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A Collection of Works by Samuel Leagre


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Table of Contents The Long and Incredible Adventures of Two-Bit the Machine............................5 Cadence............................................................................................................................................12 A Night to Remember................................................................................................................15 An Ode to a Star.........................................................................................................................19 Days Going By..................................................................................................................................21 The Foyer.......................................................................................................................................24 Rough Drafts...............................................................................................................................25 Author’s Note..............................................................................................................................42

Biography: Sam Leagre is a sophomore Studio Art major Creative Writing minor at the University of Indianapolis. He has created this ePortfolio for his English 270 class, Introduction to Creative Writing. He most enjoys writing and illustrating comics, which was a big passion that played into choosing this class. He has always been interested in telling stories, and this class gave him an educational environment to create stories and get feedback. He hopes to create comics for his career, and this educational outlet will be very valuable for this potential career.

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The Long and Incredible Adventures of Two-Bit the Machine There once was a man named Puller who owned a factory. He started this factory in the early middle of his life, seeking success and prosperity over starting a family. As he grew older, he felt a gaping hole in his life which wealth could not fill. One fine evening, after closing the factory for the night, he thought: I would do anything for a child right now. I must be fulfilled. As he sat down on his bed in his room above the factory, he heard a loud crack and saw lightning pierce the sky. He immediately grew concerned for the wellbeing of his machinery, temporarily forgetting his desire for fulfilment. He clumped down the stairs as fast as he could and threw open the door. Stumbling onto the front stoop, Puller's face went white as a sheet when he saw a mechanical child curled up on the ground right outside his factory. The first thought that came to him was I have been stuck with an animated object. In this land, when a great electricity in the air made the decision to strike any sort of object, that object was blessed with life like any actual human. They took on some of the characteristics of humans, growing and changing as they aged; but it was unable to give these beings parts that they did not already possess. It could not create objects; it could only give objects life. It was also unable to create life from any of the basic elements. These animated objects were believed to be a bad thing, and those who had previously owned the objects prior to their animation were believed to have been cursed. Puller also held this belief, and he made it known in the child's life from this point on. He named this child "Two-Bit" as he saw little value in it, beyond it being another worker. Puller believed it to be a new issue he was required to deal with. Two-Bit grew into a strong young machine, working hard in its father's factory. Each night, as Two-Bit finished its work for the day, Puller reinforced in its mind that it was nothing but a machine. He led it to believe that it was unlike the other workers, and instead, it deserved no breaks for the day. He would tell TwoBit that it was less human than the other workers, and therefore had less rights. Puller also refused to allow Two-Bit to continue to work as he slept; he said that he knew it would mess up his hard-earned machinery. He would send it off to its corner of the factory, underneath the

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largest machine, and tell it to lie and wait until morning. Two-Bit knew no other life, and therefore accepted what it had been given. For eight long years, Two-Bit was worked to its core by Puller. He had it do the jobs that were too dangerous for the human workers. Two-Bit would have to crawl inside machinery to unstick a cog. Two-Bit would stretch to its limits feeding textiles through the machines. Puller saw this as a curse for his wealth, rather than viewing Two-Bit as a blessing of a legacy. After the eighth year passed, Two-Bit had grown to the size of a man and Puller asked it to come to his office. "I have unfortunate news, Two-Bit. Because you are what they call an 'Annim,' people have begun refusing to purchase my textiles. You have caused me great anguish over the years, and the time has come for you to leave." Two-Bit was unsure how to deal with this information. It took its belongings from the corner it had called home and took to the streets to find a new path in life. It sat on the corner of a road, outside a bakery processing where to go next. After a few days of sitting on this corner, the baker shooed Two-Bit away, believing it to be a bad omen for business. It began walking down the street, alongside a cart hauling goods to the general store. It heard two men in the cart speaking of a great wealth in the West, where people have found success by merely fishing around the rivers for gold. Two-Bit thought this sounded like the success it sought, and so began its journey west. After seeking a guide, Two-Bit stumbled upon a family heading to the land of the West. It made a simple request, to come along on the journey and offer what it could in return for passage. The family was very hesitant to accept this offer, but decided having an extra set of hands, Annim or not, would aid in the journey. On this journey, which took far longer than TwoBit could have predicted, the family grew to tolerate it. They even decided to give an old dusty fiddle to Two-Bit, having deemed the instrument worthless due to its time in their cellar. Two-Bit was very happy to have a new belonging that it had earned. As soon as this family made it to the land they were heading towards, Two-Bit found itself on its own once again. The family did not want to risk curses as they worked on acquiring their wealth, and so Two-Bit was alone again.

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It wandered the dusty landscape for days, seeking any fortune it could find. It would sit at night and pluck this fiddle as the moon rose and set. It worked hard on learning this instrument and would lie on the ground waiting for the night to pass; it knew no other way to spend the night. Two-Bit found a river and remembered the family speaking of the simple wealth to be found in a water source just like this one. Two-Bit stuck its hand in the water and recoiled. The water seemed to burn its hand. As it wandered, the joints in its hand seemed to work a little bit worse. Two-Bit was not thrilled about this. It continued to wander, this time following the river west until it heard a mysterious voice call out. "Hey!" "You there!" Two-Bit looked around, confused as to whose voice it was hearing. All that was near was a cactus with 3 pigs tied around its base. It had not noticed this cactus and moved towards it to inspect further. As Two-Bit neared the plant, the top half swiveled around and revealed a face imprinted upon the green surface. "You an Annim?" Two-Bit looked, awestruck, at the cactus. It had just spoken! Two-Bit had not seen another being like it as long as it had lived. Two-Bit confirmed that it was, indeed, an Annim and told him its name. The cactus looked at Two-Bit and said, "It's a pleasure there, Two-Bit. The name's Porky. And as you can see, I wasn't quite as lucky as you when it came to getting animated. You seem to have legs, and I can't say the same about myself." Two-Bit noticed that this cactus seemed quite affable. It asked about the pigs. "Some hooligan came over and tied these pigs around me. Not much I can do about it, other than try to keep them safe. There's a town just down the river, but nobody comes within a ten-foot pole of me. Cause of the whole animation thing." Two-Bit felt saddened, as it had also lived a life of very little pleasant interaction. It felt fulfilled, finding someone like it. Two-Bit conversed with Porky, and they came to an agreement: Two-Bit would build a shack from some materials nearby and would raise the pigs while Porky kept them safe. This agreement worked quite well for them, as neither had had a life full of interaction. It was refreshing to be able to talk with one another.

