Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 Days: "H.O.M.E." (a screenplay)



H.O.M.E.
By Lynsey Mitchell



EXT. HOMESTEAD--NIGHT

A crowd is gathered in a stone courtyard below a balcony on
The Homestead (a futuristic Capitol made of glass and metal;
pastel lights lazily drift through the walls). The crowd
pours out of the courtyard below a metal archway into the
streets beyond. The crowd wears plain clothes in blacks and
browns and is very solemn.

COUNCILMAN TERRENCE, a middle-aged picture perfect
politician with salt and pepper hair, is standing at the
edge of the balcony. He raises his arms above his head,
smiling broadly.

The crowd cheers.

Councilman Terrence addresses the crowd. His voice booms
across the courtyard.

COUNCILMAN TERRENCE
Welcome, fellow citizens! I’m so
happy to see so many loyal and law
abiding friends here with me today.
The more of you I see below me,
instead of next to me, the happier
I am.

JOAL KEW, typical teen hearthrob, is in the crowd. He rolls
his eyes at the double meaning.

JOAL
(mutters)
Sounds about right...

Councilman Terrence points to three shackled, abused
prisoners standing next to him.

The crowd starts booing and jeering at the criminals.

COUNCILMAN TERRENCE
This! This is what happens when you
disrespect the laws. Our laws are
here to protect you! These poor
wretches didn’t understand that;
they are Unforgivable! You
beautiful people do understand!
Unfortunately, there is a price to
pay for their sins. And that price,
as you know, is extracted by The
Conductor. Step forward, my dear.

The crowd goes silent again.



Councilman Terrence holds his hand out to CLAIRA GIVENS. She
is a pretty, but unhealthy looking 18 year old. She has pale
skin, delicate features, and long dark hair. She has a scar
on her lip.

Joal sucks in a breath and his body tenses. He looks at the
ground and curses.

Claira steps forward and surveys the crowd. Her movements
are fluid and non-human. Her gaze is distant. Sparks hover
around her fingers, her eyes glow blue, and several of her
veins course with electricity.

CLAIRA (V.O.)
So this is me. I haven’t exactly
got the best gig around, but a
job’s a job, right? I wasn’t always
this heartless killing machine. I
used to be just a regular heartless
teenager. And these
"Unforgivables?" They didn’t do
anything. But my body and my boss
both want me to kill them, so who
am I to argue?

Claira cocks her head to the side, watching the prisoners.

Puffs of steam emit from the mouths of those on the balcony.
Several people shiver. The air has grown colder.

One prisoner, A MAN, stands proud, gazing past her, looking
resolute.

The second prisoner is an OLD WOMAN. She laughs
hysterically, as if she has been driven mad.

The third prisoner is a TEENAGE GIRL similar to Claira. She
meets Claira’s gaze and cries quietly.

Claira thrusts her hands towards the prisoners.

Jolts of electricity shoot out of her fingertips and strike
them.

They are encased in cages of electricity, their mouths
gaping open in silent screams for just a moment, before the
cages implode and the prisoners disappear into clouds of ash
drifting towards the floor.

CLAIRA (V.O.)
I wasn’t always like this, but
after years of mediocrity, it’s
actually kind of nice to be good at
something.


TITLES ROLL

EXT. THE MARKET-DAY

SUPERIMPOSED: ONE WEEK EARLIER

A glob of molten glass at the end of a blowpipe is removed
from a furnace.

A GLASSBLOWER (mid 40s, sharply dressed) rolls the blowpipe
back and forth across a table. He holds a thick pad and
shapes the glass.

At the other end of the rod, an APPRENTICE (male; 15; also
dressed nice) puffs into the blowpipe.

The Glassblower dips the molten glass into a pile of colored
glass shards. He puts the piece back into the furnace.

Claira watches the process. She stands at a grocer’s kiosk
next to the glass blowing stand. A GROCER watches Claira
watch the glassblower. She is an ugly, stout women in her
50s with a shaved head and an angry expression. She has a
scratchy voice.

GROCER
You gonna buy anything or not,
girlie?

CLAIRA
(looking back at Grocer)
Oh, sorry. It’s beautiful don’t you
think?

GROCER
(perturbed)
Gorgeous, I’d say. Downright
gorgeous. Just like the line of
customers you’re holding up. So
hows about you buy something or go
daydream in front of somebody
else’s goods, eh?

Claira surveys the food being offered. Everything looks limp
and old. Her eyes linger on a small but shiny apple at the
top of the stand. They settle on a hearty looking loaf of
bread.

