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With These Words Creative Writing Portfolio Hannah Bain Lindsay Fier 2013                  

Potato Story The Kingdom in the Sky Finding my Own Truth External Change Story Callegory House Paint me like I Am    

Potato Story I’m just a sixteen-year-old potato. That’s it, but I’ve been through way too much. My little brother Small Fry, the only person I’ve ever been close to, died last month due to bullying. After his death, my parents tried to pretend that I disappeared. I don’t even remember when I saw them last. I usually spend my days alone rolling around town trying to drown out my feelings with my music. I’ve gotten used to the looks I get, I mean I’m not exactly an approachable person. I’m lost right now and I don’t know how to deal with it. Before my brother died, I was the biggest bully in town, but I never really understood the trauma I caused other kids to have. After the death of Small Fry, I hated myself. I still hate myself. To think he died from something that I did every day was unbearable. Today is just like any other day; music turned up way too loud, weird looks, depression. As I rolled down toward one of my old bullying grounds, my music seemed to fade away as my emotions took over in a wave. “You have to face it Helga,” I whispered to myself. With a shudder, I began to roll down the narrow and dilapidated street. My eyes picked out the spots that I had shoved people, pushed them, tripped them… Just then, I heard a scream that was identical to the ones I used to elicit. I began to roll quicker hoping that I could stop this one act of bullying, maybe that could get me back on the right track. A small potato, Johnny, was being kicked repeatedly by the “Bully” who was four times his size. I don’t even remember how it happened, but suddenly Bully was on the ground and Johnny was behind me. He looked up at me with wide blue eyes just like Small Fry’s. “Thank you so much,” he whispered with tears in his eyes. I smiled for the first since my brother died and looked down at Johnny. “Anytime,” I told him. Today was the day I turned my life around, I should be thanking him.

The Kingdom in the Sky Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a little girl named Skylar Star. Most people would look at her and see just a normal girl, but if you looked hard enough, you could see that she was really a queen. Now Skylar was a beautiful girl, and very special too. It is said that her hair was made of the softest gold and that when she was born, the angels picked out the two brightest stars in the sky to put a special twinkle in her blue eyes. As soon as she woke up every morning, Skylar would visit the Kingdom in the Sky. Now you see, not just anyone could visit the Kingdom in the Sky. It was saved for the kindest and bravest people in the world. The Kingdom in the Sky sat on top of the highest cloud at the very top of the sky. It was so high up that you could jump up and pick a star right out of the sky! Skylar had the best adventures in the Kingdom in the Sky with her best friend Sammy and her horse Stella, (who was more than just a normal horse). Every time Skylar visited, all the people would crowd around her singing, “Sky has come back, Sky has come home, let’s dance and play and sing some songs!” And they did just that. There was no such thing as a boring day in the Kingdom in the Sky. One day, when Skylar visited, they all climbed to the tippy top of the highest mountain and slid all the way down into the biggest, bubbliest pool you’ve ever seen! Another day, they jumped all over the sky from cloud to cloud singing the most beautiful song ever sung. Skylar loved everything she did in the Kingdom in the Sky, but her favorite thing was flying. You know how I told you that her horse wasn’t a normal horse? Well that’s because she’s got great big wings that carry her even higher into the sky. Everywhere that Skylar went, Sammy went too. He flew beside her on his very own dragon…the last dragon left in the whole world. At the end of the day, when Skylar went home to her dad, Sammy had a habit of getting into trouble. You see, it’s never nighttime in the Kingdom in the Sky, so Sammy had to find something to do every time Skylar left. He usually went exploring to the very ends of the sky and back. One day, Sammy traveled too far and got lost in the great big Kingdom of Stormy Strikes. Now everything in the Kingdom in the Sky was good, but everything in Stormy’s kingdom was evil. It was dark everywhere and all the time and lightening was always flashing and thunder was always rumbling. When Skylar went to the Kingdom in the Sky the next day, all the people crowded around her, but instead of singing, “Sky has come back, Sky has come home, let’s

