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quetzal's Blog


An Open Letter to Suzanne Collins

I wrote this in my journal a few months ago after finishing Mockingjay, and I’ve decided to put it here. ‘Cause, donut. Enjoy. Oh and **SPOILER ALERT**

Dear Ms. Collins,

Really? Really? That’s how you had to end it? Wow. I am quite disappointed. Quite. So, I was okay with Katniss going back into the arena for book 2 (totally called it!), but did there have to be a Games scenario at the heart of each book? Did there, really? The pods in the Capitol were a bit much. And then killing off Prim anyway? What kind of sick, cruel irony is that? Not the good kind. I mean, I’m usually all for the sad ending, but I think maybe there was too much going on. Or really, it just wasn’t handled very well. Of course Katniss survives, but did both Gale and Peeta need to? No. Why is Gale still alive? He was bleeding from the neck and was shot twice? Katniss, you should’ve ended him when you had the chance. Or there needed some more resolution between them other than “Oh, were those your bombs that senselessly murdered my sister? You don’t know? Fuck you.” Also—how does no one “know” whose bombs those were/why they were there? Snow’s all like “Don’t look at me, it wasn’t my idea” and Gale’s like “Idk and neither does Beetee” but someone has to have planned it and I want to know who and why.

The whole third book was ust disjointed and chaotic and the tone was too different from the others. Katniss was too drugged up half the time and there was too much going on inside her head. It started off promising, and I liked when she went to the districts and got into trouble. But when she became a “soldier”…I’m not a fan of District 13 and their organized operations. They were too Capitol-like with their propaganda…I just kept wanting Katniss to break off from Coin and follow a better direction because it seemed odd that she would keep working with them. All she needed to do was infiltrate the Capitol and assassinate Snow, which she ends up trying to do anyway, 200 pages later! Much nonsense could have been avoided. Why did they need to secure all the districts first, really? It only takes one person to kill Snow, and once one gets to a certain point within the Capitol, apparently it’s pretty easy to wander around.

I mean, there is just very little explanation of anything. I was under the impression that book 3 would wrap up loose ends but it only killed off practically everyone from book 2 (Finnick!) without a thought and left even more questions unanswered. Come on. I can’t believe the book was actually published the way it is. Was there ever another Hunger Games? I’d like to think no, since it was Coin’s idea and Katniss killed Coin (one satisfying twist), but it’s never said. Nor is there an explanation of Katniss’ agreement to it. Was she agreeing only to please Coin, so she could kill the woman? Was that what she and Haymitch understood? Or was Coin’s assassination a last-minute decision? (I’d like to think the former, but don’t be afraid to spell it out for us!) And then for Katniss to be left alone so long…and her trial. Too convenient that she just got off like that without another word. Back to District 12. And what did people think of Coin’s assassination? Were they actually happy? Couldn’t we have gotten some indication? Did they support Katniss in her trial??

Other questions: what happened to the rest of the (surviving) victors? And did Finnick have to die? Really? Couldn’t we at least get more than a sentence on his death?

Really, you could have split Mockingjay into two books to answer all of our questions. It was too fast-paced (while some parts dragged unnecessarily) and characters were dropping like flies.

By this point, Katniss has been through an immeasurable (almost unbelievable) amount of pain and suffering—shot, stabbed, poisoned, family dead (side: why was Prim even at the front lines?)—and she seems on the verge of insanity (again). Then Peeta shows up, after Haymitch and basically everyone else just disappears. But even then no explanations…not even a good scene really between Katniss and him. Haymitch drinks, Peeta bakes, Katniss hunts. Peeta and Katniss get married and have their little peaceful suburban life. Bullshit! No way. They can’t just settle down like that, like nothing ever happened. Also—what about Peeta, anyway? Are his memories still damaged? Has he had more treatment in the Capitol? How did he get so badly burned as well? Did Prim’s treatment for his memories work at all? Can he still remember everything, even if some memories are distorted? I mean, his character was all but destroyed in this book, and there is virtually no time spent building him back up into a loveable person.

