The Silver Fox

I like to tell stories.

Change your metaphor

“You’re not a storyteller spinning yarns beside a campfire.

You’re not. You can’t think of yourself that way. Many novelists do think of themselves in that way, but I’m here to tell you that such a metaphor will give rise to a number of errors in your fiction.

Because when you think of yourself like this, you are going to do things in your writing that you shouldn’t do. You’re going to explain everything, for starters. You’re going to give backstory and shortcuts that help your listener but not your reader…If you think about yourself as a storyteller around a campfire, you’re also going to summarize everything…If you think of yourself as a storyteller around the campfire, you’re likely to violate point-of-view rules.

You must cease thinking of yourself as a fireside tale-teller and begin thinking of yourself as a filmmaker

Now the scenario has changed. You’re limited to camera and microphone to convey your story. You have to dress your characters and light your scene and compose your shots. You are forced to show the story through action, scene, and dialogue.

A filmmaker can’t just summarize a scene–she has to play it out blow by blow and shot by shot. A filmmaker can’t just suggest a setting–she has to build it. She can’t just assume the audience is going to imagine things happening in the background–she’s got to put them there.”

— excerpt from The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke (pages 34-36).

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Salma: A Folktale

Hey everyone, it’s been awhile. Life has been hectic (I’m nearly finished my last semester of my undergrad (hallelujah!), I’ve been working, and I’m currently in the midst of an exciting, epic “space fantasy” writing project with a friend of mine). Anyways, here’s a short story I wrote for a creative writing class I took last semester. I hope you like it.

Salma was a child when she first dreamt of the wind. She dreamt that the trees were filled with music, dancing and singing in time to the billowing gusts. In her dream she wore a blue dress and the wind pulled at it like a flag. She rose her hands above her head and let the wind whisper through her tangled hair. My baby, my little baby, a strange voice whispered. Do you hear my heart? It beats with all the sorrow of the world. When she woke, her face was wet with tears.

* * *

She found the boy exactly where she had dreamt he would be—in the grove, curled up beneath her favourite climbing tree. Careful not to wake him, she clambered up the tree and watched him from the safety of the branches. She knew he was a special boy even though he looked to be about the same age as She. He had appeared to her in dreams of wind and sunshine. In her dreams she flew through the sky and floated above him while he slept under her favourite climbing tree. And then he would open his eyes and float up beside her, an impish grin on his face. Salma studied the boy. He was nice-looking, with dark curly hair and a smile on his face as if he too were dreaming of flight. But his face was scratched and bleeding, and Salma wondered if he had been lost in last night’s storm. It had been a blustery night, and the storm had knocked down a few old trees in the grove and flooded the nearby river. Salma had been safe and warm in her bed, listening to the wailing wind and praying that her favourite tree would stay rooted firmly in its place. Her prayers had been answered.

* * *

The boy opened his eyes and stared up at the girl in the branches above. They remained still for several moments, listening to the sound of crickets and the soft hush of the river. A slight breeze rustled the leaves around her.

“Who are you?” the boy asked, still lying in the grass. A cricket jumped onto his arm, but he seemed not to notice.

Salma told him her name. “What’s yours?” she asked.

The boy stood and looked around at the shady grove. Then he looked up at her and grinned. “My name is Adair.” He grabbed the nearest branch and pulled himself up into the tree.

“You’re bleeding,” Salma pointed out once he was seated beside her.

“Oh,” Adair touched his face and looked at the blood on his fingers.

“I can clean it,” Salma said. “I know how.” She dropped to the grass and ran to the river. She dipped her sleeve into the waters and then raced back to the grove. The boy climbed down from his perch and stood still as Salma wiped the blood from his face.

“There,” Salma said, stepping back to admire her work. “Do you want a bandage?”

Adair shook his head, fingering the scratch.

“You shouldn’t touch it,” Salma said, pulling his hand away.

The boy looked at her thoughtfully and nodded. “Thank you,” he said.

They stood there, staring at each other for another moment. Then Adair cocked his head to the side and looked upriver. Frish, frish, came a voice through the still air. A strange look flashed across his face, and then he looked at Salma.

