In the spring 2012 semester, the Write Place started a creative writing club for grades 5 through 8. The club's leader was Alexandra Good, one of our student interns from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Below is a sampling of the pieces that our members created. Please note that some stories are unfinished.
BY EMILY BOWDEN, 5th GRADE
St. Paul’s Hospital, 6/9/94, 23:56:05. 7 years, 3 months, 1 day, 11 hours, 3 minutes, 55 seconds to go…
“Lucky for you, you’ve had a healthy little girl. She’s an angel.”
Mark smiled. He hadn’t watched his wife go through 4 hours of labor and pass out for nothing. “Any conditions we should know about?” He questioned.“I’ll go check.”
Flashing a smile, Dr. Jenkins turned, and walked through the set of swinging doors to join the other doctors huddled around a small stretcher. They were whispering nervously to each other.
“Anything we should be concerned about?” She asked loudly. Everyone looked up.
“Well,” a doctor said nervously, “It seems she has a sensitive case of asthma.”
All this whispering was scaring Dr. Jenkins. There wasn’t anything that could be that bad. Unless…
One of the doctors looked up solemnly, and she felt like the temperature dropped a few degrees. The doctor said slowly:
“Yes, Ruth. It has arrived. It is time.”
Green-view Middle School, State spelling bee, 5/21/01 17:30:46. 3 months, 21 days, 17 hours, 30 minutes, 14 seconds to go…"Sesquipedalian. S-E-Q-U-I-P-E-D-A-L-I-A-N. Sesquipedalian."
Everyone clapped as Maya walked back to her seat. If she kept this up, she’d make it to the nationals for the third time!
As she sat down, she saw her parents waving at her like lunatics. Why did she have to get the weird, over-protective, parents?
She watched as the next kid got out trying to spell phenomenon. Pff! Who couldn’t spell phenomenon? Maya could do it faster than you could say it.
After the spelling bee, Maya walked of the stage with the first place trophy that was taller than her, and straight into a boy texting rapidly, as his parents embraced the “phenomenon” kid a few feet away.
“Watch it,” he said sharply, looking up, completely ignoring how she staggered under the trophy’s weight. Maya couldn’t help notice how he was seriously cute. He had dirty-blond hair that hung in his eyes, and he kept sort of flicking his head to move it, and deep blue eyes. He looked a lot older than her.
“Well, I do so apologize, Mr. Too-cool-for-spelling bees.” Maya felt her attitude coming on strong. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying not to break anything with my 5 feet tall trophy I just won.”
He rolled his eyes, but stepped out of her way so she could crawl-walk past him. As Maya approached her parents, they saw her, and went flying at her, throwing themselves onto her. The trophy crashed to the floor.
“Oh Maya darling, we’re SO proud of you! Third time in the nationals! Oh!” her mom said with a small sob.
“So proud, so proud!” said her father picking up the trophy and thumping her hard on the back. Maya struggled to breathe. “Well, thanks,” she muttered, blushing. “I stumbled on a few words, though. I’ll do even better next year.”
Standing near the back of the auditorium, Dr. Jenkins slowly shook her head and muttered, “If we only knew if there'll be a next year.”
The Thoughts of a Young GirlOne day as I was doing my wanderingI found myself suddenly ponderingThe thoughts of the world in later daysWhere the sun will finally shine its raysOn a world of no hatred, only loveAnd everyone’s as peaceful as a doveThat flies across the large, vast skiesAnd breaks the blue that comes to our eyesWhere every person can roam freeAnd mingle and wander as they pleaseWhere all their worries seem to flyFar into the open skyAlong with the doves that we seeFinally happy and freeOne day the sun will shine its raysOn more joyful and happier daysWhere we live as I ponderedAs I wanderedBut no longer do I wanderOr merely sit and ponderFor today I finally goTo make a change.
India Driscoll, 5th Grade
The Story of a Modern Werewolf
For twelve long years my mother hid me away, away from the great wide world. No contact with anybody; I didn’t even go to school. My mother didn’t even bother to teach me. She just told me to stay in my room each day. I often drew about my fantasies and dreams that I had at night. Corduroy sat on my lap, and I stroked him gently, his fur light brown and his splotches dark brown. This dog was the only one I could ever talk to. Mother would never listen when I said I wanted to go outside the yard.
She always replied “Nanook, it’s a dangerous world out there and I’m not letting my only daughter get hurt. It would be a dastardly thing to do.”
She was especially timid when the moon was out; she drew the shades on every one of the windows, always double checking mine. She was never this timid during the day. She did, however, let me wander about the gardens and see the world from beneath our little neck of the woods. I loved to climb the trees around the garden; some of the shorter ones I could easily reach the top of with ease. Corduroy barked at me like I was some sort of large cat, even though he knew it was me. My long brown hair fluttering in the breeze made me actually feel alive. The rest of the time I just felt like I had no purpose, just a little lump of skin and organs. The only other time I felt alive was when I was asleep, in my dreams.
Unlike other people, I always remembered my dreams; Mother always said she never remembered hers. I had amazingly vivid dreams where I was a young huntress hunting with my loyal team. Even though I had never seen a man or a boy, I had a pretty good idea of what they looked like. A completely different race they were. They were lean and hairy with large pointed ears on the top of their head. Their ears felt like the one velvet pillow I had. The hair that covered their whole bodies was very dark, almost black with bright red streaks. They had sharp teeth and long faces with cold noses. They looked a lot like Corduroy. I do think that they are close cousins to dogs. Dogs do remind me very much of men and boys.
Anyway, I’m a young huntress (don’t think my mother hasn’t supplied me with some knowledge of the outside world) with my team of men and boys running along with Corduroy at my side. I’m hunting a large, snow white elk with golden antlers. On the elk’s body in gold, there are some queer symbols that look kind of like letters of a different world completely. I am shooting arrows made of sharp diamond. I aim very carefully; however, just as I release the arrow, it dodges out of the way into the brush, and that is when I send my team of men and boys after it.
