The Bench (A Short Play)

Well.  This is supposed to be a creative writing blog and I haven’t posted any creative writing for some time, so I decided to post a play scene which I wrote for a class.  And of course, being me, I had to make it… well, you’ll see :).

Image result for park bench

ALLISON:

(Jogging through park)  Okay.  I’m okay.  I can do this.  It’s been six months, and it’s not like I can avoid riding by this spot forever.  Besides, just because he’s usually on his bench at this time of day doesn’t mean he’ll be there now.  But even if he is there, probably nothing will happen.  He’ll just ignore me.  Or maybe he won’t see me.  It’ll be fine… it’ll be fine… And oh gosh there he is.  So much for him not being here.  Aaaand he sees me.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.

CHAD:

(Face breaking into grin and standing) Allison!  Is that you?  It’s been forever!  I can’t believe you’re here.

ALLISON:

(Continues on her way, muttering) Just ignore him, ignore him…

CHAD:

(Runs to Allison and throws arms around her.) Hey!  I missed you!

ALLISON:

(Wrenches herself away and shudders.)  Don’t touch me.  I don’t like hugs, remember?

CHAD:

But… I thought… I thought…

ALLISON:

Yes.  You were an exception.  Once.  But not anymore.

CHAD:

Umm… okay.

ALLISON:

Now let me make myself clear.  I did not run by here because I want to visit.  I ran by because this is public property and I have the right to it just like anyone else.  And because I was sick of the route I designed to ensure I would never run into you ever.

CHAD:

Oh.  I guess I was just hoping you coming by meant you were ready to be friends.

ALLISON:

How could we ever be friends?

CHAD:

Look.  I do care for you.  Deep down inside you have to care for me.  Isn’t that enough to be friends?

ALLISON:

No, quite frankly it isn’t.  No matter what, I can’t be friends with the man who abused me.

CHAD:

Allison, I never…  I’ve done a lot of things wrong in my life but I’d never abuse a woman, much less you!

ALLISON:

See!  That’s just the problem.  You refuse to admit to what you did and you expect me to just get over it and have us be best friends?  I don’t think so.

CHAD:

I never hit you.  Hell, I never even yelled.

ALLISON:

You didn’t have to.  Abuse is never about what you don’t do.

CHAD:

I just don’t see what you think I did.  No physical or emotional abuse…

ALLISON

(Smirking) Did you forget the sexual abuse?

CHAD:

(Throws hands in the air) Everything we did was consensual!  I don’t know what you’re talking about!

ALLISON:

Was it, Chad?  Was it?  Because you pushed.  And I gave in because you promised you loved me.  That we’d be together forever.  Then you turned your back on all of that.

CHAD:

Look, Al.  I’m sorry things ended the way you did.  But none of what you described was actually rape.

ALLISON:

Then what was it, Chad?  Chronic lying?  Manipulation?  Using me for sex?  Because those things seem pretty abusive to me.

CHAD:

(At a loss) But… but… I’d be there for you for anything.  Promise.

ALLISON:

Then where were you when I was trying to get over this?  Where were you the nights when I stayed up at three am crying because I missed the man I thought you were?

CHAD:

I couldn’t be there.  Not when I caused the problem.

ALLISON:

And see.  That’s why we can’t be friends.  None of your promises are ever true.  I don’t need that in my life.

CHAD:

Allison, please!  Stay!

ALLISON:

(Starts jogging again).  Good bye, Chad.  I won’t be coming by here anymore.

CW15: Espionage at the Museum

This story is a zoo.  And by zoo I do NOT mean it is about a zoo, just that it is as crazy as a zoo.  

Okay, let me explain a little more.  Last week in creative writing class, we all had to think of a word that had to do with a zoo.  Then, for our assignment, we had to put all of those words in a story.  Without writing about a zoo, of course.  I managed to do it to avoid being eaten by sharks.

I focus my binoculars on a group walking through the museum entrance.  Still no sign of the target.  In case I missed some one, I sweep my binoculars over the clusters of people milling around exhibits of stuffed birds.  Although I’ve studied each of them, I examine them again.

“Loosen up, B,” says my assigned partner, Xavier.  “Nothing’s going to happen.”

I grit my teeth.  Of all the people at Silverleaf Academy of Espionage, Xavier would be the last person I’d choose to be paired with.  “Well, this is an assignment.  And I for one choose to take my assignments seriously,” I retort, not taking my eyes off the crowd.

To pretend like I’m doing something important, I shift my focus to an old man reading about the stuffed penguin.  He’s stood there for three whole minutes.  I don’t know what he finds so fascinating about a bird that eats fish instead of birdseed.

“I’m serious B,” Xavier continues.

“Don’t call me that.”

“Okay, Beatrice.”  He takes a loud sip from his slushie.  “You can keep looking, but there won’t be any target.”

“Do you mind?” I snap, not taking my eyes off the crowd.  “We’re on a stakeout.”

He sighs.  “Yeah, yeah.  But it’s not a real stakeout if no one’s coming.  We could just sit and talk if we wanted.  Bet we could even raid the snack cart.

I roll my eyes.  “Thank you for your kind offer, but I’d sooner spend my time in cages of malodorous beasts.”

He chuckled.  “Do you try to talk like that, or does it just come out that way?”

“Do you try to be this obnoxious, or does it just happen that way?”

“You know what they say about you back at Silverleaf?”

My ears perk up, but I keep my eyes trained on the crowd so that he doesn’t realize he has my attention.

“There are rumors about everyone, you know,” he continues.  “They say Katrina’s been to jail, Frank’s killed three people, and Ethan’s scars are actually from some violent otters.  There’s some shocking story or crazy romantic history for everyone… everyone except you.”

