Free-Write Friday: Fade Away

Technically, this was the freewrite from last week, but it has taken us both a while to get this one written. For those of you who don’t know, Free-Write Fridays are when Jake and I pick a writing prompt to write a post. We don’t get to see what the other person has written until after we post, so any similarities are just proof that I am actually a figment of Jake’s imagination.

So this prompt was Jake’s personal challenge to me. “You are dying. How are you dying and what do you do?”

Jessa was driving home from the movies one winter night with her little sister Tara. It was snowing, and it was late. They didn’t see the semi until it was too late. Jessa died on impact. This is Tara’s story.

My head hurts. Who am I kidding? My everything hurts. I hear voices. My mom and dad! And someone else. I try to open my eyes but nothing happens. I focus on what the Someone Else is saying. Something about brain swelling, internal injuries, and more generally unpleasant stuff. He sounds like a doctor. I wonder who he is talking about. Mom is crying. Mom never cries. I try to focus more on what the doctor is saying but I’m getting tired. The voices fade away.

The voices are back! Or rather, one voice: my dad. I think he is sitting next to me. He sounds exhausted. I wonder again what’s going on. He’s telling be to be strong and to hold on. What is going on? I am more aware of my body now. I don’t hurt as much as before. I seem to be in some sort of hospital bed. There is a machine beeping steadily by my head. I think dad is holding my hand. I try to squeeze his hand to reassure him that I’m okay, but nothing happens. I’m starting to get scared now. Dad is talking again. “You’ll be okay. You have to be okay. God please don’t take both of my daughters.” My blood runs cold. Both. What happened to Jessa? Is she… No. She’s invincible. Nothing can be wrong with her. She’s my big sister. My best friend. We do everything together. She’s not dead. No. Both…

I try to remember that last time I saw Jessa. She had just come home for Christmas break. She is a freshman in college, so I don’t get to see her as often. We went to a movie the night she came home. I think… It was snowing… The world fades away again.

The voices are back, but softer now. The doctor is talking about time, about letting go, saying goodbye. I’m scared. I don’t want to go anywhere. Mom and Dad are crying. I don’t think they are ready to say goodbye either. I hold on. I try to be strong for them. For Jessa. Their voices fade away…

It’s late. I don’t know how I know, but I do. Mom is sitting next to my bed, holding my hand. I think she’s asleep. It seems like the voices come less often now. For the first time in what feels like forever, I don’t hurt at all. Mostly I’m just tired. Mom stirs. She says something. “I love you Sweetheart.” I want to say it back. I need to say it back. I need to tell her that I’m okay. That it will all be okay. I don’t hurt anymore. I don’t want her and dad to hurt. It’s time for me to let go, but I need to say goodbye. I focus all my energy on the hand still in my mother’s grasp. If I can just do something so she knows. My whole world has become our hands. I dig down and gather any remaining strength I have left. Anything I can use to move my hand. Slowly I am able to close my hand, just a little. My mom immediately stops what she is doing and yells for Dad. He comes rushing in and grabs my other hand. They are both talking at once. They are excited. They think I am waking up. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all. I’ve used up all of my energy, and I’m already drifting. It feels… final. Somehow I know this will be that last time I hear their voices.

This time it’s me that fades away.

Free-Write Friday: Then and Now

Hello, and welcome to another Free-Write Friday! For those of you who don’t know, each week Jake and I pick a Writing Prompt from 642 Things to Write About. We write separately, and have no idea what the other is writing until after we both post. This means any similarities are just proof that I am in fact a psychic. (Just kidding, but how cool would that be?) After I’m done, I will update and put a link to his here.

This week’s prompt! *drum roll please*

Write about a character at two very different ages in his or her life. Describe one day at each age.

Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. 

I roll over and shut off my alarm clock. 6:00. Ugh. No one should have to get up this early. Not on their birthday. I am about to close my eyes and sleep and few more minutes when I hear a knock at the door. Before I can even sit up, the door opens and my little brother bursts in and jumps on my bed, landing on me. “Ouch, get off Ryan!” I push him off my legs as I sit up and he lands on the floor.

“Happy Birthday Calla!!!!” He gets up, unphased, and brushes himself off. He can be a real pain sometimes, but he’s only eleven, so I put up with him. I look behind him, to where my parents are still standing in the doorway. My mom is holding a plate of pancakes with a  lit candle stuck haphazardly in the middle, wax already dripping down the side.

“Happy Birthday sweetheart,” she says, handing me the plate. “Make a wish.”