“Good bye, Salma,” he said. Then he was gone.

* * *

The boy returned to the grove every once in a while, and the two children would play and laugh. They climbed the trees and dug in the dirt to find worms. Sometimes they swam in the river and caught frogs. Once they built a raft and sailed down the river all the way to town. As Salma grew older, so did Adair; they remained fast friends. But each day, he would stop and listen, his eyes faraway. Frish, frish, a distant voice whispered. Then he would apologize and disappear. Salma asked him where it was that he went, and he would shake his head.

“I have to do my duty,” he said each time, which Salma thought was a strange thing for a boy to say. She remembered how she used to dream about him and their joyful flights. She remembered how special he was, and she would nod knowingly whenever he said something strange. When she was fourteen, she learned that he was the wind. He told her by accident, and then fled, a gale flying up in his wake. He did not return for a long time.

* * *

She dreamt of the wind again when she was seventeen. This time she fell through the air slowly, majestically. Arms spread out to catch the rushing air that whistled past her ears and through her fingers. The air clawed at her, her dress and her hair, as if to pull her back up. It fought with gravity’s inevitable pull, coaxing and pleading with her to open furled wings and soar amongst the wind and clouds. It tore at her, screaming and gasping for any purchase, any chance that she might pretend she was a part of this world. This world of whispering and flight. But no amount of wind or make-believe could keep her there. Her body was much too heavy for that place, and she closed her eyes as she dropped. She woke, abruptly and afraid.

* * *

He returned to her when they were no longer children. The previous week, Salma noticed the strengthening winds. The old boatman on the river told her parents that something big and magical was coming. Her parents laughed about it once the old man was gone, but Salma watched the sky as it darkened and roiled above. She knew how the old boatman would call out to the wind to fill his sails. “Frish, frish!” he would cry, and the breeze would come to his aid and carry him to his destination. The old man knew the wind like she did. They both knew Adair was finally returning. On the seventh day, the storm died, slowing to barely a whisper. Salma ran to the grove. He was waiting for her beneath her favourite climbing tree.

* * *

Adair loved to tell Salma about his many adventures and travels. He told her about the different paths as he carried out his many tasks.

“This is my favourite place though,” he told her while they sat on the riverbed. He held her close and recalled the wonderful times of their childhood. “Even when I was far away, I dreamed of returning to this grove,” he said.

She smiled and looked up at the stars.

* * *

They married a year later in the grove. The trees were laden with paper lanterns and garlands of flowers the children had picked. After the ceremony, the newlyweds boarded their new boat and set off down the river. They spent weeks exploring the rivers, drifting by towns and fields and orchards. After their honeymoon, her husband built a cottage for her beside the grove. Salma watched, a deep joy in her heart. But behind the joy was a terrible fear. As the days went by, she waited for the gentle frish, frish to call Adair away. I have to do my duty, he had told her all those years ago. When the day arrived, and her husband cocked his head and stared off into the distance, she held her tears until he was long gone.

* * *

She found joy in her growing belly. The months passed slowly but she felt the child growing inside her and was glad. She dreamt of her child—her dreams told her she would have a son. In her dreams, he was a happy child, playing in the river beside their house for hours. He was much like his father. She dreamed that he ran along the river’s edge and befriended the old boatman, learning the ways of the river. When she gave birth, her husband by her side, she wept for joy. She named the baby Kell.

Adair stayed with her and their child for a month, growing ever more restless as the moon changed. One day, he stood in the doorway for an hour, listening to sounds that Salma could not hear.

“Are you leaving?” she asked, holding Kell to her breast. She already knew the answer.

“They are waiting for me,” he answered without turning.

“Who?” There was a time when Salma loved to hear his stories.

“The rains.”

That night, once he had gone, a distant storm filled the river and flooded their little cottage by the grove. Salma spent the next week clearing the debris.

