A Work of Fiction…

For my final project in my Advanced Writing class, I am writing the first few chapters of my novel. I just finished the first page or so, and I wanted to know what you guys thought. Let me know in the comments!! 

I darted frantically around the room, grabbing various items of clothing and throwing them haphazardly into the duffel bag resting on my bed. Most of my things have been packed for weeks, but every time I turned around there was something else I may need at school. I triple-checked my bookshelves and pulled out a few more titles to take with me. I glanced around my room again, checking for anything I may have missed. It’s amazing really, how much stuff one can accumulate in ten years. I decided to leave most of my posters behind, all but the Breakfast Club. Most of my CDs were also staying, but my guitar definitely made the list. I hesitated for a moment before tossing my tarot cards and an old spell book into my bag. Now one last thing: the photo of my parents and me on my seventh birthday. It was taken a few weeks before their car accident. I reached up to where it was hanging on my wall, but I couldn’t quite reach it. Slowly the frame lifted off up its hook and floated down into my hand.

“You’re getting better at that Johanna,” Gran said from the doorway. “You remind me of your mother when she was your age. She was always zipping things about.” I looked at the photo in my hands. Aside from her sharp blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across her cheekbones, I didn’t see much resemblance. Mom was tall and beautiful; two things I’d never be.

“Just grabbing some last minute things,” I murmured, stowing the photo safely in the duffel bag on the bed.  “I don’t want to forget anything.”

“Byrne College is only a couple hours away, it’s not like you’ll never be back.” Gran pulled the clothes from my bag and began folding them properly.

I sighed. If I’d had my way, I’d be halfway to the coast by now. But Byrne College was the only school Gran would allow me to attend. In addition to being close to home, the dean was my great-aunt. For years, it has been a safe haven for people with power such as myself. By the time classes started on Monday, there would be more than forty young witches on campus, all of whom know my name, my family, and everything about me. The exact thing I wanted to avoid.

***

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more!!!

It’s About Time! (My Return to Posting)

Hey everyone!!

With my class and work schedules, obviously blogging every day isn’t working out very well, so let’s revamp a little. I can’t promise you a new post every day, but I will continue to post when I can. I will try to keep it varied, with Quotes of the Day, Free Write Fridays, and Thankful Thursdays, as well as some new stuff, so stay tuned!!

Like I said, my schedule is hectic this semester, but that’s all changed now that it is…

**drumroll**

… SPRING BREAK!!!!! PAAAAR-TAAAAYYY!!

Just kidding. I am on Spring Break, but no parties for me. Instead, I am taking the opportunity to pick up more shifts at work. I know, I know, I am a madwoman.

Though I’ve been busy, I still have time for some fun. Here are some things I’ve done since my last post:

  • Discovered Pokémon. I know I may be a little late to the game, but I am officially addicted.( I may or may not have watched over 40 episodes since Spring Break started on Friday…)
  • Cosmic Bowling. Lights, music, friends… What could be better? I am officially horrible, but we have fun, and that’s what counts, right? (But seriously, I’m awful.)
  • Went Hiking. There is a river near town, and Jake, Ryan, and I went exploring. It was the perfect way to end a stressful week.

And last but not least…

  • Met a Guy. I won’t go into details now, but he is great. He is also a writer. (Far better than me, if I am to be perfectly honest.) He recently started a blog. Go check him out here.

That’s all for now, but hopefully you will be hearing from me again soon!!

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.

I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here

Hello everyone!

It is a beautiful, yet horribly cold, morning here at Doane campus. The line at the coffee shop is stretched halfway across campus, everywhere you look you can see bags from the bookstore or packages from Amazon, and students are out and about before 10. It can all add up to only one thing: Spring Classes have officially started.

I’ve just gotten out of my first class: Advanced Writing. When I first signed up for this course, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As much as I love to write, I hate discussing the technicalities and rules involved, and I wasn’t looking forward to having to write a bunch of  formal essays or papers. I was very pleasantly surprised when I came to class today.

From what I can gather from the first day, this class is going to be awesome. Each student gets to pick a genre to focus on for the semester, be it fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or academic writing. We will write and share and critique each others’ writing in a casual, constructive atmosphere. The theory side of things will focus less on the rules of writing and more on why an author would choose to write a certain way or about a certain topic. I think I’m gonna like it here.

Now here’s to the rest of my classes today (Modern American Literature, Intro. to Fiction, and Choir) being just as awesome. If not, well, at least I will start my day in a good mood. 🙂

Thankful Thursday: MEGA EDITION!!!

