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Enna, the Dragon Tamer

It would be much easier to tame a wolf pup if I didn’t have my little brother with me. Finn trudged beside me, bundled in caribou-skin coat, tan round face nearly hidden by the fur trimming the hood around his face.

My own hood was down even though the chilled air turned my bare ears to ice. Step one in taming a wild animal was to keep a keen eye on your surrounds, and I didn’t want my hood to block my view.

I pushed my mitten-covered hand into my pocket to make sure the dry meat I was going to feed the pup was still there. I didn’t want my brother to know, but I was feeling a little nervous. I may have read Taming Wild Things from cover to cover at least fifty times and knew the steps for taming all the animals listed by heart, but I had never actually tamed an animal before.

“Don’t you think we should get one of the older ones to help us?” Finn asked. He meant our older brothers and sisters, Bennjim, Sennori, Minnsy, and Ivinn.

“That would ruin everything,” I said.

“It would ruin everything if a wolf bit your hand off and you couldn’t knit anymore.”

“That, actually, wouldn’t ruin anything,” I said, blowing out a sigh that fogged the frigid air in front of me. I wasn’t good at knitting or needle work like Sennori, our eldest sister. She was so talented, that the trader that came in the spring would take the beautifully designed scarves and blankets she knit and sell them to villages miles away. After he brought her thirty-five silvers from her in payment for the things he sold for her, she was known to the village as Sennori, Silver Needle.

And everyone seemed to forget my name. I was just Sennori’s sister.

Then Bennjim, our eldest brother, killed the fierce white bear that roamed the mountains and brought terror to the village with a single roar.

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He became Bennjim the Bear Slayer. And I became Bennjim’s sister.

The twins, Minnsy and Ivinn were known for their skill of music. Minnsy had a voice more beautiful than any in the village and Ivinn’s played his lute so well that it brought tears to people’s eyes.

They were the Twins of Golden Melodies. I was the twins’ sister.

The only thing I was good at was being braver than Finn, which wasn’t very hard. He was only eight, three years younger than me, and mam said he worried as much as an old man. Which is why I couldn’t believe he wanted to come with me when he caught me sneaking off to tame a wolf pup.

“You smell like cheese,” I told him, catching a whiff as a gust of icy air blew around my uncovered head. Finn believed in that superstitious nonsense about cheese being a lucky food that warded off bad luck and was constantly slipping some into his pocket.

I hoped the smell didn’t make the wrong animal come to us and ruin my chances of finding a wolf pup. Today was the day I became Enna, the Wolf Tamer.

“I think we are being watched,” Finn said, ignoring what I said.

I rolled my eyes. “You always think that.”

“I’m always right.”

“Like that one spring when you thought there was a bear in the blueberry bush and it turned out to be Bennjim hiding in the bushes to scare us?”

“That was when I was a kid,” Finn sulked.

“What about the beginning of this winter when we were at the market with mam and you said someone was watching us. It was just the vender’s toddler under the table.”

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Finn frowned down at his snowshoes, seeming to concentrate harder on each step. “Who cares who it was? I was still right. Someone was watching us. My neck prickles every time, and it is prickling now.”

“So, what is watching us this time?” I teased. “A fluffy rabbit? An old woman with steaming hot tea?”

“You’re not funny.”

Before I could tell him that I was actually quite hilarious, something came flying towards me. I thought that Finn threw a snowball at me from the glimpse of something white, about the size of my hand.

Whatever it was came whizzing back from behind me, nearly hitting my shoulder. It didn’t fall to the ground, as a snowball should, but hovered in the air right above my head.

It blinked.

“Enna?” Finn squeaked. “What is that?”

I was trying to determine that very thing. The creature before me was no bigger than a bird, and had wings like one too, but that was where the resemblance ended. Instead of feathers, it was covered in white, fluffy fur. Unlike a bird, it had four legs, each ending in small claws peeking out from its fur. It had a tail that swished back and forth like an excited puppy’s. Its ears were hardly bigger than blueberries and were shaped a bit like a doe’s. Right above its fuzzy ears sprouted delicate, silver horns, twisting in twin spirals the size of my pinkies.

“It’s a dragon,” I breathed, scarcely able to say the words.

The dragon seemed to understand, doing a kind of hop in the air and making a series of sounds that reminded me of the yipping of playing foxes.

“Dragons are bigger,” Finn said in a confused, yet awed voice.

“Not snow dragons. The largest ones are only as big as a man’s hand,” I said, remembering the words from our village’s only book on dragons. I had read it a dozen times, like every other book in our dusty book shop. I ran through the facts it listed about snow dragons and realized that it had, unfortunately, left out the ones about how to tame a snow dragon. Taming Wild Things didn’t have anything about taming dragons either, so it looked like I was on my own.

I held my hand out.

“Don’t do that!” Finn yelled. “It will bite you.”

His voice startled the dragon, who took off flying towards a cluster of trees.

“You scared him!” I tried to hurry after the dragon, but hurry wasn’t a pace you can go in in snowshoes and I ended up falling, mittened hands sinking deep into the snow.

“You can’t run in snowshoes,” Finn said, unhelpfully.

“This was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us,” I huffed, struggling to pull my arms from the snow, “and you ruined it.”

“You were going to get bit,” he insisted.

“I was not!” I yanked my arms from the snow. One of my hands came up without a mitten. I rolled over and collapsed on the snow. “We’ll never find it now.”

A yipping sound made me sit up. A little, white puff ball was diving into the hole my arm made in the snow.

“It came back!” I crawled to peer into the hole and nearly got my head smacked as the dragon came whizzing out with my mitten captured in its mouth. “It got my mitten for me,” I said, delighted. I reached to take it, but the little dragon darted away, letting out an excited yip.

“It stole your mitten,” Finn said, sounding horrified.

“It can have it,” I said. “It’s Minnsy’s old mitten and it is too big for me anyway.”

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But I knew mam would be angry if I lost it, so I made another attempt to snatch my mitten from its pin-sized teeth. The dragon darted out of the way again and I nearly fell face first into the snow.

Finn, who was standing behind the fluffy dragon, tried to sneak up on it and capture it between his hands (which was quite brave for someone who is as scared of everything as he is). The dragon made a chortling sound and flew out of Finn’s reach.

