The therapy room
How’s everyone today?
Find a place to sit,
In a moment will start righting wrongs,
Some of us have yet to admit,
There should be Six,
While we wait for our late arrival,
Talk amongst yourself
As if I don't exist,
Let's jump right into this,
Who would like to go first?
I guess I'll start,
I could be mistaken as your problems,
The way I'm constantly ignored,
For now this beast is tamed in public,
We’re all aware...
That's not the case behind closed doors.
There's dirt on your hands,
As you cast your glares upon him,
He stares straight at the floor,
Look at me...
You’ll never break the mold they cast you in,
Willing to settle for what’s in store.
Now with that said,
I understand he’s far from innocent,
Yet soly guilty of these incidents,
Your actions caused during his innocence,
Can we all agree…
Seems a bit ridiculous?
What do I know...
Just ask your therapist,
That’s if he ever shows...
Why are you getting up?
Do you think by leaving I’ll just go?
You can’t ignore me forever,
Take that as a promise,
Not a threat,
And I never break my promises,
Plus it’s known,
I never forget.
So until you’re ready to reminisce,
We’ll all be here together,
Alone in this abyss.
Your friend until the end,
Fish Tank Surprise
Two clownfish wove through the yellow tendrils of the anemone as they tried to flee from my prying eyes behind the glass. My younger brother George always went on about how they were from the family Pomacentridae and that their favorite food was zooplankton. I don’t know what any of those things are, but they sound long and complicated. I think long words are stupid. They remind me of having to take hard spelling tests in school where your first-grade teacher gives you those ugly X marks for not knowing whether potato has an E or O as a last letter.
Still, his fish are fun to play with. Sometimes if you put your finger up to the glass, they’ll come over and try to nibble on it, thinking it’s food. The dozen goby will often do this while the clownfish float cautiously in the back of the tank. I don’t know why clownfish have to be so boring. All they do is hide in their anemone at the corner of the cage while they have tons of space to swim in their giant tank. George told me it was 180 gallons.
I prodded the tank with my right pointer finger. As usual, several of the fat goby with ugly bulging eyes swam towards it in curiosity. Good thing my younger brother was in the living room doing his honors algebra homework. He would have screeched at me like a sick hyena if he even saw a fingerprint stain the glass. As I slid my finger across the tank, a trail of thick sweat followed. I’m going to be boiled alive in this room. Why my parents think it’s a good idea to save energy, by not turning on the air conditioner unless it’s above 90 outside is beyond me. Even just standing motionless, large beads of sweat were going down my neck. Dad wouldn’t come home until eight pm tonight from work, and he had our car. That meant we had no chance of even going to the local pool in Cross Plains.
I rubbed my neck as my hand soaked up the waterfall of sweat that continued to run down my back. I could have gone to the kitchen and got a glass of water, but that wouldn’t stop my skin from feeling like molten lava. I then thought about the closet next to the front door. I immediately got up and ran down the stairs. I opened the closet and dug through the incoherent piles of shoes to unearth a blue duffel bag that I quickly opened. Inside was a scuba mask with some snorkels. I picked up the gear and ran back upstairs. When I got back to George’s room, I closed the bedroom door slowly to not make any obvious noise.
The clear water of the tank bubbled temptingly to the roaring black filter inside. I got up on my tiptoes and carefully took off the lid. After gingerly placing it on the ground, I walked over to George’s closet and took out a stool that I then placed next to the tank. I’ll be honest when I say that looking down into a recently cleaned fish tank feels a lot like you're about to get into the pool, minus the stink of chlorine. It felt so good to stick my sticky hand into the cool, moving water. Within a few minutes, I had put on my goggles and snorkel. All my clothes were still on. I could just go outside and dry out later.
My body shivered a bit as I sunk my left leg into the tank, my right immediately followed. Slowly, I sunk into the water as the two clownfish darted to the back of the tank in terror. A large deluge sloshed out of the tank as I slowly sunk in further. Though the fishies would have a bit less space to swim around, the water that poured out onto the ground puddled on the tile floor that surrounded the tank. George’s fish stuffed animals that littered the carpet around the tiles would not face the consequences of my deadly flood. Not that I really cared. As long as I had time to dry up the mess with a towel I’d never get caught.
The water was a lot colder than expected, but still felt pretty good. The only drawback was that I could feel the darned gobies sliding past my legs. Putting your head underwater in a fish tank feels almost like a vacation. You can look down and see all these colorful corals below you, like the time my family went on that snorkeling trip in the Bahamas.
I lifted my head out of the water right as footsteps came up the stairs. My entire body froze. I knew very well that George had just short of thirty minutes to finish that algebra worksheet. He always timed himself and gloated on how he could finish it faster than anyone in his class. Though he’s a pretentious ass, even I find this impressive considering he’s in the fourth grade and I’m two years older than him. Should’ve known better that he worked his pencils to nubs. He was coming up to get his clownfish pencil sharpener he’d forgotten on his nightstand. I knew I was toast when George opened the door and turned his head towards the tank.
“Kile, what are you doing!” he yelled. He ran up to the tank and started screaming. I dunked my head back into the water to avoid his annoying cries. Through my goggles, I could see George grimacing back at me through the glass. If he wasn’t such a pansy, he would try to punch through it to clobber my face. Instead, he continued to stand there, screaming. My brother may be smart, but he never knows how to win a fight. All he does is stand and whine until some adult sees his pathetic chubby hands flailing around. I don’t know what he was trying to get out of this. Mom was talking to a neighbor two houses down and would never hear him. Thankfully, I had my snorkel on and could stay under the water for as long as I wanted. At least as long as it would take for George to lose his breath from yelling.
To my surprise, George’s mouth started to move, which meant he was actually speaking words. Curiosity got the best of me, and I lifted my head out of the water. “The fish tank is for fish, Kile!” yelled George.
“But it feels so nice,” I retorted.
George paused in bewilderment. For a second, I almost thought his face was paralyzed. “Get out of my fish tank!” screamed George.
“No, I’m hot,” I protested.
By this point, George’s face had gotten so tensed and red that it looked like it was going to burst like those rotten tomatoes my mom always leaves in her garden.
“Kile! Get out of my fish tank!” screamed George again. I put my head back under the water. This conversation was clearly going nowhere. Mom wouldn’t get back for at least another twenty minutes. She really likes to talk to our neighbor about their garden of these disgusting vegetables called heirloom eggplants. I had plenty of time. George's lips continued to flail with no sound coming out of them as I stared back at him. The entire experience was almost spooky. It was as if I had entered a protective bubble with chaos swirling around the outside. George turned around and leapt on his bed. He started screaming again. Two pillows shaped like fish bounced in front of him. He picked one up and threw it at the tank.
I giggled as it bounced off the glass and landed on the floor. George had finally stopped his screaming. He looked down at the floor in pensive frustration. To my concern, he was grinning mischievously when he lifted his head to look at me again. George smiling that way is never a good sign. He walked back over to the tank and continued to look at me with this smile until his face almost pressed against the glass. He then pointed upwards. He was signaling me to get my head out of the water. I took my head out and looked down at him.
“What is it?” I asked.
George looked downward to the far right side of the tank and pointed.
“That filter doesn’t clean out everything you know,” he said in a foreboding tone.
I looked down to where he was pointing. I couldn’t see anything through the stirred water, so I put my snorkel back in and put my head under. The two clownfish still huddled in the back of the tank. They were surrounded by these strange white vine thingies that floated around my face. That was when I put two and two together. The fish were taking frightened dumps. I shot my head out of the water and clambered out of the tank. George was laughing hard.
“Eww, gross!” I yelled.
Water dripped all over the carpet as I struggled back down the stool and ran out of George’s room. He was still laughing when I had made it down the stairs. It was at this point that I realized my dilemma. Instead of going to the bathroom, my panic had taken my soaking body all the way down the carpeted staircase. Against my better judgement, I ran across the kitchen to the nearest door. When I got to the back door, I turned around. I had left a clear long puddle of water from his room to the other end of the house. If mom got home too soon, I’d be dead meat. All I could do was dry myself and the tile kitchen floor with a towel and pray that she wouldn’t come through the front door.
Within the next fifteen minutes, I had taken a beach towel from the closet and dried myself off as best as I could before I wiped down the floor. The thought of fish turds touching my face led me to rinse my head over the kitchen faucet.
