Madeline Dean

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.

[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.

[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?

[Love Letter]

Dear consistent voice,
You might have not helped me get into the summer writing program at Kenyon*, but, you know what, that’s okay. It’s OK because I’m stuck with you. I know that I will never be without you, and that, no matter how hard I try, you’ll be there. We’re trapped together although we may go everywhere. But it’s always everywhere together. What can I say. You’re my thoughts, my feelings (and) my dreams. I may have ideas separate from you, but that doesn’t matter because my ideas are always thought through you. Like a language. 

Pero, las otras lenguas no son escapas desde ti. Cuando escribo en español, estás aquí también. Tú tienes una voz distintiva, mi maestra de español me dice. Ella no sabe que muchas personas me dicen esta oración. 

You see? It all sounds the same, even in Spanish. I suppose it’s a good thing, though, really. Even if I didn’t get into Kenyon. If I ever write anything and anyone else reads it, it’ll have a watermark. Your watermark. Our watermark. © Madeline Dean. I don’t even need to say it because it’s already there. 

Besides, they say everyone sounds like themselves. Then, they say that I sound especially like myself. Although, I’m not sure that’s true. My stories aren’t (usually) full of. Sentence. Fragments. One. Word. Per. Sentence.

Nor are they full of crazy gimmicks, or exasperatingly sesquipedalian prose. I’m not sure if that second one would help me, but I know the first one would.

No matter. I’m stuck with you. Cool. No matter what I wrote, it sounds like I wrote it. I guess no one’ll accuse me of plagiarism. Except they do. Sigh.

Anyway.

*Editor’s note: Two days after writing this, Madeline learned she was accepted into the summer 2017 Iowa Young Writer’s Studio program. Congratulations, Madeline!

[The Apocalypse or My Life So Far]

by Madeline S. Dean

  • I was born eight days after Y2K caused all of the planes to fall out of the sky, all computer programs to spontaneously crash and time itself to stop.
  • I was eight during the Great Recession. I remember all of the graphs of stock falling down, down, down, into a deep hole of an economy that the country would never return from.
  • I remember the time the United States went to war with Russia over a crashed helicopter in Syria.

    Photo by Rick Bolin, Creative Commons License

    Photo by Rick Bolin, Creative Commons License

  • I was twelve in two-thousand-and-twelve, and I remember when the super volcano at Yellowstone erupted, causing all kinds of natural disasters.
  • I remember when Russia took over Crimea and Ukraine and then kept spreading, all over Europe until the United States had to step in. With nukes.
  • I remember when Iran got a nuclear weapon.
  • I remember when the Ebola epidemic devastated the United States, and everyone was afraid to get within a foot of each other.
  • I remember the Zika epidemic that followed, and how it made everyone lock their doors and windows and not leave the house.
  • I remember the apocalypse, the world ending so many times and in so many different ways.
  • And so, looking at all of this, I can’t help but feel that the future is bleak. All I’ve ever known is one end of the world after the other, so how could the future be any different?

[Madeline S. Dean, 2016-17]

Madeline S. Dean, YAC 2016-17

Madeline S. Dean, YAC 2016-17

Madeline S. Dean is a sixteen-year-old junior who goes to the Stapleton Campus of the Denver School of Science and Technology and, yes, she partially likes to write that out because it seems absurdly long on paper. She likes to write a lot of plot and suspense with an occasional dash of humor.

True to the form of her school she also likes to write a lot of science fiction, especially dystopia, which is more to-school-true than it sounds. She mostly writes short stories, thought she had a poem published once and is not sure how, and also tied for first place in a school essay contest and has not, much to her dismay, read the other writer’s essay. She would mostly like to keep writing, no matter what her future career is, and want to finish all of the stories she is currently writing. This is a lot harder than it sounds because she has a habit of not knowing how long her stories are going to be. Outside of this, Madeline enjoys traveling and has traveled extensively around the globe.

“I write because I think it’s profound that I can take what’s in my head and share it with others.” ~ Madeline