“Really?”  As soon as the word slips out, I want to bite it back.  I’m not supposed to show any interest in what Xavier is saying, yet… I’ve heard the rumors of course, but I always believed there were equally scandalous stories floating around about me.  I’m not naive enough to believe I’d be the golden exception.

“Well… there have been some stories, but nothing interesting ever sticks.” He slurps the end of his slushie.  “Thing is, you never really do something worth gossiping about.  Your record is perfect, no failed missions.  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, you’ve never had a boyfriend.  And no one really knows the truth about your past.”

“So you were wondering if I’d tell you, so that you’d have a new story to show off when we return?” I cut him off.

“Might as well.  What else are we going to do here?”

That’s when I lose it.  I whirl around to face him, an almost feral look in my eyes.  Why do the girls at Silverleaf find his ever-present smirk and messy hair so attractive?  I’ll never know.

“What is it about a stakeout that you don’t understand?  We are not having a slumber party.  If the target does make an appearance without us realizing, there will be very serious consequences.”

If possible, his smirk becomes more pronounced.  “I think you’re the one with the confusion, B.  The target isn’t coming.  No one will.”

“You don’t know that.”

He shakes his head.  “Actually, I do.  After we were put on the same Fireteam, the leaders at Silverleaf noticed we were… incompatible, as they said it.  So they assigned us a useless mission to teach us to get along.”

“Because everyone knows we hate each other,” I finish for him, staring blankly at the wall.  Is it possible?  Would Silverleaf do something like that?

Xavier’s smirk fades slightly and his ice blue eyes adopt an almost melancholy… well, at least thoughtful look.  “No B.  Everyone knows you hate me.”

In the moment it takes my jaw to drop, he starts talking again.  “So anyway, if you report that the only thing you accomplished this mission was having a decent conversation, our instructors will be fine.  Happy even.”

“You still just don’t get it, do you?” I mutter.

He sighs, running his fingers though coarse dark hair.  “What?  What don’t I get this time?”

“Silverleaf isn’t just some fancy school I’m attending to get attention.  It’s my ticket to success.”  I’m pacing back and forth now.  It’s a little difficult with the amount of space I have, but I’ve never been able to shake the habit.  “You see, I don’t have a rich family to bribe me up to the top like you do.  I have to work my way there.  And I don’t have time to fool around with monkeys like you.  I’m too busy taking what I do seriously.”

            I glance at Xavier to see what effect my rant is having on him.  His looks just like a statue—pale and deadly still.  Did I do that to him?  No, it had to be something else.  In answer to my unspoken question, he gradually lifts an unsteady hand and points behind me.  I silently pick up my binoculars, focusing in on the area he’s pointing to.  The moment I see it, my heart stops.  It’s the target.   

Well, sorry I had to end there.  I was a little pressed for time.  But if you want, I’m open to continuing…

CW 14: Memoir in Letters and Notes

For this week’s assignment, we were to create an autobiography by choosing ten books or songs that described us or our lives.  I chose five books and five songs and ordered them chronologically.  If you want to learn too much about me, proceed reading.

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

Believe it or not, this book represents the evil side of me.  Although I loved all these stories as a child, my favorites were about the naughty animals.  Tom Kitten became my role model and I pretended to be him almost as much as I pretended to be Peter Pan.  It never occurred to me that it would be strange to pretend to be a boy; if it was only the boy characters that were naughty and went on adventures, then by golly I would pretend to be one of them.

But don’t get too worried; there is an innocent reason this book makes this list.  It is one of the first books I can remember reading, marking the beginning of my life-long love affair with books.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

Although I have not actually read this book, I still feel like it represents an important part of my life.  I am a third culture kid (TCK), which in short means that I belong in multiple cultures without belonging in any culture at all.  I’ve grown up with an American mother and a Romanian father, living in Romania while going to American schools, having dual citizenships, and hearing two languages in the home.  Needless to say, my life is a sufficient mix of both Romanian and American.  This sometimes causes difficulty and makes it hard to identify myself.  (Where am I from?)  Although it also comes with great advantages, such as experiencing other cultures in a way most people never do.

The Call

Another downside of the TCK life: people are always moving.  Just about every year since kindergarten, I’ve had to say goodbye to close friends.  I’m not a very emotional person, but this song makes me feel so bittersweet.  It so perfectly describes the sad and hopeful feelings of goodbyes.  I also love it for being on the Narnia soundtrack, as Narnia was such an important part of my childhood.

The Travel Book

One of my favorite parts of living in Europe is the ability to travel.  Since Europe is a condensed continent with rich history, hundreds of world famous tourist sights are only a road trip or a short flight away.  Some of my favorite places I’ve visited are England, Italy, and Austria.  In the future I really hope to see Norway, Ireland, and to explore the other continents.  Experiencing other cultures and places has greatly influenced me, and I plan on living in several different countries in the future.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

This is possibly my favorite hymn.  I really feel like it describes my spiritual life.  Some of my favorite lyrics are:

 Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

During worship times, I’ll admit my mind is very prone to wander.  When I hear this part of the song, it always feels like a call to focus my attention where it needs to be.

Fireflies

This was one of my favorite songs in middle school.  Although I don’t listen to it too much anymore, (there are only so many times you can listen to a song before getting tired of it, and I listened to this one literally hundreds of times) I still like its fun, bubbly sound and nonsensical lyrics.  It seems to describe how I feel when I’m in a happy or excited mood.

The Writer’s Handbook

I have never read this book either.  The reason I chose it is simple: I enjoy writing.  I’ve been thinking of ideas for stories for about as long as I can remember.  In fact, it’s a miracle I’ve passed all my classes with the amount of story planning I did in the classroom.  Throughout the years, I would go through spurts of writing.  I would think of an idea and work hard on it for a while, then move on.  About a year and a half ago, I starting taking writing much more seriously.  I was sitting on the couch thinking when a book idea suddenly came to me.  So I started writing it, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

For the First Time in Forever

Yes, I’m actually putting a Frozen song on this list.  The first time I watched the movie, I was amazed at how well Ana’s and Elsa’s emotions in this song describe my split personality.  Part of me, like Ana, hates isolation and wants to be the first person to sign up for every social event and to meet new people at every chance.  Yet another part of me, like Elsa, cringes at the thought of social interaction and wants to hide in my icy tower all day.

