Elie Dearing loved to draw. She loved singing, and dancing in her room in the middle of the night, but mostly she loved to draw. Her favorite things to draw were happy trees, bright yellow suns, flowers of all colors. One Christmas, Elie received a one of a kind art set, complete with every color, every paintbrush imaginable. One of her favorite creations was that of her mother, from before the accident, when she could still walk without the use of a cane or a wheelchair.
“Right here, wait nurse.” The nurse wheeled Ms. Dearing in, just outside of the visitation room, where Elie was waiting.
“How is she, Dr? Has she been responding to the treatments?”
The doctor looked into the window of the visitation door and stepped back, smiling. “She’s been waiting, Ms. Dearing. I don’t think she’s ever been closer to being able to sleep in her own bed once more.”
The look of disbelief and joy on Ms. Dearing’s face was apparent as she shook her head. “Dr! Yes?”
The doctor nodded. “I stayed up half the night, Ms. Dearing, asking myself. Pouring through the files. The tapes. All of her progress. She’s ready. We’ve made a breakthrough.”
“Oh, Elie!” Ms. Dearing exclaimed, wheeling herself through to meet Elie, crying tears of joy.
“Mama!” Elie shouted, running to meet her mother, her white nightgown swishing between her ankles. The two embraced and held each other, until Elie spoke. “Can we go home now, Mama?”
“Yes, El. Oh, yes.”
Elie looked at the nurse and doctor as if to ask “it is true?”
The doctor nodded and approached Elie, pulled on his coat and kneeled. “I have something for you, Elie,” he said reaching into his coat pocket. He pulled out a box of brand new crayons. “Remember, you are the creator. Everything is going to be okay. Everyone hear, your mother-we are all proud of you, young lady. When you use these, remember what you’ve learned here. Sometimes our imaginations get the best of us. It’s all make believe.”
Elie nodded and gladly accepted her gift as she and her mother made their way out of the facility.
“I’m so happy for them. I remember the day she got here, ” the nurse said softly.
“We all do. We all do,” the doctor sighed.
Nine Months Before.
“Mama! Do we have more tape?” Elie asked, running down the stairs, hair unkempt and nightie freshly laundered. “I have another picture to put up!”
“Another one, huh?” her mother smiled, looking through the kitchen drawers. “Hmm, I know I saw a roll here somewhere…ah.” She reached in and handed the tape to Elie. “You’re saving me money on wallpaper, El.”
“Thank you!” Elie shouted as she darted back upstairs. She rushed through her bedroom door and jumped just in front of her easel, where her latest creation awaited to be hung, just as so many others had before it. Her walls were full of her “masterpieces” as her mother called them. Creatures of all shapes, sizes, colors. All smiling.
She made her way upstairs just as Elie put the last piece of tape on her creation. “Lemme see that, oh, that is a new one, ” she grinned, looking at the picture. “You have a lot like this, but this one is a bit different.”
“His name is Ollie. He asked me to draw him,” Elie announced proudly, patting down the taped edges. “That’s his sword. He likes red.”
“Did he now? Well, I hope he can help with your chores. Bedtime in five.”
A few hours later, a voice directly above Elie’s bed whispered. “Elison…ehhhhlllllison.”
Elie’s brow furled and she pulled the blanket tighter over her body.
The thin, raspy voice continued. “Elison. Finish me.”
“Ollie, not now.’
“Now, Elison. Now.”
Her eyes looked straight up at the ceiling and the overwhelming urge to draw, to create made her kick off her blanket and tear the page from the wall. She jumped off the bed and searched through one of many boxes of assorted broken and full crayons and pencils.
“I have eyes to see, and a mouth to speak, I am in need of hands to feel and feet to wander,” the drawing Ollie said.
Elie giggled, as she drew big feet and big hands on Ollie’s misshapen body. “There, now you can go anywhere, Ollie.”
“Thank you, Elison, I shall.”
“Elie! You better be in bed!” Her mother sounded from her bedroom below.
Elie didn’t say a word, as she placed her index finger to her mouth. She quietly picked up the drawing, placed it back in it’s place, and slipped back into bed. “Goodnight, Ollie.”
The day had came and went and after dinner Elie was once again in front of her easel. She drew a creature similar to the others, like Ollie, and when she drew a mouth she heard a voice.
“Ehlisun.” Elie looked up and over to where Ollie’s picture was hanging.
It wasn’t Ollie.
She crept closer to the picture, but all that was left was the red sword.
“Ollie? Where are you?” she asked bewildered at the missing creation in the paper. She stood up on her bed and tried looking into the picture, when the voice spoke again.
“No more Ollie. He wanders. Finish me, now,” the voice demanded. “Then the others.”
Elie stepped back and off of her bed. Her innocence and naivete betrayed her. She just loved creating. At once she picked up her drawing pencil and bean finishing her newest creation.
“Finish me,” the voice grew impatient.
“I am, I’m trying.”
“Elie!” her mother shouted from below. “You ok, sweetie?”
Elie looked at the drawing, a rather sinister looking fellow at formed on the paper.
Elie responded, with some hesitation. “Yes, Mama.”
“Ok. I’ll be up to tuck you in in five.”
“That’s it for now. I’m tired,” Elie said through a yawn.
“NO,” the pencil creature said with a growl.
“YES,” Elie responded.
