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Lightning

Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:21 pm by queengoogoo

In the evening when the day is done
And no more is the light from the sun,
I look upon the stars Heaven high
And find gratefulness deep inside.
But then there are nights a storm rolls in,
And the twinkles disappear above the lightning.
The thunder accompanying the flash,
Lets me embrace the rain's splash.
These strikes pealing within the darkness
Makes me feel I have been blessed.
For there is …

[ Full reading ]

Comments: 1

Suggestions, Opinions?

Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:07 pm by cuthugas

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to see if anyone has anything to say now that you've had a chance to use the forum a bit.

Is there anything you don't like? Something you would like to see changed? This site gives us a lot of flexbility to modify just about everything you see, so if you can't stand something, or have a suggestion on how something should look/work, let us know.

Comments: 0

New Forum Format

Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:46 am by Admin

Hello Everyone,

This is the new format for our WVW Writing Forum. The hope is that this will better facilitate the membership's need for interaction, and will also act as a centralized location for news and information about WVW upcoming events and news. Please feel free to start a conversation, ask for advice, or just voice your opinion about a topic. Please thoroughly read our rules and …

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Comments: 2


First Chapter of a NANOWRIMO I began and need to finish

 :: Prose :: Fiction

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First Chapter of a NANOWRIMO I began and need to finish

Post by cuthugas on Thu May 10, 2012 2:16 pm

Hey Everybody!

Okay, I'll be the guinea pig. I shall be the first to post some of my work. This is a story that I began during NANOWRIMO, but had to stop because I didn't have a clear idea of where the story was going. I still am not sure, but it's coming in bits and pieces.


I have only done a single edit on this piece, so I'm sure there is plenty that I've missed. I submitted this to my writer's group, but have not made their corrections yet either.

I'm trying to determine if the writing works, are the characters believable, does it flow... You know, the basics.

Also, I have skin of solid steel, so don't be afraid to really pick it apart. I love that, and it is often more beneficial than praise. Not that I would scorn any praise!
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Re: First Chapter of a NANOWRIMO I began and need to finish

Post by cuthugas on Thu May 10, 2012 2:24 pm

Untitled Manuscript—Ch. 1


Trees slid by, a green and brown blur as Jenna stared out the car window. The city was replaced by small towns, and then faded into vast farmlands. As they dwindled, mountains loomed in the distance, covered by thick growths of trees and outcroppings of stone cresting over the rises like spines of granite. Jenna slept for much of the trip, in and out of waking as her dad tunelessly hummed songs she had long ago grown tired of, but they calmed her nevertheless. When she woke again, they had pulled into a long driveway that wound up through a stand of trees. At the end, an old two-story house stood huddled at the foot of a large forested hill.

“Okay, kiddo. We’re finally here.” He reached over and patted her knee. She rolled her eyes and opened the door with a sigh.

“Great. We’re here. Where exactly is here again?”

“Jenna. Don’t be like that. You know exactly where we are.” Her father lifted the hatch and began pulling out their bags.

Jenna looked at the house. The paint was peeling, the shutters were crooked, and the porch had a sunken look that made her feel dizzy, like a funhouse. She grabbed her bags and followed her dad onto the porch. The boards creaked and for a moment, Jenna thought they might fall right through, and she hoped they would so maybe they could just go home. But the aged wood held. Her dad slid the key into the lock, jiggled it a few times, and then pushed the door open.

Jenna followed her father into the high-ceilinged foyer of the house. There was a coat of dust on every surface, and cobwebs lounged in the highest corners. She dropped her bags with a thud.

“Ugh. This is like the Addams Family house.”

“It’s not that bad.” He looked at his daughter as convincingly as possible. She looked back with an expression that told him he was full of it.

“I’m going to explore,” she said, pulling out her cell phone. Of course, there was no signal, so calling Sam was out of the question until they could get landline service.