The Last Sunday

This is possibly the most autobiographical work I’ve written.  The characters’ relationships are almost exactly like my relationships with my friends, meaning yes, we are as mean to each other as Nadia and Aidan are.  Although that isn’t the only reason this work reflects my life.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had to deal with friends moving away many times before.  And soon (although not as soon as Nadia) I will be leaving for college.  I feel like I could have had almost this exact conversation with my friends before.

Face Up

Lights has so many relatable songs it was really hard to choose the right one.  I eventually decided on “Face Up” because it conveys so many emotions: exhaustion, stress, despair, determination, and hope.  I play this song when I feel any one of these things, or when I’m just tired and don’t feel like waking up.  As the song reminds me, I try to keep my face up, keep fighting, no matter what the situation.

Cw13: The Snow Globe

Ah, Christmas.  The time of year we gather around our families, stuff ourselves with foods, and listen to sappy stories we wouldn’t tolerate at any other time of year.  This is one of those stories, told in the form of poetry.

Note: to focus on the story, I kept rhymes simple and didn’t really do meter.

Gather ‘round boys and girls, I’ll tell you a tale

Of a young child so cheerful and sweet

It was only fitting they called her Joy,

With her smile that could light a dimly lit street.

At Christmas her charm only grew

Indeed her very heart seemed to glow,

Lighting even the darkest of souls.

No sorrow did she seem to know.

She’d skate and romp around with glee

Enchanted by each falling snowflake

“At Christmas,” she thought, “all are merry.

With loved ones ‘round, there’s no heartache.”

Though as the years went by and by

The light in her eyes slowly snuffed out

As she saw the cruelty of the world

And wondered what all its hate could be about

Further down and down she fell, into

Her own dark pit of fear and dread

Loneliness became all she knew

Dark thoughts running ‘round her head

A mere shell of the girl she once was

Joy hoped Christmastime would bring

A light to guide her through her pain

To hear just one angel sing

Yet when Christmas came, nothing did change

Sugar plums and sweets all lost their taste

Snowmen became but things that melted

The sound of bells was erased

And all this made her start to wonder

If there was nothing to Christmas after all

If the bliss she once felt was but naive

Never to return, only a melted snowball

“Alas there’s nothing left,” said she,

Growing ever closer to breakdown

Only one thing she still held dear,

A snow globe holding an enchanted town

For hours she gazed at its snow-laden streets

And its inhabitants always filled with cheer

With a soft sigh Joy said to herself,

“If I could be anywhere, it’d be here.”

On one bleak Christmas Eve she did wish,

“Please let this peaceful town be my home.”

Then slept in her bed and in the morning found

herself confined within the glass dome

At first she let out a great shout of glee

Thrilled to leave her own world of drear

for the charming little cottages,

deciding, “I think I could belong here.”

Yet upon meeting the little townsfolk

Her heart overflowed with dismay

For not a one was happier than she.

No hope in their world, only decay

Yay, each person was lonelier than the next,

Although they celebrated Christmas year round.

Nothing more did Joy want than to leave,

Yet no way out was to be found.

So she spent her days wandering about

Hoping for any means of escape

From her unbreakable prison of glass

And from her world in such a dismal shape

Hundreds of times she passed the manger scene

Sitting unmoved in the town’s square

And wondered, “Why would God send His son

to a world like this?  Why would he care?”

And in that town where the same snow fell each day

Joy kept returning to the lonely scene

Never knowing why she did, only

Wondering what such a thing could mean

After a time, she knew not how long,

Joy lost hope, letting her life ebb away

‘Till she found herself at the manger

And thought, “Perhaps I should stay.”

She wondered how there could be such a gift

And decided if there was, some hope remained.

“If God hasn’t yet given up on the world,

Then neither shall I,” was her refrain.

Joy prayed the way she did as a child

And when her eyes opened they had back their light.

She spent the day spreading mirth all around

Helping and giving with all her might

Indeed when the day came to an end

The whole town had more cheer than before

That night Joy went to sleep with more peace

And awoke back at home once more

But no, her story was not yet over,

For she found her own world a little too blue

Yet instead of withering in grief

She spread her gladness to them too

From that day forward her determination

Never wavered, even on doleful days

Joy gave hope to all, at every time of year

As proof one could survive the darkest of haze

Up upon her shelf she kept a snow globe,

Hoping she’d never forget what she learned

in that little town about the manger’s gift

Something given that could never be earned

Now if you don’t believe I speak for true

Let me say, Joy is I and I am she

Yes, dear friends, the tale I have recounted

Is in fact the story of me

Cw12: An Unusual Visitor

eeeeeeee!  Okay, I just had to let that out.  Because this week’s assignment was to write about a wedding.  Without the letter e.  My fellow creative writing students will understand that this is very hard.  Oh well, I tried my best.

First, two young girls with milky frocks and bouncy curls walk down a path, dropping parts of blossoms.  Both glow with joy, as all do today.  Grand music plays, a harp and a piano.  Photos snap.  All wait.  And…

A lass clad in an ivory gown walks forward, blossoms in hand.  A lad with a brilliant grin stands at an altar, waiting.  A crowd—family, companions, and I—watch happily.  And crying.  Always crying.

Ivory clad lass halts and turns to look at him, both radiating bliss.  A pastor says words all know, rings put on hands, vows, a kiss.  Mirth all around, all congratulating and crying as two unify.  Nothing unusual.  Just a nuptial party.

