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RainAndSonder

United States

I mostly write short stories, some fiction, some real experiences, and some a mix between the two, but there's also a bit of poetry. I am a Whovian and a Potterhead (my house is Hufflepuff).

Message from Writer

"Those that can, do. Those that can't, write." - John T. Reed

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RainAndSonder (United States) published:

Day 3- Three-Sentence Plot Twist

FREE WRITING

    Dr. Winters had a freshly dry-cleaned white lab coat on, not a wrinkle in it. He stood with his back facing me, using a metal instrument to dissect a heart, and looked up as I walked in. He turned, and I could see the hole in his chest where it had once been.

Seeking Peer Reviews

4 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) published:

Day 10- Last Time You Cried

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    The last time I cried was because of a nightmare. Well, I'm not entirely sure that it was a nightmare because I can't remember what the dream was. The time before that, I cried while reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because of a certain death towards the end of the book. I'm not saying whose death because some here might not have read that and it'd be spoilers. The time before that was also because...

Seeking Peer Reviews

5 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) published:

Day 9- Summaries of Books/Movies/Shows

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Harry Potter
Teenager fights to destroy bald man who lacks a nose.

Doctor Who
Strange alien kidnaps humans and takes them on a journey of self-discovery and angst in a time machine that involves either saving or blowing up planets.

Mary Poppins
Eccentric umbrella woman disrupts a British family's ordinary life and teaches them important lessons through singing.

Back to the Future
Teenager goes back and time and gets his parents together, and then returns to his slightly altered life...
Seeking Peer Reviews

6 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) liked The Heartbreaking Farewell: Chapter Ten - Another Secret by Kaitlyn ❄ (United States)

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RainAndSonder (United States) liked Day 20 - Man in a Motel by Kaitlyn ❄ (United States)

6 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) liked It's Really There by RedWriter (United States)

6 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) published:

Day 8- Pasta

FREE WRITING

    I stared down at the plate before me. The long strands of spaghetti were lying there, cold and bland and drenched in grease. My mom had told me that the grease was just olive oil, but that didn't make it any less disgusting. And then there was the cheese on it, which tasted like it had been made from spoiled milk. The thought of eating it made me gag. Some of the noodles stuck together in clumps, and ten...

Seeking Peer Reviews

6 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) published:

Day 7- Relationship With Sleep

FREE WRITING

    As I've mentioned in another piece, I'm practically nocturnal. I've never understood those people that go to bed and fall asleep within five minutes, because for me it takes about an hour just to get relaxed. I never feel tired during the night anyhow, so if I don't have school the next day I'll stay up reading or drawing or playing piano or something like that. Anything works as long as it keeps my occupied. This burst of energy...

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8 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) liked Day 20- The man in his motel by LackingASocialLife (Australia)

8 days ago

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RainAndSonder (United States) started following Miyuki_Sama (United Kingdom)

9 days ago

Published Work

Day 3- Three-Sentence Plot Twist

    Dr. Winters had a freshly dry-cleaned white lab coat on, not a wrinkle in it. He stood with his back facing me, using a metal instrument to dissect a heart, and looked up as I walked in. He turned, and I could see the hole in his chest where it had once been.

Day 10- Last Time You Cried

    The last time I cried was because of a nightmare. Well, I'm not entirely sure that it was a nightmare because I can't remember what the dream was. The time before that, I cried while reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because of a certain death towards the end of the book. I'm not saying whose death because some here might not have read that and it'd be spoilers. The time before that was also because of a book, and I can't remember anything before that. I don't cry a lot.
    Imagine what aliens would think of crying. When we get upset or happy or too emotional, water literally starts coming out of our seeing orbs. This doesn't aid our survival at all, it just happens. And then we make noises. We don't think this is weird at all. Aliens would also probably consider smiling weird. We basically get so happy that we bare the...

Day 9- Summaries of Books/Movies/Shows

Harry Potter
Teenager fights to destroy bald man who lacks a nose.

Doctor Who
Strange alien kidnaps humans and takes them on a journey of self-discovery and angst in a time machine that involves either saving or blowing up planets.

Mary Poppins
Eccentric umbrella woman disrupts a British family's ordinary life and teaches them important lessons through singing.

Back to the Future
Teenager goes back and time and gets his parents together, and then returns to his slightly altered life where his parents somehow don't notice that he looks exactly like their highschool friend.
 
 

Day 8- Pasta

    I stared down at the plate before me. The long strands of spaghetti were lying there, cold and bland and drenched in grease. My mom had told me that the grease was just olive oil, but that didn't make it any less disgusting. And then there was the cheese on it, which tasted like it had been made from spoiled milk. The thought of eating it made me gag. Some of the noodles stuck together in clumps, and ten seconds I bit down on a strand that was so undercooked it was hard. I hate Italian restaurants.

---

Today's prompt was to make your favorite food sound disgusting. As I adore pasta and can't imagine finding it gross, it was hard. I don't know whether I succeeded or not. I like this prompt a lot because it makes us look at things from a different point of view. It's a skill that all writers should have.

    
 

Day 7- Relationship With Sleep

    As I've mentioned in another piece, I'm practically nocturnal. I've never understood those people that go to bed and fall asleep within five minutes, because for me it takes about an hour just to get relaxed. I never feel tired during the night anyhow, so if I don't have school the next day I'll stay up reading or drawing or playing piano or something like that. Anything works as long as it keeps my occupied. This burst of energy only comes during night, however, and once morning comes I'm exhausted and I could sleep in for hours.
    Whenever I'm on vacation in someplace new, I stay up till two in the morning and wake up at 10:00 or 11:00, just in time for brunch. This has less to do with jet lag and more to do with the fact that because of jet lag I have an excuse for having an unusual sleep schedule. If I had a...

Day 6- Twenty Things

1. I am most likely human.
2. I love to write, but then, that's pretty obvious.
3. I used to be obsessed with Peanuts (the comic strip about Charlie Brown, not the food).
4. I was so obsessed with them that I named my dog after a character in them.
5. I love Doctor Who and Harry Potter.
6. My profile pic is a drawing of my dog.
7. I want to be an activist when I'm an adult; I believe that we all deserve equal rights.
8. I love rain. Not drizzly rain, although that's fine too, but thunderstorm rain, when it's really hard and everything's blue and there's actually thunder and lightning.
9. I play guitar, piano, and flute, although I'm only a beginner at guitar. I'm best at flute.
10. I used to write a lot of realistic fiction, but I'm getting into horror and speculative fiction, and also paranormal Twilight Zone type things.
11. Speaking of...

Day 5- Inconvenient Superpower

A girl who can read the future in the stars that lives in a city full of light pollution.

A boy who can control water that lives in a desert.

A girl who can speak to animals with an apartment that bans pets.

A person who can read minds has made a New Year's resolution to not judge anyone.

A boy with the power to make everyone like him and want to be friends with him that hates socializing.

A girl who can make plants grow at will but lives in city in an apartment where it's pretty much impossible to start a garden.

King Midas.
 

Signing Off

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

    12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, about 8760 hours, around 525600 minutes, and far too many seconds to calculate. That's an awful lot of time. Do you know how many things can change in a year? The world could end, wars could start, the greatest hero or greatest villain of all time could be born, but not just things that change the course of history. More 'mundane' things can change too, like a loved grandfather dying, or getting a new job, or even something as ordinary as making a new friend. The future is full of opportunity, and no matter how hard we try, there's no way to predict what'll happen this year.
    Hopefully you won't be as insane as 2017, but with politics being what they are right now, there's almost no chance of that. But you never know. We'll almost certainly be making some scientific advancements this year, probably advancing deeper into space. And Apple...

Day 4- Grandma's House

    Grandma was never the most caring person, and never liked taking care of us, so I didn't expect us to spend a lot of time together when Mother dropped me off at her house. After giving me an awkward hello, she told me that she had to work, there was microwave mac and cheese in the pantry if I got hungry, and hinted heavily that she would love it if I left her alone and entertained myself in front of the TV. But the volume couldn't be too high, of course.
    My grandmother's television was old, small and square, and had a layer of dust coating it. I sat down on the armchair; it creaked and groaned under my weight. Taking the remote control, I turned the TV on.
    Nothing interesting was on. Grandma didn't have very many channels, and those that weren't showing commercials had awful movies on. Clicking through, I found a news channel and...

I Know This Looks Boring But It's Not

    The zoo didn't expect its new exhibit to be nearly as popular as it was. People flocked from all over the city to visit the fascinating creatures, children begged their parents to take them, and the zoo was so crowded that the keepers had to return a lost child to their parents every five minutes. The creatures were extremely expensive to take care of, and getting them was exhausting, but in the end the zoo staff agreed that it was worth it for all the visitors that they were getting. That was why we had decided to throw a party in the staff room to celebrate.
    "Hey, there you are!" One of the staff whose name I didn't know grinned at me.
    "Hm?" I said.
    "I was just looking for you. You're in charge of the creatures, right?"
    I nodded.
    "Nice. That must be really difficult. I've only seen them a few times, but...

Day Three- Three Strongest Beliefs

1. We have to respect everyone as a person. Not necessarily respect them as authority, but respect them as another human being, even if they're a terrible one. This also means not hating others because of gender, race, etc.
2. Everyone should try to make someone happy or do something for someone every day. I think if we all tried to do that things would be better.
3. We shouldn't get too big of a head. Humans aren't the best or most powerful or most successful animals on Earth; we have no right to destroy the planet. We also shouldn't get too arrogant as individuals. None of us can control the universe. There are thousands of stories out there about people getting too cocky, trying to do something way too big for them, and failing miserably. We should learn something from them.

Day 2- Walking Down a Street

    When I walk down a street, I see people. Crowds and crowds of people, people laughing, talking, sharing stories with each other, people walking alone, people shoving others out of their way, people playing music for money, homeless people sleeping with cardboard signs, people eating, people yelling at each other, people generally just being human.
    And then I wonder if we really are being human. After all, in most of the United States, being human looks like having clothes that suit your taste, using technology, going out for lunch with your friends, waking up and going to work/school and going to sleep, et cetera. However, this looked very different twenty, fifty, a hundred, a thousand years ago, and that's not even mentioning all the other countries in the world. What is being 'human' anyway?
    We constantly daydream about aliens coming to visit us. Just take a look at Hollywood to see that. We imagine the aliens as...

Day 1- Blue

How to describe the color blue to someone that has never seen it?

Blue is the color of calm skies, not just the sky in the afternoon, but the sky in the morning, when it's pale and almost gray, and the sky in the evening, when it's calm and strange can only be described as tonic, and the sky at night, when it's so dark it's almost black.

Blue is the color of a storm, when the rain beats down on you and thunder rolls overhead, and you stay indoors and talk and laugh with your friends, at ease despite the war going on outside.

Blue is the color of happiness, being content and relaxed and just in an amicable mood in general, saying hello to people you pass, laughing at a joke someone made, staring up at the clouds and feeling like everything will be fine in the end.

Blue is the color of sadness, of that empty hole...

An Alternative Cinderella

    Once there was a girl who's mother had died when she was very young. Her father remarried an awful, wicked woman, and he soon passed away too, leaving the girl to live with her wretched stepmother and stepsisters. Her stepmother made her do chores all day, and at the end of the day she was dirty and covered in soot from cleaning the fireplace, so she was called Cinderella.
    Although Cinderella had a humongous list of chores to do, she was hardworking and got through them quickly, leaving her with plenty of free time. Her stepmother ignored her most of the time, and didn't like her just hanging around the house, so Cinderella spent her time out in the woods behind their house. She taught herself various survival skills, such as how to build fires and shelters, and how to figure out what the weather would be like the next day and which plants you can eat. Most...

Mcguire's Curiosity Shop- Part Three

    The basement of Mcguire’s Curiosity Shop was not an unpleasant place. It wasn’t dark, damp, cold stone, but then, it wasn’t wood, light, and warm either. Once you got to the bottom of the stairs, there was a long hallway, lit only by colored orbs that hung down from the ceiling. These gave the hallway an eerie, ghostlike glow, and there were several yards between each orb, so it was quite dim. At the end of the hallway was a door, with dark wood that gleamed in the light of the orbs.
    Mcguire walked down this hallway, taking long, thumping steps. He knew it better than he knew his own face, and no longer dreaded opening the door at the end of it. Still, his fingers lingered a moment before grasping onto the shining handle, as if considering all the possibilities and all the chances he could’ve had instead of this.
    And then, with a creak, the door swung open. ...

Mcguire's Curiosity Shop- Part Two

    “Excuse me, how much would one of the--- the---”
    The woman gestured at one of the creatures in the tanks, a large snail with gemstones growing on its shell.
    “Melcem,” Mcguire said.
    “How much would a melcem cost?”
    “One extraordinarily happy memory.”
    The woman nodded and walked off, and two young boys approached the counter.
    “Do you really have to be thirteen to buy emotions?”
    Mcguire nodded, smiling down at the boys.
    “But I just want a bit of deja vu! I have to write an English report, and---”
    “I’m sorry,” Mcguire said. “But rules are rules. It’s almost closing time anyway.”
    He turned to look up at the clock. 5:54.
    “Five minute warning!” Mcguire called, and instantly the customers seemed to speed up.
    The people in the shop hurried about, making last minute purchases and exiting until the only person left was an old woman who was having trouble with the extraction machine.
    “Here, let me help you,” said...

Mcguire's Curiosity Shop- Part One

    The shop on the corner of 24th Street and Sherwood Court looked like one of the toy stores in old Christmas movies, except that the decor in the windows was not stuffed bears and trains, but vials of bubbling gold liquids and thick purple liquids and clear orange liquids, terrariums with strange twisted plants on this inside, old wooden tablets and figures, a large metal box covered in buttons and switches, and a rather ordinary looking mask with a sign next to it that read, “WEAR THIS, GET INSTANT INVISIBILITY!” Mcguire’s Curiosity Shop was simple and wooden, faded but charming, and on the inside there were rows of shelves, buckets, tanks with both living and dead animals in them, fantastical displays, bookshelves, pamphlets, and more. Everyone was welcome in the shop, and Mcguire himself was always happy to help you if you needed something.
    Now, you must be wondering what was in these ‘fantastical displays’ and what exactly this curiosity...

Ten Words to You

Untitled

Cloudless heat
Laughing, walking
Basketball
Blue evening
Faded elementary memories
 

On the Last Day of the World

Last Man On Earth

On the last day of Earth
I would sit in the home of someone I never knew
And gather up books and blankets and old records
I would read and listen to music
And reflect on the old times
And think of the first time I was dying
But then didn't

The solitude is familiar
I have been alone
Maybe, long ago, I had friends
I cannot remember
But this is a different type of alone
This is true solitude
Not a single person
Not a single being
Nothing here
Except for me

They have all done something I can never do
Die

I will sit and turn the pages
The records of humanity
And wonder if I knew these authors
But have forgotten
And think of the old times
But what will happen now?
Will another world be born?
This universe is dying
But I cannot die with it
So I sit here and wait
To see what will...

Dogs vs. Cats

    First of all, I would like to say that the idea of dogs and cats being opposites is ridiculous. They're both mammals, and they are actually very similar. Animals can't really be the opposites of each other anyway. A dolphin is not the opposite of a whale shark. That would be ridiculous. Yet for some reason, everyone has the idea that dogs and cats are polar opposites, even though really they're just two different domesticated species that have nothing to do with each other.
    Let's say that I have this hamster, and I really like this hamster. Now let's say that you have this pet lizard. I prefer hamsters over lizards, and you prefer lizards over hamsters. Simple enough.
    Now, for some reason, since I like hamsters, I throw a huge fit over lizards. "Lizards are evil!" I screech to the world. "Lizards are weird! Nobody likes lizards! Get a hamster instead!"
    And for some reason,...

