ANTHOLOGY ANNOUNCEMENT!

We take a break from your (ir)regularly scheduled writing to tell you that the anthology that Ceilidh has been working on for the past year is finally being published!

Yep, you heard that right–by this summer, it will actually be a physical book!
If you’d like to snag a copy, pre-orders are open here. You can find more information about the project at https://pwritersu.polydidact.org.

A couple of my stories are in the anthology; however, there’s significantly more by the fabulously talented authors that submitted their writing to this project. In addition, a local student artist did the digital illustration on the cover, and I drew a dozen or more traditional sketches to accompany various pieces inside the book. The anthology was written, edited, illustrated, and published entirely by teens, and we’re all super hyped to finally get this project done!

Please do look at and consider buying a copy! Pre-orders are $15 + shipping, and the more I get, the more copies I’ll buy!

*EXCITEMENT*

you cannot see me here

you can kneel in front of my gravestone. knees on the cold ground, damp grit and grass stains seeping into the fabric at your knees. you can look at my headstone (small, flat, nothing fancy. my body isn’t here, anyway; it’s just a marker). you can run your fingers over the letters engraved, use the pads of your fingers to wipe the mud out of the letters.

you seem to think it should be pristine. it’s granite, yes, but it is outside (i am not outside, not under the sky or exposed to the breeze. i am roots and stone and sparks in the fireplace).

you can kneel at my gravestone, shed your tears or hold them in–trace the outline of my short life, numbers too close together to mean anything but tragedy–lay down a bouquet of flowers across my name (i hate cut flowers. it’s so final, an ending in sight even before the beauty begins to wane. to me, the symbolism always seemed too on the nose, as if the universe couldn’t pass up a chance to laugh in my face.) keep your flowers; let them continue to bloom.
i’m not there.

(i am ashes in the sky, a too-warm sweater, laughter on a sunlit breeze. i am sharp words in dark places, a shadow where there should only be sun, pages turning as i scribble in the dark.) where am i? i do not know. there was no place i belonged when i still breathed (my heartbeat called out for home but never steered me there). where, then, can i go now? i am, as ever, unmoored (i longed for a solid certainty all my life, but everything was transient).

don’t look for me at a block of granite. i’ve never had the patience to hold still. look up, instead (maybe you’ll see me sparkling through the treetops). or close your eyes (find me in the rumbling of the cars as they pass ever on). or listen to the wandering of your own heart (i am there).

don’t try to anchor me beneath the ground. you cannot see me here.

The Second First Time

The moment she kissed him for the first time, she knew they were not going to last. Every second with him felt like a firework; amazing, explosive, beautifully earth-shaking, each time more brilliant than the one before. Being in love with him was an exhilarating ride, and she could never seem to catch her breath. But rides and fireworks are finite things, and surely this unsurpassably incandescent love would be similarly ephemeral. It was perfect, drops of sugar on her tongue, and she stored them away as best she was able for the moment that they would stop coming. She smiled and laughed and told him her dreams, savoring the feel of his arms around her. Every day she would see the love in his eyes, and she would hold back a sob of relief because it was still there. Every night she’d clutch his love to her heart and pray that it would still be there tomorrow. Just a little longer, she begged. Please, only another day. Needless to say, she was not at all surprised when they broke up. She had sort of initiated it, but it had been mutual in the end. Afterward, she felt a miserable sort of relief. It was only much later—and far, far too late—that she was overtaken by regret. By that time she could not contact him, and it was cruel to imagine what they could have been. Her heart took thirty years to heal enough to love again. And then her phone rang, and it was his voice on the other end of the call. And when they kissed again for the first time, she was finally able to see a way forward together.


The moment he kissed her for the first time, he knew they would be together forever. Which sounded hopelessly sappy, but the truth of it echoed in his soul. They were opposites, but they were so magnetic, and they clicked. She filled in all his missing pieces, and his heart was whole. They were jubilant; excited and happy and perfect as could be. Whenever he thought of her, it was as a beautiful memory: clasped hands warm, summer evening illuminated by her brilliant smile. Needless to say, he was shocked when they broke up. It was mutual, but only barely—and only because if his heart was going to be broken, then at least he’d keep his pride. He spent sleepless nights wondering what had gone wrong, trying to puzzle out what he should have done differently. He daydreamed about ways for them to get back together, fantasized about once again holding her in his arms. He still saw her sometimes, out of the corners of his eyes, and she was always smiling. Perhaps, he thought, she is happy to be rid of me. He had tried calling her, once; she had blocked his number. He never attempted to contact her again. Well, not quite never—never is a long time. The next time he tried calling her, everything was different. It was thirty years later; he’d married and divorced and had two children, now grown. He was older and sadder and wiser and somehow hopeful. And she picked up. The first conversation was all awkward pleasantries. Their new first meeting was better—she was different but still radiant, and it was unfair how still in love he was. At the end of the third meeting, they kissed again. It was his second first time, and he wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

“Excuse me,” said a timid voice, and Adrian felt a tiny tap on his shoulder. He stood, so that he was no longer doubled up over the flowerpots, and turned around.

