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Written by kkha133

Six Feet Under

The air was filled with a quiet emptiness. The sky was a brilliant blue, dotted with pillows of clouds. A loud noise erupted from above, disrupting the picture perfect scene that stood just seconds before. Cracks began forming on the ground; it formed intricate patterns that no human could ever replicate. With each rumble, each crack grew bigger, and his panic soared higher.

There was a second of stillness before it became clear that something was falling towards him, getting closer and closer.

The asteroid made contact with the ground with a loud thud. Billows of dust lay suspended in the air, preventing anything from being seen. The dust slowly settled down, leaving only the lonely silence that was prevalent from the beginning.

                              *******************************************

He woke up from his dream, shaken. Drops of sweat trickled down the side of his face. This dream was strangely familiar to him, as if it wasn’t the first time he had dreamt it. Surely, he thought, this had to mean something. He reached out to grab his water bottle, but his hands were met with nothing but air. Confused, he opened his eyes. Fluorescent lights instantly flooded his surroundings, blinding him momentarily.

When his eyes refocused, he began to take in his surroundings. The room was a small one, with rows of lights lining the ceiling. He lay strapped to a table in the center. His wrists were bound to the table with thin, metal strips that appeared to be easily pliable. To his dismay, they didn’t budge when he tugged at them. All around him plastered on the walls, however, were giant screens with his image displayed on it.

“Where am I?”

He was quickly answered with high-pitched feedback. He winced at the noise. “Good morning, Harry. Glad to see you’re awake.” The sound came from a small speaker hidden behind a screen.

“I-I don’t know what’s happening,” he managed to squeak out. His voice was barely a whisper; the fear was evident in his face. He could feel his pulse quickening, his breath slowly moving in and out of his mouth.

“Harry, you are in the Laboratory. Don’t you remember what happened?”

Harry started to shake his head when he realized he was still strapped to the table.

“Stay right there, Harry. I’ll come and release you.” A few minutes passed before the door to the room swung open. A tiny, old man stood in the doorway. He was no taller than five feet with a back curved at an angle Harry didn’t know was possible. He inched towards Harry and removed the straps. The skin was red and raw where the straps dug into it; blood trickled down his arms and fell onto the floor, staining the shiny, white tile.

“Where am I?” Harry repeated, determined to get an explanation.

The old man chuckled. “Harry, I’ve already told you. You are in the Laboratory. Why don’t you take a few seconds to think about how you got here.”

His mind drew a blank. “I can’t remember.”

“Well, you see Harry,” the old man started, “you are special. Gifted, I might say. Never in all the years I’ve been alive have I seen a mind like yours.” He paused and looked at Harry with expectant eyes, as if it would trigger a memory. “No recollection? Okay. Let me explain. Harry, you are able to see into the future through your dreams. That’s why you are here. We need to run some tests to see if your abilities are… accurate.”

“I don’t believe you. Who are you? Where is my family?” His voice was filled with unease and worry. The old man caught on and spoke in a softer tone.

“I am Dr. Cohen. I am the one who is going to guide you through this whole process. As for your family, I’m sorry to say that they all perished in the Crash years ago.”

“The Crash?”

“Yes. An asteroid crashed into the Earth, killing most of the human population. You and I are some of the few survivors left.”

“You said years. How long ago was this?”

“4 years ago.”

                          *******************************************

The needle pierced through Harry’s arm, injecting a bright pink liquid into it. “What are you giving me?” Harry managed to sputter out. It was difficult for him to process everything he had learned moments prior. His talent, his family’s death, his lengthy coma—it all seemed so unreal.

“It’s a sleep-inducing serum. It causes you to fall into REM immediately, where your dreaming occurs. The stages of non-REM sleep are shortened, seeing as they aren’t needed for this purpose.”

“Oka—” But before Harry could finish, he drifted into a timeless slumber, entering the realm of his subconscious. The last thing he saw was Dr. Cohen pouring a liquid out of a small vial.

Harry appeared in the same compact room as before. He heard the slight click of the doorknob turning. In Dr. Cohen entered, holding a syringe filled with a red substance, a mischievous grin playing on his lips. The minuscule gleam in his eyes told Harry that something was off. The air became thick with uneasiness. Harry found himself breathing heavily once more. Dr. Cohen moved closer, slinking like a rattlesnake. He was the predator and Harry, the prey. Dr. Cohen reached out and grasped his neck. His grip was tight; with every squeeze, Harry felt his lungs constricting. One last squeeze would do it. One last push.

                            *******************************************

He woke up from his dream, gasping for breath. His hands were shaking and his lips quivered. Beads of sweat covered his entire forehead. He lifted his sleeve to wipe it off.

“Nice dream you had there?”

“N-no. I-it wasn’t.”

Harry looked up to find himself an inch apart from Dr. Cohen’s face. Up close, his wrinkles seemed more prominent, and his eyes less friendly. The amicable glimmer in his eyes had been replaced with an impish glint. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards in a knowing smirk. He had one hand behind his back, but the other was placed delicately on Harry’s shoulder.

“Harry, while you were sleeping, I figured out your brain structure and chemistry. I studied everything—from the memories stored in your cerebral cortex to the emotions you feel in your amygdala. I know exactly how to recreate and implement it into my own brain. In fact, I’ve even made a few adjustments that make mine better than yours. I will be able to control the outcome of my dreams, and ultimately, the future.” He let out a soft chuckle. “I won’t be needing you for your assistance anymore. Sweet dreams, Harry.” Dr. Cohen smiled, plunging the syringe deep into Harry’s forehead.

Harry took a glimpse of the red fluid held in the needle. He reached an arm out to grab the old man, but his arm fell limp. The muscles in his body seized up and then—everything faded to black.

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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 kkha133
Six Feet Under
The air was filled with a quiet emptiness. The sky was a brilliant blue, dotted with pillows of clouds. A loud noise erupted from above, disrupting the picture perfect scene that stood just seconds before. Cracks began forming on the ground; it formed intricate patterns that no human could ever replicate. With each rumble, each crack grew bigger, and his panic soared higher.

There was a second of stillness before it became clear that something was falling towards him, getting closer and closer.

The asteroid made contact with the ground with a loud thud. Billows of dust lay suspended in the air, preventing anything from being seen. The dust slowly settled down, leaving only the lonely silence that was prevalent from the beginning.

                              *******************************************

He woke up from his dream, shaken. Drops of sweat trickled down the side of his face. This dream was strangely familiar to him, as if it wasn’t the first time he had dreamt it. Surely, he thought, this had to mean something. He reached out to grab his water bottle, but his hands were met with nothing but air. Confused, he opened his eyes. Fluorescent lights instantly flooded his surroundings, blinding him momentarily.

When his eyes refocused, he began to take in his surroundings. The room was a small one, with rows of lights lining the ceiling. He lay strapped to a table in the center. His wrists were bound to the table with thin, metal strips that appeared to be easily pliable. To his dismay, they didn’t budge when he tugged at them. All around him plastered on the walls, however, were giant screens with his image displayed on it.

“Where am I?”

He was quickly answered with high-pitched feedback. He winced at the noise. “Good morning, Harry. Glad to see you’re awake.” The sound came from a small speaker hidden behind a screen.

“I-I don’t know what’s happening,” he managed to squeak out. His voice was barely a whisper; the fear was evident in his face. He could feel his pulse quickening, his breath slowly moving in and out of his mouth.

“Harry, you are in the Laboratory. Don’t you remember what happened?”

Harry started to shake his head when he realized he was still strapped to the table.

“Stay right there, Harry. I’ll come and release you.” A few minutes passed before the door to the room swung open. A tiny, old man stood in the doorway. He was no taller than five feet with a back curved at an angle Harry didn’t know was possible. He inched towards Harry and removed the straps. The skin was red and raw where the straps dug into it; blood trickled down his arms and fell onto the floor, staining the shiny, white tile.

“Where am I?” Harry repeated, determined to get an explanation.

The old man chuckled. “Harry, I’ve already told you. You are in the Laboratory. Why don’t you take a few seconds to think about how you got here.”

His mind drew a blank. “I can’t remember.”

“Well, you see Harry,” the old man started, “you are special. Gifted, I might say. Never in all the years I’ve been alive have I seen a mind like yours.” He paused and looked at Harry with expectant eyes, as if it would trigger a memory. “No recollection? Okay. Let me explain. Harry, you are able to see into the future through your dreams. That’s why you are here. We need to run some tests to see if your abilities are… accurate.”

“I don’t believe you. Who are you? Where is my family?” His voice was filled with unease and worry. The old man caught on and spoke in a softer tone.

“I am Dr. Cohen. I am the one who is going to guide you through this whole process. As for your family, I’m sorry to say that they all perished in the Crash years ago.”

“The Crash?”

“Yes. An asteroid crashed into the Earth, killing most of the human population. You and I are some of the few survivors left.”

“You said years. How long ago was this?”

“4 years ago.”

                          *******************************************

The needle pierced through Harry’s arm, injecting a bright pink liquid into it. “What are you giving me?” Harry managed to sputter out. It was difficult for him to process everything he had learned moments prior. His talent, his family’s death, his lengthy coma—it all seemed so unreal.

“It’s a sleep-inducing serum. It causes you to fall into REM immediately, where your dreaming occurs. The stages of non-REM sleep are shortened, seeing as they aren’t needed for this purpose.”

“Oka—” But before Harry could finish, he drifted into a timeless slumber, entering the realm of his subconscious. The last thing he saw was Dr. Cohen pouring a liquid out of a small vial.

Harry appeared in the same compact room as before. He heard the slight click of the doorknob turning. In Dr. Cohen entered, holding a syringe filled with a red substance, a mischievous grin playing on his lips. The minuscule gleam in his eyes told Harry that something was off. The air became thick with uneasiness. Harry found himself breathing heavily once more. Dr. Cohen moved closer, slinking like a rattlesnake. He was the predator and Harry, the prey. Dr. Cohen reached out and grasped his neck. His grip was tight; with every squeeze, Harry felt his lungs constricting. One last squeeze would do it. One last push.

                            *******************************************

He woke up from his dream, gasping for breath. His hands were shaking and his lips quivered. Beads of sweat covered his entire forehead. He lifted his sleeve to wipe it off.

“Nice dream you had there?”

“N-no. I-it wasn’t.”

Harry looked up to find himself an inch apart from Dr. Cohen’s face. Up close, his wrinkles seemed more prominent, and his eyes less friendly. The amicable glimmer in his eyes had been replaced with an impish glint. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards in a knowing smirk. He had one hand behind his back, but the other was placed delicately on Harry’s shoulder.

“Harry, while you were sleeping, I figured out your brain structure and chemistry. I studied everything—from the memories stored in your cerebral cortex to the emotions you feel in your amygdala. I know exactly how to recreate and implement it into my own brain. In fact, I’ve even made a few adjustments that make mine better than yours. I will be able to control the outcome of my dreams, and ultimately, the future.” He let out a soft chuckle. “I won’t be needing you for your assistance anymore. Sweet dreams, Harry.” Dr. Cohen smiled, plunging the syringe deep into Harry’s forehead.

Harry took a glimpse of the red fluid held in the needle. He reached an arm out to grab the old man, but his arm fell limp. The muscles in his body seized up and then—everything faded to black.

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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 TreeQuestions

Pretty Privledge

Some people say Noah Colfer committed suicide. Others say he fell off a bridge while tripped up on a concoction of drugs. A few mused that he was murdered. I even heard once that he got a life sentence in jail. Even less of the crowd whispered to each other that he faked it all. But we all agreed on one thing: Noah Colfer was the self-proclaimed weirdo of our high school.

Every school has that one odd kid. You know, the one who sat in the back of the classroom scratching vulgarities on the desk? The kid who always kicked the ball way too hard when playing kickball for recess—if he was lucky enough to even get picked on a team. Yeah, that was Noah…

So why was I thinking about him in my college junior BIO 103 class, bored as can be? Maybe it was because the kid in front of me reminded me of him. Maybe it’s because two rows across from me some jerkoff is playing his iPod too loud and is playing Noah’s favorite genre: scream-o music. Ugh. Or maybe it’s because—probably it’s because—it was a day like this, in high school biology, that I first laid eyes upon Noah Colfer.

It was sophomore year and Noah was one of the new kids coming to Tucker Lee High, along with Jess Whatever and Freddy Something. He used to go to Thornton Heights, a beaten down, public school not too far from there in one of the more dangerous parts of town. I only had to take one look at him and I knew exactly who he’d be sitting with at lunch that day: the druggies and the lame kids who always tried to form a band but usually sucked at gigs. Let’s throw in a black-lipstick wearing chick in there too, just for fun.

Anyway, that day we were dissecting frogs.

I was at the same table as he was, unfortunately, sitting across from him. I was assigned to Mary Shrouder, a smart, nerdy girl, and he was assigned to Lucas Wright, one of my guy friends. Me and Lucas were talking about our plans for homecoming when suddenly Noah interrupted our conversation, jabbing his knife into the frog’s stomach loudly so that we both looked at him.

“You know, the French people eat frog legs. They call it a delicacy.” He said, lifting his knife out of the amphibian. Everyone around him gave him a weird ‘who gives two shits’ look and rolling their eyes, went back to work. Some were still staring, noticing that they hadn’t seen him around before since he was new and all. I looked at him too, wondering what the hell he was doing here and not in his graffiti, inner city high school.

His eyes took on a mischievous glint to them, and he drove the paring knife into the frog’s leg. He cut off that frog’s leg. He held it up in front of him and stuck out his tongue like he thought he was some lame rock star.

Now that got the other kids attention, and everyone, plus some other tables, were looking at him. That was definitely not on the instructions. I looked back at the teacher, wondering how much trouble he would get into if she noticed. How many points would she dock off for a mutilated frog?

She wasn’t looking, instead she was preoccupied, bending over two student’s experiment and helping them with their analysis. I looked back at Noah and couldn’t hide my look of surprise. He held the leg dangling above his grinning, open mouth. Everyone around us looked horrified, whispering to each other. Then the leg disappeared in his mouth, and I shrieked in disgust, as everyone around us did too. The boys went crazy, laughing and punching each other’s shoulders, pointing at Noah in sick amazement. The girls just gagged and turned around, whispering to each other how disgusting that kid was, how weird he was.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I just watched as he chewed on the leg, and halfway through he started to choke on it and he spit it out. I gagged, about ready to hurl. He looked like he would too for a second, then he smirked and took a swing of his water bottle. He must have noticed me staring at him, with my mouth agape, because then he looked directly at me and cocked an eyebrow. I bristled at the fact that he was even looking at me, he was so bizarre that I wanted nothing to do with him. The word “Freak” slipped past my lips before I even knew it, and his eyes darkened. People around us heard my comment and laughed, agreeing with me.

“He is a freak.” Joey said loudly. “I mean, that is so nasty. Who the hell would do something like that?” he asked, snickering.

It didn’t take long for the teacher to notice the commotion going on in the other side of the classroom, and when she saw the half-masticated frog leg on the table, her eyes narrowed and she sent Noah to the principal’s office. We were left to clean up the mess. From that day on, Noah was labeled the class freak. He did make friends with those druggies and emo kids, the hoodlums and the badasses. But he was the weirdest of them all. Even his friends didn’t understand the way his brain worked. I guessed he had taken drugs long before they did, and that’s what made him so crazy. He even smiled weird, always getting this creepy glint in his eye like he was imagining killing you or something…

From that day, Noah always did freakish things. He said strange, out of place things in class; he always pulled pranks on students and teachers, and often spray painted the walls with his friends. He went to the principal’s office more than he went to his own classes. And somehow, every year, I had the bad luck of having him in at least one of my classes. Even though I actually prayed I’d get senior year free of him, just one year, my last year, it didn’t work.

See, Noah had a problem with popular people. In fact, he had a problem with people in general, but he especially had problems with us socially adept individuals. So, he bothered us. Bothered us to no end, whispering snide things in every cheerleader’s ears and pissing off the jocks in any way he could. He got into more fistfights than drunken marine at a late night bar.

He seemed to particularly hate me, and I always suspected it was because I was the one who labeled him. I called him ‘freak’ and since then, the label stuck. It wasn’t my fault that people always seemed to agree with me.

I used to think the teachers punished me every semester for every time I didn’t turn in papers on time and get out of it with some dance excuse or having my parents come in complaining their ear off until they agree to extend my deadline. I knew they hated me. So naturally, I believed they were out to get me and therefore found a way to get Noah in one of my classes every semester without fail. Noah never ceased to torment me every semester—without fail. Even in the summer! There was this one unforgettable summer where every time he skateboarded past my house he’d yell “ditzes!” whenever he noticed me outside surrounded by my friends at my backyard pool. And that was the nicest phrase he’d use. If he noticed no neighbors or adults were around, he used more vulgar words. But it never really bothered me. I was living the life, and back then I didn’t care for the little, seemingly unimportant thorn in my side. I really did think senior year would be no different. Actually, scratch that. I thought it would be different, but in a good way. College was still a bright and exciting future for me, and even with Noah's daily annoyances, I felt happy as a bee—a queen bee. But senior year was different…and not the way I imagined it to be. That entire year, every day, he wanted to break me. But that was a long time ago. I've graduated from high school since then...doing the regular thing. Sometimes I miss those high school days. Sometimes, I even miss him.

Chapter One: Three Years Ago

Effortlessly.

That is how I’ve always been told I moved.

So, “effortlessly” I flew across the wooden, glossed floor, my arms spinning around delicately. Every movement was precise, graceful and elegant, I made sure of it. I bent into a plié and sprung up smoothly into a chassé.

As the violins started to play allegro—faster and more fervently, likewise my movements became quicker, stronger, and even.

When I did my adage, I did so with balance, my ability to hold those beautiful positions while disguising any pain in doing so was due to years of ballet practices and recitals.

My arabesque was often deemed perfect, my assemblé was crisp. I transitioned into quick chaîné turns to dazzle the viewer as I built up speed and jumped into an entrechat.

