Life drags over the weight of a spine
Breaths quicken as the legs numb
You see how ordinary your life has become
Ordinary shelves on ordinary tables
Ordinary roof on an ordinary house
Ordinary person in an ordinary mirror
Ordinary soul in an ordinary body
You look at yourself
You think I am ordinary
But what is this bridge to the extraordinary?
Find a voice behind that sings its song:
Find the ordinary behind and the extraordinary beyond
Find what stands between you and extraordinary
Find the obstacle that keeps you ordinary
You follow the light
Beyond the thin walls
You follow the voice as your senses fall
See the blue sky above
See speckled green grass
See towers touch clouds
See the air between lives
You trail on with the voice
Hear as it sings
Guides you through the world in spring
Taste the chemical air
Taste pinewood and sea
Taste maple and evergreen
Taste desert and sun
Surely, you think
This is past the ordinary
But was is it that makes it extraordinary?
Hear the blast of each horn
Hear cars on paved roads
Hear countries and cultures
Hear wind carry the earth
This, you think
Is beyond the ordinary
But how shall I cross my path to extraordinary?
Smell the roses in bloom
Smell the sting of each hive
Smell the oil and clouds
Smell the canvas of meadow
There’s a key, speaks the voice
A key to the best
Beyond reach of the beating heart in each chest
Feel the grass at your feet
Feel the hand in each hand
Feel the sun stain your face
Feel yourself follow
Show me, you think
Let me open the door
The lock to unravel, let me be more
Follow me, says the voice
Follow past pavement and dirt
Follow past gravel and seas
Follow past faces below, above, and beyond
You obey without thought
But the light pauses, replies
You are almost there, but you must close your eyes
Close your eyes, it repeats
Close your senses and sight
Close your eyes as an ordinary
Close to open and be extraordinary
Your lids shut tight
It grabs your fingers like a hand
Doubt creeps for you cannot understand
Nothing will you find?
Nothing in this life
Nothing to your control
Nothing you can chamber
You hear a door creak
Your limbs come to a stop
You hear your breaths drop
Open your eyes
Open, says the light
Open them ordinary
Open and see the extraordinary
Your lips quake at the sight
Seeing your lamp, your house, your shelf
For you find you are looking at yourself
The Rhyming Poem
This poem is not great,
It's not even good,
but it rhymes,
like a good poem should
It is rather short
and skinny and tall,
but it rhymes,
a trait above of all
It may remind you of something,
You say when you chat,
but it rhymes,
and who can argue with that?
It is not consistent
in pacing or tone,
but it rhymes,
so it shouldn't make you groan
And while this poem may sound
like teenage chatters,
and that's all that matters.
I would be lying if I claimed to have natural gifts. Like most people, I found things I enjoyed that I pursued without much money or talent to back me up. When I'm asked how I balance it all, or if it ever is just easy, I don't lie. My mind may adapt to different stimuli in each environment, but it's hard.
"Hard," a word that can describe the surface of a tabletop, is the best way to describe how I accomplish things and the natural course of action for topics when they cross paths with my mind.
The thing is, I don't want anything to be easy. Hard work has been my defining trait in everything do. If life were easy for everybody all of the time, it wouldn't be very human, would it? I believe being human, and knowing that human means "hard," is the driving force that brings the best people on life together. Human and the inevitable "hard" leads to achievement.
A Great Tree
It's my hands I see first. Sculpted like ice, like clay, its creases permanent. Then I look up. My neck cracks, but molds into the image, bricks, light competing with the stars, black hoods. I feel the scattered remains of trees scream to me, ask to be sprouted again. One stands magnificent over its fellow residents. A great tree. I feel a magnet in my chest, pulling me towards it.
I stumble through the obliterating numbness. There's a dull shout, but I focus my vision ahead. To the leaves and the veins so intricately woven from bark to branch. A fence folds in around it, scraped against the rough texture of its limbs. I latch my fingers to it, prick away at the wiring. My breaths are one with the tree. I feel its gasp for relief, watch its leaves stretch to sunlight.
