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Character Story Anxiety (Different ending)

anx∙i∙e∙ty /aNGˈzī­itē/ Noun 1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

The room was silent except for the humming of the air conditioner,  the scratching of pencils on paper, and the sound of rushing water whenever someone flushed the toilet in the bathroom above. The girl sat, quietly staring at the paper; she leaned forward and her hair fell into her face. She didn’t move it away, but let it stay there, hiding her face from everyone else. Her pencil moved rapidly on the page, stopping every once in awhile as she glanced around the room, discreetly watching someone else the same way she knew someone was probably watching her. The pencil in her hand had stopped moving again as she sat back and sighed. She flicked her hair from her face, twirled her pencil around her fingers and tried to think of something else to write. The assignment wasn’t a hard one­ describe someone else in the room­ but it was the idea that it was going to be read aloud in front of everyone that made her nervous. She stared at the blank cream walls. They were made of the same material as the rest of the building: large, rough blocks that were the main building material  in older schools. It wasn’t an unpleasant room, there were bookshelves full of books, and cork boards with papers stuck to them. Every few feet or so there would be a poster or two, some from old school projects, others advertising the yearbook or sports team.  Then, of course, there were the ‘inspirational’ posters.  Her mother was a psychologist, and there were inspirational plastering the walls of their house. She shook her head with disdain, she could barely talk to her mother without her mother going into what her sister called “shrink mode”. She hated being treated like one of her mother’s patients and not her daughter. She pushed that thought from her mind. There’s no use in complaining about something that won’t ever change. She turned her mind back onto the assignment. She had always hated school assignments; especially the ones that had to be shared aloud. Talking in front of people scared her more than anything else. She hated the feeling of having everyone’s eyes watching her, judging her and she knew they would be judging her. Since she was so quiet people always figured she never listened, but she did. She heard every word they said. It became a hobby of hers: collecting gossip like some collected toys or rocks. She kept a small journal at home with all the gossip she had heard each day. It had always amazed her how catty people could be, even those who acted like they were

your friends. That’s why she never talked in front of people, because out of everyone in the world, she knew what really went through people’s heads.  She glanced at the timer on the whiteboard. Five minutes, she thought, five minutes until I have to stand up there in front of everyone. She looked back at her paper, there was about a paragraph, which was a pretty good length. The teacher had said it could be as little as three sentences. She glanced at the girl next to her. Omigosh! The girl had almost a page, and when she scanned over the writing she saw that it was really good. She stared at her own small paragraph. What if it wasn’t long enough? What if everyone thought she was awful? What if when she got up there everyone would laugh at her? Her heart began pounding and her eyesight started getting fuzzy. No. Nononononono! Not now! The fuzziness got worse. Her breathing came quickly and heavily. She felt tears well up in her eyes. She could not have a panic attack! She absolutely couldn’t! The pounding in her head was so loud that she could barely hear her teacher’s voice saying that they had four minutes left. She took a few quick breaths and focused on calming down. She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes. She took a few breathes, the tears went away, but the pounding was still there. She thrust her hand into the air. “Ms. Clarke, I need to use the bathroom!” “Taylor, can you wait four minutes? I’ll let you go when we’re done sharing.” The disapproving tone in Ms. Clarke’s voice echoed throughout the classroom. The classroom burst into giggles. Taylor mumbled in agreement and stared at her paper. This was her third school in two years. She wasn’t a bad student, in fact, she always got straight A’s, but she couldn’t get up in front of people; it gave her panic attacks, and every time she had a panic attack she’d force her parents to let her change schools. She just couldn’t stand the way people looked at her when she walked down the hallway: pity, interest, disgust. And the whispers! The whispers that followed her everywhere. “Three minutes guys!” Please, please stop! She was getting more desperate. She actually liked this school. She had made friends. She knew they cared about her, but if they knew about the attacks; they would do the same thing all her old friends did: they would talk in hushed tones and they would tiptoe around her like she was some sort of time bomb, like if they said anything the wrong way, she would explode and she hated it! She hated being the one people pitied and talked about. She did her best to be invisible, to give people no reason to talk about her. She liked being one in a crowd. “Two minutes!” Oh God! Deep breathes, she thought, calm down. Her heart rate slowed down but still fluttered like a trapped bird. Her eyesight cleared slightly, but spots still danced around in her vision like a ballet company, twirling and leaping from eye to eye. She was still hyperventilating, and her lungs felt constricted like they were wrapped in iron bands.  Her hands were shaking and the pencil slid from her grip dropping to the table. The girl next to

her leaned over, “Are you okay?” She whispered. Taylor nodded stiffly and picked up her pencil again. She tried to focus on finishing the assignment, but everytime she tried to write, the pencil would slip and the words came out as scribbled nonsense. “One minute.” Come on, come on come on! The pounding quieted to a dull roar. She breathed a quick breath then closed her eyes. Easy, she thought, you can do this, you can. She opened her eyes, the spots still swirled, but her heart was almost back to normal. The pain in her stomach changed from a clawing, ripping pain to strong butterflies that swirled from her stomach to her throat then back again. Nausea washed over her like waves at a beach, any thought of sanding made her wish there was a trashcan very close by. “Okay guys! Time is up. The first one to present is,” Ms. Clarke scanned the page. Please not me. Oh dear God let it not be me. “Taylor Aaronson.” The walk up to the front of the classroom was short, too short. Taylor would have liked to stop time right there and just stay there forever; anything would be better than going up there. Her mind flip­flopped between reality and her memory. On a day almost identical to today, Taylor was called up to present a project in front of the class. She had stayed up all night to work on it, and she thought it was one of the best projects she had ever done. Unfortunately, she ate something bad that morning and when she went up to present, she threw up everywhere. The rest of the year people called her every name under the sun, and at the end of the school year they moved to another state, but the damage had already been done. Taylor could no longer stand in front of a classroom, or any large group of people without feeling sick. “Taylor, we’re waiting.” Taylor took a shaky breath and began to read. The whole class stayed quiet as she read, listening politely. When she had finished, she took another breath, and went back to her seat. The girl next to her leaned over smiling, “That was really good! I wish I could write as good as you.” Taylor smiled back, maybe this year will be different.

Random Facts Story  More than the stars

The bookstore was on the only shady street on the outskirts of town and it looked as out of place as out of place as a nun on a cheerleading team.  It had been standing there for over fifty years. All the buildings surrounding it were brightly lit and hadn’t been in business for more than a month and wouldn’t  be in business for more than two. It was my favorite place in the entire world. It had always been there, and in my mind, it always would. When I was little my mom used to set up scavenger hunts using the books inside, or write a secret message in code using the books as a key. The games in the books store became few and far between a few years earlier when she got sick and ended entirely when she died last year.  Sometimes I still found little slips of paper hidden between the pages of books. I opened the foggy glass door and was struck by the smell of paper and dust. Phoebe glanced up, nodded at me then turned back to her customer. I walked up and down the aisles fingering the warn covers. My fingers hit the edge of the bookshelf and my hand hit the cool brick wall. The mortyr in between the bricks crumbled in a few places. I remembered how my mom used to hide clues in some hole along this wall. I glance behind me. Phoebe was paying no attention to me. The customer was an older woman who was going on and on about this book or that author. Phoebe tried to look interested but every once in awhile her eyes would glaze over and she’d stare off above the woman’s head. I turned back to the wall and dug my fingers into a particularly weak spot. The mortyr crumbled easily and I slide the brick out. I peered into the slot my heart pounding. Nothing. I sighed and started to put the brick back. As I did my hand brushed the bottom of the brick and a slip of paper floated to the ground. I slid the brick back into place and unfolded the paper. It was written in my mom’s bold, blocky handwriting: ‘Hey sweetheart. Did you know the brain is the only organ in the body that can’t be replaced by a machine? Parts of your body can be replaced too. And(!) chemicals can remain in your body for YEARS

after they enter your body. Even if you die! ‘ I reread the note about three times. That’s it? How is that a clue? My mind was racing looking for any hidden messages in the note. I scanned the edge of the note.S­E­C­T MN. Section M­N. Then it hit me. Her favorite book was  Machine. A sci­fi murder mystery that she would read and reread over and over and over again. I thrust the slip of paper into my pocket and crossed the bookstore in three stepped. I scanned the dark shelves for the worn leather cover. Then I saw it. I took it off the shelf and flipped through the yellowing pages looking for underlined words or something that would reveal the next clue to me. After several minutes of scanning I shut the book and examined the cover. There! A small rip in the leather cover that anyone else would ignore and pass off as age. I stuck my fingers into the rip and grabbed the small slip of paper identical to the one in my pocket. ‘Nice job! Now here’s your next clue: Despite what most people think, pink is not a real color. ‘ Great, thanks mom. I groaned, how was I supposed to figure this one out? I looked along the edges of the paper searching for any hidden messages, but there weren’t any to be found.  I tried putting the words together in a different order, or taking out different letters and inserting them with new letters or numbers, but I had no luck. finally I gave up. I walked through the bookstore, nodding at  Phoebe on the way out. I crossed the street and found myself at the little internet cafe. I grabbed a seat in a back corner and googled my mother’s clue. After scrolling through hundreds of websites I finally found something. It was an old blog that featured astrology, and the science of light. I scrolled through the newest blog posts and found the ones that dated at about the same time as when my mom got sick. On one of the posts was a hyperlink to a website about the different colors of light, clicking on it I found myself on a blue screen with a pop­up asking me for a password. I swore softly to myself and glared at the screen. Its only response was the blink of the cursor. I tried all the usual passwords: my birthday, my mom’s birthday, the day she got sick. Eventually, I turned back to the note, but  I had no luck. Growling, I ripped the note in half, but it didn’t rip. My eyes widened, where I had the paper lay a white membrane. I gently peeled the membrane off, revealing a long string of letters and numbers. Clever mom. I typed in the numbers and hit enter. A large message

replaced the blue screen. ‘I thought I would chalenge you a little bit. This next one won’t be nearly so hard, although, I guess it just depends on you.’ I smirked, seeing the misspelling of challenge immediately. I had won the spelling bee with that word in fifth grade.  I logged off the computer and raced home. The picture of me with my trophy hung in the hallway that led to my room. I gently took it off the wall and turned it over. ‘I hope you don’t mind how easy that one was, I was tired and felt like you needed a break before you go to this one. I will warn you now, this next one is not easy. I don’t even know if you will remember this. But I want you to know that I will always love you, and nothing in this world will ever change that. Nothing.’ My eyes welled up. I blinked a few times to get rid of the tears and reread the message. She was right. I did everything I could, but whatever clue she had hidden was hidden so well I couldn’t find it. I slumped against the wall letting memories flood my brain. I sifted through them, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries. None made her message make sense. I’m sorry mom.  I tried, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how long I sat there. By the time I finally stood it was dark. My legs felt like jelly and I had to stand slowly. I walked through the dark house and into my room. My window led to the roof covering our porch. I swung it open and eased my way out. The sun was just peaking over the tree line.  I must have fallen asleep. That thought made my legs hurt even more. I sighed and sat, letting them dangle over the edge. I haven't found what my mom wanted me to find. I probably never would, but I had tried, and that’s what she would have wanted me to do. I sat there for a few more minutes letting the sun warm my face. Her words tumbled in my head over and over and over again. I will always love you, and nothing in this world will ever change that. Nothing. The end. My eyes shot open.  The end? I thought, where did that come from.  I closed my eyes and let the memory unfold.

We were sitting on a couch, I couldn’t have been more than three. My mother was reading to me. Which book? I stood and dove through my open window, racing to my mother’s room. Her bookshelves were filled with books. I took each one out, glancing at the ending. Finally I found it. It was a small white book with no title. I opened it to the last page. ‘You remembered! You are almost done, now you just have to get the key. You’ll understand.’ I reached for the small key that I always kept around my neck. It had been the only thing left to me when my mother died. We were never very rich, and many of her family heirlooms went to pay the bank and the hospital. The only things left in this house that she owned were her books, and me.  I gazed at the bookshelf. Where the white book had sat was a small keyhole. I took the key from around my neck and placed it into the lock. It turned with a click and the bookshelf swung open. Inside the shelf was a small book. I took it gently with both hands. It was a sturdy black leather with a red ribbon tied around it, I gently removed the ribbon. The book fell open, the front page was blank except for a familiar bold, blocky handwriting that read:

The Diary of Ramona Lee Mom’s diary. I gently fingered the pages. This diary had been given to her by her grandmother when she was ten and her entire life was documented in it. A small note was written in the corner of the cover. ‘I’m sorry I got sick and had to leave you. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. Since I can’t be there for you, I thought I’d leave you this so at least I can always be with you. I’m sorry, and I love you more than there are stars in the sky.’ I love you too Mom.

