CW17

The Wards

This was an interesting assignment for me. When we were first told to write a story containing the words death, ward, scalpel, healing, syringe, surgeon, oxygen, formaldehyde, crutch, hydrogen peroxide, blood, nurse, and knife, but that could not be in a hospital, my mind immediately jumped to the idea of a secret research lab. Thus this story turned out very dark, much darker than pretty much anything I’ve ever written before. It was extremely difficult to write, but I feel like the hopelessness of the story gave the last few paragraphs a poignancy they could not have had otherwise.

CW17-MegThe stench of death hangs in the air like a cloud, threatening to choke the very life out of your lungs. It’s oppressive, clinging to everyone and everything, seeming to sink down to your very bones. Some of the new wards speak of the smell of flowers in the spring and grass just after it’s rained, but though my mind knows these things must be true somewhere, their stories seem more like fairy tales to tell the younger wards when they start to cry. I’ve been a ward too long to remember anything but the dark, dank labs, and the smell of death.

A sharp scream echoed down the hallway, sending involuntary shivers down my spine. None of us ever know exactly what “tests” the surgeons are running on another ward, but we don’t have to. We know from experience that whatever they’re doing, the ward is sure to be in excruciating pain. The surgeons, the men and women who run the tests, the ones who keep us here, are sick, twisted people. Their only care is that they get their results. They don’t care about us. They don’t care about the pain they put us through.

“Meg!” One of the new wards, Charlie, I think, called out my name, beckoning me over to a ward who has just stumbled back into the common area. I can’t help but sigh. It’s always the same with the new wards. When they first arrive, when their clothes are still clean and fresh, not ripped or stained with blood, they hold onto the hope that if they can just stay alive long enough, someone will come to rescue us.

I glanced quickly at Charlie’s clothes, trying to assess what stage he’s reached. From the state they’re in, I can guess that it won’t be long before he realizes the thing that I’ve known for years. Soon he will realize that no one is coming for us.

“The surgeons ripped her arm out of socket,” he told me, gesturing at the crumpled heap lying on the floor. The small girl sobbed shakily. She could barely breathe through the pain, taking huge, gasping breathes between her sobs.

I knelt down next to her, probing the shoulder for a moment with my fingers before suddenly wrenching it back into place without warning. The sudden onslaught of pure agony made her scream shrilly, but I had already gotten up, dusting the dirt off of my knees.

“It’ll feel better in a moment, but get her a syringe from the cabinet. Don’t worry about making her supply of drugs last for the rest of the month—I doubt she’ll make it that long. She’s too little.” I said cynically. I turned to walk away, but Charlie grabbed my arm.

“We have to get her out of here,” he hissed urgently, “We have to get everyone out of here.”

I shook my head, trying not to scoff. “Get your head out of the clouds.” I told him, jerking out of his grip.

“One of the other wards found an exit!” He said, desperate for me listen.

As much as I hated to admit it, he did catch my attention with that piece of information. I had seen dozens of escape attempts, all of them failures, but no one had claimed to have found an exit before. I put on a disbelieving face as I turned around. “Why are you telling me?”

“You’re the one who’s been here the longest,” he explained. “If we’re going to have any chance of escaping, we need you to help us.”

“When do you leave?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, thinking, “There are a few supplies we’ll need to collect beforehand. We’ll have to make some crutches out of something. I think someone said they had a knife—“

I cut him off there. “What, are you kidding? We’ll never make it out of here if we have to drag along wards who can’t walk on their own!”

“We can’t just leave them!” Charlie protested angrily, “We have to take them too.”

“Then I’m out,” I told him. “You said you won’t have any chance of escaping without me? Well, I’m telling you that you can’t hope to escape if you try to bring everyone.”

“Leaving wards behind makes us no better than surgeons!” He spat passionately.

I rolled my eyes. “There’s no way they’ll make it out. Let me know when you’ve gathered the rest of your group.” I turned and walked to my bunk.