I thought it might disappear again, but it came to hover in front of my face, huge silver eyes blinking at me.

“I think she is playing with us,” I said, grinning.

“How do you know it’s a girl?” Finn squinted at the dragon.

“Silver eyes are girls. Blue are boys,” I said. “Haven’t you read any of the dragon book?”

Finn didn’t answer because he was too busy toddling on his snowshoes towards the dragon who bobbed playfully in the air.

I grinned and joined him.

Finn and I did our best to get the mitten back from the cheeky little dragon. Our snow shoes slowed us down, but the dragon always came back for us if she got too far ahead. Soon, we had gone back down the mountain, and I had forgotten all about taming a wolf pup.

“I am going to keep her,” I said, reaching my bare hand into my pocket. Instead of Enna the Wolf Tamer, I would be Enna, the Dragon Tamer. That title was much more impressive.

“How are we going to keep her?” Finn asked, “She is too fast to catch.”

“Watch,” I said. I pulled out the dry meat intended for the wolf pup I was going to tame and waved it in the air. The dragon’s eyes widened and, with a happy squeal, she dove toward it. My glove fell at my feet as the dragon traded it for the meat.

“Thank you,” I said, scooping my mitten up and pulling it over my icy hand.

The dragon landed softly on the snow and used her two front talons to hold the meat to her mouth. Her small teeth worked at the tough meat, but she didn’t seem to be able to break into it.

Frustrated, she dropped it on the snow and tried to shred it with her claws. When that didn’t work, her silver eyes turned up to meet mine and she let out a disgusted yip.

I laughed. “That’s what I think of it too.”

She looked back at the dried hunk of meat in front of her and a stream of light came from her opened mouth.

Not light. Fire.

I hopped back and watched as the dragon made more tiny bursts of flame appear until the dried meat was black and the flame sizzled out by from the snow.

“I guess that made her mad,” Finn said.

I stared helplessly at the burned meat and ball of white fluff that was my only chance at standing out from my brothers and sisters.

“Here,” Finn pulled something out from his caribou coat pocket and knelt down to offer it to the dragon.

I was surprised that he wasn’t afraid of the dragon after its display of fire, even if its flames were only as big as a candle’s. Even I was wary of sticking my hand next to its mouth like that, just in case it decided to char my fingers for giving it an insufficient meal.

“Dragons like meat,” I said, seeing what Finn was offering. Cheese.

She took the cheese in her tiny claws, took a dainty sniff, then nibbled. She made a humming sound in the back of her throat, which I guessed meant she liked it because she stuffed the rest of it in her mouth.

“She likes it.” Finn looked up at me, delight playing all over his round face.

“Let me try,” I said, eager to win the dragon’s favor. Finn let me have a piece of cheese and I offered it to her.

We took turns feeding her until Finn ran out of cheese.

The dragon must have still wanted more because she fluttered to my shoulder and perched there, large silver eyes blinking at me.

The dragon licked her mouth and nuzzled her face against my cheek. It was as soft as the baby chicks we had running around our yard every spring.

“You’ve just made me Enna, the Dragon Tamer,” I told her.

I just made you a dragon tamer,” Finn corrected. He paused, face scrunched in thought. “Actually, I’m a dragon tamer too.”

I pursed my chapped lips for a moment, wondering if letting him share in my accomplishment would mean I was back to just being “so and so’s sister.”

“More like Finn the Cheese Hoarder,” I snort.

“You’re not funny.”

“I’m absolutely hilarious,” I said, and the dragon rubbed itself against my neck and made a purring sound. “See, she thinks so too.”

Finn shook his head in mock annoyance, then began clomping towards the village, snow shoes crunching on the snow. “Come on,” he called, his voice strung with anticipation. “We have to tell everyone that we are dragon tamers now.”

Never in all my daydreams about winning a title for myself did I end up sharing a name with Finn. But I never would have thought that Finn’s pocketed cheese would be useful, especially for taming a dragon.

“Slow down, Finn, the Dragon Tamer,” I called after him.

“I bet I can beat you to the house.” He laughed and made his voice deep and important, “Enna, the Dragon Tamer.”

 

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The Song

She was innocently beautiful.  Her hair was a golden waterfall cascading over her slender shoulders and falling to her waist.   Long lashes framed sapphire eyes and her lips were like a soft pink petal.  She had a quiet, smooth way of moving that should have made her invisible, but instead brought every eye to her.  Daron wondered if she was quiet because she was too modest to want attention or because she thought herself so above everyone that she didn’t care if she was noticed by them of not.  Her face held no trace of scorn, but neither signs of bashfulness.  She was as impassive as a marble statue as her willowy form walked through the city at his side.  Perhaps that was what drew the stares—the mystery that lingered beneath her serene gaze.

Daron knew her secret.  She looked years younger than him, fifteen or sixteen at the most, but she had lived thousands of years.  She was one of the Old Ones.  The ones who lived since the beginning of the world and were gifted with ancient wisdom that humans did not have.

The Old Ones once lived among them and shared their wisdom, and the land was prosperous under their watch.  But that time passed long ago.  The Old Ones journeyed across the sea to a land they could make their own after mankind refused to practice their ways and heed their guidance. Mankind declared they didn’t need the Old Ones.

Only they did.  Thousands of years after the departure of the Old Ones, drought and famine plagued the land.  It was why Daron left on an impossible mission to cross the sea and find an Old One who was willing to come back with him and help their dying land—to sing the ancient songs that would call down rain for their withered crops.

Daron looked at the Old One beside him and thought how lucky he was to find her. He was warned that not all the Old Ones would be helpful. There were some who resented humans for their arrogant ways. Their disdain for humans festered inside of them and blossomed into a hate so strong it changed them.  These Old Ones grew cruel and vain.  They were so intoxicated with their power and eaten with thoughts of revenge that they were sent away from their own kind. If Daron had stumbled on one of them, it would have meant death.

But the danger and uncertainty of that journey had passed.  Daron would soon present the Old One to the King as proof he had succeeded in his mission.