There was no one there.

“Excuse me,” the timid voice said again, and he looked down. A petite girl looked back. She was slender, her limbs skinny but strong looking. Her clothing was a refreshing green that was somehow warm and earthy, and her skin was a healthy brown that spoke of days spent under the sun. Adrian could only see one of her eyes; the other was shadowed by the hood she had pulled far over her head.Read More »

Pretty Eyes

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See that?

There, look. In the shadows under the bridge you can see her silhouette.
She’s hiding. She’s hiding from her mother because she beats her and her father because he doesn’t care. And she’s hiding from everyone else because they are afraid. Afraid of her.Read More »

S.W.A.(L.)K.

Kissing was even more disgusting than Gwen had thought it would be.

Austin was pressed up against her face, lips smushed together with hers, his eyes closed. Gwen’s eyes were wide open, and she couldn’t seem to find the will to close them. She had a rather good view of Austin’s eyelids, which were fluttering. His lips were rough, probably chapped, and, ew, covered in saliva. Very ew. And she could smell how sweaty he was—double, no, triple ew—plus, their noses were bumping, which was tickling a bit and driving her slightly insane. Also, his proximity was making her slightly claustrophobic. Gwen tried not to think about any of it too hard, and just enjoy the kiss. Her friends had all told her that kisses were supposed to be great, though they’d warned her that first kisses could be a little awkward.

Boy, was this awkward.

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Distance

In Amelie’s mind, the early evening had always had a softly somnolent quality to it. The fading hues of daylight evoked the seeping expanse of a watercolor painting, rich blues bleeding into the autumnal streaks left by the setting sun. The gray pallor of evening gathered around her like a blanket, and she relaxed into its cool embrace. Once the last vestiges of daylight had fled the onset of its artificial equivalent, Amelie slid down from her perch on the mantelpiece.Read More »

S.W.A.(L.)K.

She kissed Riley about a week later: a little peck on the lips that was there-and-gone.

Or it was supposed to be. Gwen was so nervous that she used too much force, and she was fairly sure she’d bruised both their lips against their teeth.

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The Ducks

She bought it from a man selling charms on a ratty blanket. She’d been walking by when he called out to her, and she was intrigued enough by the tangle of talismans that she stopped to investigate. At a glance, it hadn’t been much; old spellmanship past its prime mixed with counterfeit that was little more than jewelry. But there was a glitter about it that made her look through it. She’d found a charm against gophers, a dozen mousetraps, and a broken piece of what seemed to be a hex. And then she saw it, and knew at once that it was what she was looking for.Read More »

Glass Facades

The city was blinding in the early morning light. Almost completely deserted, the streets gleamed with the reminder of last night’s rain. Soggy flyers and miscellaneous trash littered street corners, plastered to the sides of electrical boxes like makeshift bandages. The silence of the streets was occasionally broken by a harried employee dragging a laundry cart or a returning worker, fresh off the night shift. The buildings towering far above it all seemed to be judging all who were awake at this hour with a critical eye. They almost loomed, although that impression was lessened by the incredible reflectiveness of the windows. A person gazing up at the glass facades would be able to see the slowly-unfolding explosion of the sunrise mirrored brightly down at them.

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Before Hatching

There is a dragon at the center of the earth. Its coal-fueled heart beats slowly, pulsating in its magma-hot chest. It is sleeping; a prenatal slumber. Sometimes visions of the world break into its dreamless existence. Some are soothingly pleasant, others exciting, and some so disturbing that it thrashes in an attempt to get away. It spends most of its time dreaming of the day it can emerge from its egg, but that time is long from now, on the far side of the edge of the future. And so it waits, more or less patiently, to hatch.Read More »

Momentum

I’m usually better than this. Way better. I’ve been swimming laps for 3 years, and I’ve worked up to a pretty good endurance. I know all the strokes inside out and backwards (and with butterfly that’s insanely difficult, let me tell you).