CW17-Tunnels

It was the dead of night two days later that Charlie approached me again. Despite the late hour, I was wide awake, trying to drown out the sounds of surgeons demanding a scalpel, or an oxygen tank, or any of the other numerous tools they used in their tests on us. He touched my shoulder gently, swiftly placing an unnecessary hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t cry out.

“Come on—we’re leaving,” he whispered in my ear.

The two of us crept quietly out of the room. A small knot of other wards stood huddled together in the shadows right outside the door, a few keeping careful watch on the hallways around us.

“Alright,” Charlie began, his voice barely loud enough to make out, “We don’t have much time, so we’ll have to move quickly. Henry, lead the way.”

A small ward with dull blonde hair squirmed his way to the front of the group, and strode purposefully up one of the hallways. It didn’t take us long to reach our destination—the door leading to the surgeon’s storeroom. Footsteps echoed up the hallway toward us, and suddenly I felt myself being pushed forward into the room by the other wards, each one desperate to hide from the approaching surgeon.

Charlie closed the door softly behind us. The room had a disturbingly eerie quality to it. We couldn’t risk flipping the overhead lights on, so the only illumination was from the colored lights on the equipment scattered about the room. Those tiny lights cast odd shadows, reflecting off of the glass of specimen jars and refracting to other parts of the room.

However, none of that fazed either Henry or Charlie, the two boys striding quickly through the wards to the door on the other side of the room. Charlie yanked at the handle with all of his strength, but it was apparently rusted shut, and it took a few precious seconds for him to finally jerk the door open. As the door to our escape swung open, so did the one that led to the horrors we were trying to leave behind.

The room exploded in panic. I froze. All of the wards were pushing and shoving their way inch by inch backward, knocking over shelves of experiments, sending them hurtling to the floor. Soon we were all drenched with formaldehyde. Organs and shattered glass littered the floor.

In the confusion, I saw Charlie and Henry slip out the doorway. So much for Charlie’s high and mighty ideas to get all of us to safety—I guess when push came to shove, he wasn’t the hero he thought he was.

Within moments, a crowd of surgeons flooded the room, herding us together in one corner. I could hear some of the other wards sobbing openly, and I sighed. What did they think was going to happen? We had all known that there was only a slim chance we’d be successful.

The surgeons began rounding us up one at a time, leading us separately out of the room. After nearly an hour of herding wards away, as one of the surgeons came for me, something changed. The sound of heavy, pounding footsteps filled the air, drowning out all other sound.

Suddenly people clad in all black burst through the door Charlie and Henry had left through, training dangerous looking guns on the surgeons.

I watched the people in black swarm into the room with disbelief as they slammed the surgeons into the walls, cuffing their hands behind their backs. There was no way this could possibly be happening. I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, making me start. But when I looked up, it wasn’t a surgeon, or even one of the black clothed people, standing there. It was an angel.

She smiled down at me, her perfect golden hair pulled up out of her face. When she spoke, it was sweeter than anything I had ever heard. “Hello dear. My name’s Jane—I’m a nurse. Do you know what that is?”

I shook my head dumbly, stunned into silence. Was I hallucinating? No one had ever spoken to me so kindly before.

“A nurse is a person who helps people get better, who helps them heal.” She explained. She looked me up and down, taking in my condition. Suddenly I was utterly aware of my pitiful appearance. Her clothes weren’t torn and bloodied like mine, and when she helped me to my feet, I realized the grim that coated my skin was soiling her pure white hands. But all she asked was, “Can you walk?”

I nodded.

“Good!” She said brightly, beaming at me. “Will you come with me? I can get you cleaned up—I’ve got some hydrogen peroxide and some bandages for those cuts and scraps of yours. And once we get you to the hospital, we’ll get the rest of you fixed up, alright?”

I felt hot tears well up in my eyes for the first time in years. “Thank you.” I whispered, my voice catching in my throat. Slowly, but steadily, we walked out of the terrible place I had lived for as long as I could remember. I didn’t look back. For the first time in my life, I could hope.