The carpet was a lost cause. It had already soaked up the poo water and was impossible to dry completely. I could only hope my parents wouldn’t notice it was damp. George would tell on me anyway, but at least there wouldn’t be as much mess for them to complain about. I went out through the back door to stand in the sun when I heard my mom come through the front door. She came outside when she saw me basking in the middle of the lawn from the kitchen window.
“Sweety, why are you so wet?” she asked. George came downstairs and stood behind her. He gave me that same malicious smile that will forever haunt me. “Uh, I was playing with the hose.” I stammered. George was going to spill the beans, but I might as well try. I looked around for anything that could help me craft a convincing story. An empty kiddie pool George and I used to play in when we were toddlers was sitting under a giant oak behind me.
“I was just playing around with the hose and was about to fill the old pool,” I explained. “I just wanted to cool off.”
“He wanted to swim with the fishes,” whined George. Mom looked around at George in confusion.
“Swimming with the fishes? What do you mean?” she asked.
“He wanted to put them in the pool.” continued George. He clenched his face. George was using the oldest trick in the book. That trick was making fake tears. “He tried to get some out of the tank and got water all over the floor before I stopped him,” he moped.
My mom glared at me. “Kile! You know those things will die in cold water. What were you thinking!”
To be honest, I didn’t know those fish would die in cold water. Not that I’d ever try to move them. My mom didn’t have enough sense, however, to realize that I didn’t listen in to every one of George’s biology lectures at the dinner table. I knew before that I was going to be screwed, but now I was going to be obliterated. “I wasn’t doing that!” I protested.
“Yes, you were!” said George. “You got the carpet all wet when I chased you out of the room.”
Never before had I wished that the neighbors' hedges besides me would consume me and make me disappear more than I did at that moment. I had forgotten to dry up the water I had spilled around the tank. There was nothing I could do. Mom would go up to George’s room, and the proof was all there. My parents would always believe George. When he wasn’t getting pummeled by playground bullies, he always won.
Mom turned around and rushed up the stairs. I walked around the house to see George’s bedroom window. The two clownfish were looking outside. I imagined them staring down at me defiantly. They had given their revenge, and I was paying the price. Stupid George.
Fish Tank Surprise
15 and up
I can turn popular internet phenomena into engaging and unique stories
Hook: kid takes a swim in fish tank
surrealistic fiction readers
firstname.lastname@example.org : no current website
graduated high school
writing for one year and counting
like surrealistic writing
listen to Big B
Was born in St. Paul
Why would we need brakes? Chapter 7
“So, I talked to the Va-Ra today.” Lab said as he closed the door behind his old friend. The little apartment, wafting heavy scents of seafood, was warm and busy, yet unmistakably some hint of great melancholy lingered between the walls.
“Is this really what you want to bring up?” Asked Couchant, taking off his jacket and then bending down to take off his shoes. “As soon as I’ve walked in?”
“She wasn’t stoked,” said Lab. “She’s right. You know she’s right,” replied Couchant. “Well,” murmured Lab, suddenly intrigued by the window. “You’re making a mistake. I don’t know why you need me to tell you that.” Out the window, the city hustled and whizzed, Couchant silently took off his
shoes as he and Lab gazed. In the far distance, from the launch boats in the harbor, rockets ascended symmetrically with shooting stars. A particularly large one, a Colonizer, crept its way upward, dwarfing the impotent tail-fires of nearby rockets. 450 years until it reached its destination. Couch thought of Lab strapped into a cryo-bed aboard that monolith. He shuddered and stood up. “It’s far.”
“Leaving’s gonna make us happy, man.” Lab glanced over at Fee-Bi, girlfriend of the year, busying herself with the food.
“It’s running away,” said Couchant. “You shouldn’t quit your job.” Lab turned, “Anyone need a beer? Perf, Couch?” While Lab fished through the refrigerator for beers, Couchant gave a friendly hug
to the silent Perf, “Too far?” he whispered. Perfunctory shook her head. “No, but it won’t work, Couch.” She was from a
long line of polite breeding where speaking her opinion was frowned upon, unless it came after four to five nights of careful dancing around the subject. Already, she knew that her coworker’s attempts would be futile.
“I know. But I have to try.”
Nestled together in a styrofoam box on the floor, twelve aracrabs slept in a cold- induced nightmare. Couchant picked one up by the corner of its triangular body. All twelve of its legs were curled, including the massive stingers at the back, “Stinger’s the best meat on the ’ole thing” a grizzled Tritonian fisherman would be glad to tell you.
“Express missile all the way from Triton,” mused Couchant. “How you cookin’ ’em?”
“I’m going to put them in the pot then bring it to a boil.” Replied Fee-Bi, “It’s easy. I thought it would be a nice going away gift. Lab’s always talking about how your families used to eat ’em together.”
“I usually boil the water then puttem in. They suffer less that way,” said Couchant coolly. Fee-Bi turned away from her pan, measuring Couchant’s intentions. Lab handed Couchant a beer, and Fee-Bi turned back to the pan of mushrooms she was preparing.
Lab was chipper as they returned to the dinner table. “I was talking to my brother, back on Triton, we’ve been jumping through hoops trying to clear up our sis’ estate. Collie left a lot behind, an apartment, the business, the lease on the office building; it’s just a lot, man. Of course, I don’t mind that my brother gets it all. What could I possibly do with it anyways,” He attempted a chuckle and looked at Couchant hopefully, saw only a concerned frown, kept going, “Anyways, Pug can have it all for what I care. I mean, whatever right? I can’t bring myself to fight over what Collie left behind. And this way, I’ll be far far away.” He trailed off in a soma grin, before hastily adding, “It’s just too difficult to be here. I’m not happy.”
Couchant took a long sip from his Jupiter Pale Ale. “Pretty good JPA, right? Brewed right here in the city,” said Lab. He was trying to get Couchant to respond positively to absolutely anything. Couchant nodded and said something complimentary about hops.
“So tell me a bit about the colony,” Perf finally spoke after an uninspired conversation about nearby breweries.
“Uhh, yeah. So it’s in the Gravita’s quadrant of Sheffield galaxy. Apparently it’s highly, what do they say? Suitable- or something?”
“Habitable,” interrupted Couchant.
“Right, habitable. So we just get there and it’s like a new world. We get to create it ourselves, I think. Her family left to go there, like what?” He called over to Fee-Bi, “Hey Bi, how long ago did your mom and dad take off?”
“So they’ll get there in, like, 300 more years,” Lab laughed with just a hint of discomfort. “The company said something about us building our own house. We get land.”
“How much?” Asked Couchant. “I don’t remember,” again Lab laughed. “You don’t know how much land you’re getting?” “Well, y’know? I came to Callisto not knowing anything, either. Remember?
You just told me it was good here, and you set that job up for me, so I came. Didn’t even look it up first.”
“That’s insane,” said Couchant. “You should have atleast looked it up.”
“We’re going to miss you at the office,” Perf added. “Crab almost ready, Bi?” Fee-be nodded back. She was listening closely to the conversation at the table.
Couchant wondered just how much of the plan was hers. “Remember the aracrab boils we’d have back home? Fresh caught. Those were the days, huh?” mused Lab.
“Really? I’ve never tried it before,” said Perfunctory. “Growing up, I heard that if they sting you it’s really bad and I always avoided them.”
Lab and Couchant both looked at each other, suddenly they became very serious. “Yeah, almost lost my dog to one when I was young. Caught them on the ice, three of ’em surrounding her,” said Couchant.
“You damn near got yourself killed, too. Kids can’t handle the venom as well,” supplied Lab. They both looked over at the trembling Perfunctory, staring at the now- empty styrofoam box with horror. The two scoundrels burst out laughing. “We’re kidding, we’re kidding,” said Lab in-between peals of laughter.
“They don’t have any venom, they use the stingers to spear little shrimpsters and fish, then bring them into their mouths,” explained Couchant after calming down a little.
Fee-be brought over a platter of the cooked creatures and Lab began busily eating. Couchant, the familiar and long-lost smell overwhelming him, almost missed Perf’s look of polite fear. Still a little afraid of what, until a few moments ago, she assumed were deadly beasts. He handed her an aracrab and began demonstrating the process of opening, breaking, picking, and eating the complicated little thing. “It gets easier,” he winked. “Everytime it gets easier and quicker. Back on Triton, we spent
hours picking and eating and talking all together at the table. It’s really the ceremony of it all.”
Fee-Bi held the aracrab awkwardly, inspecting without making any moves. Next to her, Lab was busy with his own. She clearly wanted his help. She looked across the table to where Couchant was showing Perf how to break open the stingers. He punched out the stinger with a little fork, used the furthest-most tooth of the tool to get inside the claw, and then split the top portion of it with a lever-like movement, all while slowly explaining what he was doing.
