Trapped

Trapped

The wood screams as I rip through it, scratching another jagged line in the floor with my rock. Another tally mark. The pattern is etched onto the majority of my floor, making it harder to hide under my rug each day. 267 days to be exact.

267 days I’ve been here. And with each day I’m closer to leaving, closer to my freedom. Hopefully. I can only dream that one day I’ll be given the chance to escape. It shouldn’t be much longer now. The money is with me, almost the whole five thousand, my bail money for this jail cell. When I’ve collected it all, this time I’ve spent in my dark cave will feel like a dream as I begin a new life on my own.

I reach down from my position on my bed and run a finger over the dust I’ve created on the ground to make my artwork smoother. Without this to keep me busy, I would’ve lost my mind. Alone in my room, unable to leave, I don’t see people much. The windows I have are boarded up with little rays of sunlight to expose me to the outside world. I should be insane by now. But I’m trying everything to prevent that while I still have my dream in mind.

I can almost picture the apartment I’ll get with windows stretching from the ceiling all the way to the floor, to bathe my pale skin in sun and give life to my sullen figure. All the food I’ll eat after getting used to scarce flavorless meals each day. And the city. The best part is the city. Streets busy with people, rushing to jobs or important meetings. Bright lights lining the roads and buildings and entertainers on every corner. I can see myself bustling along in the crowd, getting swept through the sea of people and not caring where they take me as long as I keep moving. Far away from here.

A tear drips from my eyes and wets the woodwork below me. My heart feels warm, taking me away from reality. This fairy tale is the only way to keep me safe from the horrors I face now.

-Sabrina C.

Holiday Season

As the winter season falls upon us, we are reminded to carry with us the spirit of giving, to cherish close relationships and spend time with those who make us happy. However, we aren’t reminded of the most dreaded aspect that arrives with the close of a year. Finals.

They spring into our busy high school lives, blocking us from feeling any sweet relief of the holiday season. Drowning in papers and homework and tests, we are forced to put all of our energy and attention on our grades and lose focus of what this time of year should really be. A time of happiness, a time of relaxation, a time to appreciate the beauty of life. But with everything at school happening at once, it’s extremely difficult to maintain that positive perspective. Maybe people choose to use the holidays as a goal to finish the year strong, or a distraction when those goals aren’t met. Either way you choose to look at it, December will always be one for mixed feelings.

Not only does school hold onto us a burden of unbelievable stress, but when it comes time to finally put down our pencils and textbooks and plan for the holidays, the challenge of shopping brings up even more anxiety. What should I give this person? If it’s too expensive, do I have to get them a gift? What if mine isn’t personal and thoughtful enough? Or what if it is? Many questions arise over many weeks of planning until it’s too late to think anymore and the motivation for perfection is gone.

If you can, make this holiday season one of peace and happiness to enjoy the festivities and let go of the year’s hardships.

-Sabrina C.

Creative Writing: Happy Birthday

“…to you.”

Another year, another candle, another wish. Annually it was the same, repeating over and over until it was all I knew. Celebrate this day, sing that song, take that picture, and hope for it all to change by the next time. But it never did, did it? The same room, the same cake, the same face, just different people coming and going to see the event. Sooner or later you start to realize all the faces blur together until it turns into nothing. Just a pair of hands with a stretched smile that deliver your age on a silver platter. They cheer for your vitality, but they don’t know how meaningless it is when you’re already dead. They don’t know how numb you’ve become to the wavering flame and blinding snapshots desperately trying to capture the moment that will continue to repeat. They don’t know because they won’t be there for all of them, only you will. Because only you know what it’s like to live the same year. With the same voice and the same face.
Immortality is a gift, they said. But they were wrong.

(I wrote this on my birthday and thought it would be interesting to start an idea for a story about immortality. I don’t know where or how the story would continue but it’s just a small free write to close out this summer.)

-Sabrina C., 12th Grade

 

Writing Prompts

The girl next door…as most people referred to her. Walking down her picturesque street bordered by cookie cutter houses, she smiled and waved at her passing neighbors, very careful to show her perfectly aligned white teeth with every encounter. Adding skips to her timed steps, she radiated with cheerfulness and optimism, portraying the flawless image of innocence. The image she had maintained for all of her fifteen years of polished life. Her skirts never ruffled. There was never a hair astray her shiny, little head. Her personality was unwavering of sunshine, lots and lots of sunshine. And she was not only perfect looking but perfect acting. Straight A’s, big circle of close friends, loving two parent household. You name it she had it. The life everyone dreamed of.

But what everyone didn’t know was…after the long walks through the street, after wearing a smile that stretched her face, after forcing her sweet honey voice out of her croaked throat…she would run up to her bedroom, lock the door behind her, and begin her masterpiece with red paint. Because no one ever knew–or should know–about her secret blood stained toy under her bed, which shredded any image of innocence she tried so hard to build.