She sets a few, small plastic cards on the counter.

CLAIRA
Just the bread, please.

GROCER
(looking at the cards)
That’s not enough.

CLAIRA
It was last week!

GROCER
Look, girlie, I don’t know if you
know much ’bout business, but if
the supply goes down and the demand
goes up? So do the prices. And that
(points to pile of cards)
ain’t enough.

CLAIRA
Wait! What about...

Claira reaches into her bag. She pulls out a wad of cloth.
She unfolds it and reveals a small glass orb with colors
swirling around inside. She offers it to the Grocer.

CLAIRA
What if I gave you this, too? It
was my mother’s...she made it.

The Grocer studies the glass orb. Her expression softens.

GROCER
Your name is Claira Givens, ain’t
it? I knew your parents. Before
the, well, accident. They were nice
folks. Always willin’ to help a
fellow man out. And that sister of
yours, that girl was smarter than--

CLAIRA
I know who my family was. And a lot
of good it did them, too. Now do we
have a deal or not?

The Grocer spits in her palm and extends her hand. Claira
spits in her own hand and shakes the Grocer’s.

They exchange goods, and Claira eyes the apple again.

CLAIRA
A family heirloom is worth an
apple, too, don’t you think?

GROCER
(with a sly smile)
Aye, that it is, girl.

The Grocer tosses her the apple. Claira catches it and nods
her thanks. She takes a big bite. The Grocer begins to cough
violently. She covers her mouth with the hand she used
during the transaction.

Claira does not ask if she’s ok.

She darts through a colorful and noisy menagerie of outdoor
vendors and stalls. It is an eclectic mix of identifiable
produce and goods, plus strange space age gadgets. The
Market is crowded with all walks of life.

She walks past a small, tattered stall. It is run by a DIRTY
WOMAN in her thirties. She has missing teeth and looks like
a starved drug addict. She sells used sneakers, none of
which look wearable. Behind her is an electronic sign
advertising "affordable plastic surgery".

A 10 YEAR OLD BOY with striking blue eyes stands next to the
woman. He sees Claira’s loaf of bread and hurries over to
stop her. He looks starved and his eyes are desperate.

Claira notices him eying her bread. She walks around him.

CLAIRA
(over her shoulder)
Sorry kid, times are rough for
everyone.


INT. CLAIRA’S APARTMENT-DAY

Claira walks into her apartment. Everything looks sleek and
modern, but plain. It is all made of white plastic panels.
There is a couch, an end table, a bed, and a kitchenette. A
small bathroom occupies the space next to the bed.

Claira sets the bread and her bag down on the counter of the
kitchenette. She sways a bit and grabs the edge of the
counter to regain her balance.

She shakes her head and blinks rapidly to clear her mind.

She sits down on the couch and rubs her temples.

She lays down and stares at the ceiling.


INT. CLAIRA’S APARTMENT-NIGHT

Claira is asleep on the couch.

The panel on the wall across from the couch flashes blue
around the edges. The words "Accept" and "Reject" appear on
the panel. A ringing sound fills the apartment.

Claira wakes up. She looks at the panel and groans.

CLAIRA
Accept.

The panel becomes a screen. BO SINGH (Late 20s; Indian; ear
length curly hair; straight up sexy) appears. He stands in
front of a bar. The background is noisy with people and
trance music.

BO
Hey, Sleeping Beauty, you coming in
to work today? Hugh and I were
starting to worry. You’re over an
hour late. It’s not like you.

Claira glances at a clock on the end table. The clock says
9:47 PM.

There is a picture of Claira’s family next to the clock.
Claira is about 8 years old. She has the same scar on her
lip. She is standing next to her sister, who looks like
Claira only older. Her mother and father stand behind. They
are all smiling.

CLAIRA
Crap. I’ll be right in, Bo!

BO
Alright, see you soon. Glad you’re
ok.

The call ends and Bo’s image disappears.

Claira rubs her face to wake herself. She coughs into her
shoulder a couple times.

She picks eye boogers out of her eyes.

She takes a pony-tail holder off her wrist and puts her long
hair in a messy bun on top of her head. She exhales against
her hand and sniffs to check her breath. She shrugs.

She stands and grabs her bag off the counter.

She rushes out of the apartment.







Monday, April 29, 2013

30 Days: "The Tell-Tale Fart"

This story and others like it will be published in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for Kids: The Haunted Outhouse which will be on sale Fall 2013.