“Baby, could you show me how to eat it?” Fee-Bi asked Lab very quietly.
“Yeah, you just uhh,” his mouth was full of meat, his hands moving quickly on the shell, cracking and picking, “You just, you know, you just eat it.” He broke a leg in half, revealing a long sliver of teal meat, “Like this, you see?”
“I don’t see.” She said calmly.
Lab put down the remains of his aracrab and let out an overlong sigh. “Well, hand it over here. I’ll do it.”
“I can do it myself, just show me how.”
Perfunctory, now fairly comfortably picking at the center shell, and Couchant, picking inattentively at leg meat, lazily watched the two.
“Fuck, well uh, so what you do,” Lab sounded exhausted and exasperated as he explained the process of breaking and eating the aracabs. To Couchant it seemed silly to be so fed up, so tired by such a simple request from his fiancée. He watched curiously as Lab made the process of eating the wonderful little creatures sound like a death sentence.
“And then you, uh, you eat the little bit of meat and keep going. Keep going and going. It’s always a small amount of meat. Never even a mouthful. But you gotta keep going. It takes hours sometimes to get full eating these,” said Lab.
Fee-Bi began to pick it up and the four them sat silently, crunching through the armored spiders. Couchant tried to remember the last time he had eaten aracrab. But really he just thought about Lab, tried to remember the last time he had seen him happy. Truly happy. It couldn’t have been all that long ago. They had been on Jupiter together for three years now. He couldn’t recall anything from the past year he would call a “happy Lab memory”. There were short bursts, like that little joke about the stingers, but never anything more than that. Never a night or evening worth of smiles and jokes. He thought back, tried to dig up what exactly “a happy Lab memory” was anyways.
A distant memory of some juvenile night; an adventure where they stole without stakes. The time they drank their first beers walking through an abandoned house; lusted over classmates: “I just want to see her naked. That’s all. I swear.” Gawked at a 40ounce. Belted out the words to a distant pop song. “Bruh, this is what I’m gonna grind to at the dance.” Drunkenly tumbling across time and space to wrangle pizza. Sun on their backs as they skated across long abandoned roads, carcrafts whizzing by far overhead; waiting patiently for licenses to fly their own. Lab got his first, chauffeured for half a year; the whole crew lustily stared out of the windows while hunting for something; riding for youth. Late at night, the rest of the party asleep, a final beer on the roof of an abandoned building, longing for the stars, “How far will we go?” One of them asked. Lab and Couchant, clanging their bottles together before throwing them with a
laugh. Back to aracrabs, bits of shell slicing little cuts in his hand as he hungrily picked. Where had that friend gone?
Fee-Bi was picking her aracrab apart with some skill now. Lab had finished his own, cracking and slurping without a word. Crushed claws falling into a repurposed tissue bin provided the only sound in the apartment.
“This is fucking stupid,” Couchant nearly shouted across the table. “You could do anything Lab, anything.”
“Why can’t you let him do what he wants?” said Fee-be, putting down the leg she had been working on. “We love each other. Can’t you accept that?”
“This has nothing to do with how much you love each other. Getting on that rocket is a mistake. No one knows what those worlds are like, you can’t come back once you’ve gone.”
Lab continued to pick at aracrab, looking down and away from either arguer. “And my parents,” yelled Fee-Bi. “Am I supposed to never see them again?” “If you wait, and use the money your sister left behind for you, you can get a
posttraining from some school on Venus or something. I thought that was your plan? How can you just suddenly decide to throw everything away?”
Finally Lab spoke, “Well, Fee-Bi wants to go now. And I don’t want her to go alone. So now’s the time.”
Wading, treading through this nasty patch of excuses and logic. No two comments had sequence. What Fee-Bi brought up was different than what Couchant had argued against. Lab deflected to things that weren’t even adjacent to the others’ points. Their words neatly avoided each other; they did loops, made circles and figure-eights in
the air, but never met. Their voices grew louder but more distant from each other’s loops.
“I left my job three months ago! There’s no reason for me to stay here!” Yelled Fee-Bi.
“Get posttraining first! They need skilled workers on those colonies! Give it some time, and then make the decision!” Couchant shouted.
“I don’t want to be here anymore!” Lab. “This isn’t what your sister would have wanted!” “And what about my parents?” “I don’t want to be anywhere anymore.” “You’re driving him into a deeper hole! If you two are in love then you can be
apart for a few years. It’s not his fault you quit your job and miss your family.” “Why do you hate us? You’ve always hated us!” “I don’t want to be anymore.” After some time, back and forth with no ground given, an uneasy silence fell over
the desiccated shells. Fee-Bi and Couchant stared at each other, hate, some distant memories, and shared sadness stuffed up the air in the cramped room.
“You know, Lab and I have been through so much together,” said Fee-Bi, a clever crinkle alit from her brow and Couchant became furious. “We just-” and immediately her face formed into a snivel, eyes down as she inhaled upwards, the beginnings of tears, “We just. We mean so much to each-”
“No!” Couchant interjected aggressively, “If you’re going to cry we aren’t talking about this. Don’t use that fucking trick on me,” Couchant was at his logical worst, all patience and empathy sapped. “You stop the fake tears now.”
Fee-Bi sniveled again, doubling down. “We just.” “I refuse.” Growled Couchant, leaning forward over the table. They held the moment, ensconced in their shared stubbornness. An arrogant
curve replaced the wrinkled frown. “Fine,” breathed Fee-Bi. “But we will be leaving on a Colonizer.”
If there had been a hope, a sliver wandering free against all odds, that what Couchant would say this night would succeed, he knew now that it was gone. She would play any card to win. She had complete control over her emotions and she had complete control over Labrador. Long after Couch left, she would remain, wash the dishes, rehash the argument, present biases. Couch knew this was an act of self-immolation. He looked hopelessly at his friend. His pride wouldn’t allow him to get up and leave, even if he knew he should. There’s no cure for grief. No shot to the arm or advice from a friend. There was a gap that Couchant, despite his intentions, his anger, his power, and arrogance, could not cross. He sighed, and settled back into his chair.
After some quiet time of scavenging the remaining aracrabs, Couchant patiently showing Perf the best parts and methods whilst avoiding any eye contact with the couple across from him. Eventually Perf stood up and offered to help with the dishes. Lab and Perf cleared the table while Couchant produced a bottle of whiskey from the jacket he had hung by the door. Fee-Bi grabbed two cups. They clinked the cups together as Lab and Perf ran the water. “Some music, Couch?” Lab called over from the sink.
“Something heady, alright?” said Couchant, pulling up a projected image above the table, typing exactly what he had in mind. The song started, just percussion, a video of a young band on a cloudy stage. One kept rhythm on a pair of bongos while another tapped at a drum kit. The sweet sound of a Spanish guitar cut through, the percussion continued. “This is like, what? 200 years old or something?” laughed Lab. Back to percussion, just percussion, image-triplicated the drummer moved at an unfathomable speed, banging out a cacophonous solo, the band let him go; Fee-Bi and Couchant downed their drinks just as he stopped. Immediately, the guitar roared in, the drums started again; the chords of the wordless chorus flowed through the room as whiskey flowed into Couch and Bi’s glasses.
“This was Collie’s favorite band,” Lab said to the air.
Couchant sighed, this wasn’t going to get better. He glanced toward Lab then back to Fee-Bi, sitting in a motionless boil, he took a sip, knowing full well what was coming. Perf and Lab returned to the table. Perf avoided eye contact. She was determined to be outwardly neutral.
“Anywhere I go, I’m afraid something will remind me of her,” continued Lab.
Couchant had never been there. Grief and mourning were only casual acquaintances to him. The luck and grace of his life, one easy ride after another. The seas had never arisen and pulled him under, had never destroyed someone so close to him. He wanted to be closer to Lab, to know how to comfort someone so thoroughly broken. Couchant only knew how to march on. For him it had always worked, whatever crucible presented itself he marched over. But he hadn’t faced this. He had never lost like this. He had no advice, he tried but he knew he couldn’t muster the correct empathy.
He could only place himself in his friend’s shoes; and himself, cold and untested, could only imagine marching forward.
Again, their circles filled the air, silently this time, and smelling faintly of whiskey, but again, these circles did not overlap. All circles floated, nearly touching. Forming invisible halos around the holograms overhead.