—–

They stood on the steps of the front of the castle, looking into the courtyard filled with hopeful faces.  The bright-haired girl stood in the center with the king standing to the right and Daron to her left. She didn’t address the crowd but closed her eyes and hummed. It was so low that Daron could scarcely hear it even at only a few feet away.  It didn’t change in pitch but grew in volume.  Then her soft, girlish lips opened and a melody of words drifted past them and filled the courtyard.  Daron didn’t understand the words.  She sang in an ancient language that the Old Ones alone had mastered.  Even without the knowledge of the meaning of the song it was entrancing.  The song rose and fell in somber minor notes.  Her voice softening, then swelling to portray first sorrow, then urgency.

Daron thought that he would be watching the sky during the Old One’s summons for rain, but he couldn’t look away from the girl.  From his peripheral vision, he saw that the others were equally entranced with the golden-haired singer.   Her eyes remained closed and her face focused as her silky voice bounced off the courtyard walls.  Small pricks ran up Daron’s arms.  As the song went on, he almost forgot why they were gathered or the reason for the song.  There was nothing in Daron’s mind but the captivating melody spinning sorrow and hope.  He shook himself when a shadow passed over him.  Rain!  Rain clouds were forming and blocking the sun.

He looked up and was confused.  Something was blocking the sun, but it wasn’t rain clouds—not unless rainclouds were ebony black and moved as one shimmering mass.  Wait.  That wasn’t shimmering.  It was flapping.  Thousands of crows filled the sky.  Gasps and whispers filled the courtyard.

“What’s going on?” demanded the King, but the girl continued singing.

Daron tried to get her attention. “Old One, the skies are filled with crows.”

She didn’t acknowledge him.

“Thousands of them,” he continued.  “They’re coming at us.  Take them away!”

Her chilling song mingled with the people’s confused cries.

“Is this some trick?”  The King asked, red faced.  Daron was sure it wasn’t a trick, but a mistake.  Maybe the Old Ones forgot how to call down rain.  Maybe in all their years of isolation, they lost their skill.  Or maybe this particular Old One didn’t know how to call rain.

The sky was getting darker.  The birds would land soon and what little crops they had left would be destroyed.

Daron strode forward to shake the girl out of her trance.

As his fingertips touched her shoulders, a shock went through his bones and he staggered back.  The girl’s blue eyes opened.

“Don’t touch me human snake!”  It was her voice, but it didn’t come from her lips which were still forming the words to the ominous song filling the air.

Confused, Daron tried to form words.  “The crows will eat our crops.”

Her laugh filled his head.  The harsh sound didn’t match the softness of the girl before him.

“The crows aren’t going to eat your crops.  They are going to eat you.”

He must have heard her wrong.  An Old One wouldn’t speak such words.

“You, the humans who destroyed the land and drove the Old Ones out with your erroneous ways.

In an instant, Daron understood who the girl was.  Not an Old One, understanding and willing to help mankind like the Old Ones thousands of years ago, but one of the wayward Old Ones he was warned about.  She pretended to help them so she could destroy them.

Before he could call out a warning to the others, the crows fell on them.  Shrieks mingled with the incessant cries of thousands of crows.  People ran or fell to the ground and covered their face as the winged terrors swarmed them.

Daron ran, but there was nowhere to go that wasn’t already filled with crows.  Sharp beaks picked at his arm and shoulders.  They pulled his hair and bit the tender skin on his neck. He kept his arms in front of his face but their sharp beaks jabbed at his chin and cheeks.  He wanted to cry out, but was afraid they would poke their nasty little beaks into his mouth and rip his tongue to shreds too.

He tried to keep moving, hoping he could find a door that would bring him into the safety of the castle, but the crows were so thick and so many wild thrashing bodies kept jostling him that he didn’t know if he were moving at all.

He fell. He didn’t know if he tripped from the crows gathered around his feet or if his legs gave out from the panic that snared him.

He laid in a huddle, feeling wet, sticky blood run down his back and arms.  He was screaming now.  His mouth pressed to the ground and his tongue tasted dirt.

He was ready for death.  Anything to stop feeling hundreds of holes being dug into his body.

Everything began to fade, until one last sound remained.  A haunting melody sung by a sweet, smooth voice.


I hope you enjoyed my spooky story! If you want to go on a dark adventure–keeping with the Halloween mood– check out Zorok, the story of a murderous pirate who may not be as invincible as he thinks.

Happy Halloween!

Join me for tons more fun, writing tips, and a glimpse into the daily life of a writer!

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Zorok

Zorok pulled his sword from the child’s body and watched it crumple to the ground, wondering if he had ever been so frail and easy to kill. He was sure that he was impossible to kill now. There was nothing good aim and gun powder couldn’t protect him from.

He stepped over the bodies that littered the ground and paid no notice to the gruesome details illuminated by the flaming huts: tanned torsos with bloody bullet holes, looks of fear frozen on women’s faces, glazed-over eyes reflecting orange flames. His boots tread on an arrow, breaking it in half.  It amused him that these villagers thought they could defend themselves against his attack with such primitive weapons.  Bows and spears did little against pistols and gun powder.

The flickering orange light from the burning huts deepened the shadows in his hardened face making it look even more ominous. The top half of his dark, shoulder-length hair was pulled back showing a small hoop of gold in his right ear and the scar at his temple.

“It is time we claim what we came here for.”  Zorok’s deep voice rumbled as he reached his gathered men.  They cheered in agreement.

Zorok and his men grabbed torches from the pile they left in the cover of the trees on the outskirts of the village.  They lit them with fire from the nearest hut and headed into the jungle, toward the cave.

It would have been easy to sneak into the cave.  He could have led his men straight there and bypassed the destruction of the village, but he had to prove a point; no one told Zorok, most feared pirate in the land, that he couldn’t do something.

When he arrived on the island, a group of men from the village told him—through one of his crewmen who knew the language—that the cave was an ancient place of worship, and only a select few from their tribe could enter.  They wouldn’t allow him to go in and tried to scare him away by telling him that their god lived there and would kill them if they went in.

Once they shot down the men, they used their swords on the women and children. There was no reason to waste gunpowder on something that posed so little threat.  Normally Zorok would have taken those who looked strong enough captive and sold them on the black-market, but if the legend were true, he wouldn’t have room for slaves.