The Ghost Children

    There was a playground at the edge of the neighborhood, and next to it, a graveyard. Perhaps some parents would feel uneasy having their children play so close to a cemetery, but the parents of this small neighborhood didn't mind. They watched as their kids played games with each other, created imaginary friends, and scrambled all over the playground equipment, and smiled at the creativity of young minds when their kids told them about the ghost children that played with them.
    The ghost children had spent most of their time playing games with each other in the graveyard, and were intrigued when the mortal children began to play at the park next door. They drifted over and introduced themselves. The mortal kids, being only five years old, accepted this and befriended them. They were soon the best of friends, and played the most marvelous games, mixing the ghost childrens' knowledge of history with the mortal childrens' vivid imagination....

The Dream- Flashover

Flashover- n. the moment a conversation becomes real and alive

    The person sitting across from me is a complete stranger. You would think that I would prefer to have a conversation with one of my four best friends, all of who were present in the cafe, but this person... he's so interesting. Not in a romantic way, but in an intellectual way. My friends don't know much about parallel universes, and I love talking about them. He's made some very interesting points.
    "But, really, is there any way of finding out if there are parallel universes?" I say. "I mean, we can't prove it, can we?"
    "I don't know," he says. "But it's an interesting concept. There must be universes out there with such strange animals, and universes where there are no humans, and maybe universes where magic exists."
    "Yeah," I say. "Just imagine a universe--- I know this'll sound weird, but imagine a universe where...

The Dream- Kenopsia

    NOTE: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE READ THE PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT TO UNDERSTAND THIS ONE; EACH INSTALLMENT IS A DIFFERENT STORY
 
    Kenopsia- n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

   
It's midnight, and I'm at school, the same school I always go to every morning, but it's empty now. Everything's silent, dark, silvery blue--- a normal night.
    But it's not a normal night. I can't remember how I got here. I can't remember why I'm here. I just know that I'm walking down the hallway, that I have to walk.
    There's something--- something different. I don't know what. Maybe it's how empty the school is. Normally there are people here, students, putting stuff in their lockers, laughing, talking, going to class. Right now, the only light is the moon, streaming in through the windows. And I'm alone. Funny. It seems so surreal here, like...

The Dream

    The Dream stared at the person. Her name was Naomi Tyler. She was 5.10 ft, 32 years old, African American, from San Francisco, California--- hmm, interesting, they thought, looking quickly over her memories. Her life was dull, like almost every human's was, but she had quite an imagination. The Dream was there for a reason, they reminded themself, and they had better begin.
    "Who are you?" Naomi said, before they could speak.
    The Dream always got this question. "Not a person, first of all," they said. "Not even a being. I'm a concept, an idea, but sentient, and not entirely unreal. People call me The Dream."
    "Are you a dream?"
    "Maybe."
    "But... what do you do? How can you be a concept?"
    The Dream sighed. He looked up at the ceiling, thinking for a moment, and said, "Things are never how they seem. There are mysteries throughout history, small things, disappearances and phenomenon...

Novel Writing Competition

The Durariun Taxi Cab- 1

    There it was. Its shape was faint and blurred by the rain, but I could see the fuzzy glow of its headlights, and could tell that it was coming closer. A real taxi cab, then, not a metaphor, I thought, and Degan's description of it was perfect. What was that one line? 'It seemed as if it had come from the fog itself, and would soon vanish back into the storm; it gave me a strange sort of feeling to look at it, like the feeling one would get wandering about a meadow late on a cloudy night'. Yes, it did have that sort of feeling. My heart pounded inside my throat as the cab got closer, and next to me, Paxton and Hollie looked just as nervous.
    Its shape became clearer and clearer, until it was rolling to a halt on the empty street. The door opened, though no one had opened it, and I knew that...

A Quick Guide to Important Human Household Objects

Introduction
Chances are, a human will eventually be assigned to a mission or trip with you. Since you and the other crew members are going to have to live with them for weeks, months, or even years, you should know some common household objects which humans use very often. You need to understand the function of these objects, the correct way to use them, and how much they matter to humans in case you break them.

Books
Books are things humans use for entertainment. They cut trees up into very thin slices, and onto those slices they put different combinations of 26 shapes in ink. These shapes are the written form of whatever language the human speaks. Then, they bind the slices together and put them into stores with other books. Humans buy books at these stores. They then open the book up to the first tree slice (or 'page') and begin to read the words. There are many different...

Novel Writing Competition

The Durariun Taxi Cab- 1

    There it was. Its shape was faint and blurred by the rain, but I could see the fuzzy glow of its headlights, and could tell that it was coming closer. A real taxi cab, then, not a metaphor, I thought, and Degan's description of it was perfect. What was that one line? 'It seemed as if it had come from the fog itself, and would soon vanish back into the storm; it gave me a strange sort of feeling to look at it, like the feeling one would get wandering about a meadow late on a cloudy night'. Yes, it did have that sort of feeling. My heart pounded inside my throat as the cab got closer, and next to me, Paxton and Hollie looked just as nervous.
    Its shape became clearer and clearer, until it was rolling to a halt on the empty street. The door opened, though no one had opened it, and I knew that...

Novel Writing Competition

The Durariun Taxi Cab- 1

    There it was. Its shape was faint and blurred by the rain, but I could see the fuzzy glow of its headlights, and could tell that it was coming closer. A real taxi cab, then, not a metaphor, I thought, and Degan's description of it was perfect. What was that one line? 'It seemed as if it had come from the fog itself, and would soon vanish back into the storm; it gave me a strange sort of feeling to look at it, like the feeling one would get wandering about a meadow late on a cloudy night'. Yes, it did have that sort of feeling. My heart pounded inside my throat as the cab got closer, and next to me, Paxton and Hollie looked just as nervous.
    Its shape became clearer and clearer, until it was rolling to a halt on the empty street. The door opened, though no one had opened it, and I knew that...

Truths and Untruths

15 Strange Wishes

Note: I wish for world peace and love as well, but I've seen a lot of pieces like that, so I've decided that this list will be queer wishes that are entirely selfish and have nothing to do with humankind and earth.

1. I wish that I could hear my dog talk, just so I could hear what he would sound like.

2. I also wish I could see what my dog would look like as a human.

3. I wish for the Tardis.

4. I wish that I could travel back in time, but not be part of the events that took place. I just want to watch. Basically, I would be a ghost.

5. I wish that the Quick-Quotes Quill from the fourth Harry Potter book was real, because imagine how cool that would be. It would just write down what you want it to write down, and it would come out just how you imagined it.

6....

Extremely Random Piece

    It's not losing that I fear; there's nothing to be afraid of when you lose. Others don't have great expectations for you, and you know you're going to lose, so it's not such a big disappointment. No one pays attention to you. It's fine. Sad, of course, everyone feels bad about losing, but losing is not the worst thing.
    The worst thing is when you're winning. When you're winning, suddenly everyone's cheering for you, and everyone believes you can do it, including you. You have a kingdom, you're the best of the best, you're at the top of your game. But you have to keep looking behind you, constantly peering over your shoulder, because there's always someone on your tail. Someone that's nearly as good as you, and they're fighting to be better. You have to keep working, to always be vigilant, to keep your throne.
    But you do keep working, of course. You keep trying (although...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 15

    "How are you today, Mr., ah... Degardo?" June guessed.
    "Run, actually," the man said. "Your name is June, am I correct?"
    "Yes."
    It was breakfast. They (they being June, Run, and Angela, who were the only ones there since they had woken up early) were seated at a long table, eating what appeared to be bread and some kind of strange purple spread, strangely shaped cakes, a sort of pastry with meat in it, potatoes, a salad that looked fairly normal but tasted like blueberries, and syrup.
    "Would you please pass me the--- um---" June gestured towards the cakes. "Those..."
    "Mefs? Sure." Run leaned over and handed one to her. "So, how did you like your chambers?"
    "They were, uh, great. The bed-cot-thing was really comfortable, and there was this book that I was reading that I really liked," June said.
    "I loved my room," Angela said. "It looked a lot like...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 14

    "First of all, Antares clearly didn't die a natural death. Second of all, if he didn't die a natural death, that meant he died an unnatural death. Third, that means he's been murdered."
    "Murdered!" Cyprian said. "But by who? And how?"
    "No, wait, hang on," Avery said. "That's going a bit far. We don't know that his death wasn't natural."
    "Oh, come on," June said. "Let's go over what happened, shall we? He started out acting fairly normal. Then he started going on and on, like he was going mad, and he was probably hallucinating a bit too, and then he dropped dead. Not a heart attack, clearly. I'm not a doctor, but I've never heard of any medical problems that would make you die like that. So probably poison."
    "Still," Avery said. "It could've been something in his food. Something natural, some sort of virus or something, it doesn't have to be murder---"
   ...

Truths and Untruths

15 Strange Wishes

1. I wish that I could hear my dog talk, just so I could hear what he would sound like.
2. I also wish I could see what my dog would look like as a human.
3. I wish for the Tardis.
4. I wish that I could travel back in time, but not be part of the events that took place. I just want to watch. Basically, I would be a ghost.
5. I wish that the Quick-Quotes Quill from the fourth Harry Potter book was real, because imagine how cool that would be. It would just write down what you want it to write down, and it would come out just how you imagined it.
6. I wish that there was an app where you could use a picture of yourself, or your family, or just any photo, and it would transform the photo into a pencil sketch.
7. I wish that there was a perfect eraser, one...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 13

    Aristide Chambers--- Odala Then

    I have received your letter.
    Your situation is quite interesting. I thought we were the only ones left, but now you've come. I apologize that all my latest letters have been short--- I was practicing calligraphy, you see. I didn't expect anyone to actually be at Gonestone, so I used it as a sort of dumping place for all my failed attempts at calligraphy.
    I wonder if you could tell me more about what you're doing there? My colleagues and I are intrigued by your story, and we want to help you, somehow.
    I will await your response.

    That's the letter that she sent back to me. I thought it would clear things up, but it just adds more questions.
    She said 'we'. We, as in, multiple people. And she has colleagues. Which must mean there are others out there. Others that can help me.
    But she also...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 12

    None of them said a word. They were standing there, shocked.
    "Is--- is he...?" Melanie began.
    Edwin walked over to the body and examined it, taking the pulse of the body.
    "There's no pulse," Edwin said. "He's dead."
    There was a somber silence. They stared at each other.
    "What should we do?" Cyprian asked. "We can't just leave his body here."
    "Maybe---" June began, and hesitated. "Are there any servants or anyone in the house? We should tell them that Antares is dead."
    "Yeah," the group murmured. "Yeah, that's a good idea."
    But there wasn't anyone else in the house. They left Cyprian and Angela behind to watch the body (they weren't quite sure why; it just seemed like the right thing to do) and began to look around the castle, but it was completely empty.
    They were gathered back in the room, standing around the body.
    "Should we...

Talking to “You”

Mirror Image

    Mirrors are funny things, you think as you stare at your reflection.
    They're shiny, smooth, delicate, and they seem completely impossible. How could something show you yourself? But no, they're possible. Entirely possible. You run your fingers through your hair, and the other you does the same thing. It looks like you and does what you do, but there's something about it that decidedly isn't you. Something about it that's someone else.
    What must it be like in their world? The reflection's world? You have no idea. No one has any idea.
    Mirrors are mysteries. There's something about them that's surreal, like waking up and only remembering one image from your dreams. You suppose that you shouldn't dwell on it. After all, you've got homework to do, and you can't just stare at the mirror all day.
    Still, though, it is a bit strange. Your reflection copies your movements and looks exactly like you, as...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 11

    All the guests left, and Antares invited them to dine in his chambers with the staff.
    "I realize that you just had dinner, but I haven't, and we also have an assortment of deserts and saps if you would like those."
    "Sure," June said. "Why didn't you eat during the party?"
    "Well, it's custom for the host not to eat during his own gathering. Now, come this way. I assure you, the deserts of Erlebnis are very fine indeed. You wouldn't find such delicacies anywhere else--- not that you have very many options to choose from, of course." He laughed to himself.
    They set off for Antares' chambers.
    Erlebnis had the same feeling inside as it did outside--- forgotten, wild, exquisite, and foreboding all at the same time. It didn't look like someone lived in it. It looked like someone had left it thirty years ago. The beautiful but alien furniture was dusty, and...

Writing Small

Death of a Sun

    And, without warning, there was a wave, a hiccup through space, rippling through the galaxy.
    A pause.
    And everything explodes in the kind of fire that cannot be started by a matchstick, the kind of fire that can destroy universes. Not an atom remains.
    Terrible? It's just another cosmic event.
 

A (Fairly) Short Rant About the Harry Potter Houses

    So, everyone that has read Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is aware of the four Hogwarts house (if you haven't read Harry Potter and don't know what I'm talking about, I don't really know why you're reading this). Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff, or the brave house, the evil house, the smart house, and the miscellaneous house. Right?
    No.
    The houses aren't that simple. Slytherin is not the evil house, and being a Hufflepuff, I can tell you that we're definitely not the miscellaneous house. Ravenclaws sometimes aren't even that smart, and Gryffindor isn't just about being brave.
    First of all, Gryffindor. Gryffindors are known for being brave, stubborn, loyal, doing what's right, and being courageous. They aren't stereotyped as much as the other houses, but one thing that people forget about them is that Gryffindors don't necessarily have to be reckless rule-breakers. Their bravery could just be defying social conventions. Gryffindors generally also live...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 10

    The door opened, and light flooded the porch. Laszlo heard gentle music and the sound of people talking and laughing before he noticed the man standing in the doorway.
    He was a short man, with hair that was nearly bald and greying, and a rather bored expression, but it was his choice of clothing that stood out. He was wearing long, dark grey robes with no hood, and had a necklace with large gold spikes hanging down from it on.
    He hadn't spoken a word, but was just standing there in the doorway. He appeared to be waiting for them to come in.
    "Well?" The man said, smiling politely at them. "Come on in. We're just about to have dinner."
    June, Edwin, and Melanie exchanged glances.
    "Um," June said. "We---"
    "Who is it, Rem?" Asked someone from inside the house.
    "Young people," Rem replied, and then turned back to them, gesturing for...

The Rules of Taking a Walk in Somnio Woods

1. Say to yourself, 'what a nice forest'. It will seem like a nice forest to you, at first. Strange that there are no birds chirping, but still, what pretty trees! What nice scenery! It's a nice place, a nice place indeed.

2. The forest seems a little less nice now. You feel like something's watching you, but that's just part of taking a walk, isn't it? So put a skip in your step. Whistle as you walk. Try to cheer yourself up. But don't turn around.

3. You're not skipping or whistling now. Just walking. Quickly. The forest seems almost foreboding, but that's just nerves. Keep telling yourself that. Keep walking. Keep looking straight ahead.

