Last AAWC/CWWC #7

Misty, I used the word prompt, did a plot twist, and included swans in my story. Loren, I used 7 prompts. I don’t have time to add the pictures, but they were the monsters one, the hunting us one, the muddy forest one, the blue butterflies one, the Here Be Faeries one, the dragon-on-a-branch one, and the shattered glass one.

My commentary is going to be brief because I don’t have much time. (As usual for writing posts. XD )

Remember, Adele has just found her father…

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Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 7

“But… how are you alive? I thought you fell down a chasm!”

“I did. But I fell down here and as you can see, I survived to tell the tale!” Father grins. “The trolls were quite hospitable when they found me, and gathered up countless little things to make me comfortable. I took a while to recover from that fall.”

I remember something from Gwendolyn’s history lesson: “A little over a decade ago…the trolls living in Their land found something, we know not what…”

Now I know what they found – Father! Thirteen years ago Father fell into their world.

Father goes on, “Now I know why they were so eager to protect me: they wanted to conquer the world, and I was to help them. Apparently the troll king was not a favorite with his subjects, but they had no choice but to obey him. He commanded them to capture hundreds of Saepertines from the forest…”

“Wait, what are Saepertines?” I interrupt.

Father raises an eyebrow. “Look around you.”

I do, and see with a shudder the ghostly white, spiny monsters, stooped, terrifying. All this time They had miraculously kept back from Father and me.

“Oh,” I whisper, “you mean Them.”

Father nods. “When I saw a Saepertine for the first time, I was terrified, and when the trolls told me I was to be their Master I nearly fainted. But luckily they were as afraid of me as I was of them – they had never seen a human, you see. That was why the troll king needed me for his plan – they would finish off any troll in an instant. Soon I had them trained to despise everyone except for me and the trolls. All these years I have been trapped here longing for a sight of you and your mother.” His eyes light. “How is your mother, anyway?”

I look down at the ground. “She… she isn’t doing very well. She’s nearly deaf, and…”

Father cuts me off with a cry, “My Susan?!”

I nod sadly. “That’s why I’m here.” I tell him how I came here, and about the Healing Lily.

Father looks relieved. “So she won’t be deaf for long, then. But how are you going to get back to our world? I’ve been looking for an escape route for years.”

“The fairies and Ferrymen will help. They can help me with anything.”

Suddenly I’m jolted back to our immediate situation by the appearance of a soldier at the top of the pit. He, too, is paralyzed by fear at the sight of Them. “Father!” I shout, “We have to save the soldiers!” I realize that during the time I was sitting here talking, hundreds of soldiers may have met their death, falling prey to Them like I almost did.

“They are cunning, they are brave,

They are brutal, they are relentless,

And they are hunting us.”

Father face pales, and after giving me a quick hug, he disappears down a tunnel that must lead to other pits. I swallow hard. The monsters surrounding me evidently know that I am a sacred object, not to be touched, but I’m still frightened. I feel like Daniel in the lion’s den.

Father soon returns with a solemn look on his face. “Some soldiers have gone, never to return, but the Saepertines will reap no more harvest.”

I take a deep breath. “So are we ready to find the Healing Lily? Can you sneak out with me without being noticed?”

“Of course! Jonathan Gray can do anything with his daughter at his side.” He winks at me.

Oomph! I stumble over a log and land headfirst in muddy water. Yuck. By the time we reach the top of the mountain, Father and I are both covered in mud from head to toe.

Finding the Healing Lily is definitely not easy. For half an hour Father and I stumble over rocks and peer down crevices. As I turn to climb down a boulder, a faint glow catches my eye. It’s those butterflies again! I see the same glowing blue butterflies as I did when I entered the fairies’ kingdom. They explode in a glowing blue cloud when I approach them, and reveal the Healing Lily at last! According to Gwendolyn’s description, the Healing Lily is a small, cream colored flower with a brilliant purple center and five long, delicate petals. Yep.

“Father! I found it!”

Leaving the fairies was sad on both sides. Gwendolyn was happy that I had found the Healing Lily, but sad to see me go. Before I left, she flew up to me with a serious look on her face.

“I just thought I should tell you, Adele, that your mother may have to pay a price for using the Healing Lily. It’s known to have many nasty side-effects, especially if the person who takes it is really deaf. Sometimes…”

I quickly cut her off. “Thanks for the warning, Gwendolyn. I’m sure we’ll be alright.” I’m in a hurry to get back, so I race over to Father and pull him away from a conversation with the fairy king. “Goodbye, everyone! Thank you all so much!”

I thought over my adventures as I once again passed the sign with “Here be Faeries” painted on it. So much has happened since I saw that sign for the first time! I will remember this journey forever.

In the blink of an eye the forest disappeared and I’m back at the Ferrymen’s world. The swans are still floating serenely on the lake, and the dragon-bird Ferryman is still sitting on the branch of the tree. At our approach, he flaps down and escorts us to a mirror which reflects his whole land. Father and I hold hands and crash through the glass. I open my eyes to shattered glass shards all around me. The Healing Lily is still clutched tightly in my hands.

Father and I slip quietly down the stairs, where I prepare the lily as Gwendolyn instructed. Halfway through the process, Mother appears at the door and stares at us silently. Father beams at her, but she shows no signs of recognition.

I pour the mixture into a glass, and hand it to Mother. She looks confused, but drinks it all down anyway. I wait eagerly for her to say something, for a change to come over her.