Laila Khan, 5th Grade
Many people say that fame, fortune, and money aren’t everything. I used to disagree with that until three months ago… three months ago my entire life changed in perspective.
Chapter 1Click, clack, spot went the keys on my Mac Book. Once again I had finished a brilliant report on some social topic that would be either neglected or loved. It would only matter to me if the topic was neglected. My problem is that I don’t understand the importance of giving yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. In the end I am a self-proclaimed obsessive character of low self-esteem. Perhaps it’s because I think that good is never good enough. That’s what my parents thought; now that’s what I think. I can’t blame my parents for my corrupt thinking. They are very good parents and they love me more than anything in the world. I simply let myself think this way. The problem is that I am only eleven.
"Education + Basic Human Dignity = World Peace." That was the so called essay I sent into the New York Times for their world peace essay contest. The contest said to state how world peace could be achieved using 25 words or fewer. For most people that would have been a real challenge. I found it to be like a puzzle, one that I created myself. There was an award ceremony and suddenly a lot of magazines and blogs started asking to interview me. This is strange because all I wrote was a simple equation with words and symbols. Most of the magazines wanted to know the inspiration for my so-called essay.
"I found a way to be happy and boost my self-esteem with this which is a good thing …I guess," I told the Washington Post. The lady who was interviewing me just laughed those fake Hollywood laughs that they do just to flash their perfect, white, inline teeth.
I was about to frame my disappearance and spend the money I had gotten from the publicity and press and spend it on a private yacht / house boat and sail the world. Of course I would bring family, and I had made enough money to last a lifetime after I donated money to the charities I wanted to.
By Rachel Pontious, 5th GradeIce RipplesA big white massCovering sidewalk pebblesLike a blanket turned to stoneWhile all the snow is milky whiteAnd crunchy underfootThe ice remainsClear hardAnd coldBut even while it appears heartlessIt is beautifulLike a giant ocean waveFrozenIn midairAll of its delicate texture and ripplesClearly standing outLike time has stopped
The sun was sinking to the bottom of the sky, casting a blood red glow over the horizon. In the evening light, there was a dog on a rock jutting out from a small cliff. There were other dogs gathered around him.
Apacko stood before the other stray dogs. “You must unite,” he declared, “We must form tribes of purebred dogs and live together within our own breed.” The dogs were silent, staring in wonder of their new opportunity. Apacko could not blame them for their astonishment. The dogs had lived by themselves in the woods all their lives and hadn’t even imagined doing this sort of thing. Yet Apacko was convinced it was for the best. No more bloody killings or starving animals fighting for food. No—they would help each other and fight for the protection of one another and catch food for one another. There was the problem of mixed breeds but they would be strong and find a way around that.
“You must mate inside your tribes but not in any other. We must be pure in order to be strong. We will drive out any mixed breeds and prove that we are kings and queens of the forest.”
At last someone spoke up. She was a young bloodhound, Veania. “Why won’t you allow mixed breeds to be in our tribes?”
“Because,” Apacko said, “they are not pure.”
“You do not have to be purebred to be pure of heart and of soul.”
“Listen. If we allow them to be with us, they will betray us to our enemies and stretch our laws until they break. They will battle within our own tribes and ruthlessly murder our pups. They will only take food for themselves and leave the rest of us to starve. They are unpure and so they will cause us to be unpure.”
“You know that these dogs,” she gestured at the others with her tail, “have as much chance of doing those things as the mixed breeds do. So I ask you again. Why?”
Apacko could tell that he was losing the fight. The dogs were muttering amongst themselves as if agreeing with Veania. He had to get that stupid dog out of here.
“You know what I said. Now get out!”
To Apacko’s relief, she did so without argument but not before saying, “If any of you want to join, remember what I said. You do not have to be purebred to be pure of heart and of soul.”
Then Veania, nose high in the air, stalked out of the clearing. Now it was time for Apacko to use his convincing skills.
“Veania is mentally unstable. She doesn’t know what she is talking about. Anyone who wants to go with her can go. Go on!”
The dogs shifted unhappily, but stayed put.
“Now, that’s better. Let’s go to the tribe homes that I started building. You’ll feel better once we’ve all taken the tribe oath.”
So the legend was that Veania was mentally unstable and all of the dogs forgot all about her in anticipation of a better life.
Holiac had just woken up and discovered that he was the only one awake. He stretched his muscles and his pure bulldog coat that he was so proud of rippled. Sunlight streamed into the Sleeping Cave. It was a perfect spring day for hunting.
Holiac trotted out of the entrance and sniffed for any prey scents.
And right around here. He tracked the scent past two trees and saw the squirrel crouched under the third. Holiac flattened himself to the ground so the squirrel would not see him. The excitement of the hunt made him drool all over the bright green grass. He needed the squirrel to move away so when he leapt, so it could not scamper up the tree fast enough. When the animal finally stopped eating nuts and went over to the next tree, Holiac jumped. The squirrel looked confused to see a dog in midair. Then Holiac pinned the squirrel down and killed it quickly. Then he picked up its body in his jaws and carried it to his spot in the Eating Cave for later. Then he went to the Sleeping Cave to see if anyone was awake.
Holiac’s friend, Jomoru, was stirring. He yawned and opened his eyes. “Hi, Holiac,” he said.
“It’s a nice day.”
Both dogs gazed out at the rising sun.
“It’s the nicest day we’ve had in months.”
A thought occurred to Holiac.
“Jomoru, do you ever think about girls?”
“No, do you?
“Nah, none of them are good enough for me.”
“They’re going to force us to mate eventually. We always need more dogs in the tribe.”
“Well, they’re not gonna force me!”
“I don’t know, Jomoru. The Chieftain and his special warriors can be pretty powerful.
“C’mon. Let’s not waste this beautiful day and come outside with me.”
Holiac and Jomoru walked toward the entrance but were stopped by Ornatato.
“You’d better be hunting,” he said. “We’re running low on food.”
“We’re going, sir.” said Jomoru.