She used the phone’s video camera to document the house. First, she made her way to the right, into what would be a family room. A large fireplace stood at the other end, the mantle reaching nearly to the top of the 12-foot ceiling. Ornate carvings of animals, people, and buildings decorated the rich auburn of the oak. She turned and went into the room to the left of the foyer. Her dad was gone, probably outside getting some of the few boxes of their stuff they had packed. These were only their essentials. A moving truck with the rest would be coming the day after tomorrow. The idea that her possessions would no longer be in New York depressed her again. She missed her books and her room. And, her mother. Of course.

The room on the left was the dining room. A large wooden table occupied most of the space in the room, and it too was ornately decorated with carvings. She walked around the table to the room on the far right of the dining room. The kitchen was only moderately small, with old-fashioned appliances and glass faced cabinets. The sickly teal walls made her shudder. At the end of the kitchen was a door leading to a wrap-around porch, and beyond that the small back yard bordered by the forest covering the mountainside. Just to the right of the back door was a small door, presumably, this lead to the basement.

Jenna made her way to the staircase in the foyer. Beside the staircase was a little arched doorway at the end of the hallway, but when she tried the handle, it wouldn’t turn. Locked. Her dad probably had the key. She looked through the keyhole but could see only darkness. She shrugged her small shoulders and went up the staircase. At the top, there was a small walkway and three doors along the wall. There were doors at either end of the walkway, and two doors on her side of the hallway. She explored each of these rooms, which consisted of a bathroom, three bedrooms, and a dusty closet that contained an old-fashioned vacuum with a braided power cord. In the ceiling of the closet she saw a square of plywood. This was most likely the attic. Not somewhere she cared to explore.

She looked at the rooms again, comparing them carefully, considering the views and the placement of the closet, and finally decided which was to be her room. Naturally, she chose the largest of the three. Her dad wouldn’t mind. After all, it was his fault they were here, so he wasn’t likely to deny her such a simple request. There wasn’t a bed or any dressers, but there was a full length Cheval mirror in the corner. Her reflection stared back at her. She tucked her hair over her ear and regarded herself. She was pretty, not beautiful, but pretty. That was okay with her. She never really liked the beautiful people much anyway. But, her mother had been beautiful.

“Jenna,” her dad called from downstairs.

“Ye-es,” she intoned.

“Come down her for a moment, please.”

Even though he couldn’t see her, she rolled her eyes again. She turned to go downstairs when she heard something creak. She faced the room and looked. The closet door was closed. The window rested comfortably in place. The only other thing in the room was the mirror. Jenna walked to the mirror. She examined the intricate border—more of those carvings—then reached out a tentative finger and poked the mirror. It tilted back on its hinges and emitted a rusty squeak. Satisfied, she closed her door and trotted downstairs.

Her dad was standing at the bottom.

“So?” he said, his eyebrows raised expectantly.

Jenna stopped halfway down and put her hand on her hip.

“So—what?” A smile crept into the corners of her mouth.

“Funny. What do you think?”

“I think it’s creepy, old, smelly, dusty, and creepy.” She looked around cautiously, as if a spider might leap on her any moment.

“I thought you might say that, so I bought you something.” Knowing that the key to any girl’s heart was gifts, her dad pulled a small box from behind his back.

Before she could stop herself, her eyes widened with excitement, then she remembered she was supposed to be angry about the whole thing. She furrowed her brow and twisted her lips into a sneer.

“What is it? A bribe?”

Her dad laughed, his smile broad, so broad that it extended to his eyes, making little wrinkles appear at the corners.

“No. You are always so suspicious of everything.”

“Keeps me alive. You never can tell when paranoia might come in handy.” Finally, she couldn’t keep it in any longer. She squealed and hopped down the remaining steps. For a moment, he saw her mother in her expression and he remembered Jenna as she had been before her mother died.

She reached for the box and he pulled it away at the last moment. She scowled then punched him in the gut.

“Ooomph!” He feigned injury and held out the box in supplication. Jenna ripped at the paper and ribbon and lifted the lid. For a moment, she was unsure of the contents. She did not quite know what she had been expecting, but it wasn’t this. It was a key. It was small silver key, about the length of her pinky. When she pulled it out of the box it trailed a demure silver chain behind it.