Before the drawing could answer, Elie’s mother walked in, noticing the new picture. She grew concerned.
“Elie? This a new one?”
“Yes, mama. He’s a bit angry, I think.”
“It appears so,” Elie’s mother joked nonchalantly.
“Come on, let’s tuck you in.”
Later that night the picture spoke.
Elie rubbed her eyes and fought the voice for a minute, but it grew louder and more forceful.
“Finish me…or else.”
“You will,” the voice threatened, “and you will give me legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers.”
Elie was a smart girl. This was different. This creation was different. Very bad.
The drawing laughed.
“I have eyes to see. A mouth to swallow. Legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers.”
Legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers.
Elie screamed and woke her mother immediately.
“Elie! What’s wrong?” her mother said dashing through the door.
Elie had the paper in her hand erasing the mouth from the picture.
“”Elie, honey!” Her mother grabbed the paper from her hand and crumbled it.
“Enough with the drawings. At least for one day. You need your rest.” Her mother picked her up and Elie stared down at the crumpled piece of paper. “There we go,” her mother whispered, kissing her on her forehead. “Sleep.”
Elie tried closing her eyes but she kept opening her eyes and staring at the ball of paper on the floor. “Eyes see you,” said a voice from the ball. She shut her eyes as tight as she could and sleep finally found her.
The next morning, Elie woke up to what seemed like a hundred and one voices.
“Finish us?” Yelled one voice.
“Finish me!” Whispered second, and third.
Finish them!” Shouted another.
Elie put her hands to her ears, but it was too late. Word had gotten out. The drawings craved to be made whole.
“We see you while you lay.”
“We see you!”
Frightened, Elie grabbed her thickest erasure and started removing all of the eyes from each and every picture. She then moved on to their mouths but was interrupted by her mother. Pink rubber shavings lay at her feet as she walked towards her mother with tears in her eyes.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“They all want me to finish them,” she cried.
Having no reason to believe it was nothing but her child’s vivid imagination, her mother simply consoled her.
“Oh, honey, I’m sure they would understand if you do one at a time.” She put her arms around Elie and noticed the pictures.
“Elie…where are all the eyes…?”
“I don’t want them to see me…” Elie sniffled.
Elie’s mother talked on the phone while she cooked dinner. As she explained to her friend what Elie had said earlier, they both laughed. “I know, I know. She’s always been the one with the wildest imagination. Her and her drawings.”
Meanwhile, upstairs Elie stared at the crumpled ball of paper in the middle of the floor. Her mother threw it in the trash.
“Elihthun…Im sory,” a voice from the paper whispered. How could it still talk? She drew closer to the paper, and straightened it out. Some of the mouth was still there.
“Im sory. Finish me an I will tel thum all to stop,” he said, his voice muffled.
“You promise? Will you tell Ollie to come back?”
“Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Elie took a pencil and began redrawing the figure and made sure to add a smile. She gave him big hands and big feet, just as she had Ollie, and smiled.
“There. You’re done. Would you like a tree or some flowers?” Elie asked innocently.
“No. I don’t want flowers, but teeth to gnash!” He yelled.
Elie backed away, as the form became distorted and began pulling itself off of the paper.
Legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers. Ollie is DEAD!
Elie screamed but her mother was outside.
Soon all of the pictures on her wall began screeching, in unison:
Legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers.
“Mama! Mama!” Elie was frozen.
The dark drawings arm was flailing above the paper pulling at one of its legs, growling. It kicked its leg, hitting a trash bin into a lamp knocking it onto the bed, causing it to smoke. A fire began to spread from the bed up the walls, burning the “masterpieces”, all shrieking in agony. The now fully-formed figure became frightened of the flames, but tried reaching for Elie, whom he blamed for starting it.
“You create us only to destroy us?”
Elie sat crying in a corner, unable to get out. “Mama!” she cried.
The fire was a full roar now and the creature lunged defiantly at Elie. A beam from above fell on him and the fire quickly consumed his paper body.
“Eyes see youuuuuu!” He screamed.
“Elie!!!” Her mother yelled so loud everything else seemed to hush.
She made a desperate attempt to grab Elie and threw her towards the bedroom door. “Run, Elie! Ru-!” A second beam fell on her legs. She managed to push it off but was severely wounded. She crawled towards the door to hear Elie, now downstairs calling for her. “Elie, 9-1-1! 9-1-1!”
Her mother made the arduous trek down the stairs and the firemen came soon after, but the house had suffered too much damage in the flames.
Disoriented, Ms. Dearing fought for words to ask Elie what had happened.
Crying, Elie tried explaining it all to her mother. Ollie, the drawings, the voices. A member of EMS objected and placed the oxygen mask over her face.
“You took in a lot of smoke ma’am.”
In the morning as the ash still smoldered, a member of the fire department surveyed the area, stepping over a piece of paper. On it, a doodle with a smile. The smile turned into a malicious sneer. A whisper in the air spoke:
Legs to crawl on. Claws to grasp with. Teeth to gnash. Ears to hear their whimpers.
In the Spanish and Mexican culture there is a vast amount of tradition. Chiefly among them, the folklore, which are stories based in part on truth, and have been passed down from one generation to the next. Notable examples are La Llorona or The Crying Women, the myth of La Lechuza or witch/harpy bird, and of course, the legend of Chepita Rodriguez, whom many say was the first women to be executed in Texas. Wrongly accused of theft and murder, the legend says she haunts San Patricio County in South Texas to this day-with a noose around her neck.
