Sunday, December 5, 2010

Life Secret

Title: Life Secret
Word Count: 853
Genre: Realistic Fiction

One of the old communities I was part of had a number of challenges posted every week or so. They were designed to stretch our abilities as authors. I managed pretty well there, managing to place with the first piece that I wrote for them.

One challenge they had was a dialogue challenge. You had to write a story using only dialogue, so you couldn't show the emotions of the characters with their actions. Much like a screenplay.

It wasn't the first time I had heard of such stories; one of my favorite authors, F Paul Wilson, has one such story in one of his short story compilations. While I don't suppose mine was nearly as good as his, I did enjoy writing it.


Life Secret

"She'll be heartbroken if she finds out, Jack."

"We have to tell her. She has the right to know, and you know that."

"She doesn't even know who they are, so why does it matter?"

"Susan, she's old enough to know now. We can't keep hiding it from her... the longer we keep this from her, the more upset she'll be when she does find out."

"What makes you think she won't resent us for telling her now? She's only fifteen. She doesn't have to deal with this yet... she has a good life now, and she's happy. Why should we bring her such bad news?"

"She should get the chance to get to know the others. If we keep this from her, we may tell her too late, and she'll resent us for that."

"I don't understand why they came to us, now of all times. They're the ones who wanted the file closed and didn't want us to contact them in any way..."

"Honey, people can have a change in heart. You're much different now than when you were in your twenties, and so are they. They just want the chance to get to know her. To have a relationship with her."

"You just watch. They want to take her away from us. They'll file suit against us..."

"Now you're just being ridiculous. They experienced a loss, and now want to reconnect with a part of their past."

"Hmph."

"I don't think it's our decision to make either way. It is her life we're talking about."

"We're her parents. We're responsible for her well being. Our decision should be final. I don't think we should give her the option."

"Option to do what?"

"Margo! You scared me. You know better than to sneak around like that! You're far too quiet."

"Sorry, Mom. What were you giving the option to do?"

"Oh, nothing that concerns you, dear. I was just ranting a little about work."

"Susan..."

"Margo, your father and I have something to tell you..."

"Mom? Why are you crying?"

"Your mother is just a little emotional right now. We received a letter from someone who we haven't heard from in a long time."

"Your p-parents."

"My parents? What are you talking about?"

"Susan, it's okay. Deep breaths..."

"S-She's my b-baby!"

"Your birth parents, Margo. We adopted you from a young couple just after you were born."

"Oh. What did they want?"

"Margo, honey, you have to realize that we love you so very much. We always will..."

"Well, obviously. If you didn't love me, you would have come out and told me years ago that I was adopted..."

"You don't seem very surprised."

"It was a little obvious. I don't really look like either one of you, or any of my grandparents... your parents, I mean. You both have blue eyes, and I have brown eyes... It's basic biology. There wasn't any other explanation."

"Y-you knew?"

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"I'm happy here with you two. I mean, sure, I get upset when you give me an unreasonable curfew or something, but I have it better than a lot of people, and you both love me. Why should I really care about two people who didn't love me enough to take care of me after I was born?"

"Ohh..."

"It's okay, Mom. You can stop crying now. What did my other parents say?"

"Oh, right... one of your siblings... your younger sister, Jasmine, died in a car accident last week. They thought you might want to attend the funeral."

"I... see."

"You don't have to if you don't want to, sweetie."

"Do I have any other siblings?"

"They have a son as well. He's ten."

"I don't suppose he knows about me."

"I'm not sure, Margo. They didn't mention one way or the other in the letter."

"Did you two know about them?"

"We haven't had much contact with them since the adoption was finalized. We sent them a few pictures to let them know how you were doing, once you got a little older, but we didn't correspond regularly."

"So you didn't know."

"No."

"I'll go. If my... brother... knows about me, then it's only fair that I start a relationship with him."

"Margo, honey, you really don't have to do this."

"Mom, I know you don't want me to, but don't worry. You'll always be my mom and dad. You loved me enough to take care of me, while they gave me away."

"Margo, it's not fair to be so harsh on them. You don't know what they were going through at the time."

"Well, obviously whatever it was, they got over it pretty quick to be willing to keep another daughter and a son after they gave me up."

"While your mom doesn't want you to, I really think you should have a discussion with them. You don't have to love them as your parents, but you shouldn't resent them for what they did. Who knows what sort of person you'd be today if they hadn't given you to us?"

"Alright, Dad. When's the funeral?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNo Treat!

