For Immediate Release
October 21, 2000
You would always take my hands,
Oh, but Dad, can’t you see,
As a father, a husband,
Although you may once have had,
Today, I took his hands into mine,
When Dinosaurs Walk Again
You left me high and dry, out in the cold
Soft cries fill the air
Soft skin naked babe
Tiny paws little hands
Five Mooned Life
The moon curls
The moon lounges
The moon hangs
The moon stands
The moon folds
Seafoam on the Seashore
I was standing by the seashore
Truth or Dare
“I’ve never been kissed,” she added, blushing slightly.Our game had struck a blow.Truth or dare’ was the time-honored tradition at Danny’s house.She was without a doubt the best secret finder in town.Even the gossipy old women who crowded near the pulpit at church after services couldn’t compete with her loose tongue. Poor Anna knew that by Monday morning three hundred and sixty-seven high schoolers would know that juicy tidbit about her.
No one knew why each month we crowded into her tree house, nicknamed the tower or terror.We’d been doing it since we were eight years old. It started out as a get-together for a new girl in our class in second grade. We thought a slumber party would be the best way to initiate her into our circle. Carolyn had been trapped ever since.
We were all seniors now, practically decrepit. Every month, no matter how far apart we drifted, we came together to capture our friendships all over again. It was something that even time tried to conquer. Every year it seemed harder and harder to get together. I didn’t want to tell them that I wanted to stop doing the parties now, but it seemed inevitable. I felt childish always coming to these parties up in a tree, and I had forgotten the reason why they had been so much fun in the first place. Certainly our other senior friends thought it odd.
“Alright, Nancy, your turn. Truth or dare?” She salivated as the trap was sprung. Danny was tenacious, and we all knew she would be the best reporter that ever stormed the walls of Washington D.C. when she got out of college. I thought carefully of my choices.
“I’ll take a dare.”Her downfallen expression was tangible. I had stumped her. I laughed, knowing I had made the right decision.
“I dare you, on consequence of flushing your hand down the toilet, to go inside and kiss my brother.” I let out a relieved breath.She hadn’t specified which brother, and there was a two-year-old inside with my name on his cheek. I jumped up, wiped the dust off the seat of my pants, and made my way down the ladder.I was home free. She hadn’t realized her mistake. I was almost hysterical with joy as I came within three feet of her backdoor. All of a sudden, her head popped through the floorboards of the tree house. “You do know I meant Michael, right?”
Shoot she had caught me. “Yeah, I knew. Don’t be absurd.” I fought the wave of red that spread up the base of my neck to my cheeks. With every dare there was a catch. If your dare involved another person, you weren’t permitted to tell them it was a dare. You can imagine the scrapes we had gotten into over the years. One time, the neighbors were convinced that we all needed to be put away when we knocked on their door begging for cold cream to put in a cake. Mrs. Dorghin asked, “Are you sure it called for cold cream and not whipped cream?” Of course we responded that it was cold cream. We insisted it was the newest fad in the cooking world. She gagged and told us to forget the recipe.
I walked timidly in the backdoor. Danny’s mom, Mrs. Greene, thought of us as her daughters and through the years we had become family. It seemed natural to wander around their house hunting down a brother. Ah, the subject of the brother, it had been broached almost three years ago. Katie had snooped out the secret crush that I had been ferreting away for nearly six months. Danny, of course, was mortified at first and then amused. For a year afterward, I was terrified to take any dares. I would rather tell them about the time I shot milk out of my nose in front of the entire seventh grade while tap dancing to the national anthem at lunch (just a side note: it’s never a good idea to mix milk, dance, and a kid that’s laughing). I was such a show-off back then.
He was camped out on the couch watching TV. Michael was visiting from college this weekend with several of his fraternity brothers. I knew I was being watched. I could see the outlines of four heads glowing in the window. I panicked. Even if it had been years since my crush, that silly embarrassment still resided in me. I angled my back to the window. I knew it was cheating, but it was the only way.
“Michael No, no, keep watching the game. Pretend like I’m not talking to you.” James Bond had nothing on my stealth.
“What can I help you with, Nan need a spider killed or something?” The macho bravado snagged his voiced into a lilt. His friends started laughing, and I could feel that crimson shade returning to my cheeks.
“I’ve been dared to do something, but I didn’t want to startle you by just doing it.” Why on earth was I being so goofy? Man, I hated that.
“What’s that?” His disinterest irked me.
“Look, I’m being watched. Just don’t move.” I moved in for the kill. I had my target. The plan was that I would lean over the back of the couch and give him a kiss on the cheek. Before he had time to respond, I’d be out the backdoor. As I swooped in for the kill, he turned his head. He hadn’t heard my last sentence and was going to ask me what I had said. It was too late to stop. I gave him a kiss full on the mouth. I think it scared us both.
The girls were howling in the yard with laughter as I flew out the backdoor. I was humiliated as I hurled myself of the ladder. A feeling of exhilaration shot through me as the girls clambered in behind me still laughing.
Suddenly, I knew why we had these parties. Everything old seemed new again with friends. I knew I’d be back next month with butterflies dancing in my stomach and with laughter in my soul.
It all began when someone left the window open.Lin Kaiser was eating breakfast when a glass bottle came sailing through the window. The slender, green bottle was cradled between her palms before she knew it.
“What in the world?” she muttered, caught between fury and amazement. If the bottle hadn’t caught her interest, she would have contemplated trying to find the miscreant who had dared to commit the act. Lin frowned at the bottle.
It was about the shape and the size of a Coca-Cola bottle, green with silver lettering. She took a closer look. The symbols made four rows and were strange to Lin, but intriguing.
She slid her thumb over the words and nearly jumped out of her skin when the bottle grew warm in her hands. Nervous now, she placed it on the breakfast table and only gave her brother a distracted glance when he entered the kitchen.
“Morning,” John Kaiser muttered, going straight for the coffee. He opened his mouth to ask her how she was and saw the bottle. “What’s that?”
Lin looked up and found him staring at it. “I have no idea,” she said.
“I see,” was his reply.
“A genie?” Lin said, skepticism coating the question. The impressive figure of a man stood before her. He was a head taller than she, with black hair and eyes. His skin was weathered and lines spread from the sides of his eyes, as if he had spent an eternity squinting at the sun. He looked to be a few years older than her nineteen, was transparent and claimed to be a genie. Of course, she figured he might be telling the truth since he had appeared from the bottle. The only problem was, he spoke with a Irish brogue. “I didn’t know a genie could be Irish. I thought genies were some sort of Arabic fairy tale, Ali Baba and all that,” she said suspiciously.