The following is a similar story, albeit one lesser known. In fact, beyond that of my family and my elder’s closest friends, it may not be known at all. Today, it will be. In the late 1930’s there was a young man named Andres. Andres was a little over 13 years old. Andres was, to say the least, a very angry child. Here is the account of Andres, as it was told to my father, by his father Bruno, and how this young boy’s life was forever changed.
I call it,
Socorro and Alejandro were immigrant workers in South Texas and prided themselves on a hard day’s work. They did their part during the day, toiling in the heat of the summer, and each evening when the sun would start to fall, they went home, tired but happy. Whatever food they could afford was more than enough and Socorro would always provide a decent meal for herself, her husband, and their only child, Andres. Somehow Andres, when he was actually home, found room to complain. The food was too hot or too cold, too bland or too spicy it was always never good enough. When he was younger, Socorro made excuses for him and blamed it on simple child-hood pickiness. As the years went on however, she began to believe that he truly meant to discourage her. This attitude was true for everything she did in the house. Alejandro intervened and begged Andres to listen and to show respect, after all, she was his mother. Andres cursed his father each and every time. When Alejandro went to further discipline his son, Andres would be gone in moments, prowling the neighborhood, looking for algo que hacer, something to do.
“¡Tienes que obedecer, hijo! Tu eres el unico que tenemos!” “You must obey, son! You’re the only one we have!” his mother would cry out to him as he walked away. She loved him unconditionally.
He would yell back to her, “It’s not my fault your barren!” among other curses and obscenities. He was getting worse and worse and the more they tried to discipline him, the more he resisted.
The elderly neighbor, Mariana, a close friend of the family’s, would hear every curse thrown at them by Andres. When she would visit, Socorro would appeal to her and ask her advice. Many times Mariana would console her and explain that it must be a phase and to keep disciplining him. But she knew it was not enough.
One day, while Alejandro was away, Mariana tried to intervene. Andres threw piedras, rocks, at her and cut her cheek with one of them as he cursed at her. Fed up with how he treated his parents, she yelled at him, “¡Nino miserable! Los demonios le mostrara si no aye nadie mas puede!” Miserable child! The demons themselves will show you, if no one else can! Forget about me, obey your parents!”
He spit at the ground in front of him; a sign of disgust towards her and kept on walking.
“I pray to God for your protection but Lord knows!” she yelled at Socorro before slamming the screen door of her home.
Later that evening, Socorro paced the living as Alejandro sat on the couch. It was after midnight and Andres had not come home yet. This was rare. He would be in his room by this time, everynight, regardless. Then they heard a noice outside.
“Andres?” his father yelled out.
“¿Que te importa? Ya bete a dormir, pinche hombre viejo. Tu y tu mujer! Voy para el bano! Ya dejame!” he yelled.
“What’s it to you? Go to sleep already, you old man. You and your women. I’m going to the bathroom. Leave me be!”
In those days, an outhouse served as a bathroom for families.
Alejandro and Socorro looked at each other and their faces fell in sadness. “What do we do?” she began asking him. Not having any solutions, they stood in silence and bowed their heads.
Their voices were drowned out by Andres’ sudden screams coming from outside. His screams were so real and horrible, his parents froze for a moment, but soon Alejandro gathered himself and darted out of the door. He grabbed his machete. Socorro ran behind him. The screams became louder and ominous.
“Andres! Que te pasa, hijo?” Andres! Andres!” Alejandro shouted with terror. They reached the outhouse as it moved from side to side slightly. Loud and intense pounding of the walls filled the night as Alejandro tried desperately to break down the locked door, hacking and attempting to slice through the splintered wood. They yelled to him again and again. Andres’s cries were otherworldly. “¡Ama! Ama! Apa! Son muchos!!!” He yelled. “Mother! Mother! Father! There’s many!” The hitting and scraping of the outhouse walls and door intensified with screams of “leave me! Oh, Lord! Leave me!” Andres let out one last cry that shook his mother’s heart and caused her to fall to the ground. Then complete silence. Alejandro, out of breath, gave one final chop to the door and yelled out to his son. There was no answer. Alejandro opened the door and knees buckling, fell to the ground, making the sign of the cross over and over…and over again.
Andres lay huddle in the corner of the outhouse, one bloodied hand almost clutching the wall, the other around his knees. He was brutally beaten. His clothers were torn, tattered, and long, deep cuts crossed his chest. His fingers were bleeding and scratches covered his face. Clumps of his hair were strewn on the ground, covered in blood. As Andres stared blankly at nothing in particular, he whispered a single word, over and over:
Overtime his wounds healed, though the scars remained. His mental state was what the doctors called, “perdido“…lost. Andres was sent to an asylum.
The only word he would ever speak was “forgive me” in Spanish:
Alejandro and Socorro never had other children. They were never the same.
*This story was published in Underneath The Juniper Tree’s blog 10/2011. Here is the latest and greatest Halloween /13 ISSUU!
Hello all! I’ve been nominated by Twisted Core Press for Debut Author for my short story, Envy.
I really am grateful for this honor and I would greatly appreciate your help!
