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18-year-old TCK obsessed with language in general, especially the written word, for my entire life. Working on my first fiction novel. Check out my blog at for more writing and even some art (my avatar is one of my paintings)!

Message to Readers

The recently rewritten first chapter of my novel about star spirits and a girl whose odd visions are more helpful than they appear.

Starsfall: A Life-Changing Smile

November 14, 2017

I love the depth of the night sky. In the city the distant points of starlight are veiled, but I can still trace the major constellations: the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt. We had a couple nights as a family laying on sleeping bags in the backyard around a fire, fending off mosquitoes and learning constellations and tracking satellites across the deep blue ocean of space. My neighborhood is utterly silent at night, save the occasional far-off barking of dogs and the trilling of bugs. Lion, my tabby cat, didn’t particularly care for that racket.
That night, though, a soft drizzle obscured the sky and chased everyone indoors. My window hung half open, accepting the chill air into my previously stifling room. Light from my bending desk lamp pooled around my hunched shoulders as I sucked on the tip of my paintbrush. A muddied paint mug perched precariously on a pile of old textbooks from junior year, a blotchy rag lay across my lap, and my pocket watercolor kit, still wet, laid open by my left elbow. My vision blurred slightly from fatigue despite my glasses, but my newest painting still shone clearly.
A man stared up at me from the page, young, pale as paper, with a thin scar across his cheek. He was smiling. That grin, meant to be reassuring, displayed an impressive collection of needle-sharp teeth. Those teeth could belong to a piranha, an angler fish. They belonged in the depths of the sea, in the near-darkness, in the maw of a scaly fish larger than a man, not in the mouth of a college student. Blackness spread out from his image in watercolor waves.
 Lion purred as she rubbed against my felt pajama pants. I reached down and tugged her onto my lap, where she promptly started nuzzling my face.
“Was he real, girl?” I mused. “What do you think?” I tried to catch her furry chin in my palm, but she turned away and settled down in my lap. “I have been seeing weird things lately…” The eyes of the man on the paper caught mine, and I shivered. “Better go get some dinner, it’s getting late.” I dumped the protesting cat back onto the hardwood and padded down the hall to my little brother’s room.
His door, festooned with salvaged Keep Out signs and hand-lettered warnings in fictional tongues, cracked open. I stuck my head in and blinked. Lukas had cleared a spot in the center of the general chaos of his cave. He knelt on the carpet, squinting through old sunglasses in the glare of a florescent lamp as his gloved hands pried apart a battery with my craft pliers. Lukas was about sixteen, gangly and scrawny as a beanpole, and possessed of a tremendous quantity of reddish-brown hair that stuck out all over the place.
“Am I interrupting something?” I questioned with a grin. Lukas remained focused on his controlled destruction.
“Not really.” He set the disassembled battery on the plastic bin cover in front of him and looked up. “I just hope this next one doesn’t have an alkaline core.”
I slid into the room as he shoved the sunglasses into the mass of hair and unfolded his legs. “What would happen if it does?”
“We’d all be dead.” Lukas responded. He leaned back on a pile of clothes on his right, smearing the top shirt with who-knows-what from his glove. Mom had spent several hours folding those yesterday. “Don’t worry, Melody. It should be fine.”
“Shouldn’t you at least open the window or something?” I asked, nervous.
Lukas shrugged. “Wouldn’t make much of a difference.”
“What are you trying to make?”
“An arc light. I connect the carbon rods to the nodes of a car battery with these,” he gestured to a tangle of cords, “then electricity jumps from rod to rod.”
“Why the sunglasses when it’s so dark in here?” I asked, leaning against his wall and folding my arms.
“Eye protection. Dad said not to get battery acid in them.”
I nodded. “Probably a good idea.”
He hunched back over his project. “Why’d you come in?”
“I was wondering if you’ve eaten dinner.”
“I forgot,” he admitted. “What do we have?”
