I am running behind with just about everything… I was sick for the last two weeks of February, then family visited, and this week, I’m on day three of a migraine.
I would like to feel okay for a few days in a row to get my act together.
Anywho, if you’re here for an idea, and not me rambling about stuff, here it is:
“It had been more than two weeks since the fire, but the stink of it was still in her hair, on her skin. She took long showers twice a day, but the smell lingered. When she closed her eyes at night, the images came back to her, images of…”
Complete the Story
I hope if you’re reading this, you are having a better week than me.
On a happier note, I recently got the entire run of the Fables comics! I’ve been reading them like mad!
Okay, February is nearly over, and I’ve finally made a list of personal goals I hope to achieve this year. It took me until a few days ago to feel like even thinking about it. The sun came out in the Pacific Northwest. Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing.
Anywho… what are you doing this year? Here is what I’ve got so far:
Read 50 books
I’ve already started this one. I just finished book #8 for the year last night. This is the one goal I set and start every year without fail.
Write 12 short stories
I’ve started this one too. First story of the year: “No Bounds”
Participate in and win NANOWRIMO
This one starts and ends in November.
We are moving! I’m so excited about this one. We’ve already started shopping for houses though we aren’t moving till the summer. I don’t really like where we are now, so I’m ready for a change.
Write 5th novel
This is starting soon. I’m going through my brainstorming phase right now for two projects. I haven’t decided which I want to write first, so I’m hoping by the time I get done jotting things down, one of them strikes me as the one!
Finish recipe cross stitch
This is my first cross stitch project for the year. I started it very late in 2022. It’s actually a recipe for hot chocolate. I’ve been meaning to make it for years. I’ve almost finished the outline (it’s a complicated outline).
Update our wills
So, (pulls out soap box) if you have kids, be sure you have a will. I won’t get into why, but you should!
My husband and I haven’t updated ours since our daughter was an infant. And we both realized there are some major changes we would like to make.
Crochet 3 different projects
I’ve actuallly started this one already too. The first project I’m tackling is jellyfish. I’ve already made two and I’m making several more for family.
I think my next two projects are going to be a dinosaur and Grogu, but that’s not set in stone yet.
I’m trying to learn new things that I haven’t tried before, so for each project I try to pick something that has a technique or stitch that I haven’t done before. I’m teaching myself very slowly.
As you can see, I wasn’t really ready for the year when 2023 began, but I’m finding my way now.
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!
It’s February… you know this, and it’s more than half over all ready. We all know this. However, I am still stuck in the mood where I just can’t seem to get things done. I am blaming the weather. Winter is a time to be less productive, right?
The only thing I’ve managed to achieve is learning new crochet techniques. In fact, I made two really cute jellyfish…
If you’re here for writing, and not my useless ranting about procrastinating, here is the short story prompt for this month:
“I know most people find the beach relaxing. But when I’m standing there on the shore at high tide, watching the effect the moon has on the great oceans of the world, I find myself wondering what effect it has on my insides, which are more than half water themselves, and I get dizzy. I’m like that, I think too much about things, like…”
Complete the Story
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!
He had trouble walking, trouble standing up, trouble buttering his toast. But his mind was as sharp as ever. He had this amazing way with trivia. He could tell you the atomic weight of every element on the periodic table. He could name every bone and muscle in the human body. He recited whole books of the bible like they were common knowledge. He memorized facts from every science text he could get his hands on. He learned to speak ten languages. His ability to memorize astounded people. He didn’t have an eidetic memory. He was just really good at retaining information, and he craved learning new things.
When he’d been a young person, he spent every moment he could at the library. As a teen, he’d been a champion knowledge bowler. In college, he passed classes easily. With his vast wealth of knowledge, he’d been drawn to the sciences. In particular, he was fascinated by theoretical fields. He loved the idea of creating new knowledge.
As he’d aged, he never lost that thirst for learning. He lived alone and spent his free time reading. He also enjoyed puzzles. There wasn’t a crossword he couldn’t finish, and he always did them in pen. It was a point of pride for him that he could solve codes and crack word puzzles that others struggled with.