* * *

Salma gave birth to a baby girl a year later, after dreaming of a beautiful child in love with the fields and birds. She named her Linna and watched as she grew into that frolicking, gentle child of her dreams. Both Kell and Linna had the magic of their father. They spent their childhood running through the grove and beside the river, blowing gusts of wind until they were out of breath. One day they ran in circles around the house until the clothes on the clothesline were dry and smelled of sunshine. Kell was a wandering child. He aided the boatman on his trips to the city upriver, blowing into the sail like his father. Linna used her breath for song. She imitated birds and crickets and sat singing by the door for hours. Salma loved to sit with her and listen to the sweet voice sing songs that reminded her of Adair.

* * *

He visited them often, delighting in his magical children and telling them tales of lands far away. And Salma was happy.

“Your mother is magical too,” Adair told his two children. Salma looked up from her work. Her husband smiled at her and then pulled Linna onto his lap.

“I always knew she was magical, from the day I met her.”

Salma remembered wiping blood from the young boy’s face.

“She has special dreams too,” Adair said proudly.

* * *

That night Salma dreamt of pain and sadness. My baby, my little baby, came the strangely familiar voice. When she woke, her face was wet with tears. As Adair kissed them from her face, she would not tell him what made her so sad. Between the dreams of sorrow, she dreamt of her third child. Little boy, sweet child, she murmured to herself as her belly grew. Months passed but her husband did not return. As the day drew near, she held onto her hope of seeing Adair again. But she heard about the great storms in the far away country, and knew that her husband was busy. She touched her belly and murmured soft words for the beautiful child she had seen. This child had a different kind of magic, she knew. She saw him bringing a gentle wind to comfort those who mourn, lifting prayers to Heaven, lulling all the sadness of the world.

* * *

She spoke to her newborn child as she held him in her weakening arms.

“My baby, my little baby. Do you hear my heart?” A soft breeze caressed her brow. She spoke the words as she remembered them. “It beats with all the sorrow of the world. How long the wind is in coming.”

She closed her eyes tiredly, still clinging to her little boy. She could hear Linna flying along the river and calling for her far away father. Kell stood resolute by his mother’s side, a hand on his newborn brother. She heard a lone gull’s call. Frish, frish, drifted a voice over the gentle breeze.

A sudden gust blew through the grove. Salma, it whispered. She heard little Linna singing and felt her baby’s breath on her skin.

Salma smiled.

This story is based on the old African folktale “The Children of the Wind.” What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Scars

Just a little something for you all. Enjoy!

Sometimes he traced the scar just below her knee and chuckled, recalling how she acquired it.

“A t.v. fell on me,” she had said, her face red with embarrassment at all the eyes fixed on her and all the ears turned towards her words. Disbelieving laughter and then, “It’s true! When I was six years old, our old television fell off the t.v. stand and onto my leg.” She shrugged. “It was kinda my fault.”

***

Later on, she would tell him about the time she accidentally almost set her house on fire. She made sure no one else heard this time, though her face still grew red under his gaze. “I was eight,” she explained, like it made sense. “I threw my knit sweater onto a candle by accident and the whole coffee table started burning. We were eating spaghetti when the fire alarm went off. My parents weren’t happy.”

She giggled a bit and then sighed. “I was more disappointed that the flames destroyed my favourite VHS. Prince of Egypt.” She said sadly. “I didn’t much care about the sweater. It was itchy.”

He laughed, long and hard at that story, and every once in a while he would remember her quirky stories and laugh some more, no matter where he was. He was the sort of man that could laugh without worry. The sort of man others were envious of.

For her birthday, he bought her The Prince of Egypt DVD and wrapped it up in red tissue paper with a note saying, “To Ev, Keep Away from Fire. Love, ” She made sure to look out for candles in strange places from then on.

***

He had a few scars himself, though he never could remember where they came from. One he knew was from cleaning up after the ice storm several years back. He had been carrying a load of branches, all covered in thick layers of ice. They were five times their usual weight. A single branch fell and tripped him up, sending him tumbling to the ground, one sharp end scraping angrily against his arm. It went right through his jacket.

“I liked that jacket,” he bemoaned to her that night as they sipped tea and watched the hockey game. A shiny white bandage adorned his arm.

He received a new jacket for his birthday. He never wore it when doing yard work.

***

“What’s this one from?” she asked, poking the taut, white skin over his right ankle. He shrugged.

“Maybe from high school, I’m not sure.”