It does. The change is beyond my wildest dreams.

My mother has vanished.

Before I can think, I feel a touch on my arm and a broken voice speaks to me.“Adele, my daughter, Jonathan, my husband! Welcome home!”

I gasp. “It’s known to have many nasty side-effects…” One of which, apparently, is invisibility.

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Duh-duh-duh-DUN! What will happen?

***Allison***

CWWC #5/AAWC #7 + Some Exciting News

I’m back with “Beyond the Looking Glass” part 5, and some exciting news! (Hey, how did you know? XD ) This part got a tad long, so I didn’t get to put in the plot twist I was thinking of, but never fear, I’ll put it in the next part.

Loren, I used these three prompts:

THIS PROMPT – border

THIS PROMPT – door

THIS PROMPT – “It is hunting us”

Misty, I used the word “silent” or “silence” several times in my story, and I also used a swan.

Settle back because this may take a while to read. 🙂 And one note before you start: make sure to remember that anytime capitalized “They” or “Them” is used, I mean the strange monster-creatures from this prompt.

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Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 5

Before sunrise the next morning, strange people begin trickling into the fairy village. Centaurs, dwarves, elves, and fauns appear in groups around the fairy ring. By mid-morning, the army is complete and we begin the march.

Gwendolyn is supposed to be my guardian. If I was not so preoccupied with the thought of the battle ahead, I might have laughed at the thought of a little fragile fairy serving to guard me from terrible monsters. But as it is, I am grateful for any companion, however small.

At least I don’t have to fight. The fairy rulers had assigned me to spy duty along with Gwendolyn and several other fairies. Although I can be more easily spotted than a fairy, I have much better hearing and eyesight, which will be useful on our mission.

After nearly an hour of marching, we arrive at a soaring stone wall with a small wooden gatehouse wedged in it. Here we stop to rest, and Gwendolyn gives me a history lesson.

“This gatehouse is the way to Their kingdom. We have not always been enemies with Them. A little over a decade ago we did not know They even existed. We went freely in and out of Their land, which was inhabited only by friendly trolls – or so we thought. But one day the trolls living in Their land found something, we know not what. Trolls were suddenly hurrying through our land and theirs with a mysterious glint in their eyes, gathering this and that and following each other in long lines. About two weeks after the trolls started acting strangely, the wall went up. No one was allowed into Their land without the gatekeeper’s permission, and soon They appeared and started hunting us.”

Gwendolyn shuddered and continued. “Eventually no one was let past the stone wall. The trolls locked the door in the gatehouse that led to their land with many chains, and someone, probably one of Them, scratched a message into the door: ‘The world is not safe anymore.’ No one ever comes back if they stray beyond that door. What lies beyond is unknown.” Gwendolyn’s tiny head bows with sorrow and fear and she finishes her story:

“At noon we will storm the gatehouse and destroy the door. Then we must fight or die.

They are cunning and brave,

Brutal and relentless.

They are hunting us,

But now we will hunt them back.”

The little mouse named Fear runs up my spine again with its cold feet.

At noon the dwarves and Centaurs work quickly to destroy the door, and the whole horde surges through the small opening like a huge river being channeled through a tiny pipe.

I take in my first sight of Their land as I stand on Their side of the wall with Gwendolyn in my open palm. Empty meadows stretch around us, but in the distance we can see a mountain covered in dense, black forest. The spikes and spires of hidden buildings pierce the air on top of the hill.

“That must be Their headquarters,” Gwendolyn whispers to me, nodding her head at the hidden city. “Remember? The Healing Lily lives on that mountain, and so do They.”

“Do we h-have to go there to spy?”

Gwendolyn nods her head yes. Our fellow spies make a group around us, and Gwendolyn flits around to each member, explaining our mission: we must find out how many people dwell in the hidden city, and how hard it will be to win it for ourselves.

Our party finally flies forth – or in my case, creeps forth through the tall grass. I know the minute we are seen They will wipe us out, but They seem to be in hiding. The meadow is as devoid of creatures as it is of shelter. Hmm… and I wonder why there were no guards at the gateway. But I have no more time to wonder: we are at the mountain. Gwendolyn flies from my hand and addresses our group in a hushed voice.

“While traveling in this forest, you must all use extreme caution. They may be waiting for us behind any tree. Everyone must be absolutely silent – no talking and no whispering unless it is an emergency.” The fairy turns to me. “Tread carefully, Adele.”

Fortunately for me, the forest is made up of mainly evergreen trees, and the pine needles are silent under my feet. Once I thought I saw Them and my head shot up in fear. For that one moment I wasn’t looking where I stepped and a twig cracked loudly under my feet. My hand flew to my mouth and all of the fairies stopped in midair. I felt like the clumsiest being that ever lived. But it was a false alarm; even then They did not appear. Now I still feel vaguely nervous, like we are doing something wrong.

As we climb higher, I shiver in the cool air and try to hold back puffs and gasps as our way steepens.

Suddenly, we’re there.

Another stone wall surrounds this city. There are no guards or signs of life. Everything is silent. Maybe this is an abandoned city. I spot several small chinks in the mortar, and step cautiously up to one of them.

