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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by kam856

I Am Afraid

“I’m not afraid,” I used to say, when I was young.

I wore it like a badge of honor and stressed the truth of it beyond believability.

“I’m not afraid,” I would tell my older sister when she peeked into my bed in the middle of the night.

The dark did not scare me, nor bugs or strangers or nightmares.

“I’m not afraid,” I really only ever told myself.

My favorite movie growing up was Mulan. I had a nightgown and knew all the words to all the songs. I thought she was so brave and always did the right thing. I wanted to be just like her. I thought that meant I could never be afraid of anything. I used to prove it to myself in little ways every day.

When I went down into our basement, I would close the door behind me.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I forced myself to take the last few steps without thinking about hands reaching out from between the steps to grab me.

When I crossed the room, I didn’t check all of the corners for some hidden monster.

When I reached the laundry room, with the light switch on the outside and the unfinished walls and the door that locked from the wrong side, I didn’t search the room before closing the door behind me.

I would feel my heart thump out of my chest and sweat gather in my shaking hands. Basements were supposed to be scary. However, when I stood in that room all by myself, I only thought of how I wasn’t scared at all.

When I was young, I watched a horror movie in my cousin's room. She was the same age as my sister who was a year older than me. My mom had left my sister and me there for the day. We weren’t meant to, but I wasn’t afraid, so we watched a gory zombie movie.

When my sister peeked her head over the top bunk that night and asked to sleep with the light on, I told her no. I always slept with the light off and we already kept the closet light on because she was always afraid. She cried.

My sister was always afraid and she never did anything about it. She was afraid of the dark and bugs and strangers and all the things children have nightmares about. She always cried when she was scared.

She wouldn’t go into the basement alone and she screamed if someone closed the door behind her. She always needed the lights on. She always woke me in the middle of the night when she was scared. When she had nightmares, she screamed until my parents came running.

It was annoying, but mostly frustrating. I didn’t understand how she could behave so fearfully without any effort to contain it. As we grew older, it became less and less understandable. Didn’t we grow out of our fears?

The answer seemed obvious when I looked at my dad. The one who always eased my sister’s fears, instead of exacerbating them as I sometimes had the habit of doing.

My dad never seemed afraid of anything. His hands didn’t shake and his heart didn’t form imprints through his ribcage. He ate the spiciest foods that could force tears with scent alone because he wanted to, because he liked to. He watched scary movies in the dark. He wandered the house with the lights off. He was never afraid.

Likewise, every adult I’d ever met seemed to lack the inexplicable fear children are prone to. This, to my young eyes, could only mean that I would grow up to never be afraid again.

We went to Hershey Park when I was eight. My mom was prone to motion sickness so she refused to go on any of the rides. Though, as kids, we weren’t allowed on without supervision. My sister and I looked around with bright eyes and immediately pointed to the tallest, fastest rollercoaster our heights would allow. My dad took one look and turned pale.

“Let’s start with the tea cups,” He’d said, already turning and walking in the opposite direction.

I’d turned to stone for a moment. I was young, but I knew fear. My dad was afraid, and he was walking away. We ended up on the rollercoaster later in the day, but that moment stuck with me long after it had ended. It was seared into my memory, something I thought about late at night.

Maybe adults didn’t grow out of their fears, and maybe they just learned to hide them better.

I was nine when I stopped saying I wasn’t afraid when my sister marveled at my ability push past all of her fears.

“How aren’t you scared? How are you so brave?” She had asked from the top of the basement stairs, standing in the open doorway in the honest and open way only children seem able.

“I am,” I had answered, with more thought than I had previously been capable of, “I am scared. But being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, it means doing things anyway.”

It seemed so simple a thought to me at the time. Perhaps it’s what I had been doing all along by pretending I was never afraid at all. But even after explaining it as well as I could, my sister still slept with the light on, and I never cried after nightmares.