Ornatato was the Chieftain’s advisor. He was very high ranking so you had to be polite around him. And if you didn’t, well, he had a really bad temper.
Once the two dogs were well into the forest, Jomoru scented something. “Hey, Holiac,” he said, “I think I’ve scented golden retriever!”
“What? Golden retriever?”
“Are they going to attack us?”
Holiac moved so he was next to Jomoru and put his nose in the air. Sure enough, the faint smell of golden retriever drifted through his nostrils.
“I think it’s only one. Female.”
“Oh. Well, we should still drive her out.
“No. She can find her way back. Besides, what harm is she to us?”
“She could be a spy. I’m going. C’mon.
“No! Jomoru. Leave her be!
“Holiac, what is wrong with you?
In truth, Holiac didn’t know what was wrong with him. He usually jumped with anticipation of a fight. Now he wanted nothing but peace for everyone. As for the golden retriever, he felt a strange sense of something about her. He didn’t know what it was but it was making him want to see her and at the same time not.
“I don’t know,” he said at last, “It’s weird.”
“So,” Jomoru said, “you are recognizing that there is something wrong with you. Which means that, since there is nothing wrong with me, I am right.”
“That doesn’t mean that you’re right. It means that once I find out what’s wrong with me, I will know if I am right or not.”
“Fine,” Jomoru said, “But I am reporting this.”
Holiac already had an answer ready, “If you report it, they will ask you why you didn’t chase her away. What will you say then?”
Jomoru growled in frustration. “All right, I won’t tell anyone. But that’s breaking the tribe oath!”
“C’mon, Jomoru. Let’s go.”
So they began the walk back to the tribe home. Holiac had a plan. He was going to see who that golden retriever was.
Suddenly he said, “I’ve scented sparrow!” and bounded towards a clump of bushes. Jomoru kept going and left Holiac with his imaginary sparrow just as he thought he would. Holiac waited until Jomoru was gone and then bounded back to the place Jomoru had scented the golden retriever. He sniffed the air and tracked the scent to golden retriever territory. She had returned to where she was supposed to be. Holiac tried to feel relieved but all he felt was disappointment. He began his slow trudge to the bulldog tribe home.
Karmeya padded into the Golden Retriever Tribe Home. She was exhausted. Never before had she had such an adventure. She had been chasing a stray cat when it had gotten away and she had found herself in bulldog territory. Why hadn’t Karmeya left? She did not know herself. She hadn’t even left when two bulldogs had come towards her and even when they scented her. Why?
There was also something about that other bulldog. Something weird. Karmeya couldn’t make it out. It was just some dog bickering with another dog, right? Then he stood up for her. A question that she couldn’t ignore came up. Did he feel the same way about her?
With all these thoughts still bouncing around in her head, she was startled to see her mother howling, “Where have you been?”
“Hunting.” She tossed her wood pigeon at her mother’s paws.
“You’ve been gone for so long!”
“Have I?” said Karmeya, pretending to look surprised.
“Yes, it’s almost noon!” replied her mother as she gestured at the sun which was right overhead.
Then Karmeya heard a deeper voice. Her father.
“Shuqusaf, stop that howling at once! I’m sure Karmeya is sorry for being gone so long. Don’t give her a hard time.”
“Tanemal, I was so worried about her. Do you know how much worry her actions have caused me?”
Karmeya felt a twinge of guilt although she knew her mother was probably exaggerating.
“Look, I’m sorry, mother,” she said.
“You should be,” Shuqusaf scolded.
Karmeya picked up her wood pigeon in her jaws and carried it to the Eating Tree. She bit into the juicy flesh and devoured the bird. Then she took the remains and dropped them in the Waste Pile. Then she padded towards the Sleeping Tree. On her way there, Rasma called from the Entrance.
“Hey, Karmeya! Want to go hunting with me?”
“No thanks,” said Karmeya, “I was going to take a nap.”
“Oh,” said Rasma looking disappointed.
“I’ll come when I can, Rasma,” Karmeya said.
Karmeya trotted the rest of the way to the Sleeping Tree and, with a sigh, curled up against the tree. The thick leaves of the Sleeping Tree curved all the way down to the ground, keeping the sunlight and the noise out. Karmeya was very tired but she couldn’t fall asleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about the bulldog that seemed to be called Holiac. He must be very brave to stand up for a golden retriever that was on his territory. She had been under the impression all her life that bulldogs were ruthless, vicious animals, but now she had changed her mind. She would very much like to meet this Holiac she decided. Finally, she fell into a fitful sleep.
When Karmeya woke up, it was well into the night and all of her tribemates were in a deep sleep around her. Karmeya knew she would never get back to the unconsciousness they were in. She slipped out of the shelter of the Sleeping Tree and wandered out into the clearing. It was as if the whole golden retriever tribe home was asleep.
Karmeya trotted out of the Entrance and into the forest. The trees loomed over her and their dark shapes looked sinister and foreboding. She shuddered. Karmeya’s paws lead her, she realized, to the border between bulldog territory and golden retriever territory. As she gazed out into the forbidden land, she wished she had the answers to all of her questions. Why did Holiac stand up for her? Why didn’t Karmeya leave when she had the chance? And most of all, what was that funny feeling she had when she heard him, and did he have that feeling, too?
As Karmeya was standing on the border, she thought she heard a rustle of movement. It was probably just a squirrel. But, no, the rustle came again and whatever was making the noise was much bigger than that.
“Who’s there?” Karmeya said in a shaky voice, “Show yourself.”
Whoever it was froze and peered out from behind a clump of bushes. It was a bulldog. The dog’s eyes widened at the sight of Karmeya, and he quickly ducked behind the tree again. He must be Holiac. Karmeya waited and sure enough, he came out again.
“Um, were you that golden retriever in our territory yesterday?” he asked nervously.
“Well, yes,” Karmeya admitted, “You were really brave standing up for me.
“I don’t even know why I did.”
“Well, you were still brave.”
“No! Listen,” Holiac was looking agitated now. “You don’t get it. I don’t know why I did it! There’s something wrong with me. I don’t even know why I’m talking to you right now!”