4. Eyes are staring at you, piercing you, and you're certain you hear footsteps behind you. You're walking faster, telling yourself that you just need to walk a little bit more before you reach your friend's house. Maybe you're on a horse, those aren't...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 9

    It was 10:00 the next morning and they still had no idea where they were.
    "It's not even that we don't know where we are," June muttered to herself. "It's that we don't know where they are. Because we've got this map, and we know where the house is, so we know where we are."
    "They've probably moved on," Edwin said. "Either they've moved on or they've decided to look for us."
    "Well, they haven't moved on," Melanie said. "They wouldn't just think 'oh, well, they haven't come back, so they must be dead, let's just move on'. So they must've decided to look for us, which would probably mean that they've turned around."
    June glanced over her shoulder, and then suddenly her face lit up. "Hey, guys, we've got our phones, why don't we just---"
    "Actually, I don't have my phone," Melanie said. "I didn't bring it. I didn't think I needed it...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 8

    The forests were cold that day. Of course, being from California, Laszlo didn't really know what 'cold' was, but this was not California. Certainly not.
    It wasn't freezing, but cold enough that June's normal attire of jeans and T-shirts wouldn't work, so she and the rest of the group donned sweatshirts and jackets. It was around fifty degrees, but felt like forty due to wind. Your nose would be red, your hands numb, and you would often just have to sit around the fire for a minute to warm up. Occasionally there would be a breeze, and you would shiver and withdraw further into your jackets. The sky was bleak and gray, and the brilliant shades of red and orange of the few leaves left on the trees had faded away; the piles of leaves on the ground were a dead brown color.
    The change in seasons made it considerably more difficult to get food. When gathering,...

I'm Working on the Title

    It was like fire. It coursed through my veins, seized my brain, rattled my insides, but my mouth was the worst part of it. It was burning my tongue off, pinching each individual taste bud one---
    ---by---
    ---one---
    ---and now I could barely breath---
    ---I was dying. Why, why had I done it? It was---
    ---no time to think about that now--- I grabbed the cup--- not a drop of water in it---
    ---goodbye---
    ---cruel
    ----world---
    "Dude, the lemonade's not even that sour."

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 7

    My name is Aristide Chambers. There, now it's in writing and official. Another thing that's official is that I want to be a writer when I grow up.
    The books I read are always talking about 'jobs'. As far as I can tell, a job is something that you do and you get paid for. For some reason. And there are lots of jobs, like artist and businessman and policeman, and what I want to be is a writer. That's a person that writes books and poems and things.
    I think I'd be good at it. I've got lots of ideas, and I've written a couple of short stories that are fairly good.
    On another note, more letters have arrived.

    If I were a writer, what would I make the plot of my life be?
    I've thought about this quite a lot and I think this is how it'd go:
    There's a rift...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 6

    "They do look like ruins," Cyprian said.
    "OK, come on, let's investigate," June said. "We're leaving our stuff here, though. Cyprian, you have a broken leg, so you can stay behind to watch it, and, ah, Ethan, and is there anyone else that doesn't mind staying?"
    "I'll stay," Avery volunteered.
    June, Edwin, Melanie, and Angela began to walk over to the ruins.
    "I swear," June said, tripping over a root. "This forest is being difficult on purpose."
    "Those are definitely ruins, though," Melanie said. "Actually, they might not even be ruins. This isn't very old at all."
    She was right. The village was, actually, almost perfectly intact. Sure, there were a few houses that had collapsed or weren't in good condition, and there were plants growing all over the village, but other than at, it was in a great condition.
    "That's so weird," June said. "This probably isn't even a hundred years...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 5

    Edwin clamped his hands to his ears with an agonized expression. June completely froze, accidentally dropping her book.
    The noise was piercing. It was like metal scraping metal, or a bird screaming at the top of it's lungs, or a cross between the two. It was so jarring that it took Laszlo a moment to see it.
    There was a dragon fighting a weasel a few yards away from them.
    No, no, it wasn't a dragon, it couldn't be. This was like a dragon without wings, about the size of a badger, with silver scales that gleamed in the early morning light. It had its head tilted back and seemed to be the source of the screeching. The weasel hissed and scampered off, and the wingless dragon creature cut off.
    "Oh my God," June said. "Oh, wow. That is--- that is an actual dragon."
    "Drake," Edwin said.
    "What?"
    "It's a drake. It's...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 4

    June stayed true to her word and drank the sap again. And got sick again. And drank it again. And got sick, but less so, just a mild stomachache. By the fifth time she drank it, there were no unnatural side affects.
    According to her, the sap made her feel a lot better. She was less hungry, had more energy, and any cuts or scrapes she got (and she got quite a lot of them) healed quickly. June tried to make everyone else in the group drink sap daily like she did, but they were less trusting of it.
    "You don't know what that is," Avery said. "You don't know where it's been, or what it'll do to you. I mean, June, we're in a parallel universe! Our digestive systems were not made for the kinds of sap that they have here."
    "But it's not doing anything to me," June said. "Sure, I got sick at...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 3

    Camping with friends was not as fun as you would expect it to be.
    Sure, parts of it were great, but most of the time it was just them trying to live in the woods with absolutely no experience of any kind, which meant that most of it was them getting lost, arguing, trying to figure out whether various types of plants were poisonous or not, trying to split up meals into equal portions, yelling at someone when they took too much food, desperately trying to keep the fire going when it was cold and wet, trying various ideas to make their roots, leaves, nuts, and berries taste like a real meal, trying to get water from streams and creeks and accidentally getting wet, freaking out because you are absolutely sure that you have some obscure illness because you ate the wrong plant, and thinking that every single noise was the creature of your nightmares come to eat...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 2

    They were lost.
    Again.
   
"We are not lost!" June said firmly. "We're just kind of--- disoriented--- see, look, I've got a compass. So north's this way, and that means that our last campsite was that way. Hang on, no... hmm, well, we're in a kind of valley thing right now, and the hills are over that way, so I think the way we're trying to go is this way."
    "No, I don't think so," Avery said. "We already tried going that way and got more lost."
    "Can we take a break from walking?" Cyprian said. "This is a nice enough spot. Maybe we could just set up camp here and figure out where we are tomorrow."
    "No," June said. "We just need to keep walking for a bit longer. Trust me, I can feel how close we are."
    "I think I know where we are," Edwin said. "The sun rises in the east...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 1

    Do you feel them coming?
    Creeping ever closer
    Do you feel them laughing?
    They are the great composers

    Great civilizations
    Will fall and die
    And the people
    Will cry and cry
    For they are coming
    Ever near
    For they are laughing
    At our fear

    Do you feel your hairs raise?
    Beware the clever shade
    Do you feel the dark rise?
    We come to their aid

    We are the hosts
    Of this great shadow
    We give them light
    And dark they bestow
    
    Paranoia, doubt
    Anxiety, fear
    We never see them
    But they are near
    Sending shivers
    Down your spine
    They are the masters
    So do not whine

    Can you see them?
    Are you surprised?
    Do not be
    They are my prides             

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- Sixty Years Earlier

    "I feel so sorry for the parents," the healer said. "He was only seventeen, and he had so much potential. I had only met him once, of course, but he seemed very bright. It's just so--- I would say tragic and unfair, but that's not really putting it into words, is it?"
    "I don't understand, though," the second healer said, crouching down to examine the body for the sixth time that day. "There are no wounds at all. We've examined him thoroughly, and he wasn't ill---"
    "That's not entirely true," the first healer said. "I've talked to his mother, father, friends, and teachers. They all agree that there was definitely something wrong with him. According to them, he was very stressed and paranoid. He was constantly fearful and mistrusting, and insisted on drinking sap at least three times a day."
    "Mental illness," the second healer said. "But, Hiden, mental illness does not kill you. It's terrible,...

1-3 Sentence Stories

1. "There's fur everywhere--- all over my clothes, on my bed, on the couch, on the floor, even in some of my food. I suppose it is shedding season, and maybe that could explain it, but, Mr. Williams, please tell me this--- how can my pets shed if I don't have any?"

2. "Harry Potter, you have been in a coma for seven years."

3. "My pet has a strange attraction to shiny gemstones and jewelry. Is that a normal human thing?"

4. When I look in the mirror, a face stares back at me that is not my own.

5. At first I thought that the person playing the violin downstairs sounded nice, lulling me to sleep, but then I remembered that I lived alone.

6. You studied the TV closely, thinking that there was something familiar about the actor's face. And then you realized it was your own.

7. Everyone is born with a watch, a watch that...

Theo

Wait.

What was that?


Theo. Listen. They're talking about something, but I don't know what. Theo. Be careful. Promise me you'll be careful.

What? What is that doing on Instagram? And how--- that's my name. How?
I have to see that again.

It's gone.


How can it be gone? It can't. How can it? Unless someone deleted it, or---

No.

Nevermind.

It's just one of those
things. Those ridiculous weird things that keep happening. Or my imagination. Or both.

But it's not important.

Not important at all.

Still. Something seems--- I don't know, off. Somehow. Familiar, maybe. Maybe that's it. But I don't know. I don't really know.

Ha. Well, I guess something seems off about this whole thing.

"What's off, Theo?"

I can't just explain it, Ms. Jones. It's not like that. You'd have to be me to see it. Or to feel it, I guess.

Ms. Jones, how many trees are there out front?

"Why, five, Theo."

No....

Any Suggestions On What to Call This?

Where are they? It's three minutes past--- honestly, I don't have time for--- I mean, if they really wanted their son to get help, they'd arrive five minutes early--- oh! There you are! Come in, now.

...

Now. Theo. Do you know why you're here?

Yes.

Can you tell me why?

Because no one else notices.

Notices? Notices wha--- well, first let's get introduced. My name is Sophia Jones, but I prefer my patients to call me Ms. Jones. And you are?

You know who I am.

Yes, Theo, but let's pretend that I don't. Now, what's your name?

Theodore Williams.

But you prefer to be called Theo, I've heard. Now, Theo, your parents brought you in here for a reason. You've been acting strange, they say. You've been staying up at night, pacing, talking to yourself, acting reclusive and not going out, saying that no one notices and that everything's wrong, having random outbursts, things like that. Can you...

The Shadow in the Mirror

    There's something about the room that makes you sad. It's ridiculous, of course, because you don't have to go through the pain of moving that most people do. Most people would have to move thousands of miles away, to a different state, leaving everything and everybody behind them, having to move to a new school and make new friends. Not you. You're just moving to a different house, but the same town, same school, same friends. You have no right to be sad. But still, there's something a little melancholy and a little creepy about the room at the same time.
    You sigh and begin to stroll around it, brushing the walls with your hands, feeling it for one last time. You come to the center of the empty room and close your eyes, remembering what your bedroom used to be like and all you had done in it.
    Again, you don't really have a right to...

News About Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners

    So, those of you that have been reading my Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners series will know that I recently finished my first novel, which is really exciting!
    I've gotten addicted to writing a chapter a day, it'll take a really long time to revise, and things might get confused if I edit before writing the second book, so I plan to draft the next novel in the series before revising. Of course, I'll probably take a break for a week or two, but afterwards I'll get right to writing. Since I still haven't decided on names for the books, it'll just be, for example, Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 2- 1.
    Thanks to everyone that's been reading it and supporting it; I really appreciate it! Your feedback has been very helpful and I'll definitely use it in the revision stage.
    I'd like to know how it was. I found a list of questions to ask readers about novels online,...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 47 (The Last Chapter!!!)

    "That's not how you make a fire," Edwin said.
    "Yes, it is," June grunted, rubbing the small logs together faster. "I've seen it in movies."
    "It could work, but you'd need to have some experience, and that's the harder way."
    "And I suppose you know the easier way?"
    "Yeah. Use the matches."
    He held out a box of matches to her.
    June rolled her eyes and took them. "Well, I didn't know we had matches. If I had known, then I would've used them, but I didn't. Cyprian, is that cast working?"
    "Yeah," Cyprian said. "Yeah, it is."
    "Do you think you can walk with it, or do you need crutches?"
    "Um..." Cyprian hesitated. "I don't know. We'll see."
    They were in a clearing on the edge of the forest and a field. Avery was setting up some tents that Edwin had packed, and June was trying to start...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 46

    June's hands were shaking as she hurried down the halls. They were actually doing it, actually escaping the castle. Swarms of butterflies were fluttering inside Laszlo's stomach.
    What would they do? What was outside of the castle? Really, they had no idea. It could've been anything, and they were just jumping outside blindly. But they had no choice; it was too dangerous to stay in the castle. Although--- Laszlo did have to wonder--- would it be any better outside?
    He had gone camping with June a few times, and that was about the only experiences he had had with the wilderness. He didn't think that anyone there was an expert at outdoor survival, which meant that the only guides they had were Edwin's book on the subject. But sometimes the directions in books could be hard to follow, and they could easily mess up. For instance, what if they made a fire wrong, and it set a...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 45

    June, Edwin, and Avery stood there for a moment, staring in horror at Chambers, and then Avery tore down the hallway to their right. Edwin and June stood there for a moment, torn between leaving Cyprian and running; June seemed to make up her mind. She grabbed a chair from the nearest desk and chucked it at Chambers; he didn't duck in time and it slammed into him; June and Edwin turned and hared down the hall after Avery.
    "You threw a chair at him," Edwin said.
    "Self-defense, Edwin, he was going to turn us to wood! I thought it might distract him--- oh, gosh, do you think he's decided to go after Cyprian instead?"
    "No, I can hear him running after us."
    Laszlo could hear it, too. His heart pounded so fast that he didn't think it could go any quicker, and he seemed to be getting warmer, blood coursing through his veins. June's...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 44

    Right at the moment June said 'run', there was a yell.
    They turned; there was a blur of motion; Cyprian was stumbling backwards; the rug collapsed beneath him; June, Edwin, and Avery surged forward, but Avery got there first, grabbing his hand; she nearly fell forward too; Chambers was frozen in place; June helped Avery, and so did Edwin; Cyprian was squeezing Avery's hand so hard it turned blue; it was the only thing stopping him from falling at least twenty feet down to the staff halls.
    "Edwin, Avery, you guys can let go," June said. "I've got him. You can run, and I'll hold off Chambers somehow."
    "No you won't!" Edwin said. "You're making sure Cyprian doesn't fall; you can't hold anyone off, and how would you hold him off anyway?"
    "Excuse me," Chambers said, smiling.
    Everyone fell silent and turned to look at him.
    Chambers began to laugh a small, polite laugh....

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 43

    A woman popped her head into the door, a woman that did not know the weight of what she was telling June and did not know what would happen next.
    "Chambers wants to see you in a thing called the Entrance Room," the woman said. "He said that you know it, and that it's that square room with two halls going out of it and a rug at the back of it. Do you know where that is?"
    June was clearly trying hard to hide her fear. "Yes."
    "OK. He said to bring your friends with you. They're waiting in the lounge."
    June nodded and walked towards the door, Laszlo flying over to perch on her shoulder.
    The woman studied her face as June walked through the door and into the hallway.
    "Are you alright?" she said.
    June forced a smile. "Yes, I'm fine. I just woke up from a nightmare, that's...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 42

    "Laszlo, you're back!" June said, jumping to her feet. She, Edwin, Cyprian, and Avery jumped out of their seats and ran over to the vent, helping him out.
    June lowered him carefully onto the center of a coffee table, pointing the flashlight so it wasn't in his eyes, but so he was in the center of the beam. She and her friends gathered around him, their eyes shining. They looked hopeful. They didn't know yet.
    "Are you OK?" June said.
    Laszlo whistled in a crescendo.
    "Oh, good," June said. "No trouble? You were fine?"
    Another crescendo.
    "Did he unlock the door?" Edwin said.
    "Did you?" June said.
    Laszlo stared at the surface of the coffee table for a moment, becoming very interested in its shiny dark surface. Then he whistled in a decrescendo.
    "What?" Cyprian gasped, stepping back. The rest of them just stared at him for a moment, and then...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 41

    Laszlo did not, as it turned out, levitate in the vent, which he was extremely disgruntled about. The drone hadn't had to fly, it just levitated. The letters and notes that the vents were made for levitated. So why shouldn't he?
    He supposed that it was because he wasn't an inanimate object.
    Dang it.
    "What should we say?" Cyprian said, and a moment later his face appeared at the entrance to the vent. Laszlo turned, feeling the cool stone floor of the vent beneath his feet.
    "'Staff halls'," June said, her face also appearing.
    "OK. Staff halls," Cyprian said to the vents.
    Nothing happened.
    "It didn't work," Cyprian said.
    "Thanks, Captain Obvious," June said. "Look, it's because you aren't demanding it. You have to boss it around, tell it to take Laszlo to the staff halls."
    "Fine, you do it!"
    "Staff halls," June said firmly to the vents.
   ...