Title: On A Dark Night
Word Count: 1,346
Genre: Realistic Fiction

It's National Novel Writing Month, and I'm attempting to write a novel, again. It's the story of a college aged girl who unwittingly witnesses a kidnapping. She discovers she has some interesting abilities, which leads her to track down the kidnapper and save the young girl. It's tentatively called Hidden Souls.

Part of my preparation for this was to try to do character sketches for my two main characters. However, I only managed to write a little bit of my female main character's sketch. I got ahead on my novel again tonight, though, so I decided to sit down and finish writing that (I dedicated three hours to writing, and finished well above my word count in about 1 1/2).

So, I'm offering it here. It's the very first draft, so keep that in mind when reading it, but it might give you some insight into Ms. Sophia Carson. Let me know what you think!


On A Dark Night

“Something doesn't feel right about this, Maggie,” Sophia complained as she squirmed in the leather seat. “Are you sure you're allowed to be out like this?”

“Chill out Soph. Daddy doesn't care what I do so long as I don't interrupt his precious poker game,” Maggie muttered, rolling her eyes and snapping her gum obnoxiously.

“Still... it's kinda late to be out, and you just got your license, and it looks like rain...” Sophia bit her lip to stop the stream of words from her mouth.

“No worries. I've had plenty of practice.” Maggie smiled as she put the sports car into gear and slowly pulled out of the driveway.

Sophia pulled at her seat belt to make sure it was secured and looked around her anxiously. It seemed as if there were eyes in the shadows watching her, waiting until just the right moment to spring out and raise the alarm.

She shook her head. The stress of finals must be getting to her. Nothing was going to happen, just like Maggie had said.

Tend minutes later, they were on the mountain, turning around the corners with the top down and the cool air running through their hair.

“This is so awesome!” Maggie shouted, bringing the car around another corner. “Aren't you glad I talked you into this?”

“Yes! This is just what I needed after a day like today!” Sophia exclaimed, throwing her hands up. A few minutes later, they pulled into a pull out overlooking the city.

Sophia smiled as she gazed at the glittering lights below. “It's so beautiful up here. And so quiet.”

Maggie nodded and leaned back in her seat. “I know. I come up with the best ideas ever. I'm sure you'll find some way to repay me.”

Sophia laughed softly and nudged her friend. “Maybe I'll make you a cheesecake or something.”

“Mmm... cheesecake. Make it with Oreos and you've got a deal.”

“Oreos it is,” Sophia confirmed. Leaning her head back and closing her eyes, she paused, taking in the scents and sounds around her. A drop splashed on her eyelid and she blinked slowly. Rain was beginning to fall steadily around them. “Guess that means we should head back,” she muttered.

“Spoilsport,” Maggie replied, turning the key in the ignition and putting up the top.

“Well, I certainly wouldn't want to drive down the mountain in a torrential downpour...”

“Yeah, yeah. I'm going...” Maggie backed out onto the road far more smoothly than might be expected from a newly licensed 16 year old, then put the car into gear and started the descent down the mountain. She wisely took the curves much more slowly, especially as the rain started coming down in sheets.

The windshield wipers were swiping at full blast and still Maggie squinted over the dashboard to see the road ahead of them. The sky was a dull gray, and the lights of the city below provided little illumination. The headlights of the car only extended a few feet in front of them, so they had slowed to a crawl to avoid missing a turn.

“I told you this was a bad idea,” Sophia muttered, sitting on the edge of her seat.

“Shut up and keep an eye out for me. You can yell at me all you want once we're safe,” Maggie snapped, her knuckles white against the steering wheel.

“Someone's coming this way,” Sophia said, pointing to a light on the road ahead of them. “Maybe you should pull off til they pass.” She glanced at the small stretch of dirt to her right.

Maggie's eyes darted to the shoulder, then back to the road. “It's too muddy. If I pull off now, we'll be stuck til morning.”

Sophia bit her lip, but nodded slowly She kept her eyes fixed on the road ahead of them, watching the progress of the other car. A few minutes later, they passed without incidence, and she let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Shaking her head, she turned back to the road and sat on the edge of her seat as they slowly coasted down the mountain.

Ahead, at the bottom of the stretch of road, a stoplight changed from red to green, and Maggie responded by letting off the brake a little more. The car sped up, moving closer and closer to the stoplight as it flicked to yellow, then back to red. She reacted quickly, smashing her foot against the brake, but quickly lost control of the car. The back wheels fishtailed back and forth across the road as she turned the steering wheel violently in an attempt to get a better control of the car.