“My kind is of more than one land,” he said, offended by her knowledge, or lack thereof, “and is may interest you to know that we are not fairy stories.”
Amused, Lin asked, “I suppose you’ve come to grant me three wishes then?”
He frowned impatiently. “Three wishes? Why that is only a myth.” He crossed his arms importantly. “I have come to grant you all of your wishes.”
Her jaw dropped. “What do you mean all of my wishes?”
He frowned. “Just as I say. I shall grant your wishes until you are content.”
Lin gave him a disbelieving look. “Let me get this straight,” she pointed at him and then to herself as she spoke. “You are going to grant me my every desire until I have nothing left to wish for?”
“Absolutely right,” he said, pleased that she wasn’t as dim as he had originally thought. A bright mistress would be great fun. “By the way, my name is Liam.”
True to his word, Liam granted Lin’s wishes. He made her brother leave when he annoyed her, gave books and told her stories of his lands, stories no longer told. He indulged her this because it gave him pleasure as well.
“You are unlike my other masters,” he told her one evening.
“How so?” she asked curiously.
He shrugged. “It takes very little to please you, and it is never a struggle to grant you a wish,” he told her. “Often as a genie, I find myself in a moral dilemma. I am bound to the bottle, so I must grant my master his wish, no matter what. I accept my duty.”
“What could people possibly wish for?” Lin asked.
Liam moved his shoulders restlessly and shook his head. Lin immediately realized her mistake. The guilt he felt was so crushing that she could literally see his shoulders droop. What could it be like to regret the life one lives? She wondered.
“It is rare to find a heart of pure good. No one is completely selfless. In my profession, you learn this early on. I have also realized how hard it is to keep one’s morality intact when the compassion man feels for his brother disappears.”
“Have you ever known anyone with true good in his heart?” she asked.
He thought for a moment.“There once was a woman, nothing like me,” he quickly shook his head, “but that was a long time ago.”
“What have you done?” Lin cried. There were tears in her voice. Her brother John was in the hospital.
Liam set his chin. “I did nothing but grant you a wish.”
“He was hit by a bus, Liam!” She took a breath. “Take back the wish.”
Liam frowned down at her. “I cannot. You wished for him to leave you alone, and I saw that he did. It was his choice to cross that street. Besides, I thought you didn’t like him.”
Shocked, Lin gaped at him.“He may be a bother, but it is no wish of mine to see anyone hurt. He was only a nuisance, and there is no crime in that, Liam, none at all!”
“I am puzzled. He is no longer able to bother you, but you are not pleased,” he frowned in contemplation. “I understand you regret, of course, for it is a human life that hangs in the balance. Still, I am unable to understand your distress.”
Lin let out a strangled breath. “He is my brother.”
Liam thought for a moment and then shook his head. “I still do not understand.”
Lin caught her breath. His lack of compassion was breathtaking. He was the most cold and heartless being she had ever known. Perhaps her thoughts were betrayed by her features because he set his chin stubbornly. He would not take back the wish.
“Leave,” she said quietly.
Startled Liam dipped his chin. “What?”
“I said leave. Just go,” she said in defeat.
Liam started at her for a long time before he nodded stiffly and uttered the words that were now so familiar to Lin, “If this is your wish, then so shall it be.”
Lin knew that he was there. His bottle still glowed with heat every once in a while, but he never stirred from it. John was out of the hospital after only two weeks, and she occasionally questioned whether she had overreacted. Yet she knew in her heart that she hadn’t. She wanted to be rid of Liam once and for all, but it hurt her to think that he would have to continue to live the jaded life he lived, without compassion or tenderness. One night she came upon an idea.
“Tell me a story,” she whispered. The genie appeared as if nothing had happened and told her three marvelous stories. When he finished the third, she said softly, “I have another wish.”
Liam tilted his head in query.
Lin took a deep breath. “I wish for you to be happy.”
She wondered about him for years afterwards, and it was only after ten years had gone by that she got concrete evidence that her wish had worked.
“Lin Kaiser?” The man standing before her was the spitting image of Liam the genie. He was as tall and imposing, but he was far from transparent.
“Liam?” she questioned, not quiet certain that it was him.
He smiled gently, in a way that Liam never had. “No, ma’am. Liam is my great-grandfather. I am named for him, though so you may call me Will.”
Lin lifted her brows, making him chuckle. “I have a story to tell,” he murmured.
“So, he went back to the time where he found the most happiness,” Lin said softly at the end of Will’s story.
Will smiled.“Yes. He returned to my great-grandmother.”
“To think that Liam should find love,” Lin mused, “with his master’s sister no less. And human,” her eyes widened with pleasure, “how wonderful that must have been for him.”
“It was the only way he could experience love,” Will reminded her. “It is because he wrote of you that I am now able to thank you.”
Lin was quiet for a time. “So all of you are destined to find happiness before you die?”
He nodded. “You made sure of this Lin, and now it is our legacy.”
It all started when the window was left open. I know my mother would definitely not approve of my actions now but I had to do this for myself, and she would never know about this anyway. From my sickly condition to my wide-rim glasses, this reject was going to prove he was wroth something other than the answers to the test. I have to sneak into this house. I have to become a man tonight.
The house was towering, and its size imbedded fear in me more than the cape of darkness looming about. My effort of scaling the wall was rewarded upon finally getting within and beginning my journey to manhood. This room I was greeted to was a great contradiction to the unknown on the other side of the wall. A soft plateau of cushion and peach signs dominated the room I entered, encouraging a great sense of warmth and refuge. This must be the girl’s room. Oddly, no girl was in this paradise, though my heart still vibrated in my scrawny frame with uncertainty of someone lurking about. About the time I headed towards the shining bulb above me, I spotted it. The door.
Reluctantly, I left to continue my trek that had been a success so far. Even with more adventures to discover, flashes of a worried mother still shot through my mind. She has always pictured me as a pure kid, and yet I am diminishing every bond we had welded with every further step I took into this labyrinth. Nonetheless, self-determination spread over mother’s respect for me as the darkness spread over the house. Turning back was not an option.