Following is dancing and food.  I probably should go now.  But a maid foils my plans and puts a halting hand on my arm.  “Can you waltz?  I’m Ivy.”

I push it off.  “No, no.  I can’t.”

“Oh, common’”

I can’t find a way out, so I waltz.  Ivy is clad in a navy gown, along with four additional maids.

“So, how do you know Ryan and Lily?” Ivy asks.

I try not to stomp on a foot.  I’m no good at this.  “Who?”

“You know.”  Ivy throws a look at ivory clad lass and grinning lad.

“Oh, I… must go.  Sorry.”  I pull away, pushing my way through.  Ivy might catch on.  I can’t allow that.

Although Ivy won’t allow it.  “Do you know Ryan or Lily?”

I shrug.  “Imaginably.”  I run off.

“Hold it!” Ivy calls.  “Wait!”

I fly out church doors.  I’m out of harm’s way now.  Not caught.  I always show up at nuptial affairs.  Why wait for an invitation?

That’s right, I just wrote about a creepy stalker who randomly crashes weddings.  Good day!  

CW 11: The Last Sunday

Our assignment this week was to write a dialogue based on the picture below.  My stories aren’t always inspired by my life, although this one was, being that this conversation is very much like one I’d have with my friends.  I hope you enjoy it!

A girl and a boy were seated across from each other on a train track, talking just as they did every Sunday afternoon.

“Curse this infernal skirt,” the girl muttered, furiously readjusting the denim across her legs.

The boy smirked.  “Seriously Nadia, don’t have to go all Shakespeare on me.”

“Aidan, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a position that doesn’t allow for anyone to look up your skirt and that’s decently comfortable?”

“Umm… no actually.  See, I don’t exactly wear skirts.”

“Oh, reeeally?  What about that picture of you in the tutu when you were three?”

The tips of his ears started to turn crimson.  “Shut up.”

“How often did you wear it again?”

“At least I’m not afraid of the train tracks,” he retorted.

“And what do you think I’m sitting on right now?”  She knocked on the iron for emphasis.

“You were pretty nervous the first few times we came here.  And you still will only sit here on Sundays when the train doesn’t come.”

She dramatically rolled her eyes.  “Well excuse me if I don’t want to get run over a train.”

“Don’t see why.”  His lips turned upward in a sideways grin.  “I mean, a hit from a train could only improve a face like yours.”

“Well!  If you ever get hit by a train, I’d feel sorrier for the train.  Just think, it could never be used again if your face was imprinted on it.”

“Of course not.  My face is so attractive that everyone would want to stare at it instead of get on.”

“More like run away screaming,” she scoffed.

He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow.  “Bet you can’t name one time someone ran away screaming at the sight of me.”

“Challenge accepted!”  Nadia grinned mischievously as she drummed her fingers on the train track.  “Let’s see… there was baby Mia.”

Aidan feigned disinterest, staring up at the bright August sky.  “Doesn’t count.  She was probably just hungry.”

“Right.  Because that explains why she stopped crying the moment someone else held her.”

“It was her mom!  Some babies stop crying when their mom holds them.”

“She didn’t cry when I held her.”

“Whatever.  Try again.”

And there was Mr. Cotton Ball.”

Aidan groaned.  “He’s a hamster.  That definitely doesn’t count.”

“It was still pretty funny how he bit your finger to get away though,” she said with a giggle.

He frowned.  “It wasn’t that funny.  Anyway, you’ve only thought of two examples so far, although neither of them should count.”

She gave a dramatic sigh.  “Pity.  It seems that no one had the good sense to run away at the sight of you except for… Carla!”

His eyes widened with horror.  “Wait!  What do you mean?”

“Oh, please don’t tell me you’ve forgotten.”

“Forgotten what?”

Nadia gained a sudden interest in her fingernails.  “Oh, you don’t really want to know.  You would probably say it doesn’t count anyway.”

“Please tell me,” Aidan begged, fidgeting with curiosity.  “Has she mentioned something I’ve done? I mean, not that she’d umm… mention me.  Has she?  Not that I really care.  Umm, you know never mind.”

Nadia’s body shook with a hysterical fit of giggles.  “Some one’s opinion of pretty little Carla has changed over the years, hasn’t it?”

He hid his face in his baseball cap.  “How, how do you always figure these things out?”

“You just happen to be easier to read than Green Eggs and Ham.”

“Okay.  Whatever.  Just what story were you going to tell about her?”

“You remember the time you walked into church with a frog?”

Aidan rolled his eyes.  “My gosh Nadia, that was ages ago.  I was like, what, five?”

“Six,” she corrected.  “Which meant you were old enough to know better, and certainly old enough to keep it from jumping on Carla’s dress.”

“I told her I was sorry.”

“Only after mom made you.  When she ran out of the room crying and screaming, you just laughed.”

He pursed his lips.  “Do you think she still remembers?”

“Oh, I know she does.  She was just complaining about it the other day.”

“Seriously?!”  He half jumped from his seat.

Nadia laughed.

“That’s not funny!” he insisted, his voice edgy.

“Okay, so she didn’t.  But I’ll bet you anything she still remembers.”

“Whatever.”  Aidan was quiet for a second, then his face lit up.  “That time she was really running away because of the frog and not me, so I still won the bet.”

“What do you mean!?  I gave three examples.”

“None of them counted.”

“But you have to let me win,” she reminded him with a smile and a friendly punch on the shoulder.  “This is my last Sunday here.”

His jaw dropped.  “What?!”

Nadia put her face in her hands, rubbing her temples.  “Someone didn’t already tell you?  I thought you would know by now.”

“Know what?”

She lifted her head and looked Aidan in the eye.  “I’m going to college.”

“Yeah, I know, next year…”

“No Aidan.  Gosh, how do you not already know about this?  I know it was a last minute decision, but I thought you at least would have caught on by now…”

“What is it?  Just tell me!” he interrupted frantically.