“Its beautiful. Is it a necklace?” She held it up to her neck.

“Well, not exactly. I just thought you might not lose it if I put a chain on it.”

“Ha ha. I don’t lose things that often,” she said.

Her dad put his finger to his chin and pondered. “Which phone are you on again?” Jenna looked at her toes and murmured something under her breath while twirling the key on its chain.

“Sorry, what was that?”

She groaned and yelled, “Five okay? I’m on phone number five. Geesh. I get it. I lose stuff.” She smiled despite herself. “So, what does this key go to anyway?”

Her dad smiled and said nothing. He pointed to the little arched door at the back of the stairs. Jenna’s curiosity overcame any feelings of misery about the move and she ran to the door. Her dad called after her.

“I’ll be bringing in more boxes. You take your time.”

Jenna ignored him. She stood at the door with the key in her hand, hesitant. She tried to force herself to imagine what was in that room. Her mind flitted from one thought to another until finally she settled on the idea that it was probably a room with a puppy. She had always wanted a dog, but living in a small New York apartment with a dog was not realistic. Her hand shaking, she pushed the key into the lock and turned it. There was a slight click, the lock working smoothly, and she was able to turn the handle. The door swung inward, and for a moment, she was breathless.

It was a library. The room was large; the ceiling was far above her, an ornate chandelier hung from the center. On the floor was a extravagant rug with intricate weaving and stitching. A red leather chair sat squat in the corner, and a large mahogany desk stood in front of a bank of large bay windows, complete with a reading chaise in the bottom of the window. But, best yet were the books. Floor to ceiling bookshelves lined each wall, the oak carved in a similar manner to the dining table and mantle. Every shelf was filled with leather-bound volumes toting many names she recognized, Whitman, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Poe; and many more she did not.

She walked into the room, taking it all in, running her fingers along the spines of the books. Behind the desk was another red leather chair. She pulled it out and sat in it, the leather creaking with her weight. She ran her hands over the smooth top of the desk, the wood polished to a mirror shine. Jenna spun the chair around and looked out the towering windows. Outside she saw the same backyard, the trees climbing up and away above the house toward the peak of the mountain.

There was a quiet knock. She turned and saw her dad at the door, ducking to keep from hitting his head on the low threshold.

“What do you think?”

Jenna leaned back in the chair and put her feet on the desk. She glimpsed a small look of anxiety on her father’s face, but it quickly faded.

“Its—okay,” she said smirking. Her dad gave her a look that said, is that all? Jenna dropped her feet to the carpet and jumped out of the chair. She ran over to her dad and threw her arms around his neck. “Its awesome! How did you find this?”

“Well,” he said laughing at her, “I looked at all the houses for sale in the area. This was the last one I looked at, and when I opened this door, here it was.” She looked at him dumbfounded.

“You just happened to find it? That is unbelievable!” Then, a look of concern crossed her features. “But, how did you afford this? This room by itself must have cost a fortune.”

Her dad pushed her away to arms length and looked at her.

“Don’t worry about it. Besides, the seller gave it to me at a good price. Something about needing to sell it right away. I asked them if they wanted the books, and they refused. Told me to take the whole thing.”

Jenna gave him a hard look.

“Don’t worry about it. Really. Everything is fine.” She looked dubious. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?”

“Yeah, because usually it has bad breath.” She punched him again, this time with a little more force.

“Alright champ. Enjoy your new room. Its all yours.” He patted her head, a gesture from her childhood that made her feel safe and alone all at the same time. She shook her head as if a thought occurred to her.

“But, don’t you need an office?”

He shook his head. “Nah. I’ll take one of the extra bedrooms for an office. I don’t need much room. It’s all yours.” He looked at her for a long, silent moment, then turned abruptly and left her to her library. She knew it was a lie. He always needed lots of room, grading students’ papers, working on a grant, writing a story, grading research papers, and creating lesson plans. But he did this for her, and she wouldn’t make light of it, no matter how upset she was about this move.