Whoa. I see towering wooden and stone buildings with many turrets standing proudly inside the walls, stretching up, up into the sky. But there are no signs of life at all, not even a smoldering fire or a stray toy. Gwendolyn signals everyone to gather around and whispers that we must go into the city. Even though the city looks deserted, the order still sends a shiver through me. What if They are just setting a trap for us? I must tell Gwendolyn! But the fairies are already flying high over the wall. I climb the wall clumsily using old vines as handholds and chinks as footholds. The climb down is much easier because there is a narrow staircase running down the wall to the ground. It’s a good thing you’re not afraid of heights, Adele.

I look around the city, on the alert for any signs of hidden monsters, but I see nothing. I catch up to the fairies who are just about to enter a house.

“Stop, Gwendolyn!” I whisper fiercely. “It might be a trap!”

Gwendolyn whispers back. “It might be a trap, but I don’t think so. We looked in the windows and the house seems empty. Besides, They won’t notice a few little fairies. You… you’d better stay outside, just in case. Get ready to run.” I gulp and edge closer to the narrow staircase.

Gwendolyn and her fairy friends slip softly into the house by way of a small knothole in the wood.

I hold my breath.

It feels like hours until Gwendolyn finally pops out through the hole and flies over to me, grinning. “There’s no one home!” she exclaims gleefully. I breathe a sigh of relief. Gwendolyn smiles and continues, “It looks more and more like this is an abandoned city. Although we can’t conquer any inhabitants, the city will at least provide shelter for our soldiers.”

What a relief! “So now we have to tell the soldiers, right?”

We set off down the mountain with joy in our hearts. We are safe! At least for now…

When we break out of the forest into the meadow, we head straight for the wall where the soldiers are preparing for battle. Gwendolyn eagerly tells her fairy king the good news that now they will be safe at night. But we spies still haven’t exactly accomplished our mission – where are our enemies? So after a short drink break, the spy party reforms and sets off as the soldiers begin the march up the mountain to settle their food and extra weapons in the city. If we bring them news of the enemy before nightfall, they will fight; if we don’t, they will wait till morning.

As we start off again, I spot a large white bird soaring overhead. Is it one of Their spies? I swallow hard and shrink down into the grass. Now I can see that it’s a swan – wearing something around its neck. It’s obvious that the swan is acting as a messenger, but whether from enemies or friends I do not know. I slip the loop of string from its neck and open the letter with trembling hands.

Beware! Things are not as them seem, Adele. Beware the hidden city, for it hides unpleasant surprises. They are the hunters, and you are the hunted. Do not fall into their trap. Signed, The Ferrymen

My heart stops. It IS a trap! And our soldiers are walking right into it!

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If you read that whole thing, I heartily congratulate you. Here’s a virtual bag of truffles for your effort! XD

Now for the exciting news: we rescued a kitten tonight! It had climbed up into the attic of one of our sheds, and fallen about 8 feet down a hole in the wall! My dad was able to cut out a hole in a board, and my sister reached in and got her out. She’s SO cute! We named her Casey. I’ll definitely show you pictures in a future post, but for now I’ll just have to tell you that she’s a medium sized gray tabby with big ears. Adorable! She’s snuggled down in a box beside me now. 🙂 ♥

***Allison***

AAWC #6/CWWC #3: Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 3

Hello, fellows! XD Another quick writing post today. For this story I combined both the AAWC prompt “Smile,” and the CWWC prompts. (Click here to see them.) Misty, I used the word prompt and included “Swan” in my story. Loren, I used all three prompts from this round.

This is the third part of my “Land Beyond the Mirror” story. (See other two parts here and here.) If you recall, the mysterious blackboard is spinning a strange story of the past…

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Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 3

How did you come to live in the dark old house, you wonder?

When your mother could travel no longer, she fell to the ground in exhaustion, hugging you in her arms. That is how the Ferrymen found you. They carried you both down to the land beyond the mirrors.

Aha! So that’s why I know what the Ferrymen are called!

You recovered, but that long journey had sucked everything from your mother. While you played happily with baby Ferrymen, your mother lay still and pale, unmoving and unseeing. Weeks passed, and the Ferrymen shook their heads over her in despair. But… she lived! Three weeks after the Ferrymen had found her, your mother opened her eyes and asked feebly where her daughter was.

I exhale slowly in relief. My mother lived! But what was her name and where is she now? Is she still living? The blackboard seems to read my mind.

Your mother’s name was Susan Gray.

I rifle again through my memory files. Nope. “Susan Gray” doesn’t bring up any results.

As for your other questions…

Your mother is living but not full of life,

Near and yet impossible to reach.

She is beside you every day,

But never knows you.

You know her best,

And yet you know her not.

The Ferrymen will help you solve the riddle. When you have solved it, come back for the rest of your lesson.

With that, I find myself back at the land beyond the mirror, back with the swans and birds and Ferrymen. The Ferryman who had given me the box is still sitting on the tree branch, but at my return he spreads his great wings and soared to the ground. I step up to the dragon-bird boldly. “I need to solve this riddle.” The Ferryman listens thoughtfully to the riddle, then nods his head. He flaps over to hollow log near a swan nest and pulls out something. The swan parents nearly go mad with protectiveness, and have to smile as the big, lumbering Ferryman flees back to me, two swans flapping furiously after him. He calms down, and shoves a piece of paper into my hand with his scaly claws. It is an old photograph. At the top is a beautiful signature: “Susan Gray” A picture of my mother! I study it carefully.

Long tangles of wavy, red-brown hair.

Chocolate brown eyes with flecks of gold.

Me.