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A Dark and Sudden Death

It was only painful for a second. Nattie had a fleeting sensation of brokenness in her torso before she was thrown through the windshield.

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A Sense of Direction

I remember flopping into bed, feeling ill, my forehead hot. I remember fever dreams, most of which felt like they were churning me to butter. And I remember feeling sun on my face, and trying to wake up.
I couldn’t.Read More »

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One Dragon, No Fire

She clasped her talons around a bar of the cage, growling low in her chest. The shackles around her forelegs were painfully tight, and her teeth ground together in an effort not to whine. The humans had their backs to her; one on the phone, the other two arguing over shockingly trivial amounts of money.

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Achingly Familiar

Everything is burning, and she’s staring at the bloody horizon. Flames waver hypnotically, enfolding the panorama in a devastating embrace. The few trees that are still standing grasp for the sky with their blackened branches, a tableau reminiscent of grieving women. Everything is burning, and she doesn’t know why.

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Here I Am

This was a terrible idea. The framework of the suitcase was pressing painfully against his chest, and the gritty texture of the fabric was covering his arms in a rash. Why did I think this was a good idea?

He forced himself to take deep breaths. Panicking wouldn’t help him get out of the suitcase any faster. Once his heart stopped beating so loudly in his ears, he listened as hard as he could, trying to discern what was going on around him.

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Probably I Shouldn’t Tell You

Hi, how are y   I wanted to tell y    It’s important that you know that
Y’know what, probably I shouldn’t tell you. But that’s life, full of things you wish you knew, and things you didn’t need to know, and things you wish you could forget. See…I really want to tell you. I mean, it’s kinda important that you know. But I don’t want to see you cry, or look at me differently because I told you–and if we stopped being friends I think I would die a little inside. Or maybe die a lot inside. Or maybe just die.Read More »

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What Happened In-Between

I’m pretty sure I’m dead. What other explanation is there for a chest without a heartbeat, a wrist without a pulse? What other state causes stagnant blood, unmoving in veins? But if I’m dead, what is this strange awareness? My brain continues to function. Nerves continue to jangle with input. Eyes continue to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, mouth to taste. Is this merely a brief reprieve from brain death? And how?

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Fluidity

She remembered drowning. How it felt when the water slithered into her lungs like a malevolent serpent and choked the life out of her from inside. How it caught in her throat and wouldn’t let her inhale or exhale. The way her thrashing arms were useless, and her vision narrowed and darkened and shut out the light. And–worst of all–she remembered the heavy nothing that wrapped around her, complete darkness like suffocating under freezing snow.

She also remembered waking up.

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Come In

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The door is sturdy, weather-worn solid oak, with a brass knob that creaks as it turns. The purple wreath hanging on it reads COME IN, which I find slightly unsettling. The oddest thing about it is that I’m sure the supply closet door didn’t look like that yesterday. And when I go home, I keep thinking every other door I pass looks exactly like that one–but if I look hard at them, I can tell they aren’t. It’s probably because I forgot my glasses this morning.

I shrug off all thoughts of the door as I get home. Pulling out my key, I try to stick it into the keyhole–but it’s not there. Instead, it’s a brass knob that creaks as I turn it. I look up slowly to see the wreath proclaiming COME IN. Now, in the dark, the invitation is almost sinister. Backing up, I glance from side to side; the doors bordering the one in front of me are my neighbors’ doors. But my door has been replaced.

And then the door creaks open.

Fierce Like a Flame

PicsArt_12-29-07.23.06.pngI’m not an arsonist.

They all think I am. They steer clear of me on the streets. They whisper about the girl that set fire to the school, that set fire to the store, that set fire to her house. The girl that started a brush fire in the rain. The girl that killed her family.

The girl that’s never been caught.

Everyone knows I did it. They just can’t prove it. And they can’t send me to juvie without proof. I don’t have any matches, although I’m searched every day. I don’t have a lighter, or a cigarette. No one can figure out how I set the baseball field on fire without a spark. All they know is that I was the only one covered in burn scars afterwards.

Everything around me burns. But my heart is ice.

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Four Types of Running Away

My feet pound the pavement. The thudding rhythm starts in my heels and travels through my bones. Culminates in my head, where it helps to dull my thoughts. Maybe if I run faster I can wipe them out altogether. Then I won’t have to think about the work I’m avoiding, the many things I’m putting aside for a later that never comes.

This is the first type of running away.Read More »

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Boxes

Chaos. I really hate it. It’s probably because I hate when things are disorganized, and chaos is so…chaotic, you know?