When she turned back to the windows, there were tears in her eyes.



She had until Monday to get used to the new house before she started at her new school, an event she was sure would be the undoing of her teenage life. Not only did she have to move from a great school and all of her friends in New York, but her dad also had chosen some tiny little hick-town in West Virginia as their new home. He cited some statistics about the cost of living, and how the University he would be teaching at had a great Literature program. All she heard was that she would be surrounded by rednecks and white trash. She looked forward to her own death more than school on Monday.

The movers came a day early, and she was able to get her bedroom set up just the way she wanted it. And, she had moved in all of her books from her little library into the new library. Orson Scott Card, Vonnegut, Goldman, Gardner, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman were nestled next to the old books that inhabited the shelves long before she came. There was a disparity in the styles of binding from the old books with the new, but instead of creating discord, there seemed to be sense of unity she loved. It was easy to relax in her new room, to sit in the plush leather chair behind her desk and look out her windows.

“Very clever dad,” she said to herself. He knew it would be harder for her to hate this place if she had this room, this wonderful and relaxing room. The power of books. He knew that better than anyone, and had instilled the love of them in her when she was very little, reading Shakespeare for a bedtime story, and quoting Whitman whilst walking in the park.

Her dad, James, had always been clever.

Jenna replaced the book of poems she had been reading, settling it gently into its place among Blake, Wordsworth, and Joyce. She walked to the door and pulled the chain from her neck, the keys weight already familiar to her. She locked the door and put the chain back around her neck. The feeling of having a room of her own was intoxicating. She knew her dad would have loved to have it for himself—all those wonderful books— but it was too strong not to give in to it.

They had spent the entire first and second day unpacking their things, moving into their rooms, and getting the house ready to be lived in. Her dad chose the smaller of the two remaining rooms for his bedroom, and used the far room as his office. This suited Jenna just fine. Her dad loved to play music while he was in his office. Loud music. He said it helped him concentrate, but she had no idea how it was possible to have any kind of coherent thought in that din. With the help of the movers, she had fully furnished the room, her four post bed looking very handsome in its new home. She decided to keep the Cheval mirror. It suited her, and gave her room the regal feeling of a princess’s bedchamber.

Just as she was getting ready to brush her hair in front of it her father called out from the dining room. She answered, and went to close the door when something caught her eye in the mirror. Something had moved. She would swear to it. Her fingers gripped the solid frame of the door, and she opened it farther. Her room was still empty, just as she had left it. Nothing was disturbed. Nothing was wrong. Shrugging her shoulders, she closed the door and headed downstairs. In her room, the mirror moved slightly, as if there had been a breeze, but the window sash was closed tight. The surface of the mirror darkened for a moment, but then it passed and everything was normal again.



Jenna tromped down the stairs and stopped when she saw her father. Normally, he wore a pair of pleated khaki pants, a polo shirt, and sneakers. This was his uniform, day in, day out. The only change would be his socks, which he liked to make as visually loud and obnoxious as possible. He was the only person she knew that had socks covered in large black and purple spirals. Now, however, he wore something that was loud all over. Denim. Lots of denim. He wore a denim shirt, some denim jeans, and even a denim jacket.

“Good lord. What in God’s good name are you wearing?” The phrase made James smile. His wife, Sarah, had used that one many times before.

“Its cool right?”

“Its cool the same way that genocide is cool.

He looked confused for a moment, then said, “But genocide isn’t cool.”

“Exactly Daddy. Exactly.”

He shrugged this off and continued with his original thought.

“Hey, why don’t we go into town? We still need some staples, and it would be nice to get the lay of the land. Don’t you think?” He put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed.

“So, there is a real town out there somewhere? Not just a bunch of stupid farms or pigs or whatever?” Her dad ignored her sullen stare and continued merrily.

“We’ll stop at the grocery store first. There’s a Wal-Mart—”

“Of course there is. Can’t be in bum-fuck Egypt without a Wally World now could we?”

A look of seriousness crossed his face.

“Hey. What have I told you about language like that?”