I close my eyes, thinking about what could make my sweet sixteen the best ever. I blow out the candle. When I open my eyes, I see that my dad is holding a small silver box with purple ribbon. I try not to get my hopes up too much, but the box is just the right size…

He must have seen my look, because he hands over the package, a poorly concealed look of excitement on his face. I set my pancakes down next to me, then rip into the box. Inside is a small metal teddy bear on a keychain. I pull it out to examine it. “I thought it would be useful so you don’t lose these,” he holds up a set of car keys. “Go look outside.”

I run to the window and see a brand new silver car sitting in the driveway. The bright red bow on top gets rid of any doubt I had that this is mine. “Oh thank you, thank you SO much!” I run back and hug my parents.

“Hey! I did the bow!” Ryan crosses his arms and pouts. I reach over and ruffle his hair.

“Thanks Ryan, it’s beautiful.”

I usher them out so I can get ready, eating my pancakes as I go. A half hour later I am showered, dressed, and in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to tame the rat’s nest I call hair. Everything has to be perfect for my party tonight. I mean, it’s not every day a girl celebrates her 16th birthday. Twenty more minutes, and I am finally ready to walk out the door.

I drop Ryan off on my way to Millroad High School. Everyone in the parking lot admires my new car, as they should; it’s a great car. School is the same as ever: my friends wish me a happy birthday, classes go on, all in all a pretty boring day. I can’t wait ’til I am out of here. As I walk past the office on my way to sixth period, I notice the tv blaring the news. I can’t hear what the reporter is saying, but they keep showing clips from various cities across the world, all with one thing in common: they were burned to the ground.

**Five Years Later**

The sun is just peeking out over the horizon as I scan the area once more. I am on lookout, halfway through a four hour shift. From my perch, I can see for miles around. There are a few trees, like the one I am sitting in, but mostly it’s just rubble as far as I can see. I settle back into my branch.

In an alternate world, I would just be a typical college student, psyched to finally be 21. Here it’s just another day of survival. It’s no good to dwell on what might have been. I’m just lucky to be alive.

I can’t believe that five years have passed since everything began. I don’t remember which country started it; it doesn’t matter now anyway. What matters is that everyone joined in, and no one stopped until it was too late. The entire world was reduced to ruins. Almost everyone is gone. Those who were ‘lucky’ enough to survive now scavenge and fight every day to stay that way.

I pull a tattered metal keychain out of my pocket. It’s a teddy bear, scratched up and missing a few limbs, but still solid in my hand. It’s the last thing I have from my parents. They gave it to me on my 16th birthday, the last time I ever saw them. I put it back in my pocket. My watch is almost over.

There is a door laying on the ground under my tree. To anyone who happens by, it simply looks like part of the wreckage. But behind that door lies the only refuge I have left. A modified storm shelter now serves as ‘home’ to me, my brother, and a few other teenagers. My new family.

The door moves. Someone is coming out.

My brother climbs up to my branch and sits down next to me. “Happy Birthday, Calla,” he says quietly. He holds out his hand, and drops something into my palm. A Hershey’s Kiss.

“Where did you get this?!” I ask. It is rare to find any store-bought food anymore, let alone candy.

“Taylor and I found it when we went scavenging the other day,” he explains. “I told him you were turning 21, and he thought you should have it.”

“Let’s share it,” I respond, pulling out my knife and cutting the chocolate in half. We may never see chocolate again, so Ryan takes his half gratefully.

“Make a wish,” he says plopping the candy in his mouth.

My hand drifts to the key chain resting in my pocket. I don’t bother closing my eyes; there is no way my wish could come true. Not anymore.

Free Write Friday: Stevie the Houseplant

Time for a another Free Write Friday!

Every week Jake and I pick a writing prompt from the book, 642 Things to Write About. We write for one hour and post the results. We have no idea what the other will write until we are done, so any similarities are entirely coincidental.

“A houseplant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live.”

Come on Stevie. Don’t die on me! I know we haven’t always seen eye to ey–  uh– leaf, but you can’t die. You bring life into this apartment. We’ve been through so much together, haven’t we? No? Well maybe you’re right. But if you won’t do it for me, do it for my roommate. She loves you like a son! She’s the one who gave you your name. I know she left on vacation, but that doesn’t change anything!

I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you. I know I should have watered you more often, or like, at all, but here’s some water now! You’ll get better, right?

If you stay alive, I promise I will water you every day, and I won’t let the cat use your pot as a litter box anymore. I’ll even remember to open the blinds and let the sun in every now and then! I just need you to stay alive!

My roommate will be back tomorrow, and you can’t be dead. Just hold on til then, okay?

Free Write Friday: Week 2

This week it was Jake‘s turn to pick the writing prompt. For the purposes of not ruining the ending for you, I won’t tell you what the prompt was until the end, but here is my short story that resulted.