With that he fled, kicking up dirt as he went. As much as Karmeya called after him, he didn’t turn around, didn’t even look back.
Holiac was furious with himself. What was happening to him? He had stopped with a golden retriever for a friendly chat in the middle of the night. He hadn’t been able to sleep, his mind too full of the incident so he took a walk in the woods to cool his mind down. Then he had actually met her himself! He had felt that weird sensation towards her like when he was with Jomoru. And he hated it. So he ran away from her. She had no business with her anyway. Or at least, he thought.
What was she doing out there anyway? Wasn’t she supposed to be asleep with her tribemates? Well, he was supposed to be asleep with his tribemates, too. Still, Holiac wanted to know what this was all about.
Never in his life had he experienced anything like this. Holiac once wished that he could have a mystery, an adventure. Now he just wanted things to get back to normal.
Holiac made up his mind. He would never meet with the golden retriever again. He would never even lay eyes on her again. Never again.
Now he just wanted to go to sleep. As he reached the Sleeping Cave his mind whirled with what he had known, what he had seen, and the secrets he would have to keep. He curled up in his usual spot and finally let sleep overcome him.
Holiac awoke to the usual bustling noises of the bulldog tribe in the morning.
“Yomanda, come back here this second!
“But mother, I want to explore our territory! I’ll have to know it well in order to become Chieftain!
“Yomanda, you know as well as I do that you won’t be Chieftain when you’re still a puppy. And you’re chances of being Chieftain are very slim, even when you’re all grown up.
Yomanda’s mother, Herfyanite, was so protective of her daughter that she could be a little mean sometimes. Yomanda desperately needed someone other than her mother to train her to hunt and fight. If things kept going this way, Herfyanite would probably catch Yomanda’s food for her.
Holiac sat up and stretched his legs like he usually did in the mornings.
“Hi, Holiac!” Tearhernia, Holiac’s little sister, called him over to her nest. “You look tired. Did you get enough sleep? I hope so. Want to go hunting with me? Maybe a walk will wake you up.”
“Yea! Do you think I’ll catch a squirrel? Or maybe a bird? Or a vole? Where do you want to hunt? By the Big Pine? Or at the Shore? What do you think?”
“I think at the Rocky Ditch would do.”
“Let’s go! Wanna see my battle move invention? It’s really cool. I’m dying to try it out! Okay. Pretend that tree is a terrier.”
Tearhernia lunged at the nearest tree. She jumped up high and raked her paws down the trunk. Then she swerved to the side and did the same thing.
“Isn’t it cool? It’s –”
“Trying to climb a tree, Tearhernia?” Oh no. It was Sepicate. He was Holiac’s archenemy. Sepicate was bossy and mean, and he made fun of Holiac and his family every chance he got.
“Shut up, Sepicate,” Holiac growled before Tearhernia could say a word.
“You’re trying to tell me what to do after you went into the forest at midnight and did who knows what?”
Holiac froze. Sepicate knew? No, he couldn’t. He had probably just seen Holiac going out into the woods. He didn’t know what he had actually been doing there . . . right?
But Holiac was very good at lying.
“You couldn’t sleep, either?” Holiac asked politely.
Sepicate said nothing and stomped away.
“C’mon, Tearhernia. Let’s go.”
For once, she was lost for words so they silently padded out of the bulldog tribe home together. They passed the tall Pine Tree and the nasty Human Dump before what lay before them was an immense pit of different colored rocks. They were red, gray, white, black, orange, brown, and yellow, and it was a magnificent sight to see.
Holiac lowered his nose to the ground and sniffed along a small but well worn trail curving down humbly into the Rocky Ditch. Vole. He crept stealthily down the trail, poking his nose into various holes as he went. Then, he stopped. The scent was stronger here. Holiac crouched down even more and peered into a significantly large hole. Two pairs of beady eyes stared back at him. Before the tiny animals could even comprehend what they were seeing, Holiac swiped his paw in and killed them both quickly.
“One for you and one for me!” Holiac said triumphantly. He dragged the voles to Tearhernia.
“Good catch,” was the only thing she said. They crouched down to eat. “Why does Sepicate have to be so mean to us?” she said finally when they were well into their snack.
“I don’t know, Tearhernia,” he lied. He knew perfectly well why he hated them but was too guilty to admit it. It had all started long ago . . .
They were fighting with the German shepherds and losing miserably. Holiac had fought side by side with Sepicate, and big German shepherds were overpowering them. One had Holiac pinned down by his legs and even though he struggled, Holiac knew it was no use. The other had lunged for Sepicate’s throat and he was screaming for help. Holiac would have helped him but he couldn’t move. Sepicate’s desperate gaze rested on Holiac and he silently pleaded for him to save him. Sepicate didn’t know that Holiac couldn’t and he became furious. He wriggled away just in time and ran to safety. He didn’t lift a paw to help Holiac. So Holiac stayed where he was and finally, Jomoru saw him, and they both threw the German shepherd off. Sepicate had hated Holiac ever –
His thoughts were interrupted when Tearhernia suddenly sniffed the air and stiffened. Her eyes widened in dismay.
“Great Dane,” she breathed, “Oh, no.”
So Karmeya had finally met Holiac. He was so handsome and modest. It was a pity he ran away. She could have learned so much from him.
It was the afternoon. Everything was so peaceful. Karmeya treasured these days in between winter and spring. Warm, but not too warm. This was the life. Birdsong wisped through the budding branches of new leaves. Cries of geese coming home was music to her ears. Squirrels chattered from tops of trees and nibbled on nuts. The bustling sounds of the forest waking from its deep, winter sleep. Then she heard something else. The only thing that wasn’t so pleasant. It was the screaming and growling of battling dogs. And it was coming from bulldog territory.
Karmeya’s heartbeat quickened. Was Holiac okay? She wanted to help but her tribe would never let her. She was on her own. She trotted toward the Entrance as casually as she could even though she longed to run as fast as she could to save her newfound friend.