As always, she rolled her eyes, then crossed her arms, her shoulders slumping.

“I know, I know.”

“Yeah?”

“Clichés are the work of lazy fucking writers.”

“Exactly. Now, let’s saddle up little lady,” her dad said, slapping his thigh.

“No dad. No.” She shouldered passed him and headed out to the car. James reached over and pulled a cowboy hat from the coat rack. Jenna had bought it as a Halloween gift, never intending it to ever be used for any other purpose than a silly costume. As he walked out to the car Jenna saw him, and he could see her reaching over and pushing the door lock button and knew she would refuse to open the door until he relinquished the hat and removed at least one piece of denim.



They drove down the gnarled driveway, the Volvo’s suspension groaning in response to each pothole and rut. Jenna grabbed the Jesus Bar at the top of her door and looked at her dad. He smiled and turned on the radio. Nothing. He hit the scan button and the digital numbers raced from one end of the frequency to the other without finding anything. It settled on 81.1, a channel of nothing but static, in mute defeat.

“Must be the mountains, blocking the reception,” her dad said, looking at her apologetically. Jenna let out a long melodramatic sigh.

“Just one more thing that is horribly wrong with this place.” She looked up into the trees that lined both sides of the road; the only thing visible was deep shadows and the corpses of long felled trees, moss growing on their remains like mold.

Finally, the wheels found the blacktop and James turned left and headed toward town. They passed several houses, or at least they were supposed to be houses, but to Jenna, they looked more like junkyards, each yard containing some assortment of refrigerators, broken and rusted cars, a sofa or two, and even a claw foot bathtub filled with dirt. This was, presumably, to be used as a flower garden, but instead weeds sprouted from the pale soil. Jenna sneered.

“How do these people live like this? Its gross.”

“Well, honey, not everyone lives in condos and townhouses. This is what it’s like in the real world. Be careful not to look down your nose at people who are different than yourself.”

“Yeah, well, if you ever see me living in a trailer with a goat for a lawnmower and a bathtub for a garden, shoot me where I stand and bury me in my bathtub.”

Her dad snorted, then started singing Proud Mary as they sped along. It was only a fifteen-minute drive into the town of Ravenswood. Jenna had hoped maybe there would be some semblance of modernity, but instead she was met with low-slung buildings on a single main street. Many of the businesses were empty, or closed signs hung in the windows. The buildings were old, but handsome and quaint in a way, though she would never admit it, and it did have a kind of romantic small-town charm. And, they had a bookstore, Aesop’s. It approximately thirty seconds to go from one end of Main Street to the other. They turned right and headed back out of town toward Wal-Mart.

Jenna walked listlessly through the department store, looking with disgust at the tacky clothes and out of date styles, and longed for the cutting edge fashion of Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and FAO Swharz.

She made her way to the book s department and browsed through the latest best sellers. Nothing really interested her, so she went to the young adult section and scanned the titles. She had already read most of them. From her peripheral vision she noticed a group of three boys staring at her. With a quick glance she could tell they were not the sort of boy from which it was flattering to receive stares. Leering, disgusting…rednecks. That was the best description. The largest boy wore a flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off, ragged strings hanging down over his massive arms, not muscular, just big. A pair of dirty jeans with holes in the knees adorned his equally thick thighs, and mud-caked work boots, untied, probably doesn’t even know how to tie them, the size of cinder blocks were on his enormous feet. The others were no better. One was wraith thin, his spindly arms held stringy muscles, and his share blue eyes hovered above an aquiline nose. The third one was a slathering mass of fat held together by his clothes. His dull eyes lay imbedded in deep pockets of flabby skin. She averted her gaze and walked away. After wandering through several aisles she noticed them again. Were they following her? There must be nothing better to do in this town. Jenna spied her dad turn a corner in the grocery aisles and made her way to him, trying not to break into a dead run. She found him comparing two different brands of crackers with an intensity that made her forget her would-be stalkers.

“Dad, they’re just crackers. Pick one.”

