CW 10

A Chance Meeting With a Tall, Dark Stranger

The time I met a stranger who knew everything about me…and who I knew everything about too. If you are feeling like listening to a little music while you are reading, try this track and this track.

CW10-Sherlock“You there! Girl!” A well-dressed stranger yelled down the street, the bottom of his long overcoat flapping behind him as he ran. I discreetly looked around, not wanting to be caught putting my nose into someone else’s business, looking for the girl he was yelling at. Then I realized with a start, when I didn’t see any other women nearby, that he was talking to me!

By that time he had reached me, slightly out of breath, his dark hair tousled and sticking up in every direction. “What is the date of today?” He asked me seriously.

“Are you okay?” I questioned slowly, looking at him oddly. It wasn’t every day that strange men sprinted down the street to ask you the date. The thought crossed my mind that he might be on drugs.

“I’m clean, I swear. No drugs, no alcohol.” He told me, as if reading my thoughts. “This is important! What is the date of today?”

“November 28th,” I answered, my expression changing to one of incredulity. Who was this man? And how had he known exactly what I was thinking?

“The year! What’s the year?” He asked impatiently, growing agitated.

I looked up at him in surprise, but there was no sign of any jest in his eyes. His expression was deadly serious. “It’s 2012.” I said, beginning to wonder if this weren’t all an elaborate prank being pulled on me.

When he heard my answer, his face broke out into a wide grin, an excited light dancing in his eyes. “Oh, this is brilliant!” He exclaimed, trying to contain his glee.

“Would you please explain to me what’s going on?” I asked flatly. “How did you know what I was thinking?”

“Educated guess,” he replied, reigning in his excitement to explain. “You are obviously an intelligent young woman, so of course you would be cautious about a stranger approaching you as I did. Your expression told me that you didn’t trust me, that you were on guard, and the slight disgust that crossed your face after I asked what the date of today was told me that you labeled me as some type of low-life. So that, together with the oddity of my question, led me to believe that you thought I was drunk or doing drugs.”

I narrowed my eyes, suddenly worried about what I had unknowingly gotten myself into. “And why were you asking such an odd question in the first place?” I asked brashly.

“That is simple.” He told me, grinning again. “You have the honor of being the first person to ever talk to a time traveler!”

Now I knew someone was playing a joke. “Who put you up to this? Was it Rob? Carley? Alyssa?”

His eyebrows furrowed, his forehead creasing, and he frowned. “This isn’t a joke,” he declared.

“You aren’t a time traveler,” I argued, planting my hands solidly on my hips. “This is ridiculous!”

He sighed, turning away as he ran an anxious hand through his hair in exasperation. When he turned back around he had a vaguely fake smile plastered onto his face. “Let’s try this again,” he said, extending his hand to shake mine. “I’m Sherlock Holmes, from the year 18—“

“Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes?” I exclaimed in astonishment, interrupting him before he could finish. “Now I know you have to be joking.”

“Who’s Arthur Conan Doyle?” He questioned sharply, narrowing his eyes in obvious displeasure, though I couldn’t tell whether it was over his lack of knowledge or the way I had made it sound like someone owned him.

“He’s a famous author,” I explained, rolling my eyes. “He created the Sherlock Holmes novels starring the infamous detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Doctor John Watson. Like you didn’t already know that.”

“As strange as it may seem, I didn’t,” he replied. “I do indeed know Watson, but I was under the impression that it was he, not this Doyle, who wrote down the details of my cases.”

“But you aren’t real!” I exclaimed. “You’re a fictional character!”

“You shook my hand, you know for a fact that I am flesh and blood,” he pointed out. “And when you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable…”

“Must be the truth,” I finished for him. “I know, I’ve read that before. You still haven’t proved that you aren’t some actor one of my friends hired to pull a practical joke on me.”

He—I still refused to think of him as Sherlock Holmes—stood there for a few seconds, seemingly thinking hard. After a brief moment his eyes brightened. “You said you knew that I was a detective, correct?”

“I said I knew that Sherlock Holmes was a detective,” I replied, “but yes, I did.”

“Then the only way to prove I am not a fake is to give you an example of my skill,” he said decisively. He stared hard at me, his eyes flicking back and forth as he studied me intently.

