpectedly hit by a bolt of lightning at 6:30 in the morning. Everyone was devastated. Physics teacher, Clay Edelman, 34, watched the scene go down. We are all sad about this loss.  Autumn was a special girl, she had many hobbies, such as: listening to Echosmith, playing guitar, and dancing in the style of Jazz. Many have been hit with a stroke of reality, some scarred for life. She is definitely one to never forget.”

 

Autumn

I tip toe across railroad tracks, no trains passing. Abandoned. The sky darkens to a navy blue-pitch black. The stars are brighter than usual, making northern lights. The colors are beautiful. No lights making the natural color turn artificial. I stargaze like I did back on Earth.  I soon get tired and go to sleep for the night. The stars stare back at me. My eyes tightly shut.  No dreams this time. I wake up for real. I am in a dark hole. Wood outside is around me. I start to bang on it. Nobody opens it. I scream, loud. A piercing noise that you could mistake for coming from a six year old girl’s body.

 

Dad

That newspaper made my find what I had been looking for my whole life. What my daughter was. Who she was. Broken out of her shell that separated her from the world.  Someone who realized that being different is cool, and that not everyone is born the same way. I love her for that. If she is listening to me right now, then I love you, and tell mom that I love her, too. I go back to reading the newspaper and everything is the same as it is every day: oil spills and wars in Afghanistan. Our world may never change. We must all have peace.  I walk to the fridge, and take out the milk. I drink right from the carton, since there is no one to share it with. No one in the world. I definitely hate having to go through 15 deaths, of all of my relatives, except for Autumn’s cousins, who are in foster families.

 

Autumn

A man opens the coffin, and then they drop me and run. I am wearing what I was wearing when I died.  A white shirt that says, “Cool it.” It has an ice cream cone under the words. I am also wearing cropped jean shorts.  My hair is messy, and puffy. But I decide that I can fix it later. When I stand up, I am unsteady, but I don’t fall down. I walk home. On the long walk, I find a tiny plastic butterfly mobile in the garbage, and take it out.  It’s not mine, but I will take great care of it. As I turn into our driveway, I see a tiny leaf that has caterpillar chews that form a perfect A. A for Autumn. I twirl the butterfly mobile, and watch it spin and dance in the wind. As perfect as could be. I walk up the stairs to the house.

Knock…

 

The End

 

Best Friends

In a small apartment in the heart of New York City, lived a girl named Amanda. Amanda wasn’t fond of living in a cramped apartment with six other siblings anymore.  She hated living with three stinky boys and three bratty girls. It was torture – she got no privacy. She had to help her siblings get ready for school and as a result sometimes had to run out the door wearing her pajamas. That was really embarrassing. The only person she liked was her little sister named Eleanor.

 

 * * *

 

I didn’t even get breakfast. All our “Mom” cares about is the little ones. Sometimes I think that I was adopted just so that I could be the maid/ babysitter.  But in other ways, I  was treated like a baby. I couldn’t drive because of city traffic, and I also couldn’t move out because I was too young. However, “Mom” hardly knew anything about me.

One morning in the kitchen, she announced that she was pregnant with twins! That was the scariest day of my life. We had to take care of six kids already – four of whom were adopted, like me – and now there were going to be screaming babies?

We were all stunned. Nobody had any words, but the dogs were barking, the cats were meowing, and then the kids were screaming. I just wanted to leave that infested apartment. Only Eleanor was silent. I loved Eleanor – she was civilized, and the only one who really understood me. I loved the mornings when no one cried or screamed.

Things really got crazy when mom called another family meeting. “We are moving!” she announced.

Later that night Mom told us we were moving in with grandpa and grandma. They lived in Florida and we lived in New York! Then she told us we were driving. I looked around the room and saw a wave of frowns flood the room. If we were taking Mom’s Honda I would die. There would be no room for anyone. And what about the bags?

The next day we all packed a carry-on bag and headed outside. There was a big yellow school bus. We all piled in. When all the kids sat down, finally the bus started moving. But then Olivia screamed, “I have to go pee!” The bus came to a stop and we all got out and went into the sketchiest gas station that was rumored to have been robbed 12 times. Oh boy…

Olivia walked through the door and was in there for two minutes and then ran out. She said there was poop on the floor. After a minute into the bus ride Ginger said, “Are we there yet?”

“WE ARE NOT! DO YOU SEE PALM TREES? DID THE BUS STOP NO. WAIT 20 HOURS, AND WE WILL BE THERE!”

20 hours didn’t go by quickly. There was a lot of screaming and fighting. I think the bus driver wanted to leave us on the side of the road.

20 hours later…

Finally, we arrived at my grandparents house. We got off the bus one by one. Grandma kissed all of our cheeks and grandpa high fived us. Their new house was so big every one of us got our own room, but Eleanor and I shared a room. Our room had a fresh smell of paint. The color of the wall was purple on her side of the room, and yellow on my side. Grandma also made cupcakes. Hers were the best of all time. They tasted like heaven bundled up in a small form. Heaven was much bigger though.

After I took a long nap it was time for dinner. To be honest I got lost on my way to dinner. I could smell the pasta sauce from the kitchen.

The food was delicious. Whenever we are at our grandparents’ house it’s a treat.

Later that night we all went into the movie theater. Tonight we were going to watch Finding Nemo. I could smell freshly popped popcorn and soda. 10 minutes into the movie I heard snoring. All the little kids got carried upstairs into their snuggly beds. I changed the movie to a rated R movie called Finding Knife. It was extremely scary so I ran upstairs into my bed.

I had a hard time sleeping. I kept thinking about how I was going to go to school here. Also, I was dreading the birth of the twins. Around midnight, I ran into my Mom’s room. She was awake too and she sent me back to my room. She wasn’t quite understanding. After, I fell into a deep.

In the early morning I was woken up by my grandpa. It was Sunday, so that meant we had to go to church. My grandparents were really serious about church – I mean really. Mom said that we always went, but the truth was that we hardly ever went. We had to get dressed in dresses and heels.

After church we went to brunch. I insisted on going to Luises. It was my favorite restaurant, ever. We were definitely going to go there plenty of more times. There are always the nicest servers there, and the best food – even better than grandma’s if that’s possible.

When we got back from brunch, I went swimming in the pool. After I got out of the pool, I tanned for a little while. Then I heard Eleanor scream help from the pool. I looked over and saw Marco pushing her down. She was drowning. I dived into the pool and pulled her out. I touched her heart. It wasn’t beating. I screamed for my Mom and told her to call 911. I dragged Eleanor out of the pool and did CPR on her. In five minutes the ambulance showed up and they rushed her to the hospital.

“Honey, Grandpa, Grandma, and I will go to the hospital – you’ll watch the kids.” Mom explained to me.

“No. I have to come. I have to be there. I’ve been with her since her beginning and I will be there for her end.”

“Honey, but you have to stay with the kids.”

“No, you can! I am coming – I understand her, she’ll want me there.”

“Fine…”

My grandpa and I went into the Jeep and my grandma went in the Toyota. They have like six cars. We rushed over to the hospital and we ran into the ER and saw Eleanor laying still in her bed. Her eyes were squinted. I sat beside her and held her hand. She had all types of IVs in her arm so when I squeezed her she squirmed.

“I love you so much, Ele…” It took her a little bit to gather her thoughts.

“I love you too,” she whispered.

The nurses came in with a turkey and cheese sandwich and orange juice – her favorite. They said we had to leave, but I insisted that I should stay. A police officer gestured to the waiting room so I followed. When I walked into the hallway, I heard crying around the corner. I slowly walked around the corner and I saw a girl crying. I thought it was me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…” she said

“There has to be something wrong. You’re crying in a hospital.”

“My Mom and Dad died in a car crash. They died just a few minutes ago.”

Then she ran off and I heard the slam of a door.

I decided that I wanted to stay the night at the hospital. I woke up to the monitor beeping. A doctor rushed in and turned off the machine and left so I could say my last goodbyes. When she was taken out of the hospital I picked up her blanket off the floor and hugged it.

When we got home I went straight up to what once was our room. When I walked into our room I saw her bed; where her soul slept. I first smiled and then it turned into a frown. I couldn’t believe she was gone. She left me in the blink of an eye.

That night I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept drifting off, but then getting pulled back into the thought of Eleanor being gone.

When I woke up I felt bare without Eleanor next to me. She’d usually be scared in the night so she would sleep with me.

I walked downstairs and into the kitchen. My whole family was eating cereal. My grandma was too sad to cook. All I wanted was Eleanor to come back alive.