The one thing he’d failed to consider as he aged was his own genetics. Unfortunately for him, muscular disorders were common in his family. Even as he watched his father fight with a deteriorating body, it didn’t occur to him that he might also get the disease in the future. He never considered the genetic fate awaiting him.
When it finally caught up to him, he was in shock. But mostly, he felt like he was in prison. The prison was his own body. And he wanted out. Using his vast knowledge, he began to formulate a plan.
Victor’s new ambition was to cheat death. The knowledge was out there, somewhere, he just had to figure out how to unlock it.
He sent his assistants in search of esoteric texts, things that in the past he wouldn’t have concerned himself with. He no longer devoted his time to the sciences, not entirely.
As the days ticked by, he became increasingly interested in the sciences of old—things like alchemy and mysticism. It didn’t matter to him that the theories had been debunked centuries ago.
The more he studied ancient “sciences” the more he felt his brain tingling. There was something there. He was sure of it. Surely with his knowledge of modern science, he could find the final steps to these processes that most considered nonsense.
It’s not that he wanted to live forever, not exactly. What he wanted was the ability to heal his body until he was ready to end it. He wanted to control his destiny. And he wanted to give the world that ability to.
Can you imagine the legacy that would live on for the person who finally discovered the process of reverse aging humans? The ability to live forever would mean so many things. It would mean the end of terminal illnesses. It would mean the ability to truly become an expert at something. It would mean so much…
Studying and experimenting became increasingly difficult for him. He was tired so easily. He was lucky if he could accomplish a couple of hours of work each day. His body betrayed him every second. He continued to be increasingly debilitated.
He ended up relying on his assistants more and more. Sometimes he would send them on errands only to be asleep when they returned.
His first break through happened by accident. He was using a combination of archaic knowledge and modern science to heal a wound on his hand. He’d cut himself trying to open a package the previous day.
He drew a spell circle from an ancient text, but he changed the symbols, using modern icons to represent medicine and cells. A pile of herbs burned in a tightly secured bundle in the center. He chanted the words to the original spell and added a few of his own. He used the scientific names for things instead of laymen’s terms.
The proper naming of things was important. Every story about fairies mentioned it. How could something that repeated so often in folk lore not be a lesson humans were supposed to learn?
To call something by it’s true name gave you power over it. To command the trees, to call on animals. Or simply to find the words to work magic, the naming of things was powerful.
And luckily for Victor, science loved naming things.
His chant continued. He kept his voice steady, and the volume level. There was no need to get excited. This was science after all. Leave all that emotional who-haw at the door.
The first spark surprised him. He stuttered a bit, but then he thought maybe he was just imagining it and the sparks disappeared.
He kept chanting. And when something sparked again, he continued. He’d set up a camera before he’d begun. All good science would need verification and would need to be repeatable. This wasn’t his first experiment.
He kept chanting, checking his excitement. As he’d been chanting, one of his assistant’s was counting the number of times Victor made it completely through the spell by tapping a clicker.
As the sparks started to get bigger and brighter, the clicking stopped. The assistant was mesmerized watching what could only be described as a tiny firework show happening over the spell table.
As each spark grew and then burst, the magic dissipated leaving no sign that it had existed to begin with. This continued to for several minutes. Eventually, the residual magic began to build up.
Victor could see the circle drawn on the table’s surface starting to glow one section at a time. When Victor noticed the glow, he started chanting a bit faster. He was getting increasingly tired the longer the spell went on. He needed to see what would happen if the entire circle was glowing.
He chanted and chanted and chanted. The circle continued to glow and one small bit at a time, the diameter began to glow.
When the circle was about three-fourths complete, the assistant took a step forward. His mouth was agape. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The single step of his assistant caused Victor to faulter momentarily. A bit of the circle’s glow faded in response.
Victor shook his head and kept chanting, trying not to let his assistant’s behavior deter him.
After what felt like hours, with sweat dripping from his head and his voice practically gone, Victor succeeded in completing the circle.
Just as the glow connected, drawing the perfect diameter of the spell, Victor stepped forward and placed his hand in the center.
There was a bright flash forcing Victor to shut his eyes.
With his eyes shut, he didn’t see what happened, but he heard a pop and then the room was eerily silent.
As Victor looked at his hand, he couldn’t believe it. The wound was gone. He’d done it. He was healed.