“I do have things I need to be doing.” I told him.

“I told you before that you are intelligent,” He began slowly, “I will further say that you are well-read as well, reading a range of books, both classical and those from this time. As you are intelligent, I would imagine that you keep up with modern technology, possessing proficiency in most, if not all of the technology you come in contact with. However, you are more of a traditional person, having skills in things like dancing and sewing that other’s your age might not. You are a perfectionist, but your finger nails are bitten raggedly, so I would assume that you bite your nails when you are anxious.”

I held up a hand, stopping him there. “None of that’s conclusive. Any of my friends could have fed you all of that information.”

“So you admit that it is all true?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

“All of that’s true,” I admitted finally.

“And yet you still don’t believe me,” he sighed. “There isn’t anything I can say to prove my identity, is there?”

“I highly doubt there is anything you could say that I would accept as proof,” I answered, “And any piece of paper you ‘just happened’ to have on you that proved you were the Sherlock Holmes could easily have been faked.”

“But, I can prove that I am a time traveler!” He exclaimed suddenly, grabbing my arm and producing a small deceive from inside his coat. “Hold onto me!”

I blinked once and found myself staring not at the familiar street I had been standing on not momCW10-221b Baker St.ents before, but instead standing outside of 221 Baker Street, in what could only be Victorian London. “But—“ I stuttered out, spinning all the way around as I tried to grasp the impossibility of what had happened. “But we’re in London! I live in America!”

“Oh, yes,” he—Sherlock Holmes—said with a chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, “I worked that into my device so that I wouldn’t accidently end up stuck in the middle of two walls. I had thought I had set it for somewhere uninhabited, but my knowledge of the future is only experimental at best.”

“Sherlock, what are you doing?” Doctor Watson asked disparagingly as he walked out of the door and down the steps of 221b Baker Street. “Who’s this?”

“I’m Christine Dunn,” I said, introducing myself shyly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Doctor Watson. I’ve read so much about you.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” he told me graciously, taking my outstretched hand and giving it a shake, even if it was a bit hesitantly, “It’s not often I get to meet an American.” Watson turned to Sherlock looking apologetic. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but Holmes, the Royal Family is sending us a car. They have a case they want you to take care of.”

Sherlock groaned. “Don’t they know I am in the middle of research?” He grumbled in frustration. “The Royal’s always have such terrible timing.”

“I was assured it was urgent.” Watson told him.

“It’s always urgent.” Sherlock responded with a sigh. “Fine. Let me take this lovely young woman home and then I’ll deal with whatever case they need me to solve. Ms. Dunn, if you’ll take my hand again.” He said, holding out his hand toward me.

I took it and after another blink I was standing back on the street as before. “You’re really Sherlock Holmes.” I breathed slowly, looking up incredulously at him.

“I am indeed.” Sherlock replied with a smile. “I am sorry to have to leave you so quickly, but I have a case to solve!”

I opened my mouth to ask him another question, but he disappeared right in front of my eyes.

“No one is ever going to believe this.” I said to myself, shaking my head. I barely believed it all myself!

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J 10

Over a Cup of Tea

The one famous person I would love to meet

Most girls my age would jump at the chance to tell you what actor or singer they’re dying to meet, but you wouldn’t catch me waiting in a line for hours to meet a celebrity. Sure, it would be cool to meet the star from my favorite television show or movie, but I doubt I’d be able to enjoy it very much in the moment. I’d most likely be so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t be able to make a decent conversation to save my life. And really, who wants to feel like an idiot in front of someone they admire like that?

However, there is one famous person I’d have loved to have the chance to meet. J. R. R. Tolkien has been a writing role model of mine since I read The Hobbit when I was twelve. I would jump at the chance to get to meet him and talk about writing with him. I’ve always had a few burning questions that I would love to ask him. What first inspired you to create Middle Earth? How did you think up all of the layers and details that are woven into your stories? What did your writing process look like? How do you feel like you contributed to God’s kingdom through your writing?