It takes a few seconds and there is nothing to sign or pledges to make. Thank you all. I’ve felt the support and love since day one and really appreciate it still!
Clink the link and vote!
“Envy is more than jealousy. It doesn’t simply covet what another has, it hates him for having it. Christoph hates Jhonen, not just for what he has, but for who he is in the eyes of others. Christoph’s envy drives him to unspeakable acts against those who would show him kindness. Can Christoph be saved from the darkness consuming him body and soul? And if so, what could be powerful enough to overcome the deadly sin of ENVY?”
About Envy: Envy was an excellent exploration into the nature of man and I have a new ten dollar word in my language arsenal: Schadenfreude! -Dawn Jayne
This humbles me, yes.
James Janus fiddled with the aux cord, plugging it into the port in his phone. “Alright, time for the beast,” he whispered to himself.
“Another hour of this shit and I’ll be home,” he texted a friend. James was driving back from a family gathering, but cranked the volume and texted his friends to pass the time. He wasn’t the only one who texted while behind the wheel, but he was most certainly the worst offender. His friends warned him, responding to his messages only until finding out he was driving. He shrugged them off, again and again, saying: “Please, like you all don’t do it,” or the always appreciated, “Whatever.” A friend recently suffered a near fatal crash because of the bad habit. He vowed to stop, but continued about his ways. What’s up? he sent. Anyone there? came next, followed by, Aw come on! I’m bored!
James, DRIVE! was one response. You promised Teddy! read another. He put his phone down for a second when the light and familiar tone of a new text message rang out. “About time,” he said, happy for the “company.” He picked up his phone and read the text.
My nam is James Janus… it read.
Though he didn’t recognize the number from which it had bent sent, he knew it was from a friend pranking him. Laughing, he responded:
“Ha! Nice one. That all you got?” he typed. He set his phone down and it immediately went off again.
My nam is James Janus n I have been an accident…the text read.
“Aw, man, not cool,” he murmured, then looked up at the road and jerked the steering wheel, narrowly missing some debris. “Dammit!” he shouted. Unfazed, he responded: Takes more than a lame text to scare me, nice try though. “People make such a big deal out of this, when they just need to be more careful,” he said.
He threw his phone into the cup holder at his side and rubbed his eyes. “Jerks.”
Again his phone went off, this time repeatedly. “Wt-?” he said, growing angry.
My nam is James Janus n I have been an accident…
My nam is James Janus n I have been an accident…
My nam is James Janus n I have been an accident…
My nam is James Janus n I have been an accident…
He read each text, as they continued to come through, and each one said the same thing, though now the words Help! and Anyone! preceded each repeated message.
“What the f-?” Who is this? You think this is funny?! he typed then pressed SEND. “Not cool.”
Ok, he thought, someone is really trying to mess with me over this whole texting bull. “They should know Janus don’t scare so easy.” He picked up his phone and began to unleash a torrent of texts to all of his friends.
Ha! really funny! But look! I’m texting! Text! Text! Text! When I see you all, I’m going to unleash a world of hurt, he typed but then looked away from his phone long enough to see the car headed straight for a guardrail. He frantically tried to turn the wheel in the opposite direction but it was too late. James crashed into the guardrail, as the car flew down a ravine and came to a horrific and sudden stop on it’s front end, before falling back down to the ground. He shook his head and felt a sudden warmth as the blood came down his face. Both of his legs were broken and his breathing was labored. The guardrail had smashed into the windshield and cut his face almost straight down the middle.
“Unh…” His vision was distorted but he made out the light of his phone, near his side. He picked it up, barely able to move, pieces of glass embedded in his hands, and began to text:
Help! but no one replied.
Anyone! but no one replied.
He was losing a lot of blood.
My nam is James Janus! n I have been an accident. Please, any1 that receives this I am somewhere on old hwy 33. Ned hellp. I thnk am really hurt.
After James didn’t show for a get together the next day, one of his friends decided to take his last text seriously and called for the authorities to search for him. They found his car, or rather the crumpled mess of shredded metal and glass in the ravine. A medic was lowered to search for James. He became sick to his stomach at the sight of James’s pale bluish skin, and the jellied blood on the floor beneath him. “You never get used to this, ” he said sadly. “Damn texting and driving,” he whispered as he saw James’s hand-clutched tightly around his phone.
A warning from his future self perhaps? Only James Janus and the mysterious texter will ever know.
Gael was ready. He had been waiting all month for this night. The party, he thought to himself. It was a Halloween party. He looked into the mirror and forced a smiled. Just a few weeks earlier he and his long time girl friend Vida had broken off the relationship. It was her decision, and he was crushed. This night would be a great opportunity to finally get out of his depression and maybe, just maybe he would enjoy himself and get Vida out of his mind. His friends constantly texted and called him until they finally convinced him. He sighed and continued putting on his face paint. A few days from now would be Dia De Los Muertos, and in honor of the holiday and the tradition of his famila, he was going to be a muerto- a dead man-tonight. His face resembled a real skull. He had many years of practice transforming into one of the dead, so he wanted it perfect. And it was.
Later that evening, Gael found he was actually having a good time. He was smiling and talking. Everyone loved his make-up and outfit. The intricacies, outlines, the arte on his face, everything was brilliant. Vida who? He kept repeating. He even won a best costume contest. He was glad he came. Then the night became even better as he noticed from across the room a beautiful girl eyeing him. She had a matching costume. A muerta. Dead woman. He was smitten. Gael waved and walked over to her.