After lunch the hospital called and asked my mom and I to come back. When we showed up the nurse was holding a sweater. Then I realized it was that girl’s in the hallway. “Is this your sister’s?” said the nurse.

“No. That’s, uh, my friend’s sweater.”

“Oh. What is your friend’s name, darling?”

“I don’t know…”

“Honey are you okay? It’s your friend. You should know her name.”

“I don’t know… her name could be anything. I only saw her in the hall for a minute. Then she ran away.”

“Whatever. I will put it in lost and found.”

“No, I will find her,” I insisted

The nurse handed me the sweater and I searched for the girl. My mom left because she knew I was going to be a long time. I first looked where I found her the day before but she wasn’t there, so I walked down wing-123 — that was the extreme illness hall. I walked around there for a little bit. But then a man threw up in the hallway so, I left.

I walked to the bathroom and when I opened the door the girl was there. She was crying.

“Are you going to tell on me?” she asked

“What?”

“I’m not supposed to be here. I am supposed to be in the mental center.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah… please don’t tell.”

“It’s our secret. My name is Amanda. What’s yours?”

“My name is Alexa.”

“I saw you in the hall the other day.”

She had a nervous face and then ran. All I saw was her back running away. I forgot to give her the sweater. I saw a black object in the pocket of the cream colored wool sweater. I peered in the pocket and saw a black key. I saw writing on it: Gary.

I wondered what that meant.

 

* * *

 

When I got home from the hospital, everyone was in a bustle around the house. The boys were hopping around trying to get on their old shoes. Grandma said the place was muddy. We all got into the cars and headed to the park. It took 15 minutes to get to the park. When we got there, all the little kids ran towards the playground.

I started to walk towards the other kids but then someone tapped me. It was Marco. My heart sunk down to my feet. He had no reason to talk to me. He had done enough damage to my soul. I felt dead without Ele next to me every step I took, but she wasn’t there anymore. Marco and I hadn’t talked since the accident. I looked at him and then I trudged away. The scent of fall leaves drifted towards me from the wind’s gentle breeze.

When I entered the playground area, I saw Ginger run up the steps and into a tunnel. I followed her. When I got out of the tunnel it was dark. Where was Ginger?  I took my phone out of my pocket and put my flashlight on. I saw a several slides and I saw a little light pouring in from inside one of slides. I crawled in and pushed off. But then my feet hit something. And that something said, “Oww!”

I looked down at my feet and saw Alexa. She had the wool sweater on that I had earlier. How did she get the sweater back? Did she go inside my house? Then Alexa rammed into me and ran up the slide. When looked back I saw nothing. Just darkness. I slid down the slide. It was just me going round and round a million times until everything stopped. The squeak of my skin stopped. The sound of kids screaming stopped. The sound of my breathing stopped. Except for my heartbeat. I closed my eyes and everything started again.

I came to the end of the long slide. When I came out my mom smiled at me. I ran towards her and she wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed. Her hugs were the best. Her warm hands felt like hot chocolate wrapping my heart with marshmallows.

We walked back to the cars and drove home. I headed towards the stairs, but then my mom called my name. She was crying. I ran to the kitchen and saw my mom laying on the floor. There was no one home; my grandparents went out to dinner. And all the other kids in the house were at the beach with a babysitter. She was saying something I couldn’t understand.

“I can’t understand you, Mom. What’s wrong?”

“H-e-l-p-p-p.”

“Do you need to go to the hospital?”

She nodded. I helped her up and then led her outside. I helped her into the car and then we headed to the hospital. I got out of the car and got her into a wheelchair and rushed her inside. The nurses helped her to the delivery room. I called my grandparents and told them to come to the hospital.

As soon as my grandparents came, my grandma hugged me so tight. We didn’t have to say anything – our bodies were words to our hearts. We sat in the waiting room, eager to know what was going on. The nurse came out of the room and told us to come in.

When we walked in the room, I saw my mom. She was in a facemask but there were two little baby girls in a cradle. They had matching pink cotton hats and matching pink socks. I saw on a poster it said Mikayla and Tiara Scott. Born April 16th weighing 5.5 pounds and 5.6 pounds. My mom had the same smile that she had earlier today. The one that warms your heart more than anything can.

My mom closed her eyes and fell asleep. My grandma was crying and my grandpa was smiling that same smile. The nurses told us to leave, because they all needed rest. We walked down the hallway and out the door. From a distance I saw a girl running. I ran after her. I grabbed onto her and she stopped. I turned her around. She looked like she was just beat up – she had a black eye. She gave me the black key that said Gary on it. I saw that she was wearing a heart shaped necklace that said Rebecca on it. It looked very familiar. Then she ran away.

I got into the car and my grandpa drove me back home. The street light glared off the car window. I started to drift into a sleep. We pulled into the driveway and I woke up and walked upstairs. I looked at the other side of the room and saw an empty bed. One gone and two born. In less than a month. My heart was aching.

I looked into my jewelry box and saw the same heart shaped necklace that Alexa was wearing. My necklace said Rebecca – my birth mother’s name.

 

* * *

 

4 days later…

It was April 22nd – the day the twins came home. Everyone was preparing the house. I had been through a lot of these days when the new children came into the house. Usually mom brings two kids into the house at the same time if they’re adopted. But sometimes if only one is born then only one is brought in.

Everyone was putting banners up and making Mom’s favorite meals and snacks. I smelled the muddy buddies cookies and cream being made. I smelled Grandma’s cheese pizza rising in the oven.

Then I heard my terrace doorway being knocked on. I walked over to the door, opened the curtain, and saw Alexa. I slid the sliding door all the way over to make an opening for Alexa’s slim body. It looked like she hadn’t eaten for days. She was wet and dirty.

I gave her a fresh change of clothes and got her a warm blanket. Then I helped her into my bed and went to get her soup. My grandma started to make the chicken noodle soup and I walked back upstairs. I turned on the television and gave her a glass of milk. She needed to be taken care of. And I was willing to. She started to watch Disney Channel.

I hadn’t turned on the TV since Eleanor left the world. She loved to watch Disney Channel. My grandma called me down to the kitchen and gave me the soup. I walked back upstairs carefully and handed it to Alexa. I sat on the bed beside her and she eventually fell asleep. I stared at her for a long time. Then I noticed she was wearing the same heart shaped necklace from a few days ago at the hospital. I took the key off my dresser and walked over to my bed.

I unlocked her locket and there was a picture. The women had dark brown hair. She had a big smile and a lot of makeup. She was very pretty. It was the same picture that I had in my locket. I locked the locket back up and then put the key in my jewelry box.  

I put the blanket back on her because it was slipping off. I went over to my desk and got out my Macbook. I was looking up a question that I’d been thinking for a long time: who was Alexa London?

There was nothing about her, nothing at all. She was anonymous! But why did we have the same picture? Did we have the same parents?

Then Alexa woke up. She looked around for a little bit, but didn’t say anything. “Do you want to go downstairs and have some breakfast?” I asked. She nodded. I told her to get on my back. I carried her over to the elevator.

“Why are you taking care of me?” Alexa asked.

“Because you’re my sister…” and at that moment I knew we were not only friends, we were sisters.

“What?”

“Before I was adopted I remember Mom and Dad gave us lockets and a key to remember them.”

“I remember that too.”

“We are twins!”

The Ice Key

Bang! The news came just as quick as that. There was hope for saving nice, refreshing ice cream and the people that came from Ice Cream World, a world which was made of ice cream. It had everything you could think of. It was small, but everything smelled so good. In parks, there were different hills of flavored ice cream.

Three people were chosen to try and save the world. That would be Ed, Ben, and Eddie, three very smart teenagers who had to go through series of obstacles to get to the ice key before it melted to save the world of ice cream. Someone poisoned Ice Cream World. But nobody knew who.

Ed was investigating how bad the situation was with his friends, Ben and Eddie. They lived in Ice Cream World, but somehow the world started to melt. This world was the best world in the universe. Everyone had to agree on that. They just heard that there was one last hope to save the world. Finding the ice key and putting it into the magical keyhole.

The three best friends helped out a lot in Ice Cream World. For example, they fought off an enormous, powerful beast that was stealing valuables like pieces of precious glowing diamond and gold in Ice Cream World, but they never helped with anything this big. The ice cream government said that they had to get the key in time or else they would get sentenced to death. They would start their journey in a week.

Ed, Ben, and Eddie needed to prepare quickly, but who knew what they would encounter to get to the key. It was daytime right now and they were preparing to go. They each had special talents: Ed was great at technology, science, and figuring out where they were. Ben was good at Math, archery, sword fighting, and figuring things out. Eddie had an ability to hide very well and persuade.