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As weeks turned into months, Two-Bit and Porky built up their business, raising their pigs and talking as much as they pleased. They struck a freshwater source underground and cobbled together a well. Around 6 months after Two-Bit had arrived, they had built a small and tidy homestead on the frontier and hammered a sign into the ground stating "All are welcome. Food, rest, and guidance are here for you." Two-Bit took this newfound free time to practice the fiddle it was given. Due to its metallic fingers, it didn't sound like a person playing the fiddle. It was a sound unique to Two-Bit. One fine evening, six or so months after settling down, a burly man on a mule rode up to the Annim home. He dismounted his horse and knocked on the door. Two-Bit opened the door, and the man seemed shocked. "Ah Christ, you an Annim? Jesus this is not what I need," the man said. Two-Bit asked what he did need. "I need to get to my family. You wouldn't happen to know how to get to Oasis from here, would you?" Two-Bit eagerly confirmed that it did and asked his name. "The name's Davis. My family settled down here a while ago, but I stayed home to sell the family business. Finally got rid of it and came West to find riches. What the hell are you doing here?" the man sneered. Two-Bit said that it had found Porky and they decided to set up a place for folks to rest near the end of their journey. There was a small, hand-built table with a few stools sitting out under an awning. Two-Bit said that it was quite proud of what it had made. "Well that's great and all, but what'd it take to get some water and directions?" The man seemed displeased to be talking with an Annim. Two-Bit hardly took notice. It made an offer to the man, if he would give his word to trade Two-Bit the first two weeks of gold he found, it would give him some of its well water and some food and sent him on his way. The man seemed pleased. "That sure would be great. I don't suppose you've got any meat do ya? The road's been hard." The man asked hopefully. Two-Bit informed him that they had their first slaughter a while back, and it had taken it upon itself to set up some jerky for any passersby who needed it. The man was ecstatic.

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"Well I'll be damned you do have a real nice set-up here! I'd love to do business," the man chuckled. Two-Bit said that in two weeks, the man could return to the homestead, and give Two-Bit its rightly earned wealth. If no wealth had been found, Davis would return, and they could work out another deal. The man agreed and went on his way. Three weeks passed, and there was no sign of Davis' return. Porky seemed displeased, but unsurprised. This is something that humans were fond of doing to Annims. Two-Bit was hardly discouraged and continued to wait patiently for another opportunity. After another three weeks, a caravan pulled up to their home. A tall skinny man jumped out of the wagon and eagerly made his way to Two-Bit. "Howdy! I'm Carson," the man said enthusiastically. Two-Bit replied with equal enthusiasm and asked what it might be able to do to help. Carson looked at the mechanical boy and seemed surprised to find an equal energy. "Well my family and I have been lost for a while now. We've heard of a town called Oasis near here, but for the life of me I just can't find it. You wouldn't happen to know where it is, would you?" Two-Bit excitedly answered that it did, in fact, know exactly where Oasis was! The man seemed impressed, even more so when Two-Bit offered some water and food to keep them going on their journey. "Gee thank you son. This has been real helpful for us. Anything I can do to repay you?" He asked eagerly. Two-Bit asked him the same deal as the other man, if he returned in two weeks and gave it the wealth he had acquired, the debt would be paid. Carson agreed, and thought it was as fair as can be, and he and his family went on their way. After a week and a half, Two-Bit decided to try panning once again. He was hoping Carson would come in the next few days but figured the likelihood of that was slim to none. TwoBit took out his pan, and Porky sent him off with a warning. "Make sure you stay out of the water as much as you can. Wouldn't want your whole self rusting up like your poor left hand," Porky said sternly. Two-Bit assured Porky that it would stay out of the water as much as it could, it knew the risk but wanted to finally find its wealth. Porky kept a watchful eye as it made its way to the river.

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Two-Bit began to pan, keeping its hand completely out of the water. After a couple hours, Two-Bit had found a single gold nugget, but knew that this was not the wealth it sought. As it turned to make its way back to the house, it stumbled on a rock and fell into the water, completely submerged. After nearly two seconds of the excruciating pain of being underwater, Two-Bit quickly pulled itself out, and climbed to the shore. It stood, with its back to the homestead and felt its body stiffen. Soon enough, Two-Bit wasn't able to move at all. Two-Bit couldn't see Porky but could hear him call out. It wasn't able to return any sort of words and sat there unmoving. Night fell. After sitting next to the river all night, unable to move or speak Two-Bit began to worry. It wasn't sure if it would get out of this one. A few more days passed, the time inching slowly by. On the dawn of the fourth day, TwoBit began to hear Porky yell louder than it had ever heard him yell. It began to hear wagon wheels, and suddenly remembered the deal it had struck with Carson. It heard mumbling conversation, 30 feet away, and soon heard footsteps thumping towards it. Carson came up behind Two-Bit. "Golly, you sure are in a pickle aren't you pal? Let me see what I can do to help." Carson ran back to his wagon and returned with a grease cloth and a bucket of oil. He began to apply the oil to all of Two-Bit's joints, and it slowly felt feeling return. It began to shudder and move its joints. It felt invigorating to move after four days of being still. Carson smiled at Two-Bit and said, "You didn't think I'd forget about you, did you? I haven't struck any gold yet, but I've come with a deal to make." They began to talk and came upon the decision to exchange Carson's gold for Two-Bit's resources. The more Carson found, the more Two-Bit was able to invest in its business. They thought a 70-30 ratio was fair as could be. A few months after the deal was struck, Two-Bit had finally found the wealth it had searched for after all this time. The steady income of gold allowed Two-Bit to hire a few stable hands and purchase some more livestock from Oasis. A year later, and Two-Bit had a business that it was running along with the assistance of Porky. Two-Bit decided to write a letter to Puller, hoping to inform him of its newfound success in the West. Initially, it felt desire to show off its wealth to him but as it wrote the letter it

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realized that the man had shaped much of its early life. As poor as that life was, Two-Bit would not be the Annim it currently was without him. It owed him some sort of debt, and Two-Bit felt it was worth telling him where it had ended up. It spent the rest of its life helping those in need and forming bonds with those who previously would have frowned upon it. Two-Bit was finally happy.