dance and play and sing some songs,” they said, “Evil Doctor Stormy has got Sammy and we can’t get him back!” Skylar looked at all of their worried faces and gave them each a pat on the back before saying, “Don’t worry! I will go and rescue Sammy and make sure Stormy Strikes never bothers us ever again!” Everybody cheered as Skylar got onto Stella’s back and rode off into the sky. She flew for days and days watching the sky grow darker and darker as she got closer and closer to Stormy’s kingdom. She knew she was there when the sky was so dark that a normal person wouldn’t be able to see anything. Skylar could see everything as clear as day though thanks to the twinkle of the two brightest stars in her bright blue eyes. She saw lightening flashing through the darkness and tearing clouds apart from each other. The clouds cried out all at once when that happened because it meant that they had to leave each other. Their tears were the raindrops that fell on a rainy day and their voices yelling out to each other were the thing you know as thunder. Even though the sky was shaking with all of the noise and lightening, Skylar pushed on. She wasn’t going to leave Sammy behind. Finally, she saw the Evil Doctor Stormy. She rushed at him and he tried to scare her off with the loudest thunder and the brightest lightening you’ve ever seen, but Skylar still would not give up. Soon, she was right in front of Stormy. He was covered in a great, big, black cloud that hid his face, but you could see that his fingers sparked with lightening. “Let Sammy go!” Skylar yelled over the thunder. Stormy’s voice was thunder itself when he yelled back, “Why should I? You can’t do anything to me; you’re just a little girl!” Something very strange happened then…Skylar began to glow. It started out very dim at first, but soon she was shining as bright as the sun. She lit up Stormy’s whole kingdom and he turned away hiding his eyes. “Make it stop!” Stormy screamed as Skylar’s light began to shine right through him. “You will not bother anyone ever again! If you learn to live like a good person, you can come to live in the Kingdom in the Sky, but if you don’t, then you will be left with no home at all!” Skylar yelled right back. After she finished, her light burned even brighter and Stormy screamed out, “Okay! I promise! I promise!” With that, the blinding light disappeared, but the whole sky stayed light just like it always would. Sammy ran up to Skylar and gave her a great big hug. “Thank you so much!” He said smiling. Skylar smiled back and said, “Anytime.”

Skylar then went over to Stormy who was now just a little boy with black hair and glasses. Skylar held out her hand, “Do you want to come home with us?” She asked kindly. Stormy smiled for the first time in his whole life and took her hand. “I would love to,” he said. Skylar, Sammy, and Stormy all flew back to the Kingdom in the Sky laughing and singing the whole way. When they landed, all the people crowded around them cheering louder than ever. They welcomed Stormy in and gave him food and a place to sleep. Just then, Skylar realized that she needed to get home to her father, so she looked at all the people and said goodbye and hugged them all before she flew back down to Earth. There was still a faint glow around her, so while she floated down, light spilled out behind her in all different colors making a rainbow. Now whenever you see a rainbow, you’ll know where the Kingdom in the Sky is and you’ll know that Skylar is coming home from another perfect day up there. When the thunderstorms happen and the lightening is flashing all around, just remember that Skylar and Sammy are up there in the sky fighting another person just like they fought Stormy, but don’t worry, they always win. You know that glow Skylar had around her? Well it wasn’t from being Queen of the Kingdom in the Sky, it was from being one of the kindest and bravest people in the world, and guess what? You have it too.

Finding My Own Truth Chapter One The world is not what it once was, or at least that’s what they tell me. I wouldn’t know. They tell me that once there was a world that was alive. It seemed to live and breathe and feel just like us, but that’s all gone now; torn so far away that seems like a myth…a fairytale. It all started when the world was on the brink of World War III. There would be no alliances and there would be no mercy. That’s when the KTP sprung up. They were a ‘Keep the Peace’ organization that gained fame seemingly overnight and they persuaded countries, one by one, to release possession of their weapons. They said that without weapons there would be no possibility of war or instability, but they were wrong. One by one, countries surrendered their weapons; everything from nuclear bombs to pistols. People tried to hide their personal weapons under floorboards or in slits in mattresses, but the KTP searched houses frequently and unexpectedly. They told people that they couldn’t take any chances and that the world wouldn’t be able to survive another war. In a year, they had control of ninety percent of the world’s most powerful weaponry. They decided then to ignore the other ten percent; to pretend like it never existed. Back then; the people truly believed that the KTP were going to destroy the weapons along with any possibility of war. They thought that for once the world would be at peace. They should have known that ninety percent of the world’s weaponry is enough to corrupt anyone, especially a group that had begun to thrive and feed off of power. It was mid-January when The Fall began. All the world leaders began to disappear one after the other. Some were assassinated; some were kidnapped, and some simply seemed to fall off the face of the Earth. The strikes were sporadic. There was no pattern, no knowing who would be targeted next. By the end of the year, the whole world was scrambling, struggling to keep stability without their lost leaders. Everyone had begun to go insane. Crime rates sky rocketed and each day was full of terror. Nobody knew what was happening or what was going to happen, but there was a sort of heaviness in the air. The world was on the brink of something bigger than ever. That marked the start of The Chaos. There was no longer any order because there were no consequences for people who broke a law that was basically obsolete. Riots broke out in the streets and people turned against each other and against their own government. Soon the whole world was in anarchy. Nobody knew what they wanted or what they needed, all they knew was that they wanted to survive and they were willing to do anything to achieve that. During this period of time, the KTP seemed to withdraw into the shadows, but nobody had enough sense to worry or wonder. Chaos turns you blind. They should have known that the only reason such a powerful group would fall away at such a crucial time was for planning. All throughout The Chaos, the KTP sat waiting, watching, planning for the perfect time to strike…and they did strike.