Finally—the epilogue. I don’t even want to begin. Okay. There should not be an epilogue at all, especially considering the epilogue added nothing whatsoever to the story. The book was fine where it ended. Oh, they got married. That could already be inferred. Oh, they had kids—a boy with her hair and his eyes and a girl with his hair and her eyes. Omg, gag me please. That’s so…teenagery! Ew. Oh and—no, wait, that’s it. What? Yes. That’s it. Nothing else. No mention of what the other victors are doing or what happened to Gale. Nothing about the entirety of Panem and how the whole revolution went or what kind of system has been set up or how the Capitol people adjusted or what the standards of living are. But besides all that, it’s unacceptable to me that Katniss and Peeta settled down to a normal life. They couldn’t have, even if they’d wanted to. They’d been through too much. They’d been too important. There’s no way they would just have been left alone—the rest of the country can’t have just forgotten about them. They were celebrities and rallying points. I think they would still have to be involved in politics somehow. It bothers me that everything they cared about or that mattered to them before just suddenly ceased to matter. Granted, some of these things no longer existed, and they’d been through a lot of trauma. But they never saw Gale or his family again? Or Katniss’ mother? Or Johanna? And Peeta never got to use his words to win over another crowd? I think he, at least, should have been politically involved.

But we don’t know. And this would’ve been fine, to leave it open-ended. But there’s an idiotic epilogue standing in the way…cancelling out my imaginings with a few inane passages.

Anyway, the only reason I have ranted on so long is because I care about this series and these characters. I had such hopes for the third and final installment, and they were totally crushed! And I realize that the answers to many of my questions can be inferred or puzzled out by readers, but my point is they shouldn’t have to be, especially considering the first two books were not written in this way.

Respectfully yours,

A Disappointed Reader


FreeRice

I've been using this website for a couple of years now and I don't know why I haven't posted about it before because it is just amazing. Imagine playing a game--yes, that means fun--that at once makes you smarter and fights world hunger! Pretty cool, huh? FreeRice was designed as a vocabulary game where you're presented with a word and several definitions. If you choose the correct definition, ten grains of rice are automatically bought and donated to the UN World Food Programme. Ten grains may not sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly, and 80,537,204,190  grains have been donated since October 7, 2007. That's a lot of rice--billions! But c'mon, we can make it trillions! The power of FreeRice is in the people who use it. It's free, educational, and philanthropic--what have you got to lose? Please, please, please participate. Together, we can make a difference. We can fight world hunger, ten grains of rice at a time.

Have questions? Check out the FAQ at: http://www.freerice.com/faq.html 

Play now!
http://www.freerice.com 

 Fight world hunger

And while you're at it, here's another site I found today. FreePoverty donates clean water while you play a fun geography game. http://freepoverty.com 
  
 

Of Mice or Men?

There is an issue today that affects roughly one out of every two people. The side effects are grievous: job loss, emotional trauma, physical injury. It’s a global problem, but for the sake of brevity I’ll narrow it down to Michigan--no, further, to Alpena, Michigan. I’m talking about the cursed plague of unending troubles that is the male gender.

Like the rats and mice of the Black Plague, men are, and always have been, the carriers of various nasties that ravage the population. At least the Black Plague could only kill you. Men are capable of much worse. They spread cynicism, heartache, confusion, frustration (I could go on forever), anger, fear, injustice, insanity (I really could), death, despair, degradation, depravity (but I won’t), and so very much more. Mice are hated and exterminated for much less than this--why not men? I’ll tell you why not. There’s always that one woman who foolishly believes herself to be “in love” with one idiot or another. I have never known a woman to be in love with a mouse.

That’s the only difference separating men from mice, mice from men--the irrational feeling called love. That is the bait Alpena men--liars, cheaters, cretins, all--use to lure women in. But I am here to tell you it is all a ruse, a façade, a pretense. Listen to me, women of Alpena, and read these words carefully: “love” is nothing more than a word men throw around to get you to stay with louses like them, because they know no rational woman ever would. Listen to me! Be rational. Be independent. Don’t let a pathetic man’s pleas and claims of “love” withhold you from your goals, your dreams, your future, your life. That is, not unless you want to end up like an unfortunate Alpena woman.

Take, for example, the shooting that occurred last week in which a husband gunned down his wife in their home on Fifth Avenue. When asked about his motive, the man explained, “That [insert crude expletive of choice here] refused to make me a sammich!” Further research led me to the prestigious UrbanDictionary.com where I discovered that a “sammich” is in fact “what bitches make” or “what men call sandwiches when they demand one from a woman” or “what women should be preparing”. Apparently, this particular man thought they were to die for. Ha, ha. Okay, so it was a bad joke.