She sighed heavily.  It was too beautiful an afternoon to talk about this.  Though some one had to tell him.  “You know how I have enough credits to graduate a semester early?”

“Yeah…”  Aidan’s heart beat rapidly in his chest.  So yeah, Nadia was some kind of a great, overachieving student.  But what did that have to do with this?  What was she going to say?

“Well, instead of moving half way through the year or just sticking around second semester, I’m going to leave early.  I’ll be moving in with Grandma and Grandpa, taking some classes at a community college, and maybe earning some money to avoid college debt.”

Small tears of hurt and disbelief began to form at the corner of Aidan’s eyes.  “What!  You’re seriously leaving?  Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

“How long did you know this?”

“Only for about a week.  It took some convincing for Mom and Dad, but they gave in.”  Nadia stared at the train track.  She felt so sure about her decision before, but now she felt horrible.

“So you want to go?”

“Yeah.  I mean, it’ll be a bit hard leaving everyone behind, but it’s for the best.”

“For the best?  Leaving me here is for the best?”

“Aidan,” she said softly.

“You’re seriously going to do this?  You’re going to go.  You’re going to leave me.”  He stared ahead dejectedly, looking past Nadia as if she wasn’t there.

“You knew I was going to be gone anyway.  In two years, you’ll be going, too.”

“I know, but… early?”

“People move on.  They go to college.  It’s a part of life,” Nadia said.  She spoke to herself as much as she did to Aidan.

He sighed.  “I know but… still.”

“Hey, listen.  Just because I’m going doesn’t mean you get rid of me entirely.  You better keep in touch understand?  If you don’t, I’ll send Carla a frog with a note attached saying it’s from you.  Got it?  And don’t think I won’t do it.”

The corners of his lips lifted in a weak smile.  “I don’t doubt it.”

“Good.”  She held out her hand to shake.  “Still friends then?”

Aidan reached out and shook it.

CW 10: Another World

Some of my creative writing I like some of it I want to hide in the closet never to be seen again.  This falls squarely in the latter category.  Perhaps it is because I have so much trouble writing about myself.  Anyway, I decided to take a trip to Narnia with this assignment and meet Aslan.

Note: King Gale, one of the characters in my story, actually was mentioned in the books.  You can read about him here.  Any other character mentioned, with the exception of Aslan, is my creation.

 

I sighed contently, staring out at the jagged white cliffs overlooking the pristine sea.  The sun was just starting to slide behind the horizon, giving the water a charming orange glow.  Soon the stars would come, glowing more brilliantly than they ever did in my world.  When I first came to Narnia, I think it was the stars that surprised me the most.  The only stars I was used to seeing were little pinpricks in the sky blotted out by light pollution.  Now, whenever I closed my eyes and tried to envision the stars from my world, the Narnian constellations blotted out the memory.

“What are you thinking of?” my friend, King Gale, asked from behind.

“Home,” I answered honestly, not moving my gaze.

He leaned against the castle wall next to me.  “You speak little of your world.  Tell me of it.”

“It’s different than Narnia,” I started.

“You mean because the only creatures are humans and dumb animals.”

I smiled slightly.  It always amused me how shocking Narnians found this.  “More than that.  It’s an old world, much older than yours.  The humans have built more and changed the land.  But that’s not all.  There’s something about Narnia… maybe it’s the magic or different air, but it just feels different.”

We fall into silence.  I’m not sure what else to say.  Only a person who had been to both worlds could really understand.

“Interesting,” he mused.  “I think I shall like to see it someday.”

“What did you come to tell me?” I asked, changing the subject.  “You sought me out for a reason.”

Gale’s bright green eyes lit up.  “I think tomorrow we should hunt for the white stag.”

I laughed.  “We’ve returned to Cair Paravel but a week ago and you already have an adventure planned?  I thought surely slaying a dragon would do you in for a few months.”

“Ah, you should have assumed no such thing.  Dawn would likely be the best time to leave.  We could then make our way to the woods near the lamppost… although I will insist you always stay near the hunting party.  We both know you too easily get lost.”

We laughed a little, but there is slight tension in the air.  My first trip to Narnia was when Gale and I were both children.  Together with Everlast the unicorn and Robin the talking horse, we learned everything there was to know about surviving a battle and fought to dispatch a band of Boggles.  Though shortly after that, I disappeared back into my own world.

Gale was never sure what became of me until the dragon invaded the lone islands and he used a magical horn to call for help, causing me to inexplicably reappear in Narnia.  It was a strange reunion, as Gale had aged several more years than I.  In the time that passed, he had been crowned king and married Princess Aelizia of Archenland.

Suddenly, Aelizia burst through the door, her dark curls askew from running.  Gale reached for his sword.  “What’s happened?”

Her eyes were wide with excitement and disbelief.  “The great lion Aslan has come!  From the window in my bedchamber I could see him walking along the beach.”

Without another word of discussion, the three of us rushed to the scene.  An unnamable feeling tingled inside of me.  I had heard countless legends of the Lion, yet never seen him face to face.  What would it be like to stand before one so great?  When Aslan did come into view, I was left speechless.

He wasn’t the largest lion I had ever seen—I suppose he can appear as he chooses—yet he was by far the most majestic animal I had ever come across, and I have never seen the likes of him since.  After a moment of awe, Aelizia turned to me.  “I think… I feel he wants to speak with you.”

I nodded slowly.  I didn’t know how, but I certainly felt Aslan was waiting for me.

“What holds you?  Go!” Gale insisted, pushing me forward.  Slightly dazed, I silently made my way to the great lion, bowing when I had reached him.

“Rise, daughter of Eve,” he commanded.