Maybe patience, he mused, filling the glasses around the table. His little whiskey flagon had exhausted itself. Fee-be mentioned something to Lab about “those bottles in the closet”. Patience. And he had already lost that this night. This culmination of a night, the nuclear option. It had been almost a full year of mourning. Even before Collie had passed, the light had left Lab’s eyes. Couchant had tried to convince him to march. Invited Lab, again and again, to come out of his grief. Invintations to parties. Invitations to quiet drinks. To play video games. To meet with the other guys. A loud nightclub where they didn’t have to talk. Sports, a spot of exercise. Spurned invitations. Sympathy turned to frustration. Patience had left Couchant, now there was only his naive empathy. His empathy had turned into a simple command: march. And he knew Lab’s thoughts were just as simple: run.
“She left me all these music files,” Lab waved his hand and a new window appeared above the table. In it, a jumble of unorganized folders, labeled only by band or album name. Lab commented on a few, highlighting them, Couchant opined and agreed. Much of Collie’s taste was near to his own. Back on Triton, the few times Couchant and her had met they had gotten along well. He asked if Lab could send him the files later, to which Lab enthusiastically agreed. Perf picked a few as well. Fee-Bi remained on a low boil.
The last clangorous riffs of the song merged into a harmonious ending. Couchant stood up to wash his hands. “Thank you, Fee-Bi. The food was wonderful.” He tried to summon the little twinkle of casual affection that had gotten him out of so much trouble in the past. Fee-be managed a smile that was suspiciously close to a glare. Lab got up to fetch something from the closet.
He brought back a very proper looking bottle of wine. “How about this? Collie left a few bottles to me. She was a huge wine fan, even though she couldn’t drink any during those last few months,” Lab looked at the floor. Couchant had returned to the table, everyone stared sadly at the bottle of wine. “Anyways, she would have wanted us to drink it. Babe, where’s the corkscrew?”
“I thought it was in the cupboard over there.” Lab rummaged through it. “It’s not here,” he called back to the table. “Try the closet where you were keeping it.” “Not in here either,” his voice a little higher. Stress creaked through. “Under the speaker stand?” Lab, frantic: “Where is it? We had it just the other day.” “Maybe-” “Babe,” Lab cut her off. “Where the fuck is it? How could we lose it? I swear,
just the other day. I can’t fucking handle this shit, where is it?” “I don’t know,” replied Fee-Bi. “Maybe there’s another way we can open it.” “Like how? Fuck,” said Lab. “Fuck.” He was livid. “I saw a video where they opened one with a shoe, once,” offered Perf.
“Yeah, that’s something, right?” Added Couch with his hand over his brow so that he wouldn’t have to see Lab like this.
“I don’t know how to do that,” said Lab. “Can y’all do that?” “I don’t think so.” “Babe, let me help,” cooed Fee-Bi, moving to take the wine bottle from his hands.
He jerked it away violently. “I swear I had one just the other day,” Lab was speaking directly to Couchant, as
if pleading. “Just the other day, I opened some wine with it.” “Well, uhhh, yeah,” Couchant stammered. “I believe you.” “Babe, give me the bottle,” Fee-Bi was at wits end, standing at his shoulder trying
to reach the bottle as he held it as high as he could. “I had one. Really. It was right over there,” he pointed near the door at a junk jar
on the windowsill. He hastily walked over, and frantically poured the contents onto the floor. No corkscrew. A bit of a mess in the entryway. He looked at Couchant with a desperate and exasperated look in his eyes.
“Babe, please, please sit down,” Fee-Bi had calmly walked to his side, she gently guided him to the table. “I’ll figure something out.”
Couchant watched as she used a knife to dig out the cork. “It’s going to get bits of cork in it,” cried Lab. “You’ll ruin it!”
“It’s fine, really,” Couch tried reassuring him, “It will be fine.” He said it in what he hoped was a soothing tone. Perf tried calming him as well, Fee-Bi worked at the cork diligently.
“Shit, the cork went through,” said Fee-Bi.
“It’s fine,” said Perf. “I’ll drink it.” “Yeah no problem here,” Couchant. Lab sulked, said nothing at all as they filled his glass. Little bits of cork floated to
the top but went unremarked upon. They held their breath as they took a sip. “Fee-Bi,” Couchant quietly said. “He’s in no shape to get on that rocket.” He
knew that to be true; those planets were unoccupied; he needed a support system; all alone with just Fee-Bi, she was taking on too much.
“I’ll like it there,” said Lab from some great distance. “I’ll be with Fee-Bi. And her family. I’ll be happy.”
“It’s our only choice,” said Fee-Bi.
“It’s too soon,” Couchant pleaded. He imagined Lab, alone, a few light-years away with that same far-off look on his face, surrounded by alien terrain.
“I want to be with my family,” Fee-Bi spoke directly and quietly. “He’ll be happy there.”
“Putting him to sleep for 400 years won’t make him happy.” “We,” she measured each word carefully. “Need to go now.” “You need to be more patient, uprooting him won’t make this easier.” “We’re going.” “I want to be happy,” muttered Lab. “We’re going to be happy,” Fee-Bi said to both of them. “Why are you so intent on rushing this?” asked Couchant through gritted teeth. “Why are you so intent on stopping it?” accused Fee-Bi. “I care about him, too.”
“Then let him go. He’s going to be happy.” “I want to be happy.” Couchant inhaled deeply. He finished his drink. Pulled little red pieces of cork
out of his mouth and placed them onto the napkin in front of him. There was no noise. He stood up.
“I’m leaving. It’s clear you’ve made up your minds.” “Where are you going?” demanded Fee-Bi. “Sit down! Don’t leave us here! We just want to be happy!” It exploded. “He’s not going to be happy, Fee-Bi!” He turned from her to Lab, he looked him directly in the eyes. “You’re not going to be happy for a while.” A pause. “And that’s ok.” Couchant made for the door. Lab stood up and rushed after him, put his hand on
Couchant’s shoulder. Couchant turned around, Lab said nothing and looked down into the distance. Couchant brushed his arm off and leaned down to empty his shoe of little bits from the junk jar. In the bay, a rocket launched with a great cacophony of sound that no one in the room could hear.
“You’re pathetic! I hate you!” Fee-Bi, began yelling from her chair, breaking the two men at the door apart. “We cooked you dinner and you speak to us that way! Get out of my home!” She stayed glued to the chair, willing to keep going until the ghastly man was driven out. She kept yelling, but Couchant had gotten his shoes on and stopped listening.
Lab stood with his eyes down. Couchant was willing to listen to him, to hear any sign that he wasn’t lost forever.
“You know, dude,” started Lab. “You gotta go. I can’t. You gotta go.” One final sigh from Couchant. A long, sad exhale. He retreated down the corridor, then the elevator, then into the taxi-carcraft, through the short choppy flight, all
in one long, sad exhale. From his bedroom window he looked into the winking stars. “Those were memories,” He muttered. “We mustn’t hold memories.” He never saw Lab again.
From Why Would We Need Brakes? (unpublished)
Literary Sci-Fi (genre)
25-35 (age range)
61k (word count)
Alexander Prestia (author)
An analogy for loneliness in an ever growing world (fit)
Gatsby in space (synopsis and hook)
Sci-fi readers looking for something more grounded, literary fiction readers looking for something more far-out (audience)
An American expat working as a writing teacher, currently living under lockdown in Shanghai, China. (bio)
Masters of International Business from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (education)
Poetry has been previously published in ASPZ Literary Magazine. (experience)
Wish I was Woolf, more like Herbert. (writing style)
Dreaming of the open road, but that's just Covid-22 talking. (likes/hobbies)
Richmond, Virginia (hometown)
This little life.
This little life that I cherish,
much to the amazement of spectators and strangers,
brims with more love
than one little soul should be able to contain.
And I find myself thinking how apt that is,
Because I see courage
in her fearless leaps, her scaling
of the giants who populate her world.
I see such faith in her sweet face
when she is caught by my hands
before she can fall,
and she tempers herself
in no manner for that
She exists so brilliantly
and she burns so brightly
and it moves this heart I thought
They say though she be little, she is fierce
and my God, isn’t she just?
Fierce in all things, in all aspects
of her fragile being,
she hums with exuberance
and thrums with unburdened joy
and she is little
but she is
And she is fading, my sweet girl.
She is growing dimmer every day,
with every labored breath that she
drinks from the air that
is more ocean
her fire fades and stifles
this little life a little more.