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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by kam856
I Am Afraid
“I’m not afraid,” I used to say, when I was young.
I wore it like a badge of honor and stressed the truth of it beyond believability.
“I’m not afraid,” I would tell my older sister when she peeked into my bed in the middle of the night.
The dark did not scare me, nor bugs or strangers or nightmares.
“I’m not afraid,” I really only ever told myself.
My favorite movie growing up was Mulan. I had a nightgown and knew all the words to all the songs. I thought she was so brave and always did the right thing. I wanted to be just like her. I thought that meant I could never be afraid of anything. I used to prove it to myself in little ways every day.
When I went down into our basement, I would close the door behind me.
When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I forced myself to take the last few steps without thinking about hands reaching out from between the steps to grab me.
When I crossed the room, I didn’t check all of the corners for some hidden monster.
When I reached the laundry room, with the light switch on the outside and the unfinished walls and the door that locked from the wrong side, I didn’t search the room before closing the door behind me.
I would feel my heart thump out of my chest and sweat gather in my shaking hands. Basements were supposed to be scary. However, when I stood in that room all by myself, I only thought of how I wasn’t scared at all.
When I was young, I watched a horror movie in my cousin's room. She was the same age as my sister who was a year older than me. My mom had left my sister and me there for the day. We weren’t meant to, but I wasn’t afraid, so we watched a gory zombie movie.
When my sister peeked her head over the top bunk that night and asked to sleep with the light on, I told her no. I always slept with the light off and we already kept the closet light on because she was always afraid. She cried.
My sister was always afraid and she never did anything about it. She was afraid of the dark and bugs and strangers and all the things children have nightmares about. She always cried when she was scared.
She wouldn’t go into the basement alone and she screamed if someone closed the door behind her. She always needed the lights on. She always woke me in the middle of the night when she was scared. When she had nightmares, she screamed until my parents came running.
It was annoying, but mostly frustrating. I didn’t understand how she could behave so fearfully without any effort to contain it. As we grew older, it became less and less understandable. Didn’t we grow out of our fears?
The answer seemed obvious when I looked at my dad. The one who always eased my sister’s fears, instead of exacerbating them as I sometimes had the habit of doing.
My dad never seemed afraid of anything. His hands didn’t shake and his heart didn’t form imprints through his ribcage. He ate the spiciest foods that could force tears with scent alone because he wanted to, because he liked to. He watched scary movies in the dark. He wandered the house with the lights off. He was never afraid.
Likewise, every adult I’d ever met seemed to lack the inexplicable fear children are prone to. This, to my young eyes, could only mean that I would grow up to never be afraid again.
We went to Hershey Park when I was eight. My mom was prone to motion sickness so she refused to go on any of the rides. Though, as kids, we weren’t allowed on without supervision. My sister and I looked around with bright eyes and immediately pointed to the tallest, fastest rollercoaster our heights would allow. My dad took one look and turned pale.
“Let’s start with the tea cups,” He’d said, already turning and walking in the opposite direction.
I’d turned to stone for a moment. I was young, but I knew fear. My dad was afraid, and he was walking away. We ended up on the rollercoaster later in the day, but that moment stuck with me long after it had ended. It was seared into my memory, something I thought about late at night.
Maybe adults didn’t grow out of their fears, and maybe they just learned to hide them better.
I was nine when I stopped saying I wasn’t afraid when my sister marveled at my ability push past all of her fears.
“How aren’t you scared? How are you so brave?” She had asked from the top of the basement stairs, standing in the open doorway in the honest and open way only children seem able.
“I am,” I had answered, with more thought than I had previously been capable of, “I am scared. But being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, it means doing things anyway.”
It seemed so simple a thought to me at the time. Perhaps it’s what I had been doing all along by pretending I was never afraid at all. But even after explaining it as well as I could, my sister still slept with the light on, and I never cried after nightmares.

4
2
0
Juice
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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by kam856 in portal Simon & Schuster

The Most Fearsome

 Perhaps the scariest part of any trip, or adventure as I would like to believe this would be, is the beginning; the part where you leave. Because once you’re gone you can’t turn back. There is no never mind or forget about it I’ve changed my mind. You’ve already bought the ticket; you can’t turn back now. What a waste of money that would be, especially if it wasn’t your money that bought the ticket.

