A Pocketful

19 Oct

By Emma Davis
7th Grade

One Sunday several years ago my little sister, mom, and I were on our way back from the Ela fruit stand with a bag of apples and some peaches. I stuck my hand in the top right pocket of my chocolate-colored cargo pants, drawing it out again as soon as it was in, preparing to remove the thorn that had jabbed the tip of my thumb. But as soon as my thumb was out of my pocket, I screamed bloody murder, my eyes wide with fear. There on my thumb was a yellow wasp, its stinger lodged in my thumb-tip.

I froze, my already warm face burning with embarrassment like a blazing wildfire, my mouth dry and gaping. Time stopped. My mom’s hand rested on my thumb, the wasp frozen like a statuette. All around me people’s heads were turned to me, and the sweet smell of frying donuts hung stock-still in mid-air.

Buckled In

19 Oct

By Annaliese Abbasi-Chavez

I walked out of the house, prepared to be greeted by my bubbly friend. Instead, Janine did not come out, so I walked down my concrete steps and my excitement slowly dwindled away. I peeked into her mom’s car, the front seat, the back seat. Only her mom, Lisa, was there to pick me up and take me to my horseback riding lesson. I acted as if I didn’t care that we would be alone together, to be polite. I parted my hair in the back as I handed my bag to Lisa. The trunk slowly opened, dust flicking off in a frenzy. She tossed my bag into the back.

I slowly walked back to my mom, tugging on my shirt as she said, “Where’s Janine?”

“She didn’t come,” I replied, taking a deep breath. I tightly hugged her and set off into my reserved seat in the front.

Exhaust trailed behind us as we buckled in, and my conversation with Ms. Lisa commenced as she blasted Maroon Five’s work from years ago.

Being stuck in a car with your friend’s mom may seem like a bonding experience, but for me it was torture. I’m not usually uncomfortable with my friends’ parents, but when they start asking if their daughter is having dark thoughts on social media, then it takes a turn for the worse.

Not to mention, this parental figure loves Maroon Five, so the whole way I was stuck in a situation of being uncomfortable on the highest level.

“So, how have you been?”

“Oh, great! What about you?”

“Fantastic. It’s so great to see you, Analiese.”

I widen my mouth into a toothy grin.

“Has Janine been okay, you know, on social media?”

“I mean, yeah, she posts every now and then.”

“No, I mean does she seem depressed?”

“Oh, um, no,” I slightly lied.

A couple of odd seconds later, “You would tell me if she did, right?”

“Oh yeah, of course,” I said, blushing like a fresh-picked tomato.

As we were going speedily into the turn, I thought, If she was, I don’t think I would have the guts to say something, and shouldn’t she know if her daughter is depressed, which she isn’t, I don’t think, but her bio is a little deep, is she okay, I mean she’s not acting different. I finished my thought after a few long seconds of contemplation in my own slightly deep mind.

Weeks before, I went on a trip with Janine. I Snapchatted her and asked how she was, and she replied, “Not good. No one loves me.” 

“Well, I do, very much. You’re one of my best friends.”

“That’s true. You’re right.”

When her mother dropped me off at my final destination I was relieved.

To be fair, Lisa is a very sweet person, so in the long run it wasn’t that bad once we walked into the barn. I thought, She drove me all the way up here. That was really kind of her, even if it was a dreadful drive.

Waiting for the Bell To Ring

19 Oct

By Riley Christian
7th Grade

“Marie Antoinette was…” Mr. Gordon droned on as I listened to the scratching of pencils on paper. All of a sudden, as I wrote down, “Let them eat cake!” I felt a hand on my shoulder and an arm draped across my back. I froze. I felt the all-too-familiar tingling all over my body. My cheeks were burning like Tartarus as my heart pounded in my ears. Afraid to look, I turned slowly, to be faced with the big grin and freckles of my crush, Spencer. My breath caught.

I lost all control of my thoughts and gave him an awkward smile as he leaned back in his chair. I returned my gaze to the front of the class, trying not to jump up and run out of the room squealing.

This was more awkwardness than I ever experienced, and I had cried in front of two hundred people. I wished that the bell would ring already so that I could do one of those cool maneuvers with my hair as I walked outside.


As soon as the bell echoed in my ears, I was snapped back to my mind, as if my heart and my brain were connected like a jigsaw puzzle.

And so it began…Awk-ward.


A Few Months Later 

I pulled on the cardboard edge of my poster-board to talk to Leslie, who was right in front of me.

She pulled back hers and whispered, “Here comes your mom.”

I whirled around.

“Hey, honey! I was wondering if I could meet Spencer?”

I sighed and agreed.

Before I knew it, Leslie had pulled Spencer over and told him.


The Next Year

At Mia’s sleepover, my initial thoughts were: awesome house, awesome mom, awesomeness in general. Then came the typical spilling-your-heart-out confessions at night.

Before I knew it, the subject of Spencer came up. Spencer had been placed in a different ability group, and without thinking I told Adriana how I felt about it. By 3:00 a.m. it was forgotten.
The Next Day

“Hey, Riley! Adriana told me something earlier about someone having confidence in me. Do you know anything about it?” As soon as I heard the words spill from Spencer’s mouth, I knew Adriana had told him what I said about him.

“Um, no,” I said, and instantly began talking to my conscience, Orchid, as I debated with myself whether or not putting my head on the desk would give me away as Spencer talked to my friends asking them questions.

Finally I made my decision.


Study Hall

I was too freaked out to think about anything else except the ABC Drama that I was trapped in. So, knowing what relaxes me, I whipped out a few sheets of notebook paper and wrote a story about a prince and a girl named Ella.