Okay, so as you may or may not have noticed, in the last couple months I have not been keeping up with my weekly Thankful posts. Like, at all. To make up for it (at least a little) I’ve decided that this edition of Thankful Thursday will be MEGA SIZED!!!! In other words, I will list 10 things I’m grateful for instead of three.

#1. Christmas Break

Christmas break gave me much needed time away from class work, and I even got to go home for a week over Christmas and spend time with the family. It was really great to see everyone, and I even got to spend some quality time with my dog. 🙂

#2. Christmas at Grandma’s

My grandma hosts a Christmas every year about halfway through January. This year I was able to go up the night before and help her get ready. I found out that I am related to a bunch of famous people throughout history, most notably: Julius Caesar, the Rockefellers, and a handful of Popes. I also realized that this was the first time she and I were able to hang out one on one, ever.

#3. Interterm Class

Doane has done this weird thing where instead of jumping right into spring semester after Christmas break, we do a three-week interterm class. Class lasts about three hours long every day and is worth 3 credits. It’s usually a fairly interesting class that isn’t offered any other time of the year. This was the last year Doane’s having interterm, so I decided to go with the Psychology of Evil. It was a really interesting class. We tried to get into the minds of murderers, thieves, gang members, and all around ‘bad guys’. The focus was to try to determine if it would be possible for any ‘ordinary person’ to be put in a situation that would cause them to commit even the worst evil acts.

#4. The End of Interterm

As much as I loved my interterm class, it was time for it to end. It was at 9 am every day, and I had to have a paper written for just about every class. Today was the last day of class. It’s time for a change.

#5. Vending Machines

Since my class went from 9-12 every morning and we got a break halfway through, my breakfasts have been courtesy of the basement vending machine. Usually a Mountain Dew and a bag of Crunchy Cheetos. Breakfast of Champions, don’t ya think? I actually loved it. Kudos to whoever it is that keeps them fully stocked. You got me through my class. 🙂

#6. Warm Weather

I live in Nebraska, and for those of you who don’t know, this is a magical place where all four seasons can peacefully coexist in the span of a single week, sometimes, a day. This means that in addition to days with a -30 degree wind chill (not even exaggerating), we get the occasional 40-50 degree day. These are the days I am grateful for. They are a small reminder that spring is on its way, and eventually all will be right with the world once more.

#7. Jake’s Family

Jake and I have been spending a lot of time at his house and with his family. They are amazing. I am so grateful for them and their hospitality. We watch Netflix, do homework, or play cards with Jake’s little brothers. It is also so nice to get a home-cooked meal a couple of nights a week.

#8. Reese’s Cupcakes

I found a box mix for Reese’s cupcakes. They are delicious. That is all.

#9. Netflix

Ahh Netflix. Hours of entertainment, taker of souls, thief of free time…

#10. Jake

In the short time that we’ve known each other, Jake has easily become one of my best friends. We keep each other (relatively) sane, and he keeps me on task. He is the voice in my head (or on my phone) that tells me I need to do my homework, or work on my book, or write a blog post. Without him this blog wouldn’t exist and my grades would have been a lot worse.

Top 5 Things I Learned Over Break

Hey everyone!! Hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. Let’s get started!

1. I totally suck at posting when not at school.

I have found that I am very easily distracted without classes to give structure to my day. It may also have something to do with the lack of Jake constantly reminding me to post. Now that I’m back at school hopefully I will get better about it.

2. My name is Emily, and I am a Netflix-oholic.

When I have hours of free time I tend to binge on entire seasons at a time. In the past month I have rewatched Psych, Supernatural, the Gates, Being Human (the UK version, not the US), and a couple dozen romantic comedies and holiday movies. I have a problem. (I may or may not be watching as I type.)

3. I enjoy training people.

I have been able to pick up a few more shifts at work over break, and in some of those shifts I have been tasked with training the new hires. I don’t know why, but I love teaching the new people what to do. It probably has a little to do with the fact that I get to tell them what to and not actually have to do it myself.

4. I’m not a morning person.

Unfortunately I have early classes all week spring semester and I work opening shifts on the weekends. This will be fun.

5. I am fascinated by serial killers.

My school has an interterm class each January, in each we spend two and a half weeks taking only one class every day. This year I am taking the Psychology of Evil. We discuss and study violent acts and the people who commit them. The goal is to take a closer look at why these acts happen, and what makes ordinary people do them.

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.