(Prompt: Innocent people…pfft everyone’s guilty of something)

——————————————————

I’m alone. In my room. As usual. Nothing’s really changed here. Sure, there were some ups and downs in school but nothing major. I’m not failing or anything. Although, sometimes I wonder if that would help. Failing, I mean. Maybe they’d pay more attention or say something to me at least. Al I get now are good mornings and good nights, if that. Everyone’s gone radio silence since you left. Is left the right word? Can I replace the word died with left? Anyway, I’m trying really hard not to let it consume me. The pain, the grief. And the voices. Oh, the voices. They won’t ever go away. Every time I try to turn off my brain and go to sleep, a new problem arises,  a new question that I try to ignore. When was the last time I ate? When was the last time someone asked if I was okay? When was the last time I saw you? Ah, that last question. It just brings my back to the beach day. Remember when you got rolled by the waves and sand was everywhere? Oh, you were miserable but laughing at the same time. So happy and light in those moments. I wish I could go back to that. Even if we did end up getting in trouble for trespassing that day. It was worth it. Just for that day with you. So, I guess that’s why I’m writing. To talk to someone. To talk to you. All so that I don’t feel alone.

(Prompt: Write for 5 minutes, starting with “I’m alone”)

Creative Writing: Labels

Prompt: If we were all forced to wear a warning label, what would yours say?

I took this prompt literally and made it into an excerpt of a story. So enjoy!


It felt a lot like that game where you have a headband with a word to describe you, but you can’t see it. You know, the one where everyone can see it but you, and if you try to look it’s cheating. Because of this unknown definition of yourself, other people get to judge you and think up their own thoughts before you even get the chance to say hello. Walking around, you can’t help but feel the eyes as they stare at the big block letters slapped across your forehead. Of course, reflections will only make the words disappear, disabling you from seeing them. And I know what you’re thinking…

Why can’t you just tell each other what they are? No, it doesn’t work like that either. For some reason, your body will not let you see or hear it until you’re ready to. It involves some self discovery of finding who you truly are, or some spiritual thing like that. I don’t know. Some achieve this very early in life, which is amazing considering how life messes with us, making us believe we’re one thing when we’re completely the opposite. Others, however, don’t realize until they’re well into their years, past any time that could help them decipher what it means.

Personally, I’ve never really had a problem not knowing what my Label was, except for today. I was simply minding my own business, doing some shopping that I have long since procrastinated, when it happened. Usually, I noticed a few glances, but none of them really lingered long. So I had come to this conclusion that my word was uninteresting and essentially boring. That I was uninteresting and essentially boring. But then, it was another girl, about my age with the word Lost scribbled across her face, who seemed to think I was something more.

First of all, with a word like Lost, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Most Labels I’d seen had said more positive and straightforward things than just Lost. This implied she may never find herself, and that to me is heartbreaking, since that’s everyone’s goal, of course. Other than that, it would’ve been pretty easy to forget about her if she hadn’t followed me around the whole store. Talk about lost. No matter how many times I had thought she left, she was always lurking around some corner, waiting for me to see her. And I always did, but I didn’t want to. The way she looked at me, studying my word; her eyes pierced through as if wanting to burn the letters off my skin or sear them further in. While the rest of her demeanor suggested she was harmless, I didn’t want to stay around her any longer. Ducking out of the building, I thought I had finally cleared her when I turned around to see those unforgiving eyes.

And all she said was “You too.”

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Writing Prompts

Prompt: A fair has come to town with a strange funhouse. Inside is a mirror that shows the viewer that last thing they will see before they die.

“Come on, Cam!” He shouted. “It’ll be fun.” I should’ve known he wanted to come here. The annual fair was his favorite place to go. I just didn’t think he’d drag me here on our 7 month anniversary.

“Why don’t I just wait out here while you go in?” I laughed, trying not to ruin his mood. I really didn’t want to spend ten minutes in a mirror maze that’ll leave me with a headache as soon as I come out.

He used his infamous puppy dog eyes on me. “Please…You know it’s no fun if I go alone.”

I sighed. I really didn’t want to be the kill of his excitement. I smiled and followed Jay through the doors, preparing myself for the vertigo. The space behind the door opened up into a hallway of mirrors with dark lighting and a door at the end. I started to walk towards it when I realized it was only a reflection of the original one, bouncing off the other mirrors. Other than that, there wasn’t much excitement in here. About to ask if we could go, I was interrupted by a sigh.

“Shoot. I think my hat fell off outside.”

I turned back to him and laughed. Relieved that I had an excuse to leave, I replied, “Let’s get it then.”

“No, you stay here and enjoy it. I’ll be right back.” Before I could answer, Jay was already out the door. I rolled my eyes and made my way to the exit. No way I was staying here by myself.

I reached for the handle on the door and was met with a hard surface. I tried again and the door handle wasn’t there. I looked up at the reflection I had thought was real. Unbelievable. I turned around and walked down the hallway, seeing my figure follow me with my peripheral vision. When I got to end, the door did the same thing. No handle. Just a reflection. I groaned in frustration. How did I get so turned around?