The Raids started in the summer of the following year and they drove an already hectic world even further into insanity. There was not a day that passed when one part of the world was not being bombed ruthlessly. The KTP held the most powerful weapons in history, the only real weapons left in the world. There was no way to retaliate, so people submitted into fear and hid as best as they could in underground shelters and abandoned subway stations. Near the beginning of The Raids, many people thought that it was the end. The entire human population would be killed off, there would be no more. Suddenly in the winter that followed The Raids, everything fell deathly silent and still. Slowly, people trickled above ground waiting for another strike that never came. That’s when The Rest began. People retreated into small groups and began to learn how to survive in a wilting world. The sky was stained permanently in streaks of grey and a film of ash seemed to blanket everything. There was an unearthly stillness about the world. That hum of life that always ran through the Earth had ceased. Either everything had been killed or scared into silence. Even the whisper of the wind was subdued. The world had become a graveyard and it should have been impossible for anyone to survive, but somehow we did. It’s been twenty years since the world first heard of the KTP, but I can’t say if things have improved or worsened. I was born towards the end of The Raids and I have a vague memory of tightly-packed foul-smelling places that always felt wet. I can still feel the tremors that drove me to my knees and held me there until the petered out. I remember a voice whisper to me that my parents had died, been caught outside during a Raid, I couldn’t have been more than five, but I remember breaking that day, breaking and growing up. I can’t even remember if I cried but for some reason I don’t think I ever did. It’s been twelve years since that day, and I’ve still never cried. Survival hardens you. It turns you into something that barely resembles a human but more like a frightened rabid animal. I barely speak to anyone, not because I’m shy, I’ve been living with these two people my whole life, but because I feel as if there’s nothing to say. Life for us is nothing more than survival. We live day to day and meal to meal. All we care about is life; there are no pleasures or comforts. Everything is survival, well at least for them it is. We live in a world of mock freedom. We keep to ourselves and move as we choose, but there’s an insistent eye that seems to follow wherever we go. The KTP is far from finished, but they’re starting small. I’ve heard stories of far-away places that have begun to be Quarantined. The Old World, the world before The Fall, is a distant memory now. It’s a torn page of a book floating in the wind or that feeling you get right after you wake up from a dream and it’s still in the back of your mind but when you try to focus on it, it dissipates. The Old World is fading, becoming more and more like a dream and less like the past. Have you ever felt that? When a memory comes to you but it’s so distant, so out of focus that you can’t even remember if it’s real or not? That’s how the world is now, caught in the limbo between remembered and forgotten. The KTP is only speeding up the process. When they Quarantine and area, they flood in and remove everything even remotely concerning the Old World. They burn the pages of old texts and destroy