The Tell-Tale Fart
Copyright 2013 Portable Press
May not be copied or redistributed without permission


For more of Will's awesome art, check out his Tumblr page:  willstrongart.tumblr.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

30 Days: "The Sphynx"


Sphynx

by Alicia VanNoy Call

     So when I went out last week to check the mail, I found a sphynx hiding under the porch. Its feathers were streaked with mud. I think it was hit by a car. It smelled like wet leaves, its eyes glowing red in the cobwebbed darkness.

     I said, “Tell me my future.”

     And it was all, “Shut up and go get me some milk.”

     So I got my dad's robot arm, the one he got after his back surgery and I reached under the porch and clamped it around the sphynx's neck and dragged it into the house. It yowled like a tomcat and peed on the hallway rug. It kept trying to get me with its claws. But once I shoved it in Daisy's crate, it stopped and just stared. Its eyes were like changing colors and I thought it was really weird, so I texted Lexie and Kara:

     Hey I found a sphynx u shud come ovr

And they were all,

     We're at a slumber prty

And I was like,

     WTF y wasnt I invited?

And they were all,

     Well its Vivis party. U kno shes still pist abt wut happened wit Ben

And I said,

     Wutever I told that hag nuthin happened

And they're like,

     Srry gurl, but u should come to the movies l8r.

     So I fed the sphynx Cap'n Crunch and Diet Coke and said if it promised to be good I would let it out. It said sure.

     But then it shredded Mom's antique chaise and pooped in the ficus and killed Daisy, so I guess it lied.

     I have it shut up in my closet now. I throw it Fruit Roll-Ups and pizza bites every once in a while. It's starting to smell. I will let it out once it tells me my future. My real future. Not this you'll-meet-a-violent-end-you-stupid-girl crap.


-----------------------------------------
Alicia VanNoy Call is a professional artist, with her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Utah Valley University.  Her award winning art and written works can be found in various journals, magazines and online.  Her storybook app, The Very Hungry Zombie: ATale of Ravenous Reanimation, can be found in the iTunes store.  Find her online at www.DawgArt.com.

Friday, April 26, 2013

30 Days: Frogs, A Memoir

by Scott Rhoades

When I was young, Newark was full of frogs. Toads, really, but we called them frogs, and I’m not going to rename them now just because I know better. They were frogs then, so as far I’m concerned, they are frogs now.


It was easy to find a frog if you wanted to find one, and, being boys, my friends and I always wanted to find them. In the brick wall around my front yard, there was a gap for water to drain out after a rain. There was always a frog in there. At my school, Ruschin Elementary, there were similar drains in the cement wall around the playground. Again, you were guaranteed to find a frog in there.


There were frogs everywhere. You couldn’t walk down a sidewalk or street without finding flattened frogs. If it was a fresh kill, you left it alone because it was kind of gross. But if it had been there long enough to dry up, which only took a day or two, it was irresistible. We'd scrape it up and fling it at a friend, or a girl, or any other suitable target. They didn’t fly as well when they were still squishy, but when they were dry and hard, look out. Somewhere in suburban California, I’m sure, a kid lost an eye because of a well-aimed frog frisbee.


Every once in a while, some lucky guy would hit the jackpot and find a gigantic frog, sometimes six or eight inches long or more, not counting the long legs. I only saw two or three of those, and never actually caught one myself, but those giant frogs were better than a treasure chest, and the guys who were lucky enough to catch one were the envy of the entire neighborhood.


During the rainy season, Newark had some huge mud puddles. The puddles were never very deep, no more than a couple inches, but they could be wide. When the puddles were full, they were as big a temptation for a kid on a bike as the nickle-a-scoop ice cream at Thrifty’s drug store was on a summer day. You’d start back as far as you could, then build up speed and fly through the puddle, spraying water a couple feet in the air. Some of the bigger puddles were hard to get through after a good rain.


The puddles were good for more than soaking yourself as you rode through them. If they stayed full for more than a couple days--and some held water for weeks--they would teem with polliwogs.


Polliwogs made great school projects. They also made interesting pets. I was a preteen scientist with my own microscope and chemistry set, and was fascinated by all things scientific. Watching the transformation from polliwog to frog was even better than a good book, and that’s saying something.


Mom would help us catch a few polliwogs and help to set up a little tank for them. Eventually, we’d have a couple more little frogs to put out in the garden. I’m surprised we ever had any bugs. Whenever mom watered the garden, we could go out and find toads in the pools of water. Usually, we could also find one under the zucchini leaves or hiding in the shade under the tomatoes.


