Author: jesakal

Last Prompt Ever

By Thalia Medrano

I never saw Colorado skies until I walked out from the grotto of a beautiful old Denver Square house as the sun set orange and pink over the dingy low city skyline, where the frayed telephone wires cut dark black silhouettes just above the horizon. I had seen it before in a picture, taken somewhere else maybe, but the same view, and had always wished that the real world could look that way. And yet here I am, finding that picture come to life in the place I’d lived in long enough to grow bored of.

I never wanted to stay in Colorado. I still don’t want to stay in Colorado. But I’ll miss the sky. Maybe I’ll find skies somewhere else. Maybe I’ll find an ocean, a grey one in a drizzly little town somewhere where the sky isn’t as brilliant but it won’t matter because I’ll have the water for a sky. Maybe I’ll have a misty forest like the ones I found in Vermont.

I’ll miss the sky, but I’ll still leave, because I want a different ordinary. Someday, my ordinary will consist of:

  • Fire escapes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Lace curtains
  • A park with a good tree to climb
  • Open documents full of words that mean something
  • Worn in boots
  • Potted plants growing on the window sill
  • Pins
  • A room far off the ground
  • My new sky, be it a forest or ocean

But for the time being, a can appreciate my ordinary for the red walls, the dried flowers hanging from a string above the closet, the strange art from every corner of the world in every corner of our home, the blue, purple, and green trim, the creek behind my old elementary school, the bus on a rainy day, the large chair in the coffee shop, the parlor and the Denver Square house.

Atari Game

By Madeline Dean

Atari2600aAtari video games were once very popular—that’s for sure. But what will they be fifty, sixty years from now? Just a little black box, sitting in a junkyard. Assuming junkyards still exist fifty, sixty years from now. Maybe the world will become some kind of environmental utopia where everything is recycled, and the Atari game will broken into little tiny pieces, a part of everything but nothing itself.

 That can’t happen to writing. It can’t get broken up into little bits. Because, without choice or order, all writing becomes just words. A novel or a Shakespearean play becomes nothing but a dictionary.

So, that’s not to say dictionaries are nothing, but they are just a means to an end. And the end is the collection of all of those bits and pieces–English is a language of miscellany. Here’s a Latin word, and over there’s a Germanic one, and, together, they’re a symphony of emotion.

Itinerary for the Ordinary This Summer

By Madison Hart

Dearest Friend,

You’ve asked what my summer looks like. My summer will be an ordinary summer. But don’t think of the word ordinary and frown. Because I intend to make the ordinary extraordinary. I will turn rolling out of bed in the morning a party–for I have another day. I will turn brewing the coffee into a time of thanksgiving–for I have coffee to brew. I will take making an omelet and flip it into a competition against myself–just to see how perfect I can make it. A shower will become a luxurious cleansing underneath a waterfall. Getting in my car will become like boarding a space craft–for I am off to live adventures and meet new people. I will take my errands and treat them as if I’m on a countdown–for errands always need a little pizazz. I will take washing the dishes and turn it into a karaoke night–for music makes any task grander. I will take climbing into my sheets at night and turn it into a time to ponder my extraordinary day and my extraordinary tomorrow. So, you see, my summer will be extraordinary. Not because of what I do, but because of how I do it. What will your summer look like?

[Book Review: Ramona Blue]

by Abigail Munson

In Ramona Blue, Julie Murphy plunges the reader straight into an engrossing story. A story that feels more like a summer memory from years ago than reading a book. While main character Ramona is not by any means generic, rather a six-foot-tall blue-haired enigma, she creates a deep nostalgia within the reader, like she was your best friend in another life. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy I am quote

Murphy’s descriptive language is languid and beautiful and melancholy and entirely blue. Every few pages, there is one sentence that takes my breath away and I have to read it over a few times and let it resonate within me.

I instantly fell in love with Freddie, his character was sweet and charming and almost too good to be true. Freddie felt like a silver-lining in a muddy, wet town.

Ramona Blue was overall very well written. I adored the language, the characters, the story and would definitely recommend it to my friends and I will definitely read it again.