I shrugged and turned to examine a half-finished metal replica of the Golden Gate Bridge on one of the floating shelves. “I dunno. Probably some rice and beans. Tikka masala. Cade machida. Pizza.”
“How about ramen?” he asked innocently without looking up.
“Absolutely no ramen,” I said. “You’d get sick on that stuff if you had your way.”
Luke let out a dramatic sigh. “Fine. Pizza sounds good. Thanks, Mel,” he added as I turned away. “Oh, and try not to wake Mom and Dad. Dad has a photoshoot in the morning, and Mom went to bed with a migraine. You’ve been in your room for a long time.”
My mind involuntarily flashed back to that afternoon, when I went to the store to pick up some groceries after Mom’s subtle hints about how I seemed to be enjoying a relaxing morning, if only she could have so much time on her hands. Turning around, bumping into something. Looking up, seeing that horrifying smile.
I shuddered as if to shake the image out of my mind. “I’ll get you that pizza.”
I slapped at all the light switches on the way down to the kitchen, grateful for the cat to follow me and chase out the shadows from my mind. I had always had an overactive imagination, but this was getting to be too much. The goblins and monsters that chased me when I was tiny, with a tangle of bright red hair reaching to my waist instead of the more subdued, short cut like now, came from the pages of books. I still crammed the bookcases in my room with volumes, now of science fiction and philosophy and classical literature as well as my typical fantasy, but rarely before had I been haunted by a creature purely out of my own head.
The microwave dinged. I lifted my face from Lion’s soft fur and dropped her to the floor to retrieve the pizza. Each step creaked on my way up the stairs. Maybe tonight my dreams would be empty. I passed the pizza in to Luke, who balanced it on another pile of previously clean clothes, and curled up on the quilt that grandma made me to devour my slice. I tried to bury my head in an old favorite book to avoid thinking about my newest painting, but that grin still revolved in my head when I finally switched off the light.
Stars wheeled in the blackness, masses of flaming gasses and chemicals hanging in the endless vacuum of space. I passed along the surface of the flame, flares licking at my feet. I observed my body, suspended in faded pajamas. My auburn waves floated around my face, lending it an ethereal look. My eyes flashed vivid green, then deep blue. The paleness of my face contrasted strongly with both my freckles and the surrounding darkness. My bare feet curled against the perceived cold of space.
With no warning, a star twisted, flashed. The most brilliant of them twisted into a searing hot lily and collapsed in on itself. Instantly several of the surrounding spheres were sucked into the newly created black hole, briefly trailing liquid fire before winking out.
Having seen this spectacle many times before, I contented myself with musing on the reflections and emotions on my own face. My eyes gleamed with the vivid colors, and my soft features twisted into horror and tense expectancy.
The entire scene flashed and disappeared.
I drifted in mist. My toes touched something cold and hard, curled as I was set down on what felt like glass. The mists blinked gray around me, the receded to darkness once again.
“…might be dangerous.” A hard voice, forced into submission.
“She could be,” the second speaker admitted. He sounded like a hundred voices at once, resounding and shaking the glass under my feet. “Then again, you report her as a child. If you cannot handle her…” It deepened to a growl that knocked my hand to the ground. I grasped at the slick chill, shivering as the cold seemed into my skin.
“Understood, sir,” said the first voice. 
“Take Abigail,” the leader said.
Panic crept into the second man’s voice. “Abigail! Sir, she is not ready…”
“Take Abigail.”
Silence. “Yes, sir.”
The entire ground seemed to tilt beneath me. My eyes went wide in the dark. I pressed up against the ground, tried to force my way to my feet. One bare foot slipped out from underneath me, and I landed with a crash. I began to slide rapidly away from the hidden conversation, their last words swallowed by the mists. My chest was empty, my mind pressed against my skull, my fingers scrambling to find purchase. Glass left my fingertips, and I screwed my eyes shut.


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  • November 14, 2017 - 8:54am (Now Viewing)

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