In 2050, the year they were in now, they had everything they needed. (Diamond bows, swords, computers that were top notch in the whole world.) The government provided everything they needed. Ice Cream World was the BEST!!! Until it started to melt.

Today they set off to find the key. They drove in an ice car which was a car made out of ice. It didn’t need air conditioning. It was unbreakable; you could even skate in it and the best thing was that it could make ice cream whenever you wanted. They drove too quick to notice that they had made a wrong turn. The sky started to get dark while clouds covered the sun.

“Where are we?” asked Eddie.

“I think we made a wrong turn,” replied Ed.

“We should get out of here. QUICKLY!” shouted Ben, trying to talk over the ferocious wind.

“Where to? We are stuck in a maze! Trapped! Can’t you see that?” said Eddie, exasperated.

“STOP ARGUING!!! That’s making things worse,” yelled Ed.

Now, the wind was even stronger, trying to push them back. Bits of rough hail started falling from the sky. Someone must be controlling this weather, Ben thought.

“Get in the car,” Ben ordered.

Ed, who was good with maps figured out where to go, but once, they made a wrong turn and they encountered a huge mad lion. The lion was three times as big as Ben. He took out his bow but while doing so, two more beasts came. The lions growled. It sounded as loud as thunder. Ben nocked an arrow but it was too late. The lions charged. He and Ed dodged but Eddie was too late.

Eddie was in huge pain. He peered over his shoulder and there was a big gash on it. He was losing consciousness. He felt so much pain. He saw a blurry vision of Ed and Ben cornered by three powerful beasts. He had to help them but he fainted.

Ed thought he was going to DIE. He hoped Eddie was okay but right now he couldn’t get to him because he and Ben got cornered. Ben shot one beast down but the other two burned all of their weapons. They could breath fire. Now they were on the ground. Both lions above them. When he looked up, all he could see was the lion’s huge jaws. Its teeth were as sharp as knives.

This is the end, he thought. He closed his eyes. About a minute later, Ed opened his eyes. Was he dead? Was he in heaven? No, he was not. Ben had saved him. Ben told him what had happened. The beasts had forgot to burn things in Ben’s pocket. Ben had swiftly taken out his pocket knife and quickly stabbed both lions. That was close, they thought. Then, they saw Eddie.

Ben felt really bad. He knew he could have saved Eddie. They did some repairing. They put band aids with cleaning antidotes invisibly inside. Eddie was alive but not awake. PHEW. He would be okay according to Ed. They carried Eddie through the maze. Occasionally finding useful objects. Here was the last turn of the maze said Ed. Great! Ben thought. The problem was that this time, Ed couldn’t detect which way to go. There were three paths. If they went on the wrong path, They would lost valuable time to find the key before it melted.

Ed was thinking hard. He looked everywhere for clues. Finally he saw a clue! There was a faint sign that said: THERE ARE THREE PATHS, ONLY ONE OF THEM IS CORRECT. FIGURE OUT THIS PUZZLE TO FIND THE RIGHT PATH. There was the word OF, the word WHO, and the word HI. Ed was thinking hard for a couple of minutes when Ben suddenly jumped up and down.

Ben said excitedly, “Look between the word to and find. The last letter in to is O and the first letter in find is F. OF spells of.” Ed quickly ripped the word OF in half. Then, as quick as lightning, two paths disappeared. They sprinted down the path and when they got out of the maze, Eddie was awake!!!

Eddie was cured! He felt way better. The gash on his shoulder was almost totally gone! Even better, they could see the key! They ran as fast as the wind to the key. It didn’t melt yet. Ben put it in the key in a insulated cold bag. THE KEY WAS SAFE NOW but when he turned around, horror struck his face.

Ben was fighting hard. He was trying to distract the nine headed hydra from his friends by throwing junk at it. A nine headed hydra was an enormous beast with nine heads that could spit fire and acid. Each time you cut of a head, two more grow back. That hydra must have poisoned ice cream world. Anger boiled inside him. That gave him more energy.

The hydra blew orange hot flames barely missing Ed. He took out his bag and quickly thought up a plan. While Ben distracted the Hydra, Eddie could slice a head off of the hydra but then he would set a match on fire and put it on the heads that would be growing. He rushed off to tell the plan to Eddie.

Eddie was trying to help but he wasn’t much of a fighter. Thats when Ed came over to tell Eddie his plan. He wasn’t sure if it would work but it was worth a shot. Eddie was climbing the hydra when suddenly it twitched. Ben ran out of junk! He knew he was going to die but he still didn’t give up. At least the hydra couldn’t blow out fire or acid without hitting himself with it too. He felt himself being twisted and turned but he still held on strong. He heard his friends cheering him on. Just then, one of his hands started to slip. NO! He thought. Now Ed was on the hydra. He wanted to say no but he didn’t have enough energy to do it. Finally he came up with an idea. He swung his legs up on to one of the hydra’s heads, using his legs and arms to pull himself up he had enough energy to get on top of a head and cut it off. In a flash, two more heads started growing but not quick enough. Just in time, Ed set the heads on fire. Immediately, The heads started to melt. They kept doing that until the very last head was gone. It groaned then fell to the floor. The hydra was dead. There was no time to waste. They all knew that. They needed to get to ice cream world before it fully melted. They got in a car they found and drove without making any wrong turns. Once they reached the glowing red keyhole, they quickly shoved the key in and all at once, the keyhole turned golden, the hills of ice cream started to turn bright like glitter, the gloomy weather turned into a huge sun with no clouds at all! All at once, everyone’s faces turned from a frown, to a bright smile. It felt good to be back home. They were rewarded with all they needed.

“That was AWESOME,” they yelled as ice cream shaped fireworks filled the air. No monster DARED to try and destroy Ice Cream World again.

The Great Chocolate Adventures

 

Chapter One  

My name is Emily Fox. I have been locked in a cabinet my whole life. All I want to do is go out and explore the world. I wonder if I will ever live a real life like a human. I am all moldy and no one ever wants to eat me. My brother Alex Fox has been eaten. I live in the cabinet of the Beasley family. I am 27 years old. I am a chocolate bar. I was bought from the old owners of this house. That’s the day when I left my mom and dad. When the former owners left, they forgot me and I have not been found since. I was bought in 1997 on September 4th at the Ghirardelli chocolate store in San Francisco. Now it is 2015.  I love the Beasley’s home. Sometimes they leave the cabinet door open, so I feel included. It’s lovely, I love when the whole Beasley family plays music together. All I want is to be found.

Last week I found out that the Beasley family is going to go to San Francisco. Maybe I can fly with the family, but they will have to buy me a plane ticket. I have to be found by Saturday, and now it is Wednesday. I would like to see my mom and dad because I have not seen them in 17 years. I have to make a plan. There is one problem – I have been in a cabinet. Even when they leave the cabinet open, I can only see the kitchen. I do not know where the living room is or where anything thing is for that matter. I have to get out of this weird, ugly cabinet. So I decided to use my head to get out of the cabinet and I got out. Yes!

Last night I got out and I discovered where everything was. The living room is on the left and the kitchen is on the right. I got this. I am leaving tonight feeling confident.

I was found by their daughter Alexis but the minute she saw me she screamed like crazy. That did not sound like I made a good impression. She threw me right into the garbage can. That’s one thing I did not think about. I am ugly and moldy.

I have to get out of this trash can. I smell last night’s dinner in the trash – broccoli and tacos – my favorite (if I had a mouth). I need to climb up to the top. There’s one problem: I do not have arms. I guess I will have to jump, but let’s try that tomorrow. I am too tired tonight.   

In the morning I think that maybe I can climb up to the top and get out. There is one problem – I do not have hands. I am going to have to trust my luck and jump. Two feet, four feet, and then I am finally out of here!

The Beasley family is starting to pack. Maybe I can sneak into one of their suitcases? I may melt, but that’s better than not seeing my parents. I need the Beasley family to go to the Ghirardelli chocolate store, but what if they don’t go? (Of course they are going to go – they have a kid! What kid doesn’t like chocolate?) Just in case I will slip a flyer for the chocolate store in one of the suitcases.

Back into my cabinet. The Beasley family goes to bed very early, that’s why I am able to get away with what I do at night. Good night. I am ready to board the plane tomorrow. I am so excited to see my mom and dad tomorrow.