Dead Celebrities Story/Poem (Excerpt)

Walk Again

Maia walked along the beach watching the waves slam the shore. The sand was warm, which was a strong contrast to the cool winter air. It had never been this cold in California before. All the scientists pointed fingers at global warming, but most people wrote it off as just a freak year. The wind blew howling through the grasses tying the sand dunes to the ground. It blew straight through the coat she was wearing and numbed her to the bone. I need more clothes, she thought. She glanced behind her. It was a long walk back to the pier she had started at. Might as well keep going forwards. she giggled  I sound like a bad self help book.  She amused herself with that thought for a while. There was no one else on the beach. Most of the natives were at work or school and since she wasn’t a native, she was here.  But where exactly is here? Glancing around she realized she had gone too far. The area around her was wild. The sand dunes were higher, the surf rougher and the wind howled, screaming at her to turn back. Maia took a few hesitant steps forwards and shrugged. I never have been a good listener. A heavy fog rolled in from the ocean swirling around her like a ballet company. It seemed to call her name whispering in her ears, fingering her hair.  If I was in a horror movie,  she thought,  I’d be the idiot about to die. With this thought she decided it’d be in her best interest to head back. When she turned around she realized she had no idea which way was ‘back’. The fog pulled on her more violently almost knocking her from her feet. This is getting too freaky.  She righted herself and tried once again to turn around. But every step she tried to take felt like she was lifting a million pounds and dropping it again.  So, she thought,  I guess the fog doesn’t want me going that way. Wait. Am I really gonna do what moisture in the air tells me to do? As if listening to her thoughts the fog swirled faster making her hair fly and whipping sand into her face. I’m gonna take that as a yes.

Utopia/Dystopia Story

Wildfire They said the world ended with fire, everything burned, even the people. Everyone refers to this time as the Burning Days, but most people try not to refer to them at all. I’ve learned that people don’t like to be reminded of their failures, and the Burning Days were a failure on a global scale. Over 3/4ths of the population died in those three days, and even more died once those days had ended. Only about a million people remain. They live deep under the ocean in a spread of underwater cities that could fail at any time. No one says it, but we all think it. The LIFE scientists claim that it would take a huge disaster to break the thick synthetic material that keeps the water out and the oxygen in, and they’re right, but there was always that slim chance that it could, and this is the thought that kept many of us from sleeping at night. The world revolved around the Dome, it was our life and our savior. We treated the group of scientists who saved us like gods, no one remembered people like Charles Darwin or Leonardo da Vinci; they remembered Mike Cavanaugh and Lindsey Meyer. There is one small group of people charged with remembering the world from before, the world that had brought us into existence and nurtured us until we killed it with pollution and greed. This group was called the Rememberers, and I am one of them. The cursor blinked steadily at the end of the sentence. Blink, I shouldn’t have written that. Blink, what if someone reads it? Blink, they would hunt me down. Blink, they would kill me. Blink, would anyone care if I died? The cursor blinked once more before I hit the backspace, deleting the last sentence. Leo would have left it, the little voice in my head whispered, Leo was brave. “Yeah, and Leo’s dead.” He died for the cause. “I can’t help the cause if I’m dead.” Who says you actually help? I slammed my laptop shut and stood, knocking my chair to the floor. My eyes prickled with tears that I hadn’t let out in a year. The other people in the library watched me with interest as I gathered my stuff and strode from the small, dimly lit desk I had been seated at. I was watched with interest no matter where I went. In a sea of light skin and black eyes, I was color. My skin was tan, and my hair was the color of burnt honey, but it was my eyes that made people stare. The dim lighting of the Dome had made irises disappear hundreds of years ago, but my eyes were a kaleidoscope of dark blue and purple. The doctors said that my coloring is a mix of two recessive genes from my parents, and a mutation in my DNA. It was all the same to me, I was different, and that meant that it was even harder for me to stay part of the crowd. The lighting outside the library was just as dim as it was inside the library. The soft glow that the fluorescent algae gave off was just enough light to make sure that you wouldn’t walk into any objects or other people, but it wasn’t great lighting for seeing anything in detail. The asymmetrical glass buildings that were built at the founding of the Dome pulsated softly with the light of glowing fish that swam in tanks that doubled up as walls. People are weird when it comes to light, especially now. Humans hadn’t been in total darkness for over a thousand years; darkness was a thing of the past, and it was only talked about in hushed tones, or scary movies. My dad always said that people make the things they’re scared of evil, that way others will be scared of them too; he said that when you aren’t the only one scared of something, it doesn’t feel as scary. I didn’t really understand that until I joined the Rememberers. All my life I had heard

stories of the Rememberers and how they wanted to break the Dome and drown all of the cities. They were a secretive, evil group of people that wanted to ruin all of our lives. When Leo told me that he had joined with them, I thought that he was crazy. I almost reported him, but he brought me one of the books that they had saved. It was a fairytale about a prince that saves a princess. It was a beautiful book filled with pictures and words that helped create another world. I was entranced, and decided that maybe Leo was right, anyone who could save something as beautiful as a book couldn’t really be all that bad. Books were one of the things we had lost when the world burned, everything now was on a computer. There was no more paintings since the government learned that Rememberers were using them to carry secret messages, and music was nothing more than a distant memory. We were a society of science now, science and technology. The arts were burned along with the rest of the world, but it didn’t surprise me much. The arts don’t have a place in a society founded by science. That’s why I joined the Rememberers, I wanted to be able to share the things that Leo had shared with me. The street I was walking on quickly filled with people leaving for home after a long day of work. I frowned as I felt the stares burning into me. I felt like I was stuck in a fish tank with no way out. I surged through the crowd knocking into a few people, and pushing my way through others. I had had enough of the glances that were supposed to be secretive, and I wanted out: out of this street, out of this city, and out of this stupid Dome. As I headed towards the edge of the city, the streets thinned out until I was the only one. My mom would kill me if she knew I had come over here. The edge of the city, just called the Edge, was the bad part of town. Anyone under 18 wasn’t allowed, but no one ever enforces the rule. I slip past the dark alleys and dimly lit shops oozing with the smell of sweat, cigarette smoke, and cheap perfume. The entire Dome was technically supposed to have the same lighting, but the Edge always looked as if it was swallowed by shadows. People here were as broken as the buildings they walked by. I slunk around in the shadows with my head down, hiding my eyes, and doing my best not to draw attention to myself. It made sense for a secret shadow society to be based in the one place that shadows existed. The roads began their decline from skivvy shops that advertised “live girls” to a rows of dark, squat houses that may have been inhabited by people at one time, but were now empty and completely devoid of human life. I walked past each one, glancing back every once in a while, making sure I wasn’t being followed. That’s how they got Leo. He had been trying to leave a message to me when the Dome’s equivalent of the secret police grabbed him, interrogated him, then dumped his body in the Edge, claiming that he had run into some place he shouldn’t have and that it had gotten him killed. I stopped talking for a week, and my mom had banned me from going within 500 feet of the Edge. Unfortunately for her, I don’t listen well. Finally, after walking past countless photocopy houses I reached the last one. It looked exactly the same as all of the other ones, but appearances can be very, very deceiving. The front door of the house was locked and I gently removed the key from the chain around my neck. The door unlocked with a click and I walked in. The inside of the house was the exact same as the outside: cold, dark, and decrepit. It was, at one point, someone’s home and still had pictures of smiling people hanging in crooked frames on the walls.  I walked to the back of the house and stopped in front of a door that led into what used to be the cellar. It wasn’t locked, but armed with a high tech motion sensor that was configured with my body type. It would only allow those who

were members inside. The door creaked open when I pushed it and I walked into the only place I call home. The staircase that led to the underground facility that acted as the Rememberer HQ was long and dark. I had walked up and down them so many times that I had memorized every nook and cranny.  I gently ran my fingertips over the cool walls. The last time I talked to Leo we had been sitting at this very spot, talking about our dreams, and what the future would hold. He had finally told me he loved me, and we had kissed. I felt my hand run over a crude heart carved into the stone. Leo and Dot. I smiled, only he called me Dot. My stomach twisted and I cringed, stop thinking about him. I shook all the thoughts of Leo from my head. I took the rest of the steps by two, running from all the memories they held. As I entered the last flight I noticed the volume of angry voices rising at an alarming pace. I sprinted into Main Hall and skidded to a stop. In front of me was a mob of Rememberers screaming and shouting at the raised platform that speakers stood on. I shouldered my way through the crowd until I reached the edge of the platform. I nudged the person beside me, “What’s all this about?” “They’re  going to shut down the Society.” “What?!” The guy next to me nodded sadly, “Another kid died today, they said it isn’t worth our lives anymore.” He grumbled something else that I couldn't hear due to the shouts of outrage. I was shocked, if they shut down the Society, that means Leo died for nothing. I glanced around and saw John Cabniss, the Head of the Rememberers slipping out of the room. I shoved my way through the rest of the people and stuck my foot in the door he tried to close behind him. I opened it just enough to wiggle through then shut it behind me. John sat with both of his hands gripping the big, old desk that looked older than the Dome itself. “John­” I started. “No. I’m not going to let any more people die because of me.” He turned and I could see the beginning of tears in his eyes. “The death count over the past hundred years is well into the thousands. Over half of those are because of me and my harebrained ideas of how our world should be. God DAMNIT.” He slammed his fist on the table. I jumped and watched as his shoulders began to shake. I hadn’t realized how bad things had gotten, I don’t think anyone had. I moved up behind him and set my hand on his back, he stiffened, then relaxed. “I just can’t do it anymore.” “If you don’t all of those people who died, they’ll have died for nothing. No one is here because they were forced to be, we all chose this.” He sighed and turned around. The thin age lines on his face had turned to trenches. His eyes were bloodshot and lined with shadows, in all honesty he looked completely broken. “You’re right Dorothy.” he smiled tightly, “You usually are, but I can’t do this anymore. I didn’t want to be the Head, but I was the only one at the time who could do it. I just can’t handle it anymore. These people need someone who can handle the pressure instead of buckling under it. I have a family now, and if I get caught, they’re dead too. I’m not willing to take that kind of risk anymore. This place needs a new leader. They need someone with fresh ideas, a new perspective, basically someone who isn’t me.” “They need  Leo.” John looked at me funny, “Another death on my conscious.”

We stood in silence for a long time. John’s breathing began to slow down and he seemed to be more in control than he had been when I first walked through the door. “You’re right about Leo. He would have been the perfect candidate.” I nodded, Leo would have been perfect. He was smart, kind, funny, and he put other people at ease. His death had rocked the Rememberers more than any of the others had. A little idea fluttered in my mind. What if.... Suddenly my whole body was on overdrive. “John, put me in charge.” “Dorothea Morgan what did you just say?” “John, put me in charge.” “Sweetie, I don’t think you know­” “John, don’t pull this sweetie crap on me now. You said you’re done, and we both know Leo would’ve been your ideal replacement, but Leo is dead. I’m not, and no one was closer to Leo than I was.” John frowned, “Are you sure about this?” I smiled sweetly, “When have I ever been sure about anything?” “Okay.” “Really?” “Yeah. If you think you can do it, then I’ll put you in charge.” I smiled and gestured towards the door, “Since everyone is already gathered we might as well announce it now.” John nodded in agreement, and led me into the sea of voices. Everyone grew silent as we made our way across the stage. Everyone in the crowd knew me. I was the girl with color, the different girl. It seemed obvious that I would join the Rememberers seeing that I was so different. No one had really been surprised. what had surprised them was how normal I actually was. When you stand out in one way, people expect you to stand out and excel in every other way. They’re wrong of course, I was normal, and if I had been born looking like everyone else, I would have been so completely and utterly normal that people probably wouldn’t even be able to remember my name or pick me out in a crowd. Sometimes, I wish that were true. Other days, like today, I used  my advantage. “I know my earlier announcement about my plan to shut down the Society felt sudden to all of you. The unfortunate truth is that I felt that in order to keep you all safe, and keep my conscious clear was to do that very thing. Dorothea has proven me wrong. She has proved to me that maybe this society isn’t the waste of life I was beginning to think it was. she convinced me that if I left, the Society would be in good hands. So I stand before you today to announce two things: the first is my resignation of my position as Head, the other is to instate Dorothea Morgan as the Head and your new leader.” I didn’t think it was possible for that room to get any quieter, but it did. John glanced at me and took a step backwards, gesturing for me to stand in front of the mike. “I know this is sudden.” I said, “I also know that if you’re part of the Rememberers, sudden is something you’re used to.” I got a few chuckles, and I started relaxing. “When the Dome was founded it was supposed to be a safe haven, a new home, a utopia. Instead we were given a government that frowned upon the arts and made science into a religion that every person had to take part in. We lost what made us human when our world burned and it’s the Rememberers job to make sure it isn’t lost forever. But, somewhere along the way we lost sight of this goal. All of a sudden the Rememberers were

killing government officials and trying to overthrow the government that wanted to destroy us. We became the very thing we were supposed to be against and this got many good people killed.” Murmurs ran through the crowd. A few people yelled out in anger, but most began to nod their agreement. “So here is my proposition for you. Instead of forcing our ideas on the people, and becoming the thing we are trying to protect them from, we will instead begin to truly follow our name: we will remember. This remembering will begin with all those the government has killed. We will print flyers with their faces, and stories, then put them all over Sub Caeruleus and all the other cities. We will then, piece by piece, leak out our collection of art and books into the Domes. The people deserve to see what we know, and understand why we are doing what we are doing. Before I joined I was just as naive as any other person. I thought the Rememberers were a group of evil people trying to kill us all, but that changed when I was given a book that you had saved. It was a beautiful book that opened doors to me that I had no idea even existed. That is what we are supposed to do, and from this day on, that is what we will do.” My speech was met with a roar of approval from everyone in the crowd. From somewhere in the back a chant started. It spread like wildfire, moving from person to person, fueled by hopes for the future. “We will remember. We will remember. We will remember.” I smiled and glanced at John, tears had clouded his eyes and his smile split his face in two. The chant grew louder until it shook the entire hall. “WE WILL REMEMBER! WE WILL REMEMBER!” I promise, Leo, I’ll always remember.