Ice Cream and Illness *PLEASE GIVE FEEDBACK*

    “Sadie,” I said. “Come on. Just stay seated. Focus on your food.”
    She turned back to her plate, but I could see her eyes drifting behind her, towards the ice cream bar.
    “Come on, only one scoop?” She said hopefully. “Only one. And I would have strawberry. Strawberries are fruits.”
    “We can’t,” I said, but I was feeling tempted too. The ice cream bar was right behind us. I could feel the frosty air from it chilling my back, and the smell of chocolate and vanilla was wafting towards us. Besides, the ice cream at the camp was so good. It was creamy and cold, and would run down the side of the cone, and you would have to lick it to stop it from dripping… but I couldn’t think about it. If I didn’t look or think about ice cream, the temptation wouldn’t be as bad, I figured.
    “Oh, come on, only one scoop?” Sadie...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 40

    June, Cyprian, Edwin, and Avery sat in the lounge late at night, huddled around a map, lit by one flashlight and talking in hushed voices.
    "Have we tried this way?" Cyprian said, pointing to the right edge of the map. "There's nothing there, so that could be marking the edge of the castle. There could be a door there."
    "No, I went that way once," Avery said. "It's just more halls and rooms."
    "This isn't a whole map of the castle," Edwin said. "It must be just a map of the areas that Chambers expected us to go in, the recreational areas like the library, pool, indoor garden, bowling alley, dining halls, etc., and also the lounge."
    June pointed to the northern edge of the map.
    "That's definitely the edge of the castle, though," she said. "I've gone up there, and all the way across it's just one big, long hallway. There are no...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 39

Did Olive Tell Chambers?

Yes
- Cyprian saw them talking and heard a few words of their conversation
- those words included 'June', 'staff halls', and 'statues'
- she didn't take her bathing suit or a towel with her when she was supposedly going down to the pool
- he saw them having a conversation right after I told her
- it sounds like something she would do
- it's pretty obvious she did

No
- Chambers hasn't screamed at us, but his attitude has definitely changed
- Olive is our friend and wouldn't betray us
- supposedly

Conclusion: Yes

What Do We Do?


    June stared down at the paper, and then hurled the pencil across the room, swearing furiously.
    "I have no ideas!" She shouted. "Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Nil! I hate Olive, I hate Chambers, I hate literally everything IN THIS ENTIRE CASTLE!"
    June hit the wall with her first, and then stared down at the...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 38

    "What if..." June began, and trailed off, shaking her head. "No, Olive wouldn't settle for that. She'd just ask questions and annoy me until I tell her the whole thing. What do you do when you get into fights with other birds?"
    She turned to face Laszlo.
    Laszlo stared blankly at her. Whenever birds got mad at each other, they either screamed until one of them got scared off, or fought. He supposed that neither option would work for June, although she was quite exceptional at yelling and screaming.
    "Yeah, right, you can't talk," June said. "But I'd know what you say. 'If you tell her, she'll get us into trouble.' Just like Cyprian. But I trust her, even if she can be the most obnoxious, annoying person on Earth sometimes. Olive would just probably roll her eyes and tell me that Chambers is not evil, but she can't deny all the evidence we've found, can...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 37

    "Hey, Avery, where are you going?" June called.
    Avery glanced back at her. "Oh, uh, sorry, but Chambers moved me to the other table. See you guys later."
    June, Cyprian, and Edwin watched as she walked away.
    "Well, that makes sense," Cyprian said, sitting down at the new arrivals table. "She's been here for a while."
    "We've all been here for a while, though," June said. "Shouldn't we all be at the other table?"
    Cyprian thought for a moment, and then shrugged. "I don't know," he said.
    Looking around at the new arrivals table, Laszlo realized that they were one of the only people from the library left. In fact, the only people at the new arrivals table besides them were the fifth graders, their teacher, two women, and one man.
    "Come to think of it," June said, apparently noticing the same thing Laszlo was. "We should've been moved a long time...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 36

    "Laszlo, listen, because there's nothing else you can do," June said.
    She took a breath, and began.
    "So, I've been thinking, and I know I think a lot--- well, maybe not as much as Edwin does--- but I've had a thought. It's not a good thought. In fact, it's a bad thought. A very, very, very bad thought. Laszlo, look at this---"
    She held up the wooden figure that Edwin had found.
    "It's perfect. It's more than perfect, actually. It looks exactly like Harriet Myers as I remember her, and I got a photo of her from her sister."
    June dug around in the bag she'd brought down to the indoor gardens with her. She pulled out a photo, held it up, and held the figure up.
    The resemblance was striking. Of course, it was a carving of Harriet Myers, so it was supposed to resemble her, but this... June was right. This...

Ask Michael

Questions

1. What is the best way to realistically show a character that has just received shocking news?

2. What is the denouement in structure?

3. In novels I've read, there are often pictures or symbols in the novel. Does the writer leave a lot of blank space there, and then hire an artist to make those, or is there some sort of computer drawing program that they use?

4. How long, typically, is a short story?

5. What are the biggest publishers or publishing companies in the USA?

6. So, let's say that I reference a famous movie or book in my writing. Is that breaking a copyright law? Do you have to get the author's permission to reference their novel?

7. When an artist is doing the art for the cover of a novel, does the author have a say in what it looks like?

8. If the meaning of life is 42, then why are there still so...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 35

    "His room," Cyprian muttered. "His room--- are you sure that's what he said? Not 'the room'? Or 'this room'?"
    "Cyprian, I am absolutely positive," June said, sounding exasperated. "Avery wrote down every single word that he said. We've got it all right there, if you want to take a look at it again."
    She nodded towards the notebook.
    "I've practically memorized it," Edwin said. "He said 'his room'."
    "Well, it's his castle," Avery said. "The room's part of the castle, the room's his."
    "But he acts like he hasn't seen it in a while, and then he refers to the room as his, which means he feels like he owns it, like it's personally his," Cyprian said. "So, what is it? A bedroom? His bedroom?"
    "I don't think so," June said. "I mean, I saw it once, and I don't think it had a bed in it. Besides, he acted as if he...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 34

    June and Avery walked down the hall as quietly as they could, sticking to the shadows (as if that would help), and watching Chambers closely. He was ahead of them by a few yards.
    They could hear him muttering something to himself under his breath.
    "Haven't seen it in a while, of course, but it could be necessary... they are getting rather arrogant, and when I do turn them... it's too dangerous, leaving them about... still can't find that one girl..."
    Avery had brought out a notepad and was scribbling all of this down furiously. June gave her an approving look, trying to communicate whilst also remaining silent.
    Chambers paused for a long moment and continued walking, before he shook his head.
    "No, it's just not working! It all seems to fake... maybe I need to reread... I suppose part of it is developing the full psychology of the person, but then you never...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 33

    It was 3 AM at night--- no, morning--- was it? No. Yes, Laszlo thought. Morning. Just early morning. He could barely keep his eyes open, much less think straight.
    "Guys, three in the morning. We should go to sleep. We haven't been getting enough lately," Cyprian said.
    "Well, excuse me, but I try. It's just that every time I stand up and say that I'm going to sleep, Edwin asks some crazy philosophical question and we stay up another hour," June said.
    Edwin shrugged. "Sorry."
    "We need to focus," Cyprian said. "We stayed up late in the first place to look at the list. Have you found any consistencies so far?"
    "Yeah," June said. "Look at this."
    Edwin and Cyprian moved closer to look at the list of people in the castle.
    "What is it?" Cyprian said.
    "They all arrived on the same day. Well, not the same day, but--- just...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- A Random Short Story

    It was a hot afternoon. Of course, almost all afternoons that season were hot (June's dad said that California only had three types of weather, and Laszlo thought that wasn't a lie), but this one, Laszlo thought, was the hottest it had ever been. True, he thought that every day, but this time it really was the hottest. He was sure of it.
    He was perched on top of the monkey bars of the playground, watching June and her friends run and laugh below him. They looked so undignified, he thought, looking down his beak at them. Cockatiels would never do such a thing. They kicked up tanbark as they played, and one piece thwacked him in the head.
    Laszlo wobbled sideways. He regained his balance, and kept watching them.
    The black pavement outside of the playground seemed to be melting. He felt sticky just thinking about it. The second graders were too busy screaming and giggling...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 32

    June and Edwin staggered over to the door, which seemed to be a very difficult task, but as Laszlo was flying and laughing at them, he wouldn't know. Wings, wonderful wings.
    When June finally threw the door open and stepped onto a solid stone floor, she looked relieved, and hopped from foot to foot.
    "Like, I like carpets, but there were so many layers of them, and they overlapped and it was--- ugh. Not doing that again. So, let's see..." June shone her flashlight around.
    In front of them, to the left, was a door. To the right was a staircase which went downwards.
    "First we go in here, then down the stairs," June decided. She and Edwin opened the door and went into the room.
    Inside it was pitch black. They had the flashlight, though, and June pointed it in different places, giving them a basic idea of the room.
    This was...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 31

    It was only a few days later that June and Edwin made the decision to explore the castle. No, not explore the castle, that wasn't the word. They decided to have a trip around the entire castle for a day, so they could see if there was anything they were missing.
    Cyprian wanted to come, but June said he and Avery had to stay behind just in case anything important happened. She packed a map, even though they all knew that the map only showed a portion of the castle, and hid forbidden rooms like the staff halls. She also brought a flashlight and paper clips. Edwin brought food and water.
    They decided to start in the middle of a random hall and go in a direction that the map didn't show. Laszlo had his doubts, but then, he had exceptional memory and could easily just fly back. June and Edwin snacked on the food as they...

Family Reunion

    Hey--- hey, Lupus! Over here! LUPIS! CANIS LUPIS!

   
Wha--- oh! Hey, if it isn't Ol' Batty!

    Yeah. How's it going?

    
Good, good. What about you? Haven't seen you in a while.
    
    Migration.

   
Man, I don't know how you do that. I mean, I travel a lot, but it's always within a certain area, and I know every inch of my territory.

    You and your territory. I've missed you. But I'm gonna come back to Canada soon. Plenty of food there in the summer!
    

    Yeah. Have you met Sapien?

    What, Homo Sapien?

    
Yep.
    
    No. How is she?

    So annoying! I mean, the kid's smart alright, but she doesn't need to brag just 'cause she's got fingers and tools or whatever.

    Dude, she's a kid. Give her a break. Besides, you've been around longer.

    Yeah, but not by that much. Only by, what, couple hundred thousand...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 30

    Patience was not June's thing.
    Of course, Cyprian and Edwin knew this already, but Avery quickly learned it too. She complained endlessly about nothing happening, got into several arguments with various random people because she was bored, counted every person in the entire castle and then sorted them by age and order that they arrived in, and often made it clear that if she had to be bored a second longer then she would explode.
    Her first tactic to being bored was to give up. This time, she was being extremely hyperactive and reckless. She was constantly coming up with something new for them to do and theorized in every second of their spare time.
    Edwin was perfectly fine with this, and, in fact, seemed pleased with it; he loved to theorize and was often the one that added on to June's plans and ideas. Cyprian and Avery, however, couldn't stand it, and were anguished every...

Into the Woods

The Woods Beyond the Hill

The woods beyond the hill
Stand mighty
Guarding the deer
The lizards, the squirrels

The soldiers in this army
Some young, hotheaded
Some are old as can be and
Stretch to the sky

Warriors, yet gentle
They lend us a hand
Let us enter, let us climb on them
Use their ancient knots as footholds

They know what we have long forgotten
Like an ancient scroll
Though we grow
We find we must return

Who are we to say
They are not sentient?
That is for the children of the forest to decide
And we say they speak



 

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 29

    Cyprian asked June what was wrong the next five times that day, and each time she answered that nothing was wrong, but he was like a brother to her, and wouldn't stop asking, until she finally told him what she was worried about.
    "But, June," Cyprian said, looking taken aback. "We can't give up! We've gone all this way, and if we stop now---"
    "We're getting nowhere," June said. "I mean, nothing's happened in weeks. Maybe it was just magic, like you said. And I've got this idea for something else we could do---"
    "No," Cyprian said firmly. "We have to figure this out. It could be something important, and if we don't figure it out, then---"
    "---who will, yes, I know, I've heard that saying a million times. But don't you think it's time that we---"
    "Tried different ways to unlock the door? Yes, I do, and I've got an idea---"
    "Cyprian,...

Slow Seeing

Too Late?

    Don't think it will end.
    It won't.
    First Hurricane Harvey, and then Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Jose, and Hurricane Katia. The weather is insane, people say. We'll all be glad when it's over. This is a just a crazy year for natural disasters.
    What they don't realize is that this is just the beginning. If they think this is bad, they should see what will happen in five, ten, fifteen years. We've lost track of the years, and I'm not quite sure how far back I've gone.
    Not far back enough, clearly. I can remember this. Of course, I was only one or two years when it happened. But I can recall seeing a news report on the damage from Hurricane Harvey, I think. And I had heard people talking about the other hurricanes. It's funny to think that hurricanes used to be so rare we would name them.
    This is the worst hurricane...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 28

    Avery led June, Cyprian, and Edwin down to the staff halls in a hurry. She flung doors open, almost forget to cover up the hole with the rug on the way down, and nearly slipped off the ladder down there. June, Cyprian, and Edwin were exchanging worried glances. What could possibly have Avery so worried?
    Avery led them down the hall towards the locked room, and stopped, panting, in front of the door.
    "Avery, there's nothing here," June said. "What---"
    Then she saw it.
    It was a mural, the mural, about a foot away from the locked door. It was the exact same one from the streets of San Francisco, with the buildings and messy words:

    TWENTY-THOUSAND MISSING CORNERS

    "That's impossible," June breathed. "I mean--- that's the mural. The exact same one."
    "It can't be," Cyprian said. He looked shocked
    "I don't believe it," Avery said. "I was walking down here...

Slow Seeing

Too Late?