She seeks me out now,
perfect hands grasping at my own,
hands I hope never brought her
fear or pain,
and nestles her face
into the crook of my arm
and she struggles to breathe.
So little time left to this little life
and she would have these
moments with me.
Of all the places she could be,
she searches for this one.
She reaches for me
and I will hold her until she
lost in the amazement that
such a little thing
could love so loud.
And I hope I was worthy of this little gift,
of our short days and the years that were
anything but enough,
of the little life
in a little soul
A Ghost and Human Cannot Fall In Love?
On a late Saturday afternoon, it was in the middle of spring and it was a very sunny warm day. There was a young woman named, Mira Stones, she had long light brown wavy hair tied back into a pony tail with a small plait in it and she had deep blue eyes. She wore a dark green unzipped hooded jacket, a teal gemstone necklace, a light brown long – sleeved shirt, grey trousers and black shoes. She was twenty – one years old and she had a large dog by her side, the dog was male and his name is Gray. Gray was 60 centimetres tall; he had a thick coat with a mix of black, white and grey coloured fur. His eyes were a light blue colour and his tail was thick and fluffy with a bit of black at the end of the tail, the rest of the tail were a mix of white and grey. Mira had always been loved by all animals she came across and loved them back, she had always loved all animals it’s in her blood, her entire family loved animals. She could also understand animals not by speech, but resonating to their hearts. There was one animal she could hear their voice and that is Gray, her best friend who happens to be a Siberian Husky. Mira and Gray were walking through the forest, the forest looked like one of those forests where a serial killer would hunt down their victims in a horror movie, but Mira wasn’t the type of person who would watch them. There was no reason for either Mira or Gray to be in that forest and it just happened that Mira got lost again, which happened quite frequently. Mira is actually scared of all that horror supernatural stuff like Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies.
“Um… Gray, do you know where we are?” Mira asked him unsure.
“Mira, we are in a forest just have a look around, but I have no idea how you got us here,” Gray said to her calmly.
Mira then had a good look around, but she suddenly got scared holding tightly on to Gray.
“Gray, this forest, it’s like those forests in those horror movies where the serial killer killed their victims in,” Mira said terrified.
“Mira… we’re not in a horror movie and besides I can’t breathe,” Gray said having trouble breathing.
Mira then released Gray from her tight hold and Gray took a breath.
“I’m sorry Gray,” Mira said to him sadly.
“Calm down Mira, it’s okay, I forgive you,” Gray said to her kindly.
Mira gets up from holding on to Gray and calms down.
They walked through the forest, they were in pretty deep and then they had come across a house with a beautiful garden, the most beautiful garden they had ever seen. They could see a small pond with gold fish in it, many roses surrounded the pond, there was even rows of veggies of vivid colours, there were no scarecrows to scare all the crows away, but the garden was even more beautiful than that. Mira could only see a little bit of the garden, she entered the garden though Gray seemed to be on alert, but Mira could sense all the warmth coming from it. They both had gotten deeper into the garden and could see all its beauty.
“Hello is there anyone there? I’m sorry for trespassing,” Mira apologised.
“Mira, we should get out of here, there’s something about this place that makes me feel so uneasy,” Gray said to her uneasy.
“It will be fine Gray and besides this garden is beautiful,” Mira replied.
“That shouldn’t matter Mira,” Gray replied worriedly.
Soon Mira would meet a young man who seemed to be the same age as her, but he had a strange feeling to him. He had smooth silky jet – black hair and very beautiful vivid green eyes. He wore a black soldier’s cap with an insignia of white wings on it, the insignia represents freedom, he wore a formal black uniform with a white dress shirt and the white wings of freedom insignia on the right chest of the black formal jacket. Mira had met the young man in the garden just outside a small house, but the young man had a secret.
“It looks so pretty,” Mira said in awe of the garden’s beauty.
“Mira, don’t you find it strange that no animals are here at all?” Gray questioned her.
“Yeah, a bit, but you’re still here, that’s what matters,” Mira replied happily.
“I’m only here for you Mira,” Gray replied.
“What do you mean, Gray?” She asked him confused.
“This place smells of death,” Gray said to her terrified.
Gray looked like he was shaking right in front of Mira, she had never seen him like that before, seen him shake in fear.
“Death! Gray, I have never seen you shake in fear like this”. “Gray, calm down, you don’t need to be afraid not when I’m by your side,” Mira said to him kindly.
“Thanks Mira, I appreciate it,” Gray replied.
Then Gray calms down as Mira comforts him with a hug and she gets back up a minute later.
Then a young man appeared before both Mira and Gray in a mysterious way. He had smooth silky jet – black hair and very beautiful vivid green eyes. He wore a black soldier’s cap with an insignia of white wings on it, the insignia represents freedom, he wore a formal black uniform with a white dress shirt and the white wings of freedom insignia on the right chest of the black formal jacket.
“Hello Miss, can I help you or your Wolf?” He asked her a bit surprised.
“Who are you?” Mira asked.
“Get away from him Mira, he’s dangerous,” Gray warned her.
“Calm down Gray,” Mira said to him calmly.
“I am Raymond, you may call me Ray for short, but who are you Miss?” He asked her.
“My name is Mira and this is Gray, he’s a Siberian Husky,” Mira replied.
“Gray seems to dislike me, but all animals do. Most animals won’t even come near this place, so I just wonder how Gray got here,” Ray said out loud.
“Gray always stays with me no matter where I go,” Mira replied.
“That’s quite interesting Miss Mira, but why are you here?” He asked her curiously.
“Well actually I was on my way home and got myself lost, it happens a lot,” Mira replied embarrassed.
“You got lost, where do you live, I could take you there?” He asked her.
“Well I don’t want to bother you, but I live in the Azure District,” Mira replied.
“But that’s an hour away, how could you get lost so badly,” Ray said surprised.
“Yeah, I get lost easily, but the animals usually help me,” Mira replied a bit embarrassed.
“The animals help you,” Ray questioned her.
“It’s a bit strange, but for some reason I can attract any animal. They also help me, I have some connection to them, I don’t understand it myself,” Mira replied.
“If that’s true that would make sense, that explains why Gray is here and why there are a few birds in the tree up there, there are usually no animals here not even ants,” Ray explained.
“Miss Mira, I will take you home if you like,” Ray said to Mira kindly.
“I can’t burden you like that and besides it seems like it’s too far away,” Mira said to him.
“Then how will you get home? You don’t seem the best with directions,” Ray stated to her.
“You’re right I’m not great with directions, but if Gray’s here I will be fine, Gray has always shown me the right way home,” Mira said to him happily.
“Really, he shows you the way Miss Mira, he’s a smart dog,” Ray said to her.
“Is he patronising me?” Gray asked.
To Ray it seemed like Gray was barking at him and he was growling at him too.
“Gray calm down, he didn’t mean it that way,” Mira said to him kindly.
“It almost seems like you understand him,” Ray said to her.
“That’s not far off from the truth,” Mira replied.
Though Ray looked confused at her response.
“What do you mean?” He asked confused.
“I may be able to understand their hearts by resonating with them, but Gray is different I can actually hear his voice, to me it’s just like he’s talking as if he was a person,” Mira explained.
“That’s amazing Miss Mira it’s just like out of a fantasy novel,” Ray replied.
“Thanks Ray, but you don’t need to call me Miss, just Mira is fine,” Mira replied.
“Thank you, Mira,” Ray said to her.
“Ray, why do you live so far out in the forest?” Mira asked him curiously.
“I was very weak and frail as a child. I couldn’t handle the life in the City or Towns. This was the place I stayed as a child, it has many memories of my past, so I decided to come back here to be with those memories,” Ray replied hiding his sadness.
Though Ray hid his sadness from her, Mira could sense a sadness from him, but she didn’t understand at the time.
“I’m sorry, but are you still weak and frail as you were as a child?” Mira asked sadly.
“There’s no need to apologise, I am healthy as you can see, I got better,” Ray replied.
“That’s a relief, but those clothes you’re wearing,” Mira questioned.
“Is there something wrong with them?” Ray asked her wondering.
“No not at all, I was just curious about them,” Mira replied unsure.
Ray saw Mira’s unsure expression and thought of an idea.
“You know Mira, this place is known as the Ghost Graveyard, this is where they pass on after coming to peace with their deaths and that many travel down here to see the lights that are seen as the ghosts passing on,” Ray explained happily.
“Ah!” Mira screamed frightened.
“Um… Mira,” Ray said to her confused while shocked at the same time.