I slowly drew myself to my feet, brushing off my dress.  I could sense Aslan was powerful, easily powerful enough to destroy me, yet he didn’t.  Perhaps this was what gave me the courage to look him in the eye.  Once I did so, I immediately felt more at ease.  There was such great care in his eyes I knew I could trust him.

“Did you wish to speak with me?” I finally asked.

“I come to give you a choice,” he answered gravely.

Although there was no chill in the air, I felt a slight shiver.  “A choice?”

“It is time, daughter of Eve, for you to return to your world.”

“Oh.”  My heart sank deep into the sand.  I stared out at the sea, ignoring the mermaids at play.  Perhaps there were some things I missed about home, yet… Narnia was home, too.  If I left, it would go on and change without me just as it had the last time, while my world would stay exactly the same until I was ready to return.  “When will I come back?”

Aslan’s deep brown eyes returned my pleading expression with one of melancholy calm.  “There will be no return this time, daughter of Eve.”

I wanted to scream, to cry, to shoot something.  But I just stood.  “Why?” I choked.

“You have surpassed the age which I allow to cross between worlds.  It is time for you to choose between them.”

I turned away from him, looking out at Narnia’s beautiful landscape.  “And what happens if I choose here?”

“Time in your world will go on without you and those who you’ve left behind will not know what became of you.”

I buried my face in my hands.  I couldn’t bear to leave Narnia.  I felt like I belonged there more than anywhere else, and there were so many I cared about, yet… I couldn’t leave the people in my world, no matter how much I wanted to stay here.  It wouldn’t be right.  “You think I should go, don’t you?”

Aslan lay a heavy paw on my shoulder.  “I do believe it is the right choice, although I will allow you to choose it for yourself.”

I started furiously pacing, torn by the situation and resentful of Aslan for putting me in it. “Why?  Why must I go now?  Can I not stay longer?”

“Such things are not in your control, daughter of Eve.  This is the time I’ve chosen for you, and you must trust it.”

“Why do I have to return?  Why now?”

“Your battle here is over, now you have a new one to face.”

Finally I sank down at Aslan’s side.  I knew he was right.  This was a battle I had to face; I couldn’t run away from it.  “What ails you, daughter of Eve?” he asked gently.

“I just… I just wish I could put everyone I care about from both worlds in one place.  I’m tired of always missing someone.  I don’t want to say another goodbye.”

“There is a world like the one you envision, although it is not your time to journey there yet.”

I slowly stood up.  “In your kingdom?”

“Yes.”

Despite my sorrow, a small smile played on my lips.  I would see my friends again, albeit in another world.  I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath of Narnian air.  “I’m ready.”

My eyes flew open.  I was back.  I was back in the world of school and skyscrapers, where the stars formed completely different constellations.  I looked around my room that felt less like home and brushed off the worn pair of jeans that had replaced my Narnian raiment.  No, there were no dragons here to slay, but Aslan was right; there were still battles ahead.

CW9: Layover at Schiphol

Some times when I look around me in a crowded place I wonder “Who are these people?  What are their stories, their heartbreaks?  What is their life like?” It’s easy to forget that those passing by are more than just faces; each of them have a story as complex as the next.

For this assignment we were to write four different perspectives of the same setting.  I chose to write about Shiphol airport in Amsterdam because in airports, there are people from all over the world, each with completely different stories, and I also happen to be familiar with Shiphol.  There were several stories I could have told, but four that stood out the most…

   

Asher didn’t know what time it was.  Or what day it was.  What he did know was that he was far away from home—which was where daddy still was—and that he was still far away from America—which was where they were going.  He decided visiting America couldn’t possibly be worth all this trouble.  From what he remembered, it was all just a bunch of aunties, uncles, and cousins he didn’t remember, a lot of grown-ups who wanted to tell him how much he had grown, and visiting more churches than he could count.

On top of all this, the baby was crying.  “Mommy, can you please tell Becky to be quiet?” he begged.

She gave him a look of pure exhaustion.  “I’ve been trying Asher.  She’s just really tired and fussy right now.  It’s been a long day.”

“I’m tired, too.”

“I know you are, honey.  We’re all tired.  Do you want some cereal?  Maybe some food will give you a little energy.”

Asher scrunched his face in confusion.  “Is it breakfast time?”

She laughed a little.  “Well, here it’s afternoon, but your body thinks it’s the middle of the night.”

“No, I don’t want food,” he decided.  “When will the plane come?”

“Soon.”

“How soon?”

“I don’t know, honey.  They’re having a delay.”

“Why do we even have to go to America?  I want to go home,” he complained.

“We have to go visit all the people who give us money so that we can be missionaries,” she explained patiently.  “And we want to visit our relatives.  Just wait until they see how much you’ve grown.”

Asher frowned.  He thought she’d say something like that, but he wasn’t sure why seeing people in America meant he had to wait in the airport in the middle of the night with a screaming baby sister.  “Why can’t daddy be with us?” he asked.  If mommy couldn’t make the airplane come faster, maybe daddy could.

“Believe me Asher, I wish he was here too.  But daddy had some work to do back home.  He’ll be with us soon,” mommy said, unsuccessfully patting Becky on the back.

“And when will we get to go back home?”

“Soon enough,” mommy sighed.  “Soon enough.”

Asher mournfully looked out the window.  Because when grown-ups said soon, it always really meant in a long time.

Everything was a blur to Tess.  She had been wearing the same outfit for forty eight hours, yesterday’s makeup was smeared across her face, and her hair hadn’t seen a comb since… she didn’t know how long.  It all started two days ago when she got the phone call: her sister Lotte was dead.  The police said it was suicide.  But there was no note, no sign of depression.  Or at least as far as Tess knew.  They hadn’t spoken in years.