monuments and temples that still stubbornly stood after The Raids. It’s rumored that even the people who once did live in the Old World disappear during Quarantine. If you are caught with anything from the Old World or if they hear you speak of it at all, you’re beaten severely…sometimes even to death. I’ve heard Lucy and Storm whisper Old World words around the fire; words like religion and democracy and music and God, words that the KTP have assured us are not memories but dreams that we’ve twisted into reality. I’m not sure I believe them though. A broken fragment of a faded memory danced in the back of my mind of life during The Raids. My mother used to sing to me about the most beautiful things during a bombing. I would set my head in her lap and she would stroke my hair and suddenly everything seemed as if it would be okay. I used to think it was her singing that stopped the bombings, but of course I know better now. Late at night, while Lucy and Storm sit around the fire talking about nothing, I walk. My whole life has basically been spent with the two people back at the fire, of course sometimes we meet people while we’re moving, but they never stay for long. It’s usually just the three of us but I’m nothing like either of them. Lucy is large for a woman in her mid-twenties, nearly as tall as Storm, and even though we’re less than a decade apart, she has an air of authority and calmness that makes me feel as if she could be my mother. Everything about Lucy is steady from her swift movements to her flat brown eyes. I used to wonder if she had any emotion at all…sometimes I still do. She’s been hardened by survival in a way different than me. She thrives on it like she actually likes waking up in the dirt and hunting for her every meal. She’s never known another way, none of us have. Storm has also been changed by survival, it’s impossible not to be, but there’s something almost sad and broken about him. Sometimes I catch him staring sullenly into the fire and I can only imagine what he sees there. In that moment he seems set apart from everything else, but when he notices my presence, an easy smile falls on his face so naturally that you would never imagine his face could ever be any other way. I remember the day he came stumbling into our shelter during The Raids. He was half dead and delirious speaking in jumbled phrases. There are more faces in my memory, but their smudged and insignificant. That night, after everyone had fallen into a restless sleep, I crawled over to him and looked down at his swelling face. He was about seventeen at the time, but you would have never known it. His face had that drawn out haggard look that I’d only ever seen on my father. Still, he was the youngest person in the shelter besides me and I was curious. I’d never seen anyone that wasn’t old and worn. He wasn’t asleep either and when he heard me moving, he turned to me and I shrunk back a little. He had black hair that fell unevenly into his shifting grey eyes and in the moment our eyes met, I saw him for what he really was: a scared sad boy who had lost everything. He smiled then and I inched a little closer. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered into the darkness, “I wouldn’t ever hurt you.”

I stopped about a foot away and cocked my head asking him, “What’s your name?” The smile crept into his voice as he answered, “You can call me Storm. You’re Daelyn right?” I nodded and he continued, “You remind me of my sister, Callie,” he told me with his voice breaking on her name. I kept a steady gaze on him and my brutal child’s curiosity asked, “What happened to her? Why isn’t she with you?” He looked away from me then and scanned the room as if to make sure everyone else was still unconscious. “She was supposed to come with me, but she’s gone…they took her.” He looked away then with shame written across his face. He thought it was his fault. I didn’t ask who ‘they’ were, I didn’t have to. It was the KTP, it was always the KTP. “I’m sure you did everything you could to try and save her,” I told him gently looking into his eyes. A look of graciousness flooded his face but I could still see something flickering at the backs of his eyes. “We can find her you know,” I told him excitedly, “I could help you and we could go get her and bring her back here.” Storm smiled at me and even gave a short quiet laugh as he studied my determined five-year-old face. “You are the bravest person I’ve ever met,” he said. “Maybe one day we’ll go find her, you and me after all this ends.” I nodded and told him to get some sleep, pulling the blanket over his shoulders. I saw him smile again; a kind of smile where the ends were pulled down just slightly with sorrow. After that night, Storm became just like an older brother to me. Late at night he would sit with me in the shadows and tell me stories about dragons and princesses and evil witches. He taught me how to read by tracing words into the dirt and after my parents died, he was the only family I had. I kicked a rock into the silver river that never was able to rid itself of all the debris and ash from The Raids. I’d found lots of things caught in and around the river that must have been from the Old World. There were bits of twisted mangled metal and broken glass and even a smoothed out stone with something illegible engraved into it. I found a piece of jewelry that was snagged on a rock about a week ago, and I didn’t think I’d ever seen anything so clean. It was a simple piece of jewelry; a slender silver chain with a gleaming pearl on the end. It was so simple but so beautiful at the same time. The best thing I’d ever found at the river was a piece of torn paper with all the words marked out except one passage. “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything as plain as day and if I have faith to say to a mountain jump and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give all I owe to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don’t love, I’ve gotten now where. So, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, no matter what I believe, I’m bankrupt without love.”