But not me:

Wide, ruddy, smiling face,

Long nose, full lips, dimpled chin, green dress.

My mother.

Of course I am grateful to the Ferryman for this precious gift, but I don’t see how it can help me solve the riddle. But then I notice that something about the photo seems vaguely familiar. Can it be that I remember her after all? I pull out the memory files of my brain and look through them yet again.

Aha! I have found a match! Wait, what? And a most bewildering match it is.

Now I know who the picture reminds me of: Mademoiselle Trumente. How can this be?

Suddenly I am back in the schoolroom again. Writing appears almost immediately on the blackboard.

You have solved the riddle. Good. Yes, Mademoiselle is your mother. This is why:

Although your mother recovered partially after the earthquake, her hearing and part of her mind was damaged by the deafening sounds and terrible trials she had endured on the journey. Her body was not as young or as easily healed as yours was. Gradually her hearing worsened and it became painful to her to hear any little sound. Even the small noise of rain pattering on the roof was ear-splitting. That is why Mademoiselle insists that her house be quiet.

When your mother finally took you to where you live now, she could not remember her name, so she invented one herself. She taught you to call her “Mademoiselle Trumente” not because she loved to hear you say it. You always said “Mad-Michele” instead of “Mademoiselle.” How she laughed over that! Eventually the nickname stuck. By that time your mother’s hearing was far-gone and she could not tell you anything without great pain to herself. Her hearing has gradually worsened over the years until now. Now you must help your mother, if indeed you are willing. If you don’t help her now, her memory and hearing will be lost forever. You must wait until exactly the right moment.

“Oh yes! I am willing to do whatever it takes to get my mother back. Mother, Mother, I am so sorry. I will come back to you and help you. Please forgive me, Mother.” I called out her name as if that could make her hear me, as if that could make her care for me and love again like her own daughter.

Very well. Go to the fairies. They will know what you need.

The schoolroom vanished once again in the blink of an eye, and I found myself on a damp woodland path. Moss dripped from ancient trees and magical, glowing blue butterflies fluttered around me. I stopped at a wooden sign nailed to a tree. “Fairies Be Here.” I scanned the ground, but all I could see were toadstools and logs and tree roots. Just then I saw a tiny movement near one of the toadstools. A miniscule winged creature had just fluttered out of a little door in the toadstool.

A fairy!

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I hope you guys liked that! I know, I know. This is getting really long, but I couldn’t finish the story and use all of the prompts without making it REALLY long, so I had to stop there.

***Allison***

P. S. If you haven’t checked out Hayley’s ATC Trade yet, you totally should! You only have until May 13th to submit your ATCs for the trade!

P. P. S. I’m so glad that lots of you wanted to see my “Birthday Post.” I’ll definitely do that! But… I don’t know when because I have lots of other posts that I’m definitely going to do too. XD

AAWC #5, CWWC #1, and BIBPC #5!

As you can see by the monstrous title, this post will be a conglomeration of contest entries. I combined the AAWC and CWWC prompts into one story, which I think turned out really well! (If you wonder what all of these acronyms stand for, click on their linked names to find out. 😀 )

First, the story. Misty, I used the word prompt (“Fade”) and my team mascot (“Swan”) in this story. Loren, I used all three prompts. (Click here to see the prompts for CWWC #1.) I had a lot of fun writing this, and incorporating some poem-ish things into the prose.

Duh-duh dun! I present…

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Beyond the Looking Glass

Tonight rain and moonlight are tap-dancing together on the roof. Mademoiselle Trumente hates the rain because it will not obey her rule of absolute quiet. I slip out of bed in bare feet and steal silently over to the mirror. I have had much practice in being silent, for if I make a noise, Mademoiselle Trumente will be up the stairs in a moment, a silent apparition of doom. She will stand there in her threadbare slippers, strands of her greasy hair trembling and quaking about her thick red face as if they too, are afraid of her wrath. Her anger is a fierce fury, hotter than any fire, sharper than any sword, and deathly quiet. Everything in this house is deathly quiet. Even her punishments are quiet.

Down to the cellar for a day and a night;

No food; stale water; darkness; silence.

But tonight Mademoiselle does not appear at my door. I carefully avoid the third floorboard which always heaves a long groan of sorrow if I so much as touch it with a toe. I snatch up the lit candle and hold it in front of me as I gaze into the mirror. A girl’s face stares back at me from the gilded frame on the wall.

Long tangles of wavy, red-brown hair.

Pale face; drawn and thin and colorless.

Chocolate brown eyes with flecks of gold.

Small nose. Thin lips. Sharp chin. Black dress.

Me.

The mirror is unforgiving, but I want it to forgive. It will not show me what I need it to show. I have to know who I am.

I gaze far down into the depths of the dark eyes, pulling with all my might, willing secrets to come to the surface. There! Far down in my eyes, something moves. I concentrate, grasping the thought with my mind until the picture fills the eyes of my reflection, then my face, then the whole mirror. It is a beautiful scene. Torrents of water tumble over boulders, crashing into milky froth where they leap into the lake below. Pearly swans glide on the lake by the dozens, preening, eating, swimming. Graceful willow ladies and strong, ancient gentlemen trees stand shoulder to shoulder by the river. And… there it is. The familiar picture of two silhouettes sitting on a log-bridge. One of the figures is a young girl reading a book. The other figure is strange and fantastical: a cross between a dragon and an enormous bird crested with swirling plumes. The dragon-bird is listening intently to the girl as she reads aloud.