He could hear his crewmen murmuring eagerly to each other as they reached the cave.  The villagers claimed that it was a sacred place, but Zorok knew the real reason they didn’t want anyone to go in: treasure.

The cave’s ceiling was low and Zorok had to crouch over as he led his men down the winding tunnels. The scuffles of their boots bounced around in the enclosed space, making the group of just a little over two dozen sound like an army.

In the orange glow of his torch, he could see markings covering the walls. They were all symbols he didn’t know the meaning of or words written in a language he didn’t understand, so he paid them little attention.  Not all his crew members shared his indifference.  He could hear Tom, the one who had a flare for languages, reading the words painted on the stone walls.

“’All those who value their lives should not enter.’”

“Like I haven’t heard that before,” laughed one of the men. Tom laughed with him then continued reading the rest of the writing, all of it warning those who entered the cave.

“’Take care not to disturb the great god of the island,’” Tom stopped to read, squinting in the torch light.

“Would you stop reading those,” called a man behind Tom, “You’re holding up the line.”  Tom moved up to fill the gap, then read another one of the inscriptions.

“’Great evil lies within.’” He paused to translate the words in his head. “’If stirred it will devour the souls of those who dared to waken it.’”

“At the rate you’re going, Tom, we’ll have the treasure loaded on the ship and be setting sail while you’re still standing in front of a cave wall,” the crewman directly behind Zorok said.  The men laughed.

“And you’ll have us stuck in here with you,” said one of the men in the line behind Tom.  Tom stopped reading and moved on.

Just as the whole line was moving steadily, Zorok stopped.  There was nothing but cave wall in front of him.  Someone from the back of the line cursed at Tom, thinking he was the one holding it up again.

“Well that ain’t no treasure,” said a crewman right behind Zorok.

“All this way for a wall,” grumbled another.

“Quit your whining,” Zorok said. “It doesn’t end here.”  He dropped to the ground and crawled forward into a hole that his men hadn’t noticed because they were too busy complaining.

Zorok expected to find himself in a claustrophobic tunnel, but instead his lone torch barely reached the shadows of the cavern in which he stood.  The center was filled with knee-high chests.  Zorok went to the nearest one and shot the lock.  He opened it.  Shining gold coins filled his gaze.

“This is it boys.” He grinned.  He turned around and the grin came off his face.  None of his crew were there.  He grumbled under his breath as he walked back to the hole.  Were the idiots scared or just too stupid to find the hole, or was it Tom and his walls of doom holding them up?

The hole was gone.  Zorok scowled and moved his torch along the cave wall, searching for the place where he came in.  It wasn’t there.  He called out to his men, but it remained eerily silent except for a trickling sound on the other side of the cavern.  He cursed at the wall. He knew he came in from this direction.

A small wind brushed against his cheek.  At first he thought it came from the hole he was looking for, but then realized that was impossible.  They had walked too far and took too many turns for wind to be coming through that hole.  There must be another, one that led directly outside.

Before he could follow it, the wind grew stronger, coming from all different directions including  the solid wall behind him.   The wind merged into one place in the center of the room and a mass of swirling black appeared.

The wind stopped as the black shaped itself into a seven-foot, human-shaped form covered in a black, hooded cloak.

Zorok drew his pistol.

“You can’t fight me,” said a raspy but deep voice from under the hood.

“Give me a reason why I can’t,” demanded Zorok.  Holes that disappeared, wind that came from solid walls, and hooded figures that appeared out of nowhere made Zorok uncomfortable, but blasting things with gun powder was something he could handle.

“Your time is up, Zorok.  You made a deal with my master, and he wants his payment,” the form said in an eerie dead-pan voice.

“I don’t make deals,” he said keeping his pistol up and his stance ready. “I do what I wish and crush those who oppose.”

“You made a deal,” said the hooded figure, “Now your soul belongs to my master.”

Zorok laughed dryly.  “What do I care for my soul?  Tell your master, whoever he is, he can have it.”

“He doesn’t need your permission,” said the figure moving forward.  Zorok was ready to hear some enchantment murmured that was supposed to take his soul, but the figure put his hand into his cloak.  He drew out a sword that glowed slightly, giving off a faint white light. The moment he did, Zorok fired. The bullet disappeared in his black torso.  A rumbling sound came from under the hood that could have been a laugh.

“You can’t kill me.” The glowing sword moved steadily toward him.  Zorok stepped back and drew his own sword. An feeling foreigh to Zorok began to make its way down his spine: cold fear.

“Who is this master you serve—the one who wants my soul?” he asked, hoping to stall so he could look for a way out of the cavern.  

“The devil.”  The figure brought his sword down.  Zorok already had his sword drawn, and blocked the blow.  He spun out of the thing’s reach.

“I made no deal with the devil,” said Zorok backing away slowly.

“That’s what they all say,” said the eerie voice.  “But you’ve made the deal early in life and confirmed it many times since.”  The thing didn’t move after him, so Zorok took the chance to look around for some way out.

“Every time you stabbed your sword into a woman, every time you shot a man, every time you ordered your men to kill the innocent, a deal was made.”  The figure thrust his glowing sword at Zorok. Their swords clanged against each other and locked.  The thing was strong, and Zorok had to use both hands. His torch flickered as it dropped, but it continued to burn as it hit the stone ground.  He didn’t need it anyway.  He’d found his way out.

“You can tell the devil,” he said, grunting, “that my soul is mine for today.”  He used all his strength to push the glowing sword off his own, and ran toward a glistening ribbon on the cave floor.

White blasts of light flew past him.  One of them hit his shoulder.  He faltered and cried out as hot pain filled it.  He looked back and saw that the blasts of white lights came from the tip of his sword.

He froze.  There was one coming at him. His sword was up as if it had moved on its own and somehow he managed to deflect the shot with its broad side.  It ricocheted off his sword and hit the figure’s arm, knocking the sword from its hand.

Zorok spun around and headed for the dark liquid ribbon behind him.  He was taking the chance that the river didn’t stay underwater for too long, but it was better than being trapped with an enemy that couldn’t die.

As he jumped, he heard the eerie voice call after him, “Your cannot keep your soul forever. Memento mori.”