Topic Story

Always There The lobby was crowded with people. It always interested me the way that people categorized themselves. They did it without seeming to even realize it. The jock girls and guys, along with the populars, all stood by the windows. The girls squealed and hugged friends they hadn’t seen over the summer, and the guys pushed each other or wrestled, trying to show off for the girls. The opposite wall was covered by people who were not very popular, these included the potheads and the nerds (who were smart but not very good looking or athletic. They are more of the ‘nose stuck in a book, pocket protector’ variety of smart.). Everyone else who wasn’t very popular but weren’t total outcasts floated on the wall and the space in between the two. I stood with Anna and Casey, who were definitely popular. They looked like twins; same brown hair that fell straight to the middle of their backs, same leggings and cheer shirts. The were talking about some reality TV show that had come on last night. I wasn’t really paying attention, Anna and Casey were friends of Eve’s. They just let me hang with them because she was my best friend. “MARNIE!” I jumped at the voice that had interrupted my thoughts and was nearly knocked over by a whirlwind of blonde hair and pink silk. “Marnie! Omigoodnessgracious! It has been forever! Where were you last night?! I kept trying to call you but you never picked up! It took me years to convince you to ask your parents for a cellphone and when you finally get it you never use it! And you will NOT believe what­. Omigod. Oh. My. God. OMIGOD! Marnie, are you wearing mascara? AHHHHHHHHHH!!! I have finally corrupted you! You belong to the dark side now! Anywho. Where was I?” “I cannot believe...” “Oh right! Guess who got a full ride to Harvard?” I opened my mouth to guess but a squeal interrupted me. “Adam!! Isn’t that soooo exciting?” “Yeah it’s great.” “I always knew he would! He’s so smart and such a great athlete.” “He really is.” “Wait,” Casey, who had finally stopped giggling over some boy band, looked at Eve astonished, “Adam got into Harvard? Like in England?” Eve rolled her eyes and winked at me, “No sweetie,” she said in a slightly condescending tone that only I picked up on, “the one in Cambridge.” Casey gave her a puzzled look, “Massachusetts.” Eve tried. She got another blank look. “That’s where Zuzu is.” “Omigod! No way! I totally want to go to that club. Did you know that Zac Efron­” I sighed and glanced at Eve, she gave me a knowing smirk started making faces behind Casey’s back. After fifteen minutes of Zac Efron the bell that told us to go to first period finally rung. Eve grabbed my hand and began making her way to the Art’s wing. As we walked people moved out of Eve’s way without her having to say excuse me or even resort to pushing. Then again, people always did that. Eve was one of those people that others moved for. She was short, but her attitude made up for her lack of height. She wasn’t exactly pretty, but she was striking in a way that made you have to look at her. Her hair was long and blonde with kinky curls, and her large

brown eyes were always filled with mischief, giving her an impish look. Her parents were the lead singer and guitarist in The Rainbows, an old hippie band that made you want to tear your hair out, or so Eve says, so she had enough money to keep up with the changing trends, and even start a few of her own. The Art’s wing was full of people coming and going. The jazz band was practicing in the bandroom, playing so loudly that it echoed throughout the halls. The theatre room was full of people coming and going. They all waved to Eve and I as we passed. Some stopped to chat with Eve about this flat, or that ramp that had to be painted or were already painted. Finally we made it to the art room. The doors were open letting the smell of drying paint drift throughout the hallway. Art has always been my sanctuary. I wasn’t the best, but I was good enough. Eve was the star artist of course. She would spend hours painting like a madwoman, making a huge mess in the process, but the result was amazing. Her paintings came to life; it was almost as if she breathes life into the paint.I was never much of a painter, my favorite medium was charcoal. I like the way it feels in my hand, and how soft and understated the lines were. I never went for showy, I just tried to be honest. It is one of the first things my father taught me: honesty is due to all of those around me, including myself. I added that last bit later on, but it seemed to fit. Being seniors, Eve and I were in the advanced art class. We basically had free rein to do whatever we wanted. The only stipulation is that by the end of the semester we had to present one masterpiece. I was hoping to add this masterpiece to my portfolio. It has always been my dream to get into NYU, Eve’s too. All my daydreams consisted of the two of us sharing a chic New York apartment where we hold parties and cocktails for our new friends. Eve always like to add in the guy aspect, but I’m not allowed to date so that was never a huge deal for me. Eve always points out that my parents define my life for me. She says they are too strict, especially my father, whom she claims was born with a stick up his butt. She’s probably right, but I don’t mind. My parents have made me who I am, and I like who I am. Sure I’m the definition of a goodie goodie: smart, kind, does what she’s told, goes to church, volunteers at the soup kitchen with her mother; but how is being nice bad? Art class always goes by quickly. When the bell rang signalling the end of first period, I looked for Eve so we could walk to our next classes together,but she had already disappeared. Probably to go find Adam. I thought. I couldn’t help but feel disdain for him.  Adam was the definition of the perfect guy: perfect looks, perfect grades, perfect athlete, perfect family, perfect life. He was sickeningly nice to everyone except me. I was the only one who got to see the rude, sexist, jerk that he manages to hide from everyone else. I’ve tried telling Eve about the rude things he says to me, or the way he glances at other girls when her back is turned, but she doesn’t listen. Usually it turns into a huge argument and she ends up crying. I walked towards the small outbuilding that served as the religious studies class. It stood alone at the end of a stone path surrounded by a copse of trees. It was a favorite site for couples to make out at since it was secluded, so I wasn’t surprised when I slammed into two people barely trying to hide the fact that they had basically been ripping each other’s clothes off the minute before. “Oh, sorry.” I mumbled as I walked past. “No problem.” The smooth, silky voice that I have learned to hate sounds from behind me, I whipped

around. There stood Adam wiping the remnants of lip gloss off his mouth, and a girl that was definitely not Eve. “Oh, Marnie. Hi.” “Adam, what the heck do you think you’re doing?” The girl he had been making out with made a hasty retreat. “What I’m doing is none of your business.” “It is when I find you making out with a girl who is not my best friend, who, in case you’ve forgotten already, is your girlfriend!” He glanced around nervously, “Will you keep your voice down?” “What? Are you afraid that everyone might figure out how much of a jerk you really are?” He smirked and looked me up and down the way a wolf might, analyzing all my weaknesses and faults. “It would be my word against yours. And who do you think they are going to believe: the obnoxious, know it all church girl, or me?” He turned running a hand through his hair and walked away. He’s right, my brain said, no one would believe you. No. I thought, Eve would. Are you sure about that? And that is what really scared me, I didn’t think she would. The rest of the week flew by. When Friday rolled around I couldn’t wait to go over to Eve’s house. We had a ritual where every Friday we would spend the night at her house and eat junk food and gossip. We had been doing it since we were eight and rarely missed a single week. When the bus dropped me off at my house I grabbed my bike and rode over to her house on the other side of the river. It was a pretty ride and it was one I enjoyed taking. By the time I reached her house, the sun had painted the trees and houses pink with its fading light. Eve lived in a large white house that had a purple picket fence with rainbow peace signs all over it. The fence always made my dad roll his eyes. He would launch into a long diatribe on how less is more and how the Riddles had ruined a perfectly good fence. I always liked their fence, I thought it was quirky. Then again everything about the Riddles was quirky. Rainie and Lief, as they insisted everyone call them, were both huge hippies and even started their own band. It turns out they were pretty good, and they made a lot of money. By the time Eve was born they had a nice little nest egg and could have settled down and raised a normal family, but the Riddles were not normal. They decided to keep the band together and raise Eve on the road. When she turned ten they left her at home by herself. Most people would call this neglectful, but Eve was so independent and mature for her age that she ended up raising herself and doing a pretty good job of it. I reached her house and set my bike against her garage door. The front door was unlocked so I slipped inside, shutting her door behind me. “Hey I’m here! Eve?” I heard muffled footsteps from upstairs and hushed voices. “Eve?” Eve came barrelling down the stairs in a pair of hot pink sleeping shorts and cami. The cami was an old one of hers that had always been ridiculously big. We tried to shrink it in the wash a few times with no success. Tonight though it was very loose everywhere but her

stomach, where it stretched a little tighter than normal. That’s odd. I thought, Eve is ridiculously skinny why­? “Hey Marnie.” She glanced at me then at the floor. “Umm­” “Evvvvve! Are you getting the stereo?” Casey came sashaying down the stairs, “Oh!” she said eyes wide and innocent, “Hey Marnie.” “Um, hey.” I glanced from Eve to Casey then to my feet. I felt like someone had just slapped me. Maybe she forgot, I thought. But there was no way, we had been doing this for years. Or, a small part of me whispered, she’s decided you aren’t cool enough for her. “Uh, I was just wondering what the homework was for Calculous.” “Right.” Eve said, “Page 435, questions 1­15, odds only.” “Thanks.” “Marnie don’t you have a cell? You could have totally just texted her.” Casey said, smiling cruelly. “Yeah, I’ll do that next time.” My eyes welled up slightly, and I turned around and walked out the door. The night air was cool, the breeze blew my hair away from my face. “Marnie. Marnie wait!” I stopped walking and turned around. Eve had followed me outside, her face was drawn, and she looked as if she was in pain. “Marnie I­” “Save it. I don’t want to hear it.” “Marnie­” “NO! This has been happening all summer hasn’t it?” I could tell I was right by the way she looked at the ground and shifted her weight to her left foot, she always did that when she was nervous. “I knew this would happen the second you started going out with­” “Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare blame this on Adam!” “Why shouldn’t I? Why am I the only one who sees he’s just using you?!” “He wouldn’t do that.” “Oh really?” “Do you know what?” Eve yelled, “You’re just jealous.” “Me? Jealous of you?” “Yeah! I have the hot boyfriend and all the friends and you have­” “You.” I say softly, “All I have is you.” We both stood there quietly. “I’ll see you in art. Bye Eve.” I turned and grabbed my bike, riding the road that had become familiar over the past seven years. I pedaled as fast as I could. When I reached my house, I set my bike neatly in the garage and walked into my kitchen. “Sweetheart is that you?” “Yes Mom.” “What happened to staying over at Eve’s?” I tried to open my mouth but nothing came out. “Marnie?” My mom walked into the kitchen and say the look on my face. “Oh no, what happened.”