“Hey. I’m Gael. Uh, Gael Ortiz. Great party, right?”
“It really is! That make-up is perfect. It looks so real!” she said to him smiling.
“How cool is it that we’re both dressed as muertos? Yours is…I mean you should’ve won the contest!” he smirked. He stared at the intricate work on her face. “It’s really something…and that dress! Authentic would be selling you short!”
She laughed and stared into his eyes. “Thank you! Oh, I’m Araceli Santa Anna! Nice to meet you!” she shouted over the noise.
He looked at her beautiful black hair and in it was an even more stunning blood red rose.
“Hey, Araceli, you…you wanna go outside to…talk? It’s-“
“Loud?” she interuppted, laughing. “Let’s.”
Gael allowed her to go in front of him and they found a quiet spot in the back porch.
“So, Araceli. I know it’s probably the make-up but…I don’t recognize you. Where you from?” Relax Gael, he thought to himself. “I mean…your name is beautiful.” Gael put his hand to his neck.
She smiled and put her head down, the make-up hiding her flushed cheeks.
“Thank you, Gael. It’s so beautiful out here isn’t it?” she said ignoring Gaels question.
He didn’t care. It didn’t matter where she was from. It only mattered that he had met her, tonight.
“It is, Araceli. Your dress is beautiful.” He walked closer to her and looked into her eyes. She turned away.
“My mother made it a long time ago.”
“A long time-“ he began to ask.
“I mean, well she made it for me a long time ago and…now I fit into it.”
“Oh,” he whispered.
“My family will be here visiting for Dia de los muertos. Hey!” she yelled chain the subject. “It’s Halloween! Let’s go to the cemetary!”
He looked puzzled and realized that yes, it was Halloween.
“Cool. A couple of muertos prowling in the night!” he shouted.
“It’ll be una noche de los muertos!” she smiled back.
“De veras!*” he nodded.
They walked hand in hand a few blocks, passng trick-or-treaters young and old. They were met with oohs and ahhs and thumbs up. They seemed to be a perfect match, especially this night. For the first time in a long time, Gael was happy. Vida had indeed left his mind.
They arrived at the gates of the cemetary and looked at each other.
“It’s something isn’t it?” he asked.
“What, the cemetary? Or…”
“Well, yes, but everything. Halloween, dia de los muertos. Everything.”
“Definitely, Gael,” she whispered, squeezing his hand. “Hey!” she yelled suddenly. “Hide-and-go-seek!” she shouted as she ran away from him.
He was surprised and slightly hesistant but gathered the courage. Why ruin this night? He asked himself.
He let her get a small headstart and covered his eyes.
Then he felt a drop on his hand. And another. And another. Then a lot.
It started to rain.
“Aw, man. Araceli!” he shouted. The night was now darker because of the rain. His heart started beating faster and faster as he searched for her. He rubbed his eyes as his make-up started to melt. He couldn’t see that well through the paint and rain and tripped over a headstone.
“Dammit,” he grunted. “Araceli!” he yelled frantic now. Then he heard footsteps sloshing in the rain coming closer and closer.
“Hey!” It was Araceli.
Gael sighed a sigh of relief.
“The rain made it even better don’t you think? You couldn’t find me!” Araceli was overjoyed, her excitement showing in every word.
“If you say so.” He started getting up and noticed the tombstone in front of him. He frowned but laughed all at once.
“Look at that!” he shouted. “The name on this marker says Araceli. I can’t read the last name. Here, come help me clean it off.” He hadn’t looked up at her until then.
His mouth dropped and he jumped up, backing away slowly.
“Gael? What’s wrong?”
“You’re make up!” he screamed. His face was pale through th streaks of make-up. “You’re make-up. It didn’t come off!”
Araceli put her head down.
“Of course not. It’s…it’s not…it’s not make-up,” she said sounding sad and ashamed now.
Gael started shaking and couldn’t speak.
She stepped towards him and her eyes caught the moonlight.
Araceli became blurry as Gael fainted and fell in the mud.
A few moments later, he awoke with Araceli kneeling over him.
“What are you?”
“I’m dead,” she said softly. I’m dead, Gael. Muerta.”
His eyes shot open and he slowly turned his head towards the gravestone, now washed clean. It read:
Here Lies Araceli Catrina Santa Anna. Beloved Daughter and Sister
“Una Vida Corta Pero Hermosa.**”
Gael gulped and in his stupor whispered these words,” “Primera Vida y ahora…la muerta***.”
*truly or, for real
**A short but beautiful life
*** First Vida(life)…now, death.
UnaNoche Con Los Muertos. A Night With The Dead. Happy Days.
Yes, I am, and I am stronger than ever. Where have I been, you MIGHT ask? Working in the “real” world. Working a lot. But of course the reason I have the word “real” in “” is because this, this blog, this writing thing, my musical endeavors, my dreams and hopes for my family and I…
…THIS is my REAL world.
My post is short. But there is only so much time. I’ve been enjoying this amazing song by these very talented young men for a while but just recently got my hands on the lyrics. This is me. This is who I am. This is tattooed on my heart. I share these words with you, and give many deserved props to Embracer.
Give it up.