Sophia tried to focus on the road ahead of them, and saw a white pair of lights coming to the intersection. She tensed, gripping the armrests and sending up a silent prayer that they would be able to stop. The car refused to slow as it got closer, though, and she pressed her eyes closed tightly. She heard a horn blaring to her right, but refused to open her eyes, muttering prayers to herself. A flash of light crossed her face and she heard the squeal of tires, followed by a loud crash and a jolt of the car beneath her.

“We're okay,” Maggie sighed, her hands still fastened to the wheel.

Sophia slowly opened her eyes, then patted herself down, clearly unsure of whether or not to believe her words friends. As her senses caught up with her thoughts, she started looking around frantically. They had come to a stop on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the stoplight. The jolt she felt was the car bouncing up over the curb.

Maggie was still gripping the steering wheel, as if she were physically unable to let go. Sophia opened her door and stepped out into the rain, trying to assess the car for damage. She couldn't see any, and wondered what the crash that she heard was. She scanned the street, and saw the source of the crash. The car that had been about to hit them had slammed into the pole holding up the streetlight, its hood crunched badly and steam coming out of the now dead engine.

“Oh my god... Maggie. There's been an accident. We've got to help them!” Sophia said frantically, looking through the window at her friend.

The words seemed to snap Maggie out of whatever trance she was in, and she looked at Sophia, then turned and looked at the accident. Biting her lip, she turned back to Sophia. “Get in,” she said in a deadly calm voice.

“What? No... we've got to see if they're alright!” Sophia shouted, gesturing wildly towards the car.

“No... we've got to get home. We can call 911 on the way and tell them we passed an accident. The ambulance will come and take care of them,” Maggie said, the dead calm still present in her voice.

“What are you talking about? They could be hurt! We've got to help!” Sophia argued, her voice breaking slightly.

“No, we've got to get to safety. We can't help them. We will call someone who can. Get in.” When Sophia didn't move, Maggie added, “I'll leave you here and you can explain how we caused the accident. I don't think your dad would appreciate that, Soph.”

Sophia bit her lip, but slowly slipped back into the car, tears springing to her eyes. Maggie pulled out her phone and tossed it into Sophia's lap, then pulled the car off the sidewalk and back onto the road home.

Sophia's fingers were numb as she dialed. “Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?”

Sophia took a deep breath. “There was a car accident on the corner of Jefferson and Holly. It looked pretty bad. You should get someone out there right away.” Without waiting for the operator to respond, Sophia clicked the phone shut and set it in the center console. She remained silent for the ride back to her house, barely acknowledging the goodbye Maggie gave her.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Great Mother

Title: The Great Mother
Word Count: 1,214
Genre: Mythological

My last post was the death myth for the Kamore people. This short story is the actual start of their mythology. I wrote this as a part of a mythology challenge, where we had to write a new myth. Creation myths are pretty common and I had studied several as a part of one of my history classes in college, so I went for that. I actually won second place in that competition, so I got a banner and an icon made for this one. Enjoy!

TDM - Mythology 2

As the last light of day faded in the west, Huti watched the tribe members gather in anticipation of the dance. The drummers along the edges of the fire pounded violently on their drums, calling everyone to gather here. Clad in bright colors of yellow and red, the dancers were covered with beads and masks of varying designs. The masks told a story themselves, one that Huti would put into words tonight, the night they celebrated Medomai.

As the drums faded and the dancers took their positions next to him, Huti threw a fine dust into the fire. It flared, momentarily blinding the people watching the fire, and then died down, producing a bright smoke above it. Shapes twisted and turned in the smoke, fading in and out of the foreground. Huti smiled at the children of the tribe, seeing this presentation in a new light each year, oohed and ahhed at the images.

“Tonight, we gather to celebrate Medomai, the Great Mother. It is she who gave our ancestors their lives, and it is she who we shall all return to in the end.” Huti's voice had a chant-like quality to it, lulling many in the tribe into a trance-like state. The images in the smoke showed a large woman making small objects from the clay. She smiled and formed the objects as if she were a mere child playing in the clay. Two dancers had begun to dance, one with a mask with large blue eyes like the sky, deep wooden-brown skin of trees, and green hair like the leaves and grass of plants; the image of the Great Mother. The other wore a full green dress and a mask of yellow, a representation of all the plants.