I would love to have had the chance to sit down with Tolkien with a cup of tea and talk about books and writing until we were hoarse. To be able to talk to someone with that kind of writing experience would have so much more of an impact on my life than meeting some actress. Meeting him would truly be one of those one in a lifetime experiences that I would treasure for the rest of my life.

NaNoWriMo Halfway

We are offically over the halfway mark and I thought I would share a little bit of encouragement to help get you writing this morning:

Sons of novel writing! Of script writing! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of writers fails, when we forsake our pens and break all of our writing implements, but it is not this day. An hour of procrastination and abandoned manuscripts when the Age of Writers comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we write! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, WRITERS!

Cookies to whoever figures out what speech I adapted this from before they watch it. And you ought to watch it, because it’s only the most epic speech ever!

CW9

The D. C. Metro Station

Taking a look at one of my favorite places through the eyes of people very different from myself

The Business Woman

I surveyed the station in disgust. Though I knew it was much faster to take the Metro than to brave the streets of D. C. and the traffic that clogged them, I couldn’t help but wrinkle my nose a little and grip my briefcase a bit tighter. There were more than a few men waiting on the train that I would not be surprised to find out had jumped the turnstile to get a free ride. Their outfits screamed of homelessness –crumpled up like they had been sleeping in those clothes for weeks, torn and frayed at the edges, not to mention all of the grease stains. Newspapers and flyers flew back and forth along the narrow strip of concrete as each new train pulled up to the loading platform. A bit of bile that I quickly swallowed back down rose in my throat as strangers jostled past me to get on board. I hoped once I got off the dirty, crowded platform and into the train that I would be able to sit down and close my eyes and forget about this place. Maybe if I did that I could pretend I was somewhere else, someplace pleasant. I would definitely be bringing my iPod with me for my commute tomorrow.

The Child
This is so exciting! I don’t like being pushed around by all of the older people, but it’s still really cool to see all the people! There’re bunches and bunches of people everywhere! I can’t wait to see the big dinosaur Mom told us about at the museum. I’ve never seen a dinosaur before. She said there are treasures like a pirate has in a treasure chest too! I like coming here. All the trains are so cool! Sometimes they come whizzing past us and make the wind blow really hard on every one! That’s really funny, ‘cause then it makes everyone’s hair whip around all crazy. When they leave they start really slow and make a neat noise, but it’s really loud. When they stop it’s loud too. They make a screeching sound like when the teacher writes on the blackboard, but worse! It kind of hurts my ears and I don’t like that. I found lots of pennies on the ground though, so it makes the loud sounds not so bad. I’ve been saving all my pennies I find on the ground. I have them all in my pocket ‘cause Mommy said if I found enough pennies I could get an ice cream!

The Mother
I don’t know why I always think these trips will be fun when I plan them! I know the kids always talk about our trips to D. C. for months afterward, going over every single detail until I’m sick of hearing about it. I know it’s their favorite trip to take and the only time they’ll stop bickering in the car long enough for me to hear the song on the radio station. Of course, that’s only because they’re whispering conspiratorially about how they can convince me to buy them a treat. But taking the Metro is so hard with two little ones hanging on my arms! The stops and the trains are always so crowded –I’m scared to death one of them is going to let go of my hand and get lost in the pressing crowd of people. Not to mention how easy it would be for one of them to run up to the side of the tracks and slip and fall onto them. I think if I didn’t have to worry about them I might actually enjoy not having to drive in D. C. traffic, but next time I need to go on a Saturday so Steve can come with me.

The Teenager
Why does Mom still force me to come on these trips with them? Waiting for our train is so boring and I can’t sit down anywhere. There’s always some old lady already sitting on the one bench in the entire station, and the floor is so nasty I wouldn’t sit there no matter how bad my feet hurt. Mom always makes me give up my seat on the train too, so my feet are always killing me by the end of the day. I really wish she would stop glaring at me. You can’t hear yourself think in here! It’s not my fault she took my iPod so I can’t listen to any music to drown out all these people. I didn’t mean to kick my little sister –there was gum on my shoe and I was trying to get it off! Maybe I would be in a better mood if I wasn’t so bored! D. C. isn’t that special anyway –it’s just a bunch of old, crumbling buildings with some old stuff that nobody cares about anymore inside. I’d pick staying at home to play Minecraft over walking around D. C. any day. Even going to school would be better than this.