Chapter Two

We are about to board the plane. It was a hectic morning. I had trouble getting out of my cabinet. For some reason I think I locked it last night when I was getting back in. I figured it out by squeezing through the cabinet door. Then I had a decision to make. What suitcase was I going to hide in? Should I make it right with Alexis or not? I do not want her to throw me away again. I will hide in the mom’s suitcase. It is hot in this suitcase. I am sweating like crazy. I feel like I am on a rollercoaster. Every second I am flying and bouncing like crazy. Then we stop. Are we here? We’re shaking! Are we falling? I am going to die so young. Then we land. I am so relieved. I felt like I was going to die. Why am I rolling? Someone’s murdering me.

I open up the zipper on the suitcase with my head. (I can do a lot with my head. It’s one of my favourite body parts.) Mrs. Beasley is rolling the suitcase.  We’re getting off the plane, finally. I am so excited to see what kind of adventures we will go on.

The whole Beasley family squeezed into one taxi. The suitcase was thrown into the trunk of the taxi. Taxi men can be so rude. Don’t they see me in here? Do they want me to break a bone? We arrive at the hotel. It is named Hotel Diva. It is very lovely. One thing is that it was kind of rude that Beasley family did not buy me a toothbrush. I know I don’t have teeth, but humans use them. Why can’t chocolate bars have them too? Humans think that chocolate bars have no feelings. Anyway I think I am going to doze off into a deep sleep. It’s been a long and hectic day. When I wake up tomorrow morning I will make a plan. What’s in store for the adventures I will have tomorrow?

I had  a beautiful sleep last night. I dreamed about chocolate, and that the whole world was made out of chocolate and chocolate took over. Well maybe not the sweetest dream for humans, but for us chocolate that’s heaven. Anyway, today is a big day for me. I am going to see my mom and dad- at least if my plan runs smoothly. What if they go see the Painted Ladies or the Golden Gate Bridge? I am freaking out. I know I need to stay calm. I will just play it by ear. How am I going to travel with them? Wait- doesn’t Mrs. Beasley have a purse? Yes. I can just hide in her purse. I can look around my hometown. This day can’t be bad. My number one priority is to see my mom and dad. We are about to leave when I see that we are heading straight towards the Painted Ladies. No. I am never going to see my parents. I am freaking out. Ahhhhhhhhhhh! I need to stay calm.

When we arrive at the Painted Ladies, I thought it was really pretty. The Painted Ladies is a street with all different colored houses painted by real Ladies in the early 1900’s. It’s been a place that people have wanted to go to since. It’s been on the map for some time. I know about it because when my parents and I were in the chocolate store they always told me stories about the Painted Ladies and Golden Gate Bridge.

After we visited the Painted Ladies we had lunch at San Francisco Bar and Grill.

Mrs Beasley had chicken parmesan, and Mr. Beasley had steak with green beans, and Alexis had chicken nuggets with fries. What did I have?  Some of my chocolate that got melted. Then I heard Mrs. Beasley say, “Lets go back to the hotel.”

“Ok,”  said Mr. Beasley. It was a long day. Tomorrow we need to go to the Ghirardelli Chocolate store. I can’t worry about it. It’s been a hard and long day. Good night.

Chapter Three  

It’s a good  morning, I had a great dream about seeing my parents and having a real conversation with them. I do not think  that that will ever happen. We need to go to that chocolate  store. I get back into Mrs Beasley’s purse and hear her say, “Why don’t we go to the Golden Gate Bridge? “

“Ok,” said Mr. Beasley. Ahhhh. Why can’t this family go to that chocolate store? Let’s go see the Golden Gate Bridge. Hopefully we will go to the chocolate store tomorrow. We arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s pretty and cool to see in person. We walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. The cars are so loud. “Cool it,” I say, but no one hears me. It’s like we are in the city with all this noise. I have never been exposed to this much noise. The bridge was made in 1933 in San Francisco. It is 8,980 inches long. I know this because I overheard someone talking about it. Chocolate bars love overhearing conversations. I guess I had fun today, but I really need to go to the chocolate store.

The Beasley family is asleep. I am stuck inside this purse and I can’t get out. I can’t fall asleep. I have too much on my mind. I am going crazy. I love staying with the Beasley family, don’t get me wrong, but I miss my mom and dad more. I found some money and decided to get a toothbrush because those humans use them. They must be important. I am going to sleep very well tonight.

I dreamed about love and being with a man my age. He did not judge books by their covers. So he did not care what I look like. He fell in love with me. I had a great sleep.

Chapter Four

I wake up and I hear Alexis saying, “Can we go to the chocolate store today?”

“Ok,” said Mrs. Beasley. Yes! Finally! Let’s have a party in this purse. Let me hear my jam! It goes, chocolate chocolate all around chocolate is awesome I wish it was raining chocolate.

Then Mrs. Beasley says, “Why don’t we go to breakfast first?”

“Ok,” Mr. Beasley and  Alexis said together.

We went to the breakfast place called La Cafe de San Francisco. Mrs. Beasley had a fruit salad with pancakes and bacon. Mr. Beasley had fruit salad with an omelet. Alexis had a waffle with bacon. They talked about human stuff and school. Learning! Ahhh. I hate learning. Then we get into a taxi. We are heading to the chocolate store. Yes, I am going to see my family.

We get out of the taxi. We are heading into the chocolate store. I see all the goodness of chocolate. Then I wake up. I am right next to my parents. I say, “I never ever want to leave you. That was a bad dream.”

The End

                                                     

The Bird and the Worm

Once there was a bird whose name was Sunflower. She had red stripes and purple dots. She had a blue beak with lots of hearts. She had bright green feet. She lived in the jungle with lots of other birds, but all the other birds were just one color. Every day the bird tried to catch something to eat, but all the bugs hid because Sunflower was so easy to spot. I wish I could turn into a bug, Sunflower thought.

The next day, when she was flying around, she spotted a really big worm, but the worm was under the roots so she could not get it. I will try anyway, Sunflower thought. The worm saw the bird and said, “That bird can’t catch me.” The worm wiggled back into the dirt. The bird swooped down and started pulling the roots with her beak.

After five hours of pulling roots, Sunflower could finally get the worm. But when she looked for the worm in the dirt he was not there! Sunflower got so mad she scared all the bugs and worms away! After Sunflower calmed down a little bit and ate dinner, she went to bed.

One family of worms came out to look at the stars.

The next day, when she was looking for something to eat, she saw a blue bird pop out of nowhere. The bird swooped down and grabbed a big bug. Maybe that bird can share the bug he’s eating, thought Sunflower. She flew over to the bird.

“Can you share your bug with me?” she pleaded.

”Maybe… but you have to help me build a nest. Ok?” the bird said.

”Ok,” Sunflower replied.

After they ate, Sunflower helped the bird build a nest.

The next day she was sooooo hungry, so she went outside and ate everything she could. But she didn’t catch any worms or bugs. Sunflower was really disappointed she didn’t get any good food. Sunflower flew back to her home.

”Maybe if I go home and take a little rest I could think of a way to get a bug,” she said.

While Sunflower was flying out of the corner of her eye she spotted a worm. When she got home she made herself a little snack, ate it, and went to sleep. When she woke up she flew down and landed in the mud.

“Ewww!” she screamed.

When she shut her beak, she noticed a little bug crawling around. The bug didn’t notice her. She gobbled the little bug up.Then she walked to a stream and washed herself off. She flew to her home, on the way collected some blueberries. When Sunflower got home, she mashed the berries and put it in a big bowl covered herself in the blue dye. ”Mmmmmmm,” Sunflower said as she ate some of the dye out of the bowl. She flew out the door and saw the sunset.

“Better hurry,” Sunflower said, “before all the bugs disappear.”

The bugs and the worms were getting ready for bed. One family of worms came out to look at the stars with a little light. Sunflower swooped down and grabbed one of the worms and carried it back to her house. When Sunflower got home she ate her worm with strawberries and blueberries. When she was done she went outside to look at the stars. She saw a bunch of stars that looked like a worm. Sunflower dreamed of having a worm that big, but she never had had one. But she never felt so full in her life as this moment! After her daydream, she went to bed. ”Zzzzzzzzzz!”

When Sunflower woke up the next day, she had a new idea. Sunflower flew out to collect some leaves. She flew to the river, collected  some water. When she got home she put the water in some glue and green dye then put it into a big bowl that was taller than her and wider than her. She got a stool and climbed in. Sunflower  covered herself in the goop. She covered her top half in leaves and slid into a paper towel roll. She looked in the mirror.