“It is said that in the beginning, Medomai longed for companionship. She was different from the rest of the Greats, as she did not have any herds of bison or flocks of birds to take care of. She had only the Earth itself, the land and plants that inhabited it. While she enjoyed listening to the plants singing to her, she wanted a companion more like herself, one who could speak with her, one who could feel sadness and pain and happiness and joy, and one who would help her take care of the Earth. So, from the bark of an aspen and clay from the Earth, she formed the first human.”

Out of the smoke came the images of trees and a small, roughly shaped girl. A slight murmur rose through the crowd as they stared in wonder at the images. Another dancer joined the group now, showing reverence to the Great Mother and care towards the plant. The small girl wore a mask with deep red hair, small, green eyes, and ashen skin.

“This human was a great companion to Medomai, but could not function as Medomai did, especially with the burden of emotions Medomai felt. Medomai wanted the best for her creation, so she created a companion to this human as well in order to complement and complete the frail girl. With that, the first human couple was created, man and woman. They shared all the emotions of the Great Mother between them, and thus were able to be more like the Her. They shared the responsibilities of tending to the plants of the Earth.” Huti watched a fourth dancer join the group, one with a mask similar to that of the girl, but larger and more masculine. The two dancers representing the humans moved around together, gathering plants and seeds for food and planting.

“So great was their combined intelligence and compassion that they made new plants as well, bringing more and more joy to the Great Mother. This capacity for knowledge and growth did not stop in their tending, but also extended to the very emotions they could not bear alone. They had learned a new emotion: love. It was not the maternal love the Great Mother felt while tending the plants, but rather a true love of companionship.”

The male and female dancers began a more intimate dance, no longer noticing the dances of the Great Mother and her plant. The dance was fluid and beautiful, and moved all around the fire as the images in the smoke mirrored their movements.

“This love grew more and more over time, and the Great Mother allowed it to flourish, even at the expense of losing her two companions. Eventually, she allowed the woman to feel the joy she herself had had in creating a companion; she allowed the woman to create a child. This child, too, would grow and Medomai would create a new companion for the child. And so, the people of the world were created, and, over time they forgot their original purpose to act as companions to the Great Mother.” More dancers joined in, each obviously ignoring the dance of the Great Mother, though they danced around the plant, as if asking for its fruits to use as food. The smoke showed the population of the Earth growing more and more.

“One child, though, heard stories of the beginning, and sought to find Medomai, to restore the relationship that had long been lost. She found Medomai among the many trees in a forest, listening to the plants singing to her. The Great Mother welcomed the girl with open arms and the girl spent many years as the Great Mother's companion. Still, this girl longed for what she had seen her kin achieve, the love that would complete her. The Great Mother realized this, and fashioned for the girl a man she would fall in love with and live with happily. Accepting that she could no longer have a companion who sought happiness elsewhere, the Great Mother left the Earth in the care of her numerous creations.” The smoke showed Medomai looking down upon the humans, each finding love and tending to their own needs, without her help. She seemed to be torn between being happy at the success of her creation and sad at her loss of companionship.

“She took special care, though, to watch over the girl and her love. This girl was Elissa, and her partner Rai, the first of the Kamore, and it is from her attentions to the Great Mother that we have such a knowledge of the Earth today. In order to not forget where we came from, Elissa instituted a festival for the Great Mother Medomai, to occur twice a year, with the coming of each new crop.” Huti smiled as the dancers went into a frenzy, chanting along with the crowd. The entire tribe had become very involved in the story of their own beginnings. Many of the children were now dancing among the masked dancers, and couples were dancing off to the sides, emphasizing the growth of the tribe from the first of the Kamore.

Huti watched the crowd and said softly to himself, “It is said that Medomai watches the Kamore, and seeks her perfect companion from among us. One who will complete her as each love completes a couple. When she finds this perfect companion, she will return to Earth and live among us, sharing with us her knowledge and celebrating the life she long ago created.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Dies Will Come Anew

Title: What Dies Will Come Anew
Word Count: 1,089
Genre: Mythological

This piece was originally inspired by a challenge piece that I wrote. Basically, for the original challenge, we had to write a mythology piece. It could either be a myth already in existence, or we could write a completely new myth. I opted to write a completely new myth, the creation story for the Kamore people. This is their death myth.

Huti looked up at the blackness surrounding him, dispersed slightly by the warm glow of the campfire. The little ones had been sent to him again to learn more of the history of their people, and he figured this would be the best setting for the tale he planned to tell tonight.