Then at that moment there was a rustle in the bush, but it was just a rabbit.
“Ah!” Mira screamed still frightened.
What was worse was that it was starting to get dark and Ray was so confused by Mira’s scream. Gray was growling at Ray and he was also glaring at him for terrifying Mira, even though Ray didn’t know about her fear. Mira had tears going down her face, she collapsed to the ground holding on to Gray again, but this time not so tightly that Gray couldn’t breathe.
“Mira, what’s wrong? Whatever I did I’m sorry,” Ray apologised.
“Are you an idiot? She’s afraid of Ghosts,” Gray questioned Ray, but it wasn’t like Ray could hear his voice.
“Mira, by any chance are you afraid of Ghosts?” Ray asked her concerned.
Mira nodded her head in response with tears still in her eyes, but Gray guards her fiercely.
“I won’t let you near Mira,” Gray said to him.
Ray goes over to Mira and he hugs her softly with kindness, Mira starts to calm down.
“His body it feels so cold, but yet I feel so warm inside,” Mira said inside her head happily.
“I’m sorry Mira, I did not mean to frighten you, I hope you can forgive me,” Ray replied to her.
“It’s okay Ray, I have calmed down now thank you, you couldn’t have known that about me, we just met, I forgive you, but I should be thanking you for calming me down, I’m sorry if I surprised you,” Mira said to him kindly.
Ray then released Mira from his hug once he noticed that she had calmed down and he backed away.
Genre: Supernatural, Fiction & Mystery
Age Range: 14+
Word count: 2,217
The three of them Raymond, Mira and Gray solve crimes together and eventually solve the gratest mystery of them all involving one of them.
Target Audience: Don't really have one, they just have to be fourteen & older.
About the story:
One day a girl gets ridculously lost with her best friend a husky named Gray, but he often gets mistaken as a wolf. When they get lost, they meet a mysterious guy, who is a bit strange, but the strange man helps them though Gray doesn't trust him. The girl is a Detective, the man helps out a little, but in their first case together. The girl and Gray discover a sad truth about the man.
Why this story:
I may have only shown you their meeting, but it's impactful. Also who wouldn't want a talking dog especially if it solves crimes with a Detective and mysterious man who was once a weak child and now strong. There will be sad, happy and frustrating moments. The story is basically solving crimes together and their friendship towards each other.
Synopsis: A young girl and a ghost fall in love with each other, but because of their different states of life and death they can't. It's basically two beings falling in love, learning about each other and solving crimes together, there's also a dog.
Likes: Mystery shows, writing, anime & drawing.
STARLESS and Bible Black
“STARLESS and Bible Black” is a collection of interrelated short stories in which I use science as a backdrop to put humanism in the foreground. This succeeds in rendering a fascinating juxtaposition of cosmic effect and psychological affect.
WORD COUNT 45,000
AUTHOR: Gerard DiLeo
A GOOD FIT: it appeals to those looking for a theme not explored previously.
HOOK: Our world thrown a cosmic screwball.
TARGET AUDIENCE: SciFi fans, intellectuals, curious, offbeat/quirky, esoteric, philosophers.
SYNOPSIS: STARLESS and Bible Black centers on a common premise that we are suddenly alone in the universe: on a crisp, clear night the stars and other planets vanish from our night sky. Suddenly, mysteriously, and totally. Would you really miss them? As science scrambles to explain it scientifically, scholars wax philosophical on existentialism, religions fall victim to irrelevance, and the rest of the world scrambles to try to make sense of what has happened. Individuals--each visited via a short story--must deal with the effect the phenomenon has on him or her. Why should this change anything? The stars had no tangible effect before they left. Why should their absence even matter?
The stories center on religion, fanaticism, financial markets and capitalism, coming of age, sexual encounters, the common man, and other motifs. It interweaves humor, pathos, and several other facets of the human condition. STARLESS and Bible Black explores our perspective of place in the universe, whether we notice or not.
BIO: I am a retired MD writing full time now, with an interest in introducing themes based on science into stories that center on humanism.
HOMETOWN: Boston, from New Orleans.
This book is completed. Please request a PDF if interested. Thanks.
August 20th, 1949 8:05 pm
Today I visited Thomas Kernel at VVP Magazine. After submitting multiple proposals over several years, countless ignored letters, and being actively removed by VVP security services from their facilities, Thomas Kernel requested that I meet with him to discuss the prospects of my proposals. He was, as I had expected, presently shocked and eventually dismayed at the time that had been wasted in releasing the contents of this story. I have spent the last 7 years compiling all the notes, letters, historical artifacts, and personal diaries of the respective characters within this book. What you are about to read is based on actual events. To the best of my ability, I have compiled these sources together into what I believe to be the transpired events.
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
The Evelyn's annual Ball
You are hereby invited to Lord and Lady Evelyn's Annual ball on Friday evening the tenth of May 1499. Hover Castle,West Verona.
Elizabeth sat in her blue fountain dress on a rock by the water. Her dress flew around her like a thousand birds in the light breeze. It was the night of the West Verona ball hosted by Lord Evelyn, a cherished court companion to the King, whose daughter was rumored to marry the young prince. Her body slightly shivered causing her to hunch into her shawl.
She turned around with a hint of dread to face her mother.
"Elizabeth, what have I told you about running off like that?"
Elizabeth stared at her mother. She loved her greatly, yet certain aspects of her mother's attitude towards life, made it harder for Elizabeth to live.
"I'm sorry", she whispered. It was always better to agree and apologize than to begin another argument that would result in her embarrassment.
"Good. You just have to understand that I just want the best for you." Elizabeth's mother, Lydia, placed her arms around her daughter's shoulders and led her back to the extravagant house. "Rumor has it that, Prince Alexander is thinking about choosing Lady Melanie to have the final dance with him. How exciting. Just think, to be able to waltz around with all eyes on you along the most eligible and wealthy gentleman of our county! How lucky she must be. Not to mention her moth-"
"I don't want to talk about it", whispered Elizabeth. This was the exact reason why she left.
They climbed the stars and a few court servants welcomed them into the ballroom. Elizabeth stared at the floor as she walked. She didn't want to meet anyone's eyes. Hardly anyone noticed her.
The ballroom was huge. It consisted of various chairs and extended couches that were accompanied by the old and frail. Couples twirled around the room grasping each other. Above everyone, stood the ceiling that held a shining chandelier fitted with candles that highlighted the night. Gold and ivory sculptors lined the wooden walls. A crimson and gold carpet covered the majority of the ballroom floor.
As they entered the ballroom through the large wooden doors on the left, Lydia abandoned Elizabeth's side to mingle with other mothers on the extended couches near the left side of the room. Elizabeth watched from her favored corner as the crowd of guests finished the final round of community dances. The main table at which the royal guests would sit through dinner was empty. It was time for the main occasion.
A buzz ran around the crowd of guests as Prince Alexander appeared at the top of the main staircase to the right of the ballroom.
Elizabeth walked around slowly, trying her best to cover her disappointment. She stared at him. His golden hair fell over his eyes, as if they were framing them for the world to see. His crystal blue eyes twinkled with pride and accomplishment. Elizabeth's heart felt as if it were going to jump out of her chest. She ran closer to the staircase to join the gathering crowd. Everyone stared at Alexander. A silence ensued as the court announced the arrival of His Royal Highness Prince Alexander.
As he smiled slightly at the gathering crowd that cheered his appearance, Alexander stepped to the side revealing Lady Melanie who trailed after him down the stairs and into the crowded ballroom. All eyes remained plastered on them. The young couple clasped and entwined their hands when they reached the center of the dance floor.
His hand reached around her back while the other held her hand. Her left hand gently rested on his shoulder and her right clasped. Then like magic the orchestra played and all eyes remained on the young couple as they turned around and around, her crimson red gown twirling around with her. It danced around the air and every once in a while he would dip her down to the floor and her lightly golden brown hair would slightly sweep the floor. Mesmerized by their dancing ritual, there was a hesitation in joining the dance even as the tone of music changed permitting other couples to join in a traditional volta dance.
The atmosphere seemed to change and Elizabeth could sense it. Other couples had begun to join the dance. Just as the volta demands, right on cue, all the girls were leaped into the air and twirled in a choreographed motion. Although other couples had joined, everyone had known well enough to keep a distance between the prized royal couple.