He turned toward the camera and turned his hand so the wound that was clearly visible moments ago could be examined.
He then looked at the table. The spell circle was once again nothing but a drawing on the table. It looked ordinary. There was no glow. No sign that anything had happened to it.
Victor reached out and wiped a small section away. It came away easily.
That’s when Victor turned to where his assistant should have been. There was no one. Nothing. His assistant was gone.
Victor assumed his assistant had fled. Perhaps the light had hurt his eyes or he just needed a moment to collect himself.
Victor didn’t waste any time. He sat at his computer and opened the file that had recorded the whole thing.
He watched, realizing only a few minutes in that he was terribly hungry and tired. He needed to eat. He stopped the video, intending to watch it after a much-needed break. He finally looked at the time on the screen.
Seven hours had passed since they’d started the spell.
Victor couldn’t believe that. He opened the video file once again but didn’t restart it. He looked at the bottom which indicated the total time. Seven hours.
That seemed impossible to him. It had felt exhausting, but Victor rarely went an hour or two without needing a nap these days. The clock had to be wrong.
His hunger, thirst, and bladder were screaming at him. The time would have to wait until he met other needs first.
He didn’t get around to watching the video until the following day. He woke up exhausted and couldn’t remember when he’d felt so tired.
His assistant was late. Victor would have to make his own coffee.
He sat at his desk with his coffee watching the video. He fast forwarded to the part where the sparking started and watched it for several minutes. Then he moved on to the part where the circle began to glow.
As he pressed forward on the video, speeding towards the end, he saw the clock going and going.
He stopped the video when there were only five minutes remaining.
He leaned forward, watching every moment barely able to breath.
As the bright flash occurred and the circle filled with light, he saw his assistant near the table and then he didn’t.
The Victor on the video stepped towards the table and healed his hand, just as he remembered.
If you read my first post of the year, I mentioned that I’m being more cautious and taking my time to start my year. I usually begin the year by jumping in and making lists and plans. This year, I can’t seem to muster up the same enthusiasm. Maybe it’s the grey skies here (near Seattle) or because the first week of the year we lost a family pet, but I’m already over this year. Can I get a do over? Or refund? Or mulligan? Something…
In addition to my family’s pet bird dying, we’ve had a somewhat turbulent month. Some good, some bad, but the bad is bogging us down right now. It’s not just me. My whole family is dealing with terrible news.
We just found out that our seven-year-old cat has bone cancer. In her lower jaw. I’ll be honest when the vet told me, I was in complete disbelief (aka denial). One of my degrees is in veterinary nursing, so I immediately went home and pulled out textbooks and pulled up reliable veterinary medical websites to read anything and everything I could about it.
I was still in denial. I even pulled out the old x-ray pictures from our other cat to compare their x-rays. And I stared at those pictures a thousand times, and I was like, nope! I don’t see it. I think the doc is wrong.
And even after two days, I still refused to accept it. Then on the third morning, I was drinking my coffee and picked up the picture of our sick cat’s x-rays, and I saw it. I saw exactly what the doctor was talking about. Even though she had pointed to it when I was with her, it took about 48 hours and way too much looking at x-rays online for me to finally admit that I saw it. It was like a magic eye picture. Now that I see it, I wish I couldn’t.
We are still waiting for histology to confirm, but my whole family is in shock. We thought we’d have Rosie, our cat, for at least another decade or so. We’ve never had a pet die before it reached “senior” status. I know it can literally happen to anyone, at any age, but it’s terrifying and heart breaking. Sometimes knowing something and being able to accept it are two very different things that don’t coexist well together.
UPDATE: ROSIE DOES NOT HAVE CANCER!!!!! I am so happy right now. We finally got the histology back. She has a bone infection, which is still terrible, but very treatable!!! The doctor was almost giddy when she told me. Sometimes doctors don’t mind being wrong. I totally get that. I am unbelievably relieved.
I hope your year is off to a better start than mine.
My family and I had a wonderful winter break. We basically did nothing but chill. It was relaxing.
Then the first week of January rolled around and one of our pets died. Obviously, not a great start to the year. In fact, since we have lived in our current location (3 years) we have lost one pet a year. That’s three deaths in three years.