As soon as Karmeya was out of sight she dashed to the edge of her territory, not breaking her stride as she leaped across the border. The sounds of the battle grew louder and louder and then the dogs suddenly appeared. Dogs were fighting right and left, too absorbed in the battle to notice her. She searched for Holiac and he was not hard to find. Blood was welling up from many wounds on his belly but he was still fighting. Karmeya admired his bravery but she knew she needed to help him before he couldn’t be helped.
As she made her way to him she noticed that he was breathing heavily. Finally, he collapsed and the Great Dane fighting him howled with triumph and closed in for the kill. Karmeya launched herself straight at his exposed chest. The Dane yelped with surprise and backed off. After being scratched him a few times he barked with frustration and scampered away.
“Coward,” she muttered under her breath as she dragged Holiac’s limp body to the safety of an overhanging rock. Karmeya rolled Holiac onto his belly and placed her paws onto his chest. She had learned this trick from her grandmother when her cousin had hit his head on a concealed rock and almost died. She pushed her paws on his chest over and over again until he showed signs of life. Breath was coming back to him and he stirred slightly. He opened his eyes and they closed again with disappointment.
“You again,” he grumbled.
Karmeya had expected a better greeting. “Yes, and I just saved your life.”
“Oh, yeah. The Great Danes.”
“What happened?” Karmeya pressed.
“Tearhernia scented them and we warned the tribe – they were everywhere. We were doomed. We still are.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“The only thing you can do is get your other tribe members to ally with us but you can’t so . . .” He trailed off.
“I’m so sorry. But you have to stay here and lick your wounds while I get feathers for you to rest on.”
“Fine,” Holiac said with a sigh.
Karmeya quickly tracked down and killed three birds and dragged them back to Holiac.
He lifted his head weakly.
“Look,” Karmeya said, “I brought you some prey.”
Holiac said nothing as she carefully plucked the birds of feathers, handed two to Holiac, and took one for herself. Then she arranged the feathers on the ground to form a nest that was Holiac’s size. When she looked up, Holiac’s birds were uneaten.
“I’m not hungry,” Holiac explained.
“But you have to eat!” Karmeya exclaimed. “You need more strength if you are to keep fighting.”
“Fine,” Holiac grumbled. He nibbled at the ribs of one bird.
“Lie down here, Holiac,” Karmeya flicked her tail toward the nest of feathers. Holiac lay down. For a while, they both sat listening to the howls and screeches of battle.
Finally, they died down. Karmeya peeked out of the gloom. The clearing was deserted except for a lone Great Dane crouching at the body of a bulldog. It was dead, for sure.
Karmeya woke Holiac. They both silently crept into the sunshine. Holiac blinked a few times then his eyes widened in shock. He had obviously recognized the dead dog.
“That dog,” he whispered hoarsely, “killed my mother.”
Holiac bared his teeth, a low growl rumbling in his throat. Then he sprang toward the remaining Great Dane and latched himself onto its back.
The Dane howled in pain and anger. Yelping, it tried to throw Holiac off but he held on tight. Finally, the Great Dane threw him to the ground but that was not enough to finish him off.
Holiac scrambled up and leaped toward the dog with a bloodcurdling shriek, teeth bared. He darted under its belly and bit the Dane on the other side of its flank. The Great Dane tried to bring his paws down on his head but missed, and Holiac pulled his tail with his teeth, leaving the Dane clumsily lumbering in his wake. He was readying himself for a sharp nip to the ears when his paw skidded on a large pebble sticking up from the ground. Holiac fell on his chest and it knocked the wind out of him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Karmeya deliver a bite to the Great Dane only to have a kick throw her off balance. The Dane took advantage of that and kicked again this time sending her flying toward a tree trunk. She hit the wood with a sickening thud and slid downward where she lay sprawled on the ground.
The Dane turned to Holiac and pushed all of his weight on him. It sucked Holiac’s breath out of him even more and left him coughing and spluttering. He felt the blood rush to his head and a feeling of hopelessness enveloped him. His eyes felt like they were popping out of his skull. Every second of this felt like a lifetime. The sky itself was pressing down on him, pressing, pressing, pressing. . ..
Holiac awoke to find himself in a rather large area seemingly made of plant stems. He rubbed his bleary eyes. Plant stems with thorns, it looked like. He stood up and stretched his aching legs. He was not alone, for there was a young golden retriever lying beside him.
Was she dead? No.
Karmeya’s chest was slowly rising and falling. Her golden fur was slightly ruffled by the subtle breeze. Her sleek, lean body was penetrated by the scars from battles past.
With a horrible jolt, Holiac noticed something that was not natural. A puddle of crimson blood was forming just below her head. Holiac stared in horror at the wound, unsure of what to do. He thought quickly. There wasn’t anything he could find to quench the bleeding so he would have to lick the cut. Holiac squinted at it more closely. He brushed away the fur on Karmeya’s forehead and saw that there was a blue and purple splotch there with a deep scrape in the middle. Blood was welling up there and spilling out onto the ground.
Holiac licked the scrape, shuddering at the sour taste of blood. Karmeya stirred at his warm, wet tongue’s touch. She opened her eyes and surveyed the area drowsily. Her eyes met Holiac’s for a moment then wandered away.
“We got captured,” she sighed, “and now we’re prisoners.” The truth of the matter hit Holiac like a boulder falling out of the sky and crushing him. Of course!
Holiac swayed on his paws. What was going to happen to him? What was going to happen to Karmeya? Would the Great Danes kill them? Could they ever escape? If not, would they be held for ransom?
“Good, you’re awake.”
Holiac jumped and whirled around. The voice belonged to an unfamiliar Great Dane.
“Come,” he beckoned with his tail, “The Chieftain wants to see you.”
An unexpected wave of anger crashed down on Holiac. Who did that dog think he was to go ordering him around like that?
Holiac growled deep in his throat. Karmeya touched her muzzle to his. As if reading his mind, she said, “Don’t attack him, Holiac. We’ll only get into more trouble than we already are.”