Cold water merged over his head. He swam with the current hoping it would lead him out of the cave.  After a few seconds, he tried to come up.  He was met with hard stone.  He kept swimming and tried again, but he was still underground.  It made him angry to have escaped a demon, just to die by drowning. It wasn’t the way Zorok, most feared of the seas, should lose his life.

Just as he was sure the devil would get his soul tonight after all, his head burst out of the water and his lungs filled with air.   He could see the moon half hidden behind the jungle foliage.  He dragged himself to the bank and a wild laugh of relief came out of his mouth.  He was Zorok, the pirate who defeated the undefeatable.  He had beaten a demon.  He had tricked the devil.

His laughter died.  The last thing the hooded figure said to him stopped his little celebration.  He didn’t need Tom to understand what those last two words meant.

Remember that you will die.

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This is a little bit darker and more gruesome than the little tales I usually post here, but it is fun to change things up a bit. Plus, my WIP, Blood Debt, has a tone similar to this (although my main character, Azrin, isn’t a bloodthirsty, treasure-seeking pirate).

I hope you enjoyed the story! 🙂

Join me for tons more fun, writing tips, and a glimpse into the daily life of a writer!

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The Wand in the Attic

Hey Epic Dreamers! I thought we could all use some fun in the form of flash fiction since we are stuck in quarantine. This little story is extra relatable since the main character is stuck at home with someone she doesn’t want to be. 😉

Enjoy the story!

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The Wand in the Attic

I was hiding from my bratty stepsister in the attic when I found it. At first I thought it was just a strange stick—as long as a ruler and as thick as a pencil—then I found the book Beginner’s Guide for Wand Use. I flipped through the many spells listed on the pages, thinking the book was a joke. Then I tried one.

I held it out and said “time for magic” to activate it as the first page instructed. I jumped when the wand gave a slight tremor. I was sure that I’d imagined it, but just in case…. I pointed it at the first thing I saw—a wooden music box that no longer worked—and said “muveras” which is what the book said to say if you wanted something to move.

The wooden box shot off the crate it was sitting on and crashed to the floor. I jumped and drop the wand. I looked from the box to the wand at my feet, to the box again. I wasn’t sure if I was excited or scared. Magic only existed in fairytales. How was it in my attic?

“Sarah! Quit leaving your dirty clothes in the bathroom!” It was my stepsister. She was twelve like me, but because she was five months older she seemed to think she was my second mom or something. That’s why I was looking through old boxes in the attic instead of watching TV downstairs. With mom gone on a date with my stepdad, she was more whiny than usual.

“Hello? Sarah? I’m talking to you. Come clean up your stinky clothes.”

I rolled my eyes and started to climb down the attic ladder.

Then I had an idea.

I snatched the wand and hurried downstairs. My stepsister was standing beside the bathroom doorway with her arms crossed. She was still yelling for me, so she didn’t hear me coming. I ducked behind a table with a huge decorative vase and scooted so I could look into the bathroom.

She wanted me to move my clothes? I would move my clothes.

I pointed my wand at the pile on the floor and whispered, “muveras.” The clothes shot through the bathroom door like a cannonball from a cannon, and exploded into the hallway. My step sister shrieked so loud you would have thought it was an actual cannon.

She stood, frozen for a moment with my tank top over her left shoulder and my underwear on her head. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Maybe staying home with my stepsister would be so bad after all.

——————————————————–

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Book Update

Hey Epic Dreamers!

It’ s been a while since I’ve updated you all on the book (The Hashna Stone), so I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of where it’s at in the publishing process.

Editing

I’m so excited to announce my editor has finished with it! Not only that, but I’ve finished making all the changes she’s suggested and sent it off to be formatted. (If you are following me on Instagram, you’ll know how excited I was to get to that stage. 😉 )

My editor was great. She went the extra mile to not only look for grammatical errors and places where sentence structure could be better, but she took the time to get to know the characters and pointed out if they said something that seemed unlike them.

It was so refreshing to have someone read my story again after so long since it’s been a year since it went through the beta-reader process. It was nice to have a second opinion after so many drafts with just my own thoughts to go on.

Then, when the editing was finished, she told me that my book was one of her favorite projects that she’d worked on and said that I was a talented writer.

Me? Talented?!

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I might sound egotistical for saying this, but it really felt good to hear that. When you put so much time and effort into a project as large as a 140,000-word novel, you’re bound to have some self doubt. What if I’ve wasted my time? What if after two years of working on this, no one reads it? The smallest compliment or encouragement does so much to combat these thoughts.

Formatting

I’m just as excited to announce that my book has been formatted as well. 🙂

Formatting may sound like the boring part of getting the book ready for publishing, but it was actually the most fun. It isn’t just making sure the text is lined up correctly and that the gutters are wide enough (although it is those things too). Formatting also covers the font and pictures in the book. And that’s where the fun comes in. 🙂

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I loved getting to see my book transform from plain Times New Roman text to being filled with the beautiful, fantasy-looking text my formatter filled it with. (I know, I’m such a nerd!)

I was really lucky to find such an amazing formatter. She created the most epic looking chapter title image ever! She also put an awesome background to my act title pages.

I am so in love with the way this book looks! (I’ll reveal what the inside looks like on Instagram…cough, cough…you should follow 🙂 )

Cover

I had someone from fiver.com design a cover, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the way it turned out. It is a very inexpensive place to get a cover for your book, but it shows in the quality.

After several revisions to the image, I finally bought my own image of a gemstone from IStock. It looked better with my image on the front, but it still had a less-than-stellar look to it.

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I thought I would be stuck with it because any other cover design service was way out of my budget, but then I came across someone who designs beautiful covers for a price I can afford on Instagram (which is also where I found my formatter), so I’m going to get them to create a cover and see how it goes. I have a good feeling about it, judging from the example covers I saw.

I can’t wait to get started on it!

Publishing

Besides the cover, the only other thing that needs to be done is a final proofread. And then…it will be PUBLISHED!

Finally. Finally! After two NaNoWriMos, one blog version, four drafts, and two years. It’s actually going to be published!

I am beyond excited! Publishing a book is a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. I don’t think I’m going to fully believe it until I hold it in my hands.