The sudden drop hurled me back to reality as the pain finally set in. My leg was definitely bruised, but this adventure could not end due to injury. This, I have decided, is not an adventure but a mission I must pass in able to go on with life. If death is what it takes to wander this house, so be it.
The sudden drop happened to be the stairs that I obviously forgot to notice. These stairs weren’t just any stairs, but great cliffs making mine at home look like Barbie accessories. A stairway like this must lead to a great treasure or secret that I, the runt himself, could reveal to the world. If I did unveil such a thing, the women would come buzzing towards me with batting eyelashes and flirtatious expressions shot towards me, the hero. The injured leg was blotted out with my thoughts of treasure in my head.
Upon reaching the final step, I surveyed the room for any possible dangers. None. I charged towards the center of the room as does a runner when he knows the gold is his. I stopped. Tears started to swell and uncontrollable shaking overtook me. Never in my life had I felt such happiness as I was feeling now in this room of giants. Boat loads of chocolate, silver utensils the size of houses, and books the size of libraries filled my eyes. There was no way I could take all this home, but I could take something for evidence of my newly found fortune. In all my years of existence, I never could have . I froze. A fear never known to me shot through my fragile body, leaving me breathless. There was another door.
The last door I passed through gave me these priceless jewels around me, and yet there was more? I was about to become more than a hero, but Zeus himself. This door was larger than the rest and had a see-through hole on it meaning it must be of such importance that one could only look at the loot within. There was nothing stopping me. I steadied my pulsing heartbeat with a deep intake of air. Okay, here goes the countdown to my fame.
Harry was killed instantly as the giants on two legs crushed him with their massive feet. Not only did Harry not find his treasure, but also his reputation of the reject kept with him even when they lay his abdomen, legs, and antennae in to the extra-small sized coffin. His dreams ended with that one fateful stomp of the guy’s foot.
Oh yeah did I mention Harry was a roach?
The Ancient Battle
It was a dark and stormy night. Nothing stirred except for the wind which howled through silent streets of Kafasor as if hungry wolf seeking prey. whole population could feel approach great evil upon their land they shivered with fear in seclusion homes. Watch silently scanned surrounding countryside hawk-like eyes atop fortress walls. only lights that breached impenetrable blanket darkness at Castle where King his war council prepared malevolence descending them.
King Sorio Brickwater and his council of twenty assembled in the Chamber of Ancients. They included his sons, his highest-ranking officers, his chief advisors, and the captain of the Dark Watch. Brickwater waited patiently as silence settled upon the gathered group, and then he rose and in a commanding voice that had won him respect and love from all the citizens said, “My loyal subjects, I call upon you during these dire times to decide the course that we will take to defend the city of Kafasor from the evil that, even now descends upon this land.” He paused, replenishing his parched tongue with a gulp of water. “Now I ask you, what action should we take to destroy what is befalling us?” Finishing his speech, he returned to his seat and awaited the next speaker.
Finally the king’s chief advisor rose and said, “The cities to the north and northeast of Kafasor have been demolished, crushed under the mighty foot of the Demon army of Phator. Refugees have been pouring in at the hundreds, telling of the destruction that the demons leave in their wake. But our city will stand against this enemy and destroy even the faintest trace of this foul brood from the land.”
“Then we must take a stand now,” General Kierdon announced, “While the enemy is still regrouping at the burning city of Chaster.”
The king objected.“But then that would leave the city vulnerable to an attack from the advance army that has been reported to be west of Kafasor in the forest of Dakor.”
“Then the best course of action to take would be to defend the city to the last man,” the king’s eldest son Prince Reaonor said. Over half of the assembly agreed with the plan.
“If the city is to be defended, then the citizens will need to be evacuated to the mountainous caves that lie to the south,” Akor, the unpredictable captain of the Dark Watch said. “I would be honored to supervise the evacuation with a contingent of my own men.”
“Agreed. If there isn’t any more business to attend to,” Sorio paused, waiting for any objections, but there were none. “Then assemble the army, double the watch on the walls, and evacuate the city. You are dismissed.”
The city was immediately evacuated of all women, children, and the old and sickly men with Captain Akor at the head of the procession with his own loyal soldiers by his side. The Dark Watch was a completely different species, having hawk-like eyes, snow-white wings that sprouted from their backs, and the ability to use powerful magic which was rare for an ordinary human to accomplish. In any other way, they were just like any human. Dark Watch Warriors rode upon dragonites, miniature dragons that had the ability to spew fire and were two times faster than a horse.The Dark Watch and the humans of Kafasor depended on each other for friendship and support.
After an exhausting two-hour march, the procession of over nine hundred thousand reached the caves in the Thutamose Mountains. Only one incident occurred, where the fire breath of the dragonites quickly demolished a scouting part of the enemy. The demons were bone thin, with blood-red eyes, gleaming teeth, and spittle frothing from their lips. They had three needle-sharp claws, with a sharp claw attached to their knees and elbows. After the citizens were safely hidden within the sanctuary of the caves, the Dark Watch, which numbered ten-thousand, took the path to return to the city when a fireball erupted from the darkness, in the direction of the city like a falling star. Akor and his soldiers raced back to the city as sections were engulfed in flames, never noticing the shadow that soared over them. Within an hour, they reached the outskirts of the city and witnessed the greatest army in all of history. The demons numbered thousands upon thousands, an almost endless sea of blackness. Instead of fighting their way through the enemy’s ranks, they chose to fly. The demons were primarily concentrated on the battle with the human soldiers and didn’t notice the flight of the Dark Watch, but the Black Dragon did. It turned its massive body a full one hundred and eighty degrees as it sucked in a huge amount of air as if it were a huge vacuum, and then it unleashed its fiery breath upon the unknowing soldiers. The liquid fire rained down upon the Dark Watch engulfing them in balls of flame, instantly killing almost three-fourths of them as their bodies fell to the earth, some no bigger than a particle of sand.
Akor turned preparing devastating sorcerer’s spells to fight the dragon as did his men when they began to comprehend the plight they were in. Powerful magic exploded in the air, engulfing the dragon in a ball of smoke. Magma erupted from the cloud, killing another five hundred soldiers. The dragon burst from the smoke crushing several soldiers in its needle-sharp teeth.
“We must use the most powerful spells to defeat the dragon,” Akor shouted, as the serpent unleashed another blast of liquid fire, but the soldiers were on guard this time and easily dodged the inferno of death.
Fifteen of the most powerful Dark Watch soldiers encircled Akor and prepared their devastating magic. The Dark Watch soldiers that were left made feint attacks to distract the dragon from the soldiers that were concentrating their magic, but the dragon wasn’t a fool. He noticed the build-up of extraordinary magical power that would be able to destroy even him. It ignored the feint attacks, soaring at lightning speed toward Akor and his men. As it flew closer and closer, it realized it was too late. Blue light radiated around the sorcerers of the Dark Watch as one by one the fifteen disappeared as their life force was given over to Akor.Akor raised his arms, spreading his fingers wide, as a ball of blue light appeared.It increased in size, expanding until it was bigger than a cow. Fear began to grip the dragon’s heart like a vise. It flapped its wings with fury, trying unsuccessfully to gain the air currents, its massive body slowly inch-by-inch turning to escape the light that would end its life. The war on the ground between the demons and humans was forgotten as they gazed upon this awesome spectacle. Akor released the blue light. It soared towards the dragon with amazing speed, slamming with tremendous force into the dragon’s head, destroying it, leaving a bloody stump in its place. The dragon thrashed in its final minutes until its death as it descended into the ranks of the black demons, crushing thousands as they scattered one way and then the other. Akor still had a lot of fight left and unleashed another ball of blue light, annihilating hundreds of thousands of the demons. The demons ran for their lives as Akor unleashed blast after blast of the blue light, until there were hardly enough any demons left to be called an army. The soldiers of Kafasor rushed from the gates like a flood, destroying the demons before they could escape. Akor noticed none of this, as his limp, lifeless body fell to the earth. The war was won.
There was a ceremony held the next day for the soldiers who had died in battle. King Sorio mourned deeply for the loss of his son Reaonor who was shot down by a poisoned-tipped arrow by the enemy, but the greatest lamentation was for the death of Captain Akor of the Dark Watch who had died with honor for his contribution to the war. The entire population of what was left of the Dark Watch would go without food for several days during the morning period for their great captain. It would be a few months before they would elect a new leader, but until then, the king would direct them.
Several days later a lavish feast was held, and all the people of the city and the surrounding countryside were in attendance. It was a day of great joy.
In a few months time, the people began to put aside the war that had ravaged the land like a wildfire and went on with their lives. For now it seemed that peace had settled over the land.
It all began when someone left the window open. It was a dusty day, and the wind had been having fun tossing piles of leaves across the neighborhood yards. I noticed the open window and was about to close it, but I stopped to enjoy the playful bickering between the wind and the leaves. Suddenly, the breeze snatched up a piece of paper and just as quickly threw it in the window. I uncrumpled the paper and began to read:“A one-week pass, all-expenses paid ticket to HAMBURGER LAND!!” I felt like I had just won the lottery.I could not contain myself! Hamburger Land!
In that wonderful land everything is centered around hamburgers. The poetically inclined flatter with: “Shall I compare thee to a hamburger’s smell?” Concerning their handsome admirers, young ladies wonder, “Is this the man I want to eat hamburgers with for the rest of my life?”
It was my first day in Hamburger Land, and I couldn’t resist visiting Hamburger Land’s Museum of (--what else could it be?) Hamburgers. Here I admiringly gazed upon the napkin stained with sauced from the first Single Dave Thomas ever made. I also obtained a collector’s edition jar of “Snack GreaseAs Healthy as a Jar of Grease Can Be!” from McDonalds’ original recipe for French fry grease. One zealous Hamburger Fanatic tried to fight me for the rare jar. I, being even more zealous than he, let loose a string of Hamburger Land swear words: “I hope you never see a hamburger again!” At this terrible pronouncement (even I admit it was quite tough), the poor Hamburger Fanatic gasped, dramatically threw his hands around his throat, shot a final glance upward and then suddenly fainted. Paramedics rushed to the scene. After begging for a taste of my Snack GreaseI, of course, kindly decli er, perhaps not so kindly declinedthey sat down to a nice, hearty lunch of Whoppers and French fries. As they were leaving, they noticed the poor fellow who had fainted earlier, who was still lying with arms stretched out and a look of doom and despair on his face. The paramedics remembered why they had come and rushed to their truck to grab equipment. The first paramedic took a blood sample and with astonishment realized it had been at least a full 2 hours since the Fanatic had consumed a hamburger. He ordered “fifteen Whopper measures...STAT!” and injected this liquidated Whopper into the man’s bloodstream. The man came to in a few minutes and quickly fled from me.
I also visited the Hamburger Land’s Theater of (can you guess this one?) Hamburgers. I watched the critically acclaimed movie “Commercial Collection.” This is nothing but unedited hamburger commercials, and it was a very great movie. Unfortunately, during the love scene, where the guys is forced to choose between his girl and a double cheeseburger (poor gal...they would’ve made a great couple, too) the guy in front of me kept crying and asking for handkerchiefs, so I missed out on some of it.
On the seventh day of my trip, I was getting ready to eat my final hamburger, and I paused to reflect on all the adventures I had in Hamburger Land. A tear swelled up in my eye, rolled off my cheek and dripped onto my burger. With a wavering voice I proposed, “To Hamburger Land” and lifted the burger to take a bite.
Then it finally happened...just what my mom always warned me would happen if I ate only hamburgersI turned into one. There, in the mirror in front of me, was a huge, warm, juicy burger. The fresh, puffy lettuce was perfectly arranged.Onions and tomatoes spilled out the side. A thick slab of meat was hanging out, just begging to be devoured. I jumped up for a closer look.
“What beauty,” I thought. Even the sesame seeds were perfectslightly roasted and barely packed into the bun. As I sat back down at the table, I concluded with conviction in my heart, “Surely if ever there was a time, now is the time to turn cannibal.” No one could have asked for a tastier burger, or a better last meal.
There’s No Place Like Home
It all began when someone left the window open. I knew it had to be Kelsy, my owner, or her mom. They were the only ones who ever came into my room. Let me start from the beginning. My name is Zoey, and I am a small, light brown ferret. I live with my twelve-year-old owner, Kelsy. She takes very good care of me, but when I saw that window open, I couldn’t resist. I figured, hey, I can have a little adventure, you know, explore a little, and then be back before nighttime. Kelsy was at school and her mom was at work. They probably won’t even know I’m gone, I thought.
As I stepped out of the bedroom window and into the bright sunlight, I was overjoyed. Every other time I had been outside, Kelsy was holding me. I had never been able to roam free before. Kelsy would always emphasize, “It’s too dangerous,” whatever that meant. I would soon found out for myself.
I looked around and realized I had a whole world to explore.Where would I begin? I soon decided to first explore a large trashcan located across the street. Ever since I was a kit, I had been told that trashcans were heaven for ferrets. With all of that food and stuff to explore, it had to be. Before I could get into it, I would have to cross the street. I quickly ran across the hot pavement.
The next thing I knew, some little kids, who weren’t even in school yet, started shrieking, “Hey Mommy, look! It’s a big, long rat!” I soon realized that they were talking about me when they began to chase me with little, but speedy, motorized cars! This was a new concept for me since I had never seen a car before, especially a miniature one. Even though I had never seen one before, I sure was scared of them! When I saw that monstrous thing running after me, I was so frightened that I ran so fast and so wildly, I didn’t even know where I was going. It seemed as if I had run a mile or two. Panting, I glanced back and realized the small vehicle was still following me. Out of nowhere, a humongous car appeared, and it was coming straight for me! I dashed for the nearest object, which just so happened to be a tree.
So there I was, running up a tree like a crazy maniac when I ran into this animal even smaller than me. It had weird fur and made a high-pitched screech when it was almost knocked off of its perch. This animal, although I didn’t know it, was a bird, and there was a whole family of them just in that one tree.
“Hello,” they all chirped at me.
The youngest questioned, “Momma, is that a bird, too?”
“I don’t know, dear,” was her reply.
They were friendly animals and introduced themselves to me. Their names were MommaBird, DaddyBird, and their three baby birds were Tweet, Twirp, and Twitter. I decided the tree was a lot safer than the road, so I asked them if I could stay with them for a while, and they agreed it would be a good idea.
During almost the whole day, I pretended to be a bird. I did all of the activities the birds did except fly, or course. DaddyBird carried me in his talons through the air whenever the transportation was needed. First, we went to a birdbath. I rolled around in the water and drank some. It felt very refreshing, especially since it was very hot outside. Then the bird family decided to grab a bite to eat. We stopped by what they called “the local bird feeder.” Birdseed is not exactly my favorite food. In fact, I hate it, plus it gave me an awful stomachache. I wanted to be polite, so I ate it anyway. I decided I had better take a rest to get my stomach back in order, so I took a nap in the bird family’s nest or tried to anyway. I hardly got any rest because the nest was way too scratchy! There is no place like home, I thought.
Finally, I decided to go back home. It was almost dinnertime, and Kelsy would be back from school. Plus, I was anxious to get back to my normal food and cuddle into my hammock for a good night’s sleep. I knew I wasn’t far from home, but I still asked DaddyBird to drop me off in my front yard.
I was happy to be nearing my home. DaddyBird glided to the ground, and I realized the worst thing that could possibly ever happened. My window was shut! My heart sank with such disappointment that I thought I would cry. How could I live without my normal food, cozy bed, and loving owner? I peeked through the window and saw that she couldn’t bear to be without me either. She was bawling her eyes out. I wanted to be with her and comfort her so desperately that I, too, began to cry, a cry that only ferrets can make. I cried, and I cried, and I cried, and Kelsy cried and cried and cried. Then it was like a miracle. Kelsy turned her head and saw me! Her face and mine lit up with joy as she ran to the window, opened it, scooped me up, and smothered me in hugs and kisses.
That night, a peck on the window awakened me. I soon learned that I would be hearing that noise every night. DaddyBird, MommaBird, Tweet, Twirp, and Twitter would be visiting Kelsy and me daily from then on. I was glad to be home.
The Feline Academy
It was a dark and stormy night. Snowdrop lay on Amy’s bed with Mama, Papa, and Lily. She was curled up next to Mama with Lily’s head resting on her back. She lay there on the bed watching the rain hammer down on the earth outside.
Snowdrop was nervous. Tomorrow was going to be her first day at The Feline Academy. She got up and walked towards Amy. Amy sensed her coming; she opened her eyes and looked at Snowdrop.
“What’s the matter Snowdrop?” she asked.“Are you scared of the storm?”
Snowdrop tried to tell Amy that she was nervous about school, but it came out as an anxious mew. Amy smiled, and she sat up.
Snowdrop crept into Amy’s warm arms. Then Amy put Snowdrop down, looked into her sapphire blue eyes, and said sternly, “Now go to sleep. It’s all very well for you to get up in the middle of the night. It’s not like you have school tomorrow.” Snowdrop nodded vigorously.
Amy raised her eyebrows. “Oh yes, you do, don’t you? Well then, I’ll brush you tomorrow morning and tie a ribbon around your neck, ok? Now, sleep!” She deposited the kitten next to Mama and closed her eyes again. Snowdrop sighed. She felt a little better after talking with Amy, if you could call it talking. She lay her head down. Maybe tomorrow wouldn’t be so bad after all.
When Snowdrop opened her eyes again, it was morning, and the sun was shining through the window. Mama and Papa were gone, probably eating breakfast. Lily was still snoozing, and Amy was up getting her things ready for school.
“Get up you two lazybones!” she cried, “You’re going to be late for school!” This jolted Snowdrop awake. She jumped out of bed to Amy who dunked her into the water basin and toweled her dry. “Now hurry up and eat breakfast while I wake up Lily.”
Snowdrop ran to the food bowl in the kitchen and sniffed appreciatively at the parsley House Mama had sprinkled on the food.Mama glided into the room. “Snowdrop! Stop sniffing and eat!”
So she ate. Then Amy whisked Snowdrop and Lily to her room. She smoothed out Snowdrop’s bluish-white fur, before running the brush through. After finishing, she tied a crisp sky-blue ribbon around her neck. Then Amy did the same to Lily’s purplish-white fur and tied a lavender ribbon around her neck.
“Gotta go now,” she said, heading towards the door and heaving her backpack on her back. “Be good kitties. Bye Mom!”
“Bye honey!” House Mama answered.
Papa ushered Lily to Snowdrop’s side.Snowdrop noticed Papa was limping. “Papa, what’s...” she started, but her father interrupted.
“Never mind, now...you two go to school.”