Lotte, although almost the spitting image of Tess, was her polar opposite.  Tess wouldn’t dare step out of line; Lotte was a rebel.  Tess was shy and insecure; Lotte was the life of the party.  Although Tess admired her elder sister, there was also a little resentment.  It wasn’t easy to live in the shadow of someone like Lotte.  Yet the sisters were fairly close until… until the fight.

She remembered it like it was yesterday.  Lotte wanted to go see the world together, but Tess said they couldn’t leave their mother, who never quite recovered from father’s death, to fend for herself.  After a few hours of yelling, cold glares, and slamming doors, Lotte finally packed her bags and left, never to look back.

In the years that passed, Tess married and had children, though she heard from relatives that Lotte didn’t do the same.  No surprise there.  Lotte was a free spirit.  A few times Tess thought about calling her to say she was sorry, that she still loved her.  She never picked up the phone, always thinking there would be time.  Now…

Well, now she and her two small children were traveling to America for her sister’s funeral.  America.  Tess never thought she would go there, and certainly not under these circumstances.  I’m coming, Lotte, she thought.  I never could say no to you for long.

“Mama,” her daughter Fenna asked, bringing her back to reality.  “When will the plane be here?”

Tess wearily rubbed her temples.  “Yes, it will be here soon.”

“Is there anything to do here?” Lucas complained.

“See over there?”  Tess pointed to a family sitting across from them—the one with the crying baby.  “There’s a boy about your age.  Go talk to him.  Practice your English.”

After her children scampered off, Tess forgot about them and the other family until she heard someone talking to her.  “Ja?” she answered, looking up to find the woman with the baby.  She was holding out food.

“This is for your children,” the other traveling mother answered in American English.  “They’ll be hungry.”

“Thank you,” Tess said, feeling slightly stunned as she handed the food to her children.  “I just… I thought the plane would feed them.”

“Nope.  Plane food is yucky!” chimed in the American boy, making a face.

“Well, I always try to plan ahead,” the mother said with a laugh.  “Are you traveling alone?”

“Yes,” Tess answered.  “My husband… had to stay in the country for work.”

“I understand that.  Let me know if you need any help.”

Tess nodded.  And for the first time in several days, a small smile crossed her face.

Emma kept having to pinch herself to make sure it was real.  All the people, the sights, the sounds.  It was even more than she’d imagined.  In a world so big she was nothing but a small thread on the edge of a fraying cloth, a fly on the wall.  While it was overwhelming, there was comfort in it, too.  Because hopefully, just hopefully, a world so big would be able to swallow her past and everything else she wanted to leave behind.  Because the only thing as big as the world was her future.  That’s what Ruben had said.

With quiet fascination, Emma’s eyes flitted across the crowd of people.  None of them seemed to be like her.  There were business people reading their newspapers and checking their watches.  There were tourists wearing t-shirts decorated with windmills and clogs.  There were people snoring in their chairs, exhausted after the travel.  Finally her eyes rested on a group of three children, giggling as they tossed pieces of cereal in their mouths.

They most certainly weren’t like her.  She could tell from the blasé way they handled the food, as if it was a simple commodity, something to be taken for granted.  And for them it probably was.  But not for Emma.  She knew all too well what it was like to live with a perpetual hollowness, an incessant gnawing at the inside of her stomach.  She knew what it was to live in the dark and the dust of poverty, swearing to herself every day that she would do anything, anything to break the mold, to get out.

Because that had been her life.  At least, before Ruben came.  Ruben was an angel right out of a dream.  He chased away all the dark shadows of Emma’s past and told her he loved her—really loved her.  More than that, he was going to give her a future, the ticket out she always dreamed of.  Together they got her a Visa and bought a plane ticket to America, where some of Ruben’s friends would hire her.

Emma glanced at her left hand.  Ruben promised her there would be rings.  After they met up in America and worked to have the money for a family, of course.  She sighed contently and closed her eyes.  Just one more flight and she would be free.

John sipped his coffee while scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed.  It was good, but he’d had better.  His phone beeped with an incoming notification—someone else liked a picture from his trip.  Man, Amsterdam was awesome.  He’d had so much fun touring the city in the last few days.  The sights, the drinks, all the windmills and tulips—it was great.  He even did the Anne Frank House and a few museums.  Had to do some educational stuff.

The city of Amsterdam

What was not so great was the layover in the airport.  Especially with the crying baby.  Really, could that mom not get her kid to shut up?  Oh well, airports were the downside of traveling.  Though with all the fun he had, it was totally worth it.  Where would he go next trip?  Beijing maybe.  He hadn’t seen a lot of Asia, but then again, an African safari sounded epic…

His musings were interrupted by a voice saying it was time to board the plane.  Well, it was about time.  Brushing off his bright orange tourist shirt, John put the phone in his pocket and dragged the battered suitcase behind him to the back of the line.  For a moment he thought about pulling out his phone again, then he decided to listen to the people around him instead.  Why not?  Sometimes people in airports said interesting things.

A Dutch lady with her two kids were boarding the plane.  Man, she looked like she had seen better days.  Right behind her was the mom with the crying baby.  It was starting to calm down now, though John had a sneaking suspicion it wouldn’t last.  “How was your trip ma’am?” the flight attendant asked the mother.

She looked confused for a moment, then she laughed.  “Great.  It was great.”  She shook her head as she pulled her kids and luggage down the aisle.  Hmm… her reaction was kind of strange.  Probably delirious from traveling.

Finally the girl in front of him started to board.  It was the first time John really noticed her; she didn’t stand out at first, but once you looked closer…  She couldn’t be more than fifteen years old.  Where were her parents?  And was that tiny bag all she had?

The flight attendant bit her lip, eyeing the girl’s scruffy clothes.  “Are you traveling alone?” she asked.  The girl put her head down and nodded, walking quickly past.  Moody teenagers.

“Finally,” John muttered, pulling his bag onto the plane.

The flight attendant gave him a strained smile.  “Are you ready to go home sir?”