He used to play hockey in high school; body checking, slashing, shooting, scoring. She always wondered how they could move so naturally over the ice. She always wobbled.

“It’s like anything really. With practice, it gets easy.”

He tried to get her onto the ice more often but her skates always pinched or her knees hurt or it was too cold outside. She preferred to ski, gliding across the snow a lot easier than the ice. Snow is soft and the only thing you need to worry about is keeping your skis from tangling.

***

The scars from the surgery were the most recent, spider webs across his skin. She thought they were beautiful, even as they terrified her with their significance. At first they had been an angry red, but the fire died down and they smoothed out a little. A monument to what he had survived. A little map; the ridges like mountain ranges. She reminded him often, and he thanked God often. Thanked God he had her.

She sang for him silly songs that her parents made up during long road trips through the Rockies and across the prairies.

“A man once told me I should take singing lessons,” she said in between verses, “I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment.”

“Of course it was,” he said before humming along with her.

That spring, he bought her a few lessons with the vocal teacher from the Community Centre.

***

One time, a cat scratched her arms when she tried to pick him up to return to the neighbour.

“Those’ll leave scars,” he said as he bathed the gashes with warm water. She crinkled her nose at the pain.

“This is why I’m a dog person.”

Not long after, they bought a big wolf of a dog and named him Winchester because she was in love with the Wild West. Winchester would never bark or jump or scratch. If he saw something he didn’t like, he’d huff and puff as if to blow the house down. When he heard something he liked, he’d sit himself down, throw his head back, and howl. The neighbours never complained; perhaps they liked the dog’s singing as much as his owners did.

***

 He gave her a scar by accident one evening, turning a little too fast when she came up beside him, the Cutco knife still in his hand. The cold point traced a thin line from her pinky finger to the base of her thumb. She waved away his frenzied apologies but let him clean the wound.

“It’s just another story to tell,” she murmured, reaching to hold his hand.