Those kinds of words weren’t spoken anymore. I had no idea who God was or what faith was, I didn’t even fully understand what love was. Those words made it sound so pure, so refreshing, and so beautiful. Everything I’d found that concerned the Old World was beautiful to me but there was something about those words that struck something deep within me. I wanted to know more. Practically my whole life had been spent with Lucy and Storm, and not once had we spoken the word ‘love’ to one another. They asked me to check the traps in the morning and they kept me fed and secure, but they’d never told me they loved me and I’d never said it to them. We did love each other right? How could you tell? I thought back to my days spent with Storm so many years ago in the cramped underground shelter. I spent all my time with him then and when we were separated, it felt as if I wasn’t exactly whole without him. We had definitely loved each other then, one of those sibling bonds that stays strong through everything, but what about now? Is it possible to stop loving someone who once meant everything to you? I tried to remember the last word I had spoken to Storm or Lucy, I mean really spoken a word, not the typical survival talk that we were forced to discuss. It took me a while, but then it hit me all at once. The last time I had truly spoken to Storm was years ago when The Raids had ended and he had taken me under his care. I recall him kneeling down to my level and looking into my eyes; his were already beginning to harden under the burden of survival. “Daelyn,” he spoke my name softly, “I will never let anything happen to you I promise.” In his eyes I saw so many unspoken words. He was sorry for me losing my parents and he wasn’t sure how this was all going to work out, but he was going to keep me safe over everything. I just stared back until he gave my shoulders a squeeze and led me off into the woods along with Lucy who had just came across our shelter a few weeks earlier. I had never asked him the question that burned in the back of my mind; how? How was he going to protect me? How could you protect a person from everything? You can’t, it’s impossible. My parents had tried to protect me once and then they were gone in the blink of an eye. Life was too short, too unpredictable to make promises. I sighed and rolled the necklace between my fingers as I thought. My feet started back to our temporary home mechanically, I had walked this path hundreds of times. Could I just walk up to them and tell them that I loved them and ask if they loved me? I then noticed an emptiness inside of me. I needed to know that I was loved, that I would be missed if I was gone, but I was too afraid to know the answer. I could see the fire in the distance now. I saw Storm and Lucy huddled around it like two insects swarming around a speck of light. I wanted to yell to them, to talk to Strom like I used to, but my throat choked on the words I wanted so badly to say. I had been hardened by survival and this didn’t fit in with it, it didn’t fit in with anything. I was just on the edge of the woods when I heard it; the subtle crunch of leaves. A sudden cold overtook me then. I could sense that something was off. There was a strange thick feel to the air and all noises seemed to cease as if holding their breath. Then all of a sudden, everything erupted into noise. A group of ten people surrounded Storm and Lucy in a matter of seconds. They held strange shiny metallic things and kept them pointed at the two people they were circled around. I heard a man’s voice, gruff and unfamiliar, say

something to Storm but I couldn’t hear the words. Storm must have said something back that angered the man because he grabbed him roughly and shoved him to the ground. His voice rose to a shout then and I heard him say, “I’m going to ask you one more time. Where is she? We know there’s a third one, we’ve had you surrounded for days now. If you hand her over you and your friend can go free. We just need the girl.” It slowly dawned on me that they were talking about me, but why did they want me? What had I done? My hands were shaking so I dug them into the ground feeling the moist dirt pack under my nails. I was terrified. Part of me wanted Storm to resist, but the other part wanted him to hand me over so he could go free. Was that love? Everything seemed deathly silent then and I heard Storm’s voice, steady as always, say, “I would never give her up.” I swore he looked in my direction then as he continued, “I’d never let anything happen to her.” I felt a short sense of joy overtake me then before I was once again taken over by fear. The man yelled something then that I couldn’t decipher and then everything happened in slow motion. The man raised the metal thing to Storm’s chest and with a squeeze of his finger, a huge crack rung through the woods. I scrambled forward a few feet before I realized what happened. Lucy screamed but I barely noticed. Everything was red. Red soaked into the ground, red splattered Storm’s face and red stained his chest. His eyes met mine and he mouthed “Go,” before the light in his eyes left and I knew he was gone. I stumbled back farther into the shelter of the trees letting my emotions take over for a second. It felt as if a hole had been ripped through my chest and I doubled over feeling a torrent of tears streak down my face. He was gone...dead. I realized then that he was the only thing I was sure of in my life. If everything else fell away, Storm was always there. He meant what he said so many years ago, that he would never let anything happen to me, at least as long as he lived. The realization that I was on my own didn't frighten me. Instead, it left a hollow feeling within my chest as if somehow this was bound to happen sooner or later. We all go our separate ways eventually right? When I was younger, I thought my parents would be by my side forever. I thought that after The Raids ended, all of us that stayed together in the shelter would move in the same direction. I thought that I would always have Storm to rely on, but that's not how the world works. So many things we think are simply set in stone and we take them for granted, but anything can happen at any moment. Life doesn't need a reason to happen; it doesn't wait for our okay, it happens and we have to learn how to keep up. I watched as the man studied Storm's lifeless body with a smirk on his face before he turned to the others and said, "Take her. We can't go back empty handed." Two men jerked Lucy up off the ground paying no attention to her shaking sobs, they seemed to be immune to emotion. The man then swept his gaze over the woods where I lay concealed in the shadows and I froze. I made sure to study his face intently because next time I saw him; I was going to claw that smirk right off of his face. He had short-cropped black hair and a pair of beady black eyes to match. His face looked as if it was carved out of stone