I turned my arms in and bent down, as if I were cradling a child in my arms. Then I thrust my arms in the air, as if the child had transformed into a dove and flew into the air. I too, was in flight—my every movement mimicked the fluttering of wings at dawn, I smiled as I caught myself in the mirror, aware that I had yet to make a single mistake in my routine—as usual.

I loved it in the dance room, with its wide mirrors and smooth, pristine floors—how everything had to be clean and gorgeously simple, from the room to my laced toes, to my golden-tan curls which were gathered in a tight French twist. Curls that unfortunately, were starting to untangle…

I tried to ignore the curl that flew past my eyes as I gave my final turns, but the damage was done. My hair tie snapped; my hair had fallen.

“Stop! Stop, stop, stop!” a curt voice rang out.

I immediately stopped turning, breathing quickly. The sound of the light flutes, romantic violins, deep clarinets and oboes all playing in unison from the stereo ceased as well, the energy in the air vanished.

I watched as my instructor approached me: Mr. Chateaux. He had been my private ballet teacher for three years now, and he never ceased to criticize me. I used to find him unfeeling, always wearing solid, neutral colors, always holding himself so uprightly. I had gotten used to his nature—after all; my mother paid him to teach me to be the best.

“While the sight of your hair in combination to the chaîné turns is quite unique and adds extra…unexpected fervor to your movements,” Mr. Chateaux began, “ballet is never done professionally with the hair down.”

“This is not jazz—the watered down version of the beauty of ballet—or that rancid hip hop that constitutes solely of hair whipping to distract the viewer from the fact that the dancer lacks any skill whatsoever—this is ballet. And in ballet,” Chateaux continued, picking up my broken hair tie from the wooden floor—“We always make sure our hair is secured properly.”

He handed the hair tie back to me.

If only he knew how we dance at school…I thought, thinking about the routine I would be doing in approximately forty-five minutes with my dance team at school: The Tuckerettes.

Yes, their routine was not as crisp or elegant as ballet, and they did do a fair amount of hair whipping and hip thrusting that Chateaux usually found disgusting, but they did not entirely lack the skills of a dancer. But I remained silent, giving my teacher a toothless smile.

“Of course Mr. Chateaux.”

I went over to where my bag was and shuffled around the stuff in there until I found another hair tie, securing my hair more tightly this time.

“Again.”

***

As soon as ballet practice was over I practically ran over to my car and sped all the way to Tucker Lee, grateful that no policemen were around. Not that I cared about having tickets, I’ve had ten since I first got my license as a sophomore two years ago, and I never paid for them. It’s the fact that if I got stopped that dinky officer would be eating up my time!

Thankfully, I made it to the school okay and quickly changed in my car into my dance clothes—basically tight black yoga pants and cropped black tank top with my school name in sparkly letters across my bust. Classy, I know.

I pushed open the door to my 2011 BMW with a little too much force as I booked it to the gym, hoping Ms. Perryman wouldn’t notice I was 20 minutes late.

Trey Songz’s voice boomed through the speakers in the gym as the girls, freshman to senior, strutted their stuff across the basketball court of Tucker Lee High School, lining up in preparation for their routine. Coming in through the backdoor so no one would catch me, I stealthily merged myself into the lineup.

At the first beat, the twenty-two girls each struck a different, beguiling pose. I knew this routine by heart. At the second beat, the twenty-two girls split in the middle, forming a V formation, while a twenty-third girl—me—confidently walked to the middle of the V, completing it. I gave a triple pirouette, and the rest of the girls followed in a “wave” pattern. When the last two girls finished their turns, in synch we dived into more complex dance moves to match the beat of the rowdy rap music. At the end of the routine, our coach, Ms. Perryman, was clapping loudly.

“Good work girls. Practice is done for today, and remember, no practice tomorrow because the first day of school is in three days, and I want to give you girls a bit of a break.” Ms. Perryman gave a wide smile as she high-fived some of the girls on the way out of the gym to the locker room.

“Because,” she called out after the girls, “starting the Friday of the first week of school, we will be having practice every day until the pep rally!”

Some of the girls groaned, but I fully expected this. Every time Ms. Perryman announced some break for us, it was only because she was about to go even harder on us the next time she saw us. I smiled. I was ready for whatever Ms. Perryman had planned for us.

“Naomi!”

I turned to the direction of my name and saw Ms. Perryman signaling me to come to her. The look on her face told me she was not about to compliment me on my flawless moves. I ran over to her.

“Yes?”

“I noticed you were late to practice today. That’s the third time this month.” Ms. Perryman said in a slightly concerned voice.

Ballet practice. Mr. Chateaux just wouldn’t let me go. Of course, I didn’t want to tell her this. If she knew I was doing another routine on the side, she’d flip and give me a speech on how I need to take some stuff off my plate or else I’ll start slacking in either my school work, or sleep, or something that has to do with balance and high school.

“I’m sorry; it took me a while to find my car keys. They were in the foyer.” I lied, plastering a good-natured smile on my face.

Ms. Perryman gave me a long look and gave into my explanation.

“Okay.” She said curtly. “But don’t do it again. You are the captain of this team, which means you set the example. You being late will not look good to these girls. You realize how important that is right? I know that being punctual doesn’t seem like much. But it makes a difference. Okay?”

I nodded my head and attempted to give her an assuring smile. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the last few girls trickle out of the gym.

“Can I go change now?” I asked.

Mr. Perryman nodded and I grabbed my backpack and rushed over to the stall to change, Mika and Brooke suddenly appearing behind me. Those two girls follow me like puppy dogs. I was so sure they left already!

“Mika, Brooke?” I said, smiling officiously as I turned to face them. They both looked alert and smiled at me.

“Could you guys get me a water bottle and some chips from the vending machine? I’m famished.”

Mika and Brooke looked at each other and at me again while I smiled demurely, waiting, knowing that if they wanted access to me and my huge house that I always threw parties at, they’d do what I asked, and left. My smile disappeared and I relaxed. Jeez, not even two seconds of peace. For a second, a slight feeling of sadness gripped at me. Sometimes, I just wished that when I asked someone for something, they’d say no. They’d smirk and say: How ‘bout you get it yourself?

After all, when they obeyed me, it was proof that I wasn’t really using them, they were using me. A real friend wouldn’t be a slave, and they wouldn’t be scared that I wouldn’t invite them out anywhere because they’d know I would. They’d be friends with me because actually they liked me. It almost felt as if I had real friends when I was younger. Immediately I stopped myself. No. I wasn’t going to go there. Stop Naomi, I ordered myself. I wasn’t going to take another walk down memory lane; that was not going to get me anywhere. I brushed off my feelings, like I so often did, convincing myself that this was better.

Two minutes later, I was changed back into too tight skinny jeans, UGGS, and white V-neck victoria’s secret shirt while my “friends” had come back with my water bottle and chips. I cocked her head to the side and smiled, flashing my pearly whites, as I accepted the snacks. Just for the hell of it, I threw the chips across the room and threw a little tantrum about how I didn’t want Doritos, I wanted Baked Lays.

They looked like they were about to take a crap in their pants. I thought it was so funny I started to laugh and found it hard to stop.

“Oh…my…gosh…” I said between gasps of laughter. “Your… faces!” I collapsed into a fit of giggles.

Mika and Brooke looked at each other as if they were debating whether or not to take me to the school psychologist or not. I immediately composed myself and every stitch of laughter was wiped from my face. “I was just kidding guys. Doritos are fine.”

Giving a peppy grin and a wink, I walked over to where they threw the Doritos and opened the bag, taking a crunchy bite out of one of the chips. Mm.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to dance.

Dancing had been my favorite way to express myself, and I made friends quickly in the class. I was outspoken, I was cute, and I was never afraid. When I entered school, I was immediately popular. From first grade to eighth grade, my life was filled with recitals, friendship bracelets, slumber parties, nail polish, talking about boys, and eventually, dating boys. Then came the drama. You know, the typical stuff. My life was fun, but in high school it got complicated. Other popular girls from other middle schools came. The hierarchies were mushed together and we had to fight to get to the top again. But I was relentless. I liked the image of prettiest girl, hottest girl, the one you didn’t want to mess with.

In all the years from first grade ballerina princess to high school homecoming queen, I became… a bitch. At least, that’s what all the girls said about me.

I sighed and got up from my huge flouncy bed, tousling my golden locks and looked at myself in the mirror. It felt a little weird, as I realized that this was to be the first day of my last year in high school. And then I’ll be in college: a whole new life, a whole new social structure. Who would I be there? Would I be on top like I am now? Or will I be a small fish in a vast sea? I shivered at the thought of it. I was used to being a big fish in a small pond. My high school wasn’t too large. I couldn’t imagine a life where people didn’t know my name.

“Naomi Belle Price, you get your tush down here!”

I looked out the window to see my friend, Nina, smacking her freshly lip-glossed lips in her baby blue convertible punch buggy, waiting for me to come outside so we could go to school.

I hastily pulled on a white denim miniskirt and floral top, and grabbed my knee high brown suede boots, running down the stairs.

“Naomi your friend is waiting outside for you. Why do you always have to make other people wait for you?” My mother said, taking two pieces of toast out of the toaster.

I grabbed piece from her plate, I was in a hurry and needed something to eat. My mother sighed and started buttering the other slice of bread.

“I know that Mom.” I said between bites, pulling on my boots.

“Okay, okay.” She said, putting the bread on the toaster. “I just want you to try to think of other people for once, okay?”

I ignored her and grabbed my backpack, mumbling an “okay fine.” and bolting out of the door. I jumped into the side seat of Nina’s car.

“Wow girl, you got tan!” Nina said, starting up the car.

“I know, I know.” I said, smirking a bit. “I just got back from Aruba two days ago.” I said, admiring my skin. It was a perfect golden tan. Nina revved up her car and we made our way to school.

Unfortunately, during the car ride all Nina could talk about was Brian. Apparently they hung out together all summer. No wonder she wasn’t ever free to go out with me. She usually wasn’t this talkative about boys. Usually she was the friend that I could always joke around with about other people. But now she suddenly turned into some hopeless romantic. It sucked, she used to be hilarious.

I tuned her out as we got outta the car and walked into the school, saying hey to some of the football players who were all surrounding Johnny Gerheart. Every morning last year, all the guys on the varsity team would meet at Johnny’s car in the junior parking lot. Now in the senior parking lot, it was no different. Johnny was the quarterback on the team, and he also had the nicest car.

Well, except for mine of course. But mine is super girly.

Usually I’d go up to the suckers and talk to them for a bit before homeroom, but right now the only thing I wanted to do was strut my stuff directly to 212 so I could get away from Nina already. Valerie usually was always in homeroom before me too, so she might even be there right now.

As I walked faster than usual throughout the hallway, half-listening to Nina and giving some “yeahs” when she paused, I bumped rather hard into someone. I turned slightly to see who I bumped into, frowning when I saw who it was.

“Oh hello your highness!” Noah Colfer—class freak—said in a lame pompous voice. “I am so, so sorry to have bumped into you. Please, permit me to cut off my own arm and eat it in front of you in repentance.”

I screwed my face up in horror and disgust. I swear, the things that came out of this kid’s mouth…I didn’t even know why I got surprised anymore. I had heard the same crap almost every day from him for the past three years.

He raised his fist and I narrowed my eyes, cocking my head to the side, giving him a look that said: don’t even try it, pursing my lips slightly like the queen he pretended I was. He punched an unsuspecting freshman nearby and walked away, laughing at me like a rabid dog. I turned back to Nina and we shared a look.

“He will always be a creep.” I said, sighing. Nina nodded her head, agreeing with me, and they parted ways as I walked into 212 and Nina went to her locker.

As I walked into homeroom I noticed most of the desks were empty. For once, I’m early.

I turned to the teacher and saw that it was Mrs. Cox. She was shuffling through her papers and looked up when I opened the door. I smiled at her….and she rolled her eyes. The teacher just rolled her eyes at her! Well, not completely, it was one of those quarter rolls, if it was a complete roll that would be totally weird. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion and pulled out my small makeup mirror. Was my smile really that fake? I smiled at the mirror. Hmm…it doesn’t look that fake. Well, I had her last year and I was always late to class…I guess I’m not one of her favorite students. I heard a laugh and turned around, grinning like the Chesire cat when I saw who it was.

“Hey Val baby.” I said in a minx voice.

“Yo. What the hell are you doing?” Val said, taking off her backpack.

“Checking out my smile.” I said suavely, winking at her.

“Yeah…” she said, grinning. “Well, you look like a retard. Let’s sit.” She said, nodding at our desks.

We sat.

“So…how was your summer?” Val asked slyly.

“Oh, just the usual.” I said casually. “Summer pool party bashes, weekends at the beach house with all the girls and guys, lots of hooking up, breaking up, gossip, shopping, that stupid yearly trip with the fam, blah blah blah…” I said.

She made a face.

“Where’d she take you this time?” she asked.

“Aruba.” I said straightly. “It wasn’t that bad though, since she let me be alone most of the time. But I don’t care to talk about that. How was your summer?” I asked, throwing it back at her and raising my eyebrows. Her blushing grin when I asked her gave it all away.

“Well…” she started, dragging the well out, “as you know, I toured Europe for summer. And well, I met a guy.”

Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of Fabian and Italy. It sounded really romantic, but nothing out of the ordinary. It was a nice, short, clean romance. She said he was going to come over and visit next week, and he’s bringing a friend. She winked at me.

“Maybe you can distract his friend away so I can have some alone time with him…?” she said, grinning mischievously.

I laughed. “Maybe.”

I looked at my schedule again to review all my classes.

001 – Spanish 3 Rm 203

002 – Physical Education Gym

003 – Calculus Rm 131

004 – Creative Writing Rm 322

005 – Lunch Cafeteria

006- Physics Rm 224

007 – Study Hall Cafeteria

008 - European History Rm 108

I already texted my friends the week before when we were all mailed our letters, and I had friends in every class except for Creative Writing. Little did I know I'd be making a friend in that class....

“Ready for Espanol?” Val asked me, watching me look over my classes.

“Siempre!”

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Written by TreeQuestions
Pretty Privledge

Some people say Noah Colfer committed suicide. Others say he fell off a bridge while tripped up on a concoction of drugs. A few mused that he was murdered. I even heard once that he got a life sentence in jail. Even less of the crowd whispered to each other that he faked it all. But we all agreed on one thing: Noah Colfer was the self-proclaimed weirdo of our high school.

Every school has that one odd kid. You know, the one who sat in the back of the classroom scratching vulgarities on the desk? The kid who always kicked the ball way too hard when playing kickball for recess—if he was lucky enough to even get picked on a team. Yeah, that was Noah…

So why was I thinking about him in my college junior BIO 103 class, bored as can be? Maybe it was because the kid in front of me reminded me of him. Maybe it’s because two rows across from me some jerkoff is playing his iPod too loud and is playing Noah’s favorite genre: scream-o music. Ugh. Or maybe it’s because—probably it’s because—it was a day like this, in high school biology, that I first laid eyes upon Noah Colfer.

It was sophomore year and Noah was one of the new kids coming to Tucker Lee High, along with Jess Whatever and Freddy Something. He used to go to Thornton Heights, a beaten down, public school not too far from there in one of the more dangerous parts of town. I only had to take one look at him and I knew exactly who he’d be sitting with at lunch that day: the druggies and the lame kids who always tried to form a band but usually sucked at gigs. Let’s throw in a black-lipstick wearing chick in there too, just for fun.

Anyway, that day we were dissecting frogs.

I was at the same table as he was, unfortunately, sitting across from him. I was assigned to Mary Shrouder, a smart, nerdy girl, and he was assigned to Lucas Wright, one of my guy friends. Me and Lucas were talking about our plans for homecoming when suddenly Noah interrupted our conversation, jabbing his knife into the frog’s stomach loudly so that we both looked at him.

“You know, the French people eat frog legs. They call it a delicacy.” He said, lifting his knife out of the amphibian. Everyone around him gave him a weird ‘who gives two shits’ look and rolling their eyes, went back to work. Some were still staring, noticing that they hadn’t seen him around before since he was new and all. I looked at him too, wondering what the hell he was doing here and not in his graffiti, inner city high school.

His eyes took on a mischievous glint to them, and he drove the paring knife into the frog’s leg. He cut off that frog’s leg. He held it up in front of him and stuck out his tongue like he thought he was some lame rock star.

Now that got the other kids attention, and everyone, plus some other tables, were looking at him. That was definitely not on the instructions. I looked back at the teacher, wondering how much trouble he would get into if she noticed. How many points would she dock off for a mutilated frog?

She wasn’t looking, instead she was preoccupied, bending over two student’s experiment and helping them with their analysis. I looked back at Noah and couldn’t hide my look of surprise. He held the leg dangling above his grinning, open mouth. Everyone around us looked horrified, whispering to each other. Then the leg disappeared in his mouth, and I shrieked in disgust, as everyone around us did too. The boys went crazy, laughing and punching each other’s shoulders, pointing at Noah in sick amazement. The girls just gagged and turned around, whispering to each other how disgusting that kid was, how weird he was.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I just watched as he chewed on the leg, and halfway through he started to choke on it and he spit it out. I gagged, about ready to hurl. He looked like he would too for a second, then he smirked and took a swing of his water bottle. He must have noticed me staring at him, with my mouth agape, because then he looked directly at me and cocked an eyebrow. I bristled at the fact that he was even looking at me, he was so bizarre that I wanted nothing to do with him. The word “Freak” slipped past my lips before I even knew it, and his eyes darkened. People around us heard my comment and laughed, agreeing with me.

“He is a freak.” Joey said loudly. “I mean, that is so nasty. Who the hell would do something like that?” he asked, snickering.

It didn’t take long for the teacher to notice the commotion going on in the other side of the classroom, and when she saw the half-masticated frog leg on the table, her eyes narrowed and she sent Noah to the principal’s office. We were left to clean up the mess. From that day on, Noah was labeled the class freak. He did make friends with those druggies and emo kids, the hoodlums and the badasses. But he was the weirdest of them all. Even his friends didn’t understand the way his brain worked. I guessed he had taken drugs long before they did, and that’s what made him so crazy. He even smiled weird, always getting this creepy glint in his eye like he was imagining killing you or something…

From that day, Noah always did freakish things. He said strange, out of place things in class; he always pulled pranks on students and teachers, and often spray painted the walls with his friends. He went to the principal’s office more than he went to his own classes. And somehow, every year, I had the bad luck of having him in at least one of my classes. Even though I actually prayed I’d get senior year free of him, just one year, my last year, it didn’t work.