One time, things got a little out of hand.


I found a ton of polliwogs somewhere, probably either at The Lake or in that big puddle on Jarvis, near Lake Blvd. I caught as many as I could, a couple dozen or more, in one of mom’s fruit jars, then I dumped them in my aquarium and dutifully put the screen over the top because I knew what could happen if the little frogs found an opening. Before long, I had a bunch of little frogs with tails, then frogs with nubs. This is about the time when the frogs were able to climb the glass.


Inevitably, the screen was loose or something one day, and the wee beasties found a way out. I didn’t notice the problem with the screen at first. What I noticed was a pair of baby frogs climbing a wall. Then the cat was interested in something under a chair. Next thing I knew, a herd of frogs was migrating across the living room.


The hunt was on. Mom and Kevin and I combed the house looking for frogs. We found as many as we could and took them out to the garden. For several days, we’d be watching TV or reading the paper or playing on the floor and a frog would hop through the room. After while we stopped seeing them. But for months afterward, anytime we’d move a chair or couch, we’d find tiny dessicated frogs.


When I go back to Newark, I don’t see flattened frogs anymore. I guess the frog population dropped as the human population rose. There aren’t as many mud puddles these days, and there are more cats and dogs, and as the fields around town filled with houses and businesses, the raccoons moved into the neighborhoods. But I’m sure that somewhere in town, little descendants of my frogs are still hopping around.


At least, I like to think they are.

Scott Rhoades is a regular contributor to this blog. He has been a technical writer and editor since 1988, when he worked for Atari. He currently works for Adobe. He has been published in The Writer magazine and various Web markets, and has had a poem featured at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame library. He lives in Orem with one wife, two to six children, two (and soon three) grandchildren, four cats, one dog, one serious baseball addiction and, sadly, no frogs. He is currently working on a third unpublished novel.   

Thursday, April 25, 2013

30 Days: Dr. Swag and the Quest for a New House


Sometimes, the best children’s writing comes straight from children. I teach 5th Grade at an elementary school in Lehi, so for my 30 Days 30 Stories contribution, I present to you a story written by my students. We are reviewing for our end of year tests, and this was a short activity in which we reviewed story structure and similes. Please be kind: story structure and similes were the only thing we focused on, so if most of the story sounds like it was written in 20 minutes by 11-year-olds, it was.

Dr. Swag and the Quest for a New House

            It was a normal afternoon at 2pm, and Dr. Swag was running around his house being a goofball, like parents do when their children are at school. On this particular afternoon, he had some matches, and was admiring how the flame looked as red as a fire hydrant.
            Everything was normal, until –
            “Nooooooooooo!” screamed Dr. Swag. He accidentally dropped a burning match on his couch! He felt like he had dropped the game-winning ball during the ninth inning.
Soon, his whole house was up in flames, and Dr. Swag was standing outside on the lawn, crying like a lost child in the mall. What would his children do when they came home from school? He knew he had to find a new house.
Everything was fine for the first half-hour of his journey. He was walking in a forest, and the trees were as tall as skyscrapers. They were so tall, in fact, that he didn’t notice he walked straight into Bigfoot’s lair!
Unlike the stereotype, Bigfoot’s feet weren’t actually that big. He wore a size 13, the same size Michael Jordan wears. But still, Bigfoot was as tall as the trees, which as you remember are as tall as skyscrapers, so that’s pretty tall. Bigfoot was angry like a kid that gets an apple when trick-or-treating.
“How dare you enter my lair! I’ll throw you to the top of these trees!” he threatened. “Nobody comes back from that in one piece!”
“Please, Mr. Bigfoot, I’m sorry. I promise I’ll just leave,” pleaded Dr. Swag.
Just then, as Dr. Swag was about to become as mushy as oatmeal, he heard another sound in the forest. I’m saved! he thought, and then realized what was making the sound.
A big, hairy troll! The troll was stinky like a teenage boy after football practice, thick like a grand piano, and mean like a teacher who won’t let you have extra recess. Dr. Swag knew he had no chance of making it out alive.
“I’ll eat you up!” growled the troll.
“No, I’ll eat you up!” growled Bigfoot.
Both the troll and Bigfoot were running toward Dr. Swag with speed like a cheetah. Dr. Swag knew it was all over. He was about to be eaten by a troll and torn into pieces by Bigfoot. To make matters worse, he still had no home for his children. He felt sadder than Christmas morning with no presents. He began to cry, which parents do sometimes, even when they pretend not to. This was his darkest moment.
When all hope was lost and he was about to be eaten, he got an idea. “Wait!” he screamed. “You should fight each other. Whoever wins gets to kill me!”
So Bigfoot and the troll started fighting each other. They fought with the strength of lions and the energy of kindergarteners. Eventually, they had each other in headlocks, and they were concentrating so hard on the fight that they didn’t see the huge cliff they were on! They tumbled off the cliff together, and that was the end of Bigfoot and the troll.
People began rushing towards Dr. Swag. They were townspeople who lived in the woods.
“You saved us! You saved us from the troll and Bigfoot! We’ve been scared of them for years! How can we ever repay you?”
“Well,” said Dr. Swag, “do you have any spare houses? Mine burned down today.”
It turns out they did have a spare house. It was a mansion with a pool, a hot tub, and ten big-screen TVs. Dr. Swag and his children moved into the mansion and spent the rest of the afternoon playing XBOX Live. It was as happy as a fairytale ending.