Lily and Snowdrop ran down the street to a red brick building with a sign that said “The Feline Academy.” Feeling nervous, they both walked through the door and were greeted by a regal-looking striped male. He made a gesture that said “follow me” and lead them towards a classroom that was already filled with fellow kittens.
Snowdrop and her sister sat down in desks, and a pretty calico cat glided into the room. “Good morning class!” she said cheerfully. “You may call me Miss May. I will be your reading and speaking teacher.”
“Good morning, Miss May,” the class said in unison.
The teacher smiled and continued, “Now when I point at you, please tell me your name.”
“Stoney.” As she went down the line, (“Rachel” Sugar”) the teacher got to Snowdrop.
“Snowdrop,” she said softly.
Miss May smiled, said, “What a pretty name!” and then went on. After she finished getting everybody’s name, she clapped her paws together. “First we will learn the alphabet.” She drew a bunch of strange-looking symbols on the board and began naming them. “This is A, B, C....”
Snowdrop and Lily had four other teachers. Mr. Bruno was the hunting teacher, kindly old Mr. Salem for math and science, prim Ms. Callie for etiquette and music, and jolly little Ms. Fiona for social skills.
All in all, Snowdrop admitted, school wasn’t so bad. There was only one problem. She had no friends. It’s not fair, Snowdrop thought bitterly.
Before each class, everyone talked amongst each other, while she sat staring at her desk. Even Lily had a friend now. Her name was Peaches. Lily was still at school talking with Peaches, so Snowdrop had to walk home by herself.
When she got inside the house, it was deserted.“Papa? Mama? Amy?” Snowdrop walked through each room looking for them. “House Mama? House Papa?” Maybe they were outside. She looked through the window. Nope.
“Snowdrop?” It was Lily.
“Lily!” Snowdrop ran to the door. Lily was sitting there looking worried. “Where are Mama and Papa and Amy?” Just then the door opened and in came House Mama and Amy with Mama in her arms. “Well, there’s part of your answer,” Snowdrop thought.
“Mama!” Snowdrop cried.
Mama sailed over to them, licked their heads and said, “Your father is at the vet.” Snowdrop and Lily gave a startled mew.
Amy stooped down and told them, “Not to worry...nothing serious.” This did not work on Lily and Snowdrop because Amy was looking serious. “He just has a sprained ankle.”
That evening, Snowdrop found it hard to concentrate on her speech for Ms. Fiona (Why Felines Should Have an Education). Before bedtime, Snowdrop asked Mama when Papa would be back.
“Don’t worry so much Snowdrop! Smoky will be back by the time you get home tomorrow.” Snowdrop went to bed feeling better.
“So class this is how you add...” DING DANG DONG! “Oh, looks like we ran out of time,” Mr. Salem grinned. “See you tomorrow kitties!”
Snowdrop dashed down the hall to Ms. Fiona’s room. “Today, kittens,” Ms. Fiona smiled at them all, “we will present our speeches, Why Felines Should Have an Education. Snowdrop, why don’t you start us off?”
Snowdrop groaned inwardly. She walked up to the front of the room and started in a shaky voice, “Why should felines have an education? It’s silly, people say. But really....” As she kept talking, Snowdrop’s natural ability to make excuses and reasons shone through. “...In conclusion, felines should have an education.”
Ms. Fiona’s mouth was open. “Well done, Snowdrop!” she cried. “Full marks!” Snowdrop beamed.
After class, a gray kitten walked up to her. “Hey, your speech was great Snowdrop!”
“Uh, thanks,” Snowdrop stammered.
He continued on, “By the way, my name’s Stoney. I’m really bad at social skills. D’you think you could help me if things get rough?”
Snowdrop smiled. “Sure. After all, what are friends for?” Then she almost hit herself. She had just called herself his friend! I’m a failure, she thought angrily.
But instead of getting mad, as she had expected, Stoney grinned and said, “Great!” All day they talked and laughed during classes.
At the end of the day, Snowdrop ran off with Lily hand in hand yelling, “Bye, Stoney!”
“Bye!” he yelled back.
When they got home, Lily and Snowdrop ran straight to the den where Papa and Mama were sitting on the couch. “Papa!” they both yelled and threw themselves on him.
Chuckling, he said, “So how do my two blossoming beauties like school?”
“Great!” they said.
Papa turned to Mama. “It’s good to be back with you and my flowers, Angel.”
Mama smiled. “It’s good to have you back, too, Smoky.”
Snowdrop was so happy. She had a friend, and Papa was back. “I’m going to like school,” she whispered.
Ever Been Kissed?
“I’ve never been kissed before,” I said, blushing slightly. Everyone started giggling. Then Nicole asked Kathleen if she had ever been kissed.
“Of course,” Kathleen said. Everyone started shrieking, “Who? Who? Who?”
“Daniel, no duh!” And then everyone started to giggle except me.
“It’s not fair. Am I the only girl who hasn’t been kissed yet?” I thought.
Wait! Before I say anything else, my name is Sammi Johnson. I’m 12 years old and in the seventh grade. My best friend is Emily Harrison, and she’s the same age as me. I have two sisters and one brother. My sisters’ names are Katelynn (14 years old and thinks she’s so cool) and Sarah (6 years old and is cute but can be sooo annoying). My brother Andrew is 15 years old. My mom’s name is Lisa, and my dad’s name is Bob (dorky, I know).
We live in a two-story house in California, and I love it here! Emily lives across the street from me, so I get to see her brother Chris a lot (13 years old and is HOTTT!). He has blonde hair, blue eyes, is tall, strong, and has a great tan. Emily thinks I’m a psycho, but she thinks Andrew is sooo hot. Whatever!
Well, anyway, let me get back to the party. It was at Emily’s house, so I got to see Chris! At the party, we were all talking about kissing guys, and I’m pretty sure I am the only girl in the seventh grade that hasn’t kissed a guy yet! Everyone else said that they had, of course. Then we went around the group and asked who each of us wanted to kiss. Before I could think, I blurted out “Chris!” My face turned beet red, and I was sooo embarrassed. Everyone started laughing hysterically. I just sat there like an idiot thinking to myself, “Why did I have to say that?” After about an hour when they stopped laughing, they dared me to spy on Chris.
I said, “No way! It’s 12:30 a.m., and he’s probably asleep.”