Spencer was on the tightrope, so I walked up to him, shoved the story in his hand forcefully and walked away. He went off to read it in a corner while I waited with baited breath for a response.


19 Oct

By Lily Lemme
6th Grade

My head is throbbing, laughing at me, saying, “Na, na, na, na, na. You forgot your notes.” I look around me. The boy on the stage is finishing his speech. I rub my temples, searching frantically in my mind for something that could help me.

I hear clapping, and the boy walks down the steps of the stage. Slowly I stand up. My thoughts are dry. Walking up to the stage feels like a mile. It feels like my funeral march: Bum, bu, bum, bu, bum, bu, bum, bu. I hear a drum march in my head. I want to run and curl into a ball, in a closet where no one will find me.

I scold myself for leaving my notes on the table and rushing out without them. Why?! I ask myself. Why?! Why?! Why?! Why did they pick me to give a speech for continuation? Why does everyone think I’m so perfect? Why didn’t my alarm go off when it was supposed to? Why did I forget my notes?

At last I reach the stage and walk to the podium. “Hi?” I say.

Their eyes stare through me like stones pelting a brick wall.

There is a saying, “It’s bound to get worse before it gets better.” This saying is true for this story.

I hear snickers going around the room, and a murmur of, “When is she gonna start?” and “If she doesn’t say anything, she should give up.” I feel like crying.

Suddenly I remember something my mom once said to me: “If you give up now, all you will remember is that you didn’t try.”

My confidence is back, my pulse is slower. I start again with full confidence. “Hi,” I say. “My name is Lillian Lemme.”

That day I realized that things don’t always go your way and things always get worse, maybe, before they get better. I learned that speaking from the heart is more powerful than any notepaper, and confidence is all you need to get better. That day may not have been perfect, but I like to think of it as a day I learned from my mistakes.


9 Sep

Excerpt from a novel by
Julia Knudten
7th Grade

18:00 hours
Captain’s Log,

“Dear diary” just sounds too stupid. Captain’s Log sounds more official and fancy. After 256 tests, Rose and Xander finally were able to wake me up. But now I can’t even go near a frying pan.  I found something out recently, and trust me, I would never want to tell anyone. At first, it was a little headache, nothing too bad. Then over the course of a few continuous hours, it started to feel like someone with a blunt object was hitting me in the head, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER, you get the point. I felt a sick trickling sensation on the crown of my head, only to find it was blood. I was surprised no one noticed it in my silvery white hair; I was sure it would stain it. Anyway, I felt something that made my head feel like a jaw with two sharp canines coming in. They were short, tiny nubs on the top of my head. If I told anyone, I was positive that they would make continuous jocular references to them. I think they might be horns, but I don’t know. And I think my hair is changing colors again. First brown, then silver, and now what I think to be a black tint with flashes of gold. I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe it’s a serious allergic reaction, or something like that. I just don’t want to be that one leader who had horns. That’s sort of humiliating.  Oh well.

– Castiel Marena Rivers

My hand started cramping a little bit. I put my small pen down. I sighed and shoved the journal back into my canvas sack and headed out of my room. But before I could turn the handle to my door, a giant wave of pain washed over me.


Of course, while walking to my personal training room, I had to run into the one person I was honestly surprised even got into the army. Elke. I glared and pushed past her, obviously enraging her popular fury.

“Watch where you’re going!” Elke said, trying to gather my scattered attention. “Excuse me? Hello? Anyone in this emotionless vessel?” she screamed into my face. Something made my sense of smell curdle, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Yeah, I’m here,” I stated simply. “But I don’t find anything interesting about you to talk about. You ran into me, I did nothing. Now excuse me, I have to help save this screwed up world if you don’t mind.”

“I’m doing that too! But I’m not as dedicated as you because I actually have a life to attend to.”

“Really?! Wow, I haven’t noticed. Congratulations on doing something other than what you signed up to do!” I said, cursing the air with my foul words.

“Please. I could take you down, little Rosey Posey. I bet I work 10 time harder than you ever could,” she sneered. A sickening smell lifted into the atmosphere, nearly knocking me out.

“Bring it, Elke.” I swept her feet, landing her on her back, defenseless.

Her horrid perfume stench filled the air. I smiled, trying to hide a grimace, my response to her bad taste in fragrances, and continued walking to my desired destination. As I stepped past her, a raging stampede of her personal followers sprinted to her aid.

Why she was so popular, I had no idea. She was an immature girl who was forced into the Second Defense after her own father kicked her out of First Defense. I heard something that I could fully agree with: Elke was kicked out because 1) she didn’t even lift a finger, and 2) she didn’t try hard enough. She wanted to stay home, live a rich and famous life, but her father thought if she went into the family business it would give her some dignity and common sense.

And that HORRIBLE orchid perfume, Elke practically bathed in it. Not a single inch of her body wasn’t covered with that scent. Apparently it was her signature—not written, then your hand would cramp. She thought it made her more appealing. I thought it would definitely be the death of me. She wore so much, one little gasp could be your last, because you would die of asphyxiation, choking in her stinky grasp.

Later that evening, the air was getting thicker and thicker in my chamber, making it harder to breathe. I had to escape this warm death. I opened the door with a small creak, and the chilling air relieved me of the humid atmosphere. Stepping into the moonlight, I breathed the last bit of remembrance into the air. My once murky brown hair, now turned to a sweet mahogany. My originally pale face was now florescent in the pale light.