Brooke writes at silverliningtheblog.com

           

            

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

30 Days: "Irish Random"


Irish Random

by Celesta Rimington

Some kids are good at art, or running, or basketball. Creed Gentry is good at being mean. Libby Thacken is good at showing me up at all the Irish Dance competitions since she moved to Cheyenne, no matter how hard I practice. Even my brother Sterling is good at teasing.

I'm good at the weirdest thing of all: being chosen at random for unpleasant things. I consider it a curse.

Just this year, my teacher, Mr. Jukes, chose me to play the part of the tooth in the sixth-grade skit about oral hygiene for the PTA. No one else had to wear a puffy, white, padded suit and get chased around the stage by sugar and tartar, pretending to get tooth decay. No one else had sweaty, frizz-head hair for the rest of the day. Just last month, the neighbors' enormous poodle chose me as his personal chew toy, and the lunch ladies chose me for three turns at lunchroom garbage duty. And, just yesterday, I was chosen at random for the worst thing of all.

People say that luck runs out, so I hoped the random-choosing-curse would run out, too. But, when the first tornado of summer twisted around the water tower on the hill behind our neighborhood, I knew it was coming straight for me. And it did.

And, keeping the rules of the random-choosing-curse, the tornado touched only my house. Libby Thacken's house, just next door, is fine. But my house is half-a-kitchen, with a lone bathtub in the rubble and a basement half-open to the Wyoming sky.

"Just think, Gemma," Dad says as he hands me several grocery bags full of "essentials" to carry, "how many other kids get to spend their summer in a hotel with a pool?"

I shrug and look up at the sign over the parking lot. It reads: Harvest Acres Extended-Stay Villas, Wi-Fi, Cable, Full Kitchen, Pool. It's odd that they need to advertise a full kitchen. I've never heard of a halfkitchen until the tornado hit my house.

"As soon as we get settled, you can invite your friends for a swim," Mom says, emerging from the car, holding her pregnant belly like she often does. I feel a twinge of guilt for my sour attitude. This is my fault, after all. They have me and my random-choosing-curse to thank.

I paste a smile on my face and hitch up the grocery bags in an attempt to look helpful. "Okay."

I don't mention that I no longer have a swimsuit, and I don't think Dad's quick shopping trip for "essentials" included swim gear. I wonder if the insurance company that's paying to fix our house, and paying for an extended-stay villa with a full kitchen, would also buy me a swimsuit.

"Thanks for letting us all share in your curse, Random," Sterling says, slinging his emergency backpack over his shoulder. He packed it himself, long before the tornado season started, and it's probably full of candy and video games. Sterling is two years older than me and has naturally curly hair that grows up instead of down. Nothing bothers him. Not even half-a-kitchen and a flattened bedroom.

I don't bother to tell him again not to call me Random. He won't stop. "Always willing to share, Silver."

Sterling whips around at my twist on his name. "You'd better be nice to me," he says. "I've got the treats." He pats his backpack and saunters in front of Dad to the Harvest Acres office, as though he owns the place.

Mom and I follow after them, the plastic grocery bags dangling from my fingers and cutting off the blood supply. I consider the possible locations of my thousand-dollar Irish dress, which disappeared in the tornado, along with most of the rest of my room. Perhaps it fell into the back of a truck in Nebraska. Some farmer will find it, see my name and phone number embroidered inside the bodice, and somehow return it to me in time for the regional championships. Perhaps it fell in a field and some cow is wearing it.