 

Jett scanned the park again from his hiding place in the trees. Children were playing on the playground, a couple was walking their dog, an old man was absentmindedly tossing popcorn to a few pigeons, and another was reading a newspaper, but no sign of her. No sign of the cops either, which was good; maybe she didn’t call them.

Jett had almost given up hope when finally a nervous-looking woman with an oversized bag came walking up the path near the two old men. She glanced around and, satisfied no one was watching, she shoved her bag into a trashcan, before quickly walking back the way she came.

Jett scanned the area once more. No one seemed to have noticed anything strange. The kids must have been part of a school group, because they were loading a bus. The couple with the dog had long since vanished. The only people left were the old men on the benches. The one with the newspaper was squinting, holding the paper inches from his face in attempt to read it. The other looked as if he was falling asleep. Jett decided to risk it; these two were hardly a threat, and he wanted to get this over with. He sent a quick text message: Standby with the kid, I’m about to get the money, and started down to the path. Nonchalantly he paused at the trashcan and peered in. The bag was further down than he had thought. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and then reached in to grab the bag. It was stuck on something, so he reached his other hand in and pulled. It came free, and he was about to walk away when he heard the unmistakable click of a gun. He froze.

“NYPD, turn around with your hands up!”

Jett turned around slowly and saw the two old men steadily pointing guns at him. The newspaper and popcorn were forgotten on the ground.

“Jett Powers, you are under arrest for the kidnapping of Rebecca Dawson.”

Across the park, Jett could see more police officers arresting his partner, while a small girl rushed into her mom’s arms. They were busted.

 

Writing Prompt:

“Never underestimate the lives of old men sitting on park benches.”

Writing Wednesday: My Novel Inspiration

Hey guys!

So, I am working on writing a novel. The inspiration for my book actually came from a writing prompt I posted a few months ago on another blog of mine. It started as a way to avoid doing homework, but I liked the story and I kept thinking about what would happen next. I started back up on it about a month ago, and I am now in the process of rewriting it to fit a full-length plot line. Here is the original writing prompt and my response.

‘You wake up by the side of the road lying next to a bicycle, with no memory and no wallet. What happens in the next hour?’

Everything hurt. A lot. That was all that was going through my head as I tried to get my bearings. I realized I was on the ground, with my eyes closed. I was vaguely aware of someone kneeling beside me, talking to someone.

Slowly I opened my eyes, squinting against the fading sunlight. There was a strange girl leaning over me, concern obvious on her face. Behind her was a young boy who looked as if he had just seen a ghost.

“Are you okay?” the girl asked, “We saw what happened, that jerk didn’t even stop!”

“What did happen?” I groaned, struggling to sit up. A wave of pain hit me, and I clutched my head. A rather large bump was starting to form on the back of my skull.

“Well, you were riding down the road, and some jerk came flying around the bend in his car,” she said, pointing uphill to the dirt road in question. “He ran you into this ditch and kept going. You hit that tree stump and flew over the handlebars.” As she spoke I took in my surroundings for the first time. We were at the bottom of hill at the edge of what looked like a forest. Lying a few feet away was a bike with the front tire mangled, I suppose from hitting the tree stump. There was a tattered backpack lying on the ground next to the girl. Nothing looked particularly familiar, and I wondered how I had gotten there or what I was doing.

“We were playing over on our climbing trees across the road and saw the whole thing!” the boy exclaimed, speaking up for the first time. “I thought you were dead!”

“Hush!” The girl replied. She looked to be about fourteen, and the boy six. “We live just down the road there. You can call someone, and have them come get you,” she said, turning to me.

“Thanks,” I said, smiling. I tried getting up, but I needed her help.

“You took quite a fall,” she said taking my arm. “My mom is a doctor, and I want her to check you out, make sure you are okay. My name is Hannah Montgomery, and this is my little brother, Michael. What’s your name?”

“I’m… My name is…” Crap. Why can’t I remember? “I… don’t remember,” I said, shaking my head slightly.

“That’s okay,” Hannah said. “You hit your head pretty hard. It should come back to you soon. Don’t worry.”

Should?

***

“Mo-om? Are you here?” Hannah called as we walked in her front door. She lived in a beautiful log cabin style home with high ceilings and gorgeous rafters. A wood-burning stove was nestled in the corner next to a hallway that led to another part of the house. She led me over to the couch, where I gratefully sat. I was starting to get dizzy. “She must not be home yet,” Hannah said. “You just sit there, I’m gonna call her.” She walked down the hallway and out of sight.

“Can’tcha remember anything?” Michael inquired, staring curiously at me from where he was perched on the sofa on the other side of the coffee table.

“Well… no,” I said, desperately searching my thoughts for some scrap of memory. “All I remember is you and your sister finding me. Before that, nothing.”

“Would there be something in here that could help?” he asked, holding up the tattered backpack. I had assumed it was Hannah’s, but maybe it was mine?