The Hashna Stone will be coming out in August and will be  available on Amazon, both in eBook and paperback. I’ll know the exact date once I know how long it will take my proofreader to get through it. 🙂

Well, that’s what’s been happening with me and The Hashna Stone (and also an accidental plug for Instagram–I mentioned it four times 😛 ).

I hope you all have a great rest of the week! Until next time, Epic Dreamers!

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The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!



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Book Review: The Selection

So the third Thursday is supposed to be a book review, but if you saw my last post you’ll know that I’ve been preoccupied by a few things lately.

First, I moved into a new apartment. Any of you who’ve moved before will know how time consuming that is.

The other thing that’s kept me busy is my decision to self-publish the novel I’ve been working on, The Hashna Stone.

Needless to say, I haven’t had time to even open a book, much less read one.

Since I don’t have any new books to review, I thought I’d go back to one I read probably about a year ago that really stuck with me (and not necessarily because it was the best book I’ve read).

I thought I’d warn you about the length of time since I’ve read this book so you won’t be too surprised by the rambling style this review is written in.

Hope you enjoy this last-minute post! (It’s possibly one of the last book reviews I do…I’ll explain later.)

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This book could have been such a good story (not to mention it has a beautiful cover!). A modern twist on Ester or Cinderella–a common girl gets the chance of a lifetime to become a princess through a competition. If she wins, she marries the prince.

I was disappointed from the opening.

First, there was the info dumping. One of the first things you learn as a writer is to never dump a bunch of information in the first chapter (or really ever). The first few pages of this book throws a bunch of random information to the reader about the main character’s family. It would have been much better if they’d been introduced as the scene unfolded.

I could overlook that. Sometimes good books have bad beginnings.

But then it got worse.

The main character, America, seems to think that she’s the ugliest person ever and gets upset if anyone says otherwise.

There are a few flaws about this.

One, if a person is truly beautiful enough for everyone in the entire novel to compliment her, then that person would eventually think, “You know, so many people think I’m pretty…I think it just might be true.” People who have above-average looks know it. Sometimes a little too well. (We’ve all come across those people 😛 )

Two, even if someone didn’t think they were attractive, they wouldn’t mind if their boyfriend told them they were. When have you ever heard a girl be upset because their boyfriend said, “Hey beautiful?”

Never. Even if America didn’t think she was very attractive or even if she wasn’t very attractive, she would have appreciated the compliment. She may have blushed, busied herself with something so she wouldn’t have to look at him, or stumbled over her words, unsure of what to say because she wasn’t used to such compliments. But she wouldn’t tell her boyfriend that his compliments got on her nerves  or try to convince him that she wasn’t attractive.

It’s fine to have a character think that they aren’t the most attractive member of society, but it’s annoying to be beat over the head the whole story with just how much this girl thinks she is ugly.

If America truly had such a low self image, this books should have been about her journey to accepting herself for who she was.

But instead it’s about….What exactly is it about? I’m not sure. The main character does zero growing throughout the book, nothing seems to get solved, and by the end I was left wondering what I’d just read.

In spite of my harsh words, I’m glad I read it. The dialogue, characters, and word choice were so ridiculous that I had a good laugh every page or so.

The author had a great story idea, but could benefit from some classes in character development, dialogue, and plot.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their writing. Reading The Selection will teach you what not to do.

Rating: one star

 



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Book Review: The Rose Society

The rose society marie luAs amazing as The Young Elites is, the sequel is even better. (If you haven’t read it you may want to read my review of book one in this trilogy Book Review: The Young Elites.)

 

The Pacing

There was never a dull moment in this book. I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting for Adelina’s next move. Even with multiple view points, the story didn’t slow down. I never found myself rushing past a different character’s point of view to get back to Adelina.

 

 

youngelites_teaser-adelina-by-mree-closeupCharacter Arc (***Spoilers***)

Adelina wants revenge on the Daggers and on the inquisition, but what she needs is to realize that in spite of how she feels, there are those around her who love her. She goes through the whole book reminding herself that love isn’t for her and that power is the safest option, when all she needs to do is recognize the love her sister has for her, and open herself to Magiano’s love. (He’s an elite she recruited to follow her.) Charismatic Magiano manages to tug on her cold heart and even get her to feel a few rare moments of joy. But in one of the final scenes, someone (I don’t want to give too many spoilers :P) dear to her completely rejects and crushes her, confirming her belief that someone like her could find love.

In the end, she gets the revenge she was looking for, but it only makes her feel empty.

 

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Other Characters Worth Mentioning

I thoroughly enjoyed Magiano, one of the Elites in Adelina’s new group. I love the careless way he plucks at his lute, even in dangerous situations (even when meeting Adelina for the first time, right after witnessing her power). And the way he slouches and moves in an unconcerned manner like an impish wanderer, but wears a wild assortment of rich clothing that would make royalty jealous. He is equal parts wise vagabond and treasure-seeking prince. This colorful dichotomy makes Magiano a fun and unforgettable character.

 
Villain

The Villain

The villain of the story is a bit tricky. Is it Adelina? Is it Teren? Is it Raffaele?
To figure this out, I’ll start with what all of these characters have in common: abuse.
Adelina was horrifically abused by her father. Teren is abused by his father as well, then later by Giulietta. Raffaele is abused by the very clients that claim to love him and is treated over and over again as an object of pleasure in spite of his own wishes.
How each of these characters handle their abuse shapes the decisions they make.
Both Adelina and Teren use their abuse to fuel their own selfish desire; Adelina wants revenge on the Inquisition for what they did to her and absolute power over the kingdom and Teren wants to absolve himself of being a malfetto. These desires lead both of them on a dark path pathed with destruction and hate.
Raffaele on the other hand, doesn’t go on a killing spree or aspire to gain more power. He wants revenge like Adelina, but why he wants it is different. Adelina wants revenge for what’s been done to her. Raffaele wants revenge for what’s been done to the malfettos and Enzo.
This ability to look outside of himself and have compassion for others is apparent in his first scene where he is using his power to calm a frightened girl after she has been abused much in the same way he has been. He takes time to comfort the traumatized malfetto refugees even though the Daggers chide him for taking the time when there is so much for him to do as their new leader.
While this sole trait isn’t enough to draw the line between who is a villain and who isn’t, I think it goes a long way in shedding some light on the question.
Observation gifInteresting observation
None of these characters seemed to have truly escaped their abusers. Though Adelina makes a brave getaway from her father, and even killed him, she carries his ghost around with her. He is constantly feeding her the same words that he did when he was alive.
Teren may not be a child trapped under his father’s critical, condescending ways, but he chooses to stay with a woman who is controlling, physically abusive, and only keeping Teren around for what he can give her.
Raffaele stays a consort through all of book one and only escapes when he is forced to flee the country and become the new leader of the Daggers. But he immediately finds himself back in the same role. (I won’t say much more because of spoilers 😉 )
This makes the profound statement that, many times, those that are abused aren’t necessarily free from their abusers simply because the abuser is no longer present.
I can’t wait to start the last installment in the series. Rose Society gets five stars from me.
five stars