I trudged into the bog, where the arms of trees etched new shadows across my head. The black hood I wore over my light armor turned to a dark, beautiful maroon. The freezing air burned red into the tip of my strangely pointed ears. My speckled brown eyes flashed with bits of gold in the corners, highlighting the small spheres. My thin leather boots, now caked with mud, but still flexible and in decent shape. This was only a small trek, I would be back soon, but then again, I never wanted to leave.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a whole legion of guards surrounded me.

“HALT! YOU WILL BE HELD FOR TREASON! YOU LEFT YOUR POST, SOLDIER. THAT IS BREAKING ONE OF OUR FINE LAWS,” the leader said as one of his cronies tied my hands tightly behind my back. “YOU WILL BE EXECUTED FOR YOUR CRIMES.”

I had no clue what was going on. It was stupid that anyone would think that I would break the law. I wanted to tell them everything, but it was unlikely they would believe me. Crap, I’m so screwed. I thought pessimistically.


It wasn’t what I thought. My eyes were playing tricks on me.

“ROSE!” I screamed as she turned her head…well, as much as she could. The look of fear stretched across her familiar brown eyes. The first friend I made in the orphanage was about to get her head chopped off.

“Ignitus, this woman is a criminal. She must pay for her deeds,” the executioner pleaded softly.

“Release her.” I stated firmly.


“I SAID RELEASE HER. She is a soldier of the guard, and she has more ranking than you could ever dream of,” I growled.

They released her head from the little dip in the wood.

“THE REST OF YOU, GO HOME,” I screamed at the small group of citizens gathered to see the beheading.

I grabbed Rose’s arm and pulled her aside. “Yes, hello. I’m overjoyed to see you, not beheaded!” I yelled.

“I know, I know. I was just leaving my chambers to go for a walk in the woods. But, apparently, a warrior that looked just like me, left their post in Kirme, and they thought I was that traitor. And since it is heavily against the law to leave your post, I was taken. Sooooo yeah. How’ve you been?” she smirked.

I laughed a little. “Oh, you know, leading a rebellion, kicking Carrion off his own boat. It’s hard work. Oh, and I had to kill Dominicus and then put him back together. The same old same old.”

I was glad that I made it in time, so that my friend didn’t die for something she didn’t do. I sat in the harbor watching the waves crash against the slowly rotting wood.

“Now this isn’t so—” Rose started talking but was cut off by a large deafening ring.

Must be noon, I thought, not thinking much of it. But, as I looked over at Rose, she had a look of complete terror etched across her face. “Rose, what’s wrong?” I said.

“Th-that was a war bell. Something must be coming,” she said, slightly shivering.

“That was just a normal old church bell. Something horrible isn’t going to kill us, Rose. We’re going to be fine. Look, I haven’t been here long. I don’t know how many bells this section has, but I assure you that there is nothing to worry about.” I persisted, but she just wouldn’t listen.

She turned to me, a grim expression plastered to her face. “Cas, I’ve studied in this sector. I know everything about it. I think I’d know if it was a warning call. And I’ve never heard one like that before, so that must mean that something HUGE is coming our way.”

“Yes, of course, how could I be so ignorant?!? A whole legion of Umkaila  and red wolves are coming straight for us. If there’s any problem, I’m positi-” I was cut off by a large screech, which was soon followed by an ominous howl. “Oh crap.” I said, all the blood draining from my face.

“I TOLD YOU!” Rose screamed as she jumped up and sprinted to the entry

I barked orders at the soldiers, making each and every one of them understand the grave danger that we had fallen into. I was given my scythes and courageously made my way to the castle’s gate. I nodded at my soldiers and they made a thick line, prepared to either die or live without a few limbs.

“SET!’ I screamed at the first line of archers. They all pointed their elegant bows at a 90-degree angle, arrow tips gleaming in the afternoon sun. “FIRE!” They all released with a loud twang and impaled the majority of the monsters.

The monsters still kept on running and slowly prowling towards us. I felt like I could read their thoughts: they all screamed dinner! This made me excited. It was about time that I had a little battle. But I knew that blood was going to be spilled. And unfortunately, most of it wouldn’t be the monsters’.

Once again I felt that metallic lifeline spread across my tongue. The archers were almost out of their deadly ammo. I wished that this would all end. I think that they did too. I ran through the midst of the soldiers, making it to the very front of the line. Spreading my arms wide, I could sense danger. I smirked and made a small barrier around my army.

“CASTIEL, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Rose screamed through the sea of confusion.

“Saving.” I smiled back at her.

In my peripheral vision, I could spot a small river of tears streaming down my face. I felt a burst of pain in my one good arm and an attack on my left leg. I sighed, giving one last burst of life. I went to the floor, creating an ancient rune around my feet, mumbling an incantation I have never heard.

The world around me caught fire and made a haven for me, but nothing died, except the land surrounding me. My vision slowly turned to a shade darker than black and I finally gave up. Letting the shadows absorb me, I disappeared into a false world of monochrome. No light, but also no sign of darkness in sight. I felt at peace, and then something woke me up, a slight shake and then vicious gurgles of misinterpreted words. It sounded like blood and despair in their true forms. But I would never be able to see them. A sensation of a million nails digging into my spine emerged. Flashes of the past, and memories that no one would understand. No one ever understood.

I woke from my daze. My small army was still protected by a fiery barrier. I smiled, slightly grimacing. I lifted my head from the stale warm grass. The air was humid and it was impossible to take a decent breath. Coughing up a small pile of blood, a wave of crazed laughter washed over me without my consent. I looked up and glared that the prowlers slowly crawling towards me.