”Now l look like a tree,” Sunflower said. She hopped out the door. She stood really still. Three big worms climbed up her but Sunflower gobbled them up.

She said, “I will make myself look like something outside so that all the things I eat will think I am a part of the jungle.” And that’s how she caught food.

The End

 

Swirls of Color

I hear a loud crash! It has to be my mom’s bad cooking – her getting the pots and pans. She is making fish and pasta. YUCK!

My dad, sister, brother and I look at each other and race to the front door. We go get  dinner at Hera Cafe. (My mom eats dinner with my dog Lily.)

On our way to the cafe, we see a bright glow coming from the cafe! We try to drive away, but we are sucked into the cafe. My dad presses the pedal as hard as he can, but we are pulled in. Faster and faster, the more and more he tried. When we are halfway in, we see all different colors swirling together. It must be a portal! We see cows flying and people who look exactly like us going the opposite direction we’re going in.

We all shriek in terror! My sister Lia swoons, but we all calm her down. As we get closer and closer to the other end, we all sigh a sigh of relief!

When we get to the other end, we see mom cleaning off the table and Lily taking a nap on the couch. The only thing is, Lily is a robot and Mom is wearing a fancy suit. She is  a BILLIONAIRE, and our house is made of plexiglass. We have a butler, maid, and cook, so we never have to go to the diner again. But this isn’t real – what do we have to do to get back home?

“How was the bowling alley?” my fake mom asks.

“Bowling alley?” I ask.

“Yes – bowling alley. You were there for three hours!”

I look at my dad and whisper, “We have to get out of this nightmare even if it is awesome!”

“We have to go back to the caf…bowling alley, dear,” my dad says to my fake mom and we all back away from her towards the door.

“All of you have to go?” my fake mom asks.

“Yes!” Lia yells.

“We won a trophy,” I say.

“And it’s very heavy,” my dad finished.

My fake mom smiles. “In that case, I will come too.”

“No it’s okay,” I say gritting my teeth. “We have enough manpower.”

My fake mom starts pouting.

“Why don’t we all watch a movie?” my Dad suggests and we all sit on the sofa. He puts on the most boring movie and we all fall asleep.

Fortunately, Dad is able to wake us up and we sneak past our fake mom and back to the car and  head to the cafe. But all of a sudden, we see our fake mom sitting in the passenger seat next to my Dad!

We are terrified, so we jump out of the car and run as fast as we can to the cafe, but the fake mom turns into a spider / human and she wants to eat us. We are afraid that we will never get back to our world.

We run very VERY fast to the car. My dad starts the car, and goes way over the speed limit  – 180 MPH!  I can’t see anything. Good thing my dad knows the route like the back of his hand, so we break through the front and go into the portal, and it closes just in time so the spider monster can’t go with us to our dimension. (That would be ugly.) Now when we go back I had my hands on my eyes the whole time so I don’t know what happened. The only thing I remember is that we got home safe. We never will go to the diner again…we will just eat TAKEOUT!!

Summer Feet (Excerpt)

Climb. In the backyard is a small mountain, big enough to climb. I am really good at climbing, so my best friend Andrew tells me. The thing is this isn’t the colored rocks they have on the wall at school. This is real.

I have no harness but I don’t care. I lift my body off the ground, reach for the rock above, my body pulls itself up. I try to calculate the way my arms and legs will be for my next move, but it isn’t easy without the colors. I manage to imagine the colors like at school but it isn’t easy.

But somehow, in my next three moves I am at the top. I look down at Hope, Jance, and Caleb. Since the jump isn’t that high I jump to the ground. letting my bare feet hit the hard roots. I hesitate to show pain, but after a while I just smile.

“You know you just did that in less than a minute,” Hope says.

I seem shocked myself. “Well, it was fun.”

London

 

Introduction

I am traveling a far distance around the world running from a person who you probably won’t want to meet, or at least who I never want to see again. Her name is Regina. She shows hatred in her eyes and is one of the most unforgettable (in the bad way) people that I have ever come across of. We have a bad history and she will do whatever it takes to destroy my life.

Anyways, my name is London and I have no parents, no house, no family. My parents were killed by Regina and I was an only child. I am traveling with my only friend who is a boy. His name is Jax. He is the most important person in the entire world to me. I am also a witch (a good witch with good magic) and I can use my magic but I prefer not to.

Right now I am on my way to the north-eastern part of Europe. I shall be staying with a family that I have known for many years. They will keep us safe for as long as possible.

I am going on a long journey, a dangerous journey full of magic and mysteries.

November 30th

I drop my bag down on the train. I am sitting beside Jax, and leaning my head on his shoulder weeping and crying about my life. We are on the train about to get to the harbor where we will board a boat that will take us to north-eastern Europe. In my mind I am thinking about what It would be like to have a life and a living and a family. I fall asleep on Jax’s shoulder and sleep, just sleep.

When I get up from sleeping we are nearly at the harbor so I get up and walk to the exit and hang on the pole until we get to the station. With Jax standing beside me, I know that one way or another we will find peace, together.

We arrive at the harbor and we board the ship, eager to sit after all the standing and I am also eager to eat. We have not have food for two days straight and I am starving. Jax, on  the other hand, can probably go for three days without food and not be hungry. Anyways, the attendant shows us to our room and we drop our bags down, sit on the bed and eat the food that the attendant gives us.

December 3rd

  When we get to the harbor in Poland, we meet the family. They are kind people who have two kids and a lovely home. It is cold here in Poland. Anyways, they show us their house and give us a tour of the city. They show us to our room. The family that lives here are witches and wizards just like I am. They put a protection charm around their house to ward of dark magic, witches, and wizards. Regina is a dark witch who is trying to destroy all good magic. I am apparently told that I am the most powerful witch with good magic living, and I am the only one who can destroy her.             

December 11th

Today is my birthday, and unfortunately today we will be leaving Poland. We need to go because Regina has fond where we were staying and we need to get back to safety.The mother of the family who is actually named Margaret, baked me a cake and we celebrated in the morning before Jax and I had to go to the airport. It was really tough letting go to this family who cared and nurtured us for about a month.

On the flight back to America I knew that I must destroy Regina before she destroys anyone else or me. On the plane I take out my phone and headphones and listen to music, because I actually love music. I also love to sing. When I was younger I played guitar and I loved to sing.

My parents named me London because we lived in London when I was a little girl. I still have the accent.

December 20th

We are now back in the united states and in NYC, where Jax has an apartment. I am staying with him and eager to get out and kill Regina and her army. “I need to use the bathroom,” I tell Jax. “Two doors down to the right,” said Jax.

When I get into the bathroom I look in the mirror and Regina is there. In the mirror!! “Hello,” she says in an evil sort of way. She is going on and on about me meeting her behind the apartment building tomorrow at 7:00. “Will do,” I say. Then she goes away in the mirror and I think about destroying her.

December 20th

Tonight I will be fighting Regina. I hope to destroy her and stop all of the darkness that she brings to this land. I am ready. I was practicing all night and I am very nervous. Regina is very powerful and I can’t take the risk of more people losing their lives. I must defeat Regina if my life depended on it.

I read my clock, 6:55. I head downstairs and go outside behind the apartment building. Regina is there and she is waiting. Before she can even see me I shoot indestructible ice out of my hand that not even she can break. She is trapped. All I have to do is send a laser beam shooting through her heart. But something stops me, she does not deserve to be killed just banished. So I open a portal and send her to a whole nother soler system which she can never escape from.

When I walk back into the apartment I come rushing to Jax and just kiss him. I don’t care what he is feeling inside. All that I know is that I love him and I hope that he loves me too. We stop kissing and we both say that we love each other at the same time. “Did you defeat her?” asks Jax. I nod my head and he hugs me. But then I hear a loud bang. Regina. We weren’t done with her yet. We were forgetting that she still has an army of dark witches and wizards. What are we going to do?!

This is insane. I don’t understand why there is a war. I just want there to be peace and have everything be calm, except for enthusiastic persons. But I have to fight. The world is depending on me and I will not let them down because dark witches and wizards want to cause violence.  

So I step out of the room and go on and face those witches and wizards at my own gut.

The army is getting closer so I shoot fire and ice out of both of my hands so that half of them will get burned and half will be frozen forever. But it is not enough. I need to do something else that can defeat all of the army in one way. So I do something that I have never been able to master. Shooting light out of all parts of my body, that can disintegrate anything that comes your way, while shooting out ice and fire. And I actually did it. The army is shooting all sorts of things at me, but I just keep going. As I am firing, I see all of these people disintegrating and disappearing. Bang!!! I did it. I actually did it, the monsters are actually defeated!