 

 

 

The Pact

7 years old

She looks like me. That was the first thing Tyler thought when he saw girl who was moving into the house next door. He wondered if she moved here straight from China or if her family had been in the U.S. for generations like his.

She was sitting on the porch steps, chin in her hands. She didn’t look very happy. For some reason, he wanted her to look up at him.

Tyler grabbed the scooter leaning against his house down his driveway then stopped at the street. He wasn’t allowed cross the line where the light cement of the driveway ended and the black pavement of the road began. But she was watching him now, and he didn’t want her to think he was a baby, so he crossed the line and let the wheels roll over the road.

He stopped when he reached the next driveway.

“Can I ride in your driveway?” he asked. She nodded and he scooted his way right up to her porch. He stopped in front of her.

“Did you just get here from China?” Then he remembered how every new kid at school would always ask him that and how it annoyed him, so he added, “Or has your family been here for generations? Mine has been here for four. I’ve never even been to China.”

She blinked at him. She probably wasn’t used to having people actually realize that just because she was Chinese didn’t mean she came from China.

He was sure she was impressed until she said, “I’m not Chinese.”

Now it was Tyler’s turn to blink. But she looked…Oh. “Japanese?”

She shook her head. “I’m from the Philippines.” She said words strangely. She had an accent.

To keep from feeling silly, he changed the subject. “I’m seven. How old are you?”

She brightened. “I’m seven too. That means I’ll be in your class at school right?”

“Yeah. I can show you the ropes.” He’d heard that phrase in a movie. It sounded cool.

“You will show me around?” She seemed confused. She probably didn’t know what “show you the ropes meant.”

“I’ll show you around and tell you everything you need to know,” Tyler explained, feeling important.

“Oh, good. I’ve never been to an American school before.”

Tyler remembered his fist day of school and how nervous he’d been. “We’ll make a pact,” he said, because he’d seen a boy and a girl make a pact in a movie once and always wanted to do it. “I’ll be your partner for everything that happens at school.”

“Ok,” the girl said.

“Shake on it?” Tyler asked, holding his hand out. That’s what the boy and girl did in the movie. The girl put her hand in his. He grinned, and she grinned back.

Tyler rode home on his scooter feeling very satisfied with himself.

Then he relized he didn’t know the girl’s name.

 

12 years old

“Marie!” Tyler called as he rushed down the hall, dodging the other kids to catch up with her. She turned around and smiled. She wore her hair differently and she wore different clothes, but that smile hadn’t changed since she was seven. Changing the look of her smile would be like changing the flavor of chocolate chip cookies.

“I’m going to be in the talent show,” he said. “Want to be my partner?”

Marie’s face fell. “Amber just asked me.”

“Well, I’m sure she’ll understand. We’re always partners.” Ever since the day of their pact, they’d been partners for everything. The science projects in the third grade that got baking soda and vinegar all over Marie’s new shoes because Tyler wanted their volcano to have the biggest explosion. The fifth grade book report that was almost a disaster because Marie wanted to read Charlotte’s Web and Tyler wanted to read Bridge to Terabithia. Luckily, The  Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe saved the day. It had animals and magic.

“I already told her I’d do it with her,” Marie said. She no longer had the accent she had when she was seven.

“But we’re always partners,” Tyler said lamely.

“We can be partners with other people sometimes.” Marie looked apologetic.

Tyler paused, hoping she’d change her mind, but she didn’t say anything. He shrugged. “I guess I’ll find someone else.”

She smiled at him. That smile that didn’t change. Somehow it hurt to look at it.

 

17 years old

It hurt to watch Marie talking with the guy by her side. Laughing, smiling that killer smile of hers. He’d probably asked her out to the junior prom already. It shouldn’t bother Tyler. He was already taking someone.

Still, somehow he’d imagined taking Marie, even though they’d slowly drifted apart over the years. His family moved to a different neighborhood when he was in eighth grade, then came junior high and different class schedules. They still talked, but Tyler wasn’t sure it was enough to ask her to be his date.

He’d daydreamed about asking her. He’d even thought about reminding her of the pact they made when they were kids, but he wasn’t even sure if she remembered. He would end up looking stupid. So this morning, a day before the junior prom, he asked a girl in his math class that didn’t have anyone to go with. It was safe. His friends said she’d had a crush on him all year long. It wasn’t Marie, but at least he wouldn’t make a fool of himself by asking and getting turned down.

Tyler turned away from Marie and the annoying guy by her side and opened his locker. He pulled a notebook out and a folded piece of notebook paper fluttered to the floor.

Thinking it was some stray notes, he started to put it back in the notebook. Then he saw his name written on the front.

He’d seen that handwriting nearly everyday in elementary and middle school. He’d watched it change from block letters to the rounded ones that spelled out his name.

Marie’s handwriting.

He slowly unfolded it, feeling like he was unwrapping a Christmas present he’d waited all year to open.

 

Hey Tyler! 

I know it’s a bit late, but I was sort of hoping you’d get around to it first. Then I thought, “Why does it have to be the guy that does the asking?” I tried to think of a fancy way to do this, but then decided to keep it simple. You always did like to keep things simple (unless it’s a paper mache volcano). 

You can probably guess what I’m about to ask you, so I’ll just go ahead and say it. 

Will you go to the prom with me?

You can’t say no because you made a promise that you’d be my partner for anything school related. 😉 

Anxiously waiting your response,

Marie

 

Tyler grinned. She remembered the pact they’d made.