My heart is so full of grief right now. The pets we’ve lost led long happy lives, but it still hurts.
The biggest change since losing our bird is that my house is unbearably quiet. It’s kind of making me feel crazy. Our bird, Jingles, chirped all morning, and even more so when it rains, which it does a fair amount here (we live near Seattle). I miss every little squawk and cheep.
Like I said, I hope your year is off to a better start than mine. I have started to work on my goals for this year, but I’m taking things slow right now. The weather and other things is leaving me with very little motivation right now.
If you want to, I encourage you to join me in my short story challenge for this year. Like usual, I’m going to share one prompt a month and then write a story with that by the end of the month, for a grand total of 12 stories by the end of the year. This year I’m challenging myself to write a little bit more each month. My goal for each story will be 1500 words minimum.
Without further ado, here is the first prompt for 2023:
“He had trouble walking, trouble standing up, trouble buttering his toast. But his mind was as sharp as ever. He had this amazing way with trivia. He could tell you…”
Complete the Story
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day! If you decide to write a story, I would love to read it!
“They’re out there,” he told me. “Fields and fields of them. As far as the eye can see.”
I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. He pointed to the horizon, and I looked, but all I could see was crops and open sky. What the hell was he talking about? I should have been listening, but when you have to sit, watching a field for twelve hours at a time, your mind tends to wander.
Howard and I were the newest members of the security team. Our days consisted of sitting in a tower, watching the crops. Not much ever happened, but in the past, wild creatures had wreaked havoc in this area of the planet Z.
Planet Z was almost entirely crops and farms. There was one small port city connected to the closest space port where the farmers shipped their goods to the planets that people actually lived on. The other planets in this system were so overpopulated that they’d elected to deem one planet set aside for growing food. Over time, the entire planet had been doled out and cut into properties. There were no wild creatures anymore, but on occasion, farmers had a bad year and were known to steal from each other.
Either way, wild creature or farmer-turned-thief, our job was boring.
“What are you talking about?” I asked Howard, though a voice in my head said not to ask. Howard tended to talk about wild conspiracy theories and far-fetched fairy tales.
“Fairies. You know, the fey folk, magical creatures.” There wasn’t a hint of humor in his voice.
“Are you messing with me?” I stared at him without blinking. I shouldn’t have asked.
He shook his head. “No, I’m completely serious. This planet was covered with fey before the farms arrived.” He stared out the window towards the fields.
I couldn’t look away from him. My brow furrowed. I gave up trying to figure out what was wrong with Howard and went back to staring at the fields with him.
The day dragged on and like usual, nothing was happening. Howard had been quiet since earlier, and I don’t know why I decided to engage him. Probably sheer boredom.
“Howard, why do you say there ARE fields and fields of them? I’m looking at the fields. All I see are fields. They aren’t any fairies out there.” I pointed out the window waiting for him to respond.
“They’re still there. They’ve just learned to hide themselves.”
“You’re kidding. You think there is a whole planet of creatures just hiding in plain sight?” I couldn’t hide the disbelief from my voice.
“They had to survive somehow, so they learned to blend. They’re there—if you know how to look.”
I would almost swear I saw a twinkle in his eye. “Okay. I see. Very funny. You’re messing with me. I guess it’s something that passes the time.”
The rest of our shift was uneventful, like always. As we were switching shifts with the next set of guards, Howard kept grinning at me.
I ignored him and made my way to the elevator. As the door was closing, his hand shot in between. He stepped onto the lift with a huge smile on his face.
“Why are you grinning?” I asked.
“Because you’re thinking about it. Aren’t you?” Howard was practically bouncing on his feet with excitement.
“Howard, I am not thinking about fairies. I’m thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner.” I leaned against the elevator trying to will the machine to move faster.
The ding of the elevator felt like the sound of freedom as I made my way towards the path that led to the employee quarters.
“I’ll tell you what,” Howard was keeping pace with me. “I’ll show you some fairies, but only if you don’t tell anyone that I showed you.”
“You’re not funny.” I didn’t break stride and kept trying to out pace him. It wasn’t working.
He ran ahead of me a bit blocking my path. “I’m fully serious. If you want to see something amazing I’ll show you how to find them.”