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Cadence I will sit in the crate, on the shelf, next to the others just like me. I will worry that I will not be picked and that I will grow brown like some of the others. I will sit and wonder, all day what will happen when I am picked. Will I be planted to grow into a mighty tree? Will I be savored, and enjoyed on toast? I will hope that I will not be combined with the any other vegetables. The searing pain of the lime juice is something I will think about often. Even if this mixture is my future, I will just hope it will not sit here until I am expired.

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A Night to Remember Kevin opened his front door for the third time this hour. He had never thrown a Halloween party before, but it was going pretty well. There were groups congregated throughout his apartment; most people were chatting amongst themselves. He welcomed the newest group of folks and noticed they all seemed to be dressed up as the same character. Some sort of disco vampires? He was unsure. The fake teeth and leisure suits didn’t lend themselves well to identifiable costumes. Nevertheless, he welcomed them with a smile and informed them of the snack table. As the night went on, he noticed nobody in this disco vampire group had taken any food or drinks and he considered this odd. He walked over to the man who seemed to be the leader of this peculiar group. “Are you guys hungry at all?” He asked. “Sorry there chief, we don’t be hungry for yer particular libations,” the man replied in a thick accent. Strange, he talks like a pirate. Now Kevin had absolutely no idea what their costumes were supposed to be. “I can run to the store and grab something for you guys. Anything in particular you’re interested in?” Kevin offered. “Aye, I don’t think you’ll be getting what we want from the corner market,” the leader said. The group erupted into laughter. Kevin didn’t get the joke, and offered one last time, “If you guys think of anything you need, just let me know. I’m looking to throw the best party I can,” Kevin politely chuckled and walked away wondering: Who invited these guys? As the night went on, Kevin slowly became more and more suspicious of the group of characters. He observed them from a distance and noticed that they hardly spoke, only sharing meaningful looks throughout the hours. Also, not once did any of them interact with anyone outside their group. Until around 2:00 a.m. Kevin watched as one of the group members got up and walked over toward a pretty young woman in a cat costume. The man said nothing, but merely twirled his finger in a half circle and the woman got up and followed him into the bathroom. After four and a half minutes, they came back and the woman looked dazed and pale. Kevin decided this had crossed the line -

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he would not allow any sort of manipulative and harmful behavior like this to happen in his home. He strolled up to the group and said: “Alright fellas, the party’s wrapping up, so it’s time to head out. No need to help me clean, I’ve got plenty of people who can help,” The men looked at him and started cackling. Kevin felt very uneasy at this point. The man looked him dead in the eye, almost as if daring Kevin to kick them out. “Guys I’m serious. The party is over. Time to leave if you don’t want the police involved,” Kevin said, voice wavering. A sour look came upon the men’s faces as they got up and begrudgingly left the apartment. Kevin felt a sense of pride. As they walked out the door, Kevin began to shut the door behind them. Just before he could get it closed, the lead man put his foot in the door and whispered, “This isn’t over.” Kevin felt his voice catch in his throat, but he was relieved when the man removed his foot and allowed the door to shut. He had a queasy feeling in his stomach but didn’t let that stop him from enjoying the rest of the party. He checked in with the woman who went into the bathroom and she said the man had just offered her a mysterious baggy, but she refused. Aside from that, she just felt faint. She thought it was from the alcohol. As the next day rolled around, and Kevin awoke to the afternoon sun. He checked his phone, and saw that it was 2:00 p.m. This, to him, was indicative of a well-thrown party and an all-around good time. He easily shrugged off the incident from the night before; the girl seemed fine and the men hadn’t returned after leaving. He thought it was just water under the bridge; every party has to have an altercation, right? Without it, it wouldn’t feel like it was worth having. He slid into some dark jeans and tossed his shoes on. He needed some breakfast – something greasy and fresh. He walked into the hallway of his complex and locked his door behind him. As he walked toward the elevator, he felt a tingle on his neck - the feeling you get when someone is looking at you from behind. He spun around quickly and saw nothing but the light darkening for a moment at the end of the hallway. There was a window halfway down, and the afternoon sun shone through onto the wall. He considered the possibilities of this shadow and settled on a bird flying in front of the window.

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He clumped down the stairs, still feeling the party in his bones. He opened the lobby door and walked out onto the street. It was a beautiful day, and he was glad to enjoy it. Just as he arrived at the market down the street, it seemed like clouds came out of nowhere. All of the sudden, this gorgeous, sunny day turned into a bleak and gray affair. He frowned. Why is it that I am never able to enjoy these nice days? He grabbed a fried biscuit sandwich from the café and loaded it with hot sauce at the condiment station. He headed back onto the street, heading towards the park down the road. When he arrived, he saw not a single person anywhere near the park. This seemed very suspicious to him. As he sat on a bench, ready to enjoy his sandwich, he heard a twig crunch behind him. He quickly spun around, trying to catch whatever made the noise. He saw nothing but a broken twig on the ground, just in front of a rock. He thought this was odd and got up to investigate. He took a bite of his sandwich as he walked over towards the rock. “Hello?” he called. There was no response. “I know there’s someone here. Show yourself,” he weakly commanded. No one replied, and so Kevin turned and rushed home. He felt he would be safest in his apartment. He hurried down the street and rushed up the stairs of the building. As he got to his room, he noticed that the door was unlocked. Uh-oh he thought. He went into the apartment, expecting all of his belongings to be rifled through. Surprisingly, nothing noticeable was out of place. Suddenly he heard a voice: “I told ye this ain’t be over.” He spun around and saw the guy from the party, walking in from the kitchen. Kevin noticed he was still in costume. He thought this was odd but assumed he had just been crashing parties all day too. “What do you want?” Kevin asked. “I be wanting to take you down. A grave embarrassment fell upon my bloodline when ye kicked me out of your pathetic party,” the man gruffly replied. Kevin’s heart began to pound. He was shocked at this man threatening his life, all because of his party. Why was this guy so odd? What was he on? Frankly, Kevin did not want to

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find out. Just as Kevin was about to turn and run for his dear life, the man noticed the change in Kevin’s eyes. Kevin started to run, but the man was one step ahead of him. The man quickly leapt from the kitchen and tackled Kevin. In the lobby, the doorman thought he might have heard a muffled scream. The noise did not last long and was not very loud, so the doorman decided to investigate only if something else were to happen. He focused his attention outside and thought about what a dreary day today was turning out to be.