See, Noah had a problem with popular people. In fact, he had a problem with people in general, but he especially had problems with us socially adept individuals. So, he bothered us. Bothered us to no end, whispering snide things in every cheerleader’s ears and pissing off the jocks in any way he could. He got into more fistfights than drunken marine at a late night bar.

He seemed to particularly hate me, and I always suspected it was because I was the one who labeled him. I called him ‘freak’ and since then, the label stuck. It wasn’t my fault that people always seemed to agree with me.

I used to think the teachers punished me every semester for every time I didn’t turn in papers on time and get out of it with some dance excuse or having my parents come in complaining their ear off until they agree to extend my deadline. I knew they hated me. So naturally, I believed they were out to get me and therefore found a way to get Noah in one of my classes every semester without fail. Noah never ceased to torment me every semester—without fail. Even in the summer! There was this one unforgettable summer where every time he skateboarded past my house he’d yell “ditzes!” whenever he noticed me outside surrounded by my friends at my backyard pool. And that was the nicest phrase he’d use. If he noticed no neighbors or adults were around, he used more vulgar words. But it never really bothered me. I was living the life, and back then I didn’t care for the little, seemingly unimportant thorn in my side. I really did think senior year would be no different. Actually, scratch that. I thought it would be different, but in a good way. College was still a bright and exciting future for me, and even with Noah's daily annoyances, I felt happy as a bee—a queen bee. But senior year was different…and not the way I imagined it to be. That entire year, every day, he wanted to break me. But that was a long time ago. I've graduated from high school since then...doing the regular thing. Sometimes I miss those high school days. Sometimes, I even miss him.


Chapter One: Three Years Ago

Effortlessly.

That is how I’ve always been told I moved.

So, “effortlessly” I flew across the wooden, glossed floor, my arms spinning around delicately. Every movement was precise, graceful and elegant, I made sure of it. I bent into a plié and sprung up smoothly into a chassé.

As the violins started to play allegro—faster and more fervently, likewise my movements became quicker, stronger, and even.

When I did my adage, I did so with balance, my ability to hold those beautiful positions while disguising any pain in doing so was due to years of ballet practices and recitals.

My arabesque was often deemed perfect, my assemblé was crisp. I transitioned into quick chaîné turns to dazzle the viewer as I built up speed and jumped into an entrechat.

I turned my arms in and bent down, as if I were cradling a child in my arms. Then I thrust my arms in the air, as if the child had transformed into a dove and flew into the air. I too, was in flight—my every movement mimicked the fluttering of wings at dawn, I smiled as I caught myself in the mirror, aware that I had yet to make a single mistake in my routine—as usual.

I loved it in the dance room, with its wide mirrors and smooth, pristine floors—how everything had to be clean and gorgeously simple, from the room to my laced toes, to my golden-tan curls which were gathered in a tight French twist. Curls that unfortunately, were starting to untangle…

I tried to ignore the curl that flew past my eyes as I gave my final turns, but the damage was done. My hair tie snapped; my hair had fallen.

“Stop! Stop, stop, stop!” a curt voice rang out.

I immediately stopped turning, breathing quickly. The sound of the light flutes, romantic violins, deep clarinets and oboes all playing in unison from the stereo ceased as well, the energy in the air vanished.

I watched as my instructor approached me: Mr. Chateaux. He had been my private ballet teacher for three years now, and he never ceased to criticize me. I used to find him unfeeling, always wearing solid, neutral colors, always holding himself so uprightly. I had gotten used to his nature—after all; my mother paid him to teach me to be the best.

“While the sight of your hair in combination to the chaîné turns is quite unique and adds extra…unexpected fervor to your movements,” Mr. Chateaux began, “ballet is never done professionally with the hair down.”

“This is not jazz—the watered down version of the beauty of ballet—or that rancid hip hop that constitutes solely of hair whipping to distract the viewer from the fact that the dancer lacks any skill whatsoever—this is ballet. And in ballet,” Chateaux continued, picking up my broken hair tie from the wooden floor—“We always make sure our hair is secured properly.”

He handed the hair tie back to me.

If only he knew how we dance at school…I thought, thinking about the routine I would be doing in approximately forty-five minutes with my dance team at school: The Tuckerettes.

Yes, their routine was not as crisp or elegant as ballet, and they did do a fair amount of hair whipping and hip thrusting that Chateaux usually found disgusting, but they did not entirely lack the skills of a dancer. But I remained silent, giving my teacher a toothless smile.

“Of course Mr. Chateaux.”

I went over to where my bag was and shuffled around the stuff in there until I found another hair tie, securing my hair more tightly this time.

“Again.”

***

As soon as ballet practice was over I practically ran over to my car and sped all the way to Tucker Lee, grateful that no policemen were around. Not that I cared about having tickets, I’ve had ten since I first got my license as a sophomore two years ago, and I never paid for them. It’s the fact that if I got stopped that dinky officer would be eating up my time!

Thankfully, I made it to the school okay and quickly changed in my car into my dance clothes—basically tight black yoga pants and cropped black tank top with my school name in sparkly letters across my bust. Classy, I know.

I pushed open the door to my 2011 BMW with a little too much force as I booked it to the gym, hoping Ms. Perryman wouldn’t notice I was 20 minutes late.

Trey Songz’s voice boomed through the speakers in the gym as the girls, freshman to senior, strutted their stuff across the basketball court of Tucker Lee High School, lining up in preparation for their routine. Coming in through the backdoor so no one would catch me, I stealthily merged myself into the lineup.

At the first beat, the twenty-two girls each struck a different, beguiling pose. I knew this routine by heart. At the second beat, the twenty-two girls split in the middle, forming a V formation, while a twenty-third girl—me—confidently walked to the middle of the V, completing it. I gave a triple pirouette, and the rest of the girls followed in a “wave” pattern. When the last two girls finished their turns, in synch we dived into more complex dance moves to match the beat of the rowdy rap music. At the end of the routine, our coach, Ms. Perryman, was clapping loudly.

“Good work girls. Practice is done for today, and remember, no practice tomorrow because the first day of school is in three days, and I want to give you girls a bit of a break.” Ms. Perryman gave a wide smile as she high-fived some of the girls on the way out of the gym to the locker room.

“Because,” she called out after the girls, “starting the Friday of the first week of school, we will be having practice every day until the pep rally!”

Some of the girls groaned, but I fully expected this. Every time Ms. Perryman announced some break for us, it was only because she was about to go even harder on us the next time she saw us. I smiled. I was ready for whatever Ms. Perryman had planned for us.

“Naomi!”

I turned to the direction of my name and saw Ms. Perryman signaling me to come to her. The look on her face told me she was not about to compliment me on my flawless moves. I ran over to her.

“Yes?”

“I noticed you were late to practice today. That’s the third time this month.” Ms. Perryman said in a slightly concerned voice.

Ballet practice. Mr. Chateaux just wouldn’t let me go. Of course, I didn’t want to tell her this. If she knew I was doing another routine on the side, she’d flip and give me a speech on how I need to take some stuff off my plate or else I’ll start slacking in either my school work, or sleep, or something that has to do with balance and high school.

“I’m sorry; it took me a while to find my car keys. They were in the foyer.” I lied, plastering a good-natured smile on my face.

Ms. Perryman gave me a long look and gave into my explanation.

“Okay.” She said curtly. “But don’t do it again. You are the captain of this team, which means you set the example. You being late will not look good to these girls. You realize how important that is right? I know that being punctual doesn’t seem like much. But it makes a difference. Okay?”

I nodded my head and attempted to give her an assuring smile. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the last few girls trickle out of the gym.

“Can I go change now?” I asked.

Mr. Perryman nodded and I grabbed my backpack and rushed over to the stall to change, Mika and Brooke suddenly appearing behind me. Those two girls follow me like puppy dogs. I was so sure they left already!

“Mika, Brooke?” I said, smiling officiously as I turned to face them. They both looked alert and smiled at me.

“Could you guys get me a water bottle and some chips from the vending machine? I’m famished.”

Mika and Brooke looked at each other and at me again while I smiled demurely, waiting, knowing that if they wanted access to me and my huge house that I always threw parties at, they’d do what I asked, and left. My smile disappeared and I relaxed. Jeez, not even two seconds of peace. For a second, a slight feeling of sadness gripped at me. Sometimes, I just wished that when I asked someone for something, they’d say no. They’d smirk and say: How ‘bout you get it yourself?

After all, when they obeyed me, it was proof that I wasn’t really using them, they were using me. A real friend wouldn’t be a slave, and they wouldn’t be scared that I wouldn’t invite them out anywhere because they’d know I would. They’d be friends with me because actually they liked me. It almost felt as if I had real friends when I was younger. Immediately I stopped myself. No. I wasn’t going to go there. Stop Naomi, I ordered myself. I wasn’t going to take another walk down memory lane; that was not going to get me anywhere. I brushed off my feelings, like I so often did, convincing myself that this was better.

Two minutes later, I was changed back into too tight skinny jeans, UGGS, and white V-neck victoria’s secret shirt while my “friends” had come back with my water bottle and chips. I cocked her head to the side and smiled, flashing my pearly whites, as I accepted the snacks. Just for the hell of it, I threw the chips across the room and threw a little tantrum about how I didn’t want Doritos, I wanted Baked Lays.
They looked like they were about to take a crap in their pants. I thought it was so funny I started to laugh and found it hard to stop.

“Oh…my…gosh…” I said between gasps of laughter. “Your… faces!” I collapsed into a fit of giggles.

Mika and Brooke looked at each other as if they were debating whether or not to take me to the school psychologist or not. I immediately composed myself and every stitch of laughter was wiped from my face. “I was just kidding guys. Doritos are fine.”

Giving a peppy grin and a wink, I walked over to where they threw the Doritos and opened the bag, taking a crunchy bite out of one of the chips. Mm.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to dance.

Dancing had been my favorite way to express myself, and I made friends quickly in the class. I was outspoken, I was cute, and I was never afraid. When I entered school, I was immediately popular. From first grade to eighth grade, my life was filled with recitals, friendship bracelets, slumber parties, nail polish, talking about boys, and eventually, dating boys. Then came the drama. You know, the typical stuff. My life was fun, but in high school it got complicated. Other popular girls from other middle schools came. The hierarchies were mushed together and we had to fight to get to the top again. But I was relentless. I liked the image of prettiest girl, hottest girl, the one you didn’t want to mess with.

In all the years from first grade ballerina princess to high school homecoming queen, I became… a bitch. At least, that’s what all the girls said about me.

I sighed and got up from my huge flouncy bed, tousling my golden locks and looked at myself in the mirror. It felt a little weird, as I realized that this was to be the first day of my last year in high school. And then I’ll be in college: a whole new life, a whole new social structure. Who would I be there? Would I be on top like I am now? Or will I be a small fish in a vast sea? I shivered at the thought of it. I was used to being a big fish in a small pond. My high school wasn’t too large. I couldn’t imagine a life where people didn’t know my name.

“Naomi Belle Price, you get your tush down here!”

I looked out the window to see my friend, Nina, smacking her freshly lip-glossed lips in her baby blue convertible punch buggy, waiting for me to come outside so we could go to school.

I hastily pulled on a white denim miniskirt and floral top, and grabbed my knee high brown suede boots, running down the stairs.

“Naomi your friend is waiting outside for you. Why do you always have to make other people wait for you?” My mother said, taking two pieces of toast out of the toaster.

I grabbed piece from her plate, I was in a hurry and needed something to eat. My mother sighed and started buttering the other slice of bread.

“I know that Mom.” I said between bites, pulling on my boots.

“Okay, okay.” She said, putting the bread on the toaster. “I just want you to try to think of other people for once, okay?”

I ignored her and grabbed my backpack, mumbling an “okay fine.” and bolting out of the door. I jumped into the side seat of Nina’s car.

“Wow girl, you got tan!” Nina said, starting up the car.

“I know, I know.” I said, smirking a bit. “I just got back from Aruba two days ago.” I said, admiring my skin. It was a perfect golden tan. Nina revved up her car and we made our way to school.

Unfortunately, during the car ride all Nina could talk about was Brian. Apparently they hung out together all summer. No wonder she wasn’t ever free to go out with me. She usually wasn’t this talkative about boys. Usually she was the friend that I could always joke around with about other people. But now she suddenly turned into some hopeless romantic. It sucked, she used to be hilarious.

I tuned her out as we got outta the car and walked into the school, saying hey to some of the football players who were all surrounding Johnny Gerheart. Every morning last year, all the guys on the varsity team would meet at Johnny’s car in the junior parking lot. Now in the senior parking lot, it was no different. Johnny was the quarterback on the team, and he also had the nicest car.

Well, except for mine of course. But mine is super girly.

Usually I’d go up to the suckers and talk to them for a bit before homeroom, but right now the only thing I wanted to do was strut my stuff directly to 212 so I could get away from Nina already. Valerie usually was always in homeroom before me too, so she might even be there right now.

As I walked faster than usual throughout the hallway, half-listening to Nina and giving some “yeahs” when she paused, I bumped rather hard into someone. I turned slightly to see who I bumped into, frowning when I saw who it was.

“Oh hello your highness!” Noah Colfer—class freak—said in a lame pompous voice. “I am so, so sorry to have bumped into you. Please, permit me to cut off my own arm and eat it in front of you in repentance.”

I screwed my face up in horror and disgust. I swear, the things that came out of this kid’s mouth…I didn’t even know why I got surprised anymore. I had heard the same crap almost every day from him for the past three years.

He raised his fist and I narrowed my eyes, cocking my head to the side, giving him a look that said: don’t even try it, pursing my lips slightly like the queen he pretended I was. He punched an unsuspecting freshman nearby and walked away, laughing at me like a rabid dog. I turned back to Nina and we shared a look.

“He will always be a creep.” I said, sighing. Nina nodded her head, agreeing with me, and they parted ways as I walked into 212 and Nina went to her locker.

As I walked into homeroom I noticed most of the desks were empty. For once, I’m early.

I turned to the teacher and saw that it was Mrs. Cox. She was shuffling through her papers and looked up when I opened the door. I smiled at her….and she rolled her eyes. The teacher just rolled her eyes at her! Well, not completely, it was one of those quarter rolls, if it was a complete roll that would be totally weird. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion and pulled out my small makeup mirror. Was my smile really that fake? I smiled at the mirror. Hmm…it doesn’t look that fake. Well, I had her last year and I was always late to class…I guess I’m not one of her favorite students. I heard a laugh and turned around, grinning like the Chesire cat when I saw who it was.

“Hey Val baby.” I said in a minx voice.

“Yo. What the hell are you doing?” Val said, taking off her backpack.

“Checking out my smile.” I said suavely, winking at her.

“Yeah…” she said, grinning. “Well, you look like a retard. Let’s sit.” She said, nodding at our desks.
We sat.

“So…how was your summer?” Val asked slyly.

“Oh, just the usual.” I said casually. “Summer pool party bashes, weekends at the beach house with all the girls and guys, lots of hooking up, breaking up, gossip, shopping, that stupid yearly trip with the fam, blah blah blah…” I said.

She made a face.

“Where’d she take you this time?” she asked.

“Aruba.” I said straightly. “It wasn’t that bad though, since she let me be alone most of the time. But I don’t care to talk about that. How was your summer?” I asked, throwing it back at her and raising my eyebrows. Her blushing grin when I asked her gave it all away.

“Well…” she started, dragging the well out, “as you know, I toured Europe for summer. And well, I met a guy.”

Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of Fabian and Italy. It sounded really romantic, but nothing out of the ordinary. It was a nice, short, clean romance. She said he was going to come over and visit next week, and he’s bringing a friend. She winked at me.

“Maybe you can distract his friend away so I can have some alone time with him…?” she said, grinning mischievously.

I laughed. “Maybe.”

I looked at my schedule again to review all my classes.

001 – Spanish 3 Rm 203
002 – Physical Education Gym
003 – Calculus Rm 131
004 – Creative Writing Rm 322
005 – Lunch Cafeteria
006- Physics Rm 224
007 – Study Hall Cafeteria
008 - European History Rm 108

I already texted my friends the week before when we were all mailed our letters, and I had friends in every class except for Creative Writing. Little did I know I'd be making a friend in that class....

“Ready for Espanol?” Val asked me, watching me look over my classes.

“Siempre!”
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Written by LoveSavita

A Simple Girl

          All my life, I have known I would never be a simple girl. I was meant to be extraordinary. I wanted more than anything to make a name for myself. I didn't want to meet the perfect guy. I didn't want to marry him and be done with all my ambitions. I wanted to make an impact on people's life. Help them through their problems.... I did just that. I was well on my way. Merely 25 years old with warm brown eyes and shoulder length hair, I was a psychologist. I, Amelia Jones, partnered with two other psychologist that graduated with me and together we opened our own office. I was well on being extraordinary. 

             Of course when being extraordinary, you don't take account of all the other anomalies in life. One anomaly that changed my life was meeting a guy. It never occurred to me that loving him would change the essence of who I am. Thinking back on it, I realize just why I fell so hard and trusting for him. I was alone. Plain and simple. I was alone in a town that I had no family or friends. My parents were dead and all my extended relatives lived in other states. I felt no need to make friends. He wormed his way into my life. He simply became my home. Nick James. Nick was handsome. He has hazel brown eyes and dark brown tousled hair. He was a doctor. He was quite a bit older than me. He was smart and funny and worst of all trusting. I was a fool. I'm not a simple girl. I let him hurt me. It happened two months ago but I remember it just like it was yesterday. 

(Flashback begins)

 I saw him. He was with her. His highschool sweetheart. Nina Thompson. She was the embodiment of beauty. Long luscious blonde bombshell curls, baby blue eyes, and curves that'll make any guys head turn. They were in his office. They were kissing. I cleared my throat. I tried to say something. They must of heard me because Nick quickly pushed Nina away from him. Looking back and forth between Nina and I, he told her to leave. 