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CW16

Seasons Change

A story in the style of The Giving Tree

CW16-SpringOnce there was a little girl. More than anything else in the world, she loved to play outside. In the spring she would skip through the meadow, filling her arms with giant bouquets of wildflowers. In the summer she would run through the fields, turning cartwheels and tumbling down the grassy hills. In the fall she would jump into leaf piles all day long, sometimes hiding in a particularly large one to jump out and scare unsuspecting victims. And in the winter she couldn’t get on her jacket, scarf, and mittens fast enough to run out the door to make snow angels and have snowball fights. To her, the outdoors were one giant adventure, new things ready to be explored each day.CW16-Summer

When she played, she was often joined in her adventures by her favorite playmate, a little boy who lived down the road. One day however, when he walked up the road, something was different. He didn’t run toward her; instead he walked slowly up the road, his head down, kicking a stone as he walked. Finally the little girl couldn’t take it any longer, and she ran as fast as she could down the road to meet him.

CW16-Fall“Come on!” The little girl said excitedly, grabbing the little boy’s arm and tugging him along, trying to get him to walk faster. “I found a little creek yesterday! Let’s go!”

The boy gently pulled his arm out of her grip and stood there. The little girl looked at him in surprise, wondering why he was acting like this. She peered more closely at the little boy, and realized with a start that she could see tears running down his face.

“What’s wrong?” She asked him urgently, a look of alarm growing on her face.CW16-Winter

The little boy looked down at the ground, toeing the dirt with his shoe. “My mom said we’re moving.”

A horrified expression crossed her face as the little girl asked, “You mean you’ll never come back? I won’t ever see you again?”

Numbly, the little boy shook his head.

“That’s not fair!” The little girl protested.

He shrugged, sniffing and roughly swiping his tears away with the heel of his hand. “Mom says sometimes things change, but just because it’s different doesn’t make it bad.” He told her shakily.

“Why wouldn’t it be bad?” She asked. “You’re going to have to go to a new place you don’t know, and make new friends, and go to a new school, and you won’t know anything about it there!”

Smiling weakly, the boy looked up and said, “Just like one of our adventures, right?”

———————————————————————————————————–

A year went by, much the same as it had before. The girl still ran about and played outside, no matter what season it was. She still gathered flowers, ran through the fields, jumped in the leaves, and made snow angels. Every day was a new adventure.

But one day, very much like the day her friend had told her he was moving, her mother came to her with news of her own.

“Honey, I’ve got something I have to tell you,” her mother said, pulling her up into her lap. “Your daddy got a job in another town, so we’re all going to have to move there in a couple of weeks.”

The little girl looked up at her mother in shock. “What?” It took a moment for it to all sink in, and then she almost shouted, “We can’t move!”

Her mother wrapped her up in a hug. “I’m sorry sweetie, but we have to.”

“But it’s going to be all different! I won’t know anything, and I’ll have to make new friends, and we’ll have to live in a new house. I like it here!” The little girl protested.

Sighing, her mother asked, “What’s your favorite season?”

The little girl was taken aback, pulling out of her mother’s hug to stare at her in surprise. “What do you mean?”

Her mother smiled, and repeated, “What’s your favorite season? Out of all of the seasons, which one do you like the very best?”

“Well, I like spring…no summer…well fall…but winter is nice too…” She sat there for a moment, biting her lip and thinking very hard. Finally she answered, “I don’t know. I like them all.”

Her mother faked a shocked expression. “You mean even though you play outside all the time, you can’t decide on your favorite season? Surely since you spend so much time out there you can pick one favorite.”

She shook her head. “I can’t Mommy! I tried! I like them all. In the spring there are the pretty flowers, and in the summer you get to play all the time, and in the fall there are all the leaf piles, and in the winter you have snow.”

“Well, what if it never changed seasons and you were always stuck with the same one?” Her mother asked. “Wouldn’t you be sad you couldn’t have the other seasons too?”