He turned to her with a look of confusion and said weakly, “Your mother used to do all the shopping.”

Jenna smiled sympathetically. She sometimes forgot how human her father was. Often, she thought of her parents more as a protective entity than as people. That all changed with her mother’s death. She walked to him and put her hand on his arm.

“I know Dad. It’s okay.”



After leaving Wal-Mart, Jenna asked if they could stop at the bookstore, and being a bibliophile himself, her father readily agreed.

Jenna was surprised at the amount of books the little store was able to hold. It looked as if they had removed the ceiling and floor from above and created a large loft area with bookshelves that reached to the second floor ceiling. Ladders stretched to the shelves with rails, allowing customers to venture to the higher items. In the back of the bookstore was a small café that served coffee, tea and small cakes. In a darkened corner was a small stage that held a microphone, a barstool, and a guitar stand cradling a wonderfully old looking Martin, and on the other side a new Takimine. Her dad played guitar and taught her a few chords, but she had no knack for it, though she felt she wrote a mean ballad or two.

After browsing the stacks for over an hour, she made her way back to the café’s counter and rang the bell. A young man came out from the kitchen. He was handsome, with bright green eyes and a chiseled jaw. His friendly look made Jenna relax.

“Hi. What can I get for you?” he said, in a soft tenor. Jenna lost her voice for a moment, and then stammered a hello in return.

“Just a cappuccino?”

“No problem. Coming right up.”

“Thanks.”

She watched as he prepared her drink, the careful way he measured the milk and monitored the steam. Her eyes traced the broad sweep of his shoulders and the muscles that moved with serpentine grace just beneath the fabric of his shirt. She had had a boyfriend in New York, but had broken up with him before her mom died. He had been talking to Jess on his phone, and sexting the little slut when everyone could clearly see they were together. But he deserved just as much blame. He was an ass. She was still daydreaming when the boy set down the cup, startling her.

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.” His eyes were kind, and deep.

“No, my fault. Sorry, I was spacing out a bit. Thanks.”

“No problem.” He went to turn back to his work, but then abruptly turned back to her and put his arms on the counter, brining him eye level with her. “You’re new here, right?”

She was in the middle of sipping her cappuccino, looked at him over the rim and put the cup down too hard on the saucer, making a loud clunking sound. Jenna looked quickly to make sure she hadn’t broken it, and then met his gaze again.

“Yeah. Just moved in yesterday Saturday.”

He was looking at her with a bemused smile. She tilted her head and furrowed her brow.

“What?”

He smiled again and laughed.

“You have some…” he said, and pointed to his lip. Jenna’s eyes widened and she could feel her face flush.

“Shit.” She grabbed the napkin beneath her saucer and cup and pulled it hastily to her mouth, flinging the dish and cup to the floor in the process. There was the unmistakable crash of breaking glass and everyone in the store looked in her direction. She closed her eyes and her face pinched into an expression of utter embarrassment. “Shit. Again.” Jenna put her chin to her chest and looked up at him, a puppy dog look she had perfected on her dad.

She looked down at the destruction, brown liquid soaking into the porous wood floor. “Sorry.” She was surprised when he laughed again.

“Hey, its no problem. I break something at least once a day. The owner’s my uncle, so he cuts me some slack. No worries.” He bounded over the bar with little effort and began picking up the white shards, and mopping the spill with his rag.

Jenna hopped off the stool and bent to the floor.

Here, let me help.” She reached out and took hold of a piece of glass.

“No, its okay—“

She gasped, dropped the sliver of glass, and looked at her finger. A drop of blood welled up from the tiny hole in her skin.

“Here, let me see.” He took her hand, gently, and looked at the wound. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything in there. Just a little cut.” He held her hand for a long moment before letting it go. For a moment, Jenna forgot to breath and became light headed. When he let go, she let her hand linger between them before pulling it back to her, protecting it.

“Thanks.”

He finished picking of the broken glassware, then walked around to the back of the bar. She heard them being dropped into a bin. When he returned, he was carrying a piece of pie, which he set down in front of her. Jenna looked at him questioningly. He shrugged.