15 years later

    Jax is now my boyfriend and he has been for the past ten years. Today he is taking me out to lunch. I am very excited. I am 25 and I am wondering when or if he is going to propose. On our walk there we take a walk by Central Park and we go under a little gazebo on the water. He gets down on one knee and asks me if I will marry him!

“Yes,” I say.

Is There Really A Witch?

There is a pig named Plumpy McStuffed. He really wants a little banana as a friend, but he can’t, only because there is a really frightening house right in the front of where the banana lives. Nobody ever goes near the house because people say that there is a really bad witch named Boiled McSpoiled who lives there. There is a big grave from all the hunters who tried to kill her. The only way the little banana cannot be killed by the witch is because he is so small nobody will notice him.

But then Plumpy McStuffed has an idea: I will… Never mind, that won’t work, he thinks. But then he has another idea, one that might work.

One day Plumpy finds the little banana’s phone number in front of the barn and he saved it, so now he can use it…if his phone number is still the same. Well it’s worth the try ‘cause it could still be the same.

Okay, he thinks.      

Ring ring ring .

It was silent. Then a little funny voice answers.

“Hi.”

“Oh, hi. Umm, my name is – wait for it, wait for it.” Plumpy turns on music and he starts singing his name.

“My name is PLUMPY MC STUFFED. Yeah!”  

Then when he starts singing on the phone and sounding really bad, the little banana hangs up like any normal banana, food, or animal would do to save their ear drums. So then he calls the little banana again and he is ready.

Ring ring ring, the banana answers again.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

”Who is this?”

“This is Mr Porky, sir,” says Plumpy, trying to trick the banana so he wouldn’t hang up again.

“Oh nice to meet you. What can I help you with?”

“Can you fly your jet ten miles in the front of the Witch’s house? You will see a tall red brick house and a orange fence around it.”

“What witch’s house? There is only a nice lady that lives in an old house. I visit her every day. I can prove it.”

“Hi I’m the old lady that lives in that house. I’m so sick of people calling me a witch.” (She leaves, pretending to cry)

“So what about the gravestones in  front of her yard?”

“Those are just Halloween decorations that she put up and never took down because they are too much  work.”

“Oh, so never mind, I’ll walk to your house. Bye.”

“Bye.”

(Five minutes later)

“Hi Mr. Small. I’m Mr. Porky my last name is Chop. When I walked by the nice lady’s house I heard her say that she is ploning to eat you, so I was wondering if you wanted to team up to stop her and be friends because I don’t have any?”

“Sure, because I don’t have any friends either.”

Then Plumpy and the little banana heard that she was putting a poison outside at the time nobody was around. When the witch left to have supper, Plumpy stole it and then little banana helped Plumpy get it onto the roof of the house for their plan.

Then when the witch comes out she sees that the poison for the banana was gone and said

“Who dar…” and then at that moment they dump the poison on her head and she turns into a pile of dust. Then Plumpy and the banana are rewarded with whatever they want.

So then at the end Plumpy Mc Stuffed or should it be Mr Pork Chop plays with the little banana and become best friends. THE END  

Going Up To The Bigs

 

Chapter 1: Starting Baseball

Someone yelling “Home run!” outside his window woke him up at 6:30 in the morning. People were playing stickball, same thing as baseball.

“Lucas,” called his mom.

“What?” Lucas ran down the stairs thinking of what his mom was going to say.

“We are going shopping at Target soon,” his mom said. So Lucas had some breakfast, and off to Target they were.

When they were there, Lucas wanted a wiffle ball bat and a wiffle ball.

“Where are you going to play, since we live in the city?” asked his mom.                               

“Please,” said Lucas.

“Fine,” said his mother, “but that’s all you are getting.”

“You are the best mom ever!”

“I know.”

So right when they got home, around 10:00 a.m., Lucas started playing wiffle ball in the street with a couple of friends.

He did pretty well for his first time. Even though he had never played baseball before, he always knew he would like it. He went 2-4 with one double and one triple. He also got two strikeouts. He played stickball or wiffle ball almost every day now. He was always the first batter.

Then, his mom put him on a team. Lucas was really excited! He was 9 and he was playing with 12-year-olds. He was on the Brooklyn Stingers. His first game was on Saturday. They had practice on Thursday and Coach Garret told him he was batting first. When the game began at 7:00, the lights were shining, and he was surrounded by people with their eyes peeled on him. Lucas was batting and in front of 1,000 people. Lucas, stepping up to the plate with goosebumps, was as scared as if a monster was creeping up on him and almost killed him. Lucas got in his batting stance and took the first pitch. It was almost 80 mph!

The next pitch Lucas swung and CRACK Lucas hit a double down the line. Everyone was cheering for him. His coach was screaming, “That a boy, Lucas, that a boy, Lucas.” Lucas was pumped up. The next batter hit a single and Lucas was so fast he beat the throw home and they were already winning 1-zip.

Lucas got a strikeout next, but then, his third time at bat he hit a grand slam! He hit the ball 250 feet! Everybody in the stands had their jaws open.

They won the game 6-1 and Lucas was the MVP. Lucas was very happy about his first game.

Chapter 2: Getting Older and Better

Lucas’s birthday was in a week and he was turning 10! His birthday party was in two days and Lucas was really excited. They were going to play video games at Lucas’s party, but they switched it to playing baseball because Lucas started playing baseball.

Lucas had another baseball game tomorrow and he was ready for anything. But when he was in bed, he had a bad dream that he would get hit and break his leg, and when he woke up after that, he couldn’t sleep. When he was at his game, he hit 1-5 because he was scared he would get hit by a pitch.

After the game, Coach asked him, “What happened today?”

“I was just scared I’d get hit. My body was just scared.”

Coach answered, “If you get hit, it won’t hurt.” That made Lucas feel less scared.

His birthday party was later that day and Lucas was so excited. It started at 3:00 and ended at 7:00. They were going to have a five-foot-high cake! Lucas was looking at the time every minute, and he wanted his friends to come this second.

Lucas invited nine people so they could play a five on five matchup. When all his friends came, they were having fun playing a baseball game, and then Lucas’s dad yelled, “Someone is here for you.”

They walked over slowly and sadly, and then they saw Derek Jeter and perked up with their jaws opened.

“Hi guys,” Derek said. They were all too amazed to talk. Lucas finally said, “Can you play baseball with us?”

“Sure,” answered Derek.

Lucas’s team got Derek and the other team got two players from their team.

Lucas’s team creamed his friend’s team 21-4. Lucas went 10-10 and after the game they dunked one gallon of gatorade on Lucas and even got season tickets for the Yankees.

Chapter 3: Baseball Baseball Baseball

Lucas played baseball all day in the summer and went to Yankees games almost every day. When school started, he couldn’t go to as many games. His mom said two times during the week and two times during the weekend.

Lucas had a game the next day and hit 4-5. He got one triple, two singles, and a grand slam!

He had the best average on the team and he had the most homers on the team. His average was 555 and he had two homers! Then the next day he went to a baseball game and the Yankees lost. The good part was that he was right field and he was in the first row.

In his mind, he was saying that this was the going to be the best week of his life. The next day, he was just hanging out and played video games, played stickball, slept late.

But when he played stickball, he was running and slipped, and it looked like he was dead but wasn’t. One second, he was playing stickball the next he was in the hospital. In the hospital, he was thinking about what he said last night. He said in his mind that it was the best week of his life, but he took that back. Now he was in a cast for six weeks.

He was thinking of how boring it’ll be sitting around all day doing boring stuff, then BINGO he could go to the Yankees game. In his mind, he was actually excited to go to Yankees games every day.

He was even more excited because Yankees were doing well this season. They were in first place with a 61-49 record. The Yankees were playing the Indians and the Indians were bad this year so the Yankees did have a good chance of winning so Lucas was super duper excited! They went to the game and the Yankees won 5-2. The next day, Alex Rodriguez was up and he hit the ball right to Lucas. He stuck his mitt out and felt something plop in his mitt.

He looked in his mitt, and it was a nice shiny ball. Lucas had caught a ball, his dad cheering, “My kid caught a ball, my kid caught a ball.”

He was on the jumbo screen. Lucas was so happy he was crying.

After the game Alex Rodriguez came up to him and said, “Want to hang out in the dugout together?”

“Sure.”

That’s how their relationship started. His mom and Alex got in touch, and Alex started babysitting Lucas about once a week.