The truth is, men are the weaker sex. Why else would they go to such lengths to oppress women? They fear us. Deep down they know that the only reason they’re around is because, unfortunately, we still need them for reproduction. And they do have a certain entertainment value. Ah, but why, you ask, have women thus allowed themselves to be ruled for so long? Why have we gone along with the idea that the possession of a penis gives a man the right to lord over anything and everything his grimy groping hands touch? Well, who knows? Women as a whole have emerged slowly, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are the ones we respect and remember--the ones who challenge the boundaries of male-dominated society. And I can assure you that behind nearly every great man in history was a woman inspiring him, encouraging him, or flat-out telling him what to do. They tolerated men and were content to take a backseat. We women are a modest bunch, you know. But no more, I say! It’s finally time to give credit where credit is due. It’s finally time to teach these moronic male mongrels a well-deserved lesson.

This lesson is going to be hard to learn. Many won’t survive. But if it seems a little harsh just keep in mind that this is the accumulation of an eternity of oppression. Funny thing about being oppressed--keep them down long enough and they will become the oppressors. So here is my plan: first, we make sure the sperm banks are full. Then, we sort out the bad from the worse. We’ll keep some of these around just in case, but they’ll have to be contained--the old bomb shelter will do nicely. Finally, we send the rest of them packing to the moon. I mean, there’s always been one man there, and I figure he might like some company. Maybe they’ll get lucky and the moon will be made out of cheese after all. Or maybe the aliens will take pity on them. Either way, the point is they are no longer our problem.

Well, I’m an optimist at heart, so I’d like to end on a positive note. The good news is that this rant has been hypothetical. That’s right, guys! Stop worrying about what to take on your impromptu lunar trip and listen to me. We women are growing tired of your chauvinism. Fortunately for you we’re not quite to the breaking point yet, but the rubber band is about to snap. Trust me, you don’t want to see that happen. So shape up while there’s still time. You’ve been warned.

A Star

Once upon a night of wonder, hoping not to make a blunder,
hearing crash and roll of thunder, boldly wishing on a star,
on a star so gently twinkling, suddenly I had an inkling,
while the rain so lightly sprinkling cleansed the earth both near and far.
Inklings sprouted till I doubted thinking something so bizarre,
as I wished upon a star.

Trepidation froze my footsteps, froze my faulty flound'ring footsteps.
With five final frenzied missteps crept I to the door ajar.
I could hear a raven crowing and my blood was pumping, flowing.
Peering in I saw a glowing, glowing from a fire of char.
Warmth and happiness abounding poured out from the room ajar
while I wished upon a star.

Carefully I tried to enter into loving fam'ly center,
but I could not even enter, doomed to watch from here afar.
I did not belong in Eden, perfect, lovely, joyous Eden.
So I turned my back on Eden, turned toward night as black as tar,
thus condemned to wander ever in the realm where spirits are,
vainly wishing on a star.

Hello?!

I'm yelling, screaming, SHOUTING at the top of my lungs, but does anyone hear me?! Oh, wait. That's in my mind. But what isn't inside my head should be more than enough. I'm direct, to the point, and subtlety was never my thing anyway. It's painfully obvious. Doesn't anyone see? Doesn't anyone listen?! No; I forgot. No one cares to listen.


Invisible

Am I invisible?
Do people really see me?
I know they don't see the real me--I don't let them.
But still.
Do the edges of my countenance waver, shimmer, ghostlike?
I examine my hand.
It seems solid.
If someone touched me would he reach right through?
I prod my hand.
Yep, I'm "real" all right.
So why don't I feel it?
Why don't I feel alive?
I seem to be like a mosquito or some other annoying insect--
they all know I'm here but I hover at the edge of their vision so they don't really see me.
Some fear me, some swat me away, and they'd all be much more comfortable if I just wasn't here.
But no, I give myself too much credit;
not even the attention of a bothersome insect is due to me.
I avoid them, they avoid me, and I go along, unnoticed and alone.


Paper Masks

People change all the time,
yet everyone remains the same.
We exchange one mask for another;
no one sees our true selves.
Maybe we don't even know our true selves.
We cover up with paper masks,
Paper masks for paper people in a paper world.
The masks allow us to be everyone but ourselves,
and eventually we forget who we truly are.