“Hey, you could tell!  Flight attendant’s intuition?”  John grinned broadly, but the flight attendant made no response.  “Umm… well yeah, I’m ready.  I mean, Amsterdam was cool and all, but America is well… home.”

“Good.  Move along now,” she ushered him.  As John headed down the aisle he thought he heard her say something to her colleague about ignorant tourists.  He shook his head in disgust.  Who was she to judge him?  It wasn’t like she knew anything.

CW8: Two Hours and Fifty Nine Minutes

For this week, I was allowed to write what I chose.  Alas, only so much of a story can be confined within a few pages.  I have given you a setting, some characters, and part of a plot.  The rest, dear reader, I shall leave up to you.

One hour and thirty minutes left.

The motley figure of a girl darted through the drab streets, ignoring the frigid air biting at the end of her nose and her fingertips.  Slush splattered with every step she took, seeping into the boots that had worn thin years ago.  Esa kept her eyes fixed on the ground’s mundane blanket of grey.  Please.  Please.  Please, she thought with every footfall.  There was so much at risk, her life being the least of her concerns.

After several sharp turns in the maze of dark alleys, she gave in to the intense curiosity gnawing away in her.  Reaching into her threadbare slate colored coat, she pulled out a circular golden watch, unconsciously caressing the swirled script engraved on its back.  It was her name—her full name—Esperance.  Still running full stride, Esa glanced down at the watch’s face.  Good.  There was still time, though it was well past curfew.  If the soldiers found her now, she was as good as dead.

The walls on either side of the street were painted over with propaganda, pictures of the Father smiling at Esa from all sides.  They were all labeled with some slogan.  A brighter tomorrow.  The Father will take care of you.  An equal future for all.  Did Esa believe them?  Not a one.  If they were true, there would be no risking her life every day for information.  There would be no smuggling innocent prisoners.  There would be none of this.

Esa quickened her pace.  If Roland’s maps were correct, the soldiers would be coming this way soon—and Roland’s maps were always correct.  Roland.  She couldn’t afford to think about him, yet his name painfully resonated in her every thought.  Esa blinked, and she was caught in another time, only a few days ago.

“Nice one Es,” Roland said with his usual quirked grin.  The one that always appeared cheerful in even the most dismal times.

            She hid her smile.  “You say that like I just scored a soccer goal rather than found a route to smuggle the prisoners.”

“Honestly Es, I’d be more surprised to hear you scored a goal than to hear you’d brought down the Father and his entire armies.”

Esa was abruptly brought out of her daydream by the sound of pounding footsteps.  She cursed herself for her carelessness.  Those were soldiers’ footsteps if she’d ever heard them, and there was nowhere to hide.  With nothing else to do, Esa threw herself into the shadows and curled herself up as small as she could.

She could just make out the faint ticking of her watch.  Tick tock tick tock.  Counting down the time left.  But Esa was not going to die yet.  She knew how to handle the soldiers if they found her.  And if they wouldn’t listen, well… Esa reached for the knife hidden in the folds of her coat.  If it came to it, she would go down fighting.

One by one, the soldiers mechanically marched past, staring straight ahead.  Good.  Don’t look.  Just do your job.  I’m not here, she silently pleaded.  There were only a handful left now.  A few seconds and they would be gone from view.  Ten, nine, eight, seven… a soldier stumbled and dropped his light, casting strange shadows down Esa’s alley.  There had to be one.

“Oi!  What’s that there!” he called.

And that would be my cue to leave, Esa thought, springing up and taking off faster than a jackrabbit.  She recklessly wove through the alleys and backstreets until she was sure she had lost anyone who could be on her trail.  Heaving a sigh of relief, she leaned against the wall to catch her breath.  With luck, they would think she was only a stray dog.  Esa looked at the watch again.

One hour left.

            After the detour, she would have to move twice as quickly if she was going to make it.  Yet she would do it.  She had to.  Without further ado, Esa resumed her quest just as puffy white snowflakes started falling from the sky.  Just my luck, she thought.  It hasn’t snowed in months, and now a storm is brewing.

By the time Esa stumbled to her destination, there was a full blown blizzard.  She could scarcely see her hand when she put it to her face, let alone see if anyone had arrived before her.  To no avail, she searched the area and called his name.  She was alone.  With a shaking red hand, Esa pulled out her watch.

Ten minutes left.

“Maybe he just isn’t here yet,” she muttered to herself, pulling her scruffy coat tighter around her.  Esa closed her eyes and once again entered the past, this time to only a few hours before.

“You have to go, Es.”  Roland stared intensely into her eyes, not a hint of his usual playfulness there.  This was life or death.

Esa squeezed his hand to the point of pain.  “There has to be a better way.”

“If we don’t split, both of us will die.  This way…”

“Don’t talk that way, Roland.  Don’t.  We’ll both live.  Promise me.”

He nodded slowly.  “In three hours’ time, we’ll meet at that tree—the one at the edge of the city.  If I’m not there, you know I was either captured or killed.  Same for you.”

“Okay,” she agreed, reluctantly pulling away.  It wasn’t much, but it was all she had to hang on to.

Esa forced her eyes open, staring out into the grey world.  She had done her part now.  She had lived and run to the tree.  Only time would tell if Roland could do the same.  Time is the cruelest of masters, she thought.  With nothing else to do, Esa stared at the face of her watch, feeling part of herself ebb away with every ticking second.  Tick tock tick tock.

Finally she clicked the watch shut and stored it away.  Never in her life had she felt so small, yet never in her life had she felt so determined not to give up.  Roland’s words echoed relentlessly in her mind.  In three hours’ time, we’ll meet at that tree—the one at the edge of the city.  If I’m not there, you’ll know I was either captured or killed.

Because that was what he’d promised her.  Two hours and fifty nine minutes ago.