We both watched as she left. Looking at me, he made a step forward in my direction. Stepping back, I shook my head no indicating not to come any closer. "I'm not sorry", Nick said looking at me deeply. 

Scoffing, I replied "Is that all you have to say?" 

"I think Nina and I owe it to ourselves to see if we still have something between us." Nick said with a straight face. "Today was the first time we kissed since we broke up. It wouldn't be fair to you if I stayed with you while I have feelings for another girl." 

Shaking my head with tears pouring down my face, I turned around and left. 

(End of Flashback)

        I never got any clarity. I just buried it away. I pretended like it never happened. Looking around my office, I smiled with pride. This is who I am. An extraordinary psychologist. Grabbing my purse and keys, I made my way out the door. Locking the front door, I turned around while looking down at my purse to secure my keys in a safe place. Looking up, I was startled to see Nick. He was looking the worse for wear. "'Melia. I'm sorry." He said sadly apologizing. I saw as he gazed at me "You look so beautiful." 

It was in that moment that everything came crashing toward me. Every feeling I've tried to hide came back full force. "Stop." I said shaking my head. 

"Look, I'm truly sorry. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have left you. I shouldn't have broken things off like that....but I still love you." He said trying to reassure me. After a brief pause he continued to say, "I know it's a lot to spring on you. You should just go home... It's getting late and you can think about it. We can talk about this more tomorrow." 

He brought this up. He made me feel everything I've tried to hide. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to talk about it tomorrow or ever again. I had to say what I felt before I'd never get the chance to say it. I had to say what was on my mind before I could freeze up and wimp out. With tears running down my face, I took a step closer to him. "No. No, I can't go home. You. You were my home. Before you, I was just living in a house. Before you, I haven't been home since my parents were alive....then they died and I lost my home and my light. But then I met you and you wormed your way into my life...into my heart. It was like coming home. It was like I finally found my home, every time I saw you I felt at home. And then you left and you broke me all over again. I warned you. I told you I was broken. You didn't believe me. I guess you just wanted the chance to break me all over again so congratulations you succeeded." With one more step closer to him, I pointed my finger jabbing it to his chest as I continued saying, "I loved you, but I won't allow myself to love you anymore. You made me believe that there's no such thing as finding a home in someone. I've got to be my own home. You and I will never be together. You can count on that." As I concluded I turned around and walked my way home. I felt a burden being lifted off my chest...I had clarity. I felt a feeling of content. I am not a simple girl. I don't want the fairytale endings. I don't want to be the doting wife and mother. I was made for more than that. I am extraordinary. It's just who I am. 

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Juice
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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 LoveSavita
A Simple Girl
          All my life, I have known I would never be a simple girl. I was meant to be extraordinary. I wanted more than anything to make a name for myself. I didn't want to meet the perfect guy. I didn't want to marry him and be done with all my ambitions. I wanted to make an impact on people's life. Help them through their problems.... I did just that. I was well on my way. Merely 25 years old with warm brown eyes and shoulder length hair, I was a psychologist. I, Amelia Jones, partnered with two other psychologist that graduated with me and together we opened our own office. I was well on being extraordinary. 
             Of course when being extraordinary, you don't take account of all the other anomalies in life. One anomaly that changed my life was meeting a guy. It never occurred to me that loving him would change the essence of who I am. Thinking back on it, I realize just why I fell so hard and trusting for him. I was alone. Plain and simple. I was alone in a town that I had no family or friends. My parents were dead and all my extended relatives lived in other states. I felt no need to make friends. He wormed his way into my life. He simply became my home. Nick James. Nick was handsome. He has hazel brown eyes and dark brown tousled hair. He was a doctor. He was quite a bit older than me. He was smart and funny and worst of all trusting. I was a fool. I'm not a simple girl. I let him hurt me. It happened two months ago but I remember it just like it was yesterday. 
(Flashback begins)
 I saw him. He was with her. His highschool sweetheart. Nina Thompson. She was the embodiment of beauty. Long luscious blonde bombshell curls, baby blue eyes, and curves that'll make any guys head turn. They were in his office. They were kissing. I cleared my throat. I tried to say something. They must of heard me because Nick quickly pushed Nina away from him. Looking back and forth between Nina and I, he told her to leave. 
We both watched as she left. Looking at me, he made a step forward in my direction. Stepping back, I shook my head no indicating not to come any closer. "I'm not sorry", Nick said looking at me deeply. 
Scoffing, I replied "Is that all you have to say?" 
"I think Nina and I owe it to ourselves to see if we still have something between us." Nick said with a straight face. "Today was the first time we kissed since we broke up. It wouldn't be fair to you if I stayed with you while I have feelings for another girl." 
Shaking my head with tears pouring down my face, I turned around and left. 
(End of Flashback)
        I never got any clarity. I just buried it away. I pretended like it never happened. Looking around my office, I smiled with pride. This is who I am. An extraordinary psychologist. Grabbing my purse and keys, I made my way out the door. Locking the front door, I turned around while looking down at my purse to secure my keys in a safe place. Looking up, I was startled to see Nick. He was looking the worse for wear. "'Melia. I'm sorry." He said sadly apologizing. I saw as he gazed at me "You look so beautiful." 
It was in that moment that everything came crashing toward me. Every feeling I've tried to hide came back full force. "Stop." I said shaking my head. 
"Look, I'm truly sorry. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have left you. I shouldn't have broken things off like that....but I still love you." He said trying to reassure me. After a brief pause he continued to say, "I know it's a lot to spring on you. You should just go home... It's getting late and you can think about it. We can talk about this more tomorrow." 
He brought this up. He made me feel everything I've tried to hide. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to talk about it tomorrow or ever again. I had to say what I felt before I'd never get the chance to say it. I had to say what was on my mind before I could freeze up and wimp out. With tears running down my face, I took a step closer to him. "No. No, I can't go home. You. You were my home. Before you, I was just living in a house. Before you, I haven't been home since my parents were alive....then they died and I lost my home and my light. But then I met you and you wormed your way into my life...into my heart. It was like coming home. It was like I finally found my home, every time I saw you I felt at home. And then you left and you broke me all over again. I warned you. I told you I was broken. You didn't believe me. I guess you just wanted the chance to break me all over again so congratulations you succeeded." With one more step closer to him, I pointed my finger jabbing it to his chest as I continued saying, "I loved you, but I won't allow myself to love you anymore. You made me believe that there's no such thing as finding a home in someone. I've got to be my own home. You and I will never be together. You can count on that." As I concluded I turned around and walked my way home. I felt a burden being lifted off my chest...I had clarity. I felt a feeling of content. I am not a simple girl. I don't want the fairytale endings. I don't want to be the doting wife and mother. I was made for more than that. I am extraordinary. It's just who I am. 
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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 LAMunro

The Woods

I was wandering through the woods. The sun was shining through the branches. The dappled light hit my face and warmed me to my core despite the chill in the air. All around I could hear birdsong, and fresh air filled my lungs. My fingers were cold. I could see my breath in front of me, but I was happy and comfortable.

I smelled smoke, and came across a house. Laughter came from within and along with the scent of the fire burning in the hearth, I could smell food cooking. My mouth watered and my stomach grumbled at the thought of food. In spite of myself, I shivered. Perhaps, I thought, they’d let me sit by their fire, and spare me a cup of tea. A cup of tea sounded nice.

I knocked on the door.

To my delight, they let me in and were kind. They offered me food and drink and a seat at their table. They let me join in their games and they laughed at my jokes. It grew dark outside, but I hardly noticed how long I’d been there. We stayed up late into the night, talking and laughing and eating and drinking.

There was a girl there who I befriended quickly. She laughed a lot, dimples forming at the sides of her mouth. She talked about a life she’d spent traveling before she’d settled at this little house in the woods. She was married to one of the men, a hulking bearded fellow with hands like a lion’s paws. He loved her fiercely. I could see it in his eyes.

One man there became my friend as well. He had sharp features and glinting, clever eyes. He told jokes. Every word out of his mouth was biting, piercing through any shyness I might have arrived with. It put me simultaneously at ease and on edge. I raised myself up, firing clever phrases back at him. He’d laugh and we’d drink.

There was one there, though, a man who had my attention so wholly that even my new friends faded from view in his presence. He was tall and lean, with blonde hair and eyes like sapphires. He was cautious with me at first, hesitant, but with the others he laughed often and his smile was infectious. I found myself drawn to him. I wanted to be on the receiving end of his smiles. I wanted to know what his hands would feel like on my skin. I imagined them to be strong and rough, but gentle.

I put myself next to him and showed him all the charm I had. He gave me a curious look, and I knew he was trying to figure me out. We were stood around the large kitchen table, drinking and playing a card game. I was beside him, not wanting to let myself be taken away from the object of my affection. I raised an eyebrow at his curious look.

“You like me,” he said.

I smiled. “I do.”

The curious look changed into an easy grin and he put his arm around me. I couldn’t help but smile as well.

Around him, I was calm and nervous, fluttering and still. When he held me it felt like home, and when he kissed me I could taste sunshine. His hands were exactly as I’d imagined them to be, if not better. We spent that night tangled together and I dreamed of a life I could have, living in this house with my blue-eyed love.

The next morning, we sat in the kitchen, the sunlight streaming through the curtains giving everything the glow of warmth and comfort. He made coffee and I made us eggs and toast. The others were all still asleep. If I listened closely I could hear the sounds of their even breaths, like waves crashing on rocks.

“What now?” I asked as we sat down to eat.

“What do you mean?” said he.

“What do we do?”

He gave a shrug. “We eat and we drink and we laugh. Sometimes we go to the lake. There are ducks there that we teach to swim.”

My heart warmed to him even more, if that was possible. “That’s good of you,” I said. “But is that all?”

“Does there need to be more?”

I frowned. “No. But it’s a quiet life, this. Do you not crave more?”

He had to think about this. “I’m happy here.” He paused. “I suppose… I do want more. I would like to see the world. But I won’t leave.”

“Why not?”

His face took on a far-off expression. “If you stay out past dark, you don’t come back. Or you come back… different.”

“Different,” I echoed. “Different how?”

He shook his head. “It’s difficult to explain.”

There was a final look in his eyes, so I let that line of questioning drop. “So you never leave?”

He came back to me then, his eyes lighting up with that keen, single-minded focus. Focused on me. “I’ve been to the lake.”

“But you’ve never been farther? You’ve never left for longer than a day?” I asked.

He tilted his head, blue eyes frowning at me. “How could I risk all of this? How could I leave knowing that all the people I love might not want me when I get back? Or that I might be so different that I might not want to come back at all?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again. The air felt strange around me, heavy. It made it hard to breathe. I needed to get out. “I think I’ll go for a walk today,” I said finally, standing to clear my dishes. “I need some fresh air.”

His hand closed around mine. “Be back before dark,” he said.

I looked down at him and brushed a strand of pale hair out of his face. “Will you wait for me?”

“If you’re back before dark, I will. But I can’t wait around forever.”

Tears pricked my eyes but I pretended they weren’t there. “I understand,” I said, and I told myself it was the truth.

The forest was cold, the air clean and sharp in my lungs. I closed the door behind me, and even almost turned to go back inside, to run into my love’s arms and tell him that he was right. I couldn’t leave it all behind. There was a horrible tightness in my chest that wouldn’t go away.

But I walked on. It was early yet, I told myself. I had plenty of time to make it back. The sun would bring its warmth as the day went on and the fresh air would cure the tightness in my chest. I just had to keep going.

At around noon I stopped and picked some berries for my lunch. It hadn’t warmed up, though the sun was bright overhead and around me the forest was alive and full of music.

It was time to turn back, so I started the way I’d come. It was getting colder though. Clouds covered the sun and a harsh wind began to blow, my thin jacket doing nothing to stop the chill. I brought my fingers up to my mouth to blow warm air into them. My breath steamed in front of my face.

Snow began to fall as I walked. It was just a few flakes at first, then more. They landed on my eyelashes and in my hair.

The snow fell harder. It crunched under my feet. My sneakers were soaked through and I was shivering, my teeth chattering. I walked faster, then ran. The cold air pierced my lungs. If only I could make it back before nightfall. My love would be waiting for me. He’d wrap me in a blanket and sit with me in front of the fire. I kept this image in my mind.

But the snow had become a sheet of white around me. It was all I could do to keep to the path because I could hardly see it. The snow was too deep to run. My feet sank into it, up to my knees. Worse yet, the world around me was growing darker. I was running out of time.

I could almost smell it. The fire. Food. The snow blocked all noises there might have been, but I could swear I heard the sound of laughter. I tried to move faster, wading through the snow, every step heavy and treacherously slow. My body was numb and tingling. My mouth and nose were freezing closed. But I was close. I was so close now.

And then I was in front of the house. The blizzard stopped and aside from the fact that I was chest deep in snow, it was as though it had never been there at all. Overhead the sky was cloudless and black. The stars shone like so many tear drops.

I could see through the windows of the house. There were people inside. My friends. They were sitting at the table, eating and playing games. I tried to go to them, but I couldn’t move. I was stuck in the snow. My legs wouldn’t budge.

“Help!” I called to them. “Help me!” I scrabbled at the snow with my frozen hands. I screamed until my throat went hoarse. They couldn’t hear me, couldn’t see me. They didn’t even wonder where I’d gone. They’d forgotten me.

The door opened then. I recognized the silhouette of the man that stood there. My love. He hadn’t forgotten me. I should have known he wouldn’t.

“Help me!” I called to him. “I’m stuck. Help me so I can come in.”

I couldn’t see his face, but his voice sounded as cold as the snow around me. “I told you to be back before dark,” he said.

“I tried! The snow… I tried to make it back. Please,” I said. My voice grew high and desperate, tears threatening. “I’m here now. Help me.”

He turned to look at the others and I caught a glimpse of his face. He looked different. He’d said that those who stayed out past dark came back different, but it wasn’t me who’d changed. It was him. His face was sharper, with harder lines and a prominent brow. He’d lost the laughter in his mouth. It was replaced by an ugly set of his lips that made him look like he’d tasted something rotten.

“The others won’t want you here,” he said. “They’ve moved on.”

I struggled to breathe. I was so cold. My tears froze on my cheeks. “And you?” I asked. “Have you moved on?”

I couldn’t see his face again, couldn’t read his expression. He didn’t speak for a moment, and when he did it wasn’t to answer my question. “I told you to be back before dark. I told you I wouldn’t wait for you.”

“But this?” I asked. “This?” I slammed my fists in the snow. “Talk to me! Tell me what’s changed! Come out here and talk to me!” I threw snow at him, screaming and clawing and flailing. Still, I couldn’t move any closer to him or the house.

He shook his head. “I told you the people who leave come back different. The woman I knew never would have been so violent.” He turned away to go back inside.

“Wait!” I called. “Wait, please. Help me! What am I supposed to do?”

He didn’t wait. He closed the door behind him and locked me out.

I collapsed against the snow, sobbing. I threw more snow at the house but no one came out.

I spent the night shivering and watching the people I’d called my friends as they played their games late into the night. When I looked closely, I could have sworn a couple of them looked sad, confused. Like they missed me, or wondered where I’d gone. But they didn’t look for me, and I watched as they all went off to sleep, the man I’d loved finding his way into another woman’s arms.

I cried and shivered and waited. Eventually the sun came up. The air warmed around me and the snow melted and I was free to move again. I looked at the house. I wondered if anyone would come out, or if they’d come looking for me now that it was daytime again. They didn’t.

Perhaps I could go up to the house and knock on the door. Perhaps they’d let me in and things would be as they had been before. Not exactly the same, maybe, but I could find happiness there again. Or maybe the man I’d loved was right. Maybe things could never be the same again. My night in the cold had created a strength in me that hadn’t been there before. I still hurt, still longed to sit by the fire and laugh with people who loved me. But I’d survived on my own.

I walked away into the woods.

And I was different.