J9

The Day My Life Began Again

A Royal 440 Typewriter's Story

When the girl who looked just like my Sarah opened my torn-up, dusty box, I thought I was being given the chance to be loved again. I knew by the sad, remembering smile on not-Sarah’s face that my old companion would not be joining me for any more adventures. Though this knowledge saddened me greatly, I couldn’t help but revel in the bright rays of morning sunlight. I dreamed of being cleaned and polished, my keys gleaming and ready to begin the first line of a new story. At least, that was my dream until I was replaced in a newer box and dropped off somewhere far from my familiar home.

When my box was finally re-opened, I wasn’t even give the time of day, merely put on a shelf surrounded by useless knick-knacks and other trinkets. A second coating of dust covered the first and I began to despair of my dream ever becoming reality. One day, however, my luck seemed to change. A young woman, even younger than not-Sarah, found me sitting behind a few candlesticks and was soon pulling out a man’s wallet from her pants pocket. She scooped me up and brought me home with her, giving me a place of honor in her already crowded room. At first I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I loved Anna, as my new companion was named, and she loved me. Gradually though, she forgot about me.

I began to gather a layer of dust once more as I sat sadly on her table, watching her day-by-day as she went about her life without me. She still showed me off occasionally to her friends and family, each agreeing that I was a terribly interesting machine. One of the other young women even looked upon me with longing, asking Anna where she had gotten such a beautiful machine. But still Anna did not embark upon any adventures with me. One day I could hear two voices coming up the hallway, chatting excitedly. The girl who had looked longingly at me burst into the room, picked me up gently, and carried me triumphantly out to her car.

The ride home was long, but my new companion draped a loving arm over me the entire trip to keep me from sliding. I have my very own spot on her desk now, right next to the new-fangled contraption called a computer. I try not to let it know how jealous I am that Christine spends more time typing on it than she does on me. When I start getting green I just remember one important thing –she loves me just the way I am.

CW8

Snowfall

The first chapter of the book I am writing this November

Arianna

Since the Prince had asked her father for her hand only a few months ago, the time had seem to fly by as if it had sprouted wings. Arianna felt almost as if she were peering into a life that was not her own. Nikolai was truly amazing –a perfect gentleman, honest, handsome, and the Crown Prince of the entire kingdom of Snowfall no less.

What she didn’t understand was why, of all the beautiful young women in the kingdom, he had picked her. She was fair at most everything she did, but Arianna knew women who could stitch tapestries that could make you weep from the sight of it, women who could make lovely conversation with complete strangers, who could dance like they were floating on air. Why would he choose her over them?

He said that he loved her, but Arianna wasn’t sure she believed love still existed in Snowfall, where all the marriages were arranged in one way or another. Her own parents had been married to settle a land dispute between two noble families. Even the prince, the man who would rule the kingdom when his parents died, was given a group of suitable women to choose from instead of being able to choose whomever he pleased.

Arianna stared at herself in the mirror, her warm brown curls tumbling down her back. Her wedding dress had been laid out on the bed behind her, the edge of the skirt just barely visible in the corner of the mirror. Her mother had told her to summon the maid when she had finished washing and doing her hair, but for some reason, perhaps one last bit of rebellion toward the stilted life she led, she decided this was one dress she would put on for herself.

Nikolai

Nikolai pulled at the neck of his stiffly collared shirt, sweating both from the warmth of the small church packed with people and from the nervousness that also kept him rooted to his place. He felt like she should have been here by now. All of the guests had already arrived and had been waiting at least thirty minutes for the bride to arrive and walk down the aisle, and he couldn’t help but imagine the bored glances and ill-disguised yawns were a result of their thoughts that the wedding might not happen after all.

This was supposed to be the biggest day of his life, the day he became a man, the master of his own house. But instead, here he stood, worried his bride wouldn’t make the wedding at all. He thought she at least liked him. He thought she enjoyed his company, even if she didn’t love him as he loved her. Though he knew that family honor dictated much of the marriage customs in their kingdom, and he acknowledged it could certainly feel stifling to be told who you were going to marry, he had hoped that his marriage to Arianna could avoid that. Now, as the minutes ticked by, he was not so sure.