Longing: A Collection of Related Quotations

Note: Last semester, I took a course devoted to C.S. Lewis and a number of his works, both fictional and non-fictional. I was struck the most by his resonant description of a deep longing for something to come (heaven). And last Sunday, my pastor read 1 Corinthians 13:12 to us which reminded me of The Last Battle all over again. So, after reading several pages of The Last Battle, the Bible, and Till We Have Faces, I put together these few quotations. Hopefully they move you the way they move me. Till We Have Faces is considered C.S. Lewis’ greatest work of fiction (and I agree whole-heartedly). It was his last and greatest novel, and the culmination of everything he ever wrote. It is a true masterpiece. 

~~~~~~~

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” Hebrews 11:16a

“Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back. All my life the god of the Mountain has been wooing me. Oh, look up once at least before the end and wish me joy. I am going to my lover.” – Psyche, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

“It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed and then cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come farther up, come farther in!”” – C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

“It is hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there is a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking-glass. And the scene in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real one: yet at the same time they were somehow different—deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.” – C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

“I ended my first book with the words no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words. Long did I hate you, long did I fear you.” C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:4-5

Nuclear Winter

I asked my friends to name this post and this was the greatest suggestion. It has nothing to do with the story.

 

On Saturday, my sister and I woke up at 8 like always. We didn’t notice it at first but there was a strange slowness to our step as we made our way to our kingdom outside. Our subjects were where we left them the night before when Mom called us for bedtime and the mosquitoes chased us in. Barbie and a few of her friends sat in the treehouse. They were the nobility of course, long legs and perfect smiles. Beneath the tree lay the others — army men guarding the castle, Beanie Babies covered in dew, McDonalds Happy Meal action figure toys all mix-matched and living in the village we made out of sticks and stones. We stood, inspecting the world we created, hands on our hips.

I did not move. Something I didn’t recognize held me in place. I didn’t pick up the toys and begin playing; I only looked on uneasily. I knew that my sister could feel it too so I turned to her.

“Want to watch cartoons?”

She nodded quickly, a little bewildered at her choice, and we walked slowly back to the house. We made sure not to tread mud and wet grass into the house and we put our shoes back neatly, our hands betraying us. Messiness never bothered us before… We turned on the television and submitted ourselves to the screen. During the commercials of shiny new toys, I stared uninterested and wondered at what moment last night did my sister and I grow up.

 

Yep, no nuclear power or winters in sight. Perhaps it’s a metaphor.

Untitled (for now)

Here’s something I randomly started while the power was out. Don’t you just love thunderstorms?

Red roses grow faster than yellow ones. At least that’s what the Menders wanted. I’m not sure they succeeded what with their facilities sinking into the ground like it did. Luckily they got out with their lives. That’s what the announcer said, though I know that the Menders think differently. I know that they considered their work to be their life. Maybe not the rose experiments, but certainly the other work that no one is allowed to know about. The only reason the announcer mentioned the roses was because he had to say something about the Mender facility’s purpose. Like anyone really believes that something as insignificant and impractical as roses would need a whole facility. But then again, no one believes the announcer no matter what he says. Everyone knows there are secrets. And everyone knows secrets are dangerous. Let the announcer and the Uppers pulling his strings keep their secrets. We’re better off not knowing them. The Menders knew secrets and look what happened. Van knew secrets and I haven’t seen him since all the birds took flight and fled the city.

I always thought there was something bird-like about him, in the way he perched on the walls and watched everything. He was thin too, like those pictures of storks I used to look at and trace onto the paper I found in my dad’s old study. The paper is long gone, but I kept all my sketches. Van used to look at them and smile. He used to say that I could have been a great artist if the Uppers hadn’t already decided everything for me. 

