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.

Nature!

Writing Prompt: Describe a character experiencing an unorthodox morning and their reflection following the morning’s events.

Unfortunately for me, and quite controversially to my motto “life is dumb and I want to sleep”, I found myself stumbling in the muted shimmering light of the rising sun out to sidewalk with a water bottle in hand and athletic shoes snug on my cold feet. Yawning, I let out a puff of air, my breath leaving it’s mark in the air. Not that I was against physical activity or anything but sleeping in until nine o’clock then rising to sip some tea while reading a novel was just, simply put, preferable.

My childhood friend, Jax (that garrulous, manipulative rascal), somehow made me comply to going on a hike at five thirty on a Saturday morning. Last night’s phone call was still vague and fuzzy in my groggy mind. I picked up my pace, feeling the cool air seep into the seams of my leggings and weave through the strands of my ponytail.

An hour or so later, the sun had fully peeped its head out from behind the mountaintops and illuminated the windy path up to 48 Wiles Way, a crooked condo that perched itself on top of a hill overlooking the beach, surfboards and sandy towels scattered around the front door and on the balcony. Ten minutes of hacking through tough vines and unforgiving cacti led me to a meditating Jax, who was gazing at the surf, probably rating the day’s waves. My audible gasps for breath made him spin around and chuckle as if my failure was the best thing he’s seen all morning. “Hey, partner, let’s start this hike, yeah?” and without waiting for my response, he jumped up and his tan hand latched onto my fleshy, pale one and dragged me to the trail that led down to the rocky shore.

The narrow trail, I discovered five minutes in, was home to various creatures, including cockroaches, rats and squirrels, who I was tempted to feed crumbs from my jacket pockets but thought better of it. I didn’t need a line of squirrels tracking me down looking for more old peanut butter toast bits. I was preoccupied with not tripping on  my shoelaces and faceplanting.

An overwhelming wave of sea air blew our direction, rustling the luscious foliage and invading my nose. It proved to be a new scent as my senses were accustomed to the wonderful aroma of brewing coffee and new books. Still, there was an appealing, delicious feature of the ocean air that made me want to grow wings and fly right over the cliff and into the sparkling blue waves. There was a beautiful array of flowers in the bushes we passed, a spectrum of magenta and fiery orange hues. Birds sang songs to each other but quickly flew away, startled when our dusty tennis shoes would slap the ground, sending up delicate clouds of brown dirt in our wake.

By ten, the warm sunshine began to slowly engulf me, creating dark pools of sweat on my back but leaving me feeling exhilarated, empowered and free. I tore my jacket off and released a satisfied, exhausted whoop of excitement. Jax barked a laugh and followed suite. If a stranger were to look up from the sandy nadir, they would see two obnoxious teenagers, pounding the ground, making a rowdy mess of things. But if you saw it through my eyes, you’d see two individuals, sparked into happiness by the energy of the sun, starting the weekend off right in joyful relaxation. As we came to the final stretch, our shouts subsided and we let our huffing breaths fill whatever air the chirping birds and crashing waves didn’t. All too soon, the challenge came to an end and my beating heart leapt in time with the pounding water. When Jax and I found ourselves sprawled on the warm sand, still saying nothing but letting the summer atmosphere speak for us, singing about nature’s unique beauty and awesome power over humans, I scolded myself. Why had I never took up Jax’s offer on a morning run before? This is so beautiful and worth the early morning alarm! Jax turned and gave me a knowing grin as he watched my illuminated face, eyes studying the ever changing waves, lips curving into a permanent smile.

Nature, I concluded, entices us, provides for us, awes us, and inspires us more and more, each time we step foot outside.

-Jessica T.

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

What If Harry Potter Was Friends With Draco Malfoy?!

Contains Spoilers!

If you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. The books are so awesome and the magic is so exciting. In the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first time Harry gets on the Hogwarts Express, he is befriended by a boy named Ronald Weasely. A boy named Draco Malfoy interferes, and tries to make Harry his friend instead. Harry, however, had none of Malfoy’s interests in mind, and became close friends with Ron. But what if Harry became Draco Malfoy’s friend instead?

On The Hogwarts Express:

Malfoy turned back to Harry. “You’ll find that some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

He held out his hand for Harry to shake, and Harry, looking back at Ron, shook it after a moment of hesitation.

Malfoy smirked. “So long, Weasley. It seems that you have this whole compartment to yourself, then. C’mon, Harry, let’s go.”

A growl ripped from Ron’s throat, sounding almost predatory. He leapt at Malfoy, but Harry shook him off.

“Stop it!” Harry said angrily. “Draco’s my friend, Ron! Cut it out!”

Letting out a long breath, Ron stepped back into the compartment, glaring at them. Malfoy glared back, then left the compartment, Harry following him.

“See what I meant?” drawled Draco. “The wrong sort of friend, Potter…the Weasleys are a poor wizarding family with too many kids they can afford…and they can’t even control their temper, look at how low they’ve sunk…”

Harry nodded absentmindedly. “True,” he muttered. “I suppose your family’s much better…”

Draco smiled. “Of course, Potter! My family is rolling in wizard’s gold…everyone knows that!” He smirked. “Of course, father tries to keep that quiet, but quite a few people know…”

“I totally get you, Malfoy,” Harry said grinning, turning to look at his new friend. “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together this year…”

Yeah, I know, this probably would never ever happen, and Harry is a lot meaner here than he is in the books, but it was still fun to think about what would happen when two enemies were actually friends instead! If Harry was friends with Draco, and then Ron was their enemy…that would be odd, but I suppose I’m just too used to Ron and Harry being Draco’s enemy! The Harry Potter series would be really whacked up if Harry and Draco were friends, but it’s still something cool to think about!

-Katherine L.

Materials relating to the wizarding world of Harry Potter are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded from Overdrive and Hoopla