Even through the roar of the crowd laughter, dance, and music Elizabeth could hear her mother's desperate plea. "Go...Go.. on..now." She flustered her hands in a manic back and forth motion urging Elizabeth to join the dance from the other side of the ballroom. "Get with it".. Between every few jumps of the women, Elizabeth could she her mother's red and angered face. Feeling a round of embarrassment, her face flushed with red and she reached out forwards in an attempt to join the dancers and the next round of jumps only to be grasped onto the nearest gentlemen who she could find. He embraced her strongly and they swung into motion with the other dancers. At the nearest turn, Elizabeth could see her mother's relief.
Before she could even cheat a proper glance at her partner, the women twirled away from their partners and into the hands of another gentlemen. Turns and lifts of the volta were difficult to master. Before she knew it Elizabeth was soon in the arms of Bruce Hunter, who then in the next round of steps, twirls, and turns exchanged her to Gerald Chance. The faster the music went the faster the people threw themselves around.
Just before she blinked her eyes, Elizabeth spun around to find herself in strong hands. She opened her eyes and looked deep into Prince Alexander's eyes. He wouldn't look at her, but she stared at him. She clung to his chest and could smell his strong and pleasant scent. He looked down at her and at the changing beat he twirled her away from him and she spun into other's arms.
Everyone seemed to land into their original partners hands. Lady Melanie stumbled back to Prince Alexander, as Elizabeth opened her eyes to look into an unfamiliar one. Could this really have been the one who had introduced her into the crowd of dancers? His dark hair fell well into his green eyes and his tall stature was something she would have easily remembered as a distinguishable aspect. Despite her efforts, she could not remember meeting him before.
Elizabeth's partner clasped onto her. He was tall and strong enough to keep Elizabeth from running away. She didn't know who he was.
He leaned into her ear.
"Do I have the honor of knowing your name?"
"Who are you?" Elizabeth whispered.
"That's not what I asked you." He smirked. Elizabeth frantically looked around. Lady Melanie was leaning onto Prince Alexander holding onto to her mid section.
Before Elizabeth could respond, a gasp ran through the crowd. Everyone stopped dancing to look at Alexander and Melanie. Elizabeth's eyes stayed glued onto Lady Melanie who laid in Alexander's arms. Her body was bent backwards, he finally let go of her and she fell to the floor as screams ran throughout the ballroom. Blood filled the ballroom floor staining on the gold colored sections of the carpet.
"Help!" Lady Evelyn, Melanie's mother, ran forward and clasped onto her daughter's body. Alexander fell to his knees. Confusion spread around the party guests.
"Elizabeth!" Elizabeth turned around in a frenzy trying to find her mother.
"Mother!" she yelled, before a strong hand clasped to her mouth, silencing her. She tried to scream and fight, but it was useless. His strong hands twisted her neck hard and quickly. Everything disappeared before her, as her eyes snapped shut.
Title: The Princes
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Target age range: 15-25
Target audience: Young adults aged 15-25
Author: C.N. Tower (S.N.) **Please email author for full name and identity**
Education: M.S. in Physiology/M.S. Biophysics
Word Count: 41,404 words (Unfinished)
Good Fit/Themes: War, Love, Royalty, Gossip
Synopsis: A young journalist in the 1940s uncovers evidence of mythical vampires and a long forgotten city state, Verona. He crafts his evidence into a self published novel and details the tales of war between the mortal Veronians and the immortal vampires.
A book of quotes
Quotes express in a few words that others fail to do in so many. They are light fun and do not take much time to read.
Here are some of the quotes that could be made into a book.
1. If you want to succeed then never keep failing as an option.
2. Life is about ups and down it going down fearless and coming up confident and brave.
3. Don't be like sand near a seashore that washes away with every wave be like that rock that withstands even the most dangerous waves.
4. The world out there is going to believe you are ordinary until you prove them otherwise.
5. Save your intelligence for people capable of understanding it.
6. What could be more magical than dying for the same cause you lived.
7. We could never acknowledge to possess the very same qualities we detest in other people.
8. Be your worst critic the rest will look good.
9. For freedom commands a price the fools give it so do the wise.
10. We feel no remorse for our actions until held accountable for them.
AGE RANGE; 20-30s
WORD COUNT; 400-500
AUTHOR NAME; Robert N Brownshell
The project is a good fit for people who don't have time for reading large books but can squeeze in to read a few quotes.
target audience:- Mostly young professionals or anybody with an interest in reading quotes.
Synopsis;- A collection of good quotes that influence young minds.
BIO;- Just a girl from a small town with big dreams;
Education: Currently pursuing undergraduate
Experience:- Not so much in book publishing but a lifetime of gathering words.
Personality; Fun Creative with a touch of reality and never-ending curiosity about life that reflects in my work.
Likes; Writing and Dancing, singing basically everything there is to do in this world if given opportunity.
Five Calls in a Row
I really had no idea what I was doing here. Here, in this city, yes but not here. I don’t even remember pulling over to park my rental car. Somehow in an unaccounted for lapse in time, I ended up just standing on the sidewalk; looking straight up into the neon light of an unassuming bar’s sign.
Usually I would’ve looked online to see what the reviews for this place were before ever even considering stopping in. I would have changed my outfit according to the user review photos to make sure I would fit in. I would have looked over the menu options first to be prepared. I would have weighed it among the other local options. Instead, I looked like a lost kid out here on the street. I felt like I needed an adult’s assistance.
I reached out and pulled open the heavy wood door. They don’t make doors like this anymore. Well, my brother does. He makes custom, expensive, elaborate doors. He makes doors you could never find in one of the big box stores that are in all the new construction. This door was one of those kinds of special doors that showed its age when it creaked and groaned at the hinges.
I numbly shuffled in and picked the closest seat on a tattered barstool. My feet hung and kicked. I didn’t instinctively take out my phone to check in, or take any pictures to tag with explanatory captions. I just sat unusually straight with my hands on the bar. I don’t know why but I had this welling anxiety that I looked suspicious. I slumped over a little to lean on the bar to look more casual and debated internally whether to take my jacket off. I wasn’t used to this cold anymore so I decided to keep it on but unzipped it. Maybe it would show that I could, at any moment, relax and stay awhile.
A gruff looking man made eye contact with me from behind the bar. He was the absolute epitome of every cliché bartender I’d ever seen in movies. He was wearing a faded black t-shirt and stained jeans. I could see aged tattoos sticking out from his sleeves; indescribable writing and what looked like the bottom half of an eagle. He had a waist apron on, but it looked like it had already been a long night based on how used it was. He came over and stood with his arms crossed for a few seconds, leaning against the bar back before he initiated conversation.
“I’ve never seen you here before”.
“I don’t drink” I instantly replied. Why did I say it that way, like I was in trouble? “I never have actually. I never really wanted to until ... about two minutes ago”.
“Hmm. Well, you’re kind of in the wrong place for not drinking.” Luckily, his tone didn’t seem to inflict he was offended that I was basically trespassing in his establishment.
“Can you make me a White Russian, please?” I was surprised I still managed to be polite while blurting out my order.
He tipped his head to the side. Our dog does this when he doesn’t comprehend the command. “You have a specific drink request even though you don’t drink?”
“It is my mom’s favorite drink” I bashfully replied. I wished he would just stop looking at me now.
I closed my eyes and listened to how lively the atmosphere was in here. People were laughing, shooting pool, playfully riffing each other over really poor aim throwing darts. Music was playing from a jukebox somewhere in the back. I knew there was a strong likelihood 80′s bands were in record queue, specifically Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. Journey was palpable in air. Evitable. That will be problematic for this visit. Journey is my mom’s favorite band. I couldn’t handle Journey right now.
The bartender cracked one of his knuckles and I realized he was still standing there, just looking at me with a puzzled look on his face.
“I need to see some ID first before I can make you anything” he said, his tone very official. I’m sure he could tell based on how wrecked I must have looked from the last few days that I was obviously of age but I understood the formality.
I nodded and mechanically reached into my wallet. I handed over my ID and he flipped it back and forth.
“Arizona huh?” he asked, now realizing just how out of place I really was.
“I’m originally from here” I admitted.
“Not exactly the ideal vacation spot for January, wouldn’t you agree?”
I raised my big hazel eyes up to meet his and then lifted my head until it almost fell back in a nonverbal way to say I did very much agree and was not here for vacation purposes in the least.
Message received. He handed me my ID and walked over to the far side of the bar.