For the first time in years I cried. My mom held me gently and stroked my hair, making soft sympathetic noises. She lead me to the kitchen table and sits me down in one of the straight backed chairs. “I’ll make you some hot cocoa.” “Mom it’s summer.” “So?” She whirled around the kitchen throwing things into a mug. My mom was the kind of cook who could put anything together and make it taste amazing. A few minutes later she set a steaming mug of cocoa in my hands and sat in the chair across from me. “Tell me everything.” And I did. I started with how we were both busy over the summer and hadn’t had time to hang out as much, to our fight in the front yard. My mom sat nodding every once in the while and making small noises to let me know she was listening. When I was done she sat quietly for a few seconds and said, “Marnie, how long has Eve been acting like this?” “Like what?” I asked, puzzled. “Volatile emotions, mood swings, things like that.” “Always, come on Mom, you know Eve.” “Seriously Marnie.” “A few months I guess. I’m not really sure.” “What has she been eating? Anything odd?” That’s a weird question what­? Then it hit me. “No. No way! Eve isn’t pregnant!” I leapt from my chair, knocking it backwards onto the ground. “Honey­” “Mom she isn’t! I would know, I’m her best friend! And why would you even suggest something like that? You sound just like dad! You guys always think the worst of her just because­” “Marnie sit down and let me finish!” My mom yelled, my mom never yells. I picked my chair off the floor and sat. “I know she’s your best friend, but that may make you blind to what is right in front of you.” She set her hand on mine, “Teenage girls don’t think before they act, teenage boys don’t either.” “Mom I am not having the sex talk right now.” “No. What I’m trying to say is that teenagers make mistakes, especially those who don’t have parents around to raise them. Eve may need you more than she thinks she does.” “Yeah well, if she needed me she wouldn’t be hanging out with Casey, and screaming at me on her front lawn.” “Sometimes we push away the ones we love the most. Now come help me do the dishes before your dad gets home. He had to go have an emergency meeting at the church.” “What happened?” “One of the pastors has moved to another church so they need to find someone to take your place.” “Are they going to pick dad?” Mom smiled, “That’s what we’re hoping.” A loud bang interrupted the soft sound of sloshing water and the ringing of pots being set

on each other. The back door crashed open and my dad came running in. He grabbed my mom by the hand and twirled her around. “I got it!” He grinned as he swung my mom into a dip. She laughed and kissed him on the cheek. “I knew you would.” Whatever Eve says, I thought, I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the entire world. The next week was the longest of my life. Eve was constantly around Casey, Anna, and the other popular girls. Everytime I saw them together laughing, and hanging on to each other like they have been friends for years, it felt like someone was sticking a knife in my stomach and twisting it. I knew Eve’s every emotion and she seemed genuinely happy; I hadn’t seen her like that in weeks. “Has Eve been having mood swings lately?” “Stop it, Marnie!”  I muttered. “You know when you talk to yourself, most people will assume you’re crazy. So, if I were you I would wait until you’re not in public like the rest of us do.” I turned and found myself staring at a tall, thin girl leaning against a wall. She was stunning. Her skin was the color of toffee that made her copper hair glow. Her brown eyes shone with a dark humour that, at the moment, was turned on me. I didn’t recognize her, which was odd. After being friends with Eve for years I knew everyone in the school. She looked me up and down, and smiled,”I’m Leo.” “Marnie.” “Marnie, that short for something?” Leo’s voice was deep and she said her words very slowly, as if she thought about each syllable before it came out of her mouth. Her accent was a different kind of southern than the ones I was used to hearing. I guessed Leo was from out west or maybe Texas. “It’s short for Marianna.” “Ohhh, I see you’re one of those people.” “One of what people?” Leo smiled a bit, “There are two types of people that shorten their names: people who want to rebel against their parents, and people with little old lady names. I don’t see you as the rebel type.” “What about you? What is Leo short for?” “Well,” she grinned, “I’m one of those special people who are part of both groups.” “So what is your name?” “Cleiona.” she said, grimacing. “I don’t know what my mother was thinking.” I laughed, “It’s pretty!” “Puh­lease. I couldn’t spell it ‘til I was ten, and don’t even get me started about substitute teachers.” I laughed again, and Leo glanced at a piece of white paper in her hand. “Do you know where the art classroom is? ‘Cos I am so lost it’s ridiculous.” “You have art first period? Me too!” “Good, I just moved here, but,” she smiled ruefully, “I guess the whole schedule, and lost thing made it pretty dern obvious.” “A little.” I turned and made my way through the mass of people that crowded the school’s lobby.

Leo followed me and we walked silently through the Art’s wing, I wasn’t used to walking through it without Eve next to me; without her, no one seemed to notice me. “Here we are.” I said as we stopped in front of the Art room, “Home sweet home.” I opened the doors and led her inside. “Oh wow.” Leo’s eyes were wide as she stepped through them and twirled around, arms open. “This is amazing! It’s so big!” She stopped twirling and walked over to the large windows that let in the sun. “My last school didn’t even have an art room. They didn’t even have a program! But this, this is­” she stopped and looked at me, “this is amazing.” I grinned at her, “I’m glad you like it.” “What type of art do you do?” “Charcoal.” “That’s a good one. I’m a paint girl myself. Can I see some of your work?” I nodded and walked over to the wall covered in lockers opening the one that had belonged to me for three years. I grabbed the old manila folder that held all my sketches Leo took the folder from me, and sat down, flipping through them. I sat down in the chair next to her and tapped my pencil lightly on the table. I was surprised that Leo didn’t say anything, Eve hated when I tapped my pencil on stuff. “Marnie,” Leo said softly, “these are amazing!” I snorted and rolled my eyes. “No really. They are.” I was about to protest more, but the bell rang and people began filing into the classroom. Ms. Coll wobbled into the room and motioned for us to do what we always did. Leo grabbed an easel and pulled it over to the table she and I were sitting at. “So what do we do?” She asked. “Whatever you’d like. In Art IV all you have to do is present a final piece at the end of the semester.” Leo’s eyes lit up and she grinned wickedly. “This is gonna be fun.” She strode off and began searching wildly through the paints and oils. At the same time Leo left, Eve sauntered in, dumped her stuff at an easel and walked over to the paints. Uh­oh. Leo ,who had finished her wild searching, now had an armful of paints. “Hi,” Eve said sweetly, “I don’t recognize you, you must be new.” “That’s me, the new girl.” “Do you have a name?” “Do you?” Eve looked her up and down. I knew this look, she was sizing Leo up. Eventually her eyes drifted back to Leo’s, and to my surprise, she smiled “Eve.” “Leo.” Leo smiled sarcastically and walked over to me. ‘Well that was fun. Does she have a personal vendetta against me or is it just new girls in general?” “She’s just, well, she’s just Eve.” Leo looked at me, “Oh, I see now. How long have you two not been speaking?” “What?” I exclaimed. “You and Eve. You talk like you know her, and when she was looking me up and down she kept glancing at you.”

“We’re­ were, best friends.” “So you stopped speaking recently. My guess is a week, two tops.” “How do you do that?” “Do what?” “Know everything about a person without them telling you anything.” Leo shrugged, “I’m good at reading people.” She didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t ask her too. I pulled my Ipod out of my bag and stuck the earbuds in my ears. Ms. Coll was a struggling artist posing as a teacher and she didn’t bother trying to actually make us do anything or enforce any rules. The only reason she hadn’t been fired long ago, is that none of us ever told any administrators. We liked having a class to do whatever we wanted, and we didn’t want that to change. My paper sat blank in front of me as I stared at it, trying to find some sort of inspiration. This was my biggest problem as an artist. My art was good, but it didn’t have any emotion. I stared at the paper until dots of blue and red lights began sparkling across my vision. I blinked and sighed. Everyone around me was busy sketching or drawing,everyone but Eve. She too was staring blankly at her canvas. She glanced up and met my eyes. Her expression was filed with pain and she looked like she was about to cry. I dipped my head towards the door and she nodded. We both stood and walked out of the room. We silently made our way to the girl’s bathroom that was always empty because of the sewage issues, and the fact that it smelled like cigarette smoke. When the door shut behind me I opened my mouth to speak, but Eve held out her hand. “Don’t. Okay, please.” “Eve­” “No. Don’t you dare apologise to me.” Her eyes burned with a feverish intensity that made me nervous. “You shouldn’t apologise to me. Oh God Marnie. I­I’m such an awful person! “No you aren’t.” “Yes I am! I abandoned you!” “Eve, I was gone most of the summer, it was only natural that you start hanging out with other people.” “I knew exactly what I was doing. I was trying to hurt you.” I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. “What?” Eve looked at me sadly, “You, you don’t need me anymore.” “Eve I always need you.’ “But not the way you used to. I always protected you. Our whole friendship has been about me protecting you. We even met that way.” I smiled, “Yeah, Danny Fuller pulled my hair and called me stupid, so you pushed him in the mud and sat on his back. You said he couldn’t get up until he apologized.” “I always had to keep you safe because you were too shy and nice to defend yourself. When you left my house, I thought I’d let you mope around for a week or two then I’d start talking to you again.” “That’s ridiculous!” “But you didn’t need me. You even started making new friends without me introducing you, or asking them to hang out with you. You could never make friends on your own. But then this I walk into art and you and this Leo girl are talking and laughing like you’ve been friends for

weeks and not just a few minutes.” I tried to keep myself from rolling my eyes and leaving. She’s right. Last year you would never think about walking away from her. “I know I’m being stupid, but you have to forgive me. I couldn’t live with myself if you never spoke to me again.”  I looked at her and sighed, “It’s okay. I forgive you.” I walked over and tried to put my arms around her. She pulled away quickly and slipped from my arms. “Don’t!” “Eve, what’s wrong with you?” She hugged herself and stared at the ground. “Is there something you need to tell me?” She said nothing. I walked over and gently lifted her chin, “Tell me.” “Marnie, I’m pregnant.” Mom was right. “Say something.” “I know.” “What?” “I know, Eve.” “But how?” “Last Friday I noticed how your sleeping cami was tight over your stomach. That thing has always been too big for you, and there was no way it shrunk in the wash, because I know you’ve already tried that a few times. You’ve also been wearing empire waisted dresses, and flowy shirts. I guess I didn’t put it all together until my mom asked me if you were.” “How would your mom know?” “She works at that women’s shelter. I figured over the years she’s learned all the signs and has gotten good at putting things together.” “Oh.” “Does Adam know?” Eve shook her head and started to cry. I gently wrapped her in my arms and rocked her back and forth. “Come on, let’s get out of here.” I went back to the Art room and grabbed our stuff. Leo noticed and nodded at me. I nodded back and closed the door behind me. The ride back to my house was quiet. Eve stared out the window and didn’t say a single word. I pulled into my driveway and my mom opened the door. The second she saw Eve her eyes widened in understanding and she hustled us both inside. She tucked Eve into a large down comforter on the couch and made us all hot chocolate. I swear she thought hot chocolate could cure cancer. She pulled up two chairs by the couch Eve was laying on and sat in one, gesturing for me to sit in the other. “Eve sweetie, this really should be your mother telling you all this, but since she isn’t here I guess we’ll have to make due. Do you know what all of your options are now?” “Options?” My mother nodded, “When a woman gets pregnant it is usually planned and she is prepared to have the child, but I’m guessing that that isn’t the case here.” Eve shook her head.” “So, you have a few options: you can keep the child and raise it.”