Final Hope

Dusk was settling upon the land as the final pink rays of daylight melted into the horizon. Stars winked into existence and a cooling breeze swept away the lingering remnants of the day’s heat. The rustling of leaves hid the slight noise made by two stealthy figures moving through the forest. A woman with raven hair cascading in waves down her back led the way. Her graceful stride suggested elven blood and she wore dark, fitted clothing to blend with the trees. A man followed, less gracefully, picking his footing cautiously. He wore similar clothing and carried a sword at the ready. The blade glinted menacingly in the starlight. There was no moon.

Suddenly the woman paused. She tilted her head from side to side, listening. She breathed in the fresh summer air, scented with flowers and grasses and something not quite right.

“Atreya? What is it?” asked the man softly, anxiously.

She whirled to face him, eyes wide. “This is it, Castin. They’ve found us. Our strength is about to be tested. Let’s keep moving.”

They continued at a faster pace, and Castin strained his senses to catch any sound or smell that might alert him. He felt cold dread and terror. He and Atreya had come too far, lost too much, to be stopped now. She was the last hope for the people, and she must be protected at all costs. It was his duty, his destiny, to help her claim the throne which was rightfully hers and overthrow the corrupted King Coron, Atreya’s uncle. But Coron’s Riders had found them.

Castin froze at the thunder of distant hooves. Atreya turned slowly to face him, and he pulled her into a firm embrace, taking in every detail of her and this moment. She broke away and led him to a nearby clearing. “From here we will watch and wait,” she explained in rapid whispers. “They will have to go by foot through Fenwick Forest and if they are the fools I expect them to be they will have torches. Easy targets. I will take out as many as I can with my arrows, then you attack with your sword.” Atreya’s eyes softened as they searched his. “Castin, if I should fall, you must promise to go on and defeat my uncle. There will still be hope while one of us lives.”

Castin nodded and pressed his mouth to hers. “We will not fall,” he murmured fervently.

Atreya’s eyes, however, were now fixed on the eight torches bobbing toward them. Riders’ curses could be discerned as they stumbled through the woods. “Fools,” she hissed while fitting an arrow to her bow. Hidden behind a tree, she loosed her first shaft, striking down the leader as he stepped into the clearing. Two more fell before they had time to react, then Castin jumped in, swinging his deadly blade. The five remaining Riders surrounded him, but Atreya hurled a dagger at one and decapitated another from behind with her short sword. A third engaged her in a duel, leaving Castin to continue fighting the last two. He felt exhausted already and his sword weighed heavily on his arm. He received a deep gash on his right shoulder in a clumsy move. For a second he fumbled his weapon, but regained his footing to whirl and lunge, piercing one enemy in the leg. As he danced and parried, Castin spied Atreya plunge her blade into her opponent and kick him away as he sank to the ground. Castin smiled grimly, spotted a weakness in his wounded attacker’s strategy, and stabbed swiftly between the man’s ribs. There was no time to dwell on the life he had just ended as he spun to confront the Rider preparing to kill from behind. As Castin turned, the edge of his blade slit the man’s throat, and the last enemy collapsed. The battle was over.

Silence rang in Castin’s ears. He gripped his wounded shoulder and scanned the carnage. Atreya was crouched, murmuring prayers over the Riders she had taken. She stood and glanced at Castin sadly, then rolled her head back to behold the stars and smiled. Castin slumped wearily.

A sudden movement behind Atreya caught his attention and her serene trance became shocked pain as a blade sprouted from her abdomen. Agony crumpled her face and body as she dropped to the earth. A dark figure bent to retrieve its sword, then sprinted away, disappearing among the thick foliage of Fenwick.

Castin was on his knees, hardly registering what he had just witnessed. His gaze was fixed on Atreya’s motionless form. Anguish, fury, helplessness flooded him, but he had no energy to chase the shadow who had done this. Instead he crawled toward Atreya. She had rolled over onto her back, legs twisted to the side, hands clenching her flowing wound, face distorted in torment. Castin brushed hair off her sweaty forehead, ran his fingers over her cheeks. “Atreya, no. Hold on. You can make it through this. You’re going to be okay. You have to be okay.” He bent to press his forehead to hers and mumbled reassurances over and over.

Atreya opened her eyes and reached up a bloody hand to stroke his face. She smiled faintly through her agony. “It’s up to you now, Castin. You have to defeat my uncle.” He shook his head and moaned. “Listen to me,” she insisted. “You have to carry on.” Every word was a struggle and her breath was labored.

Castin hung his head, tears flowing. “I swear I will. Your uncle will die by my hands.”

