Image by Dot Myl – Google Plus
Hello dear friends and imaginative travelers!
We regret to have left you at the Tree alone for such an extended period of time. We thought of you often, and despite our best efforts to return, the Door to the Tree eluded us, busy as we were fighting monsters in our path.
But if you’re here, if you’re listening… we’re knocking.
Where will 2018 lead us?
Come along. Let’s find out.
Annie woke up feeling tired, like she’d thrashed around a lot in her sleep. Not tired enough to notice she wasn’t in her room, though. She jumped up, heart pounding, almost slipping on satiny sheets. She was in a small, lush room, all embroidered brocade and rich cloth in carefully-coordinated earth tones. Her favorite colors. There was even a small china plate of chocolate chip cookies on a tiny nightstand that was built into the wall. They smelled like they were freshly baked. She herself was in a silky negligee, but it went down to her feet, very classy-like.
She didn’t understand. She didn’t know how she’d come here. But if she’d been kidnapped or something, this was somebody really sick—who treated their hostages like royalty? She tried to remember what she’d been doing last, or at least what she’d been thinking before she’d fallen asleep, but her mind was a blank. She had an impression that she’d been with Derek—that she’d been breathing in his cologne and the smell of the ocean as he’d kissed her neck—but as she ran a hand over the same spot, the certainty skipped away, out of her grasp.
This isn’t really YA. Read it anyhow.
He was almost surprised that the gas station was running as he pushed the dusty metal handle of the glass door.
Dusty. As if it would be anything else. This was the desert—everything was dusty.
It didn’t exactly look like a five-star establishment, either. The refrigerated shelves lining the walls were sparsely filled and water dripped sporadically from the corner of a swamp cooler on the wall. The fluorescent lights buzzing over his head gave much less light than the mind-dazzling sun outside. Part of him welcomed the change—the familiarity of it—and part of him wanted to run back to the vastness of outdoors, something that had been denied him for too long.
He headed towards the beverages, reached in for a sports drink, gritting his teeth as the fabric of his long-sleeved shirt chafed against his wrists, where the skin was raw and red. He chuckled softly. Finally free of their metal restraints, covered in soft cotton, the welts there ached more than they had in years.
I made my first jump when I was ten. I was lucky that time, I was looking at a scrapbook of memories my mom had put together for my birthday, one with empty pages at the back that I would fill in on my own. I was spending a leisurely afternoon going over the pages and remembering the greatest events of my life as yet—focusing on a joint birthday party in my best friend’s backyard.
Before I knew what happened—I was there. Tumbling knees over shoulders and bruising my elbow on the foot of the big Oak behind Kacey’s window.
I freaked out, but ran home—Kacey lived just a block and a half away. I snuck into my own backyard, then knocked on the door, making a ruckus so that someone would let me in, since I knew it was locked. Mom gave me a raised-eyebrow and a “I thought you were in your room.” I lied and told her that I’d gone out to play with our dog, Flea, but locked myself out.
I ran up to my room and shut the scrapbook, hiding it under my bed. I didn’t touch it for months, but eventually I couldn’t stand hurting Mom’s feelings when she asked about it.
My second jump was not lucky at all. I was twelve, and my aunt had sent me a postcard from Italy. I was reading the back of it and I turned it over to look at the picture of ran my fingertips over the picture of the Colosseum, all lovely ruin and decay—suddenly I was pitching forward again, and this time the sun disappeared and I scratched up my palms and my arms on a dirt ground.
I lay on the ground for whole minutes with my eyes screwed shut, praying that I was dreaming and pinching myself as hard as I could manage. When I looked up, though, I was standing at the foot of the famous ruin, illuminated in a 20th century glory.
So the dialog spine is something I learned off of Scott Westerfeld’s blog over a year ago, when he and Justine Larbeleister (his wife, in case you didn’t know) were posting daily NaNoWriMo tips. It’s a short story told entirely in the voices of two people, no quotation notes or anything, just with one character in italics and the other in basic font. Westerfeld says he uses this to “clear out the cobwebs.” I like to use it for practice, and to get to know some characters, so here’s a little contribution for free-read Friday.
We can’t wait for her. You know that, right?
But the plan won’t work without her.
Then we’ll need a new plan.
I really don’t like this. How can we leave without her? After everything?
After everything? She left us. She left all of us—her duty, her responsibility, she walked away from all of it.
She wanted something for herself. Can’t you understand that?
None of us chose this life. It chose us. That’s always the way it’s been, since time was time. It’s how it always would be.
And you’ve never wanted anything different?