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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 LAMunro
The Woods
I was wandering through the woods. The sun was shining through the branches. The dappled light hit my face and warmed me to my core despite the chill in the air. All around I could hear birdsong, and fresh air filled my lungs. My fingers were cold. I could see my breath in front of me, but I was happy and comfortable.
I smelled smoke, and came across a house. Laughter came from within and along with the scent of the fire burning in the hearth, I could smell food cooking. My mouth watered and my stomach grumbled at the thought of food. In spite of myself, I shivered. Perhaps, I thought, they’d let me sit by their fire, and spare me a cup of tea. A cup of tea sounded nice.
I knocked on the door.
To my delight, they let me in and were kind. They offered me food and drink and a seat at their table. They let me join in their games and they laughed at my jokes. It grew dark outside, but I hardly noticed how long I’d been there. We stayed up late into the night, talking and laughing and eating and drinking.
There was a girl there who I befriended quickly. She laughed a lot, dimples forming at the sides of her mouth. She talked about a life she’d spent traveling before she’d settled at this little house in the woods. She was married to one of the men, a hulking bearded fellow with hands like a lion’s paws. He loved her fiercely. I could see it in his eyes.
One man there became my friend as well. He had sharp features and glinting, clever eyes. He told jokes. Every word out of his mouth was biting, piercing through any shyness I might have arrived with. It put me simultaneously at ease and on edge. I raised myself up, firing clever phrases back at him. He’d laugh and we’d drink.
There was one there, though, a man who had my attention so wholly that even my new friends faded from view in his presence. He was tall and lean, with blonde hair and eyes like sapphires. He was cautious with me at first, hesitant, but with the others he laughed often and his smile was infectious. I found myself drawn to him. I wanted to be on the receiving end of his smiles. I wanted to know what his hands would feel like on my skin. I imagined them to be strong and rough, but gentle.
I put myself next to him and showed him all the charm I had. He gave me a curious look, and I knew he was trying to figure me out. We were stood around the large kitchen table, drinking and playing a card game. I was beside him, not wanting to let myself be taken away from the object of my affection. I raised an eyebrow at his curious look.
“You like me,” he said.
I smiled. “I do.”
The curious look changed into an easy grin and he put his arm around me. I couldn’t help but smile as well.
Around him, I was calm and nervous, fluttering and still. When he held me it felt like home, and when he kissed me I could taste sunshine. His hands were exactly as I’d imagined them to be, if not better. We spent that night tangled together and I dreamed of a life I could have, living in this house with my blue-eyed love.
The next morning, we sat in the kitchen, the sunlight streaming through the curtains giving everything the glow of warmth and comfort. He made coffee and I made us eggs and toast. The others were all still asleep. If I listened closely I could hear the sounds of their even breaths, like waves crashing on rocks.
“What now?” I asked as we sat down to eat.
“What do you mean?” said he.
“What do we do?”
He gave a shrug. “We eat and we drink and we laugh. Sometimes we go to the lake. There are ducks there that we teach to swim.”
My heart warmed to him even more, if that was possible. “That’s good of you,” I said. “But is that all?”
“Does there need to be more?”
I frowned. “No. But it’s a quiet life, this. Do you not crave more?”
He had to think about this. “I’m happy here.” He paused. “I suppose… I do want more. I would like to see the world. But I won’t leave.”
“Why not?”
His face took on a far-off expression. “If you stay out past dark, you don’t come back. Or you come back… different.”
“Different,” I echoed. “Different how?”
He shook his head. “It’s difficult to explain.”
There was a final look in his eyes, so I let that line of questioning drop. “So you never leave?”
He came back to me then, his eyes lighting up with that keen, single-minded focus. Focused on me. “I’ve been to the lake.”
“But you’ve never been farther? You’ve never left for longer than a day?” I asked.
He tilted his head, blue eyes frowning at me. “How could I risk all of this? How could I leave knowing that all the people I love might not want me when I get back? Or that I might be so different that I might not want to come back at all?”
I didn’t have an answer for him. I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again. The air felt strange around me, heavy. It made it hard to breathe. I needed to get out. “I think I’ll go for a walk today,” I said finally, standing to clear my dishes. “I need some fresh air.”
His hand closed around mine. “Be back before dark,” he said.
I looked down at him and brushed a strand of pale hair out of his face. “Will you wait for me?”
“If you’re back before dark, I will. But I can’t wait around forever.”
Tears pricked my eyes but I pretended they weren’t there. “I understand,” I said, and I told myself it was the truth.
The forest was cold, the air clean and sharp in my lungs. I closed the door behind me, and even almost turned to go back inside, to run into my love’s arms and tell him that he was right. I couldn’t leave it all behind. There was a horrible tightness in my chest that wouldn’t go away.
But I walked on. It was early yet, I told myself. I had plenty of time to make it back. The sun would bring its warmth as the day went on and the fresh air would cure the tightness in my chest. I just had to keep going.
At around noon I stopped and picked some berries for my lunch. It hadn’t warmed up, though the sun was bright overhead and around me the forest was alive and full of music.
It was time to turn back, so I started the way I’d come. It was getting colder though. Clouds covered the sun and a harsh wind began to blow, my thin jacket doing nothing to stop the chill. I brought my fingers up to my mouth to blow warm air into them. My breath steamed in front of my face.
Snow began to fall as I walked. It was just a few flakes at first, then more. They landed on my eyelashes and in my hair.
The snow fell harder. It crunched under my feet. My sneakers were soaked through and I was shivering, my teeth chattering. I walked faster, then ran. The cold air pierced my lungs. If only I could make it back before nightfall. My love would be waiting for me. He’d wrap me in a blanket and sit with me in front of the fire. I kept this image in my mind.
But the snow had become a sheet of white around me. It was all I could do to keep to the path because I could hardly see it. The snow was too deep to run. My feet sank into it, up to my knees. Worse yet, the world around me was growing darker. I was running out of time.
I could almost smell it. The fire. Food. The snow blocked all noises there might have been, but I could swear I heard the sound of laughter. I tried to move faster, wading through the snow, every step heavy and treacherously slow. My body was numb and tingling. My mouth and nose were freezing closed. But I was close. I was so close now.
And then I was in front of the house. The blizzard stopped and aside from the fact that I was chest deep in snow, it was as though it had never been there at all. Overhead the sky was cloudless and black. The stars shone like so many tear drops.
I could see through the windows of the house. There were people inside. My friends. They were sitting at the table, eating and playing games. I tried to go to them, but I couldn’t move. I was stuck in the snow. My legs wouldn’t budge.
“Help!” I called to them. “Help me!” I scrabbled at the snow with my frozen hands. I screamed until my throat went hoarse. They couldn’t hear me, couldn’t see me. They didn’t even wonder where I’d gone. They’d forgotten me.
The door opened then. I recognized the silhouette of the man that stood there. My love. He hadn’t forgotten me. I should have known he wouldn’t.
“Help me!” I called to him. “I’m stuck. Help me so I can come in.”
I couldn’t see his face, but his voice sounded as cold as the snow around me. “I told you to be back before dark,” he said.
“I tried! The snow… I tried to make it back. Please,” I said. My voice grew high and desperate, tears threatening. “I’m here now. Help me.”
He turned to look at the others and I caught a glimpse of his face. He looked different. He’d said that those who stayed out past dark came back different, but it wasn’t me who’d changed. It was him. His face was sharper, with harder lines and a prominent brow. He’d lost the laughter in his mouth. It was replaced by an ugly set of his lips that made him look like he’d tasted something rotten.
“The others won’t want you here,” he said. “They’ve moved on.”
I struggled to breathe. I was so cold. My tears froze on my cheeks. “And you?” I asked. “Have you moved on?”
I couldn’t see his face again, couldn’t read his expression. He didn’t speak for a moment, and when he did it wasn’t to answer my question. “I told you to be back before dark. I told you I wouldn’t wait for you.”
“But this?” I asked. “This?” I slammed my fists in the snow. “Talk to me! Tell me what’s changed! Come out here and talk to me!” I threw snow at him, screaming and clawing and flailing. Still, I couldn’t move any closer to him or the house.
He shook his head. “I told you the people who leave come back different. The woman I knew never would have been so violent.” He turned away to go back inside.
“Wait!” I called. “Wait, please. Help me! What am I supposed to do?”
He didn’t wait. He closed the door behind him and locked me out.
I collapsed against the snow, sobbing. I threw more snow at the house but no one came out.
I spent the night shivering and watching the people I’d called my friends as they played their games late into the night. When I looked closely, I could have sworn a couple of them looked sad, confused. Like they missed me, or wondered where I’d gone. But they didn’t look for me, and I watched as they all went off to sleep, the man I’d loved finding his way into another woman’s arms.
I cried and shivered and waited. Eventually the sun came up. The air warmed around me and the snow melted and I was free to move again. I looked at the house. I wondered if anyone would come out, or if they’d come looking for me now that it was daytime again. They didn’t.
Perhaps I could go up to the house and knock on the door. Perhaps they’d let me in and things would be as they had been before. Not exactly the same, maybe, but I could find happiness there again. Or maybe the man I’d loved was right. Maybe things could never be the same again. My night in the cold had created a strength in me that hadn’t been there before. I still hurt, still longed to sit by the fire and laugh with people who loved me. But I’d survived on my own.
I walked away into the woods.
And I was different.

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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 ishika_kiran

The Endearing Affliction

Anna walked briskly through the forest, the only audible sound, apart from the occasional

croaking of frogs was that of the ground squishing beneath her feet. It clearly had rained the

previous day as the ground was really wet. Every now and then she would trip over the fallen

branches of trees, the aftermath of a storm. A geographical storm had hit the city, but along

with it, a storm, a metaphorical one, had hit Anna's life that rainy month of July...

It was a sunny day, July, The 1st. quite short for her age and with shoulder length dark

brown hair, Anna helped her parents get the luggage out of the car. They proceeded

Towards the platform no.1 of the railway station with the entire luggage. 3 bags were

All her mother needed for her 1-week stay at Surat. "Be sure to get something for me, momma",

chirped in her younger sister Darla. "Of course! How can I forget to bring something for my li’l

angel!" said her mother, Alice. “Bring something for me too, a book or

something.” added Anna; her mother pulled her and her sister in a tight hug,

“So, sweeties, I need you two to take care of yourselves and don't try to do any big mischief “, she said, smilingly. "But I'd miss you momma", Darla said with tears in her eyes. "I'd only be gone for a week, baby, now don't you cry and show me that bright smile of yours. Here, take care of this when I'm gone” saying this, she handed her a small basket which she had just taken out from her bag. Darla cheered up after seeing what was in that basket, “it’s a tiny li'l bunny! Where did you get this?” she

asked, her voice filled with joy. "I just bought it from the pet shop where we had gone a few

days back.", her mother answered with a twinkle in her eye. Just then they heard the whistle of the train and in a few minutes the train arrived at the platform. "Goodbye kids, goodbye

Frank", she said and started walking towards her coach. “Goodbye momma", Anna

shouted along with her sister. Their mother waved back from the window when she reached

her berth. The train blew another whistle, billowed a lot of smoke and then started to move, slowly at first, but picked up speed after some time until

it was nothing but a blue dot visible at a distance. "Okay, so I think we should go home now

or I'll definitely miss my tuition class", Anna said after her mother's train had moved out of

sight. "Yes, you're right, we must go now. So, who wants a li'l ice-cream treat?” her father said with

a bright smile. "Me! Me! I want ice-cream!!” Darla said, jumping up and down with

excitement, ice-creams were her favourite thing. Her father smiled and started walking after

them.

After reaching home Anna left for her tuition and Darla settled down to play with the bunny

when her father left for work. “I can't keep you calling li'l thing forever, so I'd call you bugs

bunny from now ", she said and giggled, " but you're so tiny and bugs bunny is so tall. I'd

rather call you fluffy", she said, taking pride in her selection of the name. After an hour or so

of chasing the bunny around the house, she finally crashed on the sofa, "enough play for a

day. I'm gonna watch TV now, so you could scamper around the house if you want to", she

said to the bunny and switched on the TV. The bunny decided to enjoy its freedom by

running around the house, knocking small things like lipsticks, empty water bottles down with

its tiny feet and trying to climb the curtains. After some time, when Anna came back home,

she found the house in a complete mess, small things atop tables and racks were all

knocked down , Darla was sitting on the sofa ,lost in the world of Disney and the bunny was

nowhere to be seen , but the weirdest thing was the presence of bloody paw prints. Tiny,

bloody paw prints. "Darla! Come here at once!” Anna shouted, her voice shaky. " Why should I

come? You come here, I want to watch my favourite show", Darla shouted back and glued her

eyes to the TV with even more intensity. “Darla, this serious! You could watch that show's

Re-run tomorrow!", Anna was getting frustrated. "Ah! Alright, I’m coming. This better be a

legit reason for me missing my favourite sho- aah!! What’s with all the bloody prints on the

floor?", Darla asked in a squeaky voice while trying to tip-toe to a clean place where there

weren't any blood prints. “Well, that is something I should be asking to you.” Anna

crossed her arms. "What? Do you think this is my doing?” Darla questioned while pointing to

the prints. "You were the one at home. you must know how this happened if it wasn't your

fault". “I do not have any idea, I was playing with the bunny and then I sat down to watch TV

while the li'l one ran around the house", Darla answered with an innocent expression. Just

then the bunny came running, took one look at them at turned back towards Anna’s room,

running and leaving behind a trail of bloody paw prints. The sisters took one look at each

other and ran after the bunny.

They chased the bunny all the way to Anna’s room where it was trying to climb a curtain. Darla let out a small squeal and Anna stood there spell bound. “Well, that’s weird”, she said pointing towards the bunny trying to climb the curtain. “How?” asked Darla, “‘cause, bunnies don’t try to climb anything, let alone curtains”, Anna said as she moved forward, towards the bunny and saw blood stains on the bottom of the curtain where the bunny was trying to climb. She picked up the bunny, removed the curtain from its paws. It had injured its paw, indeed. “Oh, you silly little bunny! Injured your paw now, haven’t you?”, Anna said as she cradled the bunny in her arms. “Looks like we have a bit of nursing to do, right doctor?” she teasingly asked Darla who beamed at the thought, she loved playing a doctor. They took it to the bathroom where Anna took its injured paw in her hand, observed it and asked Darla to bring some antiseptic liquid and band-aid. Meanwhile, she tried to clean the wound with water and some of the blood got on her hands, she washed her hands with soap and water, the blood got away but left behind a pale yellow stain in its place. When Darla came back with the first aid kit, they dressed its wound and put it to sleep in its basket and cleaned the mess it had caused. “Phew, what a day, eh Darla?” Anna said in the end, when the doorbell rang and they rushed to the door to their father who had brought pizza for dinner.

The next day, after coming back from school, Darla suggested that they should watch a movie named “frozen”. It was about two sisters, the elder one, Elsa had magical powers and she froze everything she touched. Darla got extremely terrified when she accidentally froze her younger sister’s heart. She got up from her seat and sat beside Anna and made her promise that if she ever gets any sort of magical powers, she won’t hurt her using them. Anna laughed and gave her word that she won’t and suggested that they could go out and play with the bunny when the movie gets over. While they were playing, a beautiful butterfly sat on one of the flowers, Anna tried to catch it, but just as her fingertips touched its wings, it disappeared. She didn’t give much thought to it and joined her sister in making tiaras out of flowers. After some time, clouds took the place of the warm sunshine and the sky turned ink black. Loud thunders replaced the chirping of the birds and suddenly it started raining in torrentially.

The next morning, she woke up, got ready, ate her breakfast and then rushed to her bus-stop. “Anna! You left your water bottle!” her father came running towards her along with Darla. “You always leave your stuff behind” Darla said and looked towards the direction where the horn of the bus seemed to be coming. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’d take care from tomorrow” Anna hastily took the water bottle from her father’s hands as she climbed the bus, her fingers slightly brushed her father’s palm and next , she didn’t see her father’s face as the bus started moving. She tried to find him near the place where they were standing but he was not there. Horrified, she started to move towards an empty seat. A prankster tried to trip her by outstretching his leg, seeing that she was dazed, but just as she tripped, she tried to grip the shoulder of a girl who was sitting in front of him and she vanished after a short shriek. Anna fell down with a loud thud and it was like time froze. She got up to the terrified faces of the people around her, the girl who was sitting beside the one who vanished, stared at her with bloodshot eyes. The silence was finally broken by the staring girl when she muttered “she’s a witch” at first and then yelled it out loud. Everybody got up from their seats and started closing in on her and she got more and more jittery and stood there petrified. The bus reached the school by that time but the crowd won’t budge. Anna pushed her way out of the bus, making everyone disappear by her cursed touch, she didn’t think about it then; all she wanted was to get out and away from the crowd. After getting reasonably away from the bus, she looked back and saw people running out of the bus, but there were only 5-6 people who came out , whereas about 20-25 people were on the bus when she last had her senses. She couldn’t believe what she had just done “I’ve made people, including my father, disappear” she mumbled to herself as she brought her wretched hands in front of her face. That pale yellow stain was still there. Her worst fear had come true; the bunny had something strange, really strange about it. Its blood was cursed.

The bell indicating the commencing of classes rang and Anna ran to her classroom. She found her best friend, Khloe waiting for her at the door, who came forward to hug her and cried in delight “we won the quiz competition Anna!!!” Finally, something good had happened. Khloe released her from her hug and took her hand to congratulate her. But before Anna could alarm her, she had disappeared too. She let out a faint yell and burst into tears as her knees gave in. She felt guilty and full of remorse. She never wanted this to happen; she never wanted her father, all those people in the bus and her best friend to disappear. A few minutes had passed which felt like long agonizing hours to her when she heard a girl’s voice saying “there she is!” hearing this, she stood up and within moments, she was surrounded by people congratulating her. She clutched her hands tightly behind her back; she didn’t want any more people to disappear until one of them pulled out her right hand and he disappeared. Nobody noticed him disappearing as the crowd was very thick but soon every person who shook hands with her started to disappear and the people realized that something was wrong. All the voices congratulating her stopped and the hands desperate to shake with hers were no longer protruding. They looked at her with smiling faces. She looked back with a slight smile. A boy came running and shouting “congratulations!” whose fingers touched her hand and he disappeared. This time, there was no turning back, everybody had seen what happened and now they were staring at her with disbelief.

“Did you make him disappear?” one of them asked in shaky voice. “Tell us it’s a bad joke Anna; tell us he’s hiding somewhere!” bawled another. “Stop drawing conclusions now! Let’s ask her what the problem is!” shouted a girl standing behind the wall of crowd, pushing her way through. She was one of Anna’s good friends, Mia. “You don’t have any superpowers, do you? Anyways, where is Khloe? Why isn’t she here with you?” she said and gave a comforting smile. Anna hung her head down “I do have some weird powers; I made my father, people on my bus and Khloe disappear.” Everybody gasped at her confession and Mia moved back to merge with the crowd. “She’s got evil powers!” “Take her to the principal!” everybody started yelling and Anna felt more terrified than ever. They tried to drag her to the principal’s office and she tried to push them away, two or three people disappeared at each of her pushes and soon the crowd which comprised of thirty people, give or take a few, now only had 6 people. “Anna please, we don’t hate you or anything and we’re trying to help you. Please go meet the principal, please” one of the girls said and put her arm across Anna’s shoulder, “I’ll go and tell ma’am what has happened and then you can meet her” saying this she went inside the principal’s cabin and came out after a minute or two and signalled Anna to go inside. She managed to gather some courage and took several gulps of air. She greeted the principal as she entered the cabin and stood by the door, seeing that she was engrossed in a newspaper. The principal, Mrs. Snow looked up and signalled her to sit on one of the chairs at her table. Anna sat down nervously, there was a tiny pest on the armrest and she tried to flick it away but made it disappear instead. She narrated the whole incident to Mrs. Gupta and she listened to it with apt attention, she didn’t quite believe the tale about the bunny’s blood and thought Anna was doing some sort of sorcery; she actually believed in superstitions, ghosts and stuff and thus, was hated by everyone. After some time of awkward silence, Anna got up to leave. “where are you going, young lady?” she stopped dead in her tracks and looked back at Mrs. Gupta who was giving an eerie smile. “you aren’t leaving just as yet, are you?” she said as she got up and walked towards Anna, “I’ve got a better place for you to go” her voice filled with malice as she grabbed Anna’s arm. “no! Let me go!” Anna tried to break free, but none of her efforts worked so she pushed her away and the evil woman disappeared after a sharp cry.