“For you.”

“So, if a customer break some dishes you get a free piece of pie?”

He shrugged again.

“Only the pretty ones,” he said. Jenna could feel her face flush again. She took a bite.

“Oh, I love apple pie.” She closed her eyes and relished the sweetness of the dessert. .

“I’m glad. I made it myself.”

Jenna’s eyes shot open.

“You did not!”

“I did. I love to bake.”

“This is really good,” she said. “Where did you learn to bake like that?”

At this, the boy lowered his eyes, remembering something.

“My mom. She loved to bake.” A small smile crept into the corners of his mouth. “She said that anything that was going wrong in your life could be made a little better with a good piece of pie.” Jenna recognized that reticent look.

“I lost my mom too,” she said, softly.

“You did?” He looked surprised. “How did you?”

“I guess we recognize our own,” she said, and laughed a little. “Its funny how quickly the memory of her is fading. It has only been about six months, and I have to get out the picture album just to remember her face. Isn’t that horrible?”

The young man smiled and looked at her, his gaze steady and deep.

“No. Not at all. My mom’s been gone since I was about ten. But, I have a hard time remembering her too. I do remember a lot of little stuff though, like her recipes she taught me, and her smell. She always smelled like cinnamon, or chocolate.” This made Jenna laugh again. She held out her hand.

“My name’s Jenna.”

He took her hand and shook it.

“Samuel. Its nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

Jenna’s father called to her and motioned that it was time to go.

“I guess I’ll see you later,” he asked.

“I hope so.” She took another quick bite of pie and said, “Thanks again for the pie.”

“Anytime.”















Jenna sat up in bed. It was still dark, the stars twinkling in the distance out her window. Her covers were gone, and instead of the pajama pants and tee shirt she had been wearing she was now in a lacy white chemise. The curtains billowed like sails, moving slowly with the wind, but her window was shut. She could see that it was shut. A dim light filled the room; even with darkness outside she was able to see perfectly well, as if the light were coming from the very walls and floors of her room. She slid to the edge of her bed, letting her legs flow over the edge and down to the floor, then jerked them back. The floor was freezing. The room itself was comfortable enough, but the floor felt like a slab of ice. She touched the floor again with her toes, trying to acclimate them to the temperature. After a moment she was able to stand. Each step burned like frost. Crossing the room sent motes of dust careening through an unseen current of air, creating a tidal wave. When she touched to door handle it was cold as well. The door opened silently, and she stepped out into the hallway. Out there, every surface seemed to be covered in a thin film of frost, and a light snow was falling. Jenna looked up to the ceiling but could only see darkness.

Each step she took left a little footprint in its wake. Snow drifted and settled into her hair as she made her way down the stairs. Despite the cold, she ran her hand down the bannister, sending a shower of ice to the floor in ribboning cascades. When she reached the foot of her steps the front door began to open, a pale light filled the room. Jenna stood transfixed. The door opened fully and she had to shield her eyes from the light. Then, a figure began to emerge. When it reached the threshold it stopped and the light began to fade.

It was her mother. She wore only a hospital gown, and her hair hadn’t begun to fall out yet. Her face was peaceful, but there was a seriousness beneath it that made Jenna feel uneasy.

“Mom? Is that really you?” She stepped toward her mother, but stopped when her mother raised her hand, palm toward Jenna, motioning her to stop. She took a step backward and nearly tripped over the first step. Fear was beginning to well up in her mind. “What is it?”

Jenna’s mother lowered her hand. Then, her eyes began to darken, the pupils expanding to fill the entire eye. Her skin became translucent, her cheeks sunk in and her lips drew tight over her teeth. The transformation took no more than a few moments, but to Jenna it was years, trapped in that moment, watching her mother die all over again. When it was finished, her mother stood there, a gaunt skeleton with skin stretched tightly over her bones like an ill-fitting dress. After a long silence, Jenna too horror-stricken to move, and her mother standing with her head drooping and arms hanging limply at her sides, her hand raised again, but this time she was pointing, her gnarled finger crookedly aimed at the little door past the stairs. Jenna turned and walked toward the library.