The faces of the little ones were curious, glancing around every so often to make sure that nothing would sneak up on them. He smiled, showing the wrinkles on his face better than ever.

“Gather around now as I tell you a story of our Great Mother, Medomai.” The children moved closer to him, many resting on their knees to get the best view. They were so excited to have a new story to tell, though many of them would likely forget it when they grew up.

“Medomai was very much like all of you. She had her own mother and father: the Earth and the Sun, and she had a brother. His name was Motmai. Motmai was often kept separate from Medomai, as he tended to the animals of the night; the owl, the coyote, and the bat.” Huti paused for effect and watched as the children looked around them, still innocent in their musings.

“She, on the other hand, tended to the plants, which thrived in the rays of the sun. She was a great caretaker; all of her plants grew very large and would entertain her with their songs. They would also drop their fruits as food for the animals who would wander over with curiosity at the new noise.” The children smiled at the image of singing plants, and swayed a little with the slight chanting in Huti's voice.

“One day, Motmai came out during the sunlight hours, and watched his sister tend to her plants. He became very jealous of his sister's abilities, and how her plants loved her so. So, he brought darkness over her plants. Without the light of the sun shining on them, they shriveled up, crying in agony all the way.” Huti once again gestured to the darkness around him, and many of the children's eyes grew wide, as they moved a little closer to the fire, to the light.

Huti smiled, and chastised them slightly with his next words. “Medomai was not to be deterred though. She was, after all, a great caretaker. She grew up new plants from the shriveled ones, and they grew even larger than before. Each plant contained a bit of new life, along with the old life that had passed by.” The children brightened at the words, comforted by the fact that their Great Mother was so resilient.

“Motmai was very upset with his failure, though, and sought some other way to destroy Medomai's spirit. He studied her, and looked for a way to destroy the things she loved best. That was when he learned of her new creation, the humans. He saw how she loved them so, how she put so much effort into creating them, and the hope she had of their futures. And so, one by one, he brought death to them.” Some of the children had started crying by now, and Huti's voice had taken on a distinctive sad tone.

“Medomai could not replace the humans as easily as she could her plants. They took time to create and grow, and she could not replace them as fast as they were being taken from her. So, she turned inward, no longer caring about her other creations as her favorite creation disappeared. Motmai took the opportunity to destroy her plants as well, leaving their remains shriveled on the ground for all to see. Medomai, in her sadness, did not act to replace them.” There was a unearthly quietness among the children. They were riveted on Huti's words, begging for a happy ending to the story.

“The Great Fionn saw her distress, and hid her plants beneath a blanket of white, seeking Motmai to chastise him for his actions. But Motmai was elusive. He hid well in his darkness, and enjoyed watching Medomai in her sadness. He thought he had finally triumphed over her, broken her spirit so that she could no longer rise above him in skill. The humans had a part of her spirit, though, and did not let the loss of their family destroy them. Rather, they began to celebrate the passings. They saw it as a way for their family to return to the Earth, to help feed the Great Mother's plants and bring new life to her other creations.” Huti smiled as the children began to understand the purpose of the story. Those who remembered death began to look at it in a new light, closing their eyes and remembering their families with joy, rather than the guilt and sadness of death.

“When the Great Mother saw her creation celebrating, she was renewed in her joy. She began to cultivate her plants again, celebrating along with the humans. The Great Fionn saw her happiness and removed the blanket from the Earth. Where there had been brown and sickly plants before now grew dozens of new varieties of plants, strong and powerful in the soil. All of Medomai's creations rejoiced at the change in her mood. It was a great time, and a large festival was held to celebrate it.” Many children had jumped to their feet and began dancing around the fire, laughing merrily with the joy in which the story was taught. Huti smiled and waited for the sounds to die down enough for him to complete his story.

“Motmai was not ruined, though. He was dismayed, and spent his time plotting for the time in which he could destroy his sister anew. Each year he destroys her plants, and Fionn covers the death with the Great White blanket. Each year, we must celebrate the death as a new start, so that the Great Mother's spirits are raised again and she brings us new crops.” Huti looked to the sky and chanted indistinctly. Some of the children made attempts to join him, chanting their own words until the small camp was filled with the joyous sounds.

Huti stopped suddenly and looked at the little ones again. He smiled and stroked one girl's hair in a loving gesture. “We cannot let death stop us, little ones. We must see it as a new beginning, just as the new plants contain a bit of the old with them, so do we. Our ancestors never leave us.”
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