Perhaps, and this one is the most likely of all because of my curse, the tornado dropped it delicately into Libby Thacken's yard, and she'll think the luck o' the Irish gave it to her to wear at regionals.

Of all the random luck.

Celesta Rimington writes YA and Middle Grade fiction and blogs about kids and the writing life atCelestaRimington.blogspot.com. She's a musical theater performer, a dance mom, and a recovering Air Force kid who finds a never-ending supply of story ideas from all her years of moving across the country. She'll be attending both the LDStorymakers Conference and the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference this year.

30 Days: "Immortality's Kiss"


Immortality's Kiss

By Jeff Hargett

"Everything dies, Wil. Everything."

William looked knowingly into Thelma's dark brown eyes. "Almost everything," he
corrected. "Not love." He refrained from calling her foolish or naive, even in the privacy of his
thoughts. She was pushing forty, but she couldn't know.

Thelma sipped her mocha latte and pursed her still-pouty lips. "Don't be silly. Of course it does.
Happens all the time."

"Not real love. That never dies." He wished she could know. He wished someone could.

"Explain divorce then."

"Divorce is easy. It's the logical result when people don't love each other."

"Exactly my point," she retorted with an index finger pointing at the cafe's ceiling.

William shook his head and gave Thelma a sardonic chuckle.

"What?" she demanded.

"Divorce doesn't happen because love dies. It happens because it wasn't there to begin with."

She let her mouth hang open as she placed her cup on the table. "So you think that everyone
who ever divorced never loved the person they married?"

"That's exactly what I think," he answered.

"How arrogant!"

He did his best to ignore her huff of indignation. She was too young to understand. "Not
arrogance, Thelma. Experience. People mistake all sorts of things for love."

"And what would you know about it? I've never seen a woman in your life, or a man either for
that matter. What makes you the expert?"

"I've loved," he said, and turned his gaze to watch a young couple walking hand-in-hand on the
sidewalk. "I still love."

"Who?"

The couple on the sidewalk stopped and shared a playful kiss while waiting for the light to
change. "Someone who isn't here anymore to love me back."

Thelma studied him from across the table, watching him watch the couple. "I'm sorry," she said
at last. "I didn't know."

William turned back, stared at Thelma and forced a thin smile to his lips. "You couldn't. Liz
passed a long time before I came to Atlanta."

"Wil, I've known you seven years. You've never mentioned her. Is that why you came to
Atlanta?"

"I came for the work." She didn't seem to sense the lie despite his unelaborated answer that
came too quickly. He sipped his own coffee then. Black, strong and double sweet, but he tasted
only the bitter anguish of eternal love.

"And there's never been anyone since?"

He smiled again, this one almost genuine. "And there never will be." It hurts too much, he
thought.

Thelma switched from studying him to inspecting her latte. "I can imagine." She
shrugged. "Well, sort of, anyway. Greg and I have been together going on eighteen years now.
I can't imagine there ever being anyone else. But you can't shut yourself off to the possibility of
finding someone."

William took a deep breath. She couldn't know. The couple crossed the street and shared
another kiss after reaching the far sidewalk. "Is that what you would do? I mean if Greg up and
left you tomorrow? Or if, heaven forbid, he died or something?"

Thelma shifted in her seat and traced the brim of her coffee cup with a painted nail. "Greg
always says he doesn't want me to be alone, to find someone I can be happy with if he dies."

"You can do that?"

She hesitated, then gave William an honest gaze and shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe in
time."

Time, he thought. It always comes down to that.

"The point is, Wil, that you can't stay stuck in one place in life. It's too short. Would Liz have
wanted you to be miserable and lonely?"

"Is my misery so plain that all can see?"

"You're what? Thirty? You've got a lot of life left. Make it a happy one. You deserve it."

Truer words were never said. He did have a lot of life left. Thelma hadn't the vaguest clue.

"I have a cousin. She's about your age. I could-"

William interrupted the moment he saw where Thelma was heading. "Oh no, no way."

"What? I was just-"

"You're not hooking me up with anyone, Thelma. I mean it."

"But-"

"I appreciate the offer. I really do. And I am grateful, but it wouldn't be fair to her."

"Why?"

"Because she's not Liz."

"She's a nice girl, Wil."

"I'm sure she is. And that's all the more reason for me to stay clear of her."

"You don't like nice girls?"

"I don't like girls that aren't Liz. Loving once was enough. I can't do it again." He glanced out the
window for another look at the couple, but they had walked out of view. Gone. Like Liz. "People
like me shouldn't love, not even once." He wished he had understood that before Liz.