Anna rushed out of the school building and ran straight to her home. The door was unlocked so she rushed in and went to her room and buried her face in a pillow and started crying. She didn’t realize how much time had passed as she had fallen asleep and was woken up after she felt something soft brush against her feet; it was the bunny. She instinctively picked up the bunny and then dropped it after it hit her that her touch was cursed. “but the bunny should’ve disappeared, everything disappears just as I touch it” saying this, she picked it up and it did not disappear. She felt relieved that her touch was no longer cursed. Meanwhile, Darla arrived home and ran straight to Anna, she didn’t feel anything weird as Anna’s school got over an hour before hers, she hugged her and tried to waltz with her, but to Anna’s terror, just as their hands touched, Darla disappeared. “Darla!” she hollered and then collapsed on the floor, shocked. “not Darla. no! what have I done?” she remembered the promise she had made the other day and it hit her hard that she broke it. She hurt her li’l sister with evil powers. She ran out of the house towards her favourite place in the world, the forest. It had rained the previous day so the ground was still wet and it squished beneath her feet, the only audible sound. She sat down in a clearing, absorbing the events of the day when she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Looking back, she saw it was her mother. “Mom! You weren’t to come until after two days!” Anna gazed at her. “I know, but I decided to come early. I arrived an hour ago by plane. I reached home and I followed you here. Anyways, what happened? Why are you crying?” her mother said as she sat down beside her. Anna narrated the events and at the end her mother suggested that they should go check with the pet shop. After they reached the shop, they learnt that the batch of those bunnies had been brought up in a research centre. They took the address of the research centre and hurried away, reaching the research centre after about ten minutes. They met the head researcher who confirmed that an experiment had been done on that bunny. “What was it?” inquired Anna. “I had formulated a chemical which could make living beings invisible. it needed some additional enhancers which were found in a rabbit’s blood, so I injected it in one of the bunnies and it got shipped to the pet store and looks like you bought it” he answered. “It makes people invisible! So they don’t exactly disappear, do they?” Asked Anna, excitedly; maybe she didn’t kill people, after all. “Of course, not! This concoction only makes them invisible and after a few weeks, the body finds a way to shed the effects off, by sweat, that is. I also happen to have an antidote with me, if you want it.” “ Yes please, sir.” Anna took a few drops of the antidote on her palms and rubbed them together, the pale yellow stain vanished. “But how could we make the invisible people visible again?” she asked. “It’s quite easy, we only have to put the bottle inside this launcher and launch it into the clouds. When it rains, it’ll wash off the chemical from the affected people’s bodies, making them visible again” the man answered as he inserted the bottle and gestured Anna and her mother to come outside. They followed him out and saw him press a button on the launcher. The launcher shuddered and shot into the sky. “Hopefully, it’s gonna rain now, too” he said smilingly. He then offered tea, but they declined; after all, they had people to see.

Indeed, it started raining the moment they reached home. After some time, when they were waiting in the verandah of their home, they saw two figures running towards them in the heavy rain; it was Darla and her father, coming back home after a strange day.

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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 ishika_kiran
The Endearing Affliction
Anna walked briskly through the forest, the only audible sound, apart from the occasional
croaking of frogs was that of the ground squishing beneath her feet. It clearly had rained the
previous day as the ground was really wet. Every now and then she would trip over the fallen
branches of trees, the aftermath of a storm. A geographical storm had hit the city, but along
with it, a storm, a metaphorical one, had hit Anna's life that rainy month of July...
It was a sunny day, July, The 1st. quite short for her age and with shoulder length dark
brown hair, Anna helped her parents get the luggage out of the car. They proceeded
Towards the platform no.1 of the railway station with the entire luggage. 3 bags were
All her mother needed for her 1-week stay at Surat. "Be sure to get something for me, momma",
chirped in her younger sister Darla. "Of course! How can I forget to bring something for my li’l
angel!" said her mother, Alice. “Bring something for me too, a book or
something.” added Anna; her mother pulled her and her sister in a tight hug,
“So, sweeties, I need you two to take care of yourselves and don't try to do any big mischief “, she said, smilingly. "But I'd miss you momma", Darla said with tears in her eyes. "I'd only be gone for a week, baby, now don't you cry and show me that bright smile of yours. Here, take care of this when I'm gone” saying this, she handed her a small basket which she had just taken out from her bag. Darla cheered up after seeing what was in that basket, “it’s a tiny li'l bunny! Where did you get this?” she
asked, her voice filled with joy. "I just bought it from the pet shop where we had gone a few
days back.", her mother answered with a twinkle in her eye. Just then they heard the whistle of the train and in a few minutes the train arrived at the platform. "Goodbye kids, goodbye
Frank", she said and started walking towards her coach. “Goodbye momma", Anna
shouted along with her sister. Their mother waved back from the window when she reached
her berth. The train blew another whistle, billowed a lot of smoke and then started to move, slowly at first, but picked up speed after some time until
it was nothing but a blue dot visible at a distance. "Okay, so I think we should go home now
or I'll definitely miss my tuition class", Anna said after her mother's train had moved out of
sight. "Yes, you're right, we must go now. So, who wants a li'l ice-cream treat?” her father said with
a bright smile. "Me! Me! I want ice-cream!!” Darla said, jumping up and down with
excitement, ice-creams were her favourite thing. Her father smiled and started walking after
them.
After reaching home Anna left for her tuition and Darla settled down to play with the bunny
when her father left for work. “I can't keep you calling li'l thing forever, so I'd call you bugs
bunny from now ", she said and giggled, " but you're so tiny and bugs bunny is so tall. I'd
rather call you fluffy", she said, taking pride in her selection of the name. After an hour or so
of chasing the bunny around the house, she finally crashed on the sofa, "enough play for a
day. I'm gonna watch TV now, so you could scamper around the house if you want to", she
said to the bunny and switched on the TV. The bunny decided to enjoy its freedom by
running around the house, knocking small things like lipsticks, empty water bottles down with
its tiny feet and trying to climb the curtains. After some time, when Anna came back home,
she found the house in a complete mess, small things atop tables and racks were all
knocked down , Darla was sitting on the sofa ,lost in the world of Disney and the bunny was
nowhere to be seen , but the weirdest thing was the presence of bloody paw prints. Tiny,
bloody paw prints. "Darla! Come here at once!” Anna shouted, her voice shaky. " Why should I
come? You come here, I want to watch my favourite show", Darla shouted back and glued her
eyes to the TV with even more intensity. “Darla, this serious! You could watch that show's
Re-run tomorrow!", Anna was getting frustrated. "Ah! Alright, I’m coming. This better be a
legit reason for me missing my favourite sho- aah!! What’s with all the bloody prints on the
floor?", Darla asked in a squeaky voice while trying to tip-toe to a clean place where there
weren't any blood prints. “Well, that is something I should be asking to you.” Anna
crossed her arms. "What? Do you think this is my doing?” Darla questioned while pointing to
the prints. "You were the one at home. you must know how this happened if it wasn't your
fault". “I do not have any idea, I was playing with the bunny and then I sat down to watch TV
while the li'l one ran around the house", Darla answered with an innocent expression. Just
then the bunny came running, took one look at them at turned back towards Anna’s room,
running and leaving behind a trail of bloody paw prints. The sisters took one look at each
other and ran after the bunny.
They chased the bunny all the way to Anna’s room where it was trying to climb a curtain. Darla let out a small squeal and Anna stood there spell bound. “Well, that’s weird”, she said pointing towards the bunny trying to climb the curtain. “How?” asked Darla, “‘cause, bunnies don’t try to climb anything, let alone curtains”, Anna said as she moved forward, towards the bunny and saw blood stains on the bottom of the curtain where the bunny was trying to climb. She picked up the bunny, removed the curtain from its paws. It had injured its paw, indeed. “Oh, you silly little bunny! Injured your paw now, haven’t you?”, Anna said as she cradled the bunny in her arms. “Looks like we have a bit of nursing to do, right doctor?” she teasingly asked Darla who beamed at the thought, she loved playing a doctor. They took it to the bathroom where Anna took its injured paw in her hand, observed it and asked Darla to bring some antiseptic liquid and band-aid. Meanwhile, she tried to clean the wound with water and some of the blood got on her hands, she washed her hands with soap and water, the blood got away but left behind a pale yellow stain in its place. When Darla came back with the first aid kit, they dressed its wound and put it to sleep in its basket and cleaned the mess it had caused. “Phew, what a day, eh Darla?” Anna said in the end, when the doorbell rang and they rushed to the door to their father who had brought pizza for dinner.
The next day, after coming back from school, Darla suggested that they should watch a movie named “frozen”. It was about two sisters, the elder one, Elsa had magical powers and she froze everything she touched. Darla got extremely terrified when she accidentally froze her younger sister’s heart. She got up from her seat and sat beside Anna and made her promise that if she ever gets any sort of magical powers, she won’t hurt her using them. Anna laughed and gave her word that she won’t and suggested that they could go out and play with the bunny when the movie gets over. While they were playing, a beautiful butterfly sat on one of the flowers, Anna tried to catch it, but just as her fingertips touched its wings, it disappeared. She didn’t give much thought to it and joined her sister in making tiaras out of flowers. After some time, clouds took the place of the warm sunshine and the sky turned ink black. Loud thunders replaced the chirping of the birds and suddenly it started raining in torrentially.
The next morning, she woke up, got ready, ate her breakfast and then rushed to her bus-stop. “Anna! You left your water bottle!” her father came running towards her along with Darla. “You always leave your stuff behind” Darla said and looked towards the direction where the horn of the bus seemed to be coming. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’d take care from tomorrow” Anna hastily took the water bottle from her father’s hands as she climbed the bus, her fingers slightly brushed her father’s palm and next , she didn’t see her father’s face as the bus started moving. She tried to find him near the place where they were standing but he was not there. Horrified, she started to move towards an empty seat. A prankster tried to trip her by outstretching his leg, seeing that she was dazed, but just as she tripped, she tried to grip the shoulder of a girl who was sitting in front of him and she vanished after a short shriek. Anna fell down with a loud thud and it was like time froze. She got up to the terrified faces of the people around her, the girl who was sitting beside the one who vanished, stared at her with bloodshot eyes. The silence was finally broken by the staring girl when she muttered “she’s a witch” at first and then yelled it out loud. Everybody got up from their seats and started closing in on her and she got more and more jittery and stood there petrified. The bus reached the school by that time but the crowd won’t budge. Anna pushed her way out of the bus, making everyone disappear by her cursed touch, she didn’t think about it then; all she wanted was to get out and away from the crowd. After getting reasonably away from the bus, she looked back and saw people running out of the bus, but there were only 5-6 people who came out , whereas about 20-25 people were on the bus when she last had her senses. She couldn’t believe what she had just done “I’ve made people, including my father, disappear” she mumbled to herself as she brought her wretched hands in front of her face. That pale yellow stain was still there. Her worst fear had come true; the bunny had something strange, really strange about it. Its blood was cursed.
The bell indicating the commencing of classes rang and Anna ran to her classroom. She found her best friend, Khloe waiting for her at the door, who came forward to hug her and cried in delight “we won the quiz competition Anna!!!” Finally, something good had happened. Khloe released her from her hug and took her hand to congratulate her. But before Anna could alarm her, she had disappeared too. She let out a faint yell and burst into tears as her knees gave in. She felt guilty and full of remorse. She never wanted this to happen; she never wanted her father, all those people in the bus and her best friend to disappear. A few minutes had passed which felt like long agonizing hours to her when she heard a girl’s voice saying “there she is!” hearing this, she stood up and within moments, she was surrounded by people congratulating her. She clutched her hands tightly behind her back; she didn’t want any more people to disappear until one of them pulled out her right hand and he disappeared. Nobody noticed him disappearing as the crowd was very thick but soon every person who shook hands with her started to disappear and the people realized that something was wrong. All the voices congratulating her stopped and the hands desperate to shake with hers were no longer protruding. They looked at her with smiling faces. She looked back with a slight smile. A boy came running and shouting “congratulations!” whose fingers touched her hand and he disappeared. This time, there was no turning back, everybody had seen what happened and now they were staring at her with disbelief.
“Did you make him disappear?” one of them asked in shaky voice. “Tell us it’s a bad joke Anna; tell us he’s hiding somewhere!” bawled another. “Stop drawing conclusions now! Let’s ask her what the problem is!” shouted a girl standing behind the wall of crowd, pushing her way through. She was one of Anna’s good friends, Mia. “You don’t have any superpowers, do you? Anyways, where is Khloe? Why isn’t she here with you?” she said and gave a comforting smile. Anna hung her head down “I do have some weird powers; I made my father, people on my bus and Khloe disappear.” Everybody gasped at her confession and Mia moved back to merge with the crowd. “She’s got evil powers!” “Take her to the principal!” everybody started yelling and Anna felt more terrified than ever. They tried to drag her to the principal’s office and she tried to push them away, two or three people disappeared at each of her pushes and soon the crowd which comprised of thirty people, give or take a few, now only had 6 people. “Anna please, we don’t hate you or anything and we’re trying to help you. Please go meet the principal, please” one of the girls said and put her arm across Anna’s shoulder, “I’ll go and tell ma’am what has happened and then you can meet her” saying this she went inside the principal’s cabin and came out after a minute or two and signalled Anna to go inside. She managed to gather some courage and took several gulps of air. She greeted the principal as she entered the cabin and stood by the door, seeing that she was engrossed in a newspaper. The principal, Mrs. Snow looked up and signalled her to sit on one of the chairs at her table. Anna sat down nervously, there was a tiny pest on the armrest and she tried to flick it away but made it disappear instead. She narrated the whole incident to Mrs. Gupta and she listened to it with apt attention, she didn’t quite believe the tale about the bunny’s blood and thought Anna was doing some sort of sorcery; she actually believed in superstitions, ghosts and stuff and thus, was hated by everyone. After some time of awkward silence, Anna got up to leave. “where are you going, young lady?” she stopped dead in her tracks and looked back at Mrs. Gupta who was giving an eerie smile. “you aren’t leaving just as yet, are you?” she said as she got up and walked towards Anna, “I’ve got a better place for you to go” her voice filled with malice as she grabbed Anna’s arm. “no! Let me go!” Anna tried to break free, but none of her efforts worked so she pushed her away and the evil woman disappeared after a sharp cry.
Anna rushed out of the school building and ran straight to her home. The door was unlocked so she rushed in and went to her room and buried her face in a pillow and started crying. She didn’t realize how much time had passed as she had fallen asleep and was woken up after she felt something soft brush against her feet; it was the bunny. She instinctively picked up the bunny and then dropped it after it hit her that her touch was cursed. “but the bunny should’ve disappeared, everything disappears just as I touch it” saying this, she picked it up and it did not disappear. She felt relieved that her touch was no longer cursed. Meanwhile, Darla arrived home and ran straight to Anna, she didn’t feel anything weird as Anna’s school got over an hour before hers, she hugged her and tried to waltz with her, but to Anna’s terror, just as their hands touched, Darla disappeared. “Darla!” she hollered and then collapsed on the floor, shocked. “not Darla. no! what have I done?” she remembered the promise she had made the other day and it hit her hard that she broke it. She hurt her li’l sister with evil powers. She ran out of the house towards her favourite place in the world, the forest. It had rained the previous day so the ground was still wet and it squished beneath her feet, the only audible sound. She sat down in a clearing, absorbing the events of the day when she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Looking back, she saw it was her mother. “Mom! You weren’t to come until after two days!” Anna gazed at her. “I know, but I decided to come early. I arrived an hour ago by plane. I reached home and I followed you here. Anyways, what happened? Why are you crying?” her mother said as she sat down beside her. Anna narrated the events and at the end her mother suggested that they should go check with the pet shop. After they reached the shop, they learnt that the batch of those bunnies had been brought up in a research centre. They took the address of the research centre and hurried away, reaching the research centre after about ten minutes. They met the head researcher who confirmed that an experiment had been done on that bunny. “What was it?” inquired Anna. “I had formulated a chemical which could make living beings invisible. it needed some additional enhancers which were found in a rabbit’s blood, so I injected it in one of the bunnies and it got shipped to the pet store and looks like you bought it” he answered. “It makes people invisible! So they don’t exactly disappear, do they?” Asked Anna, excitedly; maybe she didn’t kill people, after all. “Of course, not! This concoction only makes them invisible and after a few weeks, the body finds a way to shed the effects off, by sweat, that is. I also happen to have an antidote with me, if you want it.” “ Yes please, sir.” Anna took a few drops of the antidote on her palms and rubbed them together, the pale yellow stain vanished. “But how could we make the invisible people visible again?” she asked. “It’s quite easy, we only have to put the bottle inside this launcher and launch it into the clouds. When it rains, it’ll wash off the chemical from the affected people’s bodies, making them visible again” the man answered as he inserted the bottle and gestured Anna and her mother to come outside. They followed him out and saw him press a button on the launcher. The launcher shuddered and shot into the sky. “Hopefully, it’s gonna rain now, too” he said smilingly. He then offered tea, but they declined; after all, they had people to see.


Indeed, it started raining the moment they reached home. After some time, when they were waiting in the verandah of their home, they saw two figures running towards them in the heavy rain; it was Darla and her father, coming back home after a strange day.
#fiction  #adventure  #childrens  #bunny  #disappearances 
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Written by ashaikh

What is it?

It's when something solid inside, something that you knew would always be there for you, something that you were once so dependent on, suddenly shatters like glass. The pieces left behind are sharp and jagged, they cut you, draw blood, hurt you, but yet you will always  try to pick up those pieces, attempting to make what you lost whole again. Blood,Tears,Frustration. You will continue to hurt yourself, revisiting the pain until you go numb and cease to feel anything. Then, you’re just hollow in the inside, a shell of what you used to be. You are reduced to nothing. 