“Arianna!” Her mother called through the door, knocking loudly to get her daughter’s attention. “What are you doing in there? You are going to be late for your own wedding!”

Arianna glanced up in surprise at the ancient, towering grandfather clock that stood vigil on one side of the room. Getting into her dress on her own had taken longer than she had thought that it would. Struggling to reach the last button high up on her back, she called loudly “Sorry Mother! I’m almost ready! Just give me one more moment!”

“We really have to leave—“ Teresa said anxiously as she pushed open the door, sweeping into the room in a wave of elegant silk and delicately arranged blonde hair. When she caught sight of her daughter trying to button the top button of her cream lace wedding dress, she stopped in her tracks, a look of appalled horror crossing her face. “Arianna, what are you doing? You do realize that we hired a maid for a reason? You are about to be married to the Crown Prince! You can’t be seen doing these things for yourself like a commoner!”

“Mother—” Arianna began in consternation, opening her mouth to revisit the argument they’d had many times before, but Teresa cut her off with a shake of her head.

“Darling, we don’t have time to argue over these things right now. The wedding has already been put off too many times.” Teresa said with a sigh, putting the final touches on Arianna’s attire.

“You can’t seriously be blaming him for that can you?” Arianna asked with surprise, twisting around to look at her mother. “It’s hardly Nikolai’s fault that he was called off to help a village defend itself from a dragon!”

“I didn’t say it was.” Teresa reassured her. “I’m merely reminding you of how important it is that you are not the one to put off the wedding late this time. Now come, the carriage is waiting for us outside.”

 

The doors to the church swung open suddenly to reveal Arianna gliding up the steps, her father waiting at the top to take her arm and lead her down the aisle. She was stunning in a long cream lace wedding dress that caressed the floor in front of her feet before lengthening in the back to slide gracefully behind her. The top of her brown hair had been gently pulled back from her face, secured with a cream ribbon and a tiny white rose, the rest of her curls tumbling down behind her back. She was without doubt the most beautiful woman in Snowfall.

Any of the doubts he had felt only moments before now fled at the sight of her. After the agonizing wait as she walked slowly up the aisle, he looked into her eyes and knew that whatever problems they had, whatever difficulties they went through, he would give up everything he had for this woman that stood before him.

But as the clergyman began the ceremony, something huge hit the roof with a heavy, echoing thud. The ceiling groaned eerily above them, the wooden support beams moaning in protest. Then a pair of monstrous claws punched their way through the roof. The entire church was open to the sunlight in an instant, wood pieces falling down to hit the floor as people dove out of the way.

The Royal Guard stood, dumbfounded, hands raising shaking swords in a feeble defense against the dragon that was sticking its head into the church. The building, with its grandiose stained windows and magnificent arches that made the large building seem even bigger, now seemed small in comparison to the head of the monstrous beast. Though such defense seemed pathetic and worthless, Nikolai unsheathed the ceremonial saber on his waist, pushing Arianna behind him.

“Do something!” He shouted desperately at the Guardsmen as the dragon drew his head out of the church to make room for his claws.

Even striking with all of their strength as one man, Nikolai did not think they could defeat such a beast on their own. But defeating the beast was not his priority –getting Arianna to safety was. He put his free hand out behind him and felt her slip her petite one in his.

“I need to get you out of here,” he told her, trying to channel as much strength as he could into his voice, while trying to keep his hands steady. “When I say, I want you to run toward the front doors. I’ll keep it occupied. Alright?”

There was a silence behind him for a moment before Arianna answered, “Oh, right. Alright.”

“Good,” he said, carefully watching the dragon as it tried to peer in over its claws that were swiping at the Guardsmen below it. He waited for it to move its attention from them to the opposite side of the room before yelling, “Now run!”

She did, hitching up her long skirt in her hands in order to take longer strides, the delicate lace wilting from her harsh handling. As soon as she moved, the dragon’s focus whipped back over to their side of the room, perhaps seeing Nikolai now standing on his own, or maybe catching sight of the brighter cream of Arianna’s gown dancing in the flickering light.