My mirror is a window to another world, a world guarded by strange dragon-birds called Ferrymen. How do I know what the dragon-birds are called? How can I see this land behind the looking glass? I do not know. I only know that I belong there. The girl swinging her legs on the log-bridge is me, I just know it. And the dragon-bird… I strain my mind, rifling through memory files that stretch back 16 years. As always, I come so close to solving the mystery. My mind clenches the memory, but cannot rip it open.

Why, why, why am I here?

Why do I live in this dark, old house?

Why must I always be quiet?

Who is Mademoiselle Trumente,

And why must I obey her?

What is the spell hanging over this house,

And how do I shatter it forever?

But mind is too weak. It lets go of the memory, and the picture in the mirror begins to fade. But this time I will not let it go. I cannot live like this, with my life shrouded in heavy clouds of mystery and loneliness and silence. I squint my eyes hard and force my mind to keep the picture before me. But it is no use. My legs are weak, and my mind is weaker. I cannot hold the picture. Wait! I need you to give me the answers! Don’t go…

Suddenly, I am angry. Angrier even than Mademoiselle is when I drop something and it clashes to the floor. I will not let the picture go until it answers my question. I will not let my mind give up until it finds the memory.

I.

Will.

Find.

The.

Answer.

The picture comes nearer and nearer. I can hear the faint roar of the waterfall reaching me through the glass. I can hear the murmur of the girl as she reads to the Ferryman. What is she saying? Will it solve the mystery? Why, why, why am I here? My brain is churning. The picture is fading again. No!

If my mirror is a window to another world, I will break the window-panes and crawl over the windowsill. In desperation I pick up the wooden chest on my dresser and hurl it at the mirror. The glass shatters with a tremendous explosion. All I can think is Mademoiselle Trumente will be up the stairs now. How long will I stay in the cellar this time? Three days? A week? The rest of my life? I close my eyes and crumple to the ground. I give up. I wait wearily for Mademoiselle to glide over to me, outraged. I don’t care what she does. I give up. I have never been so tired in my life. Still Mademoiselle’s shadow does not fall on my face. With an effort, I open my eyes.

Broken shards lay scattered on the ground beside me, but I pay no attention to them. My eyes are fixed on something much more interesting.

What happened?

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CLIFF HANGER! 😀 I’m probably going to continue this story later. Somehow I tend to write in the first-person point of view for contest entries. What do you think – which POV is your favorite to read?

Okay, now for my BIBPC entry:

flowers (37) (1024x768)

Story behind the picture: These strange flowers are called Dutchman’s Breeches. Don’t they look like puffy pairs of pants hanging on a clothesline? 😀 I took this picture when we made a trip to the Arboretum. There were SO MANY pretty flowers there! (See my flower overload posts here and here.) Did you know Dutchman’s Breeches are related to bleeding hearts? (I mean the flower bleeding hearts, not literal bleeding hearts. XD That would be funny if the flower names were literal: pants are related to bleeding hearts. XD XD )

Phew! I hope you enjoyed that super long post! It’s really, really fun to do these contests, but next time I might not do so many at a time. 😉

***Allison***

P. S. And before you go, you absotutely posolutely MUST check out Hayley’s amazing ATC trade if you like art! (And maybe even if you don’t. 😀 ) Basically, it’s a way to trade mini works of art with bloggers and people all across the country. I’m so excited to be a part of it!

AAWC Challenge 4: Blue Eyes, Part 2

Hola, amiga! (Or amigo.) XD

I’m participating in Misty’s really fun writing challenge, Aspiring Authors Writing Challenge, or AAWC for short. (Read about it here.) (And see my other entries here.) The word prompt for this challenge was “Bright.” I can collect two extra points for my team if I work my team mascot into the story, so I did (I’m on Team Swan)!

So for this entry I decided to make a sequel to “Blue Eyes” as Jaclynn suggested. 😀 (Click here to read the first part of “Blue Eyes.”) I also drew a picture to go along with the story.

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I began my journey alone. No child of gray could enter that colorful paradise beyond the mountains. Only my blue eyes would gain me passage. I trudged over the colorless rocky road for miles while the white sun slowly climbed the invisible hill in the sky. My thoughts were centered on one subject: what would a colorful world look like? I couldn’t even imagine. I walked faster.

After hours of walking, I arrived at the glowering mountains and crept nervously down a trail between them. I was coming closer and closer to the last corner, closer to a world of color. My heart thumped like my father’s drum in my chest. I closed my eyes and felt my way toward the corner. Even through my closed eyes I could feel the warm sun on my face, and something else – something bright and beautiful that I had never felt before.

I opened my eyes. I was blinded at first by the staggering brightness of the scene before me, but then…

“Oh my.”

A tiny whisper was all that I could manage. One thousand tints and hues of color clung to everything. The grass was brilliantly lush and the hundreds of flowers beneath my feet were an astounding array of bright and soft, light and dark, streaked and solid color. The lake in front of me reflected every nuance of color and threw it back in fantastic glinting shades. And the sky! What my grandparents had said was true – the cloudless sky was the bluest blue of all, bluer even than my sky-blue eyes. I just stood there in astonishment. There was nothing I could do but fill my color-starved self with great gulps of color.

My first thought was, I will never leave this place. I could never make that long, gray trek home through our colorless land. Now that I had seen this, I could never live without color. All I wanted was to stay here forever.