I stared him up and down trying to figure out if he was messing with me. He didn’t look like he was kidding. In fact, his smile had faded. He looked eager, but not like he was pranking me.
“Fine. Let’s say I agree. What do I need to do?”
“Meet me at the back of the dorm after dinner. As the sun starts to set.” He turned to finish the trek back. He spun around again, “Oh and bring a mirror and some crumbs.”
“Crumbs? Of what?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Bread. Pastry. Whatever you got.”
As I ate, I pocketed a package of crackers with peanut butter. Hopefully they would be good enough for whatever I’d gotten myself into.
As the sun was setting, I followed Howard away from the dorms. We walked for nearly an hour. The sun was barely still above the horizon.
“Quickly now,” he said as he reached in his pocket and spread crumbs in a circle.
I crushed the package of crackers in my hands. “In a circle around me?”
Howard nodded and stepped away from the circle he’d made. He pulled me towards him once my own circle was complete.
“Hurry, sit down over here with me. Turn your back to the circles. Did you bring the mirror?” He was talking so quickly and softly I barely understood him.
“Yeah, right here. I pulled a compact mirror out of my pocket.” I sat next to him on the ground wondering if any second now more of the security team was going to pop out and make fun of me.
“Hold it up so that you can see your circle.”
I held the mirror up until I could see the crumb and peanut butter circle reflected back at me.
Nothing was happening. The sun was still dipping lower and lower. As the sun passed below the horizon, I glanced at my mirror.
Reflected back at me were three sets of purple eyes.
It was just ridiculous enough to be true. Then again, she could be making the whole thing up. It was just so hard to imagine Diane’s father, the respectable banker who never left the house without a suit and tie, actually spending time at “the colony.” Everyone in town called it that.
The colony sprung up a few years ago, and since then, the town had seen more than a few of its respectable members seek the excitement within the extra tall privacy fences.
Cynthia listened as Sammy kept talking, but she found it hard to concentrate after the big reveal that the newest person to go to the dark side was Diane’s dad. It just seemed so unlikely. He was super boring, like worse than her own parents.
She tried to imagine him at the colony and instantly she regretted it. She didn’t actually want to picture that. She shook her head. Without saying anything to her friends, she took her tray and got rid of the rest of her lunch. Suddenly she wasn’t that hungry.
The rest of the day, everyone was talking about it off and on. It was like the only thing that had happened in the last week. Honestly, Cynthia was tired of hearing about it by the time she got home.
As she dropped her book bag right inside the doorway, her mother called, “Snack on the counter. I’m in the middle of laundry. Homework first.” Her mother didn’t even peak out to see who had walked in. Cynthia went to see what her mother had made for a snack. As she stepped past the door to the garage, she spotted her mom folding laundry. She didn’t wave or stop.
Her mother looked up and asked, “Did you hear about Diane’s dad?” She chuckled. She kept talking but Cynthia moved further away, and her mother’s words turned into a murmur.
She grabbed her snack of pb and celery. She walked quickly and snatched her bag off the floor taking the stairs two at a time to escape the gossip.
The next morning, she avoided her family in the morning. She didn’t want to talk or hear about the colony. It grossed her out. The only people who lived there were over forty, no kids allowed. That was probably a good policy.
Cynthia hated the place for one reason—she hadn’t been able to see her grandmother since she’d moved into the colony last year. She missed her. To Cynthia, the colony was synonymous with “homewrecker.”
School was the same as the day before. The hottest gossip was still about Diane’s dad. Apparently, he’d moved in. Cynthia hadn’t listened to that part. She’d thought maybe he was one of those people who just visited the colony for fun. But, he was like her grandma—he’d decided to move in and live there.
The idea made Cynthia shudder—gross. Poor Diane. She would try to find time to talk to her during lunch.
She didn’t get a chance to though. Diane was absent. Sitting her tray down, Cynthia sat next to Sammy.
“Sammy,” she whispered, hoping no one was listening. “Where is Diane?”
Sammy didn’t lower her voice. It wasn’t in her nature to talk at a reasonable level. She was a gossip and didn’t care when other people overheard what she was talking about. “Didn’t you hear?” She gawked at Cynthia like she was out of touch.