    Don't think it will end.
    It won't.
    First Hurricane Harvey, and then Hurricane Irma. The weather is insane, people say. We'll all be glad when it's over. This is a just a crazy year for natural disasters.
    What they don't realize is that this is just the beginning. If they think this is bad, they should see what will happen in five, ten, fifteen years. I'm not quite sure how far back I've gone. We've lost track of the years.
    Not far back enough, clearly. I can remember this, vaguely. Of course, I was only one or two years when it happened. But I can recall seeing a news report on the damage from Hurricane Harvey, and seeing the predictions about Hurricane Irma. It's funny to think that hurricanes used to be so rare we would name them.
    This is the worst hurricane Florida has every seen, and this, I think to myself, is...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 27

    They pestered Chambers endlessly for two weeks, and came out with hardly anything more than when they had started.
    "Let's compare information," June said as they sat down in the lounge. "I'll go first."
    She thought for a moment, and then said, "Well, first of all, Chambers likes strawberries a lot. He hates Mexican food---"
    "HATES MEXICAN FOOD?" Edwin yelled, horrified at the very idea. Several people turned to look at them.
    "Yeah, I know, it's crazy. I like Mexican food, but I have this friend, Olive, and she..." June trailed off. She stared into space for a moment, and then seemed to wake up. "What was I saying? Oh, yeah. So anyway, he hates Mexican food but loves sushi. Chambers is really good at those toys, the ones with the ball on that stick, attached to the stick with the string, and you have to shake it off the stick and try to get...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 26

    "Oh, I know George," Avery said.
    "You do?" June said. "Who is he?"
    "He's this engineer. He follows Chambers around and gives him tips about the lights and stuff."
    "I can see where this is going," Cyprian said. "George Hall has disappeared, just like Harriet Myers."
    "Uh, who's Harriet Myers?" Avery said. "And why would we beware George Hall if he was gone?"
    "But it's not telling us to beware him because it's not on the same line," Edwin said. "If it were telling us to beware him it would be on the same line because that's how people write. That means it's telling us to beware but it doesn't tell us what we have to beware, but it does say George Halls. So what we have to beware has something to do with George Halls, and since the paper before said Harriet Myers on it, it has something to do with Harriet Myers...

Concerning the Formisims of Planet Sortes

To Ajaani, Concerning the Formisims of Planet Sortes---

    I hope my last telepagram reached you. I know it's such a strange hour--- the sun is high in the sky on Sortes--- but we have to stay awake at unnatural times to study.
    The formisims are strange creatures. They are larger than us, but only slightly, and are bare, unlike their cousins. No matter where we go, they are there, or signs of them are there. We have to travel quite a lot to figure out how they respond to their environment, since Sortes environments are so spread out.
    Right now, we're focusing on this one spot. I find it both pleasant and unpleasant at the same time. There are brightly colored shelters, which are square and strangely large. What do formisims do with all the room? I've been thinking about this a lot. We plan to go into one of these shelters while the formisims are away. ...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 25

    "Oh, that's weird," Avery said. "Isn't wood-carving banned?"
    "Not wood-carving," June said. "Figure-carving. Edwin, you might want to put it down--- there might be fingerprints on it, and we don't want them to get messed up."
    "What would it matter if there are fingerprints on it?" Cyprian said. "We wouldn't know who's they were, unless we went around asking people for their fingerprints to compare it to."
    "That'd take too long," June said. "Besides, Edwin said that he had heard Chambers in that room."
    "What would Chambers be doing making a Harriet Myers figure?" June said.
    "A what?" Avery said.
    "Hang on, are we sure it's Harriet Myers?" Cyprian said. "I mean, you saw her one time, and it was three in the morning or something, so you can't be sure."
    "It's Harriet Myers," Edwin said.
    "How do you know, though?" Cyprian questioned.
    "I have a photographic memory."
    June...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 24

    Edwin was still nowhere to be seen the next morning.
    And the next.
    And the next.
    And the next.
    By the fourth morning, June and Cyprian were panicking.
    "We have to tell someone," Cyprian said.
    "No," June said firmly.
    "But Chambers could help us!"
    "Yes, I know," June said. "But what if Chambers is the one that did something to Edwin?"
    Cyprian looked even more worried.
    "I know," June said. "What we need to do is ask around to see if anyone's seen him, but in a low-key way. We need to say, 'Hey, have you seen a boy named Edwin? He's about this tall, black hair, my age. I wanted to ask him something but I can't find him.' We don't want to, you know, attract too much attention."
    "Got it," Cyprian said.
    Apparently, no one had seen him, but June told Laszlo she hadn't expected...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 23

    Perhaps June would have shown Olive the staff night, and perhaps something might have changed; Laszlo later thought about it quite a lot. But that night there happened to be an arrival night.
    June stood in the practically empty ballroom, sipping punch and looking around. All the adults had been told by Chambers to go around, trying to round up the arrivals, and that left very few people. Edwin, Cyprian, and Olive were nowhere to be seen, so she was standing off to the side, eyeing everyone else in the room.
    There was a clump of teenagers older than her on the right side of the room, about two or three people her age, and a few seven or eight-year-olds running around. It was funny, Laszlo thought--- June was extremely outgoing, could make friends with anyone, and was usually the life of the party, but she was too shy to go over and talk to someone.
   ...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 22

    "I could give up, couldn't I?" June said. "It would be so much easier. And everything keeps failing anyway."
    She was talking to Laszlo in her room, the morning after the night they found a tunnel to the locked room in the staff halls--- and the door in the tunnel turned out to be locked too.
    "But if I don't do it, then who will? I mean, no one else seems to notice it, and there'll just be more and more new arrivals, and it'll keep building up, so I have to do it, because otherwise I'll just spend years here, wasting time, doing nothing." She sighed and collapsed on her bed. "We started weeks ago, and we're no better off than when we started. We haven't found out anything, haven't done anything, haven't gotten anywhere, and have basically just made a list of questions, and then added to it, and added to it, and added to...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 21

    "Oh my gosh," June breathed, stepping into the room. "I mean... wow. We could get through the room through here the whole time?"
    She bent down and began to look through some things.
    "Wait," Edwin said. "We need to get Cyprian."
    "Oh, yeah," June said. "You're right, we should."
    She stood up and went out the room, closing the door behind her.
    June and Edwin started down the hall, stepping over the Mastermind game and beginning the long trek back to Cyprian's room.
    As they about to go around a corner, out of sight of the door, June looked back over her shoulder and bit her lip. She opened her mouth, and then closed it again.
    "What?" Edwin said.
    "Nothing. I just have this feeling..." June shook her head. "Never mind. Let's go."
    They walked back to the lounge, but when they tried to open the door to it, it...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 20

    June and Olive were furious with each other for weeks, or rather, Olive was furious with June. June wasn't particularly angry with her, and had--- or was pretending to have--- a rather careless attitude toward the matter.
    "Apologize to her," Cyprian said over and over again. "I mean, really, June, that's the only way we're going to solve this."
    June obviously didn't want to apologize, and Olive clearly wasn't going to.
    Laszlo sighed at humanity. If they were birds, he thought, they would've just shouted at each other until one of them gave up. He had seen blue jays scream at each other and everyone else for hours on end. He could imagine June as a blue jay.
    Cyprian had lots of advice to give about the matter. He chattered away about how she could phrase her apology, why she should just say sorry already, how it was getting in the way of them figuring...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 19

    "Your--- your cousin?" June gasped, exchanging glances with Edwin.
    "Yes. She's been missing. Do you know her?"
    "Um, maybe. Can you describe her?"
    "Her hair is a few shades darker than mine, kind of a light brown color. She has blue eyes. Harriet's a bit taller than me, and she wears jeans a lot."
    "When was she last seen?"
    "Four days ago. We had just finished watching a movie in the lounge, and I said I was going to bed. Harriet told me she was--- she, um, she wanted to go down to ask Chambers something. I went to sleep, and in the morning I couldn't find her. I still can't."
    "Oh," June said. "No, I haven't seen her. Sorry."
    "OK," the woman sighed. She walked off to ask someone else.
    "I didn't see that coming," June said.
    "What coming?" Edwin asked.
    "Harriet Myers being someone's cousin. And...

Running Out of Time

Dancing in the meadow
Sprinting in the breeze
We are colts, young horses
Playing, we never freeze

The hours tick by
And we never notice
Strutting and vain
A blooming young lotus

Then we grow to wolves
Teenage and clumsy
Still playing, still laughing
Youth, but not puppies

We begin to hunt
To join a social ladder
We whine and howl and laugh and growl
Sometimes we're deadly adders

The time passes, as it does
And we keep on and grow
To fish, salmon, swimming upstream
Going with the flow

We follow the tracks
And no longer are we young
We begin to wrinkle
To old age we are flung

Then we are tortoises
And we begin to realize
That we can never get it back
Time's passed before our eyes

Some songs are sung, some songs are not
We long to go back in time
But death is waiting, death is near
And we're gone in the flip of...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 18

    The next couple of days passed by in a blur. They found nothing else in the staff halls, but went down there often anyway. The abandoned lounge had become their meeting place, since they figured it was too dangerous to discuss anything in the regular lounge, where someone might hear them.
    "It's not just that," June said to Laszlo one night. "The staff halls are kind of--- and I know this is weird, but it's true--- they feel kind of comforting. They feel real. It's like--- like, when you watch a movie and then see the special features, and the actors talk about the movie and it feels weird because suddenly they sound just like normal people. Does that make sense?"
    She turned to Laszlo, remembered that he was a bird, and turned back.
    "I mean, the staff halls are kind of terrifying too, of course. You feel like anything could appear out of nowhere at...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 17

    Getting back to their rooms took much longer than they had expected, since halfway down the hall they heard Chambers coming and had to duck into the nearest room, which happened to be a supplies closet. It was the second time that night--- or rather, morning--- that June and Laszlo had hidden in a closet, and it was even more unpleasant since they had Cyprian and Edwin with them, making it more crowded. They had to sit there for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually forty minutes, and then another ten to make sure the person was gone. It was 4:50 by the time they actually got moving again.
    But around five minutes afterwards, Cyprian made them stop and have Laszlo scout ahead, which shouldn't have taken too long, but Laszlo got slightly distracted by the smell of food coming from the dining hall. As it turned out, Chambers had gotten up to eat pancakes with...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 16

    "What?" June breathed, staring at the note. "Who's Harriet Myers?"
    Just then, there was muffled thump, and a voice from above. "Hello? Is anyone down here?"
    June stiffened. She leapt to her feet and picked up the paper, staring frantically around. The furniture wouldn't provide much cover, and although she could wriggle under a couch, she didn't haveenough time, but--- aha! There was a door, hidden among the shadows.
    June ran towards it, opening the door, jumping in, and closing it before she even realized what she was going into.
    June breathed quietly, taking a step back, but she stumbled, tripping over something. In the dead silence, it sounded like an enormous crash. Laszlo cringed. June regained her balance and held her breath, looking around.
    They were in what appeared to be a closet. There were coats and clothes hanging down, and shoes on the ground. June must've tripped over one of these. It...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 15

    The next expedition to the staff halls was sooner than expected. A couple of hours after they had gone to sleep (although it only felt like seconds to Laszlo), he felt something gently prodding him, whispering, "Laszlo. Laszlo. Come on, get up, or I'll go without you."
    He pulled his wing over his head.
    "Laszlo! Come on, I can't sleep, and I don't want to go down to the staff halls alone. Get up!"
    He warbled sleepily, but opened his eyes and hobbled to the entrance to his cage. June lifted him up to her shoulder, which, he realized for the first time, was extremely comfortable, so much that one could not be expected not to drift off...
    "Laszlo!" June whispered urgently. "I know it's late---" she checked her watch. "---well, early, but you've got to pay attention. I need you to scout ahead, to make sure no one's there. Being up at this time...

The Foreclosure

Foreclosed house
Waiting
Art untitled
Within it

Dripping raindrop
On the rooftop
Under the tabletop
Waits a dog

Whispers foreshadowed this
Unseen, unheard
Man cries in the desk
The trees outside
Stretch their arms, feel sorry

And promise they
Will bring him shelter
When his homeless skeleton
Comes to them

They know he will find
Peace of mind
With them

The genius
Is waiting
In the glass case 
Of his skull

One day
He will have fame
Fortune, everything he desires
But it starts with this, the foreclosure
 

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 14

    Cyprian, Edwin, and June ran down the hall, towards the source of the shriek, and came into a room with couches and at least five televisions in it, all of which were on and mute. Chambers was sitting on one of the couches.
    "What was that?" June said, breathing heavily.
    "Hmm?" He glanced up at them. "Oh, did I alarm you? It was nothing. I turned on the TV and the volume was very high. Sorry."
    He turned back to the televisions. Cyprian tugged on June's arm, and they walked back into the halls.
    "Well, that was alarming," Cyprian whispered. "But I guess it was nothing."
    "You think he was telling the truth?" June said.
    "Well, no one else was in the room. How could he have been lying?"
    Edwin said, "True."
    "I don't know." June shook her head. "He sounded like he was lying to me, like he was trying...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 13

    The next morning at breakfast, June, Cyprian, and Edwin sat together at the end of the table as if they had been doing it every day of their life.
    Laszlo could tell that June was apprehensive about this. She hesitated before sitting down, and glanced over her shoulder, looking for someone--- Olive.
    "I think I've got it," Cyprian said.
    "What?" June looked at him. "You've figured it out?"
    "Not exactly. But I've got a sort of theory."
    "What is it?" Edwin said.
    "So, this castle is supposedly run by Chambers, right? He's the host, he's in charge, he's the one who's behind whatever's going on."
    "Right," June said.
    "But what if he's not? What if there's somebody else, someone who we never see, someone that's the real person in charge?"
    "So Chambers' boss?" Edwin said.
    "Basically. And he---or she--- must be watching us--- well, not us in particular, but...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 12

    "No," June mouthed to Cyprian, her face stricken with terror. "No."
    "What do we do, what do we do?" He mouthed back.
    Creeeaaak.
    
She looked around. Laszlo didn't know if it was her heart or his that was hammering furiously.
    "Uh---ah---" June's eyes were wide. Cyprian was darting frantically back and forth, and Edwin seemed completely frozen.
    There was nowhere to hide. They were out in the middle of the hall, too far to run and hide in the lounge, and the only room was the one the noise was coming from. They were going to be caught.
    Caught by whom?
    By what?
    Suddenly, Edwin said, "The shadows."
    He darted towards the darkest spot in the hall, and Cyprian and June ran after him.
    They crouched against the wall, shuffling until June said, "Shh..."
    They froze, holding their breaths, and listened.
    Thump.
   
It sounded like someone was...

The Shadow in the Mirror

    The water explodes out of the sink as soon as you turn the knob. The noise echoes around the empty bathroom, disrupting the sacred silence. The stall doors seem to glare at you, demanding that the noise is eliminated at once.
    You wince as a spray of mist and water droplets hits you, and crank the knob down until the water is a small stream, round and clear and quiet. Very quiet, you realize.
    Thump.
   
You jump. And then laugh at yourself. Thumps and creaks were part of public schools. No one knew where they came from, but they didn't matter. You're just paranoid, and it's your friend's fault.
    The bathroom is shaped like an upside-down L, the toilet stalls disappearing behind the corner. In kindergarten, your friend made you think you were alone, and then jumped out from behind the corner while you were washing your hands. You screamed and bolted out, forgetting to...

Emergence

    The cocoon has been waiting for ages. It's small, big enough for a caterpillar but getting far too crowded for the butterfly inside, and soon it will no longer be able to contain it. The chrysalis is a pale, frosty green color, but watch it. Wait, wait for a long, long time, and it begins to get--- not paler, but translucent. It becomes a thin, delicate layer of glass. You begin to see the wings of the monarch first, and gradually the glass spreads to the rest of the cocoon, until you can see the creature inside, curled up and sleeping.
    Wait longer. The butterfly begins to stir, although to watchers it looks like wrinkled black cloth, spotted with powdered sugar, pushing against the cage that has kept it so long. It pushes hard, harder, until the chrysalis splits, just a small crack. The monarch, excited, strains harder, shoves and pushes and exerts itself as hard as it...