Then I heard a splash and a swan landed in the lake in front of me. It was pure white with a black beak. No color. My mind rushed back to a lake near my house where we fed the lone swan that lived there. It too was pure white with a black beak. No color.

The spell was broken. I shook myself out of my trance. The colorless swan, so like the one at home, had jerked my mind sharply back to my mission. I gritted my teeth. I must. I resolutely pushed the thought of the long gray journey out of my head and set about collecting color. I plucked flowers of every hue, grass and leaves of every brilliant shade, dull sticks and twigs, and even a richly colored butterfly. I filled my little pouch with the precious objects; then, with one last longing look, I turned and hurried down the mountain path. All throughout the long journey home, I cradled the colors gently in my hand, a treasure more valuable than a chest filled with jewels and gold.

Finally, as the white sun puffed slowly down the side of the invisible hill, I was home. My family rushed out to greet me. I stood there tired but triumphant, light streaming from the pouch in my hands. They didn’t speak a word, but I could tell from the joy on their faces just what they were thinking.

My hands trembled as I gently poured the precious contents of my pouch onto the ground. The colors lay there almost living and breathing. My family gathered around me with shining faces.

We all held our breath as the colors of the bits of flowers and leaves grew brighter and brighter. They were a blazing fire of brilliant shades, a heatless flame of tremendous beauty. At last, color was living in our land!

And then… nothing. The color suddenly drained out like the ebbing tide, and we were left staring at nothing but grays and blacks and whites.

Nothing. My whole mission had come to nothing. I wanted to fling myself on the ground and wail, or better yet, to rush back to the land beyond the mountains. But I didn’t. I just stood there heartbroken. I knew my family was too.

But then something began to happen. A faint blush of color came into the ground beneath the wilted pieces and slowly strengthened. Then, as if it was a flower that had suddenly taken root, the pool of color blossomed upward and outward in glorious swirling tendrils. The color was surging over the ground now, a churning rainbow whirlpool. It reached out with eager fingers and clung to every blade of grass and every spot of earth, every tree and every house. It flew over the ground, faster and faster, a blur of rainbow covering everything in its path. When it had spread out as far as we could see, the color flashed into intense brilliancy, so bright that it nearly blinded us. Finally the show ended in a spectacular whirling rainbow tornado. The whirlwind flung itself into the sky and disappeared.

-Allison(cardboard roll shelf, Willow) 033 (1280x1237)

My family and I looked around us in a daze. For the first time we could see the color of our hair and eyes; for the first time we could see the magnificent colors of the sun resting in sunset splendor from his long climb. I danced and laughed with overflowing joy. My mission was completed. Our once dull and colorless land was now dazzlingly bright with color. Our broken world was whole once more.

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My favorite part is definitely the second to last paragraph. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

AAWC Challenge 3: Blue Eyes

Hey guys! I hope you’re not getting tired of contest entry posts. 😦 I’ll hopefully do a photography post tomorrow. (I still have WAY too many photos to show you!)

Anywho,  I’m participating in Misty’s really fun writing challenge, Aspiring Authors Writing Challenge, or AAWC for short. (Read about it here.) (And see my other entries here.) The word prompt for this challenge was “Broken.” I can collect two extra points for my team if I work my team mascot (I’m on Team Swan) into the story, so I did! (Although I just mentioned it a little bit – does that still count, Misty?)

I took a photo of my friend’s eye recently and super-edited it. I included it because it fits perfectly with the story. In fact, the photo was kind of like an extra prompt for me.

And now, I present…

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Blue Eyes

mallory's eye.jpg

I am Nadia. I am average – average height, average weight, average everything – except for my eyes. They are blue. Blue like the sky of long ago, my grandparents tell me. And that is why I leave tomorrow.

Mati and Pati, my grandparents, often tell us an old legend about our land back when it was bursting with color…

Our land was once beautiful and bountiful, the envy of every kingdom for miles around. But then the storm came. This was no puny rain shower; this was a storm. Dark gray clouds swept furiously across the sky, rumbling and grumbling with every step forward. They ripped themselves apart and drenched the land with their angry tears. It rained for days, then weeks, a long gray drizzle. Finally it stopped. Everyone rushed outside into the dimness, waiting for the sun to break through at last and turn the darkness into dancing, shining, living color again. But it never happened. The sun came out, true, but it was pale and peaked as if it had been through a long illness. It did not bring color with it. The storm had killed the color, crushed it, and shattered it. Ever since there has been no color in our land.

Besides the blue of my eyes, these are the only colors I know: black like midnight without stars, white like the swan that eats our breadcrumbs tossed into the lake, and the infinite shades and tints of gray in between. My eyes are the only spots of color in our otherwise colorless land. Our world is broken and no one can fix it.

Except for… me.

My grandparents always tell me at the end of their story, “You are the only one who can mend our broken land with your blue, blue eyes. You are the only one who can keep color alive.”

So I leave tomorrow, after I turn ten years old. I will make the long journey over the gray mountains alone, and I will bring color home. I remember exactly what I must do: I must fill my cupped hands to overflowing with color, and carry my precious burden carefully homeward, sustaining the color and keeping it alive with occasional glances from my blue eyes through the colorless grayness. I must bring healthy color home, and lay it gently on the ground. Then, Mati and Pati say that the color will take root like a flower, and grow and spread throughout the land until at last, there will be dancing, shining, living color again.