Her eyelids drooped in gratitude. “Thank you.” He gathered her gently onto his lap. Crimson blood soaked their clothing.

And then, as her body fell limp in his arms, mist crept around them. She gave one final upheaving sigh, and her soul slowly escaped from her parted lips. Castin cradled the tiny light in his hands with wonder, as one might hold a delicate crystal bird. He offered her soul to the heavens, and it rose to join the stars. “Be free,” he whispered. And he knew then he was the last hope.


Books of 2010

1. Meridian by Amber Kizer
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (again)
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (again)
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
5. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
6. Paper Towns by John Green
7. Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher
8. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (again)
9. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
10. Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
11. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
12. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
13. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
14. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
15. Splendor by Anna Godberson
16. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
17. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (again)
18. 1984 by George Orwell
19. Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases by Nisio Isin
20. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
21. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
22. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
23. Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
24. City of Thieves by David Benioff
25. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (again)


Jacob's Story

 Jacob trudged home from his bustop in the lightly falling November snow. He pulled his hood up around his face to keep out the brisk wind and readjusted his Spider-Man backpack. He hoped Mommy was home already. The meant she was sleeping or being good. When Mommy came home late she usually brought men with her or was really angry. He hoped she was having a happy day.

As Jacob approached his house, a feeling of dread came over him. The dirty windows were gaping dark holes - Mommy wasn't home. She hadn't locked the door, so Jacob crept inside. He took off his worn coat and boots, making sure to put them away in the hall closet. Then he went to the kitchen and got a box of macaroni and cheese out of the cupboard so Mommy would remember to feed him later. Finally he sat down in front of the TV and started his homework. That didn't take long, so he fell asleep on the couch while trying not to think about Mommy coming home.

There was giggling and slamming when Jacob woke to Mommy and a man stumbling through the door. The man kept grabbing and kissing her as she wobbled to the fridge, playfully brushing his groping hands away. She set several bottles on the counter, knocking over Jacob's macaroni and cheese, then began to pour, spilling alcohol everywhere as her friend tickled her. Jacob got up quietly and slunk over to the kitchen. He picked up the box of macaroni and slid it toward his mother hopefully. 

"Jacob, honey, isn't it time for bed?" Mommy asked. To her friend she added, "Excuse me, babe, while I put my little boy to bed. C'mon sweetie, let's go night-night." She grabbed Jacob's arm firmly and dragged him to his bedroom, tossing a sweet smile over her shoulder at the man grinning drunkenly in her kitchen.

As soon as the door was latched, Mommy slapped Jacob across the face. He stumbled back onto the bed. He could feel his nose bleeding but he tried to hold back tears. Mommy hated it when he cried. "You do not interrupt Mommy when she has a guest. Understand?" Her hand was poised for another blow.

Jacob cowered. "Y-yes Mommy. I was hungry."

"Hungry? Then feed yourself! Why do I have to do everything for you? Grow up!" She took a pillow and held it over Jacob's face. He struggled, which only made Mommy angrier, so finally he lay still so she would stop smothering him. "There," she said, satisfied. "Learned your lesson? Now shut up and stay here. Don't bother Mommy again. And remember, Mommy loves you."

When she had gone, locking the door behind her, Jacob began to cry quietly in the darkness. He loved his Mommy, and she wasn't always bad. Maybe if he was better, maybe if he wasn't so bad all the time, Mommy would be nicer. But Jacob was bad; he knew it. So, he cried softly until exhaustion and hunger gave way to sleep. He dreamed that a man dressed in white came and sat at the foot of his bed. He patted Jacob's leg and comforted the boy's fear and pain. Jacob liked him.

The clamor of his Scooby-Doo alarm clock woke Jacob in the morning. He slumped into the bathroom to brush his teeth, pulling the stepstool over so he could reach the sink. But when he saw his reflection, he dropped his toothbrush in surprise. Dried blood from his nose covered his face, his lip was swollen on one side, and his cheek was bruised. He cleaned off his face and tried not to cry, remembering again that Mommy hated when he cried. After brushing his teeth, Jacob found some slightly stale cereal for breakfast, then donned his coat and backpack and headed to the bus stop, pausing to kiss his unconscious mother on the way out.

Jacob had a good day at school. Teacher had taught them about invisible ink. It was like magic! He couldn't wait to show Mommy what he could do. The house was empty once again, but even that couldn't dampