“The Café” by Cristi M

The only table that wasn’t surrounded by groups of people was cluttered with an abundance of junk. Well, not necessarily junk, but who really needs 8 different tubes of lipstick? And who brings tubes of lipsticks to grab a coffee? Three other chairs were at the table, yet nobody sat in them. The coffee shop was full of people who resembled a mix between hippies, geeks, and diehard musicians. Based on the contents on the table, the person who was sitting at this table was the third. The papers strewn across the table were pieces of music-both handwritten and printed out. Words on the sheet music were written one after the other in cursive and print handwriting-something rather strange to see. The laptop, which looked like it had been dropped on multiple occasions, judging from the cracked glass at the top right corner of it, was wide open, displaying a webpage. “What to Wear to an Audition” was written across the screen. Headphones were plugged into the laptop, the cord dangling off of the table, challenging the pink washi tape holding the cord together to break. Some variant of classical music was streaming from the headphones, loud enough to hear from 3 feet away. When one classical song ended, another began, but they were unrecognizable. At the head of the circular table, two coffee cups sat. One seemed to be hot coffee, the other an iced macchiato, as if the person tried one and didn’t like it, so she got another. Two people couldn’t sit at this table even if they tried, so the idea that the coffees belonged to more than one person was instantly ruled out. Car keys sat on keyboard of the laptop, daring someone to steal them. Two delicate silver keychains hung from the keyrings: a small violin, and a treble clef. Three minutes later, if you took a look at that specific table, it was empty, cleared of anything that could have suggested someone was ever sitting there at all.

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Group Short Story Kickoff!

Here we go!

The group short story will begin today. I’ll be reaching out individually to each participant once it’s your turn to write your part of the story.

Be sure to check your email every day during the challenge. If I don’t receive your section by the deadline given, I will move on to the next person. There are 29 participants!

Group Short Story
•    This will be a fast paced, challenging, and fun exercise!
•    Language and subject matter must be school appropriate. If you have a question about whether something is inappropriate, it probably is, but feel free to ask me if you have questions.
•    You can introduce new elements, but what you write should not come out from left field from what has been established. You need to keep the story consistent. Your section will not be added to the story if it is too crazy.
•    The story will be written by everyone participating. One person will start and send their part to me. I will send the story to the next person. They will add their 500 words, and send it back to me. And so on. How many turns you get at writing the story will depend on how many members participate.
•    The turn around time will be 1 day. For example if you are tapped to write your section on Monday, you need to send me your 500 words by Tuesday.
•    Each participant will write 500 words at a time.

Story Information
Genre: Mystery
POV: First Person
Our Main Character: Grant Chang, Age: 18
Exposition:
Grant Chang has graduated from Vanguard High School, class of 2031. Grant spent most of high school in the art room with Mrs. Welch, drawing and painting. His passion is video game design, and he was selected as the first group of a new digital animation degree program. His best friends Dean and Bryan are going to different schools. Grant is nervous about going to a new school without his friends but he is ready to leave high school behind and start his freshman year at UCF. He is excited about meeting his roommate and being on his own.
In the fall, Grant moves in to his dorm in the Apollo Community, and says goodbye to his parents. He starts getting acquainted with campus life and preparing for his classes. But after a couple of days, his roommate Max still hasn’t shown up yet. Eventually officials and campus police from the university come to Grant’s dorm room. Max has disappeared and campus police think it’s foul play. To his surprise, Grant is a suspect thanks to his troubled past and being the roommate. It will be up to Grant to prove his innocence. Can he find out what happened to Max?

Please email Mrs Emery by February 16 to participate.

A Fallen King by Grace T.

A fallen king.
I have heard whispers, as obscure as shadows
When asked, the whisperers start to fade
For the truth they wish to hear
Is what it’s like to be a king, day to day.
Is it having to oversee the kingdom’s fights?
Or is it embracing in lavish delights?
But a king’s job is nevertheless, such stress.
And as a cause, the crown he sets, on his head
Is much heavier, having no rest
Being king involves dealing with the perils of men,
the problems of folks, whose troubles have no end.
For once they complained, the days were too short,
they asked him for the night to prolong its great retort
To the sunny skies, loved by all sorts.
And he replied, to the villages cries,
I can only control the knights on the fields of battle,
Not the heaven called night, which stars twinkle above,
where planets spin and revolve.

The lords and bishops, whine ever so loud,
For days of glorious riches and mountains of treasure
which they long for, each hour they wait.
The king can only say, as the disappointment sets on their face
I have duties in which I have command.
I have to set battles in plans.
I have no time, to bask in golds
For my time, has already been told.

The cries of all, from his subjects and the lords,
pierce his crown,
Enough to turn lovely flowers, into thorns.
The king battles his sorrow, he must command,
But the king topples over, from all the demands.
A cracked chess board, only remains,
And a broken king, no longer stand.

Writing Prompt!

From Mary-Kelly: Think of all or some of the protagonists that you have created in past and/or current writings. Write a story where those protagonists that you have created are stuck in a room together.

Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.

Why Varied Syntax Matters by Grace

This is the first sentence of this essay. This is the second sentence of this essay. We are talking about syntax. Each sentence is the same length right now. Each sentence is the same type right now. There are many different types of syntax. You’re probably getting bored with this essay.

I don’t blame you! When you write several sentences in a row with the same sentence length and style, you’re going to create rhythm (or lack thereof) and tone that can suck the life from what you are trying to say. Imagine having a conversation with someone. As humans, we talk in a certain way that fits with the tone of our voice. Our conversations are comprised of short, abrupt sentences or long, winding sentences that both stream from our consciousness. Would it seem natural for us to use the same structure for each sentence we speak? Absolutely not! The English language has several types of sentences we use every day without us even realizing it!

This is a short simple sentence. It fits nicely between two complex sentences. There are no pauses you need to take within the sentence, and it helps carry the flow of your story or piece. There are other times, however, where you’ll want to use a complex sentence to put more emphasis, to cause the readers to pause and think. Other times, you may have strung many longer sentences together and now you want to put emphasis on an important idea. You use a short sentence. You might use another. The reader will pause at these sentences because they stand out; the sentences will also leave a longer lasting imprint on the reader because of their brief size.

I just described how important syntax is in nonfiction writing—say, when you’re writing an argumentative or persuasive essay. You want your readers to be impacted by your statement, and the way to keep them engaged is to vary your syntax! You want to keep it exciting, interesting, and gripping. Don’t write dull—write lively. The same applies to your fiction, in your novels and short stories, and of course your poetry. You use specific syntax to help create pace for your tone and mood, and to mirror the content of your sentences and breathe life into the story you’re writing. When you want to induce fear, you break up your sentences to quicken the pace. The light just went out. You hear footsteps down the hall. What’s going to happen? Can you escape? Where is he now? Or, say it’s summertime during a chapter in your book. When you describe the setting, you might write with long, flowing sentences for a slower pace that mirrors the lazy, sleepy mood of the summer day. A breeze has just flittered through as the bright, hot sun beats down on the town, and a cat sleeps soundly underneath a shady tree.

The story no longer feels 2D—there’s an element of feeling that is introduced when our syntax can help articulate what is happening in our sentences. The next time you sit down to write something, pay attention to your syntax. Sometimes we tend to write our syntax with a “stream of consciousness.” We may not realize what kind of sentences we are writing—we just write what seems natural! But by being deliberate with your syntax to produce an emotion—fear, laziness, joy, suspense—not only are you making your writing more engaging for your reader, but you are breathing life into it, too.

No matter how genius the concept of your story may be, it’s going to fall flat if your syntax is flat too, so make sure it’s varied. Happy Writing!

Lily by Alyssa H.

It’s hard to believe in most things
In most unimaginable things
The amazing one’s which come from the sky
The way that angel’s would have hung onto my shoulder’s
It’s hard to believe in those things
In the way you would smile,
Or how you could have giggled my name
It’s hard to think about those things
About how I should have loved you
About how I should love you
Even if you’re not here with me
Even if I really didn’t know you
You were only a baby
I was only a kid
I didn’t know I was supposed to protect you
Or maybe I did
You were my sister
And I was your friend
But now you’re gone
And I feel alone again
So many years have passed us by
I should say I’m sorry for not being there
For not being strong enough to protect you
For not being enough to help you
I couldn’t have even if I tried S
o instead, I’m going to apologize
For trying to forget you
For trying to lose you
For trying to blame myself
It’s still hard to think about;
You were my everything
For the short time we had you
I still love you
Even if you aren’t around physically
I hear your giggle in birds songs
I see your smile in the clouds
You’re everywhere without even being around
You surround me innocently
Reminding me you’ll always be here beside me
You’re everything which comes from the sky
Everything unimaginable and bright
You’re the twinkling stars hung overhead
And the bright blue skies
The wind flowing from sea to sea
You’re everything I never could see
Everything beautiful
Everything indescribable
Everything perfect
You little sister, are everything

Writing Prompt!

From Emilee: Your character is desperately craving their favorite fruit, write about their journey as this fruit keeps getting repeatedly taken from their grasps.

Write for 10 minutes. Post your piece to comments.

The Young Generation by Bridget B.

We stood at the edge of our dimension. With a list in our hand, we checked off our duties to complete in their little-broken world.
“I have Celest Byers, a ninety-year-old at the Thornbird Retirement Home in Pittsburg. Along with ninety-year-old Jeffery Wilson, and the eighty-year-old couple, Talia and Arnold Small,” explained Conner.
Ellen told us about her list of contributors. She ran her finger along the edge of the names on the paper she had received from the overseer. “I have a two seventy-year old’s, a woman named Lisa and a man who goes by Joe. His real name is Joseph Ties,” she said. I had the first donors, Alaina Turtle, a woman turning one-hundred and lives alone near the beach in Virginia. The other harvesters went over who they were collecting, where they were going to be, and how long we were going to be there. It would take seven weeks to remain in the other dimension in hiding while collecting our contributors.
“This is it. We can be bringing peace to another dimension once this is over,” Tara admitted once taking in a large breath. “Earth is the most damaged, but we can heal it. Unfortunately, this process will be incredibly difficult if they don’t cooperate.”
Ellen wiped a tear, barely noticeable from her eye, “I wish we could save them all. That last mission…” she paused and gave a shaky breath as she wiped another tear away, “It just left me, just left me in pain.” I remembered it like it was yesterday. Too many people died from the operation; others were euthanized due to being strays or ill. It’s a shame we can only save the healthy, but at least we can create a better, more peaceful nation.
“Come one Keila we need t leave,” said Tara. I reached for the metal ball inside my satchel and clicked the button. It glowed a bright blue and began to open the door to earth. It resembled someone pulling material apart. The strings holding the dimension together separated allowing us to go to the other side. Now, I turned off the glowing sphere and the broken barrier glued itself together. We parted ways without saying anything. We were currently walking through Pennsylvania where Tara would stay and collect her donors. There was a plane leaving in an hour flying to Lynchburg, Virginia. It wasn’t where I needed to be, but it was the only flight going to that state. My job was to go unnoticed, blend in and therefore understand my surroundings. I just hoped that this alley I walked was not a summary of the entire world. It was stupid to think that, but if we were preforming this operation here it must be bad. Graffiti of gory creatures, curse words, and caricatures hid the brick walls. Police declared criminal activity, a man was speaking to himself and frequently laughed, a young boy played with a gun, and a cat screeched when I unknowingly stepped on its tail. The high pitch noise made me jump backwards. My heart raced, and my ears rung. I closed my eyes and sucked in a breath, I felt dirty just being here. Suddenly, I heard a noise from behind. I snapped my head around towards the noise and began walking at a faster pace. Once I got out of the alley, I ran towards the airport, following the directions on my GPS.

***

It was a long day. I hurried off the plane and found a hiding place near Alaina’s house. And later that night, I spoke to Alaina, using my voice disguiser to sound like her granddaughter and helped her pass through the dimension gate. Her eyesight was so terrible that she has yet to figure out I wasn’t her daughter and that she is not in her bedroom. But later that day I confided in Alaina and told her what was happening.
“Where am I. I thought you were Sam?” the feeble, stuttering voice said.
“I am sorry to have fooled you. My name is Keila. I am a Harvester meaning I take people from damaged worlds and transport them to Dimension eleven. We are on a peace mission to help your world become moral again by altering your mind. You will be inserted into our hive mind and never again revolt against someone’s ideals because we all have the same perspective. That everything is good. Everything is right. And everyone is safe.”

Till the End of Time by Gabrielle H.

As life passes by and by
At times I can feel like I can fly
Knowing you’re out there
With love to spare
Even though you’re gone
My love will still go on
Knowing that anytime
I could see you once again
Oh how the hours seem to fly
Knowing life is passing by
Until then, just know that through and through
I’m thinking of you
And will love you till the end of time
Even though you’re far away
I think of you every day
Knowing that you died
And I only had one goodbye
Even though you’re far away
I think of you every day
Knowing life is passing by
Until then, just know that I will love you
till the end of time
Knowing you’re far away
Is more than I can bear
As I see the people stare
At one another
Young love is around every corner
And here I am without you
I just can’t do
Even though you’re far away
I think of you every day
Knowing life is passing by
Until then, just know that I
will love you till the end of time

Will you be the Juliet to my Romeo? by Naomi A.