“That’s the point,” Kathleen scoffed in her snooty voice. “You also have to whisper in his ear, I love you.’”
“Fine,” I muttered because I didn’t want to hear Kathleen talk anymore about it.
“Fine!” I screamed.
“Okay!” Kathleen replied.
I ran into Chris’ room, dodging clothes right and left and saw him lying there, covered by a plaid bedspread. To get it over with, I leaned over quickly and whispered, “I love you.” I turned to run out, but I tripped over something, probably a pile of clothes, and fell flat on my face.
“Who’s there?” Chris asked sleepily. I lay flat on the floor, trying not to breathe. After a few minutes, I figured he was back asleep, and I got out of there as quickly as I could. I didn’t tell anyone a thing that happened but went straight to bed. I knew they would all laugh at me!
The next morning after everyone had left and it was just Emily and me, we decided to make breakfast.
“I had the strangest dream,” came a voice down the hall. Chris walked slowly in and said sleepily, “You were in it, Sammi, and you had come in my room and whispered, I love you’ in my ear. Then when I looked to see if it was you, I heard a big thud, and I woke up. Weird, huh?”
“Yeah, weird,” I said, trying not to scream. “I’ve got to go. I forgot that I have to help my mom with chores.”
I started running out of Emily’s house and turned around to see her laughing hysterically. The rest of the day I hid in my room. I didn’t even answer the phone all day.
The next day, Emily called me saying that Chris had found out that I liked him. Snotty Kathleen had told him! I was about to start screaming, but Emily said that after Kathleen told him, he said, “Really? I didn’t know; that’s pretty cool.”
At first I thought, “Maybe this will teach Kathleen a lesson.” Then I realized what Chris had really said. I started jumping up and down and screaming. (I scream a lot.) Perhaps snotty old Kathleen was good for something after all!
When I calmed down, Emily told me that Chris was wondering if I would go with him to the movies. I said yes, of course.
I guess what you wish for happens sometimes. You never know; Chris might be the first boy I kiss.
Not This Time
“I’ve never been kissed before,” she said blushing slightly. Rachelle and Rob were sitting in the front seat of his black Toyota lowrider. They hadn’t noticed the silent shadowy figure lurching about in the darkness watching and creeping ever so slowly.
3 WEEKS EARLIER
“Class! Class! Please settle down!” Mrs. Moore yelled above the boisterous students. “Welcome your new classmate Yomaris Fuentez.” Yomaris smiled nervously at the class as they seemed to be studying her not saying a word as they were instructed. She started to fidget, and she was starting to feel a bit insecure. “What are they looking at?” she asked herself.
Mrs. Moore noticed the silence in the classroom and asked brightly, “Would anyone like to take Yomaris on a tour of the school?” Not one hand was raised, but then suddenly, Rachelle started to raise her hand weakly. As if she were being forced or some power had taken her over, she said slowly, “I will, Mrs. Moore.” She winked at Yomaris, and Yomaris thought to herself, “I have to be friends with her. I can’t let what happened last time happen again. I can’t....”
Rachelle tapped Yomaris’ arm, and she realized that they were walking through the halls. She wasn’t listening to a thing Rachelle was saying. “You know, when people go on tours they usually listen to their tour guide and look around, not stare at the floor. Although I’m sure it’s very interesting,” Rachelle said sarcastically, smiling a little.
“Oh! I’m sorry,” Yomaris apologized, looking directly into Rachelle’s eyes.
Rachelle quickly glanced away saying, “I’m okay. I’m getting out of a quiz anyway.” Both of the girls laughed and continued with the “tour.”
The girls talked a lot; well, Rachelle did. Yomaris was content just listening. She was just so fixated on Rachelle. Rachelle had such a beautiful complexion, the way she laughed, her long beautiful jet-black hair. But most of all her eyes. They seemed enchanted, and they were so captivating and seemed to hold the secrets to her soul. Yomaris wanted to be friends so that she could see those hazel windows forever. Yomaris wanted to be more.
TWO DAYS LATER
Yomaris was in study hall, and she saw a tall handsome boy walk in the library with Rachelle following closely behind. Rachelle looked around until she spotted the table Yomaris was pretending to work at and walked over. Yomaris threw on a fake grin to greet them.
“Hey Yomaris,” Rachelle said in her usual gleeful tone. “You haven’t met my boyfriend Rob, have you?” Rachelle said it with one of her nicest smiles and in the sweetest way, but Yomaris understood what she was getting at when Rachelle put her arm possessively around his waist. She meant stay away from my man!
Rob gave Yomaris a slight head nod and said, “Wassup?” Yomaris smiled and said hi. Rob turned, whispered something in Rachelle’s ear, gave her a quick kiss goodbye, and ran out of the library.
“Left something in his locker,” Rachelle explained. Yomaris was only half listening while thinking of how familiar his face was. She didn’t get much time to think because the bell rang. “Well, I have to go because I’m only two zeros away from failing Mrs. Jordan’s class.” Yomaris giggled, and they both went their separate ways to their next classes.
Day after day, the girls’ friendship seemed to worsen. Yomaris realized that Rachelle was growing away from her and spending more time with Rob. One day, Rob and Rachelle were talking early before class started. “I have to tell you something about Yomaris.”
“Okay. Go ahead and tell me before class starts,” Rachelle said.
“Okay...um...this is hard to say, but Yomaris went to my old school,” Rob finally finished.
“Is that it?” Rachelle asked getting a little curious and confused.
“No,” answered Rob hesitantly. “Did Yomaris,” he emphasized her name, “tell you why she transferred to our school?”
“Yeah. She said her mother thought this school was better academically,” answered Rachelle casually.
“Wrong,” Rob said, “let me tell you a little story about a girl named Maria who didn’t want to lose her friend Angel to Angel’s boyfriend. Maria and Angel were best friends and spent all their time with each other. They were like sisters. Suddenly, they started growing apart after Angel started to date Gabriel, my brother. Maria insisted that he was trying to tear their friendship apart, but Angel said it wasn’t his fault.” Rob paused to take a breath and had a sad smile on his face. Rob looked like he was about to cry and sounded like it too.
“Maria started threatening to kill my brother and Angel, but Gabriel said she was just jealous and wouldn’t do anything. Look at where my brother is now because he didn’t take Maria seriously. Look at where they both are....”
“What happened?” Rachelle couldn’t help but ask.