That is my mission: to mend my broken land with my blue, blue eyes. And I will carry it out.

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I am terribly glad that our world is not like Nadia’s! Wouldn’t it be so sad if God hadn’t made our world colorful? (Well, of course we wouldn’t know any better then, but still…)

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Have a colorful day!

***Allison***

AAWC Challenge 2: Waiting

Hello ladies and gentlemen. (Although mostly ladies, I presume. 😀 ) I’m back with another AAWC story! (See the first one here.)

In case you forgot to remember, I’m participating in Misty’s amazing writing challenge, Aspiring Authors Writing Challenge, or AAWC for short. (Read about it here.) The word prompt for this challenge was “Photograph.” I can collect two extra points for my team if I work my team mascot into the story, so I did! (I’m on Team Swan.)

So Misty, I used both the prompt and the mascot for my story.

This story is quite different from my last one, but I like it a lot. It’s shorter and sweeter I think.

The best way to read this is slowly. 😀

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                                                                      Waiting

Time, the artist who destroys, had brushed the torn photograph with the trademark yellowed glaze and faded wash of antiquity. But the boy in the photograph stood still in unwavering youth. His serious eyes looked out from his black-and-white world to a brown-and-gray world of scarcely more color than his own, a world of somber shadows and dust and cobwebs. The boy had lived in this dull world for years, alone and frozen in time, but he had not given up his faithful watch. He was waiting. Faithfully, hopefully, always waiting.

One hundred years ago the real boy had sat underneath the window out of which the boy’s paper echo now looked. He was a strong, upright youth with almost twenty years behind him. Beside him sat a slender, dark-haired girl two years his younger. They talked and laughed until suddenly the boy’s face grew serious. His warm brown eyes filled with love as they gazed earnestly into the girl’s blue-gray ones. He clasped her hand in his and whispered something in her ear. The girl flushed and whispered something in return. At that moment a long line of swans flew overhead, their pure white wings catching the last glorious rays of sun. But the two below never noticed. They were too happy.

One year later, the slender girl was arrayed in white, and the smiling boy stood nervously in an impeccable suit and tie. The organ played, and the girl walked down the aisle, her blue-gray eyes sending invisible but meaningful messages to the boy. The moment the two were made one, a long line of sparkling swans flew past the stained glass window, honking in noisy celebration. But the two inside the church never noticed. They were too happy.

The years passed, and Time, the artist who destroys, left the boy lonely, with only a faded photograph of a dark-haired girl with a soft smile to fill the ache in his heart. Soon Time took the boy too.

One day the boy’s great-grandson played underneath the window where the paper echo kept his faithful watch. The little boy was down on his hands and knees, digging with a toy excavator. Suddenly he stopped his play, and peered at something sticking out of the ground. His dirty little fingers grabbed at the paper and held it up curiously. He pondered a moment; then he ran inside.

The boy’s paper echo heard feet coming up the stairs. Who could that be? No one had visited his attic in years. Pattering footsteps drew nearer and nearer, until the boy saw a face loom above him. A chubby, happy boy face, streaked with dirt and mud, blew the dust away from the faded photograph and smiled. The boy’s brown paw fished a piece of paper out of his pocket and placed it beside the boy’s paper echo, lining up the two ripped halves of paper to make one whole. He grinned in satisfaction, and pranced down the steps.

The eyes of the paper echo had changed. Perhaps it was just because the little boy had blown away the dust, but the eyes of the boy in the photograph were no longer sober. They were crinkled up with joy. And his mouth, once a firm line, was smiling – smiling at the face of another paper echo across from him: a girl’s slender face framed in dark hair. His wait was over. His watch was fulfilled. A line of milky swans flew past the dusty attic window, but the two paper echoes never noticed.

                                                They were too happy.

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*Sigh* I love happy endings. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed reading it!

***Allison***

AAWC Challenge 1 + Survey!

Greetings. How art thou? XD I’m participating in Misty’s amazing writing challenge, Aspiring Authors Writing Challenge, or AAWC for short. (Read about it here.) The word prompt for this challenge was “Reflection.” I can collect two extra points for my team if I work my team mascot into the story, so I did! (I’m on Team Swan.)

I wasn’t very pleased with the first draft of this story, so I re-wrote it and like it a lot better. 🙂 I think you will too – I hope, anyway!

Unfortunately, the link for the first picture didn’t work, so I don’t know where it’s from. 😦 But the rest of the pictures have links to the original websites.

Make sure not to forget to remember (XD) to take my survey at the bottom!

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The Ugly Duckling Club

The trees stooped and straightened above me. They puffed and groaned after each sit-up, begging the wind to have mercy on them.

I was at my dear little secret pond in the woods. It was a small pool with water so clear that you could see the many colored pebbles gleaming on the bottom, and surrounded by reeds, oaks, and vibrant green puffs of grass.

A very green Clandestine Pond.:

I sat down on my favorite puff, Verde the Hoglet. If you think it odd that I named a clump of grass Verde the Hoglet, well… you’re entitled to your opinion I suppose. I name everything I see: trees, grass, the mailbox, the mysterious tumble-down barn next door … I even named my secret pond Clandestine. You see, since I have very few friends, I make up my own. This particular grass puff was as spiky green as a sick baby hedgehog, and thus I thought Verde the Hoglet a very appropriate name.