Then his smile dropped. He’d already asked someone else. It was too late.

Maybe he could get out of it. Maybe he could explain it to the girl he’d asked.

Explain what? That they’d made a pact when they where in second grade to always be partners in everything. That they hadn’t been partners for anything since they were twelve, but now all of a sudden it was important for him to go with Marie even though it meant rudely dumping the girl he’d asked?

He couldn’t do that, even if this was what he wanted. He would have to tell her that he was going with someone else.

Tyler’s stomach knotted at the thought. Never in all his daydreams did he have to turn Marie down.

He sighed and folded the note. Why hadn’t he just ask her? Why couldn’t she have asked him just a few hours earlier?

Maybe she’d waited so late because she was hoping someone else would ask her. Maybe she was only asking him because she didn’t want to go alone. What was that last line? You can’t say no because you made a promise that you’d be my partner for anything school related. What if she was only asking him because she knew he’d say yes? He was nothing but a back-up plan.

Well, he wouldn’t be a back-up plan. Hadn’t she been the one to say that they should have other partners?

Tyler shoved the note back in the locker and pretend he never saw it.

 

18 years old

Tyler hurried through the empty school halls. He’d left his jacket in one of the classrooms and hadn’t realized it until he’d stepped into the fridges air. He was getting a ride home with one of his friends because his car hadn’t started that morning. First his car wouldn’t start, then the girl he asked to prom already had a date, then he forgot his jacket. What else could go wrong?

Tyler opened the classroom door. He froze.

Marie was sitting in one of the desks.

They hadn’t talked since last year when she’d slipped that note in his locker. Tyler felt so guilty about the whole thing that he avoided her. It wasn’t hard to do. Tyler suspected she was avoiding him too. He wished he’d at least written a note back, explaining why he couldn’t take her. But the more time that went by, the more awkward it seemed to approach her.

As if the distance between them weren’t uncomfortable enough, Tyler could tell she’d been crying.

She quickly wiped her face and gave a weak smile. It made Tyler’s heart twist. It wasn’t her smile. It was like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips.

“I forgot my jacket,” Tyler said, feeling the need to explain why he was invading her privacy.

“That one?” She pointed to the jacket hanging over the back of the desk right in front of her. Of course it would be right next to her. It couldn’t be right by the door so he could grab it and leave.

He made his way over there, keeping his eyes focused on the jacket as if it would disappear if he lost sight of it for even a second. He felt he should say something, but didn’t know what. It was her business. Whatever he said would probably make it worse anyway.

Marie stood and scooped her backpack up from the floor, getting ready to leave. By then he was already in her row and just a couple of steps away from his jacket. She picked it up and held it out to him.

His fingers brushed the tips of hers as he took it. His stomach fluttered.

He realized that he was standing there, blocking her way, but instead of moving he said, “Are you alright?”

Marie shrugged. “I’m fine. Just a rough day.”

She wasn’t fine. She looked like she did after the goldfish he’d won at a fair for her died and her mom flushed it down the toilet. “It wasn’t such a great day for me either,” Tyler said.

“Can’t be that bad,” she said. “Unless you got dumped too.”

Dumped? She’d been with that guy since Christmas. All that time together and he broke up with her a week before prom? The jerk. She deserved better than that. “My car wouldn’t start this morning.”

She laughed. The sound made Tyler grin.

“I think I’d rather take a stubborn car than a brake up right now,” she said. The smile faded and she sighed. “I guess I just don’t have luck with these things.”

“Yes you do. I mean you should. I mean he’s the unlucky one. Who wouldn’t want to go to prom with you?”

“Quite a few people actually,” she said, sharply. Then she looked down as if she hadn’t meant to say that.

Tyler knew she meant him. It’s not as if that note could have gotten lost in a little locker. She knew he saw it. She probably wondered why he never brought it up, even after the prom was over, to explain. It didn’t help that he’d avoided her. Of course she was mad at him.

“I should go,” Marie said, hinting that he should move. But he didn’t. He couldn’t let this opportunity go. What were the chances  that he would run into her right after that jerk broke up with her, and before someone else asked her? Tyler silently thanked the girl who’d turned him down earlier.

“I have to tell you something,” he blurted. “I saw the note you left in my locker–”

“I know you did,” she said. “I was walking by you as you reached your locker. I looked back as you opened it up.”

Tyler swallowed. He remembered her walking by, but he didn’t know she’d seen him.  “I’m sorry.  I’d already asked someone else and didn’t know how to tell you.”

She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Junior Prom is over.” She smiled. Another smile that wasn’t hers.

“It does matter. I should have told you. I shouldn’t have let all this time go by without explaining.”

She shrugged again. “People get crushes on people who don’t like them back all the time. It’s just one of those things. We don’t have to make things awkward.”

He grinned on the inside. She had a crush on him. Then the feeling faded. She had a crush on him last year before he’d ruined his chance with her. What did she think of him now?

She took a step forward, as if to make Tyler get out of her way.

He didn’t move. She was standing so close. “Yes,” he said.

“What?” She looked up at him, startled.

“I’m answering your note.” Tyler’s heart beat. She’d probably slap him. “I’ll take you to prom. If you’ll go with me.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Are you trying to be funny?”

“We made a pact. We’d always be partners for anything that happened at school. So, it may have taken me awhile, but I’m making good on that pact.”

“You don’t have to ask me to prom because of a promise we made when we were kids.”

“That’s not why I’m asking you.”

“You don’t have to ask me out because you didn’t answer my silly note.”

“That’s not why–”

“I hope you aren’t asking me because you feel sorry for me because my stupid boyfriend dumped me right before prom.”

Tyler smiled. It had been a while since he’d talked with her. It was nice to hear her voice again. Even if she was a bit mad.

“What?” Marie asked.

“I’m asking you because I like you.”

Marie blinked up at him, registering his words. She didn’t say anything and he wondered if she was going to push him out of the way. Then, she smiled. She smiled her smile.

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Hey Epic Dreamers! I know today was supposed to be a post on writing tips but since Thursday fell on Valentine’s Day it seemed a waste to pass up the opportunity to do something special. I hope you enjoyed the story!