I shouted an incantation that I have never heard but knew by heart. I yelled, each word getting louder and louder. Everything that I never wanted in the first place was finally in a steaming pile of ashes. I fell into a little dream-world once again.


Castiel was knocked out for multiple days. None of us knew if she was ever going to wake up. After countless hours of getting nothing but sympathy, I had enough. I always told myself to never get attached to anyone, but this was an exception. Castiel was the family that never dropped me off at a doorstep and ran. She was the closest thing to it.

Everything was off, even me. Most of the more trained and famous fighters who agreed to fight in this rebellion were pushing to elect a new leader. It’s been three days and they’ve already moved on. Show some respect, I thought as I pushed past people in the tight streets.

I saw the bells before I heard them. A loud ringing like a rock hit me in the head. Something about it sounded airy and soft. Then again, it was like a million meteors striking your ears. It was a deadly red sound. The birds around me seemed to silence its violent sound. Their vocals flowed through the air in yellow and a beautiful off-white. This was different for me. Usually it was sound, now it was colors and pain. I felt normal and different all at once. The clicking of horse hooves sounded like a heather grey or a gentle brown as I past the stables. The hypnotic calls of the seagulls shouted colors of vibrant cyan or a crisp mint green. I wonder if others felt this as well, because it was more vivid than anything I’ve ever felt.


I’m usually calm in a crisis. Then again, this wasn’t a crisis. It was a dream, a hallucination, something too far from reality. I was lost inside my own head, seeing everything that I have remembered, or counted as a memory. My head seemed to be there just to mock every regret and fear that’s ever occurred. Lost in the woods, and tripping over long tangled roots was not a happy time. A low growling haunted me in the distance. I touched the trees, looking for a weak spot to hide.

Could be a red wolf, but since when are monsters haunting my dreams? Sure, the thing under my bed was in here, but when you bring something from the real world in here that is just the most creepy thing that I’ve ever witnessed I thought as I climbed the thick bark, hoping for a better view, which, luckily, I did get. Looking over the vast forest, I saw something grey with a metallic appearance.

I cut myself while climbing down, but the bark’s sharp and sticky texture was somewhat soothing. Running through the thick underbrush, jumping over roots that seemed to want to kill me, I finally made it to my desired destination. But, it wasn’t a thing, it was a pile of ash. I thought I had seen something valuable while sitting in my little perch, but it was high upon the mountain of ash.

I carefully climbed my way to the top. Looking around, I grabbed a thick, smooth object and sprinted down the collapsible pile of gravel—only to find that it was a rock. A ROCK! I chucked the rock into the forest, but didn’t hear anything when it landed. Suddenly without warning, everything around me burst into flames.

I was fine, but I glanced at something that made my stomach acid curdle. My friends, tied to each other, obviously knocked out, and slowly being cooked in the flames. I used all the strength I had left to untie them. It didn’t work.

Something glimmered in the fire. Not fuel, or anything combustible. Something shiny. I grabbed it, rubbing my fingers over its smooth surface, only to find the other side was scratchy as a high quality sand paper. It was shaped like a teardrop, light as one as well, but the end of it was so sharp it could easily take out an eye. A brilliant idea popped into my head, fueling the gears that were stuck in place for far too long. I ran over to me grumbling friends, cutting them free and creating a protective dome around them.

Friends are my family. And family is my greatest flaw now. I thought as I tended to their wounds. My old friend, Return, was the first person to stir from the mysterious slumber.

“Are you okay, Cas?” she faintly whispered.

“You should worry about yourself. I’m just dandy. Are you okay?” I said, reigning in my sarcasm. I always thought sarcasm was a bad thing, but over the years I realized it wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t mandatory either. So I tried not to use it, but unfortunately I seemed to be fluent in it.

The floor below me turned into a mushy surface. I slowly sank further and further into the ground. It was solid a second ago. Am I just going insane? I questioned myself, which I usually didn’t like doing. My small dome was failing, quickly deteriorating and disappearing. The ground soaked me into itself like a sponge. I couldn’t help the others. I couldn’t even help myself!

I let the ground absorb me. As my head went under, I woke with a large bang. Apparently, for the last five days, Rose and Xander were coming up with ways to wake me. Today was test number 256, and it was two frying pans.

I sighed. The excruciating pain dropped to my lower torso. The pain was growing since I’d woken. Pain surged through my back, connecting to my shoulder blades. It dawned in bigger and bigger waves. I wanted to cry out, but that would cause unwanted attention. I felt dizzier and dizzier, the room spinning around me. The ground crashed into me faster than a simple snap. The fall certainly didn’t help the pain at all. Cries quickly found their way out. I sounded like a wounded animal. My tears stained the wood floors.

The incoming horns caused no pain. I think they were finally done growing in.

“Cas, are you okay?” Xander said.

Rose was standing behind him. “You sound like you’re dying!”

“I’m fin-AHHHH!” I screamed in agony. My breaths came in short gasps.

I saw something, or SOMEONE appear in the corner of the room. It was blurry, then I automatically knew who it was. “It’s about time you  transformed.” Carrion said in a low growl.

I scowled. He was only here to mock my pain. “GO AWAY!” I shouted fiercely.

The stabbing sensation in my back grew worse. Before I knew it, two fiery angelic wings sprouted out of my shoulder blades. It was a little surprising. I screamed, but this time it was only out of surprise. I sort of smiled. It was badass.

“Oh god.” I heard Carrion whisper under his breath. Knowing he was scared fueled my pride.

“Run.” I stated coldly.

His figure started to fade.

My hair was a shade darker than black. My eyes were a crimson that could pierce through your soul. My wings were a beautiful rose-gold.