Though he disagreed, I always knew he could have been a wonderful athlete. He could run like there were little steam-powered motors on his feet. And he could jump over walls and swim across wide, rushing rivers. That’s why I’m not worried. If the Uppers found out about what he knew, he could always run and they would never ever catch him. Not in a million years. I don’t think they got him. I think he up and left like all the birds. He smelled trouble and he flew away. I only wonder why he didn’t take me with him. I suppose I would have been a burden. He understood things no one else did, including me. He saw things in the air. Past the airships that reminded me of whales with spiders on their tails and past the clouds that usually were a sickly green colour because of all the new factories. I swear sometimes I believed he saw the future. All I know is that he didn’t like what he saw. He didn’t like that I had to work in the factory. He didn’t like the way my hands became black with soot or how my hair lost its shine. Whenever I got home and he was there, he would see how tired and cold I was and how my fingers would shake a little bit and he would frown. Sometimes his hands would shake, but not from exhaustion. He couldn’t stand it. He hated that I had to go to the factories and that he didn’t. He used to always say how he wanted to take my place. But I didn’t want him to. I didn’t want him to see just how terrible it was. 

Then one day, the factories in the north sector sunk into a hole in the earth. It was like magic. One moment it stood there like a stationary locomotive, all that black smoke gushing from its pipes, and the next it was on its way to the centre of the earth. Some said it was on its way to Hell, where it belonged, but I knew that was just a joke to keep the fear away. Everyone worked in the factories and no one wanted to go to Hell. 

Van became worse than ever, sitting on the roof with hooded eyes. He watched the people the way the Uppers watch us. And he learned some terrible secret. He wouldn’t tell me though. He knew like everyone else that secrets are no good. He knew that if I knew, I would be gone in an hour, the announcer making up some excuse for my disappearance. And no one would believe it. But no one would care either.

To be continued…

Wigs

I wrote this piece awhile ago after reading and falling in love with To Kill A Mockingbird (which is still my favourite book). I think it’s pretty cute. Nothing heavy or depressing.

Ms. Fleming’s wig had gone missing. I could see the old woman through her house windows, running around. She was searching for the wig.

For as long as I could remember knowing her, Ms. Jolie Fleming had a wig. My brother, Jonathon said that she had been hairless ever since she got a rare hair disease when she was twelve. My younger sister and I couldn’t imagine Ms. Fleming as a child, especially with real hair.  Jonathon said that when she was twelve, she got a rare disease that turned her hair green and made it fall out. She’s had the same short, brunette wig (that I think doesn’t look at all like real hair) ever since. I know this because I saw her picture at the high school graduation photos. At least then her clump of fake hair looked real. Now it looked like a mix between a handful of dead grass and the road kill we see on the way home every afternoon. But, she wore it proudly and we didn’t dare make fun of her. After all, Mother had said, how would I like it if I lost all my hair? That silenced me.

Later that day, I tied up my dark hair into a makeshift bun and tried to imagine myself bald, but soon gave up. Jonathon, who was thirteen, told me that a lot of twelve-year-old girls got the rare hair disease that Jolie got. During the years leading up to my twelfth birthday, I lived with the fear of going bald. My sister Leslie wasn’t scared. She still had six years to go and believed that they would have a cure by then. I often wondered why no other twelve year olds I knew didn’t have the rare hair disease, but Jonathon never replied. I always thought that he just didn’t want to talk about such a sad topic. Nevertheless, I trusted him and was thoroughly frightened that I would lose all of my hair during the year I was to turn twelve.

I saw Ms. Fleming searching everywhere. I watched her check her garden, backyard, garage, car, garden again. I couldn’t comprehend how she could lose her wig, after all, didn’t you keep your wig on your head? But Father said that she must have taken it off last night and forgot where she put it. I guess it was an age thing. She was getting old and forgetting things. But I don’t think I could ever lose something as important as a wig. If I ever lost my hair, I wouldn’t lose my wig. No matter how old I was.

After lunchtime, Ms. Fleming rang our doorbell, I opened the big, red door and there she was. She wore a big, purple winter toque on her bald head. I thought she must be rather warm because it was a hot summer afternoon. She looked frazzled and her long pink dress had dust where I thought her knees were. She must have been crawling around, searching for the wig in places where she hadn’t been in awhile. (If I lost something, I wouldn’t check somewhere where I hadn’t been with that object. She must have forgotten).

“Hello Rebecca,” she greeted me. She sounded tired and she was slightly out of breath. I greeted her back the way that my parents taught me to.

“Hello Ms. Fleming. How are you?” I said and I smiled like my parents also taught me to.

“Thank you. I am actually feeling fairly fatigued right now, Rebecca. But thank you for asking.” She paused to cough and then looked at her hands. “I—I was wondering if you…what I mean to say is…I seemed to have misplaced my…” she sighed and leaned towards me. “My wig,” she whispered.

I looked around but no one was around. I also leaned forward and nodded gravely.

She continued. “I was wondering if you could search around a little bit. Maybe check your backyard. Perhaps Harry took it and left it somewhere outside.”