[One Year]

By Madeline Dean

November is national novel-writing month.
December is national novel-editing month.
January is national submitting-your-novel-to-publishers month.
February is national getting-rejection-emails month.
March is national I’ll-just-edit-this-more month.
April is national giving-up month.
May is national not-writing month.
June is national realizing-this-whole-“not-writing”-thing-is-not-working month.
July is national getting-back-into-writing-month.
August is national writing-shorter-smaller-pieces month.
September is national realizing-you-want-to-write-a-novel month.
October is national novel-planning month.
November is national novel-writing month.

[Book Review: The Beast Is An Animal]

By Cassidy Nicks

The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale reads like a really fun acid trip. [Editor’s note: not that Cassidy knows what an acid trip is. She’s just watched too many YouTube videos.]  Everything is far out, mysterious, elusive: the story of a damaged and abused girl transforming into a fearsome creature.

the beast is an animal book coverThe book is compelling, with an engaging plot, but is simultaneously hyper realistic and impossible–the decisions and paths Alys (the main character) follows, are incredibly real, yet the story is based in a fantasy land more similar to classical China or medieval Europe than anything else.

The real world blends with fantastic creatures, and a “fforest” (this spelling was incredibly obnoxious, and my biggest complaint) is never what it seems (at one point, the fforest spelling is broken and a normal forest is written, leaving the reader wondering if it was on purpose, or was just a typo).

The Beast is by far the most interesting character, but remains absent most of the book, and while it’s alluded that part of the Beast is inside Alys, this is never really mentioned until the last chapters. For being the title character, he sure isn’t a leading one.

Five Things I Learned While Reading The Beast Is An Animal

  1. People are selfish when they are scared.
  2. People with power often act like @ssh@les.
  3. Sometimes a girl doesn’t need a guy to solve a problem.
  4. Nothing is ever purely good or evil.
  5. Don’t judge a Beast by the stories others tell.

Overall, despite the annoying spelling of forest (as fforest), The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale is a well-written story that will keep the reader engaged from cover to cover.

 

[Attic Ballroom]

By Madeline S. Dean

Somewhere, far below, a car speeds down Colfax, looking at the Noodles or the T-Mobile or CVS. But this room isn’t part of that world. It’s divided off by solid white walls. They curve up where they met the ceiling, like a cave, but without the dampness or the unpleasantness. Just the isolation.

And, is it so impossible, for a room so divided from space, to also be divided from time?

Imagine what this place looked like one hundred years ago. Take the green carpet from the floor, the tables and desks and bookshelves, the conference table in the middle, the fixings of a house for writers.Lighthouse ghost stories photo Madeline Dean

This room was a ballroom, once. A ballroom on the top floor, overlooking the city. Picture the men and women, all dressed in nineteenth century finery, trudging up two flights of stairs, no doubt sweating and huffing and puffing the whole way up. And picture the scene that greeted them—people dancing, drinking, tables set up around the periphery.

In some ways, it’s not so hard. That little alcove might have been a bandstand, with a cello and a violin.

A top floor ballroom must have meant a lot of things. For one, isolation. It must have been just as much of a thing then as it is now. Or even more so, before the house was surrounded by skyscrapers and peeping neighbors. This wasn’t the kind of party you could just come in off the street. You had to be invited, to know people. And, in such an isolated space, the parties must have gone on all night. What was stopping them?

For another, guests had to walk through almost the entire house to get up there. The fancy staircase is in the front of the house, but only the back one goes all the way up. Did they walk through the first floor, with the formal and informal living rooms? The dining room wallpapered with gold? Or did they walk up the nice staircase and cross to the back on the second floor? Walk past the bedrooms?

And, for a third, the party must have dominated the entire house. The music must have been audible on the first floor, and people dancing must have shaken the rafters and the walls. It must have been possible to eavesdrop on the gossip from the second story bathroom or the first story kitchen.

The house is still like that, sometimes. Even with the carpet, the desks and the bookshelves. All of those parties, all of those years ago, have left their mark on the space. The rafters know what it’s like to feel people dancing, the claw-foot tub knows what gossip sounds like, and the back stairs would like your invitation, please.

After all, if the parties didn’t know when to stop then, why would they now?