Something travels up my nose and melts my lungs. I see it. Like the old steamboats, but strapping out of the roof of a long rectangular house with thousands of windows. I feel the tree groan with me, begging relief of the smoke, of the equivalent to fire, being burned alive. It's up my sleeves and arms. I can't snuff it out.
I must be on an invaded planet. We must be at war. But the young couple on a nearby bench, a brother of the great tree, with their faces intimate, prove otherwise. A foreign city, somewhere I haven't seen. I must have been transported.
But the sign. Tranchestor Avenue. I recognize it and my lips tingle, recognizing a feeling of another set against them. I met someone here. Bright blue eyes. There was a house, and for each tree chopped another one was planted. We were the town freaks, those who saw the beauty of the forest. But I don't see a forest. I see a tree.
I can't remember her name, but I remember blue eyes, like the sky on a clear day. If I could ring a name familiar, I would grant its beauty to the tree instead, for she could not still live in a place such as this. But an image, her stomach rounded, overwhelms me. I stumble from a flashing light, from a large yellow car with a capped man inside, and latch back onto the tree bark. I wrap my arms around it. I feel as if it is all that's now left of the great forest, where our cabin once laid. But I can't explain it.
Her stomach. Swelled. A child. Blue eyes.
Something sniffs. This is different from the engines going down the black pavement, or the fumes out of each house, or the buzz of fake lights. I recognize it as something my own face might do. The sound of humanity. The last remains of what I heard out of myself or her when she suddenly wasn't there anymore. When there was blackness.
Another sniff. On the other side of the tree. Could it be...
I circle to the other end, thinking that perhaps she might still be here. Waiting by the tree. Or even with another man, wrinkled but beautifully aged, happy to live on without me. That is how I would see it. A happy life.
But it is not her. A young lad is kneeled before the great tree. His eyes are closed, face is familiar, but I know I haven't seen it. Just as the tree. My heart stumbles at plastered brick beside the tree's roots. Something is carved inside.
In Remembrance of Frank and Margarate Tale, 1917-1952.
Then another stone to its side, connected by a bronze formation of a robe:
And their daughter, Mary Tale, 1982
Mary. The name we had agreed on.
I stare at the rope, a bronze symbol with a slight noose. 1952. Impossible. That was the year I left her. 1952, when the world became blackness. I remember her, strawberry curls, the oceanic eyes. Her years ahead. Her rounded stomach with spring and life inside. Thirty-five. She was thirty-five as was I, school lovers to embark on a world's great journey.
Wait by the tree, I had said.
My eyes are dry. I turn back to the sniffer and step closer. The boy is much too young to be a lover, young as a mourner who knows not his grief. Too much shine in his eyes to be in some preserved state like myself. But I recognize pride in his deep frown, and I know he has planted the great tree.
Then I see an ancient rope in his hand. He flinches and stares at me, and I see the blue eyes of the sky.
A good writer
Talent's relationship with writing is a limited endeavor. Talent's doses are few and far between, with some of the best talents locked away in the cages of their own mind, unable to see past their own perspective.
Social media has drained perspective with opinions swayed into objectivity. Noise overtakes quiet moments of serenity, voices swallow individuality like a poison permeating creativity's airways.
Ideas are limitless, but powerless without pursuit. When written down, they are humbled to their origins, a pen scribbled over a pad of paper, where they will crumble and rot without the writer's mind and heart furthering its journey.
What does it mean then, to be a good writer in a society such as this? Above all, determination. A "good writer" is an oxymoron, for a natural way with words is nothing without passion, bravery, and the wit of a soldier outnumbered a thousand to one. A good writer embraces our anti-writing environment, finds serenity in the noise, inspiration in a single thought, and significance without pronounced talent.
A good writer writes.
My Favorite Quote
"Life is ten-percent what happens to you and ninety-percent how you react to it." ~Charles R. Swindoll
Badger: Replaced or Dead
When the President of the United States of America got himself assonated by an illegal immigrant, the last thing the public expected was a Muslim-American woman in the oval office. I suppose this is what I signed up for as the Secretary of State. Still, with the first three in line conveniently dead after the coordinated attack, the eyes around me spark like the sun’s rays on a magnifying glass. Slowly wishing to destruct but unable to find the right angle.