Cynthia shook her head and took a bite of her rectangle slice of pizza.
“Well, she won’t be coming back to school. At least, not for a while.” She beamed as she spoke looking around, trying to get others to listen in. “Her mother threw her and her brother into the car the day her dad moved out. They’re staying at her aunt’s. I think my mom said Diane’s aunt lives in the city.”
“Why would her mother just leave like that?” Cynthia asked.
Sammy looked at her like she was crazy. “Because of her dad, duh.”
“Oh, right,” Cynthia responded, blushing. “It just seems like an extreme reaction. I mean, Diane and her brother already go to school here. It seems like adding more problems to what’s happening.” Cynthia was trying to explain herself, but she felt embarrassed. She was sure Diane’s mother felt the same way. Having a family member leave and join the colony was embarrassing. She didn’t like what the colony was doing to families. She wanted to stop it, but she was only a kid. What could she do?
After school, she dropped her bag in the hall like always. She went in search of her mother.
“Mom. Mom!” she shouted.
“Upstairs.” Her mother answered.
She found her mother cleaning in one of the bathrooms.
“I want to call Grandma,” Cynthia said.
Her mother stopped scrubbing the counter and stared at their reflections in the mirror. She didn’t speak.
“Please, Mom. It’s important.” Cynthia whined.
“Why?” Her mother hadn’t spoken to Grandma, her own mother, since she’d moved into the colony either.
“Trust me. I just need to talk to her. I know you’re angry with her, but I miss her. I want to just say hi.” Cynthia begged, hoping her mother would give in.
Her mother let out a loud sigh. “Fine. I’ll get you the number. But just because you call, it doesn’t mean she’ll talk. You know what they do there.”
“I know, but I really need to talk to her.”
Cynthia waited until she could hear her mother cleaning again upstairs before she took a deep breath and dialed the number.
Someone picked up on the third ring.
“Hello, you’ve reached The Colony.” A friendly voice spoke.
“I would like to speak to my grandma, err, Mrs. Hudson,” said Cynthia.
“I’ll see if she wants to speak. Can I have your name so that I can tell her who’s calling?” the voice continued being friendly.
“It’s Cynthia, her grandkid.”
“Just a sec,” the voice said.
Cynthia heard a click and the phone was put on hold. While she waited, she listened to the sound of bees humming.
As she listened to the bees, she grew angrier and angrier. She couldn’t take it and hung up the phone.
(October 2022’s short story of the month. SOOOOOOOO LATE!)
The doctors had never seen anything like it. She was a perfectly healthy little girl who just happened to have two hearts. The only explanation they could offer was that at some point the embryo had started to transition to a twin, but then reverted back.
After all, having extra body parts wasn’t completely unheard of. Polydactyls had extra parts. But the medical and biological complication of having an extra heart wasn’t as problematic as the emotional aspect of being known as the girl with two hearts.
Her mother became an internet sensation. She enlisted her daughter to become the face of several major charitable foundations. The first foundation was called “Twice as Much Heart.” They funneled money into many other charities, including research for cardiac diseases.
Amara hated that her whole life was one long blip of content making for various social media sites. She couldn’t even go to the mall and hang with her friends because it would turn into a frenzy of people trying to take selfies with her.
At only thirteen, she didn’t really have any friends, not true friends anyway. There were people that her mom would let hang out with her, but they were all kids who’s parents were friends with her mom. She wouldn’t have hung out with a single one of them if her mother hadn’t made her.
Her teenage years were going to be lonely and annoying, so Amara made a wish. She couldn’t sleep one night and was sitting alone in her room listening to music via headphones.
She squeezed her eyes shut as hard as she could and wished and hoped and prayed to any one or being that was listening.
She wanted a friend. Someone who couldn’t be corrupted by the influence of her mother and who wouldn’t care about the drama of her life. She wanted a true friend. Someone to share her secrets with. Someone who didn’t want to be around her for status. Just someone to be real with.
She wished so hard that every thought she had over the next few weeks was about finding a friend. She couldn’t stop wishing.
On a night, much like every night of her life, she was alone in her room. She was laying on her bed, facing the wall. She sighed.
“Have you ever tried telling your mother you don’t want to do it anymore?” a voice asked from behind Amara.