"Why? What makes you so special?"

He couldn't answer that question honestly. She'd never believe him. No mortal would.
Immortality's kiss cursed those who deemed to love. And one curse was more than enough.

---

Jeff Hargett is a grandfather from North Carolina with an imagination full of magic and dragons.
He stays young and fit by dining on epic fantasy whenever possible. He has a short story

that appears in the "Spells: Ten Tales of Magic" anthology and a couple others that placed
in competitions, but prefers his fiction in novel-length doses. He is currently writing an epic
fantasy series that he hopes to publish while he can still wield a pen. He's a firm believer that
when this world doesn't suit you, you should write a world that does. He enjoys interacting with
readers and other writers and spends far too much time loitering around his Strands of Pattern Blog

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

30 Days: "Senses"


Senses

by Caitlyn Byers

Dark rocks, carvings revealing
light beneath the dark.
The wind,
howling,
then whispering,
unable to make up its mind
as to how it would speak.
Rough rock,
warm sun.
The wind again.
First beating,
then caressing.
Rabbit brush, newly blossomed.
Windblown dirt, inhaled unknowing.
That is where one can feel
the oldness, the history,
the ancient of this place,
where long ago,
someone carved pictures
into stone, hoping
against hope they would last
through the ages.

Monday, April 22, 2013

30 Days: As Plain As the Nose on Your Face



It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning split the sky, and the sound of a dog barking up the wrong tree woke Rodney from his troubled sleep. Now he was wide-awake and chomping at the bit.

His bedroom door creaked opened. “Wake up and smell the coffee, sir,” voiced Jeeves apologetically. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a girl at the front door.”

Who in tarnation would be out on a night like this? It was raining cats and dogs. Young Rodney’s parents had both kicked the bucket years ago. Their approach to child rearing had never been spare the rod and spoil the child, but Rodney missed his old man like a duck misses the water.

“We can’t leave her hanging. Shall I let her in?” inquired Jeeves quizzically.

Rodney raked his hands through his hair and bit his lip to keep from screaming. He didn’t want to beat around the bush because he knew beggars can’t be choosers. Plus the butler was old as the hills and Rodney was a glutton for punishment.

Rodney ignored the chip on his shoulder. “I’ll get the door,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Then we’ll see which way the wind blows.”

Quicker than a New York minute, Rodney reached the large oak front door. It was now or never. After all, there was more than one way to skin a cat.

Even though he was dog-tired, he took the bull by the horns, grasping the doorknob with a white-knuckle grip. It wouldn’t open. He buckled down and pulled. Still nothing, so he made a last ditch effort. Third times the charm, he thought in his mind to himself. He put his back into it, and that was the ticket. The door flew open.

Rodney’s eyes popped out of his head. There stood a real looker, cute as a button and wet behind the ears. She smiled, flashing a set of perfectly white teeth.

Rodney’s heart skipped a beat and butterflies filled his stomach. Suddenly, a cold chill ran down his spine. Could she be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Too late now, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. After all, lightening never strikes the same place twice.

The girl at the door looked daggers at him. “Take a picture, it will last longer.” Her voice was smooth as silk.

She was only a stones throw away, and Rodney couldn’t trust her, not for all the tea in China. But why should he be afraid of his own shadow? There was no point in closing the barn door after the horse had bolted. It was just like his mom used to say, All roads lead to Rome.

“Come in,” he invited nervously while waves of fear crashed over him. No bones about it, she looked like someone back from the dead—a blast from the past. True, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, but you also can’t judge a book by its cover.

He waved the white flag and tried to break the ice. He was the man of the house now, and he called the shots. “You must be frozen solid.”

“I’m not here to chew the fat,” she declared assertively. “I have a bone to pick with you. You’ve spent your whole life swimming with the sharks, and where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I’m your long lost sister!” she finally proclaimed.

Rodney opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He looked like a fish out of water.

“Wow,” the girl exclaimed. “I knew you weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but you’re slower than cold molasses in January.”

It seemed his hands were tied. After all, blood is thicker than water. He would have liked to sweep this under the rug, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

“What am I, chopped liver?” he questioned inquiringly. “You’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. No need to sugar coat it, I can see you’re in a world of hurt.”

She ran forward and threw her arms around him. “I don’t mean to rub salt in your wounds, but here’s the whole ball of wax: someone murdered our parents.”