In thirty-six hours I will be replaced or dead. At least, that’s what the Chief Justice muttered as he shoved my hand on a Bible and proclaimed my new position as the most powerful woman in the world.
I wipe the sweat off my palms as they start to stick to the stacks of papers. I spot the first camera poked through a bookshelf and my chest throbs. I feel more like the suspect in interrogation than the leader amidst a crisis. A woman is swiping my face with blush. My hair is framed around my face. The woman has drawn lines to age my cheeks, to sharpen my eyes. To make it look as if I have more than two days of experience in the government system.
Yesterday I celebrated my new position as Secretary of State. Today I am governing a nation.
A balding man pokes his eyes between his phone’s Twitter accounts and the nearby television news reports. I don’t remember his name. He curses between breaths, and I imagine the social media manhandling this event, each attention-snatching news anchor, each conspiracist who itches to glimpse the face of their new president. Those who see my eyes and conjure “suspect” instead of “leader.”
At last, a light narrows to focus.
“President al-Guler,” the cameraman says. I think he wants to make sure he is pronouncing my name right. He isn’t. “You are live in five, four, three, two...” He points at me. I feel the world at my fingertips, and the earthquake of chatters gnashing my teeth transforms. My lips curl slightly, and I open my mouth hoping I don’t sound like a mutant bullfrog.
I read the words off the screen. “Good Evening. I am Zumruda al-Guler. Terrible atrocities bring me here today in front of you, the nation that stands for freedom and justice. For, your president and many of his cabinet...are now dead.” I grip my hand beneath the table. “However, one remains. Your Speaker of the House, Greg Spinder, is set to recover in thirty-six hours. Having had been proclaimed dead until moments ago...and only recently brought to a live state...”
My words catch. Letters swim off every screen, and something snatches my tongue and pins it down. The large man who had been checking Twitter accounts stares at me.
“We urge our beloved citizens to remain calm under this crisis,” I say. “For, until Mr. Spinder is recovered, I will serve as President al-Gular.”
My voice cracks and the cameraman cuts to a sponsor ad before my tears can smudge my eyeliner.
The man beside him drops his phone and faces me. “Average Job, Cupcake.” He grabs my hand and shakes it. “I'm Al Couper. Head of Security. Come with me, President al-Gular.”
He is the first person today to pronounce my name right on the first go. I suppose “Miss President” doesn’t have the same authoritative ring to it. Al Couper nudges his head for the door. We are followed by each cameraman as they reign in every detail. The terms were settled as soon as they saw my face: everything would be livestreamed. They said it had to do with my security. I think they want to assure I am not the one to be afraid of.
“I am afraid you put me in an awkward situation,” Al Couper says. The cameras capture the angles of my reaction.
Our conversation relays these facts: I know I shouldn’t be here. Two murderous sprees put me in this position today. First, the death of the first Secretary of State and all of his potential predecessors. Then, of course, the series of assassins that put me from grad school to the White House in the course of three days.
“Your position will be short-lived.”
Al Couper is the second person to say this to me today. Except, this time, the whole nation hears it.
He shows me the phone he had been swiping through. A meme has morphed me with a badger and won international fame. Tweets have nearly broken the system, most laughing at the poor performance of their badger president, a few others terrified of the preditor ahead. I wish I could have told them the truth.
I wish I could tell them that our nation is under complete captivity.
For no one knows the identity of the latest assassin.
"Take five," he tells the cameramen. They cut to another commercial.
Al throws a white towel at me and stops in front of the bathroom. With a shiver, I sprint inside and lock myself in the stall. I relay faces, names, and I know I'm in danger. The earpiece, the tan skin, the buzzed hair. I have a bodyguard. Al Couper is serving as my bodyguard. How did I get here?
Security means nothing anymore. Dead or replaced. Dead or replaced. Replaced or...
My past swallows my emotions. Training settles over my senses and sharpens them. Adrenaline courses through me. I am not safe here. I am not safe anywhere. I feel the target weighing down my spine, feel the assassins distorted fingers over mine.
No. I am still in the bathroom stall.
I step out and linger in front of the mirror. The sink water runs over my hands and threatens to melt them.
I watch Al Couper's shadow linger at the door. Those of the cameramen have dissolved.
Cool water evaporates off my face as I splash sink water into my eyes. I kept them shut tight. Shapes overpass my irises. Perhaps this way I will wake up.
When I open them, the shadow of my security guard is gone. Before I can celebrate this fact, my senses kick back in. My past disciplines me.
I notice the vent in the bathroom’s corner. It’s been impounded, and the lock along its lining is destroyed. Judging the damage I know it is recent. A splintered drum has settled in my forehead, but I push myself up the stall, flash my phone’s light through the vent, and catch glimpses. I stare long enough to catch an odorless green smoke enveloping the rounded corner the vent.
I don’t scream. I run.
My past. My training. My few years in service, armed, defending our nation before finishing my education. Military work when interactions are limited and questions are nonexistent. I know buildings, I know vents, and I know what room would be so close to a bathroom.
There’s a target, and it’s not myself. There’s someone strong enough to show a threat, someone who knows how to talk in front of a camera.
There’s a man being transported here. Perhaps he already has. He is recovering. Thirty-six hours from now he is supposed to kick me off my pedestal and assure the nation of my innocence and the public's safety.
The next target.
Alarms have sounded. Security is looking for me.
But I know which life is more important.
I have just enough time to sweep Greg Spinder's hospital bed from the floors. I know the code that no one else does. The safe house. I swing the bed into encased floor. I ready myself to slide beneath the closing doors, counting back the seconds, knowing there has to be room for me and me alone. It inches down, Greg Spinder is moaning, and I drop to my stomach.
Al Couper grabs me from behind. There is ringing. A gun in his hand. A bullet in my chest.
Before my eyes close, I see a tweet. My assassination has already been announced.
By Al Couper.
But I see I’ve acted quickly enough. Greg Spinder has been sprawled to the saferoom. No corrupted security sits with him. These are assassins. Not bombers. I see the blood soak my clothes. Irrefutable evidence of the criminal mastermind.
If Greg Spinder has a chance, so does our country.
I smile at the enraged face of Al Couper one last time.
Dead or replaced. Dead or replaced. Replaced or...
Not a Bestseller, by Nobody
Excerpt from Chapter 1, I Was Thirsty, p. 6 - 10
I didn’t plan on getting arrested that day. There was this really, really, really bad chain of events that unfolded on me. It was completely inevitable. And unfair. Like any other day, it all started with a therapy session.
Doctor Conner was waiting for me in his office.
On my way there, I stared at—not out—the car window as I waited for the frost to drip. I’d only touched that window once, yet the clear portion had already clouded over.
“Ben? Did you hear me?”
My driver spoke in a voice that had an odd ring to it. Like he’d just finished saying something. Something important. I realized his question was directed towards me when he looked in his back-view mirror.
What had he asked me?
I shook my head and hoped that was an answer.
My driver—I called him Ed, although I never found out whether Ed was his real name—sighed. He curled his lips and made an odd expression that was supposed to conceal his real emotion from me, from what I could tell. I’d grown accustomed to that face.
He spoke the words that turned my life into a Shakespearian tragedy. “I said that I’m going to be a few minutes late picking you up today.”
“Why?” I asked, not the least bit interested, mind you. My head was back on the window.
“Your parents need me to pick them up first.”
I stared at him.
"I’ll come get you afterward.”
I flipped through the files in my brain’s headquarters. Dad was on some mission to rise to fame in the world of politics, and Mom was right by his side in all of it. I never paid attention to what he did. Something about campaigning and the governor and please don’t make me go on or I’ll fall asleep.
All I knew? Cameramen cascaded Dad without mercy. And he always kept me at a distance to avoid screen time.
I didn’t blame him. Dad’s boss—the mighty Rex Peterson—says I’d ruin the “image,” i.e. a beautiful wife, perfect sons for all anyone knows, and more money than Microsoft would know what to do with. The media had yet to pick dirt on him.
They’d have their story soon.
Ed stared at the mirror again. I studied his face. His eyes were a little wider than usual, and his lips were inside his mouth. He was waiting for a response from me.
“Okay,” I said.
He seemed satisfied. Because he turned his focus back on the road, where it should have been the whole time.