Without my consent, the door flew open and Carrion’s apparition disappeared. I shrieked.

Xander and Rose stood there, jaws scraping the floor.

“Cas, why didn’t you tell us?” Rose blubbered.

“I agree!” Xander said.

I sighed. They needed an explanation. “Knowing you guys, you would laugh…” I pleaded, a guilty blush dusted across my cheekbones. I just wanted to disappear. My wings wrapped around me, comforting me in distress.

“Who do you think we are? We’re your friends!” Xander said.

“We aren’t monsters, Cas,” Rose said.

“I was scared!” I said. My wings collapsed and hid behind my back. “You two are intimidating!”

“Come on. Let’s show everyone.” Rose said, grabbing my arm and pulling hard.

I shook my head. “NO!”

“Come on! Be brave for once!” Xander said coolly.

My hand almost fell off due to Rose’s ruthless grasp. The doors to the main hall opened as if on cue. She dragged me to the middle, where every single soldier was gathered. They all silenced once they saw us enter the room. I might as well give it to them straight.

“So if you haven’t noticed…I’m a phoenix,” I blurted.

One guy in the back coughed uncomfortably. It was silent for a few minutes. They all stared in awe. My palms became sweaty under all this unwanted pressure. I decided to spread my wings for proof. Then the hall erupted with cheers. This was a better reaction than I expected. I smiled, but something I saw in the corner was unsettling.

Hidden in the shadows, there HE stood. This time, it wasn’t an apparition.

“YOU.” I growled, marching towards him, growing angrier by the minute. He was standing casually in the shade, like nothing was wrong. And he called out my name.

Murder and Girl Scout Cookies

9 Sep

By Emma Davis
7th Grade


I knew something was wrong. It smelled like something died in there. Maybe something had. Maybe…I walked in. Everything was normal. Except for the body lying on the floor.

He was a big man, six-food-seven, broad-shouldered. He was sprawled out on the floor, a spilled cup of coffee lying next to him.

Lily ran in. “Okay! I’m getting—” She stopped, seeing the corpse lying on the floor.

“Told you something was wrong,” I said.

Lily is my weirdo friend who always has the beautiful smell of mothballs, hair products, mascara, and wood shavings—I always thought she spent a lot of time in her garage, but actually she spends a lot of time with her pet ferret, who also smells like, well, wood shavings.

“I’ll call the cops,” she said, wide-eyed with fear. She pulled out her phone, which for some reason unknown to mankind, also smells like wood shavings.

I opened a window, casting a light on Lily. A five-foot-tall, lanky, thirteen-year-old girl with icy blonde hair, sea-blue eyes, and skin as white as milk. In Lily’s opinion, the moon is a hunk of cream cheese orbiting earth, and the zombie apocalypse is liable to happen twenty years from now. I don’t believe either of those things, but you know, that’s just Lily.

“Okay. Don’t worry,” she said into her phone. “We’re not panicking…Yes, he’s dead…We wouldn’t do that…Okay, the address? Hold on a sec. Hana, what’s the address?”

“7598 North Barrel Court.”

“Thanks. 7598 North Barrel Court…Yeah, the yellow one…Okay, thanks.” Lily pushed a button to end the call, and turned to reassure me, “He said he’ll be right over, Hana.”

Five minutes later two police cars were parked on the street. An average size man stepped out of one. “Okay, kids. Where is this so-called corpse?

“It is a real corpse, y’know,” I said. “I live across the street from him—”

“No need for explanation, young lady.”

I kept going. “—and he usually is a very social man. But he hadn’t been out of the house in three days, so Lily and I went to check it out.”

“Young lady, you—”

I cut him off, “I’m sorry, officer, sir, but we’re not tricking you.” I stood up straight and tall, hoping to make myself look less like a scrawny teenager. I looked him in the eye. “Sir, there is a dead man in that house.”

It wasn’t what I thought. My eyes were playing tricks on me.

“Okay, young lady. Where is this corpse now?” the officer asked.

“Well, I don’t know! It was there a second ago. Look, the coffee’s still there.”

“What coffee?”

There was no coffee anywhere on the floor.

“Sir, I swear, there was a dead man in this house. There was also a spilled cup of coffee. It was right here.” I pulled up the rug and saw a brown stain on the carpet underneath. “Sir, I told you.”

“You’re right. That is coffee. Then where did the body go?”

SLAM! Just the angry next-door neighbor.

“What was that?” the officer said.

“Probably just our angry next-door neighbor,” I replied.

“But it sounded like it came from in the house.”

“Whatever. I gotta go see if Lily’s okay.”

I walked around the house, the yard. No Lily. I started worrying. Lily is a bit of a door-slammer though, so it was probably her. I tried to call her. No answer. That was weird. Lily always answers her phone. I blew it off as just her weirdness. I went back inside the house.

“Sir, I forgot to tell you that this man’s wife was on a trip and is coming home today. She’ll be picked up by her niece, from what I heard.”

It had rained the night before. It always does in Seattle. There was fresh mud on the ground.

The officer walked outside, soon coming back in with a look of shock on his face. “There are two sets of footprints outside. One coming and one going,” he said. “I guess I’m gonna have to believe you. You don’t wear size seven-and-a-half men’s shoes.”

“Um…yeah, no…”


A flock of birds sang in the winter trees, voices white, sweet, and airy as whipped cream. Even though there is no winter air this winter and there never is, Seattle’s just like that. As I stepped up the front porch, a tingling in my spine appeared out of nowhere. Mr. Willoughby had been dead for two days. His body still was not found. Neither was Lily. And now the police thought I would be of help? Obviously they were on the wrong track.

I banged the old-fashioned wolf-head doorknocker. A short, balding, middle-aged man with glasses opened it. “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” I asked.

“Of course, young lady. How much?”

“Five dollars.”

“Okay. Here you go.”


He placed a crisp five-dollar bill in my palm. I left, hopeful that this time the fingerprints would match.


For the last week, Lily had been missing. I was scared, not knowing if I’d ever find her, not knowing where she was or what had happened. I stormed upstairs to my room, slamming the door. I slid spinelessly off the wall and onto the cold, hard, linoleum floor. I felt like I was drowning, my limbs falling off one by one, the deep, blue, rolling waves of the ocean engulfing me, wrapping me in an infinite black blanket of emptiness, of sadness, of despair, of Girl Scout Cookies.

Cold, slimy tentacles wrapped around me, dragging me down to the endless depths. I struggled as much as I could to get away, but…

“Hana! Hana! Calm down! Calm down!” I opened my eyes to see my mom standing over me.

My pajamas were clinging to me with cold, clammy, sticky sweat. When my mom left, I peeled my clothes off and got dressed in my Girl Scout uniform.

I sat down at the table to eat my breakfast, then I went to the bathroom to brush and floss.

“Really? Finally?” I asked, hopeful that our little army of Girl Scouts was finally done with our task.

“No. We’re just out of cookies,” the police chief said.

“Mmff,” I replied, slumping into an egg-shaped chair. “Look, do you know how many stupid boxes of Girl Scout cookies I’ve sold this week?”

“Four hundred.”

“Yes. And look at the soles of my tennis shoes. I stuck my shoe in his face, revealing the worn soles and gaping holes in them.

“Mmff,” I said again.

“Yeah, well, it’s an mmff to us too. Do you know how much those cookies cost?”


“Well do you?”


“Come on, do you know?”


“How much?”


“Come on.”

“It’s three dollars a box, and that—a”

“—adds up really fast, I know. How many times have you had to tell me that?”

“A lot.”

I kicked off my shoes and started rubbing my sore feet. “Mmff.” I threw myself back in the chair. “Listen. Thirty a week is too much for me. I…”

But I was never able to finish because a thin, gangly dark-haired man in a lab coat rushed in right then. “We found the fingerprints matching those on the windowsill of the Willoughby house,” he said, dropping a folder on the chief’s desk and then bustling out.

“Really? Finally?”

“No. Just out of cookies again,” he said, flipping through the papers. “Just kidding. Girl Scout soldier #230 came back with the money this morning.”

“Sir. Where were you on the night of the thirteenth?”

“Watching TV at home, I told you.”

“Tell me the truth.”

“Okay,” he said, his voice shaking like a leaf. “I was at the home of Winston Willoughby.”

“What were you doing there?”

“Hana!!!” my mother’s voice interrupted me.


“What are you doing in that bathroom?” she asked.

“Interrogating the floss.”


“Forget it,” I said

After flossing my teeth, a packed a small tote bag with a flashlight, some rope, a few snacks, my book, phone, and wallet. When everyone was asleep I tiptoed downstairs, slid open the window and snuck out.

I think it looked kind of weird to see a thirteen-year-old girl sitting in her pajamas reading To Kill a Mockingbird on the midnight train to Eugene, but who cares?

I stepped onto the platform in Eugene and instantly saw a B-cycle station. I dropped twenty bucks into the payment slot and was soon off to 1298 Michigan Lane, Eugene, Oregon. I biked for about thirty to forty-five minutes until I dropped my bike on the green grassy lawn.

As I crept up the steps, a familiar and unwelcome tingling crawled up my spine. I shivered as I rang that cold, silver doorbell. No one answered. I started to body-slam down the door, but found it unlocked. You could have practically heard me blink when a tall, lean man with dirty blonde hair stepped out of the murky shadows with the stealth of a cat. He was holding a knife. I stared for a moment. Then, having decided not to bite his ankles, I pulled out my phone and took a picture of him.

“I’d better get going now. Bye!” I said nervously and ran across the lawn, not giving another thought to the man with the knife.

I pedaled as fast as I could to the nearest Eugene Police station.

“You’re telling me that some guy committed a murder and he’s still in the house?”


“And you’re asking for a warrant for his arrest?”


“I’ll give you the warrant, ‘cause you’re probably completely wrong, and I’ll also give you a police escort.”

“Okay. But when I’m right don’t let this go public, okay?”


He drove me back to the neighborhood in a police car and parked on the street by the house. We stepped out, breaking the ominous silence that seemed to hang in the air around the house. We found the middle-aged man hiding in the closet. “I have a warrant to arrest you, sir,” I said. We took the man back to the police car, grumbling and handcuffed.

The investigation conducted by the Seattle Police was completed, and the results were that this man had committed murder because he wanted revenge on both of the victims, my neighbor and the guy in Eugene. He wouldn’t admit why.

“So, case closed,” said the police officer on the phone.

“But you still haven’t found Lily?”

The doorbell rang.

“One sec,” I said to the cop. I ran over to the door. To my surprise, on the other side was…Lily? I gaped. “Come in here!”

She walked in, rolling a suitcase behind her.

“Where were you?”

“I was trying to tell you. I had decided to take a train to San Francisco.”


“I was tired of daily life, so I grabbed a little money and went to San Francisco for a few weeks.”

“I never will understand you, Lily,” I said, walking to the phone. “I’ll call you back. I just found Lily.”