It's the the dark, pulsing creature residing in your chest, composed of jealousy, hatred and sorrow. The monster that feeds off your failure and broken spirit. It amuses itself by squeezing your heart, flushing out any traces of hope and willing you to give up. It pounds against your insides and howls in pain, demanding attention; a trap set to ensnare you in a void of desolation. A beast that cannot be fought without bringing harm upon yourself in the process, as it resides in the darkest part of your soul. 

It's the remnants of broken promises, forgotten apologies and harsh words. The  lonelines

felt even in a crowded room filled with conversation. It's the twisting of the stomach when reminiscing fond memories. The empty quiet between claps of thunder and flashes of lightning on a stormy night. The sensation of eyes locking then quickly skirting away; the very essence of a teenage life. 

Dearest reader, it's when you absorb these words and connect to the emotions they convey.  Do not despair. "Time will heal a broken heart."

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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 ashaikh
What is it?
It's when something solid inside, something that you knew would always be there for you, something that you were once so dependent on, suddenly shatters like glass. The pieces left behind are sharp and jagged, they cut you, draw blood, hurt you, but yet you will always  try to pick up those pieces, attempting to make what you lost whole again. Blood,Tears,Frustration. You will continue to hurt yourself, revisiting the pain until you go numb and cease to feel anything. Then, you’re just hollow in the inside, a shell of what you used to be. You are reduced to nothing. 

It's the the dark, pulsing creature residing in your chest, composed of jealousy, hatred and sorrow. The monster that feeds off your failure and broken spirit. It amuses itself by squeezing your heart, flushing out any traces of hope and willing you to give up. It pounds against your insides and howls in pain, demanding attention; a trap set to ensnare you in a void of desolation. A beast that cannot be fought without bringing harm upon yourself in the process, as it resides in the darkest part of your soul. 

It's the remnants of broken promises, forgotten apologies and harsh words. The  lonelines
felt even in a crowded room filled with conversation. It's the twisting of the stomach when reminiscing fond memories. The empty quiet between claps of thunder and flashes of lightning on a stormy night. The sensation of eyes locking then quickly skirting away; the very essence of a teenage life. 

Dearest reader, it's when you absorb these words and connect to the emotions they convey.  Do not despair. "Time will heal a broken heart."
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Written by EstherFlowers1

The Death of a Hermit

A lone ant crawled over the human's cold skin. She was a scout, the first of many. I slithered over to investigate the corpse.

It was a shame about this human dying. He had rescued me once, when I had gotten myself caught in a strawberry-net. I might've starved if he hadn't found me. He had cut me out of the net and even carefully removed three pesky ticks from my scales before releasing me on the other side of the yard.

We had an unspoken pact, this old human and I. We looked out for each-other. He didn't like other humans much.

I coiled myself up underneath the old humans bushy face hair. It provided a good hiding place to sit and wait for rats.

As the sun came up a young human stomped out of the underbrush. It saw my hiding spot and started rushing forward on its two clunky legs.

Frantically the human's hands probed at the corpse.

The fingers inched closer ...

...

I struck,

sinking my venom deep into its veins.

The young human reeled back in shock, collapsing a few yards away. Through the earth I could feel the slowing vibrations of its heartbeat.

I coiled myself back under the beard of the corpse and continued my wait for vermin.

This old human would have been proud of me, I thought. He hadn't liked other humans much.

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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 EstherFlowers1
The Death of a Hermit
A lone ant crawled over the human's cold skin. She was a scout, the first of many. I slithered over to investigate the corpse.

It was a shame about this human dying. He had rescued me once, when I had gotten myself caught in a strawberry-net. I might've starved if he hadn't found me. He had cut me out of the net and even carefully removed three pesky ticks from my scales before releasing me on the other side of the yard.

We had an unspoken pact, this old human and I. We looked out for each-other. He didn't like other humans much.

I coiled myself up underneath the old humans bushy face hair. It provided a good hiding place to sit and wait for rats.

As the sun came up a young human stomped out of the underbrush. It saw my hiding spot and started rushing forward on its two clunky legs.
Frantically the human's hands probed at the corpse.
The fingers inched closer ...
...
I struck,
sinking my venom deep into its veins.
The young human reeled back in shock, collapsing a few yards away. Through the earth I could feel the slowing vibrations of its heartbeat.

I coiled myself back under the beard of the corpse and continued my wait for vermin.
This old human would have been proud of me, I thought. He hadn't liked other humans much.
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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 Jcat2022

Split

It wasn’t what you’d assumed it to be;

It was much more than a silly look or a grieving smile.

It wasn’t that you weren’t good enough, it’s that I wasn’t;

It was the choices I made that broke my sanity, not yours.

A day in the life of a dreaded decision is what hurt;

A meticulous plan, and a simple silver piece is what came of it;

A malicious glint and comforting words is what did it.

A shallow of blue and an ocean of red is what poured.

I called for your hand and you expertly declined;

I assumed you hated me, but who knew it was only because you were afraid.

I thought it was all my fault, that you hurt me, so I took it as a sign to flee;

I knew in reality that it had nothing to do with me, but it was already too late.

Your eyes terrified me in disgusted pleasure;

My hands were fearfully numb as you fiddled with my skin.

Things flashed, you smiled, I screamed, the walls laughed in wretched obscurity.

The sun fell and you shook, It’s all the same as it had been, so why are you scared?

It wasn’t what I’d assumed it to be;

It was much more than a frightened look or a painful grimace.

It wasn’t that you didn’t care, it’s that I wasn’t good enough.

It was the things you did to me that hurt you, not mine.

A day full of painful pleasure is what you wanted.

A disgusting decision and wrongful doings is what you chose.

A terrified glance and screaming is what you caused.

A bloody fight and terrified sobbing didn’t stop you.

You heard my pleas but shot me down with a second thought.

You loved me, but you didn’t know how bad it’d end up.

You knew what you were doing, that you hurt me, but you forced me to stay.

You knew it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t too late to tell me.

My eyes screamed yes, but I said no.

Your hands were steady as you slapped me.

Things flashed, you smiled, I screamed, the shadows screamed back.

The moon rose and I felt easy, nothing would ever be the same as it had been, so why am I not scared?

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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 Jcat2022
Split
It wasn’t what you’d assumed it to be;
It was much more than a silly look or a grieving smile.
It wasn’t that you weren’t good enough, it’s that I wasn’t;
It was the choices I made that broke my sanity, not yours.

A day in the life of a dreaded decision is what hurt;
A meticulous plan, and a simple silver piece is what came of it;
A malicious glint and comforting words is what did it.
A shallow of blue and an ocean of red is what poured.

I called for your hand and you expertly declined;
I assumed you hated me, but who knew it was only because you were afraid.
I thought it was all my fault, that you hurt me, so I took it as a sign to flee;
I knew in reality that it had nothing to do with me, but it was already too late.

Your eyes terrified me in disgusted pleasure;
My hands were fearfully numb as you fiddled with my skin.
Things flashed, you smiled, I screamed, the walls laughed in wretched obscurity.
The sun fell and you shook, It’s all the same as it had been, so why are you scared?

It wasn’t what I’d assumed it to be;
It was much more than a frightened look or a painful grimace.
It wasn’t that you didn’t care, it’s that I wasn’t good enough.
It was the things you did to me that hurt you, not mine.

A day full of painful pleasure is what you wanted.
A disgusting decision and wrongful doings is what you chose.
A terrified glance and screaming is what you caused.
A bloody fight and terrified sobbing didn’t stop you.

You heard my pleas but shot me down with a second thought.
You loved me, but you didn’t know how bad it’d end up.
You knew what you were doing, that you hurt me, but you forced me to stay.
You knew it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t too late to tell me.

My eyes screamed yes, but I said no.
Your hands were steady as you slapped me.
Things flashed, you smiled, I screamed, the shadows screamed back.
The moon rose and I felt easy, nothing would ever be the same as it had been, so why am I not scared?



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Written by SteveScott

A Long Division (Noir)

The flickering sign makes me nervous. “The Razor Blade.”

Is that supposed to be a joke? I stand for a moment contemplating the answer and chew on my bottom lip. Besides the random glow of the sign, the alley around me is still. A minute or two passes and I realize I’m stalling. They aren’t paying me by the hour.

I check the glock tucked into the front of my belt — just for the comfort of it— take one last look at the shit for bulbs sign, and walk toward the door.

It’s a simple door made of metal. Steel would be my guess. A typical knock would smart a bit, so I pound three times with the flat of my fist. Then I count to five and pound once more, just like they told me. The door scrapes forward and I back up a step to give it room. A nice looking young man in a black suit stands in the threshold, a dim light from behind accents his frame.

“I’m here to see the goddess, “ I say.

“Welcome to the Razor Blade.” His voice is shaky and I assume he’s older than he looks. Much older. “We’ve been expecting you Mr. Cole.”

I nod and step inside.

“Continue forward.” He says.

I obey my greeters command and walk slowly down the hall in front of me, the steel door scrapes closed behind. Through the muted light I can see the hall is long. A dank, wet odor hangs in my nose. With each step, I’m aware of the soft slap of my shoes, suggesting there’s a small bit of water on the concrete floor. The air feels moist on my face and neck.

At the end of the hall I come upon another door; this one also steel, but with a small circular mirror centered at eye level. Etched along its edge, a snake wrapped around, devouring its own tale.

I looked at myself. Even in the half-light, the dark bags under my eyes and the crows-feet portray a tired, aging man. My skin is rough and the scar on my right cheek is a little more jagged than I remembered.

“Do you wish to make the imperfect, perfect?” a voice speaks from behind the door. How it traveled through the steel I do not know.

I continue with the little entrance exam, just like they told me to. “Yes. Yes, I wish for you to cut… me.”

I think of the glock tucked in my belt, but in this moment it’s not comforting. This is some creepy shit.

“Are you sure, Mr. Cole?”

“Yes I am sure. I wish for you to cut me.”

“Then come in.”

The door clicks. I wait a moment, expecting it to swing open like before, but instead a handle emerges center right. I’m in. I take a deep breath, then grab the handle and push open the door.

A warm inviting light fills my eyes and the memory of the hard dank hallway I had just passed through dissolves into the softest, plushest and perhaps largest room I have ever been in. Men and women of unimaginable beauty are spread about, some walking, some standing in groups talking, and some lounging in couches clustered around touch-screens with which they interact. Most are holding some sort of flask or bottle, occasionally sipping its contents.

“Welcome Mr. Cole,” a silk voice speaks next to me. I turn. “Welcome to The Razor Blade, or as we who have been cut call it, Day One.”

My eyes narrow and I swallow hard as I take in the woman standing before me: Green eyes of dirty jade are set in a red storm of shoulder length curls; a nose perfectly established in a sea of milky white blemish-free skin; slightly upturned lips full and glistening and gently parted with the tip of a sweet pink tongue; high cheek bones curved into a subtle firm chin; a neck flowing so gracefully downward, spilling between the soft rise of mostly covered breasts; nipples hiding playfully under thin white fabric, like two dark moons just beneath the clouds—

“Do you like what you see, Mr. Cole?”

I bring my eyes up to hers. Damn they’re green. “Yes. Yes, I do. Like what I see.” I feel my cheeks flush red.

“Do not be embarrassed, Mr. Cole.” She and her lips are suddenly an inch from my face. “It is human to be”—I do not know how she moved in so quickly, her hand is on my crotch now—“moved by perfection.” She’s right, I’m moved.

And then she’s behind me and the cold barrel of my glock is pressing against my temple. She whispers into my ear, “You’re fucked, Detective Grant.” I swallow again, harder this time. “Yes. We know who you really are. But after we cut you,” the puma shifts to my other ear, “we will be the only ones.”

..............................................................................................................................

Celluloid scenes soak in water. People at a party. A wedding. No a bar mitzvah. I’m straining to make out their faces. The water is red. Is it water? There is a boy-man. He is clearly the subject of the photograph and he is dancing and smiling. I know that boy. The red water is bleeding into the scene. I thrust my hands into the bowl, grabbing, but the picture is no more. I observe my hands. They are stained.

I’m at a sink, washing, scrubbing. The red will not come out. The tips of my fingers sting, then throb. Are my hands bleeding? That is not my blood. I see finger nails circling the drain and disappear down the hole. “No! No, those are mine!” I yell.

I now stand at a full body mirror. But that is not my body. There is no face. Just… a smudge, like the end of a wet eraser rubbing away pencil on paper. It’s tearing a hole. There is nothing underneath. “Donavan.” I hear my voice. It’s a whisper. I spin but see no one. “Donavan, I’m here.” I turn and see Amber in the mirror. She staggers. “Oh Donny. Where did you go?” She’s reaching for my cheek but it is not there.

I am mirror. I am falling. I know what is coming and submit to impact.

I am a thousand shards. Divided unevenly. I feel the heat of the sun. I am pieces and I am melting.

I am whole again, but formless, being passed from gloved hands to gloved hands. No, stolen. Someone is stealing me. Pressure cups me. I am subtracted from myself again.

And again.

And.again

A n d . a g a i n

nAd.gaani

a.dnaiAn

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a.dnaiAn

nAd.gaani

And.again

A n d . a g a i n

And again.

I am thinking of my children. I am thinking of their mother and the story she will tell them. The way she always makes me heroic, even in my betrayal. I think of the way they see through her fabrications. I think of their questions. Of their tears. Of their ache. Of my absence.

If this is not death I am ready to die. But they won’t let me. I see them as they remove my eyes. The final nip and tuck of their thievery.

I will wake. I know there is no choice in this matter. It will come. There better be a bar near by. 

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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 SteveScott
A Long Division (Noir)
The flickering sign makes me nervous. “The Razor Blade.”

Is that supposed to be a joke? I stand for a moment contemplating the answer and chew on my bottom lip. Besides the random glow of the sign, the alley around me is still. A minute or two passes and I realize I’m stalling. They aren’t paying me by the hour.

I check the glock tucked into the front of my belt — just for the comfort of it— take one last look at the shit for bulbs sign, and walk toward the door.

It’s a simple door made of metal. Steel would be my guess. A typical knock would smart a bit, so I pound three times with the flat of my fist. Then I count to five and pound once more, just like they told me. The door scrapes forward and I back up a step to give it room. A nice looking young man in a black suit stands in the threshold, a dim light from behind accents his frame.

“I’m here to see the goddess, “ I say.

“Welcome to the Razor Blade.” His voice is shaky and I assume he’s older than he looks. Much older. “We’ve been expecting you Mr. Cole.”

I nod and step inside.

“Continue forward.” He says.

I obey my greeters command and walk slowly down the hall in front of me, the steel door scrapes closed behind. Through the muted light I can see the hall is long. A dank, wet odor hangs in my nose. With each step, I’m aware of the soft slap of my shoes, suggesting there’s a small bit of water on the concrete floor. The air feels moist on my face and neck.

At the end of the hall I come upon another door; this one also steel, but with a small circular mirror centered at eye level. Etched along its edge, a snake wrapped around, devouring its own tale.

I looked at myself. Even in the half-light, the dark bags under my eyes and the crows-feet portray a tired, aging man. My skin is rough and the scar on my right cheek is a little more jagged than I remembered.

“Do you wish to make the imperfect, perfect?” a voice speaks from behind the door. How it traveled through the steel I do not know.

I continue with the little entrance exam, just like they told me to. “Yes. Yes, I wish for you to cut… me.”

I think of the glock tucked in my belt, but in this moment it’s not comforting. This is some creepy shit.

“Are you sure, Mr. Cole?”

“Yes I am sure. I wish for you to cut me.”

“Then come in.”

The door clicks. I wait a moment, expecting it to swing open like before, but instead a handle emerges center right. I’m in. I take a deep breath, then grab the handle and push open the door.

A warm inviting light fills my eyes and the memory of the hard dank hallway I had just passed through dissolves into the softest, plushest and perhaps largest room I have ever been in. Men and women of unimaginable beauty are spread about, some walking, some standing in groups talking, and some lounging in couches clustered around touch-screens with which they interact. Most are holding some sort of flask or bottle, occasionally sipping its contents.

“Welcome Mr. Cole,” a silk voice speaks next to me. I turn. “Welcome to The Razor Blade, or as we who have been cut call it, Day One.”

My eyes narrow and I swallow hard as I take in the woman standing before me: Green eyes of dirty jade are set in a red storm of shoulder length curls; a nose perfectly established in a sea of milky white blemish-free skin; slightly upturned lips full and glistening and gently parted with the tip of a sweet pink tongue; high cheek bones curved into a subtle firm chin; a neck flowing so gracefully downward, spilling between the soft rise of mostly covered breasts; nipples hiding playfully under thin white fabric, like two dark moons just beneath the clouds—

“Do you like what you see, Mr. Cole?”

I bring my eyes up to hers. Damn they’re green. “Yes. Yes, I do. Like what I see.” I feel my cheeks flush red.

“Do not be embarrassed, Mr. Cole.” She and her lips are suddenly an inch from my face. “It is human to be”—I do not know how she moved in so quickly, her hand is on my crotch now—“moved by perfection.” She’s right, I’m moved.

And then she’s behind me and the cold barrel of my glock is pressing against my temple. She whispers into my ear, “You’re fucked, Detective Grant.” I swallow again, harder this time. “Yes. We know who you really are. But after we cut you,” the puma shifts to my other ear, “we will be the only ones.”

..............................................................................................................................

Celluloid scenes soak in water. People at a party. A wedding. No a bar mitzvah. I’m straining to make out their faces. The water is red. Is it water? There is a boy-man. He is clearly the subject of the photograph and he is dancing and smiling. I know that boy. The red water is bleeding into the scene. I thrust my hands into the bowl, grabbing, but the picture is no more. I observe my hands. They are stained.

I’m at a sink, washing, scrubbing. The red will not come out. The tips of my fingers sting, then throb. Are my hands bleeding? That is not my blood. I see finger nails circling the drain and disappear down the hole. “No! No, those are mine!” I yell.