Even though he knew that Karmeya was right, Holiac trembled with fury as he stalked out into the Great Dane tribe home.
It was very different than the golden retriever tribe home and yet very similar. The different places were all woven together with plant stems except, Karmeya noticed. The den that they had just come out of was the only one with thorns. But the places like the Eating Tree and the Healing Tree were instead the Eating Vine and the Healing Vine.
“Come on,” the Great Dane said, “We’ll never make it to the Chieftain Vine if you keep going at this pace.” So they trotted quickly along trying to ignore the curious stares they were beginning to receive. The three of them trotted up a path that was on the side of a small cliff, taking pawholds on various rocks. Finally they got to the top of the cliff.
The Chieftain Vine was very big and Karmeya couldn’t believe that it was for only one dog. But then, battle plans took place in the Chieftain Vine and, of course, Great Danes were very big dogs.
When they reached the Chieftain Vine, a small voice croaked, “And these are the prisoners?”
“Yes, sir,” the Great Dane said.
“Well, bring them in, then!”
They entered. The inside was dim and quiet. There was an old, old dog in the middle. His muzzle was completely white and he was rapidly losing hair.
“Well, if you haven’t heard, you are captured, and there’s no way you are going to escape, so don’t even think about that.” He smiled smugly. “And don’t think we’re going to let you go free now either. If you ever leave, it’ll come with a price.”
Karmeya gulped. They were going to be held for ransom!
The Chieftain turned to Holiac and Karmeya’s escort. “Bring my special warriors here. We have something to discuss.”
Holiac growled again. Karmeya sighed in exasperation. Couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?
They waited. The Chieftain thumped his tail on the ground. Holiac took deep breaths. Karmeya stared at the ground.
Finally, there was a movement outside and a huge surly Dane shuffled in. Then another and another until the whole Chieftian Vine was full.
“As you can see,” the Chieftain began, “We have these two very fine dogs here. They look like good warriors and I’m sure their tribes will pay very much to have them back.”
Karmeya hated his sarcasm. She also hated the fact that her tribe would be weakened by what it was becoming clear that they were going to do.
The Chieftain continued, “In fact, so much that we just might be able to access the Green Meadow from bulldog territory and the Hollow Oak from golden retriever territory.”
There was an excited murmur from the special warriors surrounding them.
“Which means that we would grow stronger and these very fine dogs’ tribes would grow,” he made a mocking sad face, “weaker.”
Holiac snarled, “Never!”
Then he did the most likely stupidest thing in his life. He charged the Great Dane Chieftain.
Holiac was a whirlwind of feet, paws, and teeth. He threw off every special warrior that tried to stop him. The warriors were strong, but Holiac was furious. Even the Great Danes knew that there was no stopping a raging bulldog.
Finally, Holiac reached the Chieftain who was, by now, stricken with fear. Holiac pushed him and he stumbled and fell over backwards. Holiac loomed over him, his paw to the Chieftain’s neck.
“You will do no such thing,” Holiac’s voice was dangerously calm.
“I-I-I assure you that I was only joking,” the Chiftain spluttered.
“Don’t lie, Chieftain.”
“S-Surely, it’s the-the truth!”
“I know it’s not and you as well.”
By this time one of the special warriors had crept up on Holiac. “Watch out,” Karmeya cried. Holiac whirled around but it was too late. The warrior smashed his massive paw into Holiac’s head, bruising his eye and cheek. Holiac flattened himself to the plant wall and ducked down but the warrior saw it coming. It clenched its teeth around Holiac’s ankle. He gasped in pain. The warrior swung him around and around and around. Finally, the warrior let go and Holiac went flying toward the entrance, his face frozen in a silent scream.
“No!” Karmeya screamed and threw herself in his way. She could not explain the sudden jolt of part intensity – part fear, part rage – inside of her. Karmeya herself was amazed that she was willing to die for Holiac. It was then that she realized that they weren’t just newfound friends. No, they were something more. Something much more.
Time seemed to happen too slowly. From the wide eyes of the Great Danes to the hurtling body of Holiac to the dirt that rose up when Karmeya skidded on it.
The collision smacked Karmeya out of her trance. Time sped up and Karmeya felt like she couldn’t keep up. Now it happened all too fast. She fell over backwards. Holiac rolled over her and continued his decent down the cliff. Karmeya had no choice. She jumped.
Karmeya used her arm to hook it around Holiac’s body. They both scrabbled against rocks until Holiac found a particularly large rock and grasped it, clawing with all his might. When Karmeya reached her paw up to grasp it, it wobbled and fell, and the pair of dogs went with it. Karmeya cast a pleading backwards glance to see a young Great Dane leaping towards them. He rolled onto his belly and put his paws and feet in the air.
They went nearer and nearer until they landed rather roughly on the dog’s belly. Karmeya felt the wind suck out of her. Dazed and relieved, she lay on the ground. They were starting to draw quite a crowd now. A puppy poked her with her nose and whispered, “Is she dead?”
“No, dear,” said its mother, “She’s just unconscious.”
I’m not unconscious! Karmeya stumbled to her paws. She couldn’t think of anything to say so she just stared at all the dogs around her. The puppy was a scraggly one with ribs that stuck out and Karmeya wondered if she was getting enough to eat. I’m hungry! she realized.
As if reading her mind, the dog that had saved her said, “Come on Holiac and Karmeya, let’s get something to eat.” Karmeya glanced over at Holiac. He was getting the same treatment as she; dogs were gathered around him as well.
Suddenly, the Chieftain stalked out of his Vine, stiff with fury.
“You will do no such thing,” he said coldly, “They will slowly starve to death unless their tribes pay double the original price.”
Double? Karmeya wasn’t sure her tribe could afford that. What will happen then?