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An Ode to a Star When I first met you, We took our time to know each other. I gave you my heart, But you had already stolen it. Every memory of us shines In my mind like a star. Galaxies inside my head Grow brighter every day. There is no space I will not explore Without you there Forever more.

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Days Going By I put down the phone and closed my eyes for a second. I just had to gather my wits. Soon my eyes would be open, and I would be ready to move through my day. My eyes didn’t want to open. David had just informed me that he would not be able to come over that day. It wasn’t a big deal, there were plenty of times when I wished that I hadn’t agreed to be with people. This was not one of those times. Since I had started a new medication, I had been feeling less than usual; without my regular feelings tying me down it was easier to “do” rather than to just think. I had tossed a question around for a few months before. Was it all really worth it? Now, of course, I know that it is very worth it. Every moment and emotion was and will be worth it. At the time, I was struggling with knowing the difference between my feelings and my thoughts. Since my feelings were less, they became much more readable. It sounds like it should be a positive; assigning words to your feelings allows you to understand them better, right? I don’t know how others would deal with it. When I was thinking my feelings, it made them more difficult to resist. If I felt like I wanted to go for a walk at 2:00 in the morning, odds are I was going to, despite the safety hazard. I stood up from my desk and began to walk around the house. I lived with my parents at the time, but nobody was home. I wasn’t sure what I was searching for, but at the same time I knew exactly what I needed to find. My parents didn’t really have rope around the house; there wouldn’t be much need for it. My dad likes to build things, but for the most part it’s just carpentry. I searched for a while and came up empty handed. I took to the garage; a last-ditch effort to find anything serviceable. I peered into the empty yet cluttered room and stepped out with no socks on. The floor was always so cold in here. I looked to the left and saw the power outlet that we plugged our shop-vac into. As usual, there was a dirty orange extension cord pooling on the floor in front of it. So, I took to my plan; I stood up on my toes and unplugged the cord from the wall. Searching the ceiling, I noticed one of the bike hooks. It hadn’t had a bike hanging from it for about a decade; nevertheless, it looked as solid as I felt it should. I stepped to the line that separated each half of the garage. The front half was where we parked our car; the back half was filled with relics from my childhood. It just so happened that our small air hockey table was

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perched on its side, just below the hook. Suddenly, I was overcome with a desire to take this a step further. I don’t think I actually wanted to do this. My feelings becoming thoughts led me to struggle with impulse control. I took a large step up onto the table and began wrapping the cord around my neck. I wasn’t sure how to do this; I will admit it was my first time trying. I wrapped the length of cord 5 or 6 times, thinking that was more than enough. I took the other half of the cable and wrapped it a few times around the bike hook. At the last second, my brain seemed to realize what was going on and told me this was possibly the worst thing I had ever done. Just as I was beginning to unwrap the cord, the table under me splintered where I had been standing. As I fell, a lot flashed through my head. When I was 6, I went to a therapist for my anger issues. He told us it was indicative of a larger mental health issue. He was the first of many. When I was 7, I saw a very old man in the airport who I was afraid of for no reason. I couldn’t sleep that night; irrationally afraid that this man was going to find me. My mother informed me that this was anxiety. When I was 9, I played a joke on my dad that I shouldn’t have. I felt bad, which was normal, but I felt worse than I should have. I was too hard on myself; I was just a kid. Everybody makes mistakes, Sam. When I was 12, all of my friends were upset with me for a reason that was blown out of proportion. The issue may have been caused by hormones, but I felt the best solution would have been to remove the problem – me. This was my depression. When I was 16, I made myself sick 11 times to avoid going to school. I was too stressed about my work; I needed breaks. When I was 17, I went to group therapy because I had been struggling too much with school. I met nice people, but we were all unhealthy. And, when I was 18, I briefly hung from my parent’s garage because of a medicine that was supposed to help me feel better. Luckily, I didn’t hang for long.

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I felt like I watched my whole life in an instant. It was a relief when it kept going past this moment. Somehow, I saw there was still more for me here and I felt a strange comfort. I was going to graduate college. I was going to get a job. I was going to find the love of my life. I saw these things just as well as I saw the things that had already happened. I knew I was sinking to the floor; but I also had no idea what was going on. After hitting the ground, my vision cleared up and I couldn’t breathe. It turns out, all that had happened was the cord tightened around my neck as I immediately began to drop to the floor. The cable slowed the descent, so it gave my brain time to think about what the hell I had gotten myself into. I unwrapped the cord from my neck as fast as I could. It felt like I was moving through honey. Tears burned in my eyes as soon as I realized what had happened. I laid down for a few minutes; the cold of the floor sobering up my mind. All I knew in that moment was that I was very lucky.

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The Foyer shutters always closed smooshy rug below my feet peaceful, yet busy bike under window sometimes dark, sometimes pretty comfort and chaos change on a glass plate fans hum to keep silence loud zen with minor noise

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The Long and Incredible Adventures of Two-Bit the Machine There once was a man named Puller who owned a factory. He started this factory in the early middle of his life, seeking success and prosperity over starting a family. As he grew older, he felt a gaping hole in his life which wealth could not fill. One fine evening, after closing the factory for the night, he thought: I would do anything for a child right now. I must be fulfilled. As he sat down on his bed in his room above the factory, he heard a loud crack and saw lightning pierce the sky. He immediately grew concerned for the wellbeing of his machinery, temporarily forgetting his desire for fulfilment. He clumped down the stairs as fast as he could, and threw open the door. Stumbling onto the front stoop, Puller's face went white as a sheet when he saw a mechanical child curled up on the ground right outside his factory. The first thought that came to him was I have been stuck with an animated object. In this land, when a great electricity in the air made the decision to strike any sort of object, that object was blessed with life like any actual human. They took on some of the characteristics of humans, growing and changing as they aged; but it was unable to give these beings parts that they did not already possess. It could not create objects, it could only give objects life. It was also unable to create life from any of the basic elements. These animated objects were believed to be a bad thing, and those who had previously owned the objects prior to their animation were believed to have been cursed. Puller also held this belief, and he made it known in the child's life from this point on. He named this child "Two-Bit" as he saw little value in it, beyond it being another worker. Puller believed it to be a new issue he was required to deal with. Two-Bit grew into a strong young machine, working hard in its father's factory. Each night, as Two-Bit finished its work for the day, Puller reinforced in it's mind that it was nothing but a machine. He led it to believe that it was unlike the other workers, and instead, it deserved no breaks for the day. He would tell Two-Bit that it was less human than the other workers, and therefore had less rights. Puller also refused to allow Two-Bit to continue to work as he slept; he said that he knew it would mess up his hard earned machinery. He would send it off to its corner of the factory, underneath the 25