“No.” Eve said, sitting up, “That isn’t an option, I want to go to college, I want to have a life.” She smiled sadly, “I don’t want it to have to raise itself like I did.” “That’s very mature of you. You can also have the child and give it up for adoption. This is the choice many teen mothers end up making but, it still isn’t an easy one. You will have to deal with rumors and other awful things that people will say about you.” “But I don’t have any other options! Adam­ Adam doesn’t know. I found out he’s been seeing another girl for months, and I­” My mother held up her hand, “You don’t have to explain yourself to me. If you don’t want to tell him, that’s fine. You do have another option though: you can choose to terminate the pregnancy.” “What?” I cried. “That’s­ Mom she can’t do that!” My mom looked at me sternly, :Yes, she can. It is legal, and, in this case, it may be the best option.” “It’s murder! It’s a violation of basic human rights!” “A fetus is not considered a separate entity until the second trimester of a pregnancy, therefore it isn’t murder.” I scrambled my brain trying to put together an argument. I couldn’t get over the fact that my mother, head ot the PTA and the Church’s Ladies, would be suggesting that a teenage girl have an abortion. They were just wrong. I felt my stomach drop and I looked at my hands. Eve gently shifted and placed her hand on top of mine, “Marnie, I have too. I’m not ready to be a mom.” “Then have the baby and give it up for adoption!” “Please, you don’t have to like my choice, and I know you don’t owe me anything, especially after how awful I’ve treated you, but please can you just except that this is my choice, and not hate me for making it?” “Eve is right Marnie. It is her choice and no one else has the right to make it for her.” “What about Adam? It’s his baby too!” “No,” Eve said firmly, “he lost his right to decide any of my choices after he cheated on me.” “Eve are you sure that that is your only option?” She nodded. I looked at my mom, “Is it even safe? I mean don’t they pump you full of chemicals and­” “No, you have been listening to your father too much. I know he feels very strongly about this and is very vocal about it. But abortions are the safest medical procedure you can have and they are sometimes the only choice for young women.” “Okay.” I said softly. “Really?” I nodded, “Eve, you’re my best friend in the whole world, and no matter what you do, I’ll always support you.” “Thank you.” She hugged me and the familiar scent of jasmine and rose washed over me. My mom drove both of us to a small concrete building on the edge of town. I didn’t even notice it until today. The inside was lit by bright fluorescent lights and it was full of women. I took

a seat while Mom and Eve went to talk to the receptionist. A few minutes later Eve’s name was called and she was led into the back by a young woman in a nurse’s uniform. Mom and I sat quietly for a few minutes before she finally spoke, “I’m proud of you Marnie. I know this is very hard for you.” “How do you know all of this stuff about abortions? I always thought you hated them as much as Dad.” “When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor. I made it all the way through medical school, then I met your father. I decided to start a family and I put my career on the backburner.” “You gave up being a doctor for us?” “Yes, and I would do it all over again. You and your father are the most important people in the world to me. I also discovered that I can still help people even though I’m not a practicing doctor. I give free consultations at the shelter and help girls like Eve make hard decisions that they may not be able to make on their own.” I nodded, I never realized how much my mother helped people. “Mrs. Jones?” My mother and I looked up and saw Eve standing with a small paper bag next to a young doctor. “My name is Dr. Andrews, I just wanted to make sure that you knew exactly what this process is so that you can help Eve to follow it.” “Of course.” My mother said, smiling. “She must take one of these pills everyday for a week. There will be some bleeding that will look like very heavy menstrual bleeding, don’t worry, this is supposed to happen. I also would like you to come back in two weeks for a follow up appointment to make sure that the abortion was complete.” The doctor smiled and mentioned a few more health concerns before giving us the okay to leave. We walked out of the cool concrete building and into the summer heat. “Marnie?” “Yeah?” “Thank you.” “For what?” Eve smiled, “For always being there for me.” I smiled and grabbed her hand, twining my fingers through hers, “I will always protect you.” She threw back her head and laughed. We walked hand in hand to where my mom stood smiling at us. I didn’t know what the future held. All I knew was that everything was going to be okay because as long as you had people that loved you, you were never alone.

Kindergarten Story/Poem A New Beginning Mom had picked me up right in the middle of nap time which was good, because I hate nap time. I usually just play with Sylvie and Lori and Brianna anyways. Since I was big now we got to visit our classrooms before the first day. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Workman, she lives down the street from us. The school was so much bigger than mine. It had hallways that went on and on and on and on and on! I held Mom’s hand really tight because I didn’t want to get lost, she’d never find me if I did. My class was in a low building really far away. It was the elevententh door. The room was dimmer than my room, but not really scary dim. Two grown ups stood in the middle of the room. Mom let go of my hand and pointed to a boy who was playing with blocks and cars on a browny rug. I walked over there and sat very far away from him. I knew all about boys. They smelled funny and chewed with their mouths open. We call boys at my school the kissy boys because they would try to kiss the girls which is really gross, but they stopped because me and Brianna and Sylvie and sometimes Lori made them stop. Lori was only sometimes because she had a boyfriend, I really hope she doesn’t get sick from cooties. The boy looked at me when I sat down but he didn’t say anything. I picked up a book from a bookshelf and flipped to the first page. It was pretty and had lots of pictures, the story was okay. I looked up and saw that the boy was sitting next to me, staring at the book. “Why do you flip the pages so fast?” “I do not!” “Yes you do! You can’t even look at the pictures.” I was so mad. I wasn’t flipping the pages really fast, I was reading. I stuck my tongue out at him and put the book away. Stomping to the other side of the carpet, I grabbed the blocks he was just playing with and began to build a castle. Being a stupid boy he followed me. “I was playing with those!” he said. I ignored him and kept on playing. “You’re doing it wrong.” he said again. I turned my back to him and kept building. Finally he plopped down next to me and started adding blocks. I glared at him but didn’t say anything. I don’t know how long we sat there building, probably for fifty million hours, but finally my mom said it was time to go. Me and the boy started putting the blocks back. “I’m Eric. What’s your name?” “Maggie.” “Okay.” He looked at me again and we finished cleaning up. I went over to my mom who made me shake Mrs. Workman’s hand, which was kinda scary. Then we walked back into the really bright hallway and I got back to school just in time for snack.

Play Script

Not My Cup of Tea Alexandra Cavedo, Magdalina Cummings and Haylee Burton Credit for plot: Alexandra Cavedo

Scene 1 (Spotlight on two boys sitting downstage right. Voices from offstage are arguing back and forth.) FEMALE VOICE You don’t understand! You can’t go and buy stuff without looking at the budget! MALE VOICE Your budget is stupid and neither of us follow it anyways!

FEMALE VOICE My budget is stupid? That is the budget WE decided on, TOGETHER!  We need all the money we can get in order to send the boys to college! MALE VOICE (Scoffs) I never went to college. FEMALE VOICE Yeah, and we know how you turned out...

MALE VOICE (Offended) Excuse me?

FEMALE VOICE You heard me!

MALE VOICE What’s that supposed to mean? FEMALE VOICE It means that I want our boys to have a better life than we do. MALE VOICE What’s wrong with our life? FEMALE VOICE Everything! BLAKE (Sighs and stands up) C’mon E, let’s go. EMMETT Where are we going? BLAKE Does it matter? EMMETT Kinda... (Looks offstage, as if looking at the mother and father) What if Mom and Dad come looking for us?

(Both boys sit in silence listening to their parents argue) FEMALE VOICE We can’t afford all these useless things you keep buying! I know good and well you don’t need those slippers that light up at night. MALE VOICE Well at least I’m not the one who hoards all of my prom dresses because I’m still stuck in the past! It’s 2013, I think it’s time to stop! (BLAKE offers his hand to EMMETT. EMMETT sits for a second and glances backstage center once more. EMMETT then takes BLAKE’S hand and BLAKE pulls him to his feet. They both exit stage left.) Scene 2 (Lights up (dim) on both boys entering stage left. They look tired.) EMMETT Blake, where are we going? (BLAKE doesn’t answer.) EMMETT (More urgent than before) Blake? Are we lost? (BLAKE still doesn’t answer) EMMETT Blake­

BLAKE (Interrupts) I heard you the first two times! EMMETT Then why didn’t you answer me? BLAKE ‘Cos I didn’t want to, that’s why. (Boys wander around the stage. Lights bright on a small platform with a table and two tea cups. EMMETT is the first to see the table.) EMMETT (Hitting BLAKE’S arm) Blake, look at that! BLAKE What is it? EMMETT (Shrugging) I don’t know. (BLAKE walks over to the table and looks at the tea cups suspiciously. He then picks up a piece of paper that was sitting on the table.) BLAKE (Reading the paper) “One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

EMMETT What does that mean? BLAKE I think it means we drink the tea. EMMETT Wait! What if it’s poison? I mean, we don’t even know who put it out here, and­ BLAKE (Interrupts EMMETT, sighs) Emmett, c’mon­ EMMETT No! I always have to get you out of trouble! This is dangerous! BLAKE Emmett, this is our opportunity! (BLAKE sits in the stage left chair and drinks the contents of the cup. EMMETT looks on, scared. Both boys sit in silence for a few seconds. Suddenly, BLAKE falls to the ground shaking.) EMMETT (Rushing to his brother) Blake?! Blake can you hear me? Blake! BLAKE (Taking EMMETT’s hand) I see the light! EMMETT

(Frantically) Blake! No, Blake, stay with me­ BLAKE (Laughing) You should see the look on your face right now! EMMETT (Standing up, kinda angry at BLAKE) That wasn’t funny! It wasn’t funny when you did it last week so it’s not funny now! I thought you were actually in trouble! BLAKE I’m fine. I actually feel great. You should drink that stuff, it’s not as good as coffee, but it could be worse. (EMMETT cautiously sits at the chair stage right and BLAKE sits in the chair across from him. EMMETT picks up the cup and examines it, he then takes a small sip. After deciding that it isn’t poisoned he drinks the rest of the cup.) Told ya it wasn’t bad. (FEMALE VOICE sounds from offstage.) FEMALE VOICE Blake? Emmett? Where are you? EMMETT C’mon, let’s go before mom gets really mad. (Both boys exit stage left. End of Scene 2) SCENE 3 (Both boys enter stage left. EMMETT moves to stage right, while BLAKE remains in stage left. BLAKE freezes and stage left lights are dim.  EMMETT is lit up with a spotlight, he is sitting next to SARAH at a desk. They are both working on a test. They stand up to turn in the test at the

same time and bump into each other, SARAH drops her paper. [Note: EMMETT is wearing casual clothes]) EMMETT Jeez, sorry! I didn’t even see you! SARAH (Chuckles) Oh, you’re fine.

EMMETT No, really, I’m such a klutz. (Leans down to pick up GIRL’s paper, hands it to her) Here, sorry.

SARAH (Laughs while taking her paper) Thanks. At least you’re parents didn’t wrap you in bubble wrap when you were little.

EMMETT True, but my brother threatened to.

SARAH (Holding out hand) I’m Sarah.

EMMETT Emmett. (SARAH and EMMETT shake hands. Lights out on stage right. Spotlight up on BLAKE sitting

next to a GIRL on stage left. BLAKE leans over and peeks at her test. GIRL notices and puts her arm over her paper. BLAKE rolls his eyes and leans back into his chair and starts making his paper into an airplane. [Note: BLAKE is wearing casual clothing. During this scene, EMMETT should be backstage changing into some sort of formal clothing])

BLAKE (Throws paper airplane offstage) I’m Blake.

GIRL And I’m taking a test.

BLAKE How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl in this room?

GIRL (Looks around the room) Seriously?

BLAKE I’m serious about getting what I want.

GIRL (Rolls her eyes) I really need to focus.

BLAKE I’ll leave you alone if you give me your number.

GIRL (GIRL’S jaw drops) You’re trying to pick me up during a test?

BLAKE (Shrugs) Seems as good a place as any.

GIRL You’ll leave me alone if I give it to you?

BLAKE Pinky promise.

GIRL Fine. (GIRL scribbles on a piece of paper and hands it to BLAKE. BLAKE winks and grins at her. GIRL gets up and exits stage left. Lights go dim stage left. Spotlight up on a MAN and EMMETT sitting on opposite sides of the table. [Note: EMMETT should be wearing formal clothing, this can be as little as just a suit jacket])

MAN I want you to understand that the job you are applied for is usually given to people who are way more qualified than you are.


I understand sir, but someone once told me sometimes you just have to take a chance.

MAN That’s good advice.

EMMETT My brother’s a smart guy.

MAN Well, this time that chance paid off. Welcome to the team, son.

(MAN and EMMETT both stand and EMMETT shakes the MAN’s hand.) EMMETT Thank you sir, you won’t be disappointed!

(Lights go dim on stage right and a spotlight appears on BLAKE who has cards in his hand. [Note: BLAKE should be in casual clothing still. Not the ones from the school scene. The clothing should make BLAKE seemed to be perceived as mature, as an adult.]) BLAKE Royal flush! Guess that makes me the winner! (BLAKE pulls a pile of poker chips [can be checkers or connect four pieces.] Lights go dim on stage left. Spotlight on EMMETT pacing back and forth across the stage. SARAH enters stage right. [Note: to make everything easier for the next scene, EMMETT could be wearing dress

pants and a white t­shirt])

SARAH What are you doing? (EMMETT says nothing.) Emmett?

EMMETT I’m trying not to psych myself out. (SARAH looks at him, puzzled.) Sarah you are the best thing that has happened to me­

SARAH Besides the tea.

EMMETT No, not even that can measure up to you. (Runs hand through his hair nervously) Sarah, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. (Gets down on one knee.) Will you marry me?

SARAH (Covers her mouth in shock.) Oh my gosh, of course Emmett, of course!

(EMMETT stands and hugs SARAH. )

SARAH (Pulls away from the hug, eyes wide) Emmett... We’re getting married! We have a ton of things to do! We have to get a caterer, pick out colors, florists, a photographer, menu, find a church,

pick out what songs are gonna play, figure out who’s gonna be in the wedding, set table decorations, and most importantly, I have to find a dress!

EMMETT (Holds both of SARAH’s hands in his own]) Hey, everything’s gonna work out, quit worrying... We’re finally engaged.