The little girl thought about it for a moment, and then nodded slowly.

“Sometimes change is important,” her mother told her. “Change lets us enjoy all of the different seasons, and once we move, you’ll see that change lets us enjoy different things in life too.”

“You promise?” The little girl asked.

“I promise.” Her mother replied.

J16

I’m Going on an Adventure!

Interestingly, I had already written up my answer to this week’s prompt! At the beginning of the school year when I was champing at the bit to start working on my writing blog, I read through the list of assignments a few times and this prompt in particular really inspired me. I ended up being so inspired by this prompt that before this school year even began, I had already written a Facebook status to answer it, which turned into a blog post (by that point I had forgotten it was a prompt!). So, I decided rather than try to go a different direction with the prompt, that I’d rewrite my original blog post and repost it for class. I hope you enjoy!

Since I was very little, my answer to boredom has been to look at my bookshelf and grab myself a book. When the time comes, I’m sure my answer to the infamous question, “I’m bored, what should I do?” my children will pose will be to shove a book into their hands. I will be happy to provide them with any of my lovely selection of amazing books! You say you’re feeling lonely? Let’s take a trip to Narnia with the Pevensies! You’re feeling a little blue? Let’s go on a quest with Sir Gawain and Terence! Their silly conversations and colorful adventures will be sure to cheer you up. Somebody told you that you’re not good enough, that you’re not smart enough, or that you’re not big enough to do something? Then let’s go on an adventure with Bilbo Baggins! Nobody thought he was good enough either, but I’ll tell you a secret –he proved them wrong. You don’t like your chores? How about we have a chat with Taran, Prydain’s only Assistant Pig Keeper! He can tell you the importance of doing your job, even when it doesn’t seem very important. You say you’re a little tired of reading fantasy books? Oops! Then why don’t you read a Hardy Boys book instead. Frank and Joe are always fun companions to solve a mystery with.

My mother once asked me why I have so many books that I have read three or four times apiece when there are so many other books to read. My answer is that I can always count on them. I know which books make me laugh, which make me cry, which make me feel like I can take on the world, and which have me quietly pondering my personal character. The words on the pages aren’t merely words to me –those places, the people inside them have become familiar, like visiting old friends. After all this time they still make me laugh, still make me cry, still make me want to jump up and down, or knock some sense into one of the characters. That’s why I like love those books and that’s why I can’t wait to share those books with my children.

The Scarlet Letter

ShameScarlet Letter

“Adulterer!” screams the scarlet letter,

The peace of the town the word doth shatter,

Whisper’s run through the gathered crowd,

“Who is her partner?” they wonder aloud,

And as they whisper, alone she stands,

Her newborn baby in her hands,

She stands alone in the center of strife,

A marble statue, devoid of life,

Facing the townsfolk and their stares,

Descending the steps to further glares,

From those to whom she’d be better off dead,

Shame turns her face bright red,

Pride turns it white again,

The “A” on the chest of Hester Prynne,

A reminder forever of her sin.

CW14

How To Describe Myself

A list of ten songs, books, poems, and movies that help give you a peek at me–my personality, my passions, my family, and everything else that makes me who I am!

1. Star Wars

OutsideThis may seem like an odd place to start out my list, but once you hear me out, you’ll understand. I’ve been watching the Star Wars movies since I was little. More than I remember watching Disney movies as a kid, I remember planting myself in front of the television to watch Star Wars with my brother. I used to pretend I was a Jedi fighting the Sith alongside such heroes as Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi. InsideMy brother and I would have lightsaber duels in the backyard. I would make up stories in my head of my grand adventures traveling around the galaxy, fighting evil. Eventually my playing pretend turned into the first stories I ever wrote. I still have the butterfly notebook I wrote them in. I inwardly cringe a bit when I read through them now–they are chock-full of clichés and wish fulfillment—but they were my first stories. They are the reason I am writing today.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia

TCoNIn the first grade I was a pretty reluctant reader. I knew how to read, but for some reason, things just didn’t click. The Chronicles of Narnia made it all come together, fanning the flames of my absolute passion for reading. To my seven-year-old eyes, these books were huge! But suddenly, the size of the book didn’t matter anymore. I devoured the series at a rate of a book a week. Those books opened up a whole new world to me that I had never even dreamed could exist. And now I cannot stop reading.