largest machine, and tell it to lie and wait until morning. Two-Bit knew no other life, and therefore accepted what it had been given. For eight long years, Two-Bit was worked to its core by Puller. He had it do the jobs that were too dangerous for the human workers. Two-Bit would have to crawl inside machinery to unstick a cog. Two-Bit would stretch to its limits feeding textiles through the machines. Puller saw this as a curse for his wealth, rather than viewing Two-Bit as a blessing of a legacy. After the eighth year passed, Two-Bit had grown to the size of a man and Puller asked it to come to his office. "I have unfortunate news, Two-Bit. Because you are what they call an 'annim,' people have begun refusing to purchase my textiles. You have caused me great anguish over the years, and the time has come for you to leave." Two-Bit was unsure how to deal with this information. It took its belongings from the corner it had called home, and took to the streets to find a new path in life. It sat on the corner of a road, outside a bakery processing where to go next. After a few days of sitting on this corner, the baker shooed Two-Bit away, believing it to be a bad omen for business. It began walking down the street, alongside a cart hauling goods to the general store. It heard two men in the cart speaking of a great wealth in the West, where people have found success by merely fishing around the rivers for gold. Two-Bit thought this sounded like the success it sought, and so began its journey west. After seeking a guide, Two-Bit stumbled upon a family heading to the land of the West. It made a simple request, to come along on the journey and offer what it could in return for passage. The family was very hesitant to accept this offer, but decided having an extra set of hands, annim or not, would aid in the journey. On this journey, which took far longer than TwoBit could have predicted, the family grew to tolerate it. They even decided to give an old dusty fiddle to Two-Bit, having deemed the instrument worthless due to its time in their cellar. Two-Bit was very happy to have a new belonging that it had earned. As soon as this family made it to the land they were heading towards, Two-Bit found itself on its own once again. The family did not want to risk curses as they worked on acquiring their wealth, and so Two-Bit was alone again.

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It wandered the dusty landscape for days, seeking any fortune it could find. It would sit at night, and pluck this fiddle as the moon rose and set. It worked hard on learning this instrument, and would lie on the ground waiting for the night to pass; it knew no other way to spend the night. Two-Bit found a river, and remembered the family speaking of the simple wealth to be found in a water source just like this one. Two-Bit stuck its hand in the water, and recoiled. The water seemed to burn its hand, and pulled away its hand. As it wandered, the joints in its hand seemed to work a little bit worse. Two-Bit was not thrilled about this. It continued to wander, this time following the river west until it heard a mysterious voice call out. "Hey!" "You there!" Two-Bit looked around, confused as to whose voice it was hearing. All that was near was a cactus with 3 pigs tied around its base. It had not noticed this cactus, and moved towards it to inspect further. As Two-Bit neared the plant, the top half swiveled around and revealed a face imprinted upon the green surface. "You an annim?" Two-Bit looked, awestruck, at the cactus. It had just spoken! Two-Bit had not seen another being like it as long as it had lived. Two-Bit confirmed that it was, indeed, an annim and told him its name. The cactus looked at Two-Bit and said, "It's a pleasure there, Two-Bit. The name's Porky. And as you can see, I wasn't quite as lucky as you when it came to getting animated. You seem to have legs, and I can't say the same about myself." Two-Bit noticed that this cactus seemed quite affable. It asked about the pigs. "Some hooligan came over and tied this pigs around me. Not much I can do about it, other than try to keep them safe. There's a town just down the river, but nobody comes within a ten foot pole of me. Cause of the whole animation thing." Two-Bit felt saddened, as it had also lived a life of very little pleasant interaction. It felt fulfilled, finding someone like it. Two-Bit conversed with Porky, and they came to an agreement: Two-Bit would build a shack from some materials nearby, and would raise the pigs while Porky kept them safe. This agreement worked quite well for them, as neither had had a life full of interaction. It was refreshing to be able to talk with one another.

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As weeks turned into months, Two-Bit and Porky built up their business, raising their pigs and talking as much as they pleased. They struck a freshwater source underground, and cobbled together a well. Around 6 months after Two-Bit had arrived, they had built a small and tidy homestead on the frontier, and hammered a sign into the ground stating "All are welcome. Food, rest, and guidance are here for you." Two-Bit took this newfound free time to practice the fiddle it was given. Due to its metallic fingers, it didn't sound like a person playing the fiddle. It was a sound unique to Two-Bit. One fine evening, six or so months after settling down, a burly man on a mule rode up to the annim home. He dismounted his horse, and knocked on the door. Two-Bit opened the door, and the man seemed shocked. "Ah Christ, you an annim? Jesus this is not what I need," the man said. Two-Bit asked what he did need. "I need to get to my family. You wouldn't happen to know how to get to Oasis from here, would you?" Two-Bit eagerly confirmed that it did, and asked his name. "The name's Davis. My family settled down here a while ago, but I stayed home to sell the family business. Finally got rid of it, and came West to find riches. What the hell are you doing here?" the man sneered. Two-Bit said that it had found Porky and they decided to set up a place for folks to rest near the end of their journey. There was a small, hand built table with a few stools sitting out under an awning. Two-Bit said that it was quite proud of what it had made. "Well that's great and all, but what'd it take to get some water and directions?" The man seemed displeased to be talking with an annim. Two-Bit hardly took notice. It made an offer to the man, if he would give his word to trade Two-Bit the first two weeks of gold he found, it would give him some of it's well water and some food and sent him on his way. The man seemed pleased. "That sure would be great. I don't suppose you've got any meat do ya? The road's been hard." The man asked hopefully. Two-Bit informed him that they had their first slaughter a while back, and it had taken it upon itself to set up some jerky for any passersby who needed it. The man was ecstatic.