Leah Rivera, 5th Grade
My Stay at a Haunted House
I’m in a magical place. Waterfalls of chocolate, huge majestic birds you can ride on, marshmallows dropping from the clouds above, someone in the distance screaming for me to wake up… I opened one eye. My mom was standing over me yelling in my ear that I needed to get up and get dressed. I opened the other eye and saw that she was wearing her long purple dress with complicated stitching and lace cuffs-for special occasions only. How is this a special occasion, I thought to myself. Today was moving day. Today we were going to pack our bags and move from New Hampshire to California. That’s right. We were moving across the country. My mom got offered a job at some university that I didn’t bother to learn the name of. Of course, it was so much better than her job as a teacher at Lincon Middle School, were “the pay was low and the trouble was high.”
“I want you out of bed and dressed by 7:30,” mom commanded. “Wear something nice. My goodbye party is starting and I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself.” After she left the room, I forced myself to get out of bed and threw on a T-shirt and some jeans. I opened my door and the smell of waffles cooking drifted into the room. I rushed down stairs just and ran through the kitchen door just as dad was slipping a waffle the size of my head onto a plate. When he saw me he smiled and handed me the plate. I poured a pool of syrup onto it and wolfed it down. “Bye, dad,” I called over my shoulder as I ran outside.
I lifted the garage door pulled out my bike and mounted it. I road down to Maple Street and took a left at the nearest stop sign. I found Adam playing in his yard. “Hi,” I called. He waved. He walked over to where I had parked my bike. “Today’s the day,” I said. “Today’s the day,” he answered. “I’m going to miss you,” he said. “Yeah.”
I was too shocked to say anything. I couldn’t believe he would just say it like that, out in the open. I didn’t know what to do. Should I change the subject? Should I just wait for him to say something? I was relieved when there was a frantic knock at the door. I looked out the window and saw that Linda was back.
“Your mom is here,” I told Tommy, and he got up and opened the door.
“Did you have fun?” Linda asked. I noticed that her mascara was smeared, like she’d been crying or something.
“Um, yeah. How was your date?”
“Oh,” Linda said. “It was fine.” She looked away.
“Mom,” Tommy said, “did he break up with you?”
“Yes, um, he did.” Linda let out a sniffle. “But it’s okay.” Tears are pouring down her cheeks. “You’ll find someone else,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said to me. “What do I owe you, thirty dollars?” She started to reach into her purse when a small picture fluttered out. I picked it up. It was of a handsome, blond man.
“Who is this,” I asked. “That’s…that’s my husband, or he used to be.” The tears were coming even faster now. “So here’s your money.” She handed me thirty dollars, but I refused.
“No, no, it’s okay,” I told her.
“Well,” she said, “we better go home, Tommy.” And they were gone.
I went back inside the house. I didn’t have anything to do, so I just sat on the blue chair until mom and dad came home. They both came home late tonight. Dinner was salmon. I hated salmon. I hated this house. I hated this life. I hated everything.
I started taking walks and going over to Sara’s house. Mom and dad would never know. I know the neighborhood better now. Besides, Sara’s house is much more…welcoming than mine. Much more welcoming. When I open the door, I am always greeted with the gentle scent of baking cookies. The living room looks like a cow’s worst nightmare, with cow-skin carpets, couches, chairs, and even a cow head on a plaque (it was a fake one – I asked), but cow-skinned objects are better than mothballs. I always made sure to get home before 6:00, so my parents never found out. And there were no little boys in blue suits.
Elizabeth Zheleznyakova, 5th Grade
HaikuSpring AwakeningA flower that bloomsOpens to a hummingbirdPink, red, and yellowA Kitten and a MouseA small gray kittenIntently watches a mouseThat scuttles by herThe WillowThe bending branchesSweep the ground gently, swaying,In a summer breezeMorningMist sweeps off the lakeBirds just beginning to singA chorus of frogsNever EndingThe azure blue skyStretches across the grasslandAs far as we seeWaterfallSpraying bluest jewelsDroplets of water in airFall to rocks belowCherry BlossomO whitest petalsHow do thou so gracefullyTwirl down to the ground?Celestial RiverThe sparkling of starsSweeps across the universeGlimmering carpet
The dull lantern light illuminated the rain that was drumming on the rough asphalt of the winding San Francisco streets. Through the fog that swept across the banks of the San Francisco Bay there was an occasional spurt of white that was quickly gone – a seagull. The only source of bright light on that bleak, cold October evening was the lights of the Golden Gate Bridge. They reflected merrily off the surface of the water, penetrating the rising mist. Every few minutes or so, a passing car on the bridge or on Mission Street would drive its blinding headlights over the waving palm trees, over the orderly lines of multicolored houses, over the occasional bird perching on a wet tree branch.
A small face pressed against the rain-soaked window of one of the cheerful orange houses on the block. The girl looked about seven years old. At first glance, she seemed like a cuddly, innocent little thing, which was partly true. But when you looked closer, you could make out serious hazel eyes, and long, slender fingers that looked like they were suited for playing the harp. Legs that were too long for her body, like a colt’s, were hanging off the couch she was kneeling on. Her breath clouded the glass as she watched something intently that was out on the water of the bay. It was a large yacht glimmering with bright lights.
At that moment, the girl was the loneliest person in the world. In time, she would come to love the new place she had moved into, but only with her own brilliance and the help of a friend she would soon come to meet.
Never doubt yourself. Never forget your dreams. Never give up what you live for.
By Dhalin Green, 6th Grade
My Uncle’s House
One time, I went over to my uncle`s house with my cousins, Kendrick, 13, Armarni, 13½, and Hunter, 14. It was movie night; we watched all scary movies like Insidious, Devil, Woman in the Black Dress, and my favorite, Missed Call (it’s kind of old but, it’s still my favorite).
The movie that really wasn’t scary was Devil – it was creepy, not scary. We also watched Scary Movie 1, 2, 3, and 4. We stayed up all night and didn’t fall asleep until 8:02am. When we woke up it was 2:13pm! So, we decided to all take showers, get on our clothes, and walk to Royal Farms to get a couple snacks.