A man came up, noticing the break in conversation with the bartender, and put his very warm hand on my shoulder. I could feel the warmth even through my jacket and fleece. Maybe he was drinking to warm up from the cold outside. He reeked of smoke. He spoke clearer then I was expecting but he told me that they would be starting karaoke in five minutes and I should join them. I gave him a half smile and he stumbled away. I love karaoke normally and if I had come here intentionally, I would have willingly partook. Even as a sober person. This offering would definitely be something readers would be interested in if I was doing a review.
The bartender came back with a stocky glass, full of what looked like chocolate milk made by one my kids; the syrup-to-milk ratio was extremely unbalanced, highly in favor of the chocolate syrup. There was a little black stir straw sticking out. I crinkled my nose apprehensively and twirled the straw around a few times and blended it all together.
“Can I ask you a question?” I said, still staring into the dark milky mixture.
“What does this taste like?”
“You ordered something you've never tasted?" I assumed this was rhetorical."Well, to me, it’s always tasted like a melted chocolate milkshake.”
“So, it’s the kind of drink you drink when you don’t want people to think all you do is drink? Like, with wine or beer, the cans and bottles can really pile up, and that’s a dead giveaway you have a drinking problem, but this? This is a little more classy and discreet? Like, it’s fun and casual, not a big deal?” I could hear myself rambling and saying “like” way more than I should have been. I would have been penalized so heavily by Toastmasters right now.
“I guess you could say that”, he started to squint one eye and raise the other eyebrow.
The hot burn started of held back tears in my eyes. My jaw clenched. My thumb spun my wedding ring around, which my husband hates that I do when I’m nervous because he thinks it’ll fall and get lost. It’s an unconscious fidget. I usually twirl my hair but I was holding onto the glass so tightly.
“Do you think, um, someone could ever love this particular drink more than anything else in the world? Is this drink better than love?”
He leaned onto his elbows and scratched his scruffy face. He inhaled deeply and then in a breathy exhale said, “I honestly don’t think so”.
Without taking my eyes off his, I drank the entire drink and slammed the glass back down. I drank it so fast that I could feel a little milk mustache was left over. I wiped it away with the back of my hand.
The tears broke the levee and were streaming now. “You were right. It does taste like melted milkshake.”
I have no precedent for how good this drink was, but he seemed like a five star bartender. Really knew his stuff, master of his craft. Gave accurate expectations. Wasn’t too judgemental.
“Want another?” I’m sure he knew the answer before he asked but it was second nature, force of habit.
I reached for my wallet again to pull out cash and the bartender tapped the bar with his knuckle to catch my attention again. He took a long pause …“I’ve never had, or made, or know of this drink, or any other drink, that was better than love. Never even anything that came close.”
“I wish you had been my mom’s bartender then. You could have told her that.”
He winced, like when you get a nasty papercut. Something so small that just sends that piercing shock wave through your whole body. I tucked my hair behind my ear and turned to leave.
I put a ten dollar bill on the bar. I didn’t even know how much drinks at a bar cost but I assumed ten was enough. I hope I wasn’t insulting him if that didn’t include a tip. He was deserving of one. Maybe once I was out of this literal and figurative fog I could give him the review he deserved.
“Thank you for your assistance.” I gave a small silent wave past my shoulder, zipped up my jacket, and walked back through the impressive wood door. I wish I was in the mood to take a picture of this door; it had character.
As predicted, as soon as the door closed behind me, I could hear karaoke kicking off with those first tone deaf notes being belted out into the microphone of none other than Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. If I had come here under any other circumstances, I think I maybe would have given this place a solid “likely to return” or “local charmer” and used hashtags like ”#staylocal#shopsmall”. I hate that forced fakeness about the work I do but that's the work.
Instead, I walked back outside, stood under the neon light of the sign and felt lost on the street all over again. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I had no desire to answer it. Not now.
Title: Five Calls in a Row (excerpt)
Genre: Non fiction, narrative
Age range: 16+
Author Name: Nicole J. Dunn
Hook: What warrants a real emergency when eveything is treated like one?
Synopsis: Nickey is stuck in the perpetual middle between the family she grew up with and the one is trying to raise. Her mother is a constant source of contention, comfort, crisis, and confusion. Nickey is the same age now her mother was when everything changed. Will Nickey come to understand who her mother is and why she is the why she is? Through a series of events, all is revealed but will anything be resolved?
Target Audience: Adults
Bio: Nicole J. Dunn “Nickey” lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She works full time, and in what nonexistant free time she has, she is busy taking kids to sporting events, school functions, and traveling to see family. Writing has always been her passion and continues to provide a creative outlet outside her very regulated full time job.
Using transparency and humor to shed light on issues she faces on an everyday basis help make her writing relatable.
Education/Experience: B.S. - Sociology, Northern Arizona University.
Hometown/Age: 36, Marysville, WA
Chapter 1: A Story to Forget
The old women creaked in her chair, staring out the window. She did this often, it wasn't like she could visit her friends. They were dead, most from old age. She couldn't talk for hours with her husband, nope, dead too. She just sat there, looking out the window. She was waiting for something, but what? The teenagers didn't know. Their great-grandma just sat there and waited. They had always wondered but they were to scared to ask. Their great-grandma never liked to talk about her life. Even discussing it in the slightest seemed to pain her. She hated her unspoken past, like it was the reason that pain existed in the world. Even though they knew that it would pain the elderly women, they wanted to know. They had questions that had no answers.
Before they even tapped on her shoulder, she turned to face them. Her eyes, eternally bright with excitement, stared at the teens. Her thin line of a mouth didn't need to move to portray what she wanted to know. One thick, silver eyebrow stuck up in a questioning glance. Her square face full of canyon-like wrinkles portrayed the want for the disturbance of her loneliness. The young man with his grandfather's blue-hazel eyes, decided to speak first.
"Grandmeré, we want to know about you when you were our age."
She stared blankly, her pain molded her face into the same grimace that she wore after her husband's death. She turned to face her Great-grandchildren.
"No, there are things I want to forget." The women calmly replied.
"Why can't you tell anyone? We want to know about your childhood. No one else will tell us and you're only getting older. So keeping it in won't really make a difference. You could die tomorrow for all we know." The young women, with a black streak in her white blond hair, snapped at the old women.
Her face didn't flinch, even at the obvious insult to her old age. The old women looked at each of her Great-grandchildren, she would not let their teenage stubbornness outweigh her elderly pains, after all she didn't live to nearly one hundred years with only pure health.
"Grandmeré," the young women, nearly women, with an emerald-green eye and a chocolate-brown eye, spoke softly,"I know it hurts you, but sometimes pain needs to be expressed in order to actually heal."
The old women looked at her blinking slowly, then responding, "You got that from one of your older cousins. Do you know who told them that?"
The teens looked at one another, then the old woman. All then decided to shake their heads. The old women laughed a little, shaking her head in disbelief. "Sorry children. You don't know him. It was unfair of me to ask a question that you had no answer to."
This only made the children look at each other. Their looks gave away their thoughts "She's really starting to lose it."
The old women caught the looks. "Any of you care to share what the looks are for?"
The boy sheepishly answered, "We just think your reaction and question are odd. That's all." His eye darting straight to the floor.
The old women smiled, knowing that these kids are as ready as she can ever hope to make them. She began to stand up and gather up blankets and pillows, confusing the teens.
They attempted to help her but she just simply snipped, "Just because I'm older then dirt doesn't mean I'm useless."
The old woman set up a place for each teen to sit. Making sure they were nice and comfy. She then sat down in her chair. When the teens just looked at her confused, she simply moved her wrinkled hand to the comfy seats she made. The teens sat down, looking up at the old woman in confusion and wonder.
"Get comfy, it is a long story. It begins when a rare disease came back, so rare it didn't have a name and the last case of it was in the early 20th century,..."
The title would be SEEN. The genre would be fantasy adventure. The age range is older children to young adults. The word count is currently around 34,000 but I am in the process of rewriting the book so that will boost up the word count. My pen name for the book would be Rae Mares. My project would be a good fit because it is a whole new world that can be explored. Something that could be expanded and if it becomes a success I have planned semi-sequels for this book. It would expand the universe and allow people of different interests to join the series. The hook is that the world will be something new that others wouldn't mind diving into. My target audience is teens and young adults. I am a writer that just wants to show off the worlds I created and hope that someone will connect to them. My platform is on here and Wattpad both under the same name. I'm in college. I have no professional experince in writing. My personality is very shy and introverted, I tend to keep to myself. My writing style when it comes to writing my stories is very descriptive and very to the point of what it needs to tell. My writing style for my poems is much for feelings driven writing out what I feel. I like to write and read. I love listening to music and seeing the world through different perspectives.