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"Well I'll be damned, you do have a real nice set-up here! I'd love to do business," the man chuckled. Two-Bit said that in two weeks, the man could return to the homestead, and give Two-Bit its rightly earned wealth. If no wealth had been found, Davis would return and they could work out another deal. The man agreed, and went on his way. Three weeks passed, and there was no sign of Davis' return. Porky seemed displeased, but unsurprised. This is something that humans were fond of doing to annims. Two-Bit was hardly discouraged, and continued to wait patiently for another opportunity. After another three weeks, a caravan pulled up to their home. A tall skinny man jumped out of the wagon and eagerly made his way to Two-Bit. "Howdy! I'm Carson," the man said enthusiastically. Two-Bit replied with equal enthusiasm and asked what it might be able to do to help. Carson looked at the mechanical boy and seemed surprised to find an equal energy. "Well my family and I have been lost for a while now. We've heard of a town called Oasis near here, but for the life of me I just can't find it. You wouldn't happen to know where it is, would you?" Two-Bit excitedly answered that it did, in fact, know exactly where Oasis was! The man seemed impressed, even more so when Two-Bit offered some water and food to keep them going on their journey. "Gee thank you son. This has been real helpful for us. Anything I can do to repay you?" He asked eagerly. Two-Bit asked him the same deal as the other man, if he returned in two weeks and gave it the wealth he had acquired, the debt would be paid. Carson agreed, and thought it was as fair as can be, and he and his family went on their way. After a week and a half, Two-Bit decided to try panning once again. He was hoping Carson would come in the next few days, but figured the likelihood of that was slim to none. Two-Bit took out his pan, and Porky sent him off with a warning. "Make sure you stay out of the water as much as you can. Wouldn't want your whole self rusting up like your poor left hand," Porky said sternly. Two-Bit assured Porky that it would stay out of the water as much as it could, it knew the risk but wanted to finally find its wealth. Porky kept a watchful eye as it made its way to the river.

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Two-Bit began to pan, keeping its hand completely out of the water. After a couple hours, Two-Bit had found a single gold nugget, but knew that this was not the wealth it sought. As it turned to make its way back to the house, it stumbled on a rock and fell into the water, completely submerged. After nearly two seconds of the excruciating pain of being underwater, Two-Bit quickly pulled itself out, and climbed to the shore. It stood, with its back to the homestead and felt its body stiffen. Soon enough, Two-Bit wasn't able to move at all. Two-Bit couldn't see Porky, but could hear him call out. It wasn't able to return any sort of words, and sat there unmoving. Night fell. After sitting next to the river all night, unable to move or speak Two-Bit began to worry. It wasn't sure if it would get out of this one. A few more days passed, the time inching slowly by. On the dawn of the fourth day, TwoBit began to hear Porky yell louder than it had ever heard him yell. It began to hear wagon wheels, and suddenly remembered the deal it had struck with Carson. It heard mumbling conversation, 30 feet away, and soon heard footsteps thumping towards it. Carson came up behind Two-Bit. "Golly, you sure are in a pickle aren't you pal? Let me see what I can do to help." Carson ran back to his wagon and returned with a grease cloth and a bucket of oil. He began to apply the oil to all of Two-Bit's joints, and it slowly felt feeling return. It began to shudder, and move its joints. It felt invigorating to move after four days of being still. Carson smiled at Two-Bit and said, "You didn't think I'd forget about you, did you? I haven't struck any gold yet, but I've come with a deal to make." They began to talk, and came upon the decision to exchange Carson's gold for Two-Bit's resources. The more Carson found, the more Two-Bit was able to invest in its business. A few months after the deal was struck, Two-Bit had finally found the wealth it had searched for after all this time. The steady income of gold allowed Two-Bit to hire a few stable hands, and purchase some more livestock from Oasis. A year later, and Two-Bit had a business that it was running along with the assistance of Porky. Two-Bit decided to write a letter to Puller, hoping to inform him of its newfound success in the West. Initially, it felt desire to show off its wealth to him but as it wrote the letter it realized that the man had shaped much of its early life. As poor as that life was, Two-Bit would

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not be the annim it currently was without him. It owed him some sort of debt, and Two-Bit felt it was worth telling him where it had ended up. It spent the rest of its life helping those in need and forming bonds with those who previously would have frowned upon it. Two-Bit was finally happy.

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A Night to Remember Kevin opened his front door for the third time this hour. He had never thrown a Halloween party before, but for a first time it was going pretty well. There were groups congregated throughout his apartment; most people were chatting amongst themselves. He welcomed the newest group of folks and noticed they all seemed to be dressed up as the same character. Some sort of disco vampires? He was unsure. The fake teeth and leisure suits didn’t lend themselves well to identifiable costumes. Nevertheless, he welcomed them with a smile and informed them of the snack table. As the night went on, he noticed nobody in this group had taken any food or drinks and he considered this odd. He walked over to who seemed to be the leader of this peculiar group. “Are you guys hungry at all?” He asked. “Sorry there chief, we don’t be hungry for yer particular libations,” the man replied in a thick accent. Strange, he talks like a pirate. Now Kevin had absolutely no idea what their costumes were supposed to be. “I can run out to the store and grab something for you guys. Anything in particular you’re interested in?” Kevin offered. “Aye, I don’t think you’ll be getting what we want from the corner market,” the leader said. The group erupted into laughter. Kevin didn’t get the joke, and offered one last time, “If you guys think of anything you need, just let me know. I’m looking to throw the best party I can,” Kevin politely chuckled and walked away wondering: Who invited these guys? As the night went on, Kevin slowly became more and more suspicious of this group of characters. He observed them from a distance and noticed that they hardly spoke, only sharing meaningful looks throughout the hours. Also, not once did any of them interact with anyone outside their group. Until around 2:00 a.m. Kevin watched as one of the suspicious partygoers got up and walked over toward a pretty young woman in a cat costume. The man said nothing, but merely twirled his finger in a half circle and the woman got up and followed him into the bathroom. After four and a half minutes passed, they came back and the woman looked dazed and pale. Kevin decided that this