Harry was Ms. Jolie Fleming’s gray cat. Harry was actually a female but Ms. Jolie didn’t know until two years ago when Harry had kittens. It was a big surprise when we found out that Harry, who we always thought was a boy, was the proud mother of six kittens. Ms. Fleming let us pick out a kitten to keep and we chose a cute little white kitten with gray paws and ears. Jonathon named him Obi-Wan (he was going through a Star Wars phase) although Leslie and I wanted to call him Simba. Since Jonathon was the eldest, he got to make the final decision. We were promised the naming of our two gold fish (Simba and Nala), but that’s hardly compensation.

“I will, Ms. Fleming,” I turned to leave and felt a light hand on my arm. I turned back to the fidgeting Ms. Fleming.

“Please, Rebecca, do not tell anyone.”

“I won’t Ms. Fleming. Your secret is safe with me,” I said with a smile.

“Good girl. Thank you,” And with that she scurried down the walkway and along the sidewalk to her house. I closed the door and sighed. Where to look first?

I decided to first get some help.

I thought that in asking me to not tell anyone, Ms. Fleming must have meant anyone outside of the family. So I went upstairs. I walked up to the ladder leading to Jonathon’s room. His room is in the attic, which he loves. That way, he isn’t disturbed and can have ‘some privacy.’ I climbed up the stairs and knocked on the trap door.

There was no answer. I heard muffled music and knock again.

“What?” His voice was also muffled.

“I need your help,” I shouted.

“Ask Mom,” I heard him say.

“No, it’s a secret.” I heard footsteps and then the scraping of the trap door being pulled back.

“Go away,” he said, poking his head out. He scowled. I must have interrupted something important. I was suddenly curious.

“What’cha doing?” I asked, straining to see past him. I saw a guitar. Well, that was new.

He blocked my view. “Nothing,”

“Oh.” I looked at him, deciding to ask about the new guitar later. “Will you help me?”

“Depends,”

“Um, I need help finding something.” I said, whispering for no reason.

“Find what?” I sighed for dramatic emphasis. I was used to his short replies but could get easily frustrated. Perhaps it was a teenage thing.

“Ms. Fleming’s wig,” I said especially slowly.

“Find it yourself,” he muttered and then began to slide his trap door shut. Without thinking too much, I stuck my hand in the closing gap.

“OW!”

Jonathon opened the door quickly and I pulled my arm out.

“Shh.” He said nervously, looking around. If Mom had heard my cry, he would get in a lot of trouble. I looked at him while rubbing my arm.

“I’ll be quiet if you help me,”

He stared at me angrily. It wasn’t often that I blackmailed him like that, but I wanted help to find the wig. I watched his face as it switched from anger to resignation.

“Oh, alright.” He said. “But it better not take all day,” I started down the ladder as he lowered himself down.

“Well, if we find it right away, you can get right back to your guitar,” I said joyfully. We started walking down the hall to the stairs.

“Yeah well…” He brushed his hand through his longish dark hair. “Where does she want us to look?”

“Anywhere. Backyard, coatroom, garage, I don’t know. Where would you look?” I looked up at him. He was much taller than me. Nearly two heads taller.

I jumped down the remaining two steps.

“Hmmm. Maybe Harry carried it over. Maybe she thought it was a dead animal or something,”

“I think it’s a dead animal, Jon! But she did suggest that.”

“Well then, let’s check the backyard.” I followed him out the door.

We looked everywhere. In the grass, the bushes, the tree. We looked in the sand box and around the swing set. I even clambered underneath the deck. I found a lot of old junk, but no wig. We spent nearly two hours searching for the wig and with every passing minute, Jonathon became more and more grumpy. Soon we were called in for lunch.

After Jonathon finished eating, I suggested we look in the basement. But Jonathon merely made a face and went to his room. I guess he didn’t want to search anymore. I kept on looking for the wig alone, but gave up after another hour.

We never found the wig. It remained one of the greatest mysteries of my childhood and I remember thinking of it often. Ms. Fleming was forced to buy another wig and I began to think that losing it was the luckiest thing Ms. Fleming ever did. Her new wig looked ten billion times better and she was happier. I didn’t understand it until I was older, but she had a confidence in her that I had never seen. 

Writing Magic

I bought the book Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine when I was in grade nine and it still helps me with my writing. I think Gail Carson Levine is one of the best children’s writers today (she wrote Ella Enchanted) and though this book is written for preteens, I find it funny, well-written, well-organized and informative for any children’s writer. This is from the first chapter:

The Writer’s Oath

I promise solemnly:

1. to write as often as much as I can,

2. to respect my writing self, and

3. to nurture the writing of others.

I accept these responsibilities and shall honour them always.

Melanoma

Ooh, a new look for my blog! I know it’s pretty simple but I really like it.

She awoke to frantic violin strains in her mind. She opened her eyes slowly, squinting in the harsh sunlight. A single dandelion seed broke from its perch and rode the barely perceptible breeze. Yet there was a silent persistence in the air. It quivered between her eyes and left visions of drums and a solitary, flickering light bulb. She brushed the stray dandelion seeds from her dress and slid off the lawn chair, the sun-hardened plastic cracking underneath her weight. She picked up the novel from the pavement and fixed the bent pages. She couldn’t remember where she left off. Sunshine and a full stomach make good sleeping pills, but are not nearly as effective as a dull novel. All three combined made for a lengthy nap that she had never intended to take. Judging by the sun’s position and the rapidly growing ache of her skin, she had been in the sun much too long. The throbbing on her arms and shoulders only added to the sense of urgency in her mind. Yet she could not understand where it originated from. On her way to the washroom to get aloe, she remembered the early morning phone call. 