This trip was something I was so excited for, still am, anyway so it would be dreadful to give it up for something as trivial as the fear boiling in the pits of my stomach.

The numbing calm is prevalent through the night before. I’ve procrastinated on packing until the sun has long since faded; my main concern at this time is only on the weight of my suitcase. I’ve packed and repacked twice now, weighing it on the dingy scale in the upstairs bathroom of my parents’ home. I step onto the scale and back off, hefting the bag as high as I can as I step back on; I struggle to read the numbers off the fading screen from over the top of my straining arms. The math quick in my brain translates to just under fifty pounds, and I hope again that I haven’t forgotten anything as I so commonly tend to do.

Wheeling the suitcase around is also high on my concerns. The bottom is tearing, bought for three quarters of the original price at a department store; it has lasted through my entire freshman year of college. Even an ill-planned trip where it was used to lug hundreds of vinyl from uptown Manhattan back down to my old dorm off Union Square. I’ve used some left over off brand duct tape to reinforce the holes in the bottom and hope that it won’t fall apart on this trip.

The brief hours of sleep are hard to find as excitement breeds in the recesses of my mind. It lives there as a weightless feeling, my body without substance while reflecting on the coming months.

It’s not until the long drive from my parent’s home to the airport in D.C. that the fear begins to creep in, the anxiety clenching my stomach with the illest of feelings. My hands shake subtly as my lungs expand past the boundaries of my ribcage, refusing to draw a complete breath. My mother has driven me, however, we arrive early with more than enough time to check my bag and pass security. I hide my nerves instinctively, and, following a quick coffee, say our goodbyes so that I might make my way through the almost empty security line.

She asks once more if I’m nervous; she says it’s okay to be afraid when I’m going somewhere so far away. But my answer remains the same, “No. I’m not scared.”

It’s confident and strong when it flies from my mouth, each word pointed. In my heart, however, there is a beating that feels out of place. At first, I can’t quite place the nerves, but I know as soon as I enter my gate I will be alone. I have never been truly alone before. I shake the thoughts from my mind quickly. It’s ridiculous to feel anxious, and I’m wrong. I won’t be going alone.

The trembling in my fingers has become more noticeable as I struggle with my boarding pass and ticket, awkwardly unsure of myself. Removing my zippered boots is even more difficult than it should be, the metal detectors looming intimidatingly. Though, this is the easy part. The hardest part is the waiting.

I walk down the long hallway to the gates. It’s lined with chain cafes and small convenience stores, a rush of people heading in all directions scatter my thoughts with the sound of their footsteps and ample conversation. When I reach the open space lined with windows, I quickly scan the signs hanging above the gates in search of my own. Walking through the aisles with my head down, I try to shrink a bit to become invisible to all the eyes of people I don’t know because the weight of their stares feels like hands wrapping around my lungs and squeezing out the air. The crowded terminal feeds my anxiety and self-conscious feelings. To look alone is worse than to be alone when others surround you. I find a row of empty seats near my gate, putting my carry on to one side and hoping no one decides to sit in the other. My new phone is promised to work well abroad, however the connection is slow here. I still bury my face into it in order to avoid idly staring at anyone around me.

My flight has multiple connections, first to Chicago then Barcelona and finally Florence. My final destination is the school campus outside of the city center. My arrival time is scheduled perfectly to match up with the school’s charter bus from the airport. I have only one day to arrive and to miss it would be terrible considering my extremely lacking understanding of the Italian language. It’s really too bad I put off studying before hand.

I really shouldn’t be so nervous, but the anxiety makes my thoughts feel weightless and nothing seems to stick. My first flight doesn’t even leave the country.

“Hey Alex, there you are,” I breathe out a sigh of relief as Roxy sits in the empty seat to my side, setting her own bags beside her. We haven’t seen each other since the end of the last school year, and something seems different. It’s in the set of her eyes and the length of her hair.