“My whole life I’ve been waiting for a sense of stability but all I do, all I’ve done, is cry over the fact
that some people just sit and let the world walk over them,
some people don’t care to strive for more, they just take what they can get.
But I won’t let you lead that life, although you’re broken,
You’re broken, just like me. I’ll still love you for your flaws,
and everything you seem to hate about yourself.
All those things I couldn’t make you believe to help you through this mess of the world,
To bring you closer to life.
Nights like these always made me feel like I’d never be enough.
I’d never be perfect, I’d never be you,
All I wanted was to pull you from this point of time,
from this miserable state of mind,
But you’ve lost your way.
You’re consumed by this image of what your loved ones want you to be.
Wake up the love we had, the feelings we shared when we were younger.
All I know is that we’ve strayed too far, we’ve gone into the dark,
and all I want is to feel you again, for us to feel the light again,
So just come back home. Come back to me.
All of those times you saw me silent and sulking, I was thinking of you,
all of those days you saw me screaming and fighting, I was fighting for you.”
Embracer, “Glory Days”
As we all know, getting published ISN’T EASY. I’d also like to modify a quote that my late grandmother, who I call RaRa used to say. RaRa always said, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” Well, she’s right about that, BUT, I’d like to say this, “Getting published isn’t for sissies either.” There are six big companies (all based in NY ironically) that are responsible for making it nearly impossible for breakthrough authors to get into the industry.
One of the “requirements” that I’ve heard of, is that you need a literary agent in order to get a publisher. Well, that may be the case if you want to get in with the BIG SIX, such as Penguin, St. Martin’s Press, etc., BUT that is NOT always the case when it comes to small press publishers. I am living proof of that.
With the rising of the e-publishing industry, it has been easier and easier for new, small press publishers to come out into the world. While there are some that will only take you if you have an agent, there are PLENTY out there that will take you even if you don’t have one. There are people like Otherworld Publications, who dedicate their time to help out new authors like me make their dreams come true.
Now, I didn’t find Otherworld Publications right away. No. In fact, I wrote dozens of query letters to agents, and received just as many rejection letters. After a while, all of those rejection letters started to get to me. I started to believe that maybe I really wasn’t good enough to be published. BUT, I kept trying. I networked, I read blogs, I made contacts. I started up my own literary magazine to help other authors out there that were going through the same thing.
Then FINALLY, several months later, through an ad on Facebook, I stumbled across an ad for my editor, Crystal Clear Proofing. I checked out her page, and saw that she worked for Otherworld and another publishing company. I had never heard of either company, so did my research, and queried Otherworld. I got to know Lynn through emails, and loved what she did with Otherworld. After further investigation, I eventually signed with Otherworld.
Working with Lynn has had its ups and downs, but we’ve had more ups. She has helped me every step of the way with publishing all three of my stories: Prince of Darkness, Murderous Regrets and Moon Spirit. PLUS, she has hooked me up with an AMAZING publicist named Heidi. She is actually the one who helped me organize this lovely tour.
Anyway, the bottom line is, getting published isn’t for sissies, but if you are determined enough to put yourself out there, then go for the gold! It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and A LOT of late nights, but the rewards are great in the end!
About The World Among Us:
In The World Among Us, Hades, the god of the Underworld, plots to take over the world, and remove Gaia, the head Deity, from power. In order to do so, he plots against his own son, Damien, and cons him into killing his soul mate, the beautiful goddess of the moon, Selene. Hades does so, because Gaia is his natural enemy, and Selene is her favorite grandchild. He thinks that by killing off Gaia’s favorite grandchild, he will weaken her. With Selene out of the way, Hades then moves in on the Creatures of the Night. He wants to kill off their leader, Jason Aysel. Jason is the go-between person between worlds, and another person that Gaia highly regards. Hades manipulates and cons Jason’s best friend, Leon Greene, into murdering him, by offering him Jason’s position as his reward. Because of these actions, a war is to take place on earth between the gods and other Creatures of the Night. During this time, Selene is reincarnated, and kept hidden as a secret weapon to win the war against Hades. In order to win the war of wars, the gods and some of the demons will have to fight together, and learn to co-operate with each other. Will the Titans and Olympians be able to set aside their differences, and take back the world from Hades? Or is the world as we know it, doomed to fall under Dark Shadows, forever?
Fiction Young Adult
About the Author:
Beth Ann has been writing since she was 15 years old, and was published in the 2002 Schreiber Times. She took creative writing classes in college, and feels that they helped her become the writer she is today. In addition to writing the sequel to The World Among Us, she participates in an international anthology project, where writers from around the world come together to share their talent.
Originally starting as a writing assignment for college, The World Among Us series has sparked up a role playing group online, and a fan base of over 1,000 followers on Facebook, and over 600 followers on Twitter.
Beth Ann lives in New York where she is a legal assistant and does a lot of volunteer work down at her church. For more information about Beth & her books, please visit her website www.bethannmasarik.com and her blog at www.bahbammymusings.wordpress.com
I am giving away the following:
a signed paperback copy of The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness
a Fanclub t-shirt
an autographed poster
and a TWAU pin
To enter, please leave a comment here on Tymothy’s blog to show him some love and away that I can contact you. This contest will run through Feb. 24th, so you will have a couple of days to enter. I will automatically add you to the rafflecopter. OR, you can fill out the rafflecopter by going to the blog post from the 19th, which can be found here, and fill it out J Or you can join me on Natasha’s blog tomorrow and fill it out there. Her blog is http://dreamlandteenfantasy.blogspot.com/
And now, for the scavenger hunt:
Tell me who your favorite character is in mythology and any kind of lore. It does not have to be Greek Mythology related. Send me your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject scavenger hunt.