“She killed them!” Rob screamed as people turned around in their seats but quickly turned back around.
“Who killed them?” Rachelle asked softly.
“Yomaris,” he answered.
“What? How could you say those things about our friend? Why would you lie about Yomaris like that?” Rachelle asked in disbelief.
“No, she’s just your friend,” he said tossing a folded note at her. Rachelle picked it up and read it, gasping in horror. It read, “You’ll be just like your brother if you don’t stay away from away from Rachelle!” The note also had a newspaper clipping with a picture of Gabriel in a happier time.
“It’s your brother’s obituary,” Rachelle said weakly handing it to Rob.
Suddenly the bell rang, and in walked Yomaris. “Hi, Rachelle,” said Yomaris, promptly ignoring Rob as she was frequently doing these days. Rachelle’s eyes darted to Rob as she slumped in her desk not replying. “He’s doing it. He’s stealing my friend just like his brother tried to,” thought Yomaris angrily.
All day Friday, Rachelle stayed away from Rob so that Yomaris wouldn’t feel so threatened and would leave him alone. She also avoided Yomaris so that she could formulate a plan. After the last period of the day, Rachelle went to see Rob at his locker. He looked angry, sad, and frightened all at once, and you could see it in his face and actions.
When Rachelle came and stood beside him, he gasped and dropped his books on his feet. He punched his locker, and you could see a tear drop. “Why is she doing this to me?” he whispered. “She’s gonna get me like she got Gabriel.”
Rachelle said all the comforting words she knew, but they weren’t enough. Rachelle finally came up with an idea. She suggested that they take their minds off of things and meet in private. “Are you sure you should even be seen with me? Yomaris might bump you off along with me.” They both laughed and everything was set.
They met off an old road in the country, but while they were discussing their plans, Yomaris was lingering nearby and decided to do something about them once and for all. Rob and Rachelle met around 9:00, and Rachelle got out of her car to get in the front seat of Rob’s lowrider. Without saying a word, Rob kissed Rachelle, and it was short but passionate.
“I’ve never been kissed,” she said blushing slightly. Rob looked confused saying, “Yes, you have. We kiss all the time.”
“Yeah, I know, but never under these circumstances. We both had to come to this secret place so that Yomaris wouldn’t find us.”
“Think again,” said Yomaris outside Rob’s window. She had a gun with her, and her glassy eyes were filled with pure hatred.
Rachelle saw the gun and screamed. “Please, Yomaris, don’t do something you’ll regret. We can work this out.”
“It’s too late for us to just work this out!” Yomaris screamed. “I tried to warn loverboy over here, but he didn’t care, just like his brother! And you,” she said leaning in toward Rob,” didn’t learn anything from old Gabe? You must have a death wish! Your family just doesn’t know how to follow directions! Get out of the car!”
Rob and Rachelle quickly obeyed. “Where were you hiding?” Rachelle wanted to know.
“I was sitting in the back of the truck, and I heard my name come up in the conversation. My trigger finger got a little itchy,” she answered wryly.
Unexpectedly, police sirens could be heard wailing. Rachelle had told the police everything, and in short, Yomaris/Maria got what she deserved. Angel and Gabriel’s deaths were now avenged.
“I’ve never been kissed before,” she said blushing slightly.
It was our first school field trip that year. We were playing truth or dare, and it was Lacy’s turn. She was a sweet girl with a nice personality. She picked dare, and she was to kiss Kevin Sherman, the hottest guy in 8th grade. Like most people, she chickened out.
“No, I can’t do that!” Lacy said.
“Aww, come on, yes, you can,” I said.
“No, Cassie! I can’t. Besides why would Kevin want to kiss a girl with cancer?”
We were all silent after that. Lacy had leukemia, and doctors didn’t know how much longer she’d live. She was my best friend, and I always looked on the bright side of things. I was enjoying the time I had with her. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She was always there for me, and I was always there for her. We were like sisters, and my life would be miserable without her.
“OK! Fine! You don’t have to do it now, but your new dare is to at least kiss Kevin before the school year ends,” I said.
“Fine!” she replied with an angry tone.
We returned home from the trip, and we had stopped playing our little game. The dance was that night, so Lacy was staying the night with me. The dance was going to be a blast! Lacy normally didn’t go to dances because of her cancer. Since it was in remission, she decided to go. She had said, “What the heck! I might as well live my life.” I hated it when she talked like that. She made it seem like she was going to die the next day.
As we arrived to the dance, Kevin was right behind us. I looked at Lacy and winked at her. She told me to shut up. He still didn’t know about the dare. Oh well, he’d eventually find out when he and Lacy were locking lips. During the dance I went up and started talking to Kevin. To my surprise he asked me about Lacy.
“Hey! Um, so I hear, um, that Lacy girl...she’s your best friend, right?”
“Yeah. Why do you ask?”
“Well, um, I was wondering if you’d ask her to dance with me.”
“Yeah! Sure. No problem. When though? Next song?”
“Sure, why not?”
“OK then, it’s set.”
I almost screamed! This wasn’t happening. Kevin Sherman actually wanted to dance with Lacy! This was a dream come true for her. As I went looking for her, Mrs. White the principal walked up to me.
“Are you Cassie Phelps?”
“We’d like to inform you that your friend Lacy collapsed and has been sent to the hospital.”
“Oh no! Can you please take me to the hospital?”
“Yes, but you’ll need to call your mother first.”
She showed me to the phone. I called my mom, and we were on our way. I told Kevin right before I left what happened and that he wouldn’t get his dance.
I couldn’t bare the sight of Lacy when I saw her. I was in tears. She wasn’t doing well from what the doctor had told me. At that moment I knew I’d lose my best friend. Hours later Kevin showed up. He, too, was crying. Nobody knew, but he had had a secret crush on Lacy since the 6th grade. I told him about the dare just as Lacy was waking up. She looked so embarrassed.
“Cassie! How could you? Im really sorry about this, Kevin.”
“Oh, thats OK. I dont mind. Ive had the biggest crush on you since the 6th grade.”
I just sat there and nodded my head.
At that moment Kevin leaned over, and his lips met hers. I started to cry even more. Then all of a sudden the heart monitor went beeeeep!
Lacy had received her first and last kiss.
For more information on this news release, please call CCPL&IC, Amanda L. Crabtree at (910) 483-1580 ext. 119.