and he kept his lips pressed in a tight line. A scar ran from his temple all the way to the corner of his lip and it stood out against his dark skin. I silently thanked whoever or whatever gave him that scar and that's when I realized something. I was done hiding and living in fear thanks to people like the ones who stood only fifty yards in front of me. I was tired of moving out of the way and being told what to believe. I was going to find out things for myself from now on. The KTP was playing a game of strategy, so I decided I would too. I would wait and learn and prepare and when the moment was right, I would strike. I crept back even faster into the woods and the man returned to his group. I had no idea how I was going to make a difference, but I couldn't be the only one who had found something to fight for. I owed something to Storm and Lucy now and somehow to myself. Storm didn't deserve to be murdered in the middle of nowhere, Lucy didn't deserve to be kidnapped, and none of us deserved to be forced into this life. Somehow I was going to stand up to the KTP, I didn't know what I could do or how much I could do before they killed me, but I was willing to do anything really. I felt a sense of power for the first time in my life. It was me against them, me against the world, but I didn't care. Nothing was going to stop me now. With that final promise, I took off into the woods never looking back.

Chapter Two I don’t know how long I spent alone in the woods; it could have been weeks or days, but it didn’t matter. That resolve I had after I saw Storm’s body had all but disappeared. I had fallen back into the routine survival. Wake up. Move. Watch. Eat. Move. Wait. Move. Eat. Sleep. I tried as best I could to travel in a line to the north as I had heard that the KTP were moving from the South up. The only problem was that winter wasn’t far off. I could already feel its cold fingers wrapping like a vise around my chest; could already feel its icy breath raising goose bumps on my skin. I had nothing to protect myself from the cold either. Before the soldiers left, they had set our campsite ablaze. I had no time to save anything from the raging flames, not even Storm’s body. I had a jacket, thankfully, but it was thin along with a pair of soiled jeans and a torn, faded t-shirt The piece of paper I’d found by the river sat reassuringly in my pocket, and the necklace hung glittering around my neck. I had no food, no way to store water, and only a knife to protect myself and to hunt with. Logic said I should’ve died, but somehow I kept pushing on. Surviving was all I knew. I lied down under an overhang of rock and looked up to find the trees closing in around me. I jerked up abruptly suddenly, all my senses on overdrive. I scooted back against the rock, cutting off any chance of an attack from behind, but that did little to comfort me. Everything was watching with hidden eyes and all at once the woods became foreign. They’d been home to me my whole life, I’d always felt secure in them, but now they were alive and they were watching, waiting, moving, just like me. For the first time in my life, I felt my blood run cold with the realization that I was no longer the predator but the prey.