I got a bag of cheddar fries, Armarni got chocolate and ice cream mint gum, Kendrick got Jalapeno Cheetos, and Hunter got a Tastykake, chips, and a Mountain Dew. We decided to walk home, eat our snacks, and go to the park to play on the basketball court that we passed on the way to Royal Farms. After we played on the basketball court we went back home and played video games.
After that, we played this game that we made up that is kind of like hide and go seek. There is a person that has a belt and tells us not to take his shoe, so while that person is counting somebody has to take the shoe and hide with it. Everybody else has to hide except for the person counting, then that person with the belt has to find the people and find the person hiding with the shoe. When he finds the people he hits them with the belt, but not too hard! Then the person that was found first has to count with the belt.
After we played, we ate spaghetti, chicken, and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
By Daniel Imhoff, 7th Grade
Entry into the world of Terra Nova, a virtual world that takes up most of people’s free time, was a big deal. When a child is born, an account is created for the child, but the game itself cannot be played until the child has gained enough hand-eye coordination to operate a mouse and keyboard. Once this happens, parents are free to pursue their avatar lives in the world, as Terra provides a free education program, compiled by college professors around the world. The real world that is.
Every child is required to be in school for seven hours of real world time. After that they are free to put on the armor and equipment and adventure in the very expansive world of Terra Nova. For most kids, the game doesn’t really begin until after grade school. This is the point where they can create their Advatar, or Adventuring Avatar. They can choose between general fantasy races, as well as some from science-fiction. The classes are expansive as well. The list of jobs and skills one could take span several pages, enough to fill a small book.
Today was the day Max could create his Advatar. He and his friend Ben had planned a dual creation time. They could create their ’Tars side by side, see any changes made to the others, and have as much fun as they wanted.
Max had everything planned. He would go phantasy, the faction that allowed for fantasy races. The factions affected only race choice, as the worlds of science and magic were evenly spread throughout the game. Max’s dream was to be a spell-sword, a mercenary adept with both magic and technology, and skilled with different weapons.
In this case, the half-elf was a good race choice. They were adept at magic, being from the elves, but had a bit of human in them, making them proficient in guns and swords as well. They also were adept at stealth, which was why there were many half-elf thieves or rouges. The halfings were still the optimal choice for a thief, however.
Ben did not want to be a thief though. He woke up fully awake. He rushed through his breakfast, a small meal of toast and eggs. His parents were already up and logged. His mom was a banker, keeping track of player’s items and gold for a price. He and his family had unlimited banking access, as his mother worked for one of the largest banking corporations in the world.
His dad was a lawyer, handling legal cases and economic disputes, as Player Vs. Player combat was allowed only in the arenas. He hurried to his desk and turned on his monitor. He watched it boot up with the same thrill he felt every time he was about to enter the game world. This time, however, the buzz was a lot stronger. He entered his ID and nearly screamed with excitement as the game booted up. This was one day he would never forget.
By Jayla Jackson, 7th Grade
Darkness Turns to Light
Something in the misty hollows of a rock in a small forest just three miles away from the village.
I feel this… this weird sensation on my neck.
Then I pause – and I realize – it is the hair on the back of my neck. Standing on end, to let me know that something is abnormal in the air.
My focus is still on the rock, the only light in the entire forest of darkness.
I move the rock, and my eyes gaze upon what looks like a secret room in the forest floor.
“Should I go in?”
When I do I’m surrounded by light, light which covers me and turns my clothes from dark, burgundy colored shags into a rich, but pure, simple, silk, white dress.
Suddenly… it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can breathe again.
But alas, I realize – this mere gesture is just a dream as I wake up in my cast iron bed, creaking and squeaking as the light from the outside peers through my curtains and into my dark house.
So now I know that not everything is DARK…but most things have the ability to turn into LIGHT.
Women of the Marines
I was deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan, in 2005. My name is Wanida Sparks. I’m the original owner of Sparks Incorporated, and the original owner of Industrial Sparks. But I had to shut both of my almost successful businesses down due to heavy competition. As a result, I had to enlist in the Marines to make an income for my daughter, Laura, and myself. She is only 3 months old. Her father Jeffery McFellen passed away due to heart failure and lung cancer (he was a smoker). So I had to leave my baby with my mother, probably knowing that I might never return to see that pretty baby girl grow up and become a heart-rending young woman.
“Why do you have to do this Wanida? There… there are plenty of other jobs out there. I’ll persuade my boss to give you a job at the factory. You know him, he knows you, and I know him. Why wouldn’t he give you a job?” That’s what my mother said on the night my husband died and I enlisted.
“Mom, I told you. If I get a job and you have a job, there will be no one to watch Laura, and plus it’s only a year that I’m going to be deployed so you can get time off of work in order to watch Laura. It’s only a year – what could happen to me in a year?”
“Everything! You could step on a land mine! A foreigner could shoot you in the head! Or you could even die in your sleep due to stress!”
“Mother, end of discussion. I’m going to be fine.”
My mother took a quick yet gentle sigh over the phone. Her voice sounded like she was quivering, and she was crying. My mother was always a crier – it wasn’t anything new.
“Okay, whatever you choose. But you have to take your daughter to the Rainforest Café.”
She hung up the phone. And then I realized that after tomorrow, I’d probably never see my mother or my daughter again. No daughter can live without ever remembering or seeing her mother.
By Mikayla Woodyear, 7th Grade
I’m Just Like You
You might think that I’m different from you or anybody else at this school, but the truth is I’m just like you. You might think you’re prettier than me; I don’t look like you. But the truth is I’m just like you. Yeah, I’m not the best in math or social studies and you think you’re better at it than me, but the truth is I’m just like you. You might have better taste in clothes then me, but under them I’m just like you.
Okay we all know that you are “Ms. Popular,” and you think that you’re better then everyone in here, but truth is we are all just like you.
For all of those that have no meaning to her, just reject the status quo. You aren’t any different than anybody else and don’t let anyone tell you differently. You are you; don’t let anybody or anyone get in your way.
Do you know what all of the people in here need to do?
You all need to stop the labels and go on with your life.
I am just like you. Only you can be you and I can be me.