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Please Try Again

-Password Not Accepted; Please Try Again- 

Password Not Accepted; Please Try Again-

“Ugh…” Mari dropped her bag and put her hands to her temples. This was so, so stupid.

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Something Better

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The next morning, a mailbox appeared. It was of medium size, and blue, with the number 73 on it in gold numerals. And it was her fault.

Her father told her a while ago that there were things you didn’t do; you didn’t lie, or cheat, or fight, or make a deal with the sprites. And she’d broken all the rules in one go. To be fair, though, she had been blinded by her curiosity when she’d done the deal.

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Part 2: Old Sewers

I headed down the tunnel towards the center of town. It was damp–almost muggy. Anywhere else on the continent this would’ve been a sure indication of magic. Here, though, it was what it seemed; a humid breeze. If it had been magic coming at me down this tunnel, I would be minutes away from oblivion. Also, the air would smell more like raspberries. How something malevolent like magic could have such an unassuming smell was beyond me. Maybe it made sense to the philosophers.

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Part 1: Ectance

It started off with a bang. Not even a metaphorical bang; this was a very, very literal bang. Surprise at the sound made my muscles clench painfully, and I gritted my teeth. The noise had been muffled, so it was probably a safe distance away. Unless it was a small explosion, in which case . . . something close by was probably on fire.

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Pooka

“I need to talk to you!”

I bit my tongue and stared straight ahead. If I walked a little quicker she wouldn’t be able to catch up. Her footsteps echoed behind me faster and faster, and I increased my speed to match until we were both running headlong–me towards the door and her towards me. Now there was no way for me to say I hadn’t heard her.

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The Morning After

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It was a pumpkin, that much was certain. It was in the middle of the road–or at least, half of it was. The other part was a smashed pulp under a nearby bush. Two lizards had taken up residence inside the shell, and the pulp was slowly being devoured by a dozen mice. Travelers passing by earlier had seen a large goose waddling away huffily. The only sign of the horse was its footprints in the dirt, and even those were disappearing under the feet of passerby.


An early NaNoWriMo short, courtesy of Creative Writing class/club (it’s more like a club, honestly). If you hadn’t picked up on it, I’m referencing a fairytale–and to most, it will be blatantly obvious which one. If you got it, you get a prize!

Dear Pathetic Umbrella

Dear pathetic umbrella,

Lately we’ve been having problems. It all started with the falling-out in January, when I accidentally scratched your handle on the gate. Again I must insist that it was an accident! Your retaliation–dripping excessive amounts of rainwater on my expensive suit–was completely unnecessary! You ruined my next job interview by jumping out and tripping the interviewer–which was blamed on me! I must confess to being angry and acting spitefully, but I never intended to rip a hole through you. However, your conduct after that was purely malicious and incredibly overkill. Therefore, I no longer harbor any sympathy for you. This is your notice that you have been replaced; last night, I ordered a nice navy blue umbrella that is said to have a pleasant temperament. It will arrive tomorrow at noon, which is your deadline to vacate the premises. I am sorry it has come to this, but I require a accommodating umbrella–I live in Seattle, after all.

I cannot forgive you, but I can wish you good luck.

Regretfully,

Jeremy


Inspired by: https://theremustbewords.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/day-291-year-02/

Pardon my writing block. THIS terribleness is my writing exercise to hopefully chip away at the wall separating me from creativity. Let’s hope it works…

Intricate Disappointments

the caged machine.pngAnna ran her hands through her hair, her fingers stinging on the fine copper filaments. The long, silky-looking auburn fell to her waist. It rarely tangled, being wire, but when it did it was quite a nuisance.

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I Need A Map

I’m lost. Like, very lost. Like, so lost that I am not even sure what my original destination was, or where I am, or any other distinguishing landmarks.

I need a map. In fact, I probably needed a map before I started, but I don’t even really remember when that was. It was probably a while ago. I’m not sure what I’d do with a map, though; I have no idea where I am. I guess I need one of those signs like they have at the mall with a pink dot over your location that say You are here! Or a GPS would be good. Or a compass. Or even a sign that says Civilization This Way, with a helpful arrow.

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Someplace Familiar

“Thanks for the ride!” I said, a little too enthusiastically. The car ride had been incredibly awkward; she’d glared out into the rain like it had personally offended her, white-knuckled hands gripping the wheel. My gaze had been fixed out the passenger window, and my nervous energy had, with no place to go, begun to give me a stomachache.

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