3. “When Love Takes You InAnthony

This song tells the story of a life-changing part of my life. When I was eight, my family adopted two children from Russia –Anthony, who was three, and Julia, who was one. It was a big change for us. My brother Rob and I are only fourteen months apart, so he was more my partner in crime than my little brother I had to look out for. But Anthony and Julia are five and seven years younger than me respectively, so the title of “oldest” became more than just a title. I had to truly become a big sister, a roleJulia model, someone they could look up to. It breaks my heart to think about all the painful waiting my mom and dad had to go through during the adoption, “counting down the days until, they [could] hold [Anthony and Julia] close and say, ‘I love you.’” Our family wasn’t complete without them.

4. “There Will Be a Day

This song is extremely important to me, both because of the memory it brings to mind and because of the message it relates. It is a reminder of what I’m looking forward to in Heaven. When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, knowing I could look forward to the day with “No more tears, no more pain, and no more fears,” knowing one day I’d be up there with her, was more comforting than I will ever be able to explain.

5. Nancy Drew

This book series is really special to me because it has become a sort of Nancy Drewlegacy in our family. My mom and her sister read them when they were younger, and when I was eleven my mom passed them on to me. Now my younger cousin is reading them, too. Nancy Drew was a role model to me as a kid–she’s smart and brave and won’t let herself pass up the chance to help someone else. Unlike so many girls in movies and literature, she isn’t dependent on a man to do everything for her, and she wants more out of life than just to be a wife. Nancy wants to make a difference, big or small, in the lives of the people around her. I can’t wait to pass the Nancy Drew books on to my daughter someday.

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy marks my stubbornness and desire to grow. When I asked my dad (who’s copy it was) if I could read it, his answer was that I could, but that political satire played a heavy hand in it and that it would probably go over my head. After that I was determined to get through it. I wanted to read something big, something I couldn’t fully understand, because I wanted to stretch myself, to grow past how people commonly perceived a kid my age.

7. “Rubber Meets the Road

Tail lightsJanuary 14th marks my first anniversary as the owner of my beautiful blue 2003 Ford Mustang. My dad and I spent ages researching. We read practically everything the internet had to offer on what used cars were the most affordable, which ones were the safest, and which ones got the best gas mileage. It seems like we drove to every used car lot within a fifty-mile radius. Now, Samantha (yes, I named my car) is my baby. I handpicked her and paid for half of her. And now, in the fall, I’ll be driving her to college, to Mississippi State University. The song says, “It’s time to put in motion everything you know,” and that’s how I feel. Soon I won’t be sitting around my house doing school work; I’ll be out in the world, ready to impact those around me.

8. “The Road Not Taken

As I related in an earlier blog post, “The Road Not Taken” is one of my favorite poems, and also my introduction to poetry as a whole. But more than just introducing me to the poetry genre, this particular poem reminds me that, as a Christian, I am striving to take the narrow road, the road less traveled.

9. “We Are in LoveCW14-Swing Dancing

Jazz music in general represents a lot of things in my life: it represents my dad, who first introduced me to jazz; it represents a whole section of my hobbies and interests–swing dancing, fountain pens, and typewriters; and of course it represents my love of jazz music itself. It’s vintage and modern, lively and reflective, just like me.

10. The Holy Bible

I saved this one for last because it is truly the most important. The Bible is God’s love letter to me, to everyone who has ever, or will ever, walk this earth. It defines so much of who I am. Without it, I am nothing.