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had crossed the line; he would not allow any sort of manipulative and harmful behavior like this to happen in his home. He strolled up to the group and said: “Alright fellas, the party’s wrapping up, so it’s time to head out. No need to help me clean, I’ve got loads of people who can help,” The men looked at him and started cackling. Kevin felt very uneasy at this point. The man looked him dead in the eye; almost as if daring him to kick them out. “Guys I’m serious; the party is over. Time to leave if you don’t want the police involved,” Kevin said, voice wavering. A sour look came upon the men’s faces as they got up and begrudgingly left the apartment. Kevin felt a sense of pride. As they walked out the door, Kevin began to shut the door behind them. Just before he could get it closed, the lead man put his foot in the door and whispered, “This isn’t over.” Kevin was not happy to hear this; but he was relieved when the man removed his foot, allowing the door to shut. He had a queasy feeling in his stomach but didn’t let that stop him from enjoying the rest of the party. He checked in with the woman who went into the bathroom and she said the man had just offered her a mysterious baggy, and she refused. Aside from that, she just felt faint. She was thinking it was from the alcohol. The next day rolled around, and Kevin awoke to the afternoon sun. He checked his phone, and saw that it was 2:00 p.m. This, to him, was indicative of a well-thrown party and an all-around good time. He easily shrugged off the incident from the night before; the girl seemed ok and the guys hadn’t shown up at any point after they had left. He thought it was just water under the bridge; every party has to have an altercation, right? Without it, it wouldn’t feel like it was worth having. He slid into some dark jeans and tossed his shoes on; he needed some breakfast – something greasy and fresh. He went into the hallway of his complex and locked his door behind him. As he walked toward the elevator, he felt a tingle in his neck; the feeling you get when someone is looking at you from behind. He spun around quickly and saw nothing but the light darken for a moment at the end of the hallway. There was a window halfway down, and the afternoon sun shone through onto the wall. He considered the possibilities of this shadow and settled on a bird flying in front of the window.

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He clumped down the stairs, still feeling the party in his bones. He opened the lobby door and walked out onto the street. It was a beautiful day, and he was glad to be able to enjoy it. Just as he arrived at the market down the street, it seemed like clouds came out of nowhere. All of the sudden, this gorgeous, sunny day turned into a bleak and gray affair. He frowned. Why is it that I am never able to enjoy these nice days? He grabbed a fried biscuit sandwich from the café and loaded it with hot sauce at the condiment station. He headed back out onto the street, heading towards the park down the road. When he arrived, he saw not a single person anywhere near the park. This seemed very suspicious to him. As he sat on a bench, ready to enjoy his sandwich, he heard a twig crunch behind him. He quickly spun around, trying to catch whatever made the noise. He saw nothing but a broken twig on the ground, just in front of a rock. He thought this was odd and got up to investigate. He took a bite of his sandwich as he walked over towards the rock. “Hello?” he called. There was no response. “I know there’s someone here. Show yourself,” he weakly commanded. Nothing replied, and so Kevin turned and rushed home, he felt he would be safest in his apartment. He hurried down the street and rushed up the stairs of the building. As he got to his room, he noticed that the door was unlocked. Uh-oh he thought. He went into the apartment, expecting all of his belongings to be rifled through. Surprisingly, nothing noticeable was out of place. Suddenly he heard a voice: “I told ye this ain’t be over.” He spun around and saw the guy from the party, walking in from the kitchen. Kevin noticed he was still in costume. He thought this was odd but assumed he had just been crashing parties all day too. “What do you want?” Kevin asked. “I be wanting to take you down. A grave embarrassment fell upon my bloodline when ye kicked me out of your pathetic party,” the man gruffly replied. Kevin’s heart began to pound. He was shocked that this man was threatening his life, all because of his party. Why was this guy so odd? What was he on? Frankly, Kevin didn’t want to

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find out. And so, just as he was about to turn and run for his dear life, the man noticed the change in Kevin’s eyes. Kevin started to run, but the man was one step ahead of him. He quickly leapt from the kitchen and tackled Kevin. In the lobby, the doorman thought he might have heard a muffled scream. It didn’t last long and wasn’t very loud, so he decided to only investigate if something else were to happen. He focused his attention outside and thought about what a dreary day today was turning out to be.

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Cadence It will sit in the crate, on the shelf, next to the others just like it. It will worry that it will not be picked and that it will grow brown like some of the others. It will sit and wonder, all day what will happen when it is picked. Will it be planted to grow into a mighty tree? Will it be savored, and enjoyed on toast? It will hope that it won’t be combined with the any other vegetables. The searing pain of the lime juice is something it will think about often. Even if this mixture is its future, it will just hope it will not sit here until it is expired.

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An Ode to a Star When I first met you We took our time to know each other. I gave you my heart But you had already stolen it. Every memory of us shines In my mind like a star. Galaxies inside my head Grow brighter every day. There is no space I won’t explore Without you there Forever more.

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The Foyer shutters always closed smooshy rug below my feet peaceful yet busy bike under window sometimes dark sometimes pretty comfort and chaos change on a glass plate fans hum to keep silence loud zen with minor noise