WWII: Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Germany.
Trixie sat alone her violin lay by her side, the sounds of the other musicians in her barrack an absent murmer. In her hands she held a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s been three months since she was brought to the German concentration camp, to play for the prisoners on their way to die. “Dein Buch ist Sharkspare?” a German voice interrupted her reading. Startled she looked up through the fence and was meet by a blue/greenish pair of eyes, “itz Sharkspare ja?” the young soldier asked again seeing her confused face, as he towered over her. Trixie hurriedly dropped the book at the soldier’s feet and bent to pick up her violin. “Wait, no, verlasse bitte nicht!” he reached out and grabbed her wrist, panic in his eyes. At the sudden contact Trixie swiftly drew her wrist back to her chest. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-to.” The soldier waved his hand trying to come up with the right word “Scar you!” the soldier mispronounced, smiling hoping the girl understood. Trixie nodded her eyes darting from the violin and back to the soldier. “I won’t dich verletzen….um hurk you.” He added. When the girl didn’t move, the young soldier looked around before dashing off calling over his shoulder “Warten Sie hier”. Trixie debated whether to run or stay, before she could decide the soldier was back with a wooden stool in his hands. Placing the stool down he sat on it “sitzen” he gently said motioning to the empty seat in the cell. Slowly Trixie made her way to the seat, fearfully eyeing the German. “Um..you play da..geige?” the soldier asked pointing towards the instrument that lay by her feet. “yes…do you want me to play for you?” Trixie asked slowly confusion in her voice. Hearing her voice, the soldier’s eyes lit up, “Nein danke…um…wat is your….” The soldiers voice trailed off. “Name?” Trixie offered quietly. The soldier nodded excitedly “Trixie.” Her voice shook mistrust still on her mind. “I am Harrison!” the soldier excitedly said. Trixie studied the soldier carefully as he sat on the other side of the fence. Harrison looked about her age, and had dark blonde hair, he wore a soft expression despite his sharp jawline and uniform. Trixie bent down to pick up the book that she had dropped. “Oh! Hier!” the soldier quickly leaned down and brushed the cover off, before handing it to her. “Thank you!” Trixie replied surprised at the friendly manners of the German. Harrison pointed at the book that Trixie held. “Romeo und Julia?” he asked his eyes lighting up, “Yes, you have read it?” Trixie inquired when she saw his eyes brighten “Ja! Many times, before krieg” Harrison grew somber as silence filled the room. Hearing German voices, he jumped up kicking over his stool, causing Trixie to jump. “Meet hare agan?” he asked hurriedly his eyes full of fear, to Trixie’s surprise she nodded yes. With relieve and happiness Harrison jogged away.

4 months later

Harrison would return to Trixie’s cell every day and sit with her. Trixie learned that Harrison was a scholar, who had studied literature before the war. The young soldier was delighted when Trixie offered to teach him Polish using her book, and was a quick learner, though he still mispronounced words. The German soldier and the Jewish Violinist quickly formed a bond. Every time Harrison looked at her, Trixie thought she saw love in his eyes. “yur bok. Tank yu fer letting me barow it, Trixzy!” Harrison knelt and slipped the book under the fence, he smiled at her as a flower fell out when she picked it up. “Du kommst sofort hier rüber!” startled Trixie looked up, the blush still visible on her cheeks, as Harrison turned surprised, the officer beckoned him over. Reluctantly he got up, and walked over “Soldier I want you to take this prisoner to the gas chamber, along with the others” the officer barked in German pointing toward a group of Jewish girls. “What! Why? She didn’t do anything wrong!” Harrison argued. Trixie looked from the officer to Harrison, puzzling over what they were saying. “She is a distraction to you.” The officer firmly ordered, “I’m sorry but, I can’t.” Harrison shook his head. “I had a feeling.” The officer sneered, with a wave of his hand more guards walked in. *** Harrison opened his eyes, his head hurt and he felt groggy. His head snapped up “Trixzy!” he shouted concern etching his voice. Trixie shivered as she stood with a group of girls, in large room. She rubbed her bruised arms. Hearing air leaking from the pipes above, she started to panic along with the other prisoners. She knew the sound all too well. Coughing the room started to spin, as she tried to remain standing. “No!” Harrison yelled kicking the wall that separated him from Trixie. “This is what you get for loving a Jew!” an officer yelled slapping him across the cheek. Harrison struggled against the guards that held him, tears running down his cheeks, as one by one the prisoners collapsed to the ground. As the gas started to fill the room, Trixie fell to the ground unable to stand anymore. Gasping for breath she heard wood breaking, before a strong pair of arms wrapped around her. Looking up she saw the kind eyes of Harrison filled with concern as he lay next to her, “Harri-” “Shh…I’m here” he whispered hugging her small frame closer to his chest “Y-y-our going..to..die!” Trixie whispered her eyes heavy “I don’t car.” Harrison coughed, “Trixzy…Will you be the Juliet to my Romeo?” he weakly whispered a tear running down his cheek. Trixie nodded a small smile on her lips. Feeling the young violinist’s body go limp, Harrison let the gas consume him. “Ich liebe dich” he whispered closing his eyes.