Without hesitation the dragon’s claw came down on Nikolai, knocking him to the ground as if he did not weigh anything and trapping him beneath the dragon’s scaly palm. He tried to raise his sword arm to stab the sensitive skin on top of him, but one of the tips of the dragon’s claws had caught on the thick, heavy fabric of his shirt sleeve, pinning his arm to the ground. No matter how much he yanked, he couldn’t get himself free before a piercing scream sent chills through his body.

“Arianna!” He yelled, unable to see what was happening.

She screamed again and the dragon began to rise. Nikolai could hear the sound of giant wings beating outside the church, and felt the sharp rush of wind as the wings created an updraft around him. He rolled out from underneath the dragon’s claws as soon as he untangled his sleeve from the claw. Scampering to his feet, Nikolai caught sight of a bit of white cloth rising into the air.

“No,” he breathed in terror. Without thinking he lurched forward, gaining enough momentum to launch himself off of one of the pews into the air, catching hold of the dragon’s claw. His arm nearly wrenched out of socket from the swift jerks every time the dragon flapped its powerful wings, his entire arm feeling like it was on fire from the pain that coursed through it. Just as he thought he wouldn’t be able to hold on any longer, the dragon’s claw curled in on itself and he sat, realizing that he was now in the hands of a gigantic dragon.

Note: None of the pictures were drawn by me. They were done by a friend of mine who is a fantastic artist! 😀

J8

From Captain’s Log to Journal

Looking at journaling from a fresh perspective

How am I supposed to pick one favorite journal entry when all of my entries this school year have been my favorite? I know, I know –it seems like a cop out answer, but it’s true! Before I started my Creative Writing class this year, I had tried and failed for many years to keep a journal. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I think the problem boiled down to the fact that there was no pull for me to write in a journal. I was the only one likely to ever read my journal, and I could be as truthful as I wanted. But instead of writing about the things I truly cared about –instead of writing about my thoughts and opinions, and about things that truly mattered to me—my journal was really more like a Captain’s Log from Star Trek. I wrote about what I did, not what I thought.

Every time I decided to try to write again, to pick up my journal and begin to record what was going on in my life for my future self to read, I didn’t get far before I started leaving off entries without finishing them and leaving monstrous gaps between writing. It made me feel terrible that I couldn’t keep up with a journal because I really wanted to be a writer and everything I had ever read on how to become a better writer included a section or two about keeping a journal. Mine was a hopeless case –I just couldn’t seem to connect with the monotony that I wrote about. I didn’t have any real desire to write what I was writing.

96cb3a2a3c70cb81e0787bb544e6e450Though I have only written eight journal entries counting this one, I feel like this “journal” that I have taken up is a much better picture of who I am at this point in my life than any of the multiple other journals I have written thus far. The prompts that I have been given have forced me to look at events in my life through new eyes, and to explain exactly what I thought about them and why I thought that. I have gotten the chance to share the things that I love through my favorite medium –words. Things that I have never had the chance to fully collect my thoughts on became the focus for a journal entry, letting me both collect my thoughts and share my opinions with others. Through these entries I have written I have begun to show who I am instead of simply what has happened to me and that makes each and every one of them my favorite.

NaNoWriMo

At the Stroke of Midnight…

It’s midnight and NaNoWriMo has officially begun! Here are my last minute tips for those of you out there who are embarking on this fantastic journey with me:

DO NOT EDIT. I don’t mean you can’t fix a misspelled word, but you have to remember that, like any first/rough draft, your story won’t be perfect the first time through.

Make sure you set aside time to write, whether it be getting up a little eariler, skipping out on TV, or writing right before bed. And take advantage of the little bits of time throughout the day, like in the waiting room at the doctor’s office!

Always have a notebook or piece of paper handy (otherwise you run the risk of having to write an epic fight scene on the back of a napkin).

I don’t plan my novel before hand, but something I’ve always found that helped is to take 10 or 15 minutes before you start writing for the day to get a general idea of what is going to happen next so that pesky villian Writer’s Block doesn’t slay you when you are on a roll.

The website, writeordie.com is great for getting ahead.

And don’t forget:

 

Good luck everyone!