Chapter 4: Boring School Starting

Lucas’s school was starting in three days. Lucas was not that excited because he was going into 4th grade and all they do is work, work, and more work. The worst part is that Lucas got Mrs. Harvin, who is the worst teacher ever.

Even if you pass a test– “Lucas,” yelled his mother.

“What?” answered Lucas.

“Get dressed for baseball.”

Lucas finally had his cast off so he could play.

Never mind school, off to baseball. At the game, they let Lucas be the starter pitcher. Lucas pitched 7.1. He let up one run and they won the game 5-2 because the relief pitcher let up one run. Lucas was the MVP again.

Lucas’s coach said they would have to go to Staten Island for their next game. Coach Garrett secretly told Lucas that he was the best player on the team.

Lucas really already knew, but it was nice that his coach was actually saying it.

When he came back to his house, he had a playdate with his friend Robbie. Robbie was also very good at baseball. Robbie was 14, but Lucas was still better than him.

After the playdate, he went to sleep and then he went to school. Mrs. Harvin was always nice the first day, but then the next day, it was like magic. She got mean.

The second day of school, she gave them tests and all that boring stuff. Even if you passed a test, she yelled at you. It’s like she was a bully and she was a teacher. The only good thing about her was that she rarely let them get extra recess. At least she even let them have extra recess.

She seemed like a friendly teacher, but she was the exact opposite.

After school, he went to his baseball game. His team lost 12-10. Lucas did his part because he went 5-5. All his hits were doubles. There record was 3-1 and they were in first place in their division.

The next day, they took a 100-page test and she yelled at Lucas for getting a 99/100. “Stupid, right.” The next day the principal fired Mrs. Harvin because she saw her yelling at everyone!!!

“Hip hip, hurray,” everyone yelled. Their substitute teacher let them have a dance party. Everyone had the best day ever.

Chapter 5: Fun Fun Fun

Everything in Lucas’s life was fun. Baseball, school, and everything else you can think of. In baseball, they were in the World Series, and in school, they didn’t do any work. Lucas was turning 11 next month!

Who wouldn’t like Lucas’s life right now? When Lucas’s birthday came next month, he was going to play with a hard ball. They were going to play at Pro Swing. Lucas just loved his life so much.

When his team was in the World Series, Lucas got the walk-off hit and his team won 7-6. Lucas went 4-5 with three homers. He was totally the MVP.

Lucas was so good he played with high school kids. Lucas’s birthday was the best! He hit 7-7 and hit four homers.

His mother said, “When you get to be 14 I’ll put you in college.” If he could do that, it would be amazing. He would be famous!

Everybody followed Lucas everywhere. He knew how major leaguers felt now.

“Lucas! Lucas! Lucas! Lucas!” It was getting really annoying now.

Chapter 6: College to the Majors

When Lucas turned 14, he went to Duke University and he did phenomenally.

The Duke baseball coach said, “You are so good you could be called up any time. While you’re on our team, try your best and we’ll put you first in the batting order every time.”

Lucas did so well that he couldn’t go to school, so at college he went to someone who taught his grade. Lucas played outfield and the Yankees needed an outfielder. So it was perfect timing, but manager Joe Girardi thought he should stay in college one more month and in that month he hit 950. That was the best average ever in one month and in the draft the Yankees selected Lucas Griench from Duke University. Lucas was so excited to be in the majors with his favorite team.

Criminal Warehouse

PROLOGUE

I have been here for weeks months days years hours minutes seconds.

Okay I have been here for five minutes. Let me explain.

I live in a huge mansion, and just minutes ago a man (or woman) just locked me, my brother, and my mother in our pantry closet. I woke up this morning and read the newspaper. It said that a criminal group had five failed attempts to take over rich mansions. FAILED. I wasn’t worried. I went to my private school. We were talking about what to do if a criminal came into our house. Little did I know I needed to listen.

I’m really scared. What if my house is a victim of one of these criminal warehouses? I’m nervous. I was trying to smile and keep quiet so my mother and brother would stay calm. That didn’t work. My mom won’t talk, and all my brother can think about is dividing the food in the pantry. In his defense he’s only four and does not know what’s going on. In my defense neither do I.

CHAPTER 1

ONE YEAR LATER

We’ve been living here for a year. We’re running low on food. This pantry is dusty. This pantry smells like old ketchup. The floor is too hard to sleep on. I can hear the mice in the walls. Everything tastes like mold. I am now nine. My brother is five. Mother went missing. I didn’t cry. I knew this was a challenge. I had to take it head on. We just went to bed one night and when we woke up she wasn’t there. I hate living here. I know that my house, MY HOUSE, is now a criminal warehouse. I hear every night commands. Commands such as, “If that girl and brother find out about us we’ll put them to work.” I hate living here. I hope they find us. I’d rather work for criminals than live here one more night.

CHAPTER 2

THEY FOUND US.            

One morning we were eating some ridiculously stale muffins, when the door opened. I knew it wasn’t mother because the figure was wearing a black suit. Mother doesn’t own a black suit. The figure said no words but it’s time for work. My brother and I gulped. On the way into the main area the figure asked our names.

I said, “Livvi and Josh.”

“Kids, we’re putting you to work,” the figure said.

I had only one question on my mind: would we get to see mother? I had only so much to lose so I said, “What did you do with my mother?”

“She works for us now.”

I couldn’t help myself. “Will we get to see her?”

“Yes! Tonight… if you behave.”

“What do we have to do?”

CHAPTER 3

OUR FIRST HEIST

I pass filth, dirt, and well, all the people I’ve ever seen in a newspaper. They growled at me. My brother spoke gibberish. That is all he ever talked since the mold started building up. I am so grateful he is not dead. He is my only friend. He always has been. Ever since dad died three years ago, he has been my best friend. I’ve heard enough to know that we would be working for these criminals. I figured that since my life already sucks so much, I have nothing to lose, so I start asking every question I have.

“What is our first mission?”

“You are going to distract the people working at the bank.”

“How?”

“Pretend you are missing your mother.”

“I am missing my mother,” I said quietly to myself.

CHAPTER 4

IN THE BANK

We entered the bank using the front entrance. All of the criminals went through the back entrance. I feared they would kill us if we didn’t complete the mission. I was trying to keep calm, but I was shaking. I had to complete this mission.

If I die, the criminals will keep my brother just to torture me. I couldn’t let that happen. We went up to the bank teller.

“We have lost our mother, sir.’’

We talked for about ten minutes.

A women popped into the room.

“Is that your mother?” said the bank teller.

“Yes,” we said.

And sure enough it was.

My mother and I hugged in the backseat of the van while the other criminals talked about how much money they took. I wanted to learn about the criminals before Mom, Josh, and I escaped.

CHAPTER 5

RONNIE

The first criminal I wanted to learn about was Ronnie. I cornered him in the hall. He said, “Leave me alone, or I’ll take the upstairs room away from you,” he said like he didn’t want to be bothered. I stood there pretending I didn’t notice how grouchy he was.

“I WAS ACTUALLY WONDERING HOW YOU GOT HERE.”

“Well girl…”

“Mmmmmmmmmmmm.”

“What?”

“Mmmmmmmmmmmm,”

“WHAT?”
“My ma left me when I was young. She was bad, now I’m bad, okay?

“What if you gave your mother a second shot.’’

“I’ll give her a shot. I’ll give her a shot to the head.”

“Just give her a chance, mothers don’t just leave their children.”

His face was full of confusion. He started crying. The toughest criminal here. CRYING.

CHAPTER 6

LULU

The next morning I told my mom what happened when I talked to Ronnie. She just kept talking about getting out of the warehouse.

“There are only four criminals who live here regularly. We just have to take them out.”

I could not stand it. I went downstairs to get oatmeal. That’s breakfast, dinner, and lunch here.

I noticed Ronnie wasn’t there.

“Lulu, where’s Ronnie?”

“Went soft, kid.”

“Said somethin’ ‘bout goin to find his ma.”

An idea came into my head: What if I made all the criminals soft? Then we could get out of here.

“Lulu, why are you here?” I asked.

“I was a bank teller. Everybody who worked with me was trying to get money. I wanted money. I had a son. We were not poor. I’m just very competitive. I was the youngest of eight children. I had seven older brothers. I wanted to be a leader.” Lulu looked away from me, as if what she had to say next embarrassed her. “I wanted to be a leader so much that I killed my husband and robbed the bank. I put my son up for adoption. I didn’t love him.” Lulu looked back at me, an expression of horror on her face. “Wow. I’m terrible. I didn’t realize what a terrible person I was before this. I want to be a leader not a follower. I think I’ll do what Ronnie did. I’ll make my life better. I’m so sorry. I’ll tell the others to get out.”