SARAH (Smiles at EMMETT) Yeah... engaged. (Lights out. End scene 3.)

SCENE 4 (Lights up on both sides, EMMETT enters from stage right. [While backstage, EMMETT can throw on a blazer of some sort]) EMMETT Blake? Blake?! (Runs hand through his hair, making it stick up)  Where are you? (BLAKE enters stage left.) BLAKE Chill out, I’m right here. (Brothers meet each other in the middle of the stage and hug. BLAKE ruffles EMMETT’s hair, laughing) It’s been a while. EMMETT Yeah, it has. Sarah told me she saw you. I almost didn’t believe her. The last time I saw you, you were on your way to some island with Beka.

BLAKE Yeah, but when I heard my little bro was gettin’ hitched, I knew I had to be here.

EMMETT Have you seen Mom and Dad? I sent them invitations, but I don’t know if they actually showed up. BLAKE Yeah, they’re sitting front and center. Mom can’t stop talking about grandkids and I’m pretty sure Dad is drunk, but that’s nothing new. (EMMETT sighs and runs his fingers through his hair) Dude, chill, okay?Everything is going to be fine.. EMMETT (Smirks) Still trying to take care of me? BLAKE (Chuckles) Always. (Lights go blue across all of the stage, lights up on the small table set with tea. Both boys stare at it.) EMMETT Is that­? BLAKE (nodding) Yeah it is.

(The boys stare at the tea for a few minutes, then BLAKE starts forward.) EMMETT (G BLAKE’s arm) Blake, what are you doing? BLAKE Emmett, you know what that stuff did for us before! It made us both rich! We got out of that house and it made us who we are now! It got you Sarah and it got me Beka! EMMETT It didn’t make us into anything. We did it all ourselves! Sure, it helped us along, but we could have done it by ourselves. BLAKE It doesn’t matter what we could have done. I’m rich now, I’m happy and this is going to get me everything I want. (Sits in stage left chair) And you and your stupid morals can’t stop me. (BLAKE tips the contents of the cup into his mouth and stands.) This is my choice, and I choose this. (Points to EMMETT’s cup) Are you going to drink yours?

EMMETT (Shakes his head) No..

BLAKE (Smiles) Well, more for me! (Reaches across the table, drinks EMMETT”s share of tea, then exits stage left)

EMMETT (Softly) Blake, what have you done? (EMMETT looks at the empty teacups.) SARAH (From offstage) Emmett? Emmett, where are you? EMMETT (Yells) Coming Sarah! (Looks back at tea.) I have everything I want, everything I need. (EMMETT exits stage right) END SCENE 4 (SCENE 5. Lights up on stage right, the lights are yellow or red. We see EMMETT and SARAH standing in the middle of stage right EMMETT’s hands cover SARAH’s eyes.) SARAH (Giggling) Can I look now? EMMETT Yeah. (He takes his hands away from her eyes) SARAH (Gasping) Omigosh! Is this­? A house?! EMMETT It’s yours! SARAH (Looks at the house and back at EMMETT lovingly) No, it’s ours.

(SARAH turns and hugs EMMETT. Lights go out on stage right. Lights up on stage left, the lights are blue, or purple. BLAKE is glaring at BEKA who is standing on the other side of the room) BLAKE (Holding onto BEKA’s arm) What do you mean you’re leaving? BEKA This isn’t working, I­I just need to go. BLAKE Why? BEKA It’s nothing­ BLAKE (interrupting) Well if it’s nothing then you can stay! BEKA Really, I can’t! BLAKE (Through gritted teeth) You keep saying that but you don’t have a reason. BEKA I do!

BLAKE Then tell mem, Beka! BEKA (Angry, said as if she can’t keep it in any longer) It’s because of you! BLAKE (Shocked) Me? BEKA Yes, you, Blake! I can’t be around you anymore... (Softly) You’ve changed and it’s not for the better. BLAKE (Shaking his head) I haven’t changed. BEKA (Walking to BLAKE) Yes you have. (Takes BLAKE’s hands) When I met you, you were smart, kind, loving and caring. Then after Emmett’s wedding you ­ you changed, Blake! You started taking and taking and taking, and now, I don’t have anything left to give; no one does. I’m sorry, I really am, but I have to go. Please, give me a call if you find the man I fell in love with, because all I see now is the selfish child you’ve become. (BEKA exits stage left and BLAKE is left standing alone in the middle of stage left.) BLAKE (Pacing, shaking his head) No... I haven’t changed. She’s dead wrong. I’m still who I was before! No, I’m not ­ I’m better than who I was. I finally have everything in the world! (He gestures to the

stage around him that is empty. He runs around.) No, no! Where is my stuff! It was all here! (He searches the stage frantically. He sinks to his knees in the center of stage left) It’s gone, it’s all gone. Everything. (Stage left fades into black along with the rest of the stage. END SCENE 5) (SCENE 6. Lights up on two BOYs sitting on the edge of stage right. BLAKE and EMMETT stand behind them.) BOY 1 (pointing) And that constellation right there is Orion. He’s a great hunter. BOY 2 What about that group of stars? BOY 1 (Squinting) Which one? BOY 2 That one right there. BOY 1 I think that’s Castor and Pollux, see thats an arm there and a leg­ BOY 2 And the heads! I see it now! What’s their story? BOY 1 Well they were twin brothers, their mother was Leda and their father was the Greek god Zeus.

One of the brothers, Castor, I think, was killed and Pollux didn’t want to be without his brother so he asked Zeus if he could share his immortality with his brother. Zeus then turned them into a constellation so that they could always be together. BOY 2 (Thoughtfully) Would you sacrifice your immortality for me? BOY 1 In a heartbeat. BOY 2 Me too. I love you, Blake. BOY 1 I love you too, E. (Lights out. END SCENE 6)

Anthology Piece

Tìr na nÒg "Delightful is the land beyond all dreams, Fairer than aught thine eyes have ever seen. There all the year the fruit is on the tree, And all the year the bloom is on the flower. There with wild honey drip the forest trees; The stores of wine and mead shall never fail. Nor pain nor sickness knows the dweller there, Death and decay come near him never more.” -Oisìn in the Land of Youth, an Irish Fairy Tale

******************** The rain fell in sheets, soaking anyone who was brave enough to go outside. The cool April air whipped umbrellas upside down and turned litter into butterflies that flitted in and out of the currents. The street looked like a smallpox survivor, scarred with potholes and divots. A lone figure stood in a doorway watching the empty street. The figure was exceptionally large and hairy, as if it was not a man, but a bear in a man’s suit. No one was ever brave enough to go up to him, although sometimes the local boys would dare each other to poke him in his sleep. If they thought it strange that he never left his spot by the large hickory door, they didn’t mention it. The man was old gossip, and in a town like this where gossip is what the people thrived on, old gossip was as good as dirt. On this particular day a young thief by the name of Booker Jones had decided that if the bear man sat in the same place everyday, then he was either dead, or guarding something. Booker bet it was the latter of the two. He had spent the week watching the bear man, learning his habits. He now knew exactly when the bear man slept, when he woke, and when a slot at the edge of the door would open each day allowing a small tray of food to be let out. Booker sat and waited in his alleyway, until the bear man closed his eyes. The street was empty as always, and the rain would mask his footsteps. It helped that Booker was small. That was the first thing people commented on when they first saw him. He didn’t really mind, it helped him slip in and out of places that would be nearly impossible for someone larger. He glanced left then right making sure the street was empty, he knew it would be, but it didn’t hurt to double check. He slipped across the street, flitting in and out of the shadows, practically invisible to the untrained eye. This was one of things that made him the best thief on the streets, his ability to move in plain sight of people and still remain invisible.

Booker watched the bear man carefully as he moved. His entire plan would be ruined if he woke the bear man up. When he reached the door he surveyed the scene in front of him. The large hickory door was much more daunting up close than it was from far away. It was made from the heartwood of ancient hickory trees, the boards were thick, sturdy, and impossible to break down. There was a large door knob located above a keyhole. They made this too easy. Booker stepped over the bear man and pulled a thin piece of metal from his sleeve. He slid it into the lock and wiggled it until he heard a click. He then grabbed a thicker piece of metal and pushed it into the lock. The lock clicked and the door groaned slightly before opening. He gently slipped inside and closed the door behind him. I did it. Booker let out a small sigh of relief. The door had opened to a long hallway that was lined with torches and shadows. He crept to the left side of the hallway and pressed himself to the wall; he wasn’t going to take any chances of being caught. His hand ran of the large bricks and he frowned. The bricks were bumpy and had long slits in them. He turned and grabbed one of the torches, holding it up to the wall. Carved into the side of the hallway was a large ornate figure of a snake eating its own tail. The head of the snake was closer to the floor. Booker knelt and rested his hand on the head. Whoever had done this must have been a master artisan. The lines were perfectly curved and the snake looked as if it was about to slither off the wall and onto the floor. A cool breeze blew up the hallway and ruffled his hair. Booker shivered and looked down the hallway. Breezes don’t blow inside. Booker stood and pulled a knife from his belt. He held the torch in front of him and made his way down the hall. The walls after the snake were bare, there were no other carvings, just bricks and mortar. The torches slowly became farther and farther apart until they disappeared off the wall all together. The darkness that remained after the torches were gone seemed to eat the light coming off of the torch in his hand. Five minutes, he thought, five minutes until my torch runs out and I’m stuck in the dark. He glanced back towards the direction he had come from. He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking, but he was sure it had been longer than five minutes. Might as well see where this goes. I’ll walk until the light goes out, then I’ll turn around and leave. If I haven’t found anything by now, I probably won’t find anything. The darkness seemed to grow darker. Booker wasn’t sure if that was even possible. He figured it was just his mind playing tricks on him or the fact that his torch had burned down to the last few inches; either way he was almost out of light. After another few feet, the torch went out. Booker sighed and tossed the stub of wood off to his left. Well, that’s the end of it. He turned to leave then froze. A soft noise echoed through the hallways. “Hello?” The noise stopped. It’s just my imagination. He sighed and shook his head, this place is really messing with my mind. He went to take a step and felt something cool

and smooth brush against his leg. Booker jumped and whipped his blade down trying to slice at whatever had hit his leg; his blade found only empty air. He hissed in frustration, and something hissed back at him. Suddenly the hallway illuminated and Booker found himself face to face with the snake from the wall. He squeaked with surprise and stumbled backwards. The snake slithered closer and flicked its tongue out tasting the air. He slashed at the snake, the snake hissed angrily and glared at him from its ruby eyes. It slithered over his foot and wound its way up his leg. Its skin was ice cold and sent shivers up his spine. Booker struggled which only made the snake squeeze tighter. “Please!” He gasped, “Help!” The snake tightened his grip squeezing the air from his lungs. The outside of his vision darkened and red lights swirled in and out of his eyes. He made one last desperate attempt to break free, then let his consciousness slip. ******************** Booker sat up; he was covered in sweat and his heart was pounding. The image of the snake squeezing the life out of him. He glanced around and his heart stopped. Sitting at the foot of his bed was the snake. Booker let out a strangled cry and rolled out of the bed. He grabbed for his knife but it wasn’t there, and neither was his belt. He glanced down and saw that he was wearing a loose silk shirt and dark blue breeches, clothing only the rich or royal could afford. The snake raised its head and blinked slowly at him, then curled back up, tucking its head into the coils of its body. Booker let his breath out and slowly stood up, trying not to disturb the snake. After making sure the snake wouldn’t go after him again, Booker let himself explore the room. He had never had a room before, and while he wasn’t an expert, he figured most people had never had a room like this. The walls were the color of cream with gilded furniture and fresh cut flowers sitting in ornate crystal vases. He ran his fingers over the table that was set with a large pile of food. Booker’s stomach rumbled at him, demanding him to sit and eat. He tentatively reached out for one of the rolls and brought it to his lips, his hands shaking. He took a small bite and groaned. He didn’t know food could taste like this; after years of stealing and scavenging for every meal, he didn’t know what it felt like to eat food that was freely given. Booker sat at the small cushion that served as a chair and began to eat the entire tray. He couldn’t have named half of the things he ate, but it didn’t matter, all that mattered is that for the first time in his life, he wasn’t hungry. A flicker of movement drew his eye from the empty tray and to a large gold mirror that stood in the corner of the room; what he saw took his breath away. Before him sat a tall handsome man that looked as if he had just walked from an illustration from a fairytale book Booker had once seen in the window of a store. He stood and walked closer to the mirror. It was his face; he could see that. There was