“I don’t know, maybe,” I replied. “Let’s find out.” With that, Michael upturned the bag and dumped its contents onto the coffee table. A pair of jeans, a teal tank top, a navy blue windbreaker, a few granola bars and a water bottle fell out. No wallet, no ID, nothing that would give me a clue as to who I am.

“Looks like you were going on a trip,” Michael observed. “Maybe you were camping?”

“Maybe,” I muttered, turning over the clothes in my hand, marveling at how it could feel familiar and like a stranger at the same time.

“I got a hold of Mom and she’s on her way,” Hannah informed us as she walked back into the living room, carrying a cell phone. “Apparently we weren’t supposed to move you with a head injury. She said to have you carefully lay down on the couch until she gets home and try not to move too much.”

***

“Looks like you have a slight concussion,” Mrs. Montgomery said as she hung up the results of the CT scan. When she got home had immediately brought me to the hospital for tests. “Memory loss is common with this kind of injury and is almost always temporary,” she continued.

Almost always?” I asked. “What if it isn’t? I get the feeling that there was something important that I was supposed to do.”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure it will all come rushing back to you. In the meantime, I want you to stay with me and my family. It should help jog your memory quicker than this hospital room.”

***

“You can sleep in Dana’s room tonight,” Mrs. Montgomery said as she led me through the living room and down the hallway. “She’s studying abroad in Germany this semester. It should be more comfortable than the couch.” We had arrived at a door with a D hanging in the middle. She opened it and I saw the walls were adorned with postcards from every corner of the world. In the center of one there was a world map with the words ‘Travel Plans’ written in bold letters above it. There were push pins in various places, from New York, to South Korea, to Australia. This girl really wants to travel, I thought. My backpack was sitting on the bed, its contents securely returned inside. “Dinner will be at seven, you can settle in here or watch tv in the living room until then if you like,” she said as she turned to leave.

“Thanks Mrs. Montgomery,” I said. “For everything.”

“Don’t mention it,” she replied. “And please, call me Martha.”

She left the room, and I sat down next to the backpack. I fiddled with the zippers for a couple minutes before realizing there was a second pocket I hadn’t checked yet. Curiously I unzipped it and reached inside. I pulled out a crumpled piece of notebook paper and a torn envelope.  In the envelope was money! There had to be over $500 in there! I turned over the paper and on the backside was a hastily scrawled note:

                E,

They found me. They’re coming for us. Meet me at the place where we first met the angel, on the anniversary of the win.

 Trust no one.

Stay safe,

-Z

What is going on? I reread the note, trying to make some sense of it. Who was Z? Was I E? What did any of this mean? I got up to see what the Montgomery family thought of this. I got halfway to the door when I stopped and looked down at the paper in my hand.

Trust no one.

***

Free-Write Friday: A Letter to the Future

Every Friday, Jake and I will be doing free-writes together. This means we will pick the same writing prompt from 642 Things to Write About, write separately, then post. Neither of us have any idea what the other will write until they post, so if they are similar, it is only because we spend entirely too much time together. Here is my post, and I will link Jake’s here.

“You’re filling a time capsule to bury in the backyard that will be dug up in five hundred years. Write the letter you’d put inside to describe life as you know it today.”

Dear People of the Future,

Greetings from the year 2013! I’m assuming that if you are reading this, it means the world hasn’t ended, so that’s good news. So much has changed in just the 20 years that I’ve been alive that I can’t even begin to imagine what the world looks like in 2513.

To give you a sense of where the world is right now, here is a list of some of the great things that have happened in my lifetime:

  • The rise of wireless internet, and with it a boom in technology, making computers smaller and more advanced than we ever thought was possible!
  • The Harry Potter series were released. (books and movies)
  • We elected the first black President.
  • We survived the Mayan prediction of the Apocalypse in 2012.
  • Fifteen states have legalized gay marriage.

…And the not so great:

  • 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
  • An unprecedented rise in school shootings and bombings
  • A rise in natural disasters
  • Global Warming
  • The Westboro Baptist Church spreading hate ‘in the name of God’

My generation has the unique opportunity to have perspective of both the past, and the future. We were born in the transition period between the 20th and 21st centuries.

With the internet so readily available, we are able to get information in a blink of an eye, connect with people on the opposite side of the globe, and instantly share our ideas and creations with the world.

With all of this technology, however, sometimes I worry we are becoming too dependent on our devices. People nowadays are glued to their smartphones, often preferring texting to face-to-face communication. I fear we are slowly losing the ability and desire to have genuine, personal interactions with people. I really hope this will change in the next 500 years.

Good luck with the world, sorry we kinda screwed it up for you,

Emily, 2013