CHAPTER 7

13 YEARS LATER

It is my wedding day. It has been 13 years since the criminals left the warehouse. Guess who is at my wedding. Lulu. I paid her bail. I am rich you know. She even got to adopt her son, Michael. That is who I am marrying. We have a lot in common. I do love him. My brother is now giving a toast. We got him treatment so that he doesn’t speak gibberish anymore.

I barely even think about what happened. I just think about my new life.

My new criminal life. I’m following in Lulu’s footsteps. JUST KIDDING. 

 

Alliteration Poem

an alligator ate an apple

bashfully bad bats

can cats clap

do dogs do doo-doo

elephants eat eggs

faint fashion far above

giant gum is great

hope hopes for hopscotch

it is impossible to be invisible

jim jumping, jackrabbit black, we are all jumping like that                                          

katey kit-kat is katty

love your looks                                                                                                                    

mom is mother and moon is melon

nobody nodded nothing nowhere

out in outside of outer space

please play pool gently

quiet quilts quark quails

rhinos run really fast

shimmer in the spotlight

special sparkling snowflakes see snow

time to team up

up umbrella, unicorn flight

value vapperating

wonder woman wins wars

x-rays are x-cellent  

yawn, yo-yo, you know

zebras are zombie

 

A Great Vacation

I put the suitcase on the bed. I look around the room and it is beautiful. There is a balcony and a fireplace and even a refrigerator filled with yummy drinks.

Oh! I almost forgot. I’m Marissa and today I’m at Great Wolf Lodge for four days. I can’t wait to start an awesome vacation!

I start to unpack my things and put them in the dresser drawer. Then my little brother Andrew says to me, “You brought too many clothes.”

“No, I didn’t. You didn’t bring enough clothes,” I say anxiously.  

He looks in his drawer and there are only two pairs of everything, two shirts, two pairs of pants and socks, and two pairs of shoes. Then my mom says to us to get our bathing suits on so we can go to the waterpark at least for a little bit since we got here a little later than expected.

We are at the waterpark and the first water slide I go on is the Toilet Bowl. The Toilet Bowl is where you slide down a slide and you get in this big bowl and you go in circles. Then in the middle there is a slide. We go on a bunch of slides and then it is time to leave the waterpark. Then we go back to the hotel room and take showers.  

Then we go to look around. We see people holding wands and wonder what they were for so we ask at the front desk. They told us that it was for a Magic Quest. The Magic Quest is a game where you go on a quest or an adventure and you start at a station and it gives you points. It also gives you hints of which station is next and you keep going on and on until you’re at the last station. You even get to keep the wand!   

We ask the kids with the wands where we could get some and they said that there is a room up ahead that has things for the Magic Quest. We find the room and go up to the desk. We ask for a girl wand and a boy wand. My wand is dark pink with streaks of light pink and sparkly and Andrew’s is black with red streaks and a dragon on it. Ours both had MQ in the middle of them for Magic Quest. We go to start the quest but we can only do a little bit because it is almost time for dinner.

We go to the restaurant there and I get spaghetti with marinara sauce. Yum! My favorite!  When I get it, I eat it in two minutes. My brother has not even touched his food because he isn’t allowed to have something that unhealthy. He had a lot of junk the day before. After I finish I ask my mom if we can have dessert, but she said no so we had to leave.  

Then we get our PJs on. My brother and I both are allowed to play on our iPads for a bit. We both play Geometry Dash for a little. Then since it is early we watch a movie on Netflix called Step Dogs. My brother doesn’t want to watch it but he has to since he picked the movie a couple nights before. When the movie is over we have to brush our teeth. After I brush my teeth I read a chapter of Whatever After: Dream On. The book is really good so far. I am on chapter 11 in the book. The series Whatever After is about these two kids, Abby and Jonah, who have a magical mirror in their basement that takes them to princesses’ worlds such as Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty. Then we have to go to bed. When we wake up we get dressed and get ready for a big day. I can’t wait for today because we are going to do more of the Magic Quest and go to the waterpark.  

“Hey Marissa!” says Andrew loudly.

“Yes?”

“I can’t wait for today! Can you?”  

“Yeah I’m super excited for today! I mean like we are going to do more of the Magic Quest and go in the waterpark!”

“Come on guys, let’s go!” says my mom.  

We get to the waterpark and I just get poured on by the giant bucket of water that said Great Wolf Lodge on it. I am going on the slides and they are really fun!

Then we go to eat lunch at a restaurant out of Great Wolf Lodge. The waitress comes up to our table to order food and I ask for a grilled cheese with fries. Andrew gets mac and cheese. While we are waiting for the food, Andrew and I play hangman on the paper that you can draw on, on the table. I let Andrew choose the word first because usually I always go first on everything. He finally thinks of a four-letter word.

“Really, a four-letter word!?”

“What’s the problem, it’s just hangman,” he says angrily.  

“Whatever,” I say. Then I guess the first letter.  

“M,” I say while he puts it on the paper.  

“It has to be Mine,” I say to him.  

He looks at me. “How did you guess that so fast?”

“Because all you know is Minecraft.”  

“Oh yeah, I do know Minecraft,” he says, surprised.  

Finally our food comes.  It looks so good and yummy! I can probably eat this in two minutes too. I take a bite into it and then I realize that it was so good and I want to eat more. Then we all finish and we have to leave.  

We do more of the Magic Quest when we got back. I like how when we are on one of the stations it gives you hints for the next station.  

“We did a lot today — let’s go eat dinner,” I tell Andrew.

So this time for dinner we get it delivered to our room. I get mozzarella sticks and a hotdog.  We watch the movie Boxtrolls. Then we have to go to bed.  

When we wake up, we go downstairs to eat breakfast. We wear our bathing suits under our clothes because we decide to go straight to the waterpark. I have pancakes for breakfast and they are really good!  

Then we went to the waterpark. We did more water rides and I kept going on the Toilet Bowl. That one is my favorite ride. Then we go to the Magic Quest. I finally get up to the station. It is my favorite station so far because it has fairies and I love fairies. Then we spend a lot of time on the Magic Quest and we almost finish.  

“Come on guys, let’s go. Let’s save some Magic Quest for tomorrow. It’s our last day tomorrow,” mom said loudly. We go back to our room to get dressed nicely since we are meeting my mom’s friend at a restaurant nearby. We are finally at the restaurant and my mom’s friend is already there. We say our hellos and then order our food. This time I get pasta with butter, but that means that we have to eat a healthy dinner because we haven’t been eating very well this vacation. We eat our food and it is really good. Then we say our goodbyes and leave.  

Then we go swimming in the pool. My dad is throwing us up into the pool. We play toothpaste and have races. We are the only ones there so we have the whole pool to ourselves. I have so much fun at the pool because it was our first time. Then we play on our iPads and chill for an hour or two. I text my friend Gianna because she has just moved and I want to see how the new house is going. I Facetime her and we talk and talk and talk as always.  

Then we go eat dinner. We eat at the restaurant there because we hadn’t since the first day. We get steak and salad for dinner. The steak is really good but I don’t really like the salad. We finally get dessert for a change. I get vanilla ice cream and Andrew gets chocolate ice cream. It is really yummy.  We finish dinner and go back to our hotel room. We get in our PJs and went to bed.  

When we wake up I am so sad because it is our last day and we are leaving tonight. We have to go eat breakfast so I get dressed and we went downstairs. I get french toast with syrup and chocolate milk. Yum! After breakfast we go to the pool. We play more toothpaste and I do a lot of flips and gymnastics. That is my favorite part about the pool: you can do a lot of gymnastics. I go in the hot tub and it is really warm! Andrew does the ice bucket challenge and he freaks out when he pours it on himself. He runs into the hot tub and screams.  

We go to eat lunch. I get spaghetti with marinara sauce again and mozzarella sticks. Yummy! Yummy!  

After lunch we do more of the Magic Quest. We are almost finished so we only have five stations left. We are on the last one and we finally finish it. We go to the front desk to get a prize. I get a glass snowman and Andrew gets a slinky.  

We have to go back to the hotel room to start packing. I am so sad because we are leaving in a half an hour. We are finally done packing and have to leave. I am so sad that we had to leave because I have had so much fun these four days at Great Wolf Lodge. But I can’t wait to write about this in my morning journal at school tomorrow and I can’t wait to see my friends again. We’re walking out the door and I say to myself, “Goodbye Great Wolf Lodge — hopefully I’ll see you next year!”

The End