still a scar from when he was slashed with a broken glass bottle five years ago, and his nose was crooked from being set wrong after he had broken it almost a year ago. Except now the scar and crooked nose made him look handsome and rugged instead of mangy. This was his face, but it looked as if he had aged ten years. He ran his fingers through his hair and noticed that the ever present itch that accompanied the lice he could never get rid of was gone. A grin broke across his face and he let out a whoop. The snake hissed at the sudden noise and grumbled angrily at him before sticking its head deeper into its coils. Booker muttered an apology and began to laugh. If only the people back home could see me now! The doors to his room blew open and wind swept throughout the room, blowing petals off the flowers and pillows off the bed. A tall silhouette glided into the room and shut the door with a flick of a hand. Booker stood frozen, watching the figure watch him. It was tall and thin like an aspen tree and moved with feline grace. Elegant hands emerged from the large sleeves of the robe and drew back the hood, revealing the most beautiful woman Booker had ever seen. If he looked like a hero from a fairytale she looked like the princess that captures the hero’s heart. She was tall and narrow like her silhouette suggested and had delicate features accented by narrow ears that were pointed at the tips and white blonde hair that fell down her back reaching almost to her waist. The woman walked towards him and he drew back startled. He had realized she wasn’t normal when he saw her pointed ears, but it was her eyes that truly made her inhuman. They were large like a doe’s and the irises were a piercing silver, and he pupil were a deep purple hue. “What are you?” “I am Niam.” “Nevi- can you say that again?” The woman cocked her head to one side and smiled at him, “It is pronounce Neev.” “Neev.” “Yes.” “Okay Niam, where am I?” “You are in Tìr na nÒg.” Booker sighed and tried saying the words a few times before looking to Niam for help. “It is pronounced: Tir inna noc.” “Tìr na nÒg.” “Very good.” Booker repeated the words a few times committing them to memory. He glanced back around the room and saw that the snake had left the bed again and made its way to Niam’s feet. Niam smiled and held her arm out and Booker watched, eyes wide, as the snake began to shrink until it was the size of a bracelet. It curled itself around her upper arm, settling until it looked like it was only a piece of jewelry

and not a living thing. “What-?” “That is Orobus. He is a guardian of the veil between our worlds. He did not mean to hurt you, most are deterred by Airitech, but you were not.” “Who’s Airitech?” Niam looked at him, “You do not know who Airitech is?” “No.” Niam frowned, “He is the father of werewolves. His punishment is to remain in the mortal world and guard the doorway that you slipped through.” So that’s why he was so hairy. Niam watched him smirk and frowned, “Why did you enter the door?” Booker shrugged, “To prove that I could.” “Even though it could have killed you?” “You have to take a risk sometimes.” Niam nodded thoughtfully, “I took a risk keeping you alive. Mortals are not meant to live in this land. We will see how long you last.” “That is very reassuring.” She smiled at him then turned to the door. “You may remain in your room or you can come with me. There are many people who are eager to meet you. Mortals are a novelty in our land; it is not often that one is allowed to stay here.” Booker thought for a second then followed her out the door. He had heard of tales where mortals were tricked into doing all sorts of nasty things by The Fair Folk, but he figured that if Niam had wanted to hurt him, she would have done it already. Niam led him through a winding silver hallway. The walls were covered with pictures of bizarre hybrid creatures dancing. Booker frowned when he saw a picture of a mermaid luring a sailor into the ocean. Niam saw his frown and matched it with a smile of her own, “There are many types of people in Tìr na nÒg. You would do well to remember not all of them are good.” “That won’t be a problem.” They continued down the winding hallway until they reached a large oak door. Niam turned and examined Booker. She straightened his shirt and gently ran her fingers through his hair, trying to tame it. “You must look presentable. I do not want you killed during your first day.” Booker gulped, “Killed?” “My father is not a patient man, nor is my mother a friend to those who do not fit her image of perfect. Do not fret, I will protect you.” “Great,” Booker muttered, “that’s just great.” Niam knocked on the oak door three times then pushed it open. Booker wasn’t sure what he had been expecting. He hadn’t ever seen the king or queen in London and he was sure that they would look very different from a fairy king and queen; it was suffice to say that the two people he saw were not what he

was expecting. The king was taller than his daughter, but had her straight nose and athletic build. He was a handsome man with dark hair pulled back from his face by a rawhide strip and a neatly trimmed beard that accented his mouth. The queen was just as beautiful as her daughter; she had the same long white blonde hair and full lips, although the queens were painted silver. Both the king and the queen wore simple silver robes and had silver circlets signifying their power. The king stood when Booker entered the room. “So you are the mortal who has stumbled upon my realms.” The king’s voice boomed throughout the room like war drums, deep and commanding. Booker tried to keep his hands from trembling; he refused to show any weakness. “Yes-” Booker frowned, how do you refer to a fairy king? Niam saw his dilemma and leaned over, “He is Highness to those beneath him.” Booker blinked his gratitude, “Yes, your Highness.” The king nodded and stared at Booker thoughtfully, “We were surprised when Niam told us that you had made it past our guards, it is not often that that occurs or that the mortal lives to tell the tale. You are very special indeed, that or very stupid.” Booker smiled ruefully, “I’ve been called both, your Highness.” The king chuckled, “So it seems. Please call me Cearnaigh.” Booker bowed and jumped when a hand touched his shoulder. The queen was now standing behind him fingering his hair. “My lady, I did not see you.” “That is because I did not want you too.” The queen moved until she stood in front of him. She was even more beautiful up close; so beautiful that she hurt to look at. “My daughter tells me that you did not look like this when you entered our land. She said that when you were brought to your rooms your face and body changed until you appeared to be who you are now. Can you explain this to us?” “No, the last time I saw myself I was small, thin, and coarse.” Niam stepped forwards, “I may have found the reason for that.” She paused and her mother nodded at her to continue, “When I found Booker he was not the finest version of himself. Tìr na nÒg is a land that thrives on beauty and perfection. It is my belief that the land made him into his more perfect self.” The queen contemplated this then nodded, “You make a good point, it is true that our home is the land of youth, I can see how your former state could have insulted it to the point of changing you in order to suit its wants.” Both the queen and Niam seemed content and the queen returned to her throne. “My husband has graciously extended a hand of friendship to you by allowing you to stay in our home, he has also given you permission to speak his name. I will grant you the same offer, you may call me Maeve.” Maeve smiled at him then turned to the people that had gathered in the throne room. “Let it be known that this mortal is now one of us. You will treat him with the same respect as you would treat myself or my family. The kitchens have prepared a feast and the Players

have prepared a show to welcome him to our lands.” The people roared with excitement and approval. Maeve smiled and held up her hand, “Let us show the mortal Booker what a true feast is.”The people roared louder and flooded out of the room. Maeve laughed softly and extended her hand to her husband, “We must prepare for the feast.” Cearnaigh enveloped her fingers with his hand and gently kissed her knuckles. The two exited through the simple door behind the thrones and left Booker and Niam alone. “The king and queen like you, that is very good. Come I shall help you get ready.” Niam led Booker back to his rooms. He sat on the bed while she hunted through the large wardrobe that filled the left corner of the room. Booker admired her while she searched. he queen had been beautiful, but Booker preferred Niam’s lithe, athletic build to the queens soft, feminine one. Niam wore her hair straight and long; the queen had shorter curls that made her features angelic versus Niam’s aristocratic ones. Niam turned suddenly and caught Booker staring. She smirked at him then tossed a pile of clothes at him. “You will wear these tonight, I trust you can dress on your own?” Booker stuck his tongue out her and she smiled, “No one has stuck their tongue out at me since I was a child.” She winked at him then glided out of the room. Women, Booker thought, they have to have the last word. The clothing Niam had tossed at him consisted of dark blue breeches, and tunic, along with a lighter blue silk shirt to wear under it. A small cape lay on the bed beside him and he fastened around his throat with a silver chain studded with onyx stones. If there is one thing these people know how to do it’s dress. He looked at himself in the full length mirror and smiled. The colors brought out the blue in his eyes and hair giving him the same unearthly beauty that the other Fae had. He pulled on a pair of black boots and headed down the silver hallway. He didn’t really know where he was going. He knew that the throne room lay at the very end and that somewhere there was a large dining hall of some kind where the feast was to be held. He was hoping to run into Niam or some other person who would be willing to show him the way. unfortunately his luck wasn’t that good. After ten minutes of wandering around he decided that he was lost. Very lost. The hallway faded from silver to white and the harsh glow of the torches against the silver turned soft and comforting. Doorways began to line the walls. Booker contemplated opening one of them, but he didn't want to open the wrong one and have something horrible happen to him. Eventually he decided to open a door. He wandered up and down the white hallway a few times before settling on the aspen door. He gently turned the doorknob and pushed it open. The room was not what he was expecting. It was slightly larger than his own, but instead of the cream color is was, this room was a soft blue that reminded him of a cloudless summer day. It was lightly furnished and was filled with

books and paintings. He gently touched a few of the books and frowned, he couldn’t read the title since he was never taught to read, but the books were very large, and he guessed that they were very challenging. “Why are you in my room?” Booker jumped and turned; behind him stood Niam. She was dressed in the same light blue as his silk shirt. It was shot through with gold thread, bringing out the warmth in her skin tone. She was beautiful in a simple elegant way. Niam tapped her foot impatiently and Booker swallowed, “I tried to get to the dining hall or banquet room or wherever I was supposed to go but I got lost and ended up here.” Niam raised and eyebrow, “And out of all the doors you chose mine?” “I didn’t know it was your door I just guessed.” Niam gazed at him thoughtfully, “There is a story that my mother told me once. It is about a young woman who was turned into a tree. Her lover looked for her for days, but could not find her anywhere. Finally, exhausted, he settled down under an aspen tree; in this land aspen trees signified undying love. He laid against the warm bark and cried for his lost love, when his tears hit the bark the tree transformed back into the beautiful maiden. My mother made my door from aspen because she said that one day I would be the love of someone’s life. I asked her how I would know who that person was and she told me that when the time came I would know. Most people pick the room with an oak door, which symbolizes strength and nobility, but not you, you chose the aspen. I do not know what this means, but I wish to find out.” She smiled at him and Booker felt his heart skip a beat. He wasn’t sure what she was implying, but he hoped it was what he thought it was. Booker bowed then offered his hand, “I will be happy to find out for you.” Niam took his hand and led him to the feast. ********************* Booker shook the sleep from his eyes. He had stayed up until the break of the next morning dancing and eating with Niam and her people. He smiled when he thought of her. She was the most beautiful woman in the entire room and she was his all night. And no longer for a night. At the end of the feast Cearnaigh had offered Niam to him if she consented. Booker had been shocked and pleased. Niam was as beautiful as she was smart, and was as curious about everything as he was. When Niam had agreed to the match, Booker was overjoyed. The two had celebrated by dancing the night away even after most of the guests had retired. Then they had sat together until the sun rose talking and laughing about everything. Booker smiled at the memory; his heart swelled everytime he thought of Niam, and now he could spend he rest of eternity with her; it couldn’t get any better. The wedding day was the largest gathering of Fae folk since the wedding of Cearnaigh and Maeve. The entire castle sparkled like diamonds and glowed as if it

was lit from within. The bride and groom stood side by side in front of the king and queen. The bride was dressed in a simple white gown. She had blue and periwinkle blossoms woven into her long hair. The man next to her was her exact opposite in a black tunic and a crown of red roses nestled in his curls. The guests all agreed that the two were perfectly matched for each other. The princess was beautiful, smart, and witty while her mortal mate was curious and willing to learn. The people were happy with the match, and more importantly the couple was too. ******************** The wind blew Booker’s hair from his face, the thundering of hooves echoed across the sand. Sea spray blew up from the surf dampening his clothes and hair. The white horse ahead of him skidded to a stop in front of him. Niam grinned at him and tossed her hair, “I won!” “Ha! I let you win!” Niam rolled her eyes and wheeled around about to shoot off back towards the castle. Booker turned to follow her when a glimmer in the water caught his eye. He slid out of the saddle and began to wade into the water. Niam saw that Booker had stopped following her. She frowned when she saw him wading into the surf. “Booker what are you doing?” Booker held out a hand and waded deeper. He reached out and grabbed a floating object then waded back to shore. “What is that?” Booker held up the object and she saw that it was a shoe, but it wasn’t like any of the shoes she had seen. It was large and pointed at the tip, made from dark black leather. Booker gently ran his hand over the side, “This is from London. I don’t know how it got here.” “The mortal world and the Fae world are connected, this sea captures most of the objects that mortals lose then they wash up on this shore.” Booker gazed thoughtfully across the ocean then smiled, “It doesn’t matter, this is my home now.” He took one more look at the shoe then threw it back into the water. He mounted his horse then left without a second glance. Days turned into weeks, then months then years. The people soon forgot that their prince was a mortal and not Fae. The land had blessed Booker with Fae looks and youth. The only one who remembered he was mortal was Booker himself. Whenever he lay with his wife in their bed all he could see was her feline features and pointed ears, things that he himself did not have. Booker had taken to wandering the hallways of the palace for hours, thinking about his life before that dark, rainy night. Niam had noticed her husbands wanderings and saw that his heart was divided between his new home and his old one. She did her best to distract him by enlisting the youth of the court to play music and read poetry for him, but nothing she did