She was alone in her room, or at least she thought she was. She was too scared to move.
“Are you going to talk to me, or am I just going to sit her all night waiting for you?” the voice asked.
Amara still couldn’t move. Then someone, probably the person connected to the voice, spun in her squeaky computer chair. Amara huddled into the fetal position.
“Are you scared of me?” the voice asked. “Of course you are, we’ve never met. Turn around and look at me. I won’t hurt you, Amara.”
Amara still couldn’t move. Maybe she was dreaming. She didn’t hear the door open. Besides, her mother wouldn’t let a complete stranger into her room.
Amara rolled over slowly but didn’t open her eyes right away. She took a deep breath and then swallowed. She slowly opened one eye just so she could peek out.
She saw a girl—a girl that looked just like her but was see-through. She was looking at a ghost. But how could that be? The ghost looked like her. She wasn’t dead. Maybe she was dreaming.
She closed her eyes again and pinched her upper arm as hard as she could stand.
“Ouch,” she whispered. She opened her eyes slowly again.
The girl was waving at her. “You going to sit up and talk to me, or what?” the girl asked.
Amara couldn’t believe what she was seeing. This girl looked like her, but she didn’t sound like her. Her voice was louder, more confident. She didn’t seem shy and withdrawn.
Amara sat up without looking away. She couldn’t take her eyes off what was before her. She was afraid if she blinked or looked away, she would disappear.
“Wha… what? What are you?” Amara finally managed to stutter out.
“A friend,” the girl and/or ghost version of herself said. “You can call me Cara.” She stuck her hand towards Amara. “Put ‘er there.” She smiled, grinning from ear to ear.
“Cara?” Amara paused because she didn’t want to offend the apparition. “What are you?”
“Like I said, I’m a friend. Do you want me to go?” Cara leaned back in the chair.
From where Amara was sitting, she could see the outline of the chair through Cara’s form. There was a faint green glow surrounding Cara. “A friend? Do you mean the friend I wished for?”
Cara nodded and then spun in the chair. “Yeppers,” she said.
Amara shook her head. She had to be imagining this. “Then how?” she started to ask. “But why?” She stopped again. She couldn’t seem to form a coherent question. “What are you exactly? Like a ghost or something?”
“Not a ghost.”
“But are you real?” asked Amara. “I mean, are you alive?”
“Yes, and no.” Cara kept spinning in the chair, faster and faster.
“So, what are you?” Amara asked.
“I’m a friend, that’s what matters most.” She stopped abruptly. “Let’s talk about why you’re sitting up here alone when you could be outside or downstairs, or anywhere but here staring at a wall.” Cara crossed her arms over her chest and started tapping her foot.
They talked for hours. Amara told Cara things she’d never told anyone else. They discussed her mother, the constant chaos of her life, and how lonely it was being her.
At some point as they were talking and giggling, Amara lay back down and closed her eyes, but they still talked for many more minutes.
Amara woke up the next morning, but there was no sign of Cara. As she splashed water on her face, she couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe she’d imagined the whole thing.
I started a new thing this year. (New for me anyway). As I read, I make a list of quotes I like for whatever reason, and then when I finish the book, I copy the quotes into a notebook that I have just for quotes.
It’s really fun to flip through the book and re-read the quotes. It takes me back to the moment when I was reading. I love reading them. Some of the quotes I wrote down because they were funny, some were like aha! moments that I feel like could be the seed of a new story, and some of them I write down because I think they’re very clever.
Here are some of my favorites from this year:
“That’s all magic is really: the space between what you have and what you need.” (from The Once and Future Witches)
“He let it slip that he was afraid that therapy might make him normal and well adjusted, and that would be the end of his writing.” (from Armageddon in Retrospect)
“If it’s not Disney, we won’t get sued for it.” (from Kaiju Preservation Society)
“Moral: to avoid embarrassment, never say anything at all to a human if you can possibly avoid it.” (from An Orc on the Wild Side)
“I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t tried it can properly appreciate just how horrible it is to be constantly surrounded by people who believe in absolutely everything.” (from A Deadly Education)
There were so many more, but I’m really enjoying this little side project of mine.
As always, happy reading and writing today and every day!