Thank you all for participating, and for following my tour. And thank you, Tymothy for hosting me today!
For those of you who have won previous contests, you will receive your prizes next month. I’d like to send them all out at once so that I get one big postage bill as opposed to a lot of little ones J
ALL of my contests are international, so please come on and enter!
Please join me tomorrow, February 22, 2012 on http://dreamlandteenfantasy.blogspot.com/
Beth Ann, this is epic. I’m glad to have hosted you and as you know, I love that cover and look forward to reading A World Among Us! Word!
As promised, my little friend and über fan of Underneath The Juniper Tree and sole human inhabitant of The Forest That Screamstrademarked2011 ;} brings you a thought lost Christmas tale in the vain of Tales From The Crypt and Twilight Zone, both of which I am, myself, a super fan.
Not for the squeamish. I give you…
Mr. Cratz kneeled in front of his son and put his hand to his head. “Franklin, I’ll be back within the hour. Right now is the best time to get a tree…because there is magic in the air,” he said smiling. Cratz smiled and stood to his feet. “What I need for you to do is prepare the setting. You know grab the lining and clear the area near the hearth.”
Franklin nodded with a big smile and watched his father walk out of the front door of the little cabin they called home, deep in the center of the Durst Forest. It was a quaint little abode but they cherished every part of it. Franklin ran to a closet off to the side where they kept the Christmas decorations in storage and rummaged through the scattered boxes until he found the one marked, for the tree. He exhaled and picked it up and began taking out the contents of the box: assorted lights, ornaments, and the soft red cloth lining.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cratz trudged through the snow, axe in hand whistling a holiday tune. He pulled his thick wool jacket tighter around him and tucked his neck into it. He stopped after ten minutes or so and looked to the left and to the right. It dawned on him that for the last few years he had taken a tree from the same area. This year, he would go in the opposite direction-to the uncharted wood. Uncharted at least, for him. Beginning the traditional song, O Christmas Tree, he looked into the sky. The sun had long set and he turned his flashlight on and noticed a sign, old and worn. The words of the sign could no longer be read. He shrugged and walked past the sign and continued into the forest, into a circular clearing, looking at the trees up and down, as he passed.
“Franklin. Which would you pick?” he asked outloud. “Hmm, how bout this one, here? Tall, firm…” he stepped near the fir and sniffed the fresh needles. “I think we’ve found our tree,” he said. He ran his gloved fingers across the blade of the axe slowly and thrust it down hard against the tree. He heard a yelp when he struck the tree. He turned and ignored the sound, shaking his head. “Deer,” he muttered. He gripped the axe once again and struck the tree over and over again until it began to lean. He stood straight and put his hand to his hips and mocked an echo. “Timber, timber, ber, ber…” The tree fell and he proceeded to walk to the “top” of the tree and pull it away from the clearing, passed the sign, and back into the forest, towards the cabin.
The tree was tall but thin, making it easier for Mr. Cratz to pull it through the snow. He reached the cabin with Franklin looking out of the window. Franklin ran to the door and swung it open, with the biggest smile Mr. Cratz had ever seen on him. “I knew you’d love it! Now-let’s decorate her!”
They laughed and shared memories while putting all the decorations on the tree. Mr. Cratz even made Franklin’s favorite hot cocoa. A few hours later they went off to their bedrooms.
“Tomorrow, Franklin Cratz. Christmas Day. Goodnight.”
The morning came and Mr. Cratz awoke to the songs of birds outside his window. The sun had not come out yet. He lay in bed for a few moments and smiled. He would surprise Franklin with his first gift, a homemade slingshot. He got it out from under his bed and walked quietly to the living room, expecting to see Franklin there. Franklin wasn’t there. “Still asleep, huh? I don’t blame you, son,” he said walking to Franklin’s room. He opened the door. Franklin wasn’t there. He frowned and called out to him. “Franklin!” Maybe he wanted to see the first day’s snow, he thought, so he ran to the front door, not noticing the tree and everything on it-gone.
He swung the door open…but Franklin wasn’t there. Mr. Cratz’ eyes opened wide. “Franklin! Franklin!” he screamed. “Franklin!” He ran back inside and nearly slipped on something on the floor. He looked down and saw a nearly dried trail of what looked like blood leading to where he had placed the tree. Quickly he turned and looked outside, following the trail of blood. It was faint and nearly covered in snow but it was there. “Franklin! My boy!” he yelled stricken with panic. He ran outside, barefoot, following the trail. Then he saw something else. A different trail, a fresher one, alongside the one from the tree-leadin away from the house. He ran as hard as he could, following it, breathing hard, his heart heavy with grief over what he might find. The old trail and new trail led back to where he found the tree-the clearing. In the darkness he could see faint lights. He found his way to where the sign was and ran so hard he knocked it down into the snow. When he reached the clearing, he fell to his knees and screamed. A scream that would awaken the long since dead. “F-f-f-frank-franklin??” He stuttered as he began to crawl through the snow. The trail of blood led to his son, who was centered, decorated with beautiful ornaments, tinsel, garland, lights…and the soft red cloth lining, drenched in blood. He turned to the left and saw the tree he had chopped down, in the ground, it’s base covered in needles. He reached for the lining. He pulled it away and what he saw was the final blow to his already damaged psyche. He clutched his chest, and fell into the snow. The trees seemed closer to the center than before…as if they were slowly following and watching him. As his heart continued to sieze, he could hear, faintly, a garbled voice behind him, whistling to the tune of O, Christmas tree, o, Christmas tree…
Back at the Cratz cabin were Franklin’s feet, set close together. He had been uprooted, just as the young tree before him.
