Friday, January 10, 2014

The weirdest way to usher in 2014

Christmas break has stretched long this year. We get a month off every winter, and during those weeks, I tend to get restless. Away from campus, I don't know what to do with myself. 

To give me something to do aside from marathoning British TV and talking to the cat, Joe told me to write a story. I figured I'd share it on here. It's turned out wonderfully weird. 

My instructions: I was to include an awe-inspiring and manly hero, a flying battle cat, and a dragon who consumes souls. I added some fire-breathing gerbils, a strategic reference to Doctor Who, and a princess turning to diamond. 

Magnus Morrow and the Battle Cat

Chapter One 

Magnus Morrow was surprised to discover, one gray Tuesday afternoon, that he owned a talking book named Felix, which had been a birthday present from his great-aunt Sylvia, and which, as it turned out, could tell the future--and this future included princesses, Wellington boots, and a rather foolish vicar named Stew. 

The discovery came about quite suddenly, just as he was sitting down to tea. 

"Jammie dodgers," sighed a voice to his left. "I hate jammie dodger days." 

Being a wizard of some repute (as well as a part-time professor of geometric patterns at the local university), Magnus was used to unexpected voices issuing from unexpected places in his house; nevertheless, he did jump slightly, and clutched the plate of cakes, his glasses shuddering on his nose. 

Scowling at the teapot, he set the plate on the table and said, rather rudely, "I don't see how you have anything to complain about. I've used a bag instead of tea leaves this time, so you don't go getting mucky--you complained so much when Mrs. Letherby was here to tea." 

"Not him!" the voice spoke up again, this time a little scornful. "I'm down here!"

Magnus looked. To his left was a three-legged tea table, one leg of which was broken and propped up on three or four very old, very dusty books. It was from the top one, a handsome leather tome with gold leaf, that the voice appeared to be issuing. 

"Oh, I beg your pardon," Magnus said courteously. "I'm sorry I was rude."

"It's all very well," the book sighed. "Most people get tetchy when their belongings talk to them at tea-time. Those cakes do look good, though. I miss having a mouth."

"I don't suppose," asked Magnus, "I could hand one down and put it on your cover?" 

"Oh, go on then," the book said pleasantly, "but quickly--I'm here on business."

Magnus swiftly transferred a raspberry cake onto the red leather surface, where it remained for a moment before there was a sucking noise a bit like a vacuum, and the cake vanished. The book heaved a happy sigh. 

"Right-o," it said. "I wouldn't have spoken up, normally, but as I said, it happens I'm here on business. It would be best if you read me at once. I have an urgent message from the princess."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November Short Stories: Wednesday Edition II

The moon reminded Lorelei of tears.

Soft as silver, they bubbled up in the wake of the crescent moon. The lady-in-waiting who found her pillow soaked felt her forehead and called for a doctor. Lorelei, as perplexed as she, lay in bed while the bespectacled man lifted her eyelids, prodded the fleshy underside of her arms, and peered down her throat as though into a cavern. He gave Lorelei a viscous green syrup to take every three hours, and billed the castle.

Her royal parents watched from the doorway, worry in their eyes.

Soon, a steady flow of tears bathed Lorelei's cheeks. They slid down her cheeks in curling rivers, unquenched by the steady flow of people who called with offered cures. Servants stripped her bed of the salty sheets from tears she'd shed in sleep. The king and queen called in philosophers and astronomers, foreign wizards and shamans who spilled bones across the carpet and danced through smoke. Jesters came with silly stories and tumbling acts so ridiculous, the ladies-in-waiting held their stomachs and grasped at chairs to keep from fainting of laughter. But Lorelei's tears continued. She listened to the troubadours tune their instruments and hazard the first notes of sad songs about her.

"Ahhh," said someone at last, an old woman with filmy blue eyes. Her forehead relaxed with compassion. "I understand. You know that he loves you, don't you? And you feel it."

"Who loves me?" she whispered into the midnight shadows. Her lids burned with salt.

The woman smiled gently, unwrapping a handkerchief from her pocket. "The moon does. He's pining for you, isn't he? No, these tears won't stop, I think, until you climb to his kingdom."

A tear rolled off of Lorelei's nose, but she took the handkerchief and turned her face to the window. Moonlight gleamed silvery along her tear-stained cheeks.

"The question is," the old wise woman said as she rose, "how to get there?"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November Short Stories: Wednesday

Hopefully Lost

After their fifth wrong turn, Monica began to feel the pressure of the growing dark.

Henry chuckled quietly, steering wheel revolving beneath his hands.

"Cornfields and more cornfields," he said, nodding out the window. "I don't think we're anywhere close to Pittsburgh."

Monica laughed nervously, tugging at a wrinkle in her pantyhose. "Maybe I should call the office and let them know we won't be making it."

"Oh, we'll make it." Henry made a slow left turn. More cornfields. "The meeting isn't until eight o'clock tomorrow morning, after all."

Silence. The pantyhose were making her itch.

"Besides," he added after a long moment, "you's been nice to finally spend some time with you."

Monica's heart skittered beneath her work blouse. "I guess we had to wait for a six-hour car ride for that, huh? I, it has been. Really nice."
The Honda revolved slowly around a turn. Henry flicked his lights on. 

"I've heard that the city by morning is quite the sight," he said quietly. 

Monica stared at the passing cornstalks and pressed her knuckles to her mouth, trying not to smile. "Is that a proposition?"

"I'd really like it to be. Though, it should be said, only the most honorable of propositions. Breakfast and a city sunrise?"

"That," she said softly, "sounds perfect."

It was darker than dark now, but she didn't jump when the tips of his fingers curled around hers. Henry sighed. "I am sorry about that wrong turn."

Monica smiled at the window. "Let's just drive."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A new kind of reading

I miss the days when I had time to read. College has a knack of keeping me busy. It's a blessing, because more and more, I'm finding that I prefer to be so.

I'm not just busy with classes and assignment, but also with household, clubs, work, planning internships and getting just a little bit of breathing time in between.

But the busyness has changed the way I do a lot of things.

In the last few years, I've realized that reading has, frankly, become something that's no longer a part of my life.

There are a few reasons for the change. Firstly, of course, I'm busy. College doesn't (and shouldn't!) allow me time to lay back and doze. Except when I really need it. I've given up coffee, after all. Sigh.

Secondly, I'm finding ever-growing conflicts between what I want to read and where I am in my life. At nineteen, I sense that I'm a little too old for YA novels, but I still read them. They fill a hunger for wonder that I still have and still remember. They're universal in that way. At the same time, we need both old and new favorites.

More and more frequently, I find myself browsing the adult section of bookstores and coming away dissatisfied. I want something with substance, something that is wholesome and wonderful and well-written and enticing, but still part of the adult world. But often, I can't seem to find it.
Recently, however, reading has come into my life in a new way, and it's a way I never would have expected.

I am a lazy reader. I want to relax into a story, not work to understand it. Most brutal would be to ask me to read new stories - and yet, lately, newspapers are my reading material of choice.

Seems legitimate. I'm a journalism student! Through the semester, I've filed into the university Mac lab twice a week to learn to write news stories.

Reading the news is challenging. It doesn't allow my mind to sit back and go aaahhh at the end of a long day. Often, I struggle to understand. My eyes jump over passages when the lines blur. I have to be patient and go back, making sure I'm fully processing everything on the page.

The point is to draw my own conclusions, so I can't rest while I read.

It's a discipline to read real-life issues, and yet it's fulfilling.

To look at it from one angle, journalistic and creative writing seem two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Journalism is pure information, stripped of poetic devices, of all the delicious language, and yet it's an art form. Moreover, it's an important one.

I'm reading about things I never would have wondered about or cared to know. Controversial vaccines. Chinese filial piety laws. I'm even dipping my shy toes into the political spectrum.

It's a discipline that's pulling me from my reader complacency. Right now, I'm growing as hungry for news as I once was - and, I hope, still am - for fiction.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Suddenly, it's September, and I've been gone for months and months.

I'm back at school. The leaves are beginning to change. I'm doing new things but thinking old things, and some days, my brain feels like spaghetti.

I spent my summer working at a camp. My days were full of Band-aids and hugs and a lot of laughter, and sometimes some timeouts, but I loved it. Even though those kids could run me down like a race car.

I was ready, really ready, to get back to school in August. To keep myself on my toes, I changed things up with my major and shuffled my class schedule like a pack of playing cards, but now I'm safely tucked back into college days. Life is normal again.


If you don't count the 2:30 AM fire drills, the girls shouting down the hall, coffee and piano music, sock monkey footie pajamas, late nights every night, poetry, excursions to far-off cigar shops, meddling in one another's love lives and forgetting the papaya rotting in the fridge, lost socks and bobby pins and where did I put my binder, vanishing car keys and oh my goodness how will I finish this in time, I have no money, let's stay up all night studying and smoking--or we could just go take a walk.......

And it's so good to be home.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

**Daily Short Story Update**

Hey guys! Obviously, I'm lagging behind with the daily shorts. I'm not feeling the greatest at the moment, but there will be some more up soon. :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

May Short Stories: (a late) Sunday Edition

Watching Somewhere

There once was a mermaid who lives on the salt rocks outside of Somewhere, but she never sang--though that was the typical mermaid occupation. Her voice was a husky alto. The one time she had made an attempt at a bit of siren-song, she saw the sailors glancing down in confusion, mouthing questions to one another through the spray. Embarrassed, she ducked down against the rocks and waited mute until the ship made its treacherous way onward.

Her hair couldn't even stream into the foam in typical mermaid fashion: it was cut short--for athletics--and the older merfolk got together on their front porches as she passed, shaking their heads like rudders when they saw the lipstick she wore.

One night, she met a sailor bobbing along the ocean floor.

His eyes were closed, his head floating listlessly from side to side. But he must have sensed her presence, because his eyes slowly opened.

The mermaid didn't move. A bubble slipped from his lips, and then he smiled. The lips trembled, seeming to mouth a bemused question.

She wondered later if she should have tried to rescue him.