“No!” Rodney moaned sorrowfully. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“Who died and left you in charge?” she demanded angrily. “I’m at the end of my rope, and the only person who can help me is not just whistling Dixie.”

This girl was wound tighter than a spring. She should've known better than anyone that it's not over till the fat lady sings.

“When all is said and done,” Rodney uttered defensively, “actions speak louder than words.”

“Does that mean you’ll help?” she queried hopefully.

Rodney already had one paw on the chicken coop. It was time to look at the glass half full. “I may be grasping at straws, but yeah, I’m in—hook, line, and sinker.”

She tossed him a grateful smile, then pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her back pocket and gave him a taste of his own medicine.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” she started to begin saying. “I found this smoking gun. A picture of the snake in the grass who killed our parents.”

Dead men tell no tales, and Rodney doubted that what you see is what you get. Still, he gave the photo the once-over.

It was a picture of a man who had as many chins as a Chinese phonebook.

That took the wind out of his sails. He hated being caught with his pants down. Now that he was wedged between a rock and a hard place, he could finally see the writing on the wall.

He didn’t have to compare apples to oranges to know who was in the picture. And just because curiosity killed the cat, didn’t mean he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” he professed. “The butler did it.”

The cliches in this piece are many layered--plus I added a few gems of bad writing free of charge. I hope you enjoyed them all. What made you LOL?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

30 Days: "Daddy Says...."



Daddy says . . .

By Samuel Noall

Daddy says that there is a car called a hot rod and another called a smart car. And that there is a car

pool lane.

Mommy says that there are microwaves in the air.

Daddy says that the wind is driving the storm and that it's going to rain cats and dogs.

Mommy says that the time flew by.

Daddy said I was a fish out of water once.

Mommy says that her nose runs and her feet smell.

Daddy says a picture is worth a thousand words.

Mommy says that we are driving her up the wall and that she is going to lose her mind.

Daddy says we have an Adam's apple.

Mommy says I'm all thumbs.

Daddy says I should always look on the bright side.

Mommy just said are you listening ? Get your head out of the clouds.

Daddy once said I'm as big headed as a mule.

Mommy told me to hold your horses.

Daddy told us to jump in the car while he runs into the house.

Sometimes Mommy says I'm a turkey.

Daddy says that in the Book of Mormon they take up arms.

Mommy says that I am a carrot top and my brother is a toe head.



Written by 9 year old Samuel, son of Mattie Noall. Pictured below with his family & his favorite author, Brandon Mull. Samuel is the one in black with the green belt.



30 Days: "What'sThat You've Got?"



What's that you've got?
By Mattie Noall

What's that you've got?
I want one too.
Is it red, white, or blue?
Are there lots or few?
Did you find my lost shoe?

Is it food?
Would it fit my mood?
Was it stewed?
I don't want to be rude,
But you shouldn't exclude.

Is it a toy?
One for a boy?
Noise to annoy?
I'm sure to enjoy it.
I will not destroy it.

Is it mine? Is it yours?
Is it for the outdoors?
Can I buy it at stores?
Will it give me some sores?
Does it run on all fours?

Does it go on my head?
Was it under your bed?
Did you tell me it's red?
What's that you said?
Something about dead?

Does it stink?
Does it slink,
Like a mink?
Is it a drink?
Or maybe pink?

What IS that you've got?
I want one too.
Can't you give me a clue?
What?
Ew!
Never mind. I think I've got the flu.
Toodle-oo!



Mattie & her kids with Brandon Mull


Saturday, April 20, 2013

30 Days: "Dear Teacher"


"Dear Teacher" 
by Mary Ann Duke 

Dear Teacher,

I think you are a good teacher because you never give up on us. You make us think that we "CAN do it."

You say, “I will not go off and leave you. I will give you another example of how to do the problem, until you get it.”

I like that. Knowing that helps to calm me down. It helps my mind 
to be more clear.

Last year I feared, deep down inside, that all the students would "get it" before I did and that the teacher would move on to the next big, gigantic, huge, hard-to-understand problem and leave me in the dust. Chalk dust. Pencil shaving dust. Brain dust. But not this year.

Another reason I think you are a good teacher is because you have a sense of humor. You pull your glasses down on your nose and talk in a funny accent. That helps take the scariness out of math. We like it when you teach math the funny way.

You are nice to me…and to all the students. 

When a student is sick you keep an eye on him or her all day and ask them how they’re feeling. That makes us know you truly care---not just about just about the curriculum, but about the whole person, the real child. US!

You are a big part of my life.

Thank You.