[Trap of Loyalty]

By Madison Hart


She ambled past the row of headstones, some sunk into the plush grass, so old no one visited them. At the end, was one chiseled from marble, still new and glimmering in Madison ghost story photothe afternoon sun. Margaret Leland, born May 2
nd 1850, died June 21st 1902. She sighed, sinking to her knees and caressing the opulent marker. Ten years to the day, she thought. Checking her small chain watch she decided to head back home. It was nearing time for her husband to return from work. Dozens of faces flooded past her on the walkway, she smiled at each one, but no one noticed her. She arrived back at her house, entering through the kitchen door. Their few maids bustled about, preparing the meal for the master. They too brushed right past her without a simple hello. She glided through the doorway, tracing the details along the frame and fingering the cool gold of the hinges. The formal receiving room sat empty, one of her grandchild’s dolls carelessly strewn on the wicker furniture. Small giggles rang from the adjacent room. She parted the sliding doors. Two rosy cheeked faces turned to her, eyes wide and mouths ajar. The toys fell from their hands as the children ran screaming up the stairs crying “Mother, mother!” Her head hung low. She wasn’t sure she could take this misery much longer. Mounting the stairs, she climbed five before ducking into the little alcove and seating herself on the short seat. The light waned from the front of the house, so she turned on the dancing lady with flower-shaped bulb holders for hands. Her shadowy hand parted the lace curtain from the geometric crystal window. Here, she would wait for her husband to return so that she might be the first to greet him. She used to have several passersby wave to her from the street, but now, she was invisible. Ah, yes! Here was her husband. His tall, willowy figure ascended the steps and entered the house. She jumped from her seat, floating down the stairs, only to have her embrace interrupted by her two grandchildren and daughter. “Hello Papa, we missed you today!” She shrunk back into the alcove. Here she had sat for the past ten years–unnoticed. And for the next ten years I shall remain. Their marriage vows ran through her mind, “Till death do you part.” Yet not even death could separate true loyalty and love.

[Old House, New Lives]

By Katy McDonald

Marline and John threw open all the windows of the house.  Pro of living in an old house: big windows.  Con of living in an old house: no AC.  But they had made the decision to live there, and now they had to live with it.

Not a bad decision, Marline thought to herself as she looked out over the green and blues from her attic window as the breeze began to cold the room.  Still, John had been strategic about getting them to move in when it was still bearable.   

Six months.  It had been six months, and Marlin still felt she couldn’t move in her own home.  The walls held so many memories; they had seen the lives of so many men and women. A few deaths, too, no doubt.  She shook herself, if she started to tell herself ghost stories now she would never get to bed.

She stepped carefully back down the steep steps.  John’s family had lived in the house for generations.  When his cousin moved out in the early fall, John had jumped at the chance to move in.  Marline was still unsure about her husband’s hasty decisions, but he was happy and promised their kids would be too.  Kids.  She smiled at the thought.  John still didn’t know how soon he would have to come through on that promise.

Katy Old House photo“Happy, Love?”  He asked from his place on the couch.  It had to be from the twenties.  It was hideous.

Marline turned her smile on him and dropped her hand.  “Couldn’t be happier.”  She grabbed her bag.  “I’ll see you after work, don’t get up to too much trouble.”

 

They were laying in bed.  Wind blow through their room.  The days were too hot and the nights were too cold.  Marline tried to sleep, but it was so hard.  She tossed and turned.  John always slept hot not matter what.

Finally, she gave up on the idea of sleep.  She grabbed her sleeping gown and walked down the kitchen.  The wind was blowing throw the whole house, that seemed about right.  Without turning on the light, she started making tea.  At least someone had thought about indoor plumbing and electricity.  

The street light shown into the window giving the whole room a light caramel feel.  The street was still.  Carm.  Good neighborhood.

Marline stopped.  The wind was blowing through the room.  It was blowing in her hair.  The pages of John’s book on the table were rolling over slowly.  The trees outside were still.  Like a picture.  Dead still.  She shook her head.   No thoughts like that were bad.  Bad thoughts.

The kettle started whistling, and she jumped.  She hadn’t been paying attention for it to get that loud….that fast.