In the distance, a wolf’s call broke through the tension. Probably two miles away I thought absently. I still had the sense that I was being surveyed. It had always been there at the back of my mind; a persistent whisper that never subsided. Now it was a scream, a warning. My eyes darted everywhere. They can’t find me here I thought frantically. The woods were supposed to be my safe place, the one place they couldn’t follow me. When I was in the woods, I didn’t exist, but I felt exposed as if I was standing in the open screaming “Look at me!” That’s when I saw it. A shade of darkness stained darker than the rest. IT moved ever so slightly and I felt the wind shift. Its breath made the air noticeably heavier and my heart drummed in my ears. I swore under my breath as I gripped the hilt of my knife so hard that my knuckles turned white. I had forgotten to sharpen it this morning, it wasn’t going to be much help. Everything was in an unnatural state of stillness like the calm before the storm or a whole room holding its breath. It was about to pounce on me, I could feel it and I was ready. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Sev- I was counting my breaths when a voice suddenly broke the silence. “Waiting for something?” I spun around and there he was leaning lazily against the rock with one of those metal things swinging in his hand. There was no way he could’ve gotten behind me without crossing right in front of my face. I couldn’t have missed it. As I stared at him in disbelief, he spoke again, “I’m real I swear. I know the woods can make you see things but look.” He reached out to me and his hand brushed my shoulder. I shrunk back. I hadn’t realized how close he was and I hadn’t expected a spark to move through my skin when he touched me. I must have been really on edge. I saw him scrunch his eyebrows together in the darkness. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he stated matter-of-factly. His face was still half in the shadows but I stared down at his hand holding that metal thing so casually with my face full of distrust. He followed my train of vision. “The gun?” He questioned. “Here look,” and with that, he discarded it onto the ground and took a step closer to me with his hands raised in a sign of surrender. Then he was fully illuminated by the moonlight and I studied his face. He had a mess of dark brown hair with bits of leaves and twigs strewn through it and even in the darkness, his eyes were bright. They shifted between a blue and green that reminded me of how I once heard Storm describe the ocean. The details of his face were a mixture of sharp lines and soft curves like brushstrokes. There was no mistaking it; he was beautiful. Just then, I noticed that he was studying me too and I blushed thinking of what I must look like; hair stuck up at all angles and eyes wild with small cuts along my hands and dirt stained face. Something possessed me to smooth down my hair down and explain the reason for my current, probably very disturbing, appearance. “I-I’ve been in the woods by myself for a while.”

He shrugged as if it made no difference to him, or maybe because it was obvious. “Happens to all of us at some point,” he said looking straight into my eyes. Something about the way he spoke and the flicker in his eyes made me want to question what he meant, but just like that, it was gone. An easy smile spread across his face and with a pang, I remembered Storm’s smile, which was nearly identical. “I’m Logan,” he told me holding out his hand. I took it. “Daelyn,” I said. Something flashed in his eyes again, but it was gone so fast I thought maybe I had imagined it. “Where you coming from?” He asked while turning over a rock with his foot. “Back there,” I replied gesturing over my shoulder to the south. An understanding filled his voice then as he asked, “Running away?” I looked up at him then and bit on my bottom lip thinking about the right way to answer. “Kind of,” I said choking on the next words, “They found us. I was with two other people and they-they killed one and took the other.” When the words were spoken out loud they finally seemed like reality. This whole time in the woods had rushed by in a sort of dream like state. I kept waiting to wake up back at the campsite with Lucy out tending the fire and Storm checking the traps, but now I knew I never was. This was my life now. “You’re not the only one,” he said under his breath while a sudden hardness took over his features. “What do you mean?” I asked simply. He smiled for a fraction of a second before gesturing for me to follow him. He led me to a clearing that was surrounded on three sides by trees while the fourth side seemed to stretch on to the horizon seemingly forever.

External Change Story Cynthia lied down just as she did every night and dreaded the sleep that was to come just as she did every night. She checked the old clock that hung on the wall. It was ten o’ clock and time was now her warden until she awoke from whatever decided to haunt her mind. She turned the light out and ran her hand over the newly empty space beside her. A tear threatened to stain her wrinkled cheek as she thought about him. She could remember his protective touch and comforting scent and the way her name always sounded safe in his voice. “Goodnight Robert,” she whispered into the silence as she eased back against the pillows. She shut her eyes staining the already dark room even blacker. The quiet was all that she heard and in the oppressing silence, she wanted more than anything to scream. She wanted to shatter the silence into a thousand shards like broken glass. She never wanted to hear silence again. In spite of those things, she felt her breath begin to steady and she sensed sleep was almost upon her. She wanted to fight against it; to never have to close her eyes again, but she was tired of fighting, and soon she was asleep prey to her mind’s torture. She felt her bare feet on frozen ground and she opened her eyes to see the sun just beginning to peek over the horizon. “Cynthia,” someone called out to her in a fierce yet apathetic voice. She raised her eyes to meet those of the cold, unfeeling eyes of a German soldier. As he moved on down the line, she looked around. Dear God she thought, not the camp, anything but the camp. Towering fences surrounded a barren sorry piece of land and rung with electricity. The familiar smell of burning flesh made her dry heave due to the fact that there was nothing in her stomach. She felt a shove on her back that nearly forced her to her knees, and she numbly moved forward to her station. Her muscles strained and buckled under the heavy load she was forced to carry. She gazed up at the billowing pillar of black smoke that was responsible for the sickening smell and one thought ran through her mind…I am going to die. Soon, she collapsed under the burden and was only down for a second when a harsh voice yelled “Up! Up!” A whip struck her on the back drawing blood with the first blow. Her body shook in its weak state and she struggled

to move as the whip mercilessly continued to beat into her body. She looked to the sky wondering what had become of her children and husband. I can’t survive this…especially without them she thought as both her body and mind became separated from everything around her. She absently saw blood, her blood, staining the ground under her but she couldn’t feel it anymore. She was numb, that was all. So close she thought. It’s almost over. Suddenly, her eyes snapped open and she couldn’t stop the tears from falling that time. She wept with a total abandon gripping the sheets beside her until she ripped a small hole in them. She didn’t want to, but she checked the clock on the wall. Eleven o’ clock. She still had eight hours of this without Robert’s warm voice to make her stronger. Cynthia swallowed back her tears and imagined that he was there beside her and that her two kids were safely asleep in their rooms. They still gave her the strength to push on even though they were gone. With that, she lay back down, now thinking only about her family, only about the joy that they had given her, and she fell into the first dreamless sleep that she’d had in years.

Callegory House For as long as anybody in town could remember, the old Callegory house had lain abandoned. Rumors floated along the wind whispered by men and women who had nothing better to do with their lives. “She was crazy, she killed them all.” “They were all crazy.” “He was lost without his money, he took all of their lives before he took his own.” There was only one piece of truth within all of the fabrications: the last family that had lived in the house had been murdered and the case had never been solved. In the South, no story ever goes left untold. The people couldn’t bear the thought of the unknown, of a mystery leaking through the town, so they tried to cover it up with their own delusive lies. I paid little attention to the stories, but I guess I was different then all of them. The chose to believe whatever story was popular at the time while I chose the mystery. I’d lived in town my whole life, and by the time I was three I knew everyone and everyone knew me. The same still stands true now fourteen years later. They don’t like change around here. They turn up their noses at passersby’s and refuse to allow the world to invade the peaceful little town of Callegory. They’re stuck in their ways, all of them are; my parents, my teachers, my friends. None of them have plans of ever leaving this sleepy little town, none of them but me anyway. As soon as I graduate, I’m leaving Callegory and all of its mysteries behind forever. I was never going to look back…or at least that’s what I told myself. I passed the Callegory house every morning on my way to school, and every morning I stared at it as if one day it would reveal all its deepest mysteries to my curious eyes. It was a large colonial sort of house that held an air of age and pride. The pillars were the largest in town and the house would have been beautiful if it weren’t so dilapidated with its chipped paint and famous past. When I passed the house, I felt as if everything stood still for a moment. I felt as if I stayed there forever in front of the house, I would never change and the world would just exist around me as a separate world; one that I was not a part of anymore. It both terrified and interested me. Every day I would pass the house and stop in that stillness, and every day I would move on. That’s how it would have always been if he hadn’t come along. I would have passed through this still, never-changing, stagnant moment of my life and moved on to the real world. I would cover up

Callegory just as easily as its people covered up the house. It would be as if I didn’t spend almost eighteen years of my life here. Of course, that’s considering that he never decided to make an appearance, that I never spoke to him or took interests in his stories of New York, that I never realized that the mystery of Callegory House could never be solved, much less told. Yes, my life completely changed the first time I laid eyes on Mason Callegory.

Paint Me Like I Am Some people may look at me and see a normal girl, and why shouldn’t they? I’ve got a normal life I go to school and talk to my friends and practice with my team And then I go home to my normal family So yes, I guess I am normal at first glance But if you look closer, I’m much much more I may think a thousand things when I say one And it’s not because I’m afraid to say them It’s because I wait for the right time, It’s because I don’t have to say everything in order to say something I’m more than what I say or what I do I’m more of what I think and what I dream about too I’m not that girl, haunted by a past, mysterious and dark I’m not that girl who always puts her two cents in And I’m not that girl who feels like she flies above the rest I’m me, whatever that means I believe that things are always more than what they seem I believe that reality begins with a dream I try to see things as they are, not what they try to be And I care about others just as much as me I’m not saying that I’ve got everything figured out I really probably don’t have anything figured out, and that’s fine with me When people see me, I want them to see something different But when it boils down to it, I’m me, And I stick around

With These Words  

Creative Writing Portfolio

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