helped. After weeks of Booker’s aimless wandering, he decided that the only way to be truly happy was to go back home. When he told Niam this she cried and begged him to remain with her. He told her gently that he was going to return for closure, and that he would come back to her. Niam gently slid Orobus off of her arm and it stretched until it could fit over his. “You must not set foot on the street. Stay in the doorway, otherwise Orobus will leave you and you will not be able to return.” Booker nodded his agreement then held his wife close, promising to return. Niam led him down the white hallway until they reached a hickory door. Niam opened it then watched as Booker disappeared. She closed the door then let the tears fall from her eyes. Booker walked down the dark hallway. He recognized it as the one he had entered years ago. Orobus began to glow, allowing him to see where he walked. He finally reached the first torch. As he kept walking the torches became more frequent and brighter until he no longer needed Orobus. He gently ran his hand along the bricks and let out a sigh, directly in front of him was the large hickory door. It was exactly as he had remembered it, except on this side there was a doorknob. He twisted the doorknob then pushed it open. The noise of the streets was deafening. Large metal monsters roared down the streets and people crowded along the concrete sidewalks. This is not the land I knew. He reached out and grabbed a man who was walking past him, “Excuse me sir what day is it?” “August 19.” “And the year?” “2010.” The man jerked out of his grip and wandered down the street. Booker leaned against the doorway, struggling for breath. It has been two hundred years. People kept surging by in waves staring at him and his clothing. I need to go back. Booker turned to go back through the door, but it slammed shut, knocking him backwards onto the street. Orobus unwound himself from Booker’s arm and slithered away. Booker tried to go after him, but his strength drained from him. He looked up and his eyesight drifted away. “Niam, Niam I’m sorry.” His body shook from grief, and his heart gave way. His last thought was of the beautiful land that had become his, and the wife he had left behind.

Novel Self­select Pieces In the Beginning Daylight streams through leaved trees, Shadows are chased away by the light of the sun, which never fades. Through all the trouble, through all the pain, the sun never goes away. Life is joyous and easy and free. Troubles last no more than days, and we are never without hope, that the worst times will pass because for us, there is always hope, there is always hope as long as the sun shines. Grief Winds blow, singing our pain. Rain slams into the ground, demanding justice. Trees blow over at the touch of our hands. The world is no longer as it was, or it will ever be. Grief is all we know. Grief is all that is. Grief is all that will ever be. When the storm passes and the rage disappears, the emptiness stays filling our lives, prolonging every silence. Grief is all we know. Grief is all that is. Grief is all that will ever be. Until we have revenge.

New World Engines roar as the plane takes flight, taking me away. Away from the home I left behind, and to the place that ripped my life apart. I don’t know what I’m searching for, I don’t know what I’ll find, but the world gave me an opportunity, and I’m making it mine. You can’t hold me back, not anymore. Momma I gotta do this, Daddy please don’t cry. I’ll come back I promise, I won’t leave my past behind. Introducing Me Spun gold laying in clumps on the floor, black hair dye staining the tub. A girl stares back at me through the glass. She wears a deep expression, full of hate and darkness. She can’t remember who she used to be, she can’t remember her past. She wasn’t who she thought she was, she knows more than most can ever dream of knowing. I gently close my eyes and take a breath, and stare into my reflection. Revenge Cold, dark, rage, anger, hurt, emptiness. Over all is emptiness. I lost myself long ago to the new monster that walks  with my face and my name. I opened my eyes and saw what I didn’t want to see. I closed my heart and walked hand in hand with a word that I never understood until now.

Revenge. She opens her arms and welcomes me into her cool embrace. Whispering that she will help me, she will save me. I take a breath, and sell my soul. New World II Gone is the gold, gone is the innocence. Gone is the laughing on a warm southern day. Gone is what I used to know, gone is the me I thought I knew. Here is revenge. Here is hate. Here is the me, I now know. Here is the me that is here to stay. Here is the me promising to pay a visit to Hell and back. Here is the me that walked the line, stood toe to toe with the devil, and came out on top. Here is the me that glared into the abyss, and dared it to glare back.

Stories or poems from daily journals

The End of the Storm The wind ripped at my hair and dress. It screamed at me, daring me to move. I wiped my eyes with the backs of my hands, trying to lessen the stream of tears falling from my face. Stupid wind. There was no one else on the dark street. Most people had locked themselves in their houses and tried to ignore the howling wind and stinging rain outside. A huge cold front had hit the entire East Coast, slamming us with hurricane­like winds and heavy rain that hadn’t let up since last Thursday. I had given up on my umbrella after one of metal stretchers had snapped in half rendering it useless; it was tucked into one of the public trash cans, the only things brave enough to remain outside. I had reached Mary Smith Lane when I heard a loud crack. I looked up at the old magnolia tree that had been standing at this same place for as long as anyone could remember. I stood there as the wind lifted it from the soil and threw it straight at me. I ran forwards as the branches crashed all around me. One reached out for me and grabbed my ankle, causing me to hit the road hard. My jaw snapped together and I lied still for a few seconds, trying to clear the spots from my vision. I slowly pulled myself to a sitting position. Blood trickled down my leg in little rivers, painting my tights and shoes red. I ripped a strip of fabric from my dress. It was already ripped anyways. I looked around, where I had just been standing before was covered by hundreds of pounds of tree limbs. I shuddered, that could have been me. I turned back to the empty road and began running again. Mary Smith turned into Farren Way, then to Cowell Road. The wind had died down to a low roar instead of the high pitch scream. It weaved in and out of buildings whispering threats to anyone who would listen. I was just happy it had turned its attention to other things besides me. I looked around, three miles to go.  I took off down Cowell Road following it until it turned into a dark clay road that led to a barb wire fence. Here goes nothing.  I kicked off my shoes and began climbing the fence. When I got to the barb wire, I tore more fabric from my dress and wrapped my hands keeping the barbed wire from continuing the damage the wind had started. I climbed down the other side and glanced down at my ruined dress. At this rate, I thought to myself, I’ll be wearing the mini dress Zoe wanted me to wear.  I looked around, the initial clearing led to thick woods that stood like soldiers, daring me to cross into enemy territory. Well, I thought, everywhere is enemy territory when the whole world is against you. The wind stirred the leaves of the trees, they swirled around me, turning into mini tornadoes. They caressed my hair, it was much scarier than it had been earlier, something was wrong, something was very, very wrong. I turned my head from side to side, the hair at the back of my neck standing on end. I slowed down and listened. A sharp crack echoed

throughout the trees.They found me. I ground my teeth and ran towards the forest. Time, I need more time!  The woods were thick and brambles tore at my skin. The leaves under my feet were slick from the days of rain and threatened to give way with every step I took. As I ran deeper into the forest it began to clear; the brambles disappeared, and the leaf litter on the ground lessened exponentially. I could hear the pounding footsteps behind me growing louder and louder. I glanced around searching for someplace to hide. There! I reached up and swung myself onto a low hanging branch from a nearby tree. I scrambled for the next branch trying to get as far away from the ground, and them, as I could. My heart fluttered as the sound of footsteps grew louder. Two figures burst into the clearing. They looked normal except for the outline of criss cross straps under their jackets, and the glint of Steyr TMPs. One of them barked out an order and more figures streamed into the clearing. I strained my ears trying to make out what he was saying. “......Must be found! Try not to kill her, we need her alive. Of course, I understand that accidents do happen.” I put my hand over my mouth to muffle my cry and sunk deeper into the trunk of the tree. My dark green dress added to my camoflauge. Everyone left the clearing except for the one who had spoken. I knew from memory that he was handsome: a strong jawline, a nose that was crooked from being broken and not set right, which somehow added to his rugged good looks, and eyes whose pupils disappeared into the dark irises. Everyone had always deferred to him, even though he wasn’t in charge, anything the leaders would do to you doesn’t even compare to the horrible things his mind could create. I knew if he told them to do something, they would do it without hesitation and he had just told them to kill me. I shifted again trying to move myself behind a large cluster of leaves. The branch my hand was holding cracked and the clearing fell silent. I held my breath as footsteps walked towards my tree. I could make out the shadow of a man standing directly underneath me. I heard the hum of voices, then nothing. I’m going to die. I looked down at the man, and a growl rose out of the back of my throat, but he’s coming with me. I took a quick breath then dropped from the branch. The wind rushed past my face, the sky was dark above me, stars twinkled in and out of my vision. The moon was full and brighter than the sun, lighting up the night. The clouds are gone, I thought, it’s stopped raining. This made me smile as the ground leapt up and knocked my breath from my body. I struggled trying to regain my senses enough to fight whoever was coming, and I knew they would come. Finally my lungs began to work the way they should and I rolled over looking around the clearing. The man I had struck lay on the ground not moving. His head was funnily shaped and I realized that it must have struck a rock when I fell on top of him. I quietly moved over to the man and knelt by his side. Not him. I gently touched his neck

feeling for a pulse, there was none. I sighed and moved his jacket from his side revealing the dark butt of a Glock. It’s not a Steyr, but it’s better than nothing. I grabbed the gun and slid it along the inside of my thigh until it slipped into the holster. I turned and scanned along the tree line searching for any witnesses. None, I sighed with relief. “You were in the tree?” I whipped around, drawing the Glock.  “I’ll take that as a yes.” The figure stepped from the shadows revealing the form of a tall man with piercing black eyes. “You were there the entire time?” I asked. He nodded and moved closer to me. I pulled the trigger and the dirt in front of his foot exploded. “Don’t get any closer!” He froze and gently lifted his hands. “Grace­” “Don’t say a word. It’s my turn to talk. You were here the whole time weren’t you?” He nodded. “You knew I was in that tree?” He nodded again. “You son of a bitch! You set me up! You sent that man to die!” “I wasn’t the one who killed him Grace.” “You­” I felt the tears roll down my cheeks. “No Grace, all my men knew the risks of coming after you, they all chose this assignment.” I growled, the sound came from low in my throat. “You’re going to die for that!” “No I’m not.” He gestured behind him and a girl walked from the shadows. “Zoe?” I whispered. The girl looked at me with hard eyes. “This is Agent Danielle Hopper. Her mission was to get close to you, she did her job well.” “No.” He smiled gently at me, “It’s time for you to put the gun down Grace, turn yourself in.” “NO!” I screamed and aimed the gun right for his heart. My finger pulled the trigger and the bullet exploded from the chamber of the gun. It made its way across the clearing aiming straight for his black heart. I heard the thud of a bullet hitting flesh and let my gaze relax so that I could see where I had hit him. In front of me were two people, him, and Zoe. “But­” I looked down and saw a dark rose blooming from my chest. “Oh­” I fell to the ground and watched as the moon grew dim. The clouds are back.

“Tonight we are covering the death of Grace Belgien, the woman responsible for blowing up the White House, causing 27 deaths and over 100 injuries. Among the

casualties were the president and his youngest daughter. It is believed that Belgien was part of a terrorist cell operating out of a daycare center in Virginia. She was killed today in a face off with two agents, neither of whom were hurt. The FBI refused to disclose the names of the agents, but they said that there would be no formal investigations into her death. We were also told that she carried a list of names that led to the prosecution of many members of the terrorist cell, America is watching, wondering what will happen next. Back to you Katie.

Extra Poems/Stories What is Beauty? Beauty is peace. Beauty is the way the sun shines off the water in the late afternoon. Beauty is the sun setting and painting the world pink with the last rays of its light. Beauty is laughing on a warm summer day with your friends. Beauty is eating with your family. Beauty is waves crashing into the sand. Beauty is when your hair does what you want it to do. Beauty is the willingness to help others at some cost to yourself. Beauty is the perfect color of nail polish. Beauty is a garden of flowers in spring. Beauty is the way storms paint the sky purple. Beauty is words on a page. Beauty is life, hope and happiness. Beauty is whatever you want to make it, and whatever it makes you.