But just now I was too absorbed in my reflection to think about names. I have always been plain – and even that’s an understatement. I have thin, straggly, gray-brown hair; squinty, faded blue eyes; a hefty crop of freckles peppered over my face; and ears that stick out at approximately 90 degree angles from my head. A tear hastily connected the dots on my freckled cheek and splashed onto my reflection’s crumpled face. Still plain ol’ Priscilla, the Ugly Duckling.

Suddenly I was startled out of my reverie by a loud quack and an enormous splash. What was that? No ducks ever came to this pond – it was too small. I lifted my head and then drew back in surprise.

At the other end of the pond was the ugliest, scruffiest, most miserable looking duckling I had ever seen. He was covered in ragged gray down-feathers, and possessed a ginormous orange beak, and long, gangly neck. He kept his head painfully erect and avoided looking at the water. Something in me just knew: he’s ashamed of himself too. Immediately I felt sorry for this poor little Ugly Duckling. We were two of a kind. I felt around in my pocket for a wheat roll left over from dinner and broke it in half. “Some for you, some for me,” I said. I crumbled his half into pieces and threw it lightly on the water.

The duckling started and flapped his gangly wings, but he gingerly approached the crumbs. He snapped one up, tasted it thoughtfully, swallowed, and then proceeded to skim the whole pond at lightning speed, churning up frothy milk-white water in his wake. I could hardly hold back a guffaw, but I didn’t want to scare my new friend with my notoriously loud laughter. When he finished eating, he cocked his head and stared at me with bright, coal-black eyes.

“No, Little Fella, I’ve no more crumbs for you!” I said, allowing myself a laugh. I crouched down on Verde the Hoglet and stared at him seriously. “Say, how ‘bout being friends? I could use a friend like you.” I held out my hand solemnly, as if to shake on the deal. And wonder of wonders – the duckling paddled over to me and laid his scruffy head on my palm! The touch of his fluffy feathers sent delicious tingles through my fingers.

“Ugly Ducklings, friends forever. Okay, Little Fella?” And so the Ugly Duckling Club was born.

One time I brought a picnic lunch to the pond. The Ugly Duckling sat on the pond, watching me carefully. I spread out ham, cheese, and crackers; apples, carrots, and tomatoes; and bread, butter, and strawberry jam. When Little Fella saw me set the bread on the red checked cloth, he could stand it no longer. He flapped furiously over to the edge of the pond, and waddled up to my picnic cloth. He sat down next to the bread and gave me a pleading glance. I chuckled. “All right, Little Fella, you win.” I threw him a piece of bread, then carelessly spread some butter and jam on a slice for me. I lifted it to my mouth, but quick as a flash Little Fella raced over and grabbed it out of my fingers. He gulped it down with relish, and would have licked his lips if that were possible. I frowned and shook my finger at him, but I couldn’t stay angry for long. Little Fella just peered up at me with mischief sparkling in his eyes, and all I could do was dissolve into giggles. Thereafter I always made sure to bring extra bread and jam to my picnics.

All that summer I romped and played with Little Fella at the pond. Gradually his scraggly gray feathers fell out and were replaced with smooth white ones, but I never noticed. I was too busy having fun. One fine autumn day I hurried down the path to the pond. I hadn’t seen Little Fella for nearly two weeks while my family had been to visit the cousins. I had been looking forward to this moment from the day we left. I sprang into the clearing with a grin and a shout, waiting for the Ugly Duckling to waddle up to me. But he didn’t appear. I shouted Little Fella’s name frantically, but to no avail.

Little Fella… gone? A flood of happy memories nearly drowned me as they swept into my mind. I collapsed into a heap and wept my broken heart out for a long, long time.

And then I heard something.

It wasn’t a splash exactly, it was more of a graceful skim. I wiped my tears and turned toward the sound. I gasped in astonishment and wobbled to my feet. There, gliding gracefully on the mirrored waters, was the most beautiful swan I had ever seen. It was whiter than the new-fallen snow, and its strong, slender neck proudly held up a handsome head.

Swan getting on its wings by Dittekarina:

 

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“I-is that you, Little Fella?” I stammered in astonishment. The swan promptly shook his feathers and waddled up to my feet. It cocked its head and looked pleadingly at my pocket.

I was almost giddy with relief. “Oh, Little Fella! How beautiful you are!” I breathed in awe. Then my eyes dropped sadly to the ground. “But you’ve gone and ruined the Ugly Duckling Club. You’re far too beautiful and grown-up to be an Ugly Duckling any longer. I can’t have a club with only me, and I can’t stand to be an Ugly Duckling alone.” But then I looked at my rippling reflection and I knew. I knew I was no longer an Ugly Duckling. I saw more than a plain face stare back at me: I saw a girl no longer lonely, no longer burdened by her appearance, but simply happy to be alive. No matter how much of an Ugly Duckling I was on the outside, I was a beautiful swan on the inside.

“Friends forever?” I held out my hand to shake on the deal, and Little Fella laid his beautiful snow white head in my palm. “Yes, friends forever,” I whispered.

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So, how did you like it? I think it turned out pretty well! I liked the Verde the Hoglet part. XD Here’s a picture of Verde in real life: ISN’T HE ADORABLE? I love hedgies!

Verde the Hoglet in real life. :):

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Now… WAIT! STOP! HALT! GO NO FURTHER! Before you leave, would you pretty please take my blog survey? It’s a fairly short little thing, but I would really appreciate the feedback. Thank you ever so much!

***Allison***