Pocketwatch

The pocketwatch spins
On its golden chain
Mahogany time-teller
Old as the rain

You tell us the time
But not how to spend it
Our memories within you
But how many wasted?

Small numbers faded
Dashes blurred
Ticking faintly
Barely heard

What is it waiting for?
What does it know?
Is it just dormant
Keeping its head low?

Pocketwatch, I look at you
I polish and stare and wait
Time goes by, and I have to wonder
Is it far too late?
 

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 11

    After June told Cyprian what Edwin had said, he was coming, and there was no doubt about it. Olive, however, was a different matter.
    "We should tell her," Cyprian argued. "We've been leaving her out of a lot of stuff lately. You know she won't like it if we go without her!"
    "No," June said firmly. "Olive trusts Chambers too much. She likes him a lot and won't believe us if we try to tell her that's something wrong with the castle."
    "Then we should tell her the evidence! If we told her what Edwin found she would listen to us. Come on, June, we can't just leave her in the dust while we go off and explore forbidden halls; it's unfair."
    "Cyprian, look, I would bring her, but it's too risky! There's something wrong with the people here. I don't what it is, but there's something about them, and Olive is getting a bit...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 10

    Edwin, as it turned out, sat at the new arrivals table.
    June stared at him, her brow wrinkled. She licked her lip and said under her breath, "But he's been here longer than us. He wasn't at the library when we got pulled in. So why...?"
    Laszlo's eyes swept over the table. He did a mental count in his head. There were sixteen of them on arrival night, and seventeen if Edwin was sitting there, so---
    So why were there only fifteen?
    No, he was being ridiculous; he hadn't counted June. But that amounted to sixteen, not seventeen, unless someone was coming in late, or had to go to the bathroom. Really, there were a thousand reasons why there would be sixteen people.
    June walked to the edge of the table, where Edwin was seated, and sat down across the way from him.
    He was a Polynesian boy the same age as June....

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 9

    It took days for June to stop pointing out everything they looked at.
    "Laszlo, look at the dome in this room! Is that real gold?"
    "Laszlo, look at this library, it's just--- wow."
    "Laszlo, look at this table. Great table. Look at how old and grand it is."
   Laszlo was getting sick of it.
    Even after she stopped making him look at everything, she gawked and gasped every time they stepped into a room. Even Laszlo had to admit that Gonestone was an incredible place. It seemed to be endless. Walking down the halls was exercise, and going up and down stairs left you exhausted. June was delighted by the castle, but at the same time, she confided to Laszlo, she was "kind of wary and not sure whether to trust anything".
    Cyprian was enamored with Gonestone. Everything about it hypnotized him, from the waterfall in the indoor garden to the patterned...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 8

    The mural was located near the intersection of 13th Street and Shamrock Road. It was the subject of many theories and debates in the city, but was not very well known. It had been a few months ago that June, Cyprian, and Olive had discovered it.
    It had been a chilly gray morning, as were many mornings in San Francisco. The sky looked like an endless silver cloud looming over the city. Pigeons bobbed their heads as they walked, pecking at crumbs from the ground, and litter rolled down the street in the wind. Bells on streetcars rang, car horns honked, and two tourists were pointing out the Bay Bridge as the class hurried down the street.
    "I'm sure the bus was here," the teacher muttered under his breath. "Parked barely a block away from the museum, next to the mailbox, in front of the light blue house, that's where I remember it. But maybe... I suppose...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 7

    "What? Why are you looking at me like that?" June frowned at Laszlo.
    They were in the indoor garden, although it was designed to look like it was outdoor. The roof simulated sunshine and clouds, and the walls simulated fields and forests. It was a beautiful place, clearly well-cared for, but then--- who cared for it?
    And, a beautiful garden with flowers, ivy, and trees, but no statues.
    Very interesting, June said. He wouldn't mind if she thought aloud, June said. Something was going on, June said.
    A whole garden, and not one bird feeder, Laszlo said, but no one listened to him. June had given him a bit of her doughnut that morning, but he needed to be fed Nutritious Delicious! Organic Parakeet Feed. Everyone knew that.
    "Quit staring at me," June said. "What is it, anyway? Are you hungry?"
    Laszlo was hungry, but it wasn't just that. He whistled in a...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 6

    June read the rules over and over again, until it was clear that she was not memorizing it and instead looking for something.
    Laszlo couldn't figure out why reading it again and again helped. Perhaps, he thought, she was looking for something about the paper itself--- perhaps a clue as to who Chambers was, like a splotch of ink or a stain. Each time she read it, she seemed more and more confused, and her face would get more and more scrunched-up.
    "Rule number six: the making of wood, paper, Play-Doh, or figures of any other material are not allowed," she read, and then looked up. "Figures. Make a note of that, Laszlo. It doesn't say we aren't allowed to write or draw, it says we aren't allowed to sculpt. Specifically, we aren't allowed to sculpt people."
    He chattered at her, ruffling his feathers.
    "Exactly. It doesn't make sense. Lots of stuff doesn't make...

Returning

No Idea What to Call This

    Returning back to a place you haven't been in a long time is like being reminded of a long-forgotten memory, or having a dream that you had before but had forgotten.
    It didn't entirely seem real to me when I had left it. I wasn't near it, I wasn't in it, and I hadn't been in it for months, so it ceased to exist, until just yesterday morning. The plane had landed and my best friend met us at the airport. We got a rental car, and began the long drive home, which began, as it always did, with my friend and me exchanging awkward, excited looks, until we began to chatter away. Gradually the car got quieter as both of us began to get tired. I had stared out the window, at the endless pattern of forest, town that somehow consists only of gas stations and restaurants, field, rock, and forest again, began to blur until I...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 5

Welcome to Gonestone Manor!
We know you must be dazed, confused, and disoriented after such a strange journey here, so we try to make the castle feel like home. We give you your own rooms, entertainment, and delicious meals. We provide you with fast, good computers and a television. Gonestone is a palace of wonder and grandeur, but before you can enjoy it, we must lay down some ground rules.

Rules
1. Everyone must be in the lounge by 10:00 PM; you can stay in the lounge, your room, or the halls however long you want, but may not venture outside these until 6:00 AM
2. No weapons are allowed
3. You may not go in the armory, the staff halls or rooms, or the office; these are marked on your maps
4. Food and beverage (without lids) are not allowed in recreational areas
5. The making of wooden, paper, Play-Doh, clay, or figures of any other material are not...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 4

    June said it was incredible; Laszlo wasn't quite so impressed.
    There were four different sections of bedrooms. There was the boys' section, the girls' section, the mens' section, and the womens' section. In the center of these sections was a circular room with couches, a television, a ping-pong table, a mini-fridge, a spongy carpet, a computer, and a radio, and branching out of this circle were four hallways. June was surprised at the amount of people there, and at the castle decor, and at being there in general, and at how all the books in her room were the kind of books she liked, and how her room even had a birdcage in it, wow, how did Chambers arrange it so quickly, et cetera et cetera. Laszlo had to hear about it the rest of the evening until she finally went to sleep.
    The only thing he was surprised by was the lack of good food in...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 3

    “Excuse me.”
    June jumped, Laszlo almost fell off her shoulder, Olive let out a small shriek, and Cyprian nearly bolted away before they realized it was just a man.
    “I’m sorry, did I scare you? I do that all the time, it’s really a bad habit.”
    He peered at them in an almost intense way.
    June was breathing heavily, clutching her chest. “Oh, it’s fine, don’t- don’t worry about it.”
    He smiled. “Good. Did you just arrive?”
    Laszlo gripped June’s shoulder tighter, and he could tell that she noticed it too.
    “Um, yes,” Olive stammered. “I feel kind of sick from the ride, actually.”
    “Don’t worry, many people do. Come; we’re having a welcome party with food and beverages galore. I’m sure there’s ginger ale there--- do you want some? It helps with stomach aches.”
    Olive nodded. “Thank you, Mr…”
    “Chambers. Aristide Chambers.” Chambers smiled. “Funny name, isn’t it? I found it in a book.”
    Cyprian and June exchanged glances,...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 2

    Laszlo was a parrot of elegance and grace.
    Very few people seemed to realize this, but he was truly a beautiful creature. His sleek gray feathers were carefully groomed, his beak shiny and his colors luscious. He only ate the best of foods, and demanded a clean birdcage at all times. His toys were the newest and most creative any bird could ask for. Even his birdcage itself was well-designed, unlike most other cages that were plain and boring. In flight, he was a picture of elegance, and when perched and still, you could really appreciate his rugged good looks.
    Yes, he was truly a work of art, and an exquisite one if he could say so himself, and that was why he was extremely disgruntled when June walked through long palm fronds, forgetting that he was on her shoulder.
    He pecked her on the ear and chattered furiously
    June’s hand flew up to her ear. “Ow! Laszlo!”
    He gave...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 1

    Twenty-thousand is a very large number, although the girl seated beneath the mural could not imagine how large.
    Twenty-thousand, one would think, isn't that large. To our sun, which has seen about five billion years pass by, twenty-thousand isn't too big, and when one thinks about how long our universe has been around, then twenty-thousand is small. But twenty-thousand, to humans, is too enormous to really wrap one’s minds around. Twenty-thousand people, for instance, is something one cannot imagine, and twenty-thousand cities is really too gigantic to picture. And so, when one sees the mural, one wonders what kind of place has twenty-thousand missing corners.
    Laszlo could not read, but his owner had often stood in front of the mural, contemplating it, and she read it aloud. Laszlo was a cockatiel, a parrot, a friend and companion to June Lyman, and he could imagine how large twenty-thousand is.
    After reading it, one then might wonder if it really is a...

Two Hundred Years Ago

The Gold Man

    I had heard of him, of course, but legends are never quite like the real thing.
    The legend said his family had started out broke, back in the time that Spain inhabited the area. They lived out in the wilderness, not being able to afford a ranch. They settled down near a river, and one day the mother of the family was walking along, collecting water, when she noticed it.
    Gold.
    Years and years and years before James Marshall, the Gold Man's great-great-grandmother found gold in the river. But instead of telling everyone, she kept it to herself, not even telling her family. Every day, when she went to collect water, she would take some extra time to look for it. Over her lifetime, she got a great deal of gold, and was planning to spend it all when she came down with disease. On her deathbed, she told her oldest son about the gold.
   ...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 2

    Laszlo was a parrot of elegance and grace.
    Very few people seemed to realize this, but he was truly a beautiful creature. His sleek gray feathers were carefully groomed, his beak shiny and his colors luscious. He only ate the best of foods, and demanded a clean birdcage at all times. His toys were the newest and most creative any bird could ask for. Even his birdcage itself was well-designed, unlike most other cages that were plain and boring. In flight, he was a picture of elegance, and when perched and still, you could really appreciate his rugged good looks.
    Yes, he was truly a work of art, and an exquisite one if he could say so himself, and that was why he was extremely disgruntled when June walked through long palm fronds, forgetting that he was on her shoulder.
    He pecked her on the ear and chattered furiously
    June’s hand flew up to her ear. “Ow! Laszlo!”
    He gave...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 1

    Twenty-thousand is a very large number, although the girl seated beneath the mural could not imagine how large.
    Twenty-thousand, one would think, isn't that large. To our sun, which has seen about five billion years pass by, twenty-thousand isn't too big, and when one thinks about how long our universe has been around, then twenty-thousand is small. But twenty-thousand, to humans, is too enormous to really wrap one’s minds around. Twenty-thousand people, for instance, is something one cannot imagine, and twenty-thousand cities is really too gigantic to picture. And so, when one sees the mural, one wonders what kind of place has twenty-thousand missing corners.
    Laszlo could not read, but his owner had often stood in front of the mural, contemplating it, and she read it aloud. Laszlo was a cockatiel, a parrot, a friend and companion to June Lyman, and he could imagine how large twenty-thousand is.
    After reading it, one then might wonder if it really is a...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 1

    Twenty-thousand is a very large number, although the girl seated beneath the mural could not imagine how large.
    Twenty-thousand, one would think, isn't that large. To our sun, which has seen about five billion years pass by, twenty-thousand isn't too big, and when one thinks about how long our universe has been around, then twenty-thousand is small. But twenty-thousand, to humans, is too enormous to really wrap one’s minds around. Twenty-thousand people, for instance, is something one cannot imagine, and twenty-thousand cities is really too gigantic to picture. And so, when one sees the mural, one wonders what kind of place has twenty-thousand missing seats.
    Laszlo could not read, but his owner had often stood in front of the mural, contemplating it, and she read it aloud. Laszlo was a cockatiel, a parrot, a friend and companion to June Lyman, and he could imagine how large twenty-thousand is.
    After reading it, one then might wonder if it really is a...

Songwriting Competition 2017

The Halastay

Bright sunrises are quite right
When you cannot face the night
Now the lights are off, and sunset's gone
And far away seems the dawn

Though you know it's your imagination
It exists throughout the nation
You say there's nothing there in your flat
But wait... What's that?

(Speeds Up)

Do you hear that creak on the floor?
Safe? Not yet, not anymore
And do you hear that breath under the bed?
That dark old fear is being fed

It's the Halastay
(The Halastay)
The Halastay

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is everywhere
(Right down the hall)
(Within the wall)
The Halastay is in us all

If it's day then, what do you know?
The Halastay will quickly go
Childhood terrors, but they're still with us
Gone in the sunrise, they turn to dusts

The Halastay is that creaky door
The Halastay is forevermore

(Instrumental)

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is everywhree
(Right down the hall)
(Within the...

America

    What if there was a country built on the promise of freedom, justice, and rights for all?

    What if there was a country with thousands of natural wonders, beautiful things that open your eyes?

    What if there was a country that had the first national park in the world?

    What if there was a country that stretched from shore to shore?

    What if there was a country that, yes, has made mistakes, has not always lived up to the idea it was built upon, and has problems, but has at least tried?

    What if there was a country that has fought not only for itself but for the liberty of others?

    What if there was a country that let the people make decisions?

    What if there was a country where the tired could escape, where the poor could make money, where anyone could succeed?

    There already is.

    America.

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," asked a wolf pup one morning in Redcreek Woods. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just once.

    Not too far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any of...

Snow Day!

    The crisp winter morning breathed life into us, chilling us as we got out of our warm nests. Our minds were a haze of cobwebs and fluff. Sluggishly, we dragged ourselves to the window, blinking against the bright white light that always come with winter, and brushed the frost off the glass.
    And then we froze.
    The ground had thick white armor, the sky was a deep shade of blue, and the rooftops of buildings were dusted with white. There was snow falling, snowflakes flurrying down from above, and everything had blankets of snow on them--- the cars, the windowsills, the fences, the trees, like the winters in the Harry Potter movies. We jumped out of our dull, asleep skins, our eyes looking at things new in this icy wonderland.
    Seventy-five kids in the grade, about five hundred kids in the elementary, and who-knew-how-many students in the middle, high, and lower schools combined, but all of...

Songwriting Competition 2017

The Halastay

Bright sunrises are quite right
When you cannot face the night
Now the lights are off, and sunset's gone
And far away seems the dawn

Though you know it's your imagination
It exists throughout the nation
You say there's nothing in the walls of your flat
But wait... What's that?

(Speeds Up)

Do you hear that creak on the floor?
Safe? Not yet, not anymore
And do you hear that breath under the bed?
That dark old fear is being fed

It's the Halastay
(The Halastay)
The Halastay

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is that creaky door
(Right down the hall)
(Within the wall)
The Halastay is forevermore

If it's day then, what do you know?
The Halastay will quickly go
You never see it, but you sense it's there
More dangerous than the biggest bear

It comes in every shape and size
The Halastay will slowly rise

(Instrumental)

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is that creaky door ...