Straight lines

Would anyone believe me if I said I forgot about my blog? Sorry about that. Hopefully my regular readers will forgive me.

Georgiana studied her crooked fingers, not really thinking about the way her index finger curved a bit towards the middle finger or the way her knuckles weren’t large enough to hold a ring in place unless it was a size too small. She didn’t think about how,  knowing her forgetful nature or her inability to stay stressed for too long, she would probably lose her wedding ring multiples times but she wouldn’t worry about it since things seemed to always shape up in the end. She didn’t think about whether or not a wedding ring would eventually be placed on her crooked left ring finger or who would place it there. She did not think about how most girls in their twenties thought of such important things as men, marriage and the end of the existence called singleness. She did not think about how strange she was not to worry about the things all her friends worried about.

No, as she studied her crooked fingers and her short, unpainted nails, Georgiana thought about roads. Her crooked fingers had nothing to do with roads really, but she liked to look at something when thinking about other things, just as Catholics pray facing an icon but don’t really think about the object in front of them. They think of much greater things. Her fingers acted as a focal point and, as Georgiana learned at a young age, studying ones fingers is more acceptable than staring off into nowhere. Just beyond her fingers, she imagined roads heading off into an infinite number of directions. Some roads forged ahead in straight lines while others took crooked paths; but all purposefully strove ahead towards a great many places. She saw in her mind’s eye criss-crossing paved roads creating an everlasting grid and she saw gravel chewed up by machines and placed in river-like meandering roads through cool woods and hills and mountain passes. Like the city roads, these lazy roads still went somewhere. She thought about how all roads go somewhere from somewhere; they all have a purpose. 

Then Georgiana thought about veins; her mind connected the two subjects instantly and obviously. She thought about how, like roads, veins go somewhere. They connect and act as a pathway for the transportation of important items. Just as a road connects a house to a supermarket, so a vein connects the heart to the hand. Georgiana thought about how each person is connected to others and how the whole population of humans on earth are connected. She thought that if veins are roads, or, roads are veins, then a city is a living, breathing mass of life and we are its cells. She wondered briefly if the government is then the brain, but did not like that idea. A new idea pleased her, arriving a split second after dismissing the brain thought. She figured that the government is more like the heart–the heart keeps the body running but doesn’t control it like the brain does. For a moment, Georgiana wished she knew more about the body in order to further her theory since she couldn’t quite figure out what part of the city made the brain, but before she could do any research or dwell further into that problem, a new one arose. 

“Georgiana, look through this pile please,” said her boss, Mrs. Fairly. Mrs. Fairly tapped her fingers on Georgiana’s desk as she stared down at the girl and thought about how clever her employee was and yet so strange. She bemoaned the lack of focus Georgiana displayed and wished the dark-haired, hard-working and focused Spencer was as smart as Georgiana. She made a mental note to pair the two of them on the next assignment.

Georgiana stared at the long, straight fingers tapping on the desk, the bright red polish perfectly adorning the perfectly manicured nails, before looking up at Mrs. Fairly’s face. Georgiana’s mind was still in a world of roads, but a small part of her brain heard and understood the woman’s command and her head nodded absently. That small part of her brain moved her neck and arm muscles and she looked down at the pile of coloured paper, her hand moving to pick up the first page and slant it towards her eyes for a better look. By now, her mind had replaced the criss-crossing, crooked roads with brightly coloured paper. Her lips moved of their own accord,

“What did you want me to do?” she asked, looking up, but Mrs. Fairly was gone. 

“Look them over,” whispered ever-helpful Spencer from across the aisle. 

Georgiana turned to him, eyes wide. “Oh, okay. Thanks Spence.” She looked down at the page in her hand and got to work.

He smiled largely and nodded, quickly delving into his own work, thinking that Georgiana looked especially beautiful today with her fly-away hair in braids and pins and all sorts of twists. He thought about possibly asking her if she wanted to grab a latte after work but he remembered that she was boycotting the coffee shop for some reason or other. He then thought perhaps she would join him for some gelato, but then he remembered that she was on a diet or some such thing. Then he thought that the whole business was just much too difficult and gave up altogether with a sigh.

I wrote this randomly after cleaning my room. I might continue it…we’ll see.