The door was locked. She reached for the key that hung always from her neck, but it was gone. She struggled with the handle but it wouldn’t open. Tears of frustration and anger slid down her checks, turning to ice as they fell to the floor. Jenna took a step back from the door. Around its edges light began to shine through, even the keyhole was a burning beacon. She shielded her eyes from the illuminated door. There was a click, then the door swung open, the light now flooding from the room. It burned, not with heat, but with icy frigidness that seared her skin. Then, she was consumed by it. Her flesh began to frost over, ice crystals forming in her cells as the skin began to freeze. She could feel the fluid in her eyes begin to harden, and the blood in her veins felt full of razorblades. As suddenly as it began, it was over. Jenna stood, a frozen ice sculpture, encased in death.

The door swung slowly shut with another click and the light faded.



Jenna sat up and screamed. She clutched at her chest and was comforted by the weight of the key at her neck. It took a moment for her to remember where she was. She felt tentatively at her skin. It was cold in the room, and she had kicked the covers to the foot of the bed, as she often did while sleeping. That must have been why she had the nightmare. Her body was trying to wake her up and get warm. It must have been fifty degrees. The cold crept in when night came, blanketing the trees and grass with frost. She would need to ask her dad for a space heater from now own. Apparently, the furnace didn’t provide any warmth for the upstairs, and her fireplace had not been set up to burn wood yet. The flue would need cleaning first.

The clock on her nightstand read 3:30. She had school today. Her first day at her new school. Ravenswood High. Go Ravens. She couldn’t wait. There was no way she was going to be able to sleep now. She took her robe from the closet and toed on her slippers. Tiptoeing down the stairs she had a momentary vision of the front door opening on its own and her dead mother appearing at the threshold.

It was just a stupid dream. Same as before.

Except, it wasn’t the same as before. When her mother had died she did have nightmares, of her mother slowly wasting away, her hair falling out, and lying silently in death as the EMTs carried off the body late in the night. But, she never had a dream with such vivid horror before. In her other dreams, she had been afraid for her mother, but in this one she was afraid of her mother. No, that wasn’t quite right. But, she couldn’t place the thought, and soon it had flitted from her mind. She descended the stairs and made her way to the library door. Once inside, she immediately felt better. The fireplace in this room was gas operated and worked brilliantly with a touch of a button. She turned it on high and was soon comfortable.

Jenna walked slowly down each side of the room, taking in the names of the books on the shelves. She had done this the day before and committed most of them to memory, but halfway across she spied one that she hadn’t seen there before.

The History and Record of Ravenswood

It was a large, leather-bound tome, its weight reassuring in her hands. She settled into her chair and began to read. The town was founded by Jonathan Corvus, hence the name of the town, Corvus Corax being the Latin name for the raven. He settled the area in DATE, after leaving New York for what was then Virginia. Hmmm…just like me. The town began as a few small settlements along the bank of the RIVER NAME. At first it was a logging town, but quickly changed when rich coal deposits were found in the ever-present hills. Corvus became very rich, very quickly, and soon the town began to emerge.

When Jenna looked down at the desk clock it read 5:40.

“Oh shit. I’m going to be late!” She closed the book with a thump, causing a dust plume. She placed the book on her desk with care, intending to come back to it soon, and left the library to take a shower and get ready for her first big day at school.



Since she had no idea what the haut couture was like in small towns, she decided to lay it safe and just wear jeans and a nice CAMISOLE, a scarf for an accent, and her mother’s pearl earrings. The last thing she wanted was to stand out. All she cared to do was to fade into the background and hopefully finish her senior year there with a minimal amount of teenage drama. Despite her impassioned pleas, her dad refused to drive her to school the first day. Something about needing to get organized at his office at the University, which was in the opposite direction of the high school. So, she had to endure the indignity of riding the bus. As soon as she stepped up into it she knew it was not going to be a good year.
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cuthugas
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