The Curse of Ruthesiam

9 Sep

By Claire Mann
5th Grade

Barbra Washington is my best friend. She comes to school every day and always (It’s a little bit weird) she smells like lavender-and-lilac hairspray. She is so perfect. Her house even smells like pine air-freshener. She even gets to have a dog. I didn’t know she had one because whenever I saw her there was no dog hair in sight. But I’m a little suspicious because every day she disappears after school. It has been this way for about a year now. And it’s time for me to figure out what’s going on.

Chapter One – Menace

As some of you may have read, my best friend is acting mysterious. She is disappearing and I am going to figure out what’s happening.

Oh, wait. You don’t even know who I am. I’m Christina Vine, but Barbra calls me Cat. I don’t like ever talking to people anymore now that my best friend is basically gone. I used to talk to people all the time. We would laugh and everyone loved me. But it’s almost like my voice went down a long, ringing well. I try to hold back my sorrow from showing. I want people to think I’m still cheery, but I can’t. I just want to drown my sorrows down that well forever.

I need to find my friend. It was like we were sisters. So, today I devised a plan to get my own friend back

Chapter Two – Barbra

I cannot stand holding back any longer. I’ve heard about Cat and I cannot bear to see her like this! But I have to. Nothing can be done. I am forced to do this! Barbara told this to herself solemnly as she took her usual route to school.

Walking along, she brushed her fingers along the tall ivy-covered tree trunks that tickled her fingers. The flowers brushed against her feet as she walked through the dead, silent, still meadows, cut off from the other world. The meadow smelled of honeydew and soft sweet grass as she walked toward the small but deadly blade of grass. As she silently touched it, all the world went to sleep.

The moon rose up over the small, frail, decaying body of Barbra Rose. Her eyes were small red pellets, the only new light brought to the world. Her hair was tousled, and many parts had been ripped out. Her clothes were all black and ripped. She was barefoot and her skin was pinched and burned.

Barbra Rose was not who she used to be. The spell had ripped through her, turning her inside out. She knew what was going on. She knew what happened. She knew who did it. All she didn’t know was that she was not alone.

Chapter 3 – Foggy

I don’t want to follow my best friend into the dark world, but then I find myself watching Barbra as she repeats the curse of ominous sleep. Watching sadly, I finally figure out where she is, and it’s not good at all. At all.

Something brushes past my face and lands on the floor. Patting my ear, I gently pick the object up. It’s a piece of paper. I smile. It must be from Barbra.

Unfolding it, I see Barbra’s handwriting. The paper reads:


Dear Friend,

I think it is time to tell you where I am. (Too late for that, Cat thought.) I have been cursed and I have to put the world to sleep and remain trapped here. I’ve tried to get out, but I can’t. I just wanted to tell you so you wouldn’t feel bad. I get food that tastes like stamps and respect like an ant that gets stepped on. It’s bad. I just thought you deserved to know. I miss you!



I feel like crying. She did that for my sake. She’s awesome. The stamp part reminds me of when she and I had a sleepover and she showed me her stamp kit and we were looking at it and ended up with stamps in our mouths. Good times, good timeI know now that Barbra is in Ruthesiam, which is a strange world. Well, it is now. Ruthesiam was inhabited 1500 years ago and was filled with creatures of all kinds: large, small, hairy, long, short. It had land, water, and things of all sorts. It was a beautiful place, once filled with beautiful waterfalls and streams and trees and honeydew grass. The land was hidden away, so there were all these wonderful things but no joy.

One day a beautiful girl came upon the land and called it her own. Her name was Malient. Then there was joy in the land. But as she grew older, kings and armies came looking for gold. She had to kill. Her blood turned cold. She destroyed her own land in fury. Now when anyone comes near she destroys them with deadly fog.

I can’t leave Barbra to that fate! I will go get her right now.

I grab the letter and stick one arm in. I feel a strong tug on my arm. Something gently pulls my body in. It feels weird. It feels humid and cold at the same time. It feels harder to breathe in there.

I pull out the note. Uh-oh, I didn’t read the P.S. It reads:


DON’T COME IN HERE TO SAVE ME! No matter what!


Double uh-oh. I try to hide, but I step on some leaves

Barbra turns around, sees me, and gasps. “What are you doing here?”

“Wow, nice to see you too!” I say.

“I’m sorry, but why did you come here?”

“To save you!”

“Did you read my letter?”

“Yes, I did. But I felt bad for you.”

“Do you realize what you’ve done?”

“What?” Angry, I lean over and slap Barbra in the face, hard.

Gasping, Barbra immediately puts a hand up to her face. Feeling the red mark, her face hardens. “Well if you want to play that game…” She raises her hand high. Her hand comes down.

Expecting this, I reach up to take hold of her arm. “Stop it,” I say.

She unclenches her hand.

“Thank you,” I say. “Barbra?”

Barbra’s eyes are open very wide and she stands stock-still with fear.

“What? What is it?” I say.

Finally coming to her senses, Barbara drops onto one knee. Turning around, she almost stops breathing.

The curser is here.

Chapter 4 – Blind

Cat falls to one knee, looking up at the woman. She had pictured the curser more like a rodeo guy with a pistol. This figure was six-foot-four and dressed in a purple shirt, black pants, and a sky blue cloak.

“Well, well, shorty,” the woman said. “ Barbra, I thought you were sensible enough to not bring someone else here.”

“But, but I—”

“Silence!” the woman said. “You have gone far enough with the curse.”

Barbra’s eyes lit up, hoping she would be free.

“So,” the woman said, “you will be taking on the savior test.”

“What does that mean?” Cat said when she had the courage to talk.