J14

Attaining the Impossible

My adventures as a writer

There was this Disney Channel J14-Jamie's Journalsmovie I watched one time when I was younger called “Read It and Weep” about a girl who accidentally submits her personal diary for a writing contest at school and ends up having her book published. At this point in my life, I already wanted to be a novelist, so seeing her shelf of completed journals made my eyes bug out. I couldn’t imagine having so many notebooks on a shelf of my writing!

J14-JournalsWhen I saw the movie on Netflix recently I realized something absolutely mindboggling. My eyes flickered up to the floating shelf over my computer desk and I saw a shelf like hers! Though my notebooks aren’t personal journals, and only nine or ten of them –out of twenty-four–are significantly filled, they are filled with my words. I’ve become the writer I envied when I was younger!

Writing plays such a huge part of my life. I cannot explain how utterly excited I was at the beginning of this school year to start a dedicated writing blog. Writing is my passion and to get to share that with others? And get school credit for it?! It was like a dream come true and I haven’t been disappointed either. I hope to be able to continue updating and sharing my writing on this blog until I stop writing –which I assure you, won’t be soon.

CW13

Perfect Bliss

This was a very difficult one to write because the assignment said I could not use a single “e”. Not only is “e” the most commonly used letter, do you know how many times it is used in association with marriage?!

CW13-CastleThis is it. I am thoroughly and wholly full of joy. My mind lists my surroundings unconsciously, cataloguing it all to look back on soon. Anxious gasps hum as musicians start up a soft, charming harmony and I walk up toward Nikolai. I catch sight of my mom, smiling as if a ray of sunlight. Both my mom and my dad at my arm look willing to burst with joy. I distinguish his mom and dad sitting right in front, although I should think that is what most would hold as a natural location, as his dad is a King.  Rustling fabrics as individuals stand cordially, and sparkling crystals glinting off soft light –I grasp it all, but all I can wholly focus on is how blissful Nikolai looks. I know without a mirror that our looks match, for I find my mouth is tugging upward, smiling brilliantly up at him.

I practically run to him, almost tripping on my long skirt.  Nikolai stoops down to murmur into my hair, “You look stunning.” Thomas starts his narration, supplying our traditional words to copy, droning on and on, but I cannot distinguish anything but Nikolai. Nikolai clasps my hand lovingly, his big, warm hand dwarfing my own tiny hand. Thomas’s words go on for a long bit, but finally Thomas says, “I now—“ but his following words stay lost as Nikolai grabs my waist and twirls around, finally placing my flats back down, and Nikolai and I kiss.

J13

A New Chapter

Sarah’s Wedding

I recently had the chance to take part in my friend and Reading Scripturementor Sarah’s wedding. Sarah was the small group leader of our girl’s bible study group,  G.R.I.T.S., or Girls Rooted In The Scriptures, for two years. It was a fairly small group consisting of only four girls, Sarah, and her mom. We were one of the first people to know when she started dating and one of the first to know when they got engaged. As soon as the wedding arrangements began, she asked all four of us girls to read scriptures during the wedding ceremony. Thus the flurry of preparing began. Most of us had been to at least one wedding before, but being in a wedding was something entirely different. The four of us texted back and forth about what dress to wear to the wedding, how we should do our hair, whether or not we should ride together, and then suddenly we were told we were supposed to come to the rehearsal too, so the texts flew as we discussed what we ought to wear to the rehearsal. None of us had ever been to the church where it was being held either, so we decided to drive together.

Our Small GroupWe were ten minutes late to the rehearsal. It was fairly simple directions, only, for the life of us, we couldn’t find the chapel! We drove up and down the street several times, searching for any sign of the church. Around our fourth –or maybe fifth—drive down the street we found the entrance we’d been missing and everything was smooth sailing from there. Or should I say smooth flying? Sarah’s husband is in the Air Force after all.

The next day, despite our jitters, the wedding was beautiful. The only hitch came when our pastor forgot to say the traditional, “You may kiss the bride,” but that didn’t really matter, because they kissed anyway. The scriptures we read were selected by our pastor and contained all of our hopes and prayers for our friend as she set out on a brand new chapter of her life.