Songwriting Competition 2017

The Halastay

Bright sunrises are quite right
When you cannot face the night
Now the lights are off, and sunset's gone
And far away seems the dawn

Though you know it's your imagination
It exists throughout the nation
You say there's nothing in the walls of your flat
But wait... What's that?

(Speeds Up)

Do you hear that creak on the floor?
Safe? Not yet, not anymore
And do you hear that breath under the bed?
That dark old fear is being fed

It's the Halastay
(The Halastay)
THE Halastay

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is that creaky door
(Right down the hall)
(Within the wall)
The Halastay is forevermore

If it's day then, what do you know?
The Halastay will quickly go
You never see it, but you sense it's there
More dangerous than the biggest bear

It comes in every shape and size
The Halastay will slowly rise

(Instrumental)

(Halastay here)
(Halastay there)
The Halastay is that creaky door ...

Twenty-Thousand Missing Corners- 1- 1

    Twenty-thousand is a very large number, although the rat sitting beneath the mural had no way of knowing that.

    Twenty-thousand, we think, isn't that large. To our sun, which has seen about five billion years pass by, twenty-thousand isn't too large, and when we think about how long our universe has been around, then twenty-thousand is small. But twenty-thousand, to us, is too enormous to really wrap our minds around. Twenty-thousand people, for instance, is something we cannot imagine, and twenty-thousand cities is really too gigantic to picture. And so, when one sees the mural, one wonders what kind of place has twenty-thousand missing seats.

    One then might wonder if it really is a mural. It's been there for as long as anyone can remember, and surely the police wouldn't allow graffiti to be there for that long, but then, why would someone paint a mural like that on a perfectly ordinary building? And what does it...

Our Footprints

Our footprints are new
And fresh
Barefoot in the sand
Of Mother Nature

Our footprints have wooden
Chips in them
As we have begun to learn
Our potential

Our footprints are no longer
Barefoot
They are in the shape
Of leather shoes

Our footprints have heavy
Stones in them
This is the very
Beginning

Our footprints have bits of
Iron in them
That we stole
From our Earth

Our footprints have a sword
Stuck next to them
From a long-forgotten
Battle

Our footprints are in the shape
Of fancy dress shoes
High-heels leaving animals
Puzzled

Our footprints have steam around them
Steam, making it hard to see
Blinding us to what the
Future holds

Our footprints have oil in them
Black and sticky
Leaking into
The sand

Our footprints have grass
Growing in them
We have realized our faults
And Earth smiles at us

 

Zoom Out

In the Lights of the Stage

    A shy, withdrawn painter is not meant to be onstage, the theater teacher should have known that.
    Unless, of course, they had any kind of history acting and enjoyed it, which Heidee certainly didn't, and never would. The moment the theater darkened and the narrator stepped onstage, she knew that she had to do something, but no matter how many times she practiced faking a faint, she couldn't get it right. By the time she thought she finally had it down, Mr. Smiths was rushing her on stage.
    The dreaded stage. The horrible, shiny, lit-up, dreaded stage that Heidee was actually standing on. Right then. Heidee couldn't wrap her mind around that, the fact that she was onstage and exposed. She was completely frozen, her mouth half-open, the other actors mouthing her lines at her and giving her an urgent look.
    Heidee glanced at them. "Um... Um, Leonid, I think you're.. Uh... You need to..."
   ...

Collective Voice

The Box on Thirty-Ninth Lane

    Goldway was a humble town, an ordinary town, a town that we were all quite proud of and yet none of us were sure why. Maybe because it was so modest, so small, or maybe because it charmed you from the moment you saw it, but many people thought it was because we needed a break. Goldway was on the edge of all these big, important cities, a break from all these huge towers and apartments, lingering between a forest and a concrete jungle, quiet to outsiders but not quiet at all to us. To us, it was bustling with activity: groups of kids stealing fruit from the market and running down streets, messengers running to and from the Announcement, people calling out and trying to get us to buy their product.
    But the most important thing was the television stations. People would flock to the stations at news time, shush each other as they waited for the...

Lyrics Unsung

Epilogue to Hotel California by the Eagles

    Everything in the room was old and elegant. The bed, the sheets on the bed, the desk, the carpet, the curtains, even the bathroom and the wallpaper--- they all seemed to be antiques from a long-ago time. Too delicate for anyone to touch, and yet there I was, lying in the bed.
    I stared up at the mirror on the ceiling. My reflection looked worried, lying there in the bed, staring back at me. What was I worried about? I wondered.
    No, the answer to that was obvious. Hotel California... It was so glamorous, so beautiful and elegant, like a snapshot of the mansions in the olden days. It was painful when I left it, especially since my small apartment was so dirty. And so, what did I do? I came back.
    I had to. The woman at the door, the one that I had met the first time I had come, she said we were...

Adrenaline

Adrenaline
That thundering in your chest
Thumping, hard
Threatening to spring free

It is when you played hide-and-seek
And the seeker
Enters the room
And they come so close to seeing you

It is not fear, not really
More of fear and excitement
And breathlessness
And exhilaration when it's over

It is playing tag
And seeing the "it" right behind you
You get a fresh dose of adrenaline
And you run harder

It is when your mind and heart
Are racing each other
And everything flies by
In a blur

Our instincts come out
And suddenly we are stronger
Faster
Cautious but we take chances

Afterwards, we have to sit down
And smile and sweat
We drink water
And tell our heart to calm down

The action is over no

Upon Waking

    Why, oh why, oh why do my aunt and uncle have to wake up so early? It was one of those hotels where you just sink into the beds and immediately fall asleep, and in the morning you just can't wake up, your head is heavy and your mind is a half-asleep haze. Sometimes you're still kind of dreaming, and sometimes your mind is making up the rest of a dream, but all of the time you really do not feel like getting up. And so you dread the part when someone shakes your shoulder and urgently whispers, "Get up, get up, get up!"
    Yes, that's what my older sister did to me that morning. I groaned, pulled the covers up over my head, and rolled over.
    "Al, get up. Come on, or I'll drag you out of bed, seriously."
    "No..."
    I felt a rush of cold air as the blankets were stripped from the bed....

A Hopefully Helpful List of Words for Strange Emotions

Lately I've been looking at lists of words for emotions that we've all felt at one point, and I realized they were very helpful to me since as I'm looking at them I'm thinking about how to include them in writing. I figured they might be helpful to others too. Here it is:

Sonder--- the realization that everyone else has a life as complex as yours

Zenosyne--- the feeling that time keeps passing by quicker and quicker

Chrysalim--- the calm feeling when you're inside on a rainy day

Monachopsis--- the feeling that you're out of place

Lachesism--- the feeling of wanting to have a disaster to happen to you

Rubatosis--- when you notice your own heartbeat

Klexos--- when you dwell on the past

Jouska--- playing an imaginary conversation over in your head

Liberosis--- the desire to be carefree

Kuebiko--- the exhaustion after violence or hearing about violence

Opia---  the intense feeling of eye contact with another person

Deja vu--- the...

Deja Vu and Deja Vecu

Deja Vu--- the feeling that you have experienced something before, and that it is repeating itself

Deja vu
How can one describe it?
It is felt
Easier than it is said

You are certain
So certain
That this
Has happened before

You are right
Everyone else has somehow
Forgotten
Yes, they are wrong

Clutch your head
Feeling like you are dreaming
That reality has slowed, repeating itself
You wonder... How?

Deja Vecu--- similar to deja vu, but you feel that you have experienced it before in very great detail, and you feel you know what comes next

Like a long-forgotten video watched again
You have done this before
But last time
The video was in slow motion

Each smell, enhanced
Each sight, in detail
Each sound, ringing in your ears
Each taste, bringing you somewhere new

And now you know
What will happen
How?
It cannot be true

You have seen this before
This feeling
Is taking over your mind ...

Deja Visite

Deja Visite--- when you know your way around a place you have never been

New York
Have you ever been?
You must have
You do not need directions

Get to the restaurant?
Easy, just go left
And then straight ahead, and then right
It should be right ahead

Yes, you know your way around the city
Reliable as a map
But, wait, hang on a minute
You've never gone before!

Is it a dream?
Or some strange instinct?
Did you see the city on TV?
Yes... Yes, that must be it...

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," Asked a wolf pup one morning in Redcreek Woods. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother, as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid the humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just one.

    Not too far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any...

Writer's Block

    Writer's block is a shell with nothing inside. You turn it over, you squint at it, you put your eye to the entrance (which probably isn't such a good idea if something turns out to be in there), but it's just... empty. Void.

    Writer's block is a light switch that doesn't work. You walk into the room with purpose, realize it's dark, and flick the switch, but nothing happens. You decide to leave the room, do something else, but when you walk back in, there's still nothing.

    Writer's block is a pen with no ink. You're ready to write, to let the words and ideas flow from your mind to the paper, but no matter how much you try nothing happens. Nothing comes.

    Writer's block is going into a cave without a flashlight. You're stumbling, blindly, in the dark, desperately searching for a way out, but there is no light anywhere, no rushing water, no clues...

Lexical Catharsis

Another Stormy Night

    It was a dark and stormy night. Thunder rolled up in the night sky. The rain pounded on the roof, hard, like a hundred drums drumming right in your ears, like a hundred horses running in a race, their hooves thundering on the ground. The wind whistled and howled outside, and the window shutters were rattling violently.
    I drew the covers up over my head. I couldn't be expected to sleep with all that noise, let alone flashes of lightning illuminating my room every five seconds. Both my dog and my cat were shivering under my bed, whimpering and hissing and making all manners of sounds. Normally they were worst enemies, but tonight they were huddling together, their fur brushing, like two peas in a pod.
    This was the worst storm we had had in years. Nobody could predict it, not even the weather channel, and certainly not the man across the street that claimed to be...

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," Asked a wolf pup one morning in Redcreek Woods. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother, as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid the humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just one.

    Far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any of the other...

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," Asked a wolf pup one morning in Redcreek Woods. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother, as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid the humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just one.

    Far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any of the other...

Staring Into Time

Writhing, growing, squirming, dying
Time before my eyes
Slipping and twisting, going and flipping
I stare, unprepared, eyes wide

How is it, I wonder
That Napoleon and Lincoln
Live at the same time
There is no past
No present
No future

Are we so foolish to think
We are the center of the Earth?
Did I think that, too?
It is so much bigger than us

Weaving the cracks in between us
Time, always changing
Always growing
Always dying
Like a writer editing
Taking things out, adding them in
Nothing goes on a straight path

Time is a snake in a hand
Squirming, writhing
Or tracks in the dirt
That are hard to make out
And never double back on themselves

The present is there and gone
The past is still happening
The future is changing
So, then
Where am I?

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," Asked a wolf pup one sunny morning in Redcreek Woods. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother, as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid the humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just one.

    Far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any of the...

My Sister is the Ghost of a Person

My sister is the ghost of a person
She thinks her last name is McPherson
She withered away
On the iPhone all day
The situation could not worsen

My sister will never be free
She says "quit bugging" to me
Yes, it is sad
And she's always so mad
She's as grouchy as she could be

She's only three years old
She she will never completely mold
She stares at the screen
Acts like a queen
Thinks the iPhone is made of gold

When the screen died there was a yelp
She cried like she was told to eat kelp
So I'm writing this poem
On the top of my home
Oh please, somebody help

Fly on the Wall

What if flies
Yes, flies
Are the smartest creatures
On the planet?

It is not as impossible
As it seems to us
How much do we actually
Know about them?

What if they have languages?
They are so tiny
That we cannot hear them
Cannot see them for what they are

Flies must be smart
For there are a million types of them
And they live in harmony
Unlike us

Their lives
Are all of twenty-eight days
What does time
Seem like to them?

They must have unlocked
The secret to happiness
And savoring the moment
And looking to the future

What if flies
Know us better
Than we know ourselves?
They must watch us all the time

Flies are more successful than us
They have cities
Lives
Too small for us to really know

We say we are the smartest, wisest, best
But there are billions of insects
Millions of flies
And do they have prejudice?

Flies may be...

Fly on the Wall

What if flies
Yes, flies
Are the smartest creatures
On the planet?

It is not as impossible
As it seems to us
How much do we actually
Know about them?

What if they have languages?
They are so tiny
That we cannot hear them
Cannot see them for what they are

Flies must be smart
For there are a million types of them
And they live in harmony
Unlike us

Their lives
Are all of twenty-eight days
What does time
Seem like to them?

They must have unlocked
The secret to happiness
And savoring the moment
And looking to the future

What if flies
Know us better
Than we know ourselves?
They must watch us all the time

Flies are more successful than us
They have cities
Lives
Too small for us to really know

We say we are the smartest, wisest, best
But there are billions of insects
Millions of flies
And do they have prejudice?

Flies may be...

The Seeing Test

    Do not be alarmed. Blindness is part of the test. Don't worry. Breathe in, breathe out, relax your muscles. It's natural to feel nervous. Shake out your legs, your arms, maybe stretch your neck... Ready? Good.
    You know everything you need to know to pass the test. No, it's true, we've specifically chosen this moment in your timeline because you have attained the amount of knowledge required. You're actually quite early; most people can't do it until they're older. Some can never do it.
    The door is opening; walk toward it and out of the hall. Wrong direction. Ah, there you go. Keep walking, keep walking... Stop.
    This is the room you'll be tested in. It's circular, with ten doors on the walls surrounding you. The room is roofless, so as to enhance your abilities. The floor is grass and dirt, living grass. You are standing right in the middle. Actually, wait, step a little to...

Into the Woods

The Woods Beyond the Hill

The woods beyond the hill
Stand mighty
Guarding the deer
The lizards, the squirrels

The trees in this army
Some young, hotheaded
Some are old as can be and
Stretch to the sky

Warriors, yet gentle
They lend us a hand
Let us enter, let us climb on them
Use their ancient knots as footholds

They know what we have long forgotten
Like an ancient scroll
Though we grow
We find we must return

Who are we to say
They are not sentient?
That is for the children of the forest to decide
And we say they speak



 

The Rat, the Gummy Worm, and the Mad Human Hurricane

    The website had said, "It's first come, first serve!" It had assured us that there was no way we could reserve a campsite, that we had to race there as fast as we could to get one. If we got there too late, well, it was our fault, and we would just have to feel guilty and deal with it. The website had beautiful pictures of the scenery and promised them to us as a prize if we got to the campsite early enough. It showed us the spots we could stay, the clear, flat, perfect spots for setting up tents. All we had to do was get there early enough. The website told us this.
    The website was a pack of lies.
    "Oh, cheer up, Holly," Ben said. "Here, have a gummy worm."
    I debated for a moment, and then held out my hand. The gummy worm was long and fat, one of the blue...

The Rat, the Gummy Worm, and the Mad Human Hurricane

    The website had said, "It's first come, first serve!" It had assured us that there was no way we could reserve a campsite, that we had to race there as fast as we could to get one. If we got there too late, well, it was our fault, and we would just have to feel guilty and deal with it. The website had beautiful pictures of the scenery and promised them to us as a prize if we got to the campsite early enough. It showed us the spots we could stay, the clear, flat, perfect spots for setting up tents. All we had to do was get there early enough. The website told us this.
    The website was a pack of lies.
    "Oh, cheer up, Holly," Ben said. "Here, have a gummy worm."
    I debated for a moment, and then held out my hand. The gummy worm was long and fat, one of the blue...