My shoulders sag as the anxiety rears back a bit; I’m no longer alone. We spend the next hour trying to pass the time by talking about our summers. Conversation drifts to the excitement we both feel. My hands feel like they haven’t stopped shaking since I woke up this morning. For a moment I wonder if it’s a newly formed tremor or my lungs trembling as they grate against air. This is going to be my first time out of the country, the furthest I have ever travelled in my life. A semester of studying abroad in Florence, Italy where the only person I know is the girl sitting beside me.

However, our flight is called not long after conversation tapers off, and as we stand my body seems to find a center. It stills almost imperceptibly and an exhale comes without struggle. My lips quirk at one corner, pulling upwards into a brief grin. I glance momentarily towards Roxy as we clutch our boarding passes and passports in hand and get in line behind fellow passengers, before glancing at the expansive windows towards the tarmac to watch a plane take off. My heart takes off with it.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by kam856 in portal Simon & Schuster
The Most Fearsome
 Perhaps the scariest part of any trip, or adventure as I would like to believe this would be, is the beginning; the part where you leave. Because once you’re gone you can’t turn back. There is no never mind or forget about it I’ve changed my mind. You’ve already bought the ticket; you can’t turn back now. What a waste of money that would be, especially if it wasn’t your money that bought the ticket.
This trip was something I was so excited for, still am, anyway so it would be dreadful to give it up for something as trivial as the fear boiling in the pits of my stomach.
The numbing calm is prevalent through the night before. I’ve procrastinated on packing until the sun has long since faded; my main concern at this time is only on the weight of my suitcase. I’ve packed and repacked twice now, weighing it on the dingy scale in the upstairs bathroom of my parents’ home. I step onto the scale and back off, hefting the bag as high as I can as I step back on; I struggle to read the numbers off the fading screen from over the top of my straining arms. The math quick in my brain translates to just under fifty pounds, and I hope again that I haven’t forgotten anything as I so commonly tend to do.
Wheeling the suitcase around is also high on my concerns. The bottom is tearing, bought for three quarters of the original price at a department store; it has lasted through my entire freshman year of college. Even an ill-planned trip where it was used to lug hundreds of vinyl from uptown Manhattan back down to my old dorm off Union Square. I’ve used some left over off brand duct tape to reinforce the holes in the bottom and hope that it won’t fall apart on this trip.
The brief hours of sleep are hard to find as excitement breeds in the recesses of my mind. It lives there as a weightless feeling, my body without substance while reflecting on the coming months.
It’s not until the long drive from my parent’s home to the airport in D.C. that the fear begins to creep in, the anxiety clenching my stomach with the illest of feelings. My hands shake subtly as my lungs expand past the boundaries of my ribcage, refusing to draw a complete breath. My mother has driven me, however, we arrive early with more than enough time to check my bag and pass security. I hide my nerves instinctively, and, following a quick coffee, say our goodbyes so that I might make my way through the almost empty security line.
She asks once more if I’m nervous; she says it’s okay to be afraid when I’m going somewhere so far away. But my answer remains the same, “No. I’m not scared.”
It’s confident and strong when it flies from my mouth, each word pointed. In my heart, however, there is a beating that feels out of place. At first, I can’t quite place the nerves, but I know as soon as I enter my gate I will be alone. I have never been truly alone before. I shake the thoughts from my mind quickly. It’s ridiculous to feel anxious, and I’m wrong. I won’t be going alone.
The trembling in my fingers has become more noticeable as I struggle with my boarding pass and ticket, awkwardly unsure of myself. Removing my zippered boots is even more difficult than it should be, the metal detectors looming intimidatingly. Though, this is the easy part. The hardest part is the waiting.
I walk down the long hallway to the gates. It’s lined with chain cafes and small convenience stores, a rush of people heading in all directions scatter my thoughts with the sound of their footsteps and ample conversation. When I reach the open space lined with windows, I quickly scan the signs hanging above the gates in search of my own. Walking through the aisles with my head down, I try to shrink a bit to become invisible to all the eyes of people I don’t know because the weight of their stares feels like hands wrapping around my lungs and squeezing out the air. The crowded terminal feeds my anxiety and self-conscious feelings. To look alone is worse than to be alone when others surround you. I find a row of empty seats near my gate, putting my carry on to one side and hoping no one decides to sit in the other. My new phone is promised to work well abroad, however the connection is slow here. I still bury my face into it in order to avoid idly staring at anyone around me.
My flight has multiple connections, first to Chicago then Barcelona and finally Florence. My final destination is the school campus outside of the city center. My arrival time is scheduled perfectly to match up with the school’s charter bus from the airport. I have only one day to arrive and to miss it would be terrible considering my extremely lacking understanding of the Italian language. It’s really too bad I put off studying before hand.
I really shouldn’t be so nervous, but the anxiety makes my thoughts feel weightless and nothing seems to stick. My first flight doesn’t even leave the country.
“Hey Alex, there you are,” I breathe out a sigh of relief as Roxy sits in the empty seat to my side, setting her own bags beside her. We haven’t seen each other since the end of the last school year, and something seems different. It’s in the set of her eyes and the length of her hair.
My shoulders sag as the anxiety rears back a bit; I’m no longer alone. We spend the next hour trying to pass the time by talking about our summers. Conversation drifts to the excitement we both feel. My hands feel like they haven’t stopped shaking since I woke up this morning. For a moment I wonder if it’s a newly formed tremor or my lungs trembling as they grate against air. This is going to be my first time out of the country, the furthest I have ever travelled in my life. A semester of studying abroad in Florence, Italy where the only person I know is the girl sitting beside me.
However, our flight is called not long after conversation tapers off, and as we stand my body seems to find a center. It stills almost imperceptibly and an exhale comes without struggle. My lips quirk at one corner, pulling upwards into a brief grin. I glance momentarily towards Roxy as we clutch our boarding passes and passports in hand and get in line behind fellow passengers, before glancing at the expansive windows towards the tarmac to watch a plane take off. My heart takes off with it.