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Days Going By I put down the phone and closed my eyes for a second. I just had to gather my wits. Soon my eyes would be open, and I would be ready to move through my day. My eyes didn’t want to open. David had just informed me that he would not be able to come over that day. It wasn’t a big deal, there were plenty of times when I wished that I hadn’t agreed to be with people. This was not one of those times. Since I had started a new medication, I had been feeling less than usual; without my regular feelings tying me down it was easier to “do” rather than to just think. I had tossed a question around for a few months before. Was it all really worth it? Now, of course, I know that it is very worth it. Every moment and emotion was and will be worth it. At the time, I was struggling with knowing the difference between my feelings and my thoughts. Since my feelings were less, they became much more readable. It sounds like it should be a positive; assigning words to your feelings allows you to understand them better, right? I don’t know how others would deal with it. When I was thinking my feelings, it made them more difficult to resist. I stood up from my desk and began to walk around the house. I lived with my parents at the time, but nobody was home. I wasn’t sure what I was searching for, but at the same time I knew exactly what I needed to find. My parents didn’t really have rope around the house; there wouldn’t be much need for it. My dad likes to build things, but for the most part it’s just carpentry. I searched for a while and came up empty handed. I took to the garage; a last-ditch effort to find anything serviceable. I peered into the empty yet cluttered room and stepped out with no socks on. The floor was always so cold in here. I looked to the left and saw the power outlet that we plugged our shop-vac into. As usual, there was a dirty orange extension cord pooling on the floor in front of it. So, I took to my plan; I stood up on my toes and unplugged the cord from the wall. Searching the ceiling, I noticed one of the bike hooks. It hadn’t had a bike hanging from it for about a decade; nevertheless, it looked as solid as I felt it should. I stepped to the line that separated each half of the garage. The front half was where we parked our car; the back half was filled with relics from my childhood. It just so happened that our small air hockey table was perched on its side, just below the hook. Suddenly, I was overcome with a desire to take this a step further.

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I don’t think I actually wanted to do this. My feelings becoming thoughts led me to struggle with impulse control. I took a large step up onto the table and began wrapping the cord around my neck. I wasn’t sure how to do this; I will admit it was my first time trying. I wrapped the length of cord 5 or 6 times, thinking that was more than enough. I took the other half of the cable and wrapped it a few times around the bike hook. At the last second, my brain seemed to realize what was going on and told me this was possibly the worst thing I had ever done. Just as I was beginning to unwrap the cord, the table under me splintered where I had been standing. As I fell, a lot flashed through my head. When I was 6, I went to a therapist for my anger issues. He told us it was indicative of a larger mental health issue. He was the first of many. When I was 7, I saw a very old man in the airport who I was afraid of. I couldn’t sleep that night; irrationally afraid that this man was going to find me. My mother informed me that this was anxiety. When I was 9, I played a joke on my dad that I shouldn’t have. I felt bad, which was normal, but I felt worse than I should have. I was too hard on myself. Everybody makes mistakes, Sam. When I was 12, all of my friends were upset with me for a reason that was blown out of proportion. The issue may have been caused by hormones, but I felt the best solution would have been to remove the problem – me. This was my depression. When I was 16, I made myself sick 11 times to avoid going to school. I was too stressed about my work; I needed breaks. When I was 17, I went to group therapy because I had been struggling too much with school. I met nice people, but we were all unhealthy. And, when I was 18, I briefly hung from my parent’s garage because of a medicine that was supposed to help me feel better. Luckily, I didn’t hang for long. I felt like I watched my whole life in an instant. It was a relief when it kept going past this moment. Somehow, I saw there was still more for me here and I felt a strange comfort. I was going to graduate college. I was going to get a job. I was going to find the love of my life. I saw these things just as well as I saw the things that had already happened.

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I knew I was sinking to the floor; but I also had no idea what was going on. After hitting the ground, my vision cleared up and I couldn’t breathe. It turns out, all that had happened was the cord tightened around my neck as I immediately began to sink to the floor. The cable slowed the descent, so it gave my brain time to think about what the hell I had gotten myself into. I unwrapped the cord from my neck as fast as I could. It felt like I was moving through honey. Tears burned in my eyes as soon as I realized what had happened. I laid down for a few minutes; the cold of the floor sobering up my mind. All I knew in that moment was that I was very lucky.

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Author’s Note This has been quite a semester, in regard to my writing. When I started the year, I didn’t have much under my belt in terms of concrete things that I had written. I’ve always wanted to write a lot of stuff, but I’ve never really gotten around to actually writing what I need to. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m comfortable sitting down and just writing what I want to. Starting off this year with the Folktale revision was a great way to introduce me to writing the things that I wanted to. Being able to take a hold of an already written story and then make it my own paved the way for writing the fiction that I’ve always wanted to write. Moving onto the fiction pieces we were able to write was the next step in the process. Using flash as a way to introduce myself to writing what I want to was perfect, because it was a low-pressure way to get some stories out there. The poetry is something that I have no experience with whatsoever. I’ve never written poetry before, so it was refreshing to be able to try something new to see if it got more creative juices flowing. The creative nonfiction piece was difficult to write. I knew I wanted to tell this story, but it was a struggle to feel comfortable submitting it to be reviewed by peers. I knew I needed to take the leap at some point if I wanted to share the story. It was a turning point in my life, and it was very important in making me who I am today. When writing these stories, I took a similar approach to each of them. I sat down and free wrote a rough draft which I edited before submitting to the workshops. This was a good process for me, because I was able to get the raw ideas down onto the paper and then refine them after taking a bit of time away from the words. The folktale, the first piece I wrote, went poorly only because I tried to write the entire thing in one sitting. It was the longest story I wrote, and so typing at the computer for that long was exhausting. For all of the future pieces I made sure to pace myself as best I could. There were a few different things that each piece touched on. The folktale was an exercise in world-building for me – I wanted to take some time to put a lot of thought into creating an interesting world with a lot of character. I was able to do just this with the folktale

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retelling, creating the world of Annims was something that I spent a lot of time doing. I enjoyed every second of it. The fiction piece was my first attempt at creating a story in a world that I put even more time into. The folktale retelling allowed me to spend some time developing an interesting world, but the fiction piece was the first piece of many taking place in this world full of vampires and monsters. It was kind of the next step for the world-building exercise, this time creating something that will last for a while. Giving myself a world to tell any story in is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I was excited when this assignment allowed me to start that process. It was a great way to continue the process of learning about world-building, while also writing a story and getting feedback. The poetry samples were a way for me to find out how I felt about a new genre of writing. I’d only really ever written prose, so creating some poems was a good way to learn more about this other way of telling a story. I am not very good at poetry, but it was still a very good way to broaden my creative writing style – being able to write a poem allows me to write better prose. I used the creative nonfiction piece as a way to process what happened to me, and I realized while writing it that there was still a lot of stuff that I needed to work through. It was difficult to write it, but after writing it I felt much better about the situation. I’m glad I wrote it, but it was very hard to share. Overall all of these pieces helped to strengthen me as a writer. Writing out of my comfort zone is something I don’t have a lot of experience with, so having this outlet allowed me to do a lot for myself as a writer.

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