The Esotisphere

    Our eyesight is our best sense, and yet the first thing one notices is the scent. The smell of the road is like dust after rain, soil after floods, the sand in the layers that are wet, and it looks damp, too--- the dirt road is a rich, cinnamon brown color, powdery and soft. Dust is caught in that dirt, and dust is what is kicked up.
    And someone is kicking it up. A girl is walking down the road, a tall one about fourteen, a worn leather knapsack slung across her shoulders. She looks youthful, with mousy brown-gray hair and sparkling eyes. Her clothes look like some kind of hide, the same color as the road and fuzzy. On her head is a hat, shaped like a pirate’s but made of the same hide as the rest of her clothes.
    She stops at a wooden sign nailed to a tree in the forest around her. Sepia. And she...

The Foreclosure

Foreclosed house
Waiting
Art untitled
Within it

Dripping raindrop
On the rooftop
Under the tabletop
Waits a dog

Whispers foreshadowed this
Unseen, unheard
Man cries in the desk
The trees outside
Stretch their arms, feel sorry

And promise they
Will bring him shelter
When his homeless skeleton
Comes to them

They know he will find
Peace of mind with them
The genius is waiting
In the glass case of his skull

One day
He will have fame
Fortune, everything he desires
But it starts with this, the foreclosure
 

The Impossibilities

A rusty nail that's made of glass
A new watch as old as time
A script that no one has written
Trees in the shapes of dimes

Oh, the impossibilities!
They defy nature's abilities
And are our liabilities
Beyond our responsibilities

A ship that sails up in the sky
Long April showers in May
A fish without its gills
The words, "It's opposite day!"

Oh, the impossibilities!
They defy nature's abilities
And are our liabilities
Beyond our responsibilities

Weavers that can never sew
Aging going backwards
Hunters going vegetarian
Plants that are actors

Oh, the impossibilities!
They defy nature's abilities
And are our liabilities
Beyond our responsibilities

 

Triskaidekaphobia

    The Shining Plaza was the first hotel in all of town to list Floor 13. Every other hotel, even the ones run by people with no superstitions, followed the tradition of skipping it and going straight to 14, although this meant, as many people pointed out, that a 170-floor building really only had 169 floors. Therefore the Delphi Tower, the prize of town, was not nearly as magnificent and awe-inspiring as the travel guides said.
    Honor Crawford objected when she heard that she would meet her sister at the Shining Plaza. The number thirteen, she said, was a curse. If it wasn't, then why did clocks go up to twelve and stop just before it? And why did elevators always skip it if there was nothing wrong with it? That, she argued, was why the Shining Plaza was a haunted place, a place to be avoided like the plague, a place that would be struck by disaster, she...

Triskaidekaphobia

    The Shining Plaza was the first hotel in all of town to list Floor 13. Every other hotel, even the ones run by people with no superstitions, followed the tradition of skipping it and going straight to 14, although this meant, as many people pointed out, that a 170-floor building really only had 169 floors. Therefore the Delphi Tower, the prize of town, was not nearly as magnificent and awe-inspiring as the travel guides said.
    Honor Crawford objected when she heard that she would meet her sister at the Shining Plaza. The number thirteen, she said, was a curse. If it wasn't, then why did clocks go up to twelve and stop just before it? And why did elevators always skip it if there was nothing wrong with it? That, she argued, was why the Shining Plaza was a haunted place, a place to be avoided like the plague, a place that would be struck by disaster, she...

Emergence

    The cocoon has been waiting for ages. It's small, big enough for a caterpillar but getting far too crowded for the butterfly inside, and soon it will no longer be able to contain it. The chrysalis is a pale, frosty green color, but watch it. Wait, wait for a long, long time, and it begins to get--- not paler, but translucent. It becomes a thin, delicate layer of glass. You begin to see the wings of the monarch first, and gradually the glass spreads to the rest of the cocoon, until you can see the creature inside, curled up and sleeping.
    Wait longer. The butterfly begins to stir, although to watchers it looks like wrinkled black cloth, spotted with powdered sugar, pushing against the cage that has kept it so long. It pushes hard, harder, until the chrysalis splits, just a small crack. The monarch, excited, strains harder, shoves and pushes and exerts itself as hard as it...

The Rebellion of 2035

    It was April 17, 2035, and the Riddlers were more powerful than ever. We weren't allowed to say so unless we meant it as a compliment, but it was true, and when I say that I certainly don't mean it as a compliment.
    "Hyacinth..."
    "Soano, we're doing this whether you like it or not. Now quit your bugging, it's making my head glitch." I pressed my hands against my temples. "Remember what to do?"
    "Hack the controls and keep them turned off while you go do who-knows-what. I'm not kidding, we should just turn back." He glanced around the alley.
    "You believe the Web is wrong, right?"
    "Yes, but---"
    "And the Hound Gas is wrong?"
    "Of course, but we can't---"
    "Then don't complain. I gave up the news channel for this, you can do your part." I frowned at him. "Now, log on to the system."
    Soano sighed, said, "you're...

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Wolves of Redcreek Woods

    "Mother," Asked a wolf pup one morning. "What are humans?"
   "You know what humans are," snapped Mother, as she had been enjoying the sun.
    "Yes, but I have never seen one."
    Mother flicked her tail. "Twig, that is good. We avoid humans. They hunt us. You don't want to see a human."
    "Oh, but I do. Surely not all humans hunt us," Twig said.
    "Maybe not. But they are all dangerous. Avoid them."
    "But I've heard---"
    "Twig, how many times must I say this? Avoid the humans!"
    Twig whined and nodded and went back to the den. The message had been drilled into his head before, but he longed to see a human, just one.

    Far away, in a village, a human girl asked her grandfather, "What are wolves?"
    "Wild dogs," answered Grandfather. "But they are nothing like Roni or Xenda or any of the other sheepdogs. Avoid them,...

Running Out of Time

Dancing in the meadow
Sprinting in the breeze
We are colts, young horses
Playing, we never freeze

The hours tick by
And we never notice
Strutting and vain
A blooming young lotus

Then we grow to wolves
Teenage and clumsy
Still playing, still laughing
Youth, but not a puppy

We begin to hunt
To join a social ladder
We whine and howl and laugh and growl
Sometimes we're deadly adders

The time passes, as it does
And we keep on and grow
To fish, salmon, swimming upstream
Going with the flow

We follow the tracks
And no longer are we young
We begin to wrinkle
To old age we are flung

Then we are tortoises
And we begin to realize
That we can never get it back
Time's passed before our eyes

Some songs are sung, some songs are not
We long to go back in time
But death is waiting, death is near
And we're gone in the flip...

Your Voice: Climate Change

Thank You, Government

Dear Government,

    I would like to start by thanking you for your excellent work polluting the planet. We are one of the only countries that has not committed to cutting back on greenhouse gases and preventing climate change, and we continue and will continue to hold that record. This year, let's try to be the #1 Best Planet Killers. I know that, together, we can do it.
    The IPCC said in 2007 that the sea will have risen between 7-23 inches by the end of the century. Wow! It is simply incredible that that could be accomplished so quickly. Also, Montana Glacier National Park used to have 150 glaciers and now has only 25. Severe storms caused by global warming, the highest record of coral reefs dying of bleaching since 1980, the list goes on and on. And let's not forget that the last two decades of the 1900s have been the hottest in a whopping 200 years!...

The Shadow in the Mirror

    The water explodes out of the sink as soon as you turn the knob. The noise echoes around the empty bathroom, disrupting the silence. The stall doors seem to glare at you, demanding that the noise is eliminated at once.
    You wince as a spray of mist and water droplets hits you, and crank the knob down until the water is a small stream, round and clear and... quiet, you realize. Why are empty bathrooms always so quiet?
    The bathroom is shaped like an upside-down L, the toilet stalls disappearing behind the corner. In second grade, your friend made you think you were alone, and then jumped out from behind the corner while you were washing your hands. You screamed and bolted out, forgetting to turn the faucet off, running hard back to Mrs. Red's classroom. You remember how you ran to the front of the classroom and blubbered about a monster in the bathroom before bursting...

Random Idea That I Might Expand On

    When the clocks melt, we are done
    When the clocks melt, it will come
    When the clocks melt, darkness laughs
    When the clocks melt on our behalf


    I can still remember that song. That nursery rhyme that none of us sang in preschool, ever. There were various reasons--- it sounded too eerie, the lyrics were too hard, you didn't like it--- but the real one was obvious.
    Something about it was real.
    Sure, the other reasons might be true, too, but the words to the song sounded too true, too serious, too much like a warning or message. According to local gossip, the song was found on sheets of music paper with the lyrics written on in a cave by archeologists. The officials insisted that it was just a song, but the gossip, too, had a ring of truth too it. After all, some nursery rhymes are ominous and creepy when you look at the words ("Ring...

Writer's Block

    Writer's block is a shell with nothing inside. You turn it over, you squint at it, you put your eye to the entrance (which probably isn't such a good idea), but it's just... empty. Void.

    Writer's block is a light switch that doesn't work. You walk into the room with purpose, realize it's dark, and flick the switch, but nothing happens. You decide to leave the room, do something else, but when you walk back in, there's still nothing.

    Writer's block is a pen with no ink. You're ready to write, to let the words and ideas flow from your mind to the paper, but no matter how much you try nothing happens. Nothing comes.

    Writer's block is going into a cave without a flashlight. You're stumbling, blindly, in the dark, desperately searching for a way out, but there is no light anywhere, no rushing water, no clues as to where you can exit. Sometimes you...

Cat and Mouse

CAT"S VIEW

    Slipping through the dead forest, she tastes the air, her ears pricked, an alert position any cat lover would recognize. The forest is silent and still, so different from the buffet it was in the summer. A bird song dies off in the distance; branches of a bush scrape together in a lonely wind. This will be hard. She closes her eyes, listening, smelling... and there it is! The cat has caught the scent of a rodent. The scent of her next meal. She slowly swivels her ears, pinpointing the sound it is coming from, and soon she finds it. A mouse.
    The cat moves as graceful as a dancer and as smooth as flowing water. She stalks toward the rodent, licking her lips at the thought of sinking her teeth into it, as the mouse darts back and forth, weaving between grasses and ferns.
    The cat's eyes are fixed, unblinking, on her prey. Her...

Pocketwatch

The pocketwatch spins
On its golden chain
Mahogany time-teller
Old as the rain

Small numbers faded
Dashes blurred
Ticking faintly
Barely heard

What is it waiting for?
What does it know?
Is it just dormant
Keeping its head low?

Pocketwatch, I look at you
I polish and stare and wait
Time goes by, and I have to wonder
Am I just the bait?
 

A Description of My Old School

    I can remember it clearly, as if it was standing in front of me, or rather as if I were standing in front of it. My old school was large, worn brick, and U-shaped, a very clearly rich place that to our young eyes was just--- well, school. But the part that stands out the most is the hill.
    On the left side of the U-shape was a small stream of whitetop, on the edge of which was a short brick wall. On the other side of those bricks was the hill, a gently descending stretch of grass that ended at the large wall protruding from the school. It was alive, that hill, alive and breathing.
    The grass was perhaps the best part. It wasn't the normal, trimly cut grass, but the long and wild kind with patches of onion grass in it. I remember throwing myself down into it on Friday afternoons, breathing in the damp...

Thunderstorm

    We had been on the plane for--- I checked my iPad. Five hours. Most of it had been spent playing trivia on the screen on the back of chairs, or sleeping, or reading, but now nobody was doing that. We were clutching the armrests of our seats, crying, or staring out the window. The plane was rapidly approaching Nashville, descending thousands of feet in the air, but the airport was still so far off.
    My mom sobbed quietly to herself, holding her head in her hands. I glanced back at the row behind us, and my brother had turned white. Even my dad was gazing out the window, his forehead scrunched up.
    I lowered my head to look out at the thunderstorm. Puffy, smoky blue clouds surrounded us. Lightning flickered every five seconds, sometimes in the distance and sometimes so close to our plane the drum of thunder was immediate. Several people shrieked, jumping five feet in...

Staring Into Time

Writhing, growing, squirming, dying
Time before my eyes
Slipping and twisting, going and flipping
I stare, unprepared, eyes wide

How is it, I wonder
That Napoleon and Lincoln
Live at the same time
There is no past
No present
No future

Are we so foolish to think
We are the center of the Earth?
Did I think that, too?
It is so much bigger than us

Weaving the cracks in between us
Time, always changing
Always growing
Always dying
Like a writer editing
Taking things out, adding them in
Nothing goes on a straight path

The present is there and gone
The past is still happening
The future is changing
So, then
Where am I?

 

A Letter from Memory Lane

Dear Olive,

    I'm writing from Memory Lane, The Mind. It's so strange in here. The streets are made of the fabric of time, according to the locals. I don't think it feels soft at all. More like water, or honey. Can you imagine walking on honey? The color of it is hard to describe, like air, but shimmery. It looks like it's flowing. Kind of hard to explain, but it's really great.
    And the houses! There must be thousands! Some of them aren't even houses, some are dens or dams or holes. Mom says they belong to the other animals. One man actually let us into his house. It was bare, completely bare, except for shelf upon shelf of jars and bottles. The man showed us how to visit memories. You have to carefully take the lid off and stick your nose in before it escapes. Then, you have to breath in very deeply. The memory will travel...

The Esotisphere

    Our eyesight is our best sense, and yet the first thing one notices is the scent. The smell of the road is like dust after rain, soil after floods, the sand in the layers that are wet, and it looks damp, too--- the dirt road is a rich, cinnamon brown color, powdery and soft. Dust is caught in that dirt, and dust is what is kicked up.
    And someone is kicking it up. A girl is walking down the road, a tall one about fourteen, a worn leather knapsack slung across her shoulders. She looks youthful, with mousy brown-gray hair and sparkling eyes. Her clothes look like some kind of hide, the same color as the road and fuzzy. On her head is a hat, shaped like a pirate’s but made of the same hide as the rest of her clothes.
    She stops at a wooden sign nailed to a tree in the forest around her. Sepia. And she...

Office Sleeps

    When I was in elementary school, I had sleepovers with my best friend almost every weekend. They were mostly at her house (she insisted) and often lasted for two nights instead of the average one (we begged). They always started at about 4:00, maybe 5:00, when I arrived at her stoop with a backpack and a look on my face that always passed to her face the moment she opened the door. We always ran upstairs to her room, a room that was almost all pink, even though she didn't like pink and always said she would change it. I would spin around in her big, leather chair while she talked about whatever was the topic. After talking about what to do for about five minutes, we would decide to give her unwanted Barbies a haircut to torture them. She would always do the cutting over the bathroom sink, and I would always scream every time the hair came...

Cat and Mouse

CAT"S VIEW

    Slipping through the lush forest, she tastes the air, her ears pricked, an alert position any cat lover would recognize. The forest is silent and still, so different from the buffet it was in the summer. A bird song dies off in the distance; branches of a bush scrape together in a lonely wind. This will be hard. She closes her eyes, listening, smelling... and there it is! The cat has caught the scent of a rodent. The scent of her next meal. She slowly swivels her ears, pinpointing the sound it is coming from, and soon she finds it. A mouse.
    The cat moves as graceful as a dancer and as smooth as flowing water. She stalks toward the rodent, licking her lips at the thought of sinking her teeth into it, as the mouse darts back and forth, weaving between grasses and ferns.
    The cat's eyes are fixed, unblinking, on her prey. Her...

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