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Written by kam856

The Imprints Left Behind

Let me hold your hands

In my heart

I’ll grasp them tight

Wrapped in pumping muscle

They’ll stay warm

All through the night

When you tear free

The gaping wound

The only proof I held you near

I will bandage closed

With a plaster mold

Fill the cracks

Only your hands could fit into

Let the dust settle

Around my lungs

Between heaving breaths

As I learn that

Hearts never beat the same way

Twice

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Written by kam856
The Imprints Left Behind
Let me hold your hands
In my heart
I’ll grasp them tight
Wrapped in pumping muscle
They’ll stay warm
All through the night
When you tear free
The gaping wound
The only proof I held you near
I will bandage closed
With a plaster mold
Fill the cracks
Only your hands could fit into
Let the dust settle
Around my lungs
Between heaving breaths
As I learn that
Hearts never beat the same way
Twice

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Written by kam856

With the Wind

I used to pick the dandelions

That grew through my backyard

I thought if I could tie my hopes

To every flower I came across

I thought that if I could set it loose

With a single gasping blow

That if I could close my eyes

And feel the weight of my own heart

All those little seeds

Would plant my wish into the world

And when my breath was gone

I would be as well

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Written by kam856
With the Wind
I used to pick the dandelions
That grew through my backyard

I thought if I could tie my hopes
To every flower I came across
I thought that if I could set it loose
With a single gasping blow
That if I could close my eyes
And feel the weight of my own heart
All those little seeds
Would plant my wish into the world
And when my breath was gone
I would be as well

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Prose Challenge of the Week #48: You’ve won the election. Summarise your manifesto in a micropoem or haiku. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge #itslit #getlit.
Written by kam856

For the People

I’ll hold you like I hold my heart

It feels so heavy

But only at the start

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Prose Challenge of the Week #48: You’ve won the election. Summarise your manifesto in a micropoem or haiku. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge #itslit #getlit.
Written by kam856
For the People
I’ll hold you like I hold my heart
It feels so heavy
But only at the start
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Juice
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