“Oh, you’ll see,” the woman said. “Oh, and if you need me, say ‘Malient.’ That’s my name. Not like I was going to help you. I already gave you some help, so no more. That is where you’ll be taking the test.” Malient pointed behind them a ways. “Over there.” Malient smiled.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Barbra turned around, but Malient was gone.

“Great. What do we do now?” Cat asked. She felt worried. Her insides were turning inside out.

“Well, let’s go and see what we have to do,” Barbra said with a sigh. She was very frightened, but she did not want to show it. “And maybe I will stop tasting shapes. Apples are so sharp here!”

Okay…um, that is not at all weird. What the heck? Cat thought, confused.

“Well, let’s go do this random test.” Barbra made it sound easy.

Walking up the hill, Barbra wondered if she was going to get out alive. They both walked up the hill to nothing but a single flower. No! it’s another curse plant! Barbra thought, shuddering slightly.

“Why is there only one flower? There should be more like it in the rest of the fields,” Cat said. Hmmm, a little suspicious, but pretty, she thought.

“Whatever you do, don’t touch it,” Barbra squealed, afraid. She knew it was a lost fight. Cat always tricked her.

“Why not?” Cat asked. It can’t be that bad, she thought.

“The first time I touched something unfamiliar in here I got cursed. Almost for life,” Barbara said. Don’t touch it! Don’t touch it! the words repeated over and over in her head.

“But it’s so pretty,” Cat said dreamily. I’ll just go ahead, she thought.

“Don’t touch it,” Barbra growled this time. She was about to lose her best friend. Yes, Cat was still her best friend, even if she had gotten them both stuck in this world.

“Too late,” said Cat in a mocking tone. “It couldn’t hurt, right?” She reached out and plucked the little flower from its root. Cat smiled. “See. Nothing happened.” Barbra was wrong, finally. Yes!

“Really? Nothing happened?” said Barbra, annoyed by Cat’s lack of attention. Ugh. Dumb Cat. Again. Barbra pointed to the other end of the strange world.

A dark sky was rapidly coming toward them. A dangerous storm started. Lightning flashed all over the darkening sky. It lit up the now black world. Shivering, they both looked up. The faint figure of Malient was hanging in the sky.

“I knew it!” they both shouted at once.

Malient shouted a strange incantation as she hung over the world. It was in the Ruthesiam language. She grinned evilly. “This is your first test,” Malient shouted. She smirked at the sight of their frightened faces. She cackled and disappeared.

The storm stopped as fast as it started, but something new came in. Ready for this, Malient thought. A dark grey fog washed over the land, clouding their vision. It was killing everything in sight.

Cat cried out. “Barbra! Barbra!” Not being used to things like these, Cat was freaked out with no sense of directi

“I’m here!” Barbra shouted through the fog. She had to stay strong for Cat.

“We are going to run through it together,” Cat yelled. “We will stay together no matter what.”

They put their arms around each other, crying. They had tried their best. Cat was shaking. I will never let go of Barbra, ever! she thought.

“Cat!” Barbra shouted. “I’m with you.” I will keep her safe, she thought guiltily.

Cat felt better with Barbra by her side. “Run!” Cat yelled. “Let’s go

They sped off, and Barbra reached out and groped for a wall, clenching it tightly. Barbra pulled Cat over to the wall.

“Let go of me! Just hold onto the wall,” Barbra shouted. After seeing Cat’s face, Barbra shouted, “Do it! Do you want to die?”

“Fine!” Cat yelled in pain. “It’s getting harder to breathe.”

“I know. Just run!” Barbra shouted.

Cat sprinted, holding the wall as well, breathing heavily. She wondered, Why would Malient do this to us? Why?!

Barbra was getting farther and farther away from Cat, but she did not care anymore. She just wanted to get out of there. Cat was now ahead of the fog.

Cat realized they were in the same place where they had gotten into the dark world. Maybe they could get out.
“Barbra, I found it!” Cat called out.

“Coming!” Cat could hear Barbra’s faint voice.

Now it was Barbra’s turn to make her break. Gathering up all the strength she had left, she conjured up a ball of purple light and shot it out of her hand. In a split second, she appeared next to Cat. Cat’s eyes went wide.

“How did you get here so fast?”

“I’ll explain later, okay? Now let’s get out of here before the fog gets any closer. We don’t have to do anything, I don’t think. Just walk through. Three, two, one, go!”

They both ran at the wall, hoping to get through. Barbra braced herself. To her surprise and joy, she ran right through.

“Yes! We did it, Cat!” Barbra exclaimed with joy. “Cat? Cat?” She turned around, and her grin faded when she saw that Cat did not get through the wall. “No! Nooo!” Barbra yelled, sobbing, and threw herself against the wall, hoping to slide through. No luck. She stared at Cat’s wide eyes on the other side of the wall. Then she could look no longer as her friend got devoured by the fog.

She cursed under her breath as the fog slowly receded. As it became clearer, Barbra could see Cat lying on the ground, not moving.

Barbra was angry with Malient. She fired out an incantation in Ruthesiam. She had never heard it before. The dome started to collapse. A large gaping hole formed. Cat’s body rolled straight out of the hole. The fiery glow around Barbra receded, but then it fired up again. A red ball of light sped out of her fingers, into the sky, and back down on Cat. Cat slowly opened her eyes in pai

Barbra tackled her in a hug. “Cat! Let’s go home.”

“Yes, please,” Cat said.

They walked along the path back to their home. They walked up to Barbra’s front door.

Then they both shouted at once. “We’re back!” They stared at each other in surprise. “Uh-oh. Hahahahaha…”


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