The moral of the story? Signs, signs everywhere are signs. Do this! Don’t do that! Can’t you read…the signs?
There are some who are swept up in love’s sweet embrace.
And there are some who wish to slap it in the face.
The ones who feel love feel the suns rays upon their skin!
and the others want nothing more than for them to keep it all in.
But love is freeing and pure, it brings joy!
Nah, love is just a clever marketers ploy.
No, I believe that true love will win out in the end.
Yeah! Because the more you love, the more you have to spend!
I think you’re just hurt from a past love gone wrong.
Well, yeah…we…we even had our own song.
You see this hurt inside is making your eyes blind to truth.
What do you mean? Of love I have no proof!
You do deep within, in your memories, there must be some good!
You know what you’re right…they’re coming back to me like a flood…
Think on your family, your friends, your successes
I am, and also thinking of that girl in the black tresses
Well, that too, and while you’re at it I must say, I love you…
I suppose you’re right, my true friend…and you know what? I love you too.
Word. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Everyone knows what it’s like to keep a bucket by the bed when they have the stomach flu. And every pet owner has experienced awakening in the middle of the night to the hwa-hwa-hwa of a cat or dog about to puke. When the latter happens, we spring out of bed, grab the hiccupping animal, and drag them to a room with tile floor.
Why do we do these things? Because we want to control the puke. We all know it’s way easier than cleaning up after the fact. It’s sticky, and gooey, and smelly. And no matter what you use to clean it, if it hits the carpet there will be a stain, however faint.
At this point you have either run off to grab a bucket yourself because you are one of those people who gets sick just hearing someone else get sick. (It can be rather contagious, kinda like yawning for some folks.) Or, you are staring at the screen, wondering why the bleep I’m blogging about barfing.
Well, it’s like writing.
Don’t look at me like that! It is.
I’ve read a lot of stories lately, manuscripts by fellow writers, that don’t have enough raw emotion, or enough evil, or enough something to carry the scene or situation. Oh, and don’t think I’m just pointing fingers—I’ve been called out for this very thing myself.
For example, in an early scene of one of my works in progress, my main character is trying to scare off the father of her child. It’s supposed to be a dark, emotional scene. She has powers, but she’s not using them to the full potential here. She’s, quite frankly, being too nice. I admit, because the book has a significant romance element, I was thinking about an audience who may not take well to scary.
I sent the scene off to a crit partner, and she told me there wasn’t enough “me” in it. She knew I was holding back. The same thing happened in a few scenes in an earlier draft of my recently published novel, Finding Angel, as well. A beta reader told me, in reference to those scenes, “I should have been crying, but I wasn’t.”
I realized the problem. I’d been holding back. In other words, I was trying to get messy, barfy emotions onto the page in a nice, neat bucket. Or keep it on the tile.
But real life doesn’t work that way. Emotions are overwhelming. They are messy and take ages to clean up. And if we want the reader to experience the emotion, we have to be messy when we put it on the page. We have to barf it out—no bucket.
Sometimes, it can be scary. Sometimes, the emotions are a little too close to home. We hold back because it’s not just going to make a mess on the page, but because it’s going to make a mess of us as well. Maybe they are emotions we’ve held down deep for a long time, and we can only bear to let them out a bit at a time.
That’s understandable, but the problem is those emotions don’t translate well to the reader. For the writer, just a hint at a familiar painful situation is enough to feel it full-force again—but the reader doesn’t get that. In order for them to feel what we are feeling, they need more. The only way to give that to them is to let if pour forth unchecked. Barf it out. Then go back to clean up later.
Unlike pet puke, we want our emotional barf to leave a stain. It’s supposed to sink into the reader and make them remember. They should walk by your book on their shelf and feel something. Weeks, months, or even years later.
True, it’s more work. It takes more time to edit away the chaos that can result, but it’s better than having our scenes fall flat emotionally.
So, from now on, put away the bucket when you write. Don’t worry about the mess. If you want your reader to feel the force of your emotion, barf it out.
Kat Heckenbach spent her childhood with pencil and sketchbook in hand, knowing she wanted to be an artist when she grew up—so naturally she graduated college with a degree in biology, went on to teach math, and now homeschools her two children while writing. Her fiction ranges from light-hearted fantasy to dark and disturbing, with multiple stories published online and in print. Her debut novel, MG fantasy Finding Angel, is available in print and ebook.
Angel doesn’t remember her magical heritage…but it remembers her. Enter her world at www.katheckenbach.com.
Thank you, Kat…I think. :}
Of course, I jest. This is awesome. I really appreciate you guesting for Aspire No More and I look forward to more of your work!
Everyone, support your indie writers/authors!