I didn’t dislike Ed personally, but he couldn’t have been hired for his driving abilities. If he was qualified, he would have known to pick me up first. He would have sped to pick up my dad while avoiding the main roads. He would have driven more smoothly on the pavement split with black ice rather than skating on it. He would have kept two hands on the wheel instead of one.
Maybe it was a tiny bit personal.
I wish they would let me drive. I did have my own car, after all. But my parents had this idea trapped inside their file cabinets: I wasn’t supposed to drive until I was thirty-five. In a lot of ways, I agreed with them. Although I would have said thirty-six. And a half.
But, come on. My driving skills couldn’t be any worse than Ed’s.
(I would find out later how wrong I was.)
Ed tapped his fingers against the wheel, and I realized we were stopped. Doctor Conner’s office reminded me of a prison. Ha, prison would be a step up. This was my least favorite place in the world. Also known as most hated.
I opened the car door.
“Remember. Just. Wait. Here.”
People separated their words like that when they spoke to me. I hated it. It’s not a convenient form of communication for any species, so why make me the exception? It’s not like slowing down his words was going to make me listen to them. Boy, I should have.
I disappeared inside the building before I could watch the car pull away. I wouldn't be coming back to this place for a long time. I just didn’t know it yet.
So, I dreaded it as usual.
The bright colors of the room always threw me off guard. Like a preschool tricking troubled kids into thinking they’re special.
I knocked on the door to Doctor Conner’s office and poked my head inside.
“Hi, Ben,” he said. “Have a seat.”
We used to have these long arguments when he called me “Benjamin” with emphasized syllables. I’m Ben. That’s what I want to be called. Doctor Conner asked me why, and my answer was simple. Because that’s what I want. There's no changing that fact. Or arguing that logic.
I took my seat and prepared myself for interrogations. Sure enough, Doctor Conner
asked, “How are you?”
I crossed my arms the way I always did and stared at the floor. “Fine.”
“Did you do anything fun yesterday?”
“What did you do then?”
“What didn’t you do?”
“How’s your dad?”
“He looks the same.”
“Do you want to talk?”
“But I want to talk to you, Ben.”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
“I don’t see anything negative about the current situation.”
“Ben. Could you look at me?”
My body remained stubbornly still.
I considered him. Then glanced up. He had one of those typical faces, which I already knew. It was kind of disappointing. The way his eyes judged me sucked.
He wore a fake grin that matched the preschool atmosphere of the room. “That’s better. Don’t you agree?”
It took the strained effort of every muscle in my body not to strangle him. There was something extremely irritating about him. Like he was better than me, and he knew it. Like I was a little kid.
“So…why don’t you tell me how you’re feeling right now?”
I won’t bore you with more details of my therapy session. But, to understand what I was going through, imagine something you hate to do. And I mean really hate. Okay, now imagine you’re doing that thing you hate with someone you honest-to-goodness hate. Then, imagine doing that hated activity with that hated person for at least one hour.
Every. Single. Day.
Yeah. That’s my life.
Query Letter/Book Details
Benjamin Daniel Wood is autistic and uninteresting, and he plans to keep it that way. When another session of parent-enforced therapy goes wrong, there’s only one logical solution for a seventeen-year-old kid in Delcoph, New York: steal a bottle of water and make sure he gets caught.
Step two? An eye-contact-less conversation with his parents while they discuss how to make their idiot-boss likable again before elections. Unfortunately, it all backfires into another therapy program (led by a man who looks way too much like Charles Manson) and Ben will do anything to get out of it.
However, he takes one rebellious act too far, and it’s not the cops or news crew who catch him this time. It’s a girl who’s not afraid of controversial black-mail. Delving back into the world of therapy, Ben will have to choose whether to play up to the labels he's been forced into, or decide for himself whom he chooses to be: Nobody, or Somebody worth living as.
In the meantime, he’ll write his non-story in this book and pray to God no one ever finds it.
At 90000 words, Not a Bestseller is a YA contemporary coming-of-age novel telling the tale a young boy under the burden of society’s labels. It is the first a potential series, The Abnormality Profiles. Possible audiences include lovers of simple stories with deeper meanings, such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Marley and Me, or The Fault in Our Stars, and fans of self-aware stories with healthy doses of sarcasm, such as the Wimpy Kid series or A Series of Unfortunate Events.
A young writer in central Wisconsin, I am currently pursuing a degree in English and Education and represent a vast majority of unheard writers. I have had work published in online forums and have gained a modest readership through social media networking platforms. My manuscript, Not a Bestseller, is available in its entirety upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration!
I'm Nobody, from Nowhere, doing Nothing.
Nice to meet you.
Well, sort of nice. If we were meeting face to face, I'd probably hate you.
Wait! Let me be clear: you’d hate me too. Reading emotions isn’t my specialty, but I know I am not meant to be liked. Having said that, I don't blame you if you don't want to read this. The cover states my low expectations for my great work about my life which doesn't exist.
If you picked this because of the title, I’ll laugh at you for falling for reverse psychology. Ha!
If you’re reading this due to curiosity, it doesn’t mean you’re a cat. People are often inquisitive about me.
You could hate reading. Your mom forced you to put this book in your hands and scan your eyes across the words. Tough.
Maybe reading is your go-to thing, but I’ve ruined it for you in nine paragraphs. Sorry, not sorry.
Are you one of those book publisher people? I’m not sure how this got in your hands. Tuck this manuscript away and move on. I give you permission.
Whatever your purpose, understand one thing: I have zero writing qualifications. Reading this will be a waste of time. You picked up the unbrilliant work of a kid writing about his non-life.
I’m not saying I’m not a living, breathing human being. I’m pretty sure I am one. I’m just physically, mentally, and emotionally short of the qualifications to have a life of my own. If I did have a life, why are people always telling me to get one?
Where were we?
Right, my non-life.
If you think this is about some lucky Youtuber's rise to fame, think again. I'm a nobody, from nowhere, doing nothing, and it will be this way—beginning to end—forever and ever—amen.
This isn't a love story either. It's not a "finding yourself" Hollywoodized book. Or a combination of those things.
Unlike other writers, I don't need to follow the rules, because I don't have goals or expectations. I can go into present tense and say I write instead of wrote. I can use the same word over and over and over and over and over and… Can use sentence fragments.
I can misspell werds. I can not do grammar so good.
You're still reading this, so I guess we have a lot in common. Even if you are a someone, from somewhere, doing something, it's not most people's business to read about a no one.
I urge you to spend the precious minutes of your short lifespan doing something else.
Go outside. Catch up on your soap operas. Eat junk food until the cabinets are empty. Splatter the wall and watch paint dry—always a good time! Sit for hours contemplating the most complicated concepts of the universe.
Don't read about nothing. Find a better book.
Read about a hero who saves everybody. Read about an idiot who kills everyone. Anything would be better than reading about me. I promise I'm not some form of artificial intelligence, but…I'm close enough. I lack interesting qualities which would make people engage in conversations with me. Popular? Very funny. Hot? Only during gym class, and I’m homeschooled. Smart? One plus one equals three. Weird?
That would be a big step up.
Don't get me wrong, I love the life I'm not living. But just because I want to live and write about nothing doesn't mean you need to read a book about it.
Okay, it’s been settled.
Now that I've explained everything you don’t need to know, made you cry, maybe made you reconsider your life choices, I've been told the best place to start anything is with an introduction.
I'm Nobody, but the name my parents insisted on giving me is Benjamin Daniel Wood. So, according to them and my therapists: I'm Benjamin Wood, seventeen years old, from Delcoph, New York, doing everything wrong.
Nice to meet you.
~Selection from contemporary novel Not a Bestseller
All Rights Reserved
His human cry caged
in a baby bird’s beak
His feathers like fur
denied wind’s brace
His webbed claws
coiled his hobble limbs
Maybe a mother was
bustled in wooded pines
Or a father watched with
his hollow fixed gaze
I turned a blind eye
Still, the child screeched
Daylight is dusk—
I return to the curb
Perhaps nature snatched
the bird’s split string lifespan
His feathers left traces
in the seamless sky
Or a mother returned
nestled warmth in her beak
I see what I know,