I now stand at a full body mirror. But that is not my body. There is no face. Just… a smudge, like the end of a wet eraser rubbing away pencil on paper. It’s tearing a hole. There is nothing underneath. “Donavan.” I hear my voice. It’s a whisper. I spin but see no one. “Donavan, I’m here.” I turn and see Amber in the mirror. She staggers. “Oh Donny. Where did you go?” She’s reaching for my cheek but it is not there.

I am mirror. I am falling. I know what is coming and submit to impact.

I am a thousand shards. Divided unevenly. I feel the heat of the sun. I am pieces and I am melting.

I am whole again, but formless, being passed from gloved hands to gloved hands. No, stolen. Someone is stealing me. Pressure cups me. I am subtracted from myself again.

And again.

And.again

A n d . a g a i n

nAd.gaani

a.dnaiAn

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a . d n a i A n

a.dnaiAn

nAd.gaani

And.again

A n d . a g a i n

And again.

I am thinking of my children. I am thinking of their mother and the story she will tell them. The way she always makes me heroic, even in my betrayal. I think of the way they see through her fabrications. I think of their questions. Of their tears. Of their ache. Of my absence.

If this is not death I am ready to die. But they won’t let me. I see them as they remove my eyes. The final nip and tuck of their thievery.

I will wake. I know there is no choice in this matter. It will come. There better be a bar near by. 
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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 chrisconnolly

The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us

We’ve visited our son almost every week for the past sixteen years. In the region of 800 times, or thereabouts. We’ve driven somewhere around 265,000 miles, which is more than the distance to the moon, more than the circumference of this entire planet, times ten. It’s roughly the same amount of time it might take you to run 900 marathons at a slow jog.

We sit usually for a few minutes, in the parking lot, before we go in. Decompressing from the journey and steeling ourselves for the rigmarole of security screening, the perpetual waiting for Eli to be brought through to us, uniformed and shackled, so we can talk to him by telephone through a reinforced mesh-glass window.

I do this each week for Jack, for my husband, as much as for Eli or myself.

People tend to say things like this lightly – but Jack loved that boy more than you’d think was possible. He loved both of them that way, Eli and Jacob, and still does.

I’ve been asked before if I really believe it, deep down. That he didn’t do it. You’d be surprised what people will ask you, right to your face. People you don’t even know. I’ve been asked – and told – far worse than that, as it happens, especially in the beginning, but by now it no longer bothers me. I’ve asked myself the same things afterall, more times than you could count, and those questions don’t ever go away, even when you think you know the answers.

When it happened – when we found out at first, I mean, when we arrived home like any other evening, when we arrived to the chaos and turmoil on our quiet street and assumed, naturally, that the turmoil, whatever it was, must belong to someone else, to some unlucky neighbour – when we were told and informed and notified, none of it making any sense, standing outside our own home like strangers watching a car wreck, before it had even begun to sink in, it was just getting dark outside, and all those lights and people–– I can remember thinking it resembled some odd Christmas scene; as if there might be carol singers and a manger in there somewhere, in amongst all the bright blue and red lights, with the spectators shuffling their feet in the cold and the yellow tape just then being strung about the place by two men in uniforms.

This was at the house – outside the house. With Eli’s face pleading out at us from the back window of one of the police cars – handcuffed, I think, though I don’t recall actually seeing them, the handcuffs. It was more the way his body seemed so rigid, his neck so odd-angled as he strained just to see us. He was only fifteen.

He is now more than twice that.

They wouldn’t let us speak to him, the police, or even go near him.

‘Why can’t we just talk to him?’ Jack kept kept yelling, kept begging, even after they had explained, or tried to, what had happened. Nothing made sense.

‘Where’s Jacob?’ we kept asking them too – where was our other son?

And why can’t we go inside?

There is a lot of time to think, on the drives; our conversations have turned steadily more sparse and sporadic since earlier days, and as Jack grips the wheel beside me, thinking his own thoughts, I find my mind filled with numbers. As a girl, on long journeys or in bed seeking sleep, I would toy with random calculations in my mind and think endlessly about things like time and space and the universe. It was a habit that never fully faded, and when given these gaps to revive itself it does.

Eight minutes is roughly how long it takes, you might remember from school, for light from the sun to reach the earth. I think about those infinite particles streaming towards us, directed dead-set, faster than anything else that can ever exist. And yet eight minutes… I think about how far light would have travelled in the time that it took. From the beginning of it, I mean – of the incident. To its end.

Eight minutes is probably not even close.

The light emitted from the sun when it began was proably not even half way here by the time it was finished.

Jacob was moved, they said. Between the intial instigation of the incident and its culmination. Carried, they said they could tell. From the bottom of our staircase into the kitchen, where the stabbings occurred. They could also tell, they said, these experts, that he was most likely unconscious by this point. And it’s that detail, of all of them, which visits me most. The image of Jacob unconscious, as if asleep, being carried, cradled, that short distance, thirteen steps – almost one for each year of his life – and placed on the cold tile floor; perhaps gently, perhaps not.

I think it’s true what they say about women sometimes, about us being more emotional. A broader emotional spectrum, they’d probably call it now. A mother knows her children the way only a mother can – we notice certain things that men don’t, in the same way that the opposite is also true.

Not that Jack isn’t emotional. Weighed up I’d say he’s more emotional than most, myself included. He’s always been that way, and it was one of the things I loved about him first. But it’s a forward-moving, driven sort of a thing, entirely focused. Whereas my own emotions feel more like a fog, drifting and amorphous.

Jack’s initial reaction was… He said to me: ‘Sarah,’ he said, and then his expression turned into an expression I’d never seen before, one that lived only once, for just those few seconds, and never again after that, he said: ‘Jesus, Sarah, I think he did this, I think Eli––’

Or maybe that was at the hospital. After they’d finally let us see Jacob, our other little boy, laid out on cold steel, his small form visible beneath a spotless white sheet, just like you see on television.

I said something to Jack like, How could you. How could you even think it, your own son? I may even have slapped him. I think I did. Because love, real love, the love of a mother – if you love another human being in such a way, the force of it is a physical, primal thing, and you would bleed all your blood, and believe that night was day, if it could help them even just a little.

And I think I needed Jack to be the one without any doubt; in effect it was not just Jacob’s life we had lost that day, but mine and Jack’s too. And of course Eli’s.

Four lives in just a few short minutes; even the sun couldn’t work fast enough to make any true sense of that.

The recording of the 911 call lasted over seven minutes. I didn’t hear it until the trial itself. Eli’s voice – the broken tremor in it. The terror. And those interspersed moments of silence on the line before the dull sound of sirens arrived in the background, the pauses, where all you could do was picture him there in the kitchen, phone in hand, standing over his little brother, waiting for help that was already too late in coming. By now I know it by heart, the recording. I obtained a copy.

I don’t tell Jack, but I listen to it still, all the time.

After that one moment of weakness from Jack, about Eli doing it, being responsible for it, for this thing that was done, there was never another. His drive – his entirety, I think – went into Eli’s innocence. There was never any question of it again, even during the trial, after all the endless hours of evidence and specimens and photographs and testimonies.

When we were finally allowed to see Eli at the police station, after we’d been to the hospital, after we’d seen Jacob, I remember Jack saying over and over, We will get you out don’t worry we will, we will get you out we will, we believe you we love you we believe you.

Jack says it still – that we will get him out. And he believes it, too.

Eli said – and his story never changed, never wavered, not a single detail, even during the interrogations by the police, with those grown men prodding and threatening and terrifying the wits out of him, just a child; and nor has it changed in the sixteen years since – that when he heard noises he came downstairs from his bedroom and found Jacob lying there in the kitchen, the back door open, the back door left ajar, his little brother covered in blood, the knife discarded there beside him.

I estimate we’ve burned through almost 8,000 gallons of fuel on our trips. That’s as much, if you’re interested, as those great big tubular gasoline trucks can hold, filled to the brim.

I told a therapist about all of this a few years back – about the counting, the calculations. About what she was probably correct in terming a somewhat obsessive fixation. I told her in particular, I remember, about the speed of light, and about how time and space can change, can alter – or so they say, these scientists with minds that work on different frequencies, at different levels to the rest of us. I don’t entirely understand it. But such things take my mind away from where it is, and where it sometimes goes.

She called it a coping mechanism. ‘Whatever helps,’ she said.

I paced it out myself, the distance between the stairs and the kitchen. It would’ve taken in the region of ten seconds, under the circumstances, to cover those thirteen steps; and for such a short time it’s an awfully long time, too.

But these things, distance or time or light, these concepts – in the end they’re not a whole lot of use. It doesn’t make anything better, does it, the world turning, light and space and time. The things that simply are, or have been. And why would it?

He will be eligible for parole in nineteen years, Eli, at the age of fifty.

The statistical life expectancy rate dips by almost twenty-five years for those in long-term incarceration – incarceration from youth, that is. The suicide rate rises by a factor of four, and more than half are hangings.

Bedsheets, presumably.

These are yet more numbers and statistics that fill my mind on the long drives. More often than just then, in truth; they flow uncontrolled as if separate from me, these ones, these thoughts – the darkest of daydreams.

I imagine getting the call one night, from the prison authorities. I try not to, but I imagine how it might feel.

Sometimes I think I am a terrible person.

There is a sound, if you listen very closely, about four minutes into the recording. Just barely. It went unmentioned, unnoticed, at the trial. The kind of sound that’s barely a sound at all, the kind of sound so slender and so buried beneath the other sounds of the recording, the static and the operator’s voice and the strangled utterings of Eli, my son, that only someone who has heard it a million times before, who knows it, who has it subconsciously embedded in the back of their brain, could ever possibly discern or distinguish.

That sound is very much like the sound of the handle on the back door of our home being pushed down, and then unlatched; it is very much like the sound of the back door being opened, the back door being left ajar.

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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 chrisconnolly

The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us



We’ve visited our son almost every week for the past sixteen years. In the region of 800 times, or thereabouts. We’ve driven somewhere around 265,000 miles, which is more than the distance to the moon, more than the circumference of this entire planet, times ten. It’s roughly the same amount of time it might take you to run 900 marathons at a slow jog.
We sit usually for a few minutes, in the parking lot, before we go in. Decompressing from the journey and steeling ourselves for the rigmarole of security screening, the perpetual waiting for Eli to be brought through to us, uniformed and shackled, so we can talk to him by telephone through a reinforced mesh-glass window.
I do this each week for Jack, for my husband, as much as for Eli or myself.
People tend to say things like this lightly – but Jack loved that boy more than you’d think was possible. He loved both of them that way, Eli and Jacob, and still does.

I’ve been asked before if I really believe it, deep down. That he didn’t do it. You’d be surprised what people will ask you, right to your face. People you don’t even know. I’ve been asked – and told – far worse than that, as it happens, especially in the beginning, but by now it no longer bothers me. I’ve asked myself the same things afterall, more times than you could count, and those questions don’t ever go away, even when you think you know the answers.

When it happened – when we found out at first, I mean, when we arrived home like any other evening, when we arrived to the chaos and turmoil on our quiet street and assumed, naturally, that the turmoil, whatever it was, must belong to someone else, to some unlucky neighbour – when we were told and informed and notified, none of it making any sense, standing outside our own home like strangers watching a car wreck, before it had even begun to sink in, it was just getting dark outside, and all those lights and people–– I can remember thinking it resembled some odd Christmas scene; as if there might be carol singers and a manger in there somewhere, in amongst all the bright blue and red lights, with the spectators shuffling their feet in the cold and the yellow tape just then being strung about the place by two men in uniforms.
This was at the house – outside the house. With Eli’s face pleading out at us from the back window of one of the police cars – handcuffed, I think, though I don’t recall actually seeing them, the handcuffs. It was more the way his body seemed so rigid, his neck so odd-angled as he strained just to see us. He was only fifteen.
He is now more than twice that.
They wouldn’t let us speak to him, the police, or even go near him.
‘Why can’t we just talk to him?’ Jack kept kept yelling, kept begging, even after they had explained, or tried to, what had happened. Nothing made sense.
‘Where’s Jacob?’ we kept asking them too – where was our other son?
And why can’t we go inside?

There is a lot of time to think, on the drives; our conversations have turned steadily more sparse and sporadic since earlier days, and as Jack grips the wheel beside me, thinking his own thoughts, I find my mind filled with numbers. As a girl, on long journeys or in bed seeking sleep, I would toy with random calculations in my mind and think endlessly about things like time and space and the universe. It was a habit that never fully faded, and when given these gaps to revive itself it does.
Eight minutes is roughly how long it takes, you might remember from school, for light from the sun to reach the earth. I think about those infinite particles streaming towards us, directed dead-set, faster than anything else that can ever exist. And yet eight minutes… I think about how far light would have travelled in the time that it took. From the beginning of it, I mean – of the incident. To its end.
Eight minutes is probably not even close.
The light emitted from the sun when it began was proably not even half way here by the time it was finished.

Jacob was moved, they said. Between the intial instigation of the incident and its culmination. Carried, they said they could tell. From the bottom of our staircase into the kitchen, where the stabbings occurred. They could also tell, they said, these experts, that he was most likely unconscious by this point. And it’s that detail, of all of them, which visits me most. The image of Jacob unconscious, as if asleep, being carried, cradled, that short distance, thirteen steps – almost one for each year of his life – and placed on the cold tile floor; perhaps gently, perhaps not.
I think it’s true what they say about women sometimes, about us being more emotional. A broader emotional spectrum, they’d probably call it now. A mother knows her children the way only a mother can – we notice certain things that men don’t, in the same way that the opposite is also true.
Not that Jack isn’t emotional. Weighed up I’d say he’s more emotional than most, myself included. He’s always been that way, and it was one of the things I loved about him first. But it’s a forward-moving, driven sort of a thing, entirely focused. Whereas my own emotions feel more like a fog, drifting and amorphous.

Jack’s initial reaction was… He said to me: ‘Sarah,’ he said, and then his expression turned into an expression I’d never seen before, one that lived only once, for just those few seconds, and never again after that, he said: ‘Jesus, Sarah, I think he did this, I think Eli––’
Or maybe that was at the hospital. After they’d finally let us see Jacob, our other little boy, laid out on cold steel, his small form visible beneath a spotless white sheet, just like you see on television.
I said something to Jack like, How could you. How could you even think it, your own son? I may even have slapped him. I think I did. Because love, real love, the love of a mother – if you love another human being in such a way, the force of it is a physical, primal thing, and you would bleed all your blood, and believe that night was day, if it could help them even just a little.
And I think I needed Jack to be the one without any doubt; in effect it was not just Jacob’s life we had lost that day, but mine and Jack’s too. And of course Eli’s.
Four lives in just a few short minutes; even the sun couldn’t work fast enough to make any true sense of that.

The recording of the 911 call lasted over seven minutes. I didn’t hear it until the trial itself. Eli’s voice – the broken tremor in it. The terror. And those interspersed moments of silence on the line before the dull sound of sirens arrived in the background, the pauses, where all you could do was picture him there in the kitchen, phone in hand, standing over his little brother, waiting for help that was already too late in coming. By now I know it by heart, the recording. I obtained a copy.
I don’t tell Jack, but I listen to it still, all the time.

After that one moment of weakness from Jack, about Eli doing it, being responsible for it, for this thing that was done, there was never another. His drive – his entirety, I think – went into Eli’s innocence. There was never any question of it again, even during the trial, after all the endless hours of evidence and specimens and photographs and testimonies.
When we were finally allowed to see Eli at the police station, after we’d been to the hospital, after we’d seen Jacob, I remember Jack saying over and over, We will get you out don’t worry we will, we will get you out we will, we believe you we love you we believe you.
Jack says it still – that we will get him out. And he believes it, too.
Eli said – and his story never changed, never wavered, not a single detail, even during the interrogations by the police, with those grown men prodding and threatening and terrifying the wits out of him, just a child; and nor has it changed in the sixteen years since – that when he heard noises he came downstairs from his bedroom and found Jacob lying there in the kitchen, the back door open, the back door left ajar, his little brother covered in blood, the knife discarded there beside him.


I estimate we’ve burned through almost 8,000 gallons of fuel on our trips. That’s as much, if you’re interested, as those great big tubular gasoline trucks can hold, filled to the brim.
I told a therapist about all of this a few years back – about the counting, the calculations. About what she was probably correct in terming a somewhat obsessive fixation. I told her in particular, I remember, about the speed of light, and about how time and space can change, can alter – or so they say, these scientists with minds that work on different frequencies, at different levels to the rest of us. I don’t entirely understand it. But such things take my mind away from where it is, and where it sometimes goes.
She called it a coping mechanism. ‘Whatever helps,’ she said.

I paced it out myself, the distance between the stairs and the kitchen. It would’ve taken in the region of ten seconds, under the circumstances, to cover those thirteen steps; and for such a short time it’s an awfully long time, too.
But these things, distance or time or light, these concepts – in the end they’re not a whole lot of use. It doesn’t make anything better, does it, the world turning, light and space and time. The things that simply are, or have been. And why would it?


He will be eligible for parole in nineteen years, Eli, at the age of fifty.
The statistical life expectancy rate dips by almost twenty-five years for those in long-term incarceration – incarceration from youth, that is. The suicide rate rises by a factor of four, and more than half are hangings.
Bedsheets, presumably.
These are yet more numbers and statistics that fill my mind on the long drives. More often than just then, in truth; they flow uncontrolled as if separate from me, these ones, these thoughts – the darkest of daydreams.
I imagine getting the call one night, from the prison authorities. I try not to, but I imagine how it might feel.
Sometimes I think I am a terrible person.

There is a sound, if you listen very closely, about four minutes into the recording. Just barely. It went unmentioned, unnoticed, at the trial. The kind of sound that’s barely a sound at all, the kind of sound so slender and so buried beneath the other sounds of the recording, the static and the operator’s voice and the strangled utterings of Eli, my son, that only someone who has heard it a million times before, who knows it, who has it subconsciously embedded in the back of their brain, could ever possibly discern or distinguish.
That sound is very much like the sound of the handle on the back door of our home being pushed down, and then unlatched; it is very much like the sound of the back door being opened, the back door being left ajar.





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