I looked at my surroundings, trying to find the way I had come in. All I could see was my own confused face staring back at me. It filled the room, ceiling to floor. Then suddenly the lights went out. Just great.

“Hello?” I called out. “There’s someone in here. Could you turn the lights back on please?”

The hallway immediately filled with light once again, but the reflections were gone. In fact all that was around me was the wood of the walls, except for the screen at the end of the hallway. Walking to it, a movie starting playing. It didn’t seem like a movie that I had seen before.

The screen went into focus and I saw the funhouse. The same one I was in with it’s wooden door, leading into this hallway. I saw the carousel across from it and even Jay walking towards the entrance just like before when he beckoned me inside.

What the hell was going on here?

The image flashed forward to night. Jay was driving his beat up truck on the freeway towards home. Our favorite band was playing on the radio, and we both sang along. We screamed the lyrics with the windows rolled down and the wind whipping my hair. I smiled at how happy we looked.

But then the camera zoomed in on the speedometer the pin moved from 70 to 75…85…100…

“Stop!” I screamed at the video. But we just kept on singing. As the car moved faster, our voices got louder, louder than the cars around us, louder than the revving engine, louder than the honk of the upcoming truck as we crashed into it.

“No!” Tears filled my eyes, and I pounded on the screen. I wanted out of this hallway. I threw myself at the wall and felt the jab as the doorknob poked my side. The door! I twisted it and was met with the sun and the carousel and most importantly Jay, who was waiting just outside the door. Alive.

I flung myself into his arms. “You’re okay!” I hugged him tight so he couldn’t move away. Thankfully, he wrapped his arms around me, reassuring me that he was real.

“Of course I’m okay.” He laughed. “What’re you so worried about?”

I looked up at him through the water in my eyes. “You died. I died.”

He wiped at my face to clear it. “What are you talking about, sweetie? Everything’s fine.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back.

“How long was I in there?” I asked, hoping for an answer.

“Only a second. I was coming right back in when you came out.”

I noticed the hat on his head. “But that’s impossible.”

“Are you okay?” He asked, brushing the hair from my eyes.

I shook my head. “It was so real,” I whispered.

He kissed my head. “It’s okay now, Cam. The sun’s setting already. How about I just take you home?” I nodded and let him lead me to the fair’s exit. “And don’t worry, it’ll be faster if I take the freeway.” He winked.

Prompt: An extra hour occurs at midnight but only a handful of people can experience it. It is called the Dark Hour.

When the minute hand landed on the daunting 12, the chimes were cut short as the second hand stopped. Silence rang through the still house. No one was moving, no one was breathing, for time was frozen. It was a time when the unknown could venture undetected. Alone in the world, they could roam with no humans in their way. That is except for the chosen.

These few people were able to experience the extra hour given to them. Some viewed it as a blessing, others a curse. When the creatures came out for leisure, they didn’t take kindly to the ones who disturbed them. If someone was awake, they’d know.

So when Brian opened his eyes that night for his first Hour, he had no idea the things he would never be able to unsee. The abrupt stop of the clock awoke him, and his eyes snapped open to the chill of lifelessness. He could feel it in his bones; immediately he knew what it was.

Slowly, he shuffled his feet to the floor and was surprised at his silent steps when the floor didn’t creak. All there was was quiet. Nothing moved out of place. His discreet footsteps took him to the screen at back door where he expected to find the trees rustled by wind but there was none. Life was like a picture, a completely unmoving portrait.

Until the first monster ripped through the illusion and made its presence known with a roar.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

“In my hefty elf sack, your nightmares now keep. Better think twice before falling asleep.”
-The Nightmare Elf

welcometothedarkhouse_lauriestolarzThis chilling, nightmare-filled story takes place when seven fans of the famous horror film director, Justin Blake, enter an online contest. They are required to write about their worst nightmare, and the winners get the chance to stay at his legendary B&B, Dark House, featured in his movies. The fans also get to meet the famous man and sneak a look at his upcoming movie. Delighted to find they have won, the horror hopefuls, Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Frankie, Garth, Natalie, and Taylor, set out to have the scare of their life. Spending a weekend in the Dark House appeals to most of them like a vacation home, filled with effects that make the house really seem haunted and mysterious. However, their fun and games take a twisted turn when they are taken to an abandoned amusement park. Embodying the spirit of Blake’s movies, the park is like his own movie set with his wildly creepy characters running around. The seven lucky winners discover they must face their worst nightmares and survive them if they want to be set free.

This book grabbed my attention right from the start. It’s description of horror and thrill left me wondering about my own nightmares. I knew I sure wouldn’t last one night in that house, not with its scare tactics and lonely halls. Stolarz uses her characters’ different perspectives to create this nail-biting world. As a big fan of horror stories, I was really anxious to see how the ending wrapped everything up. I have to say I was a little disappointed that I was left with so many unanswered questions, but overall the plot line was very intriguing.

I encourage readers who like to be scared to give this book a try. I know some horror stories are a gamble because it doesn’t end the way the readers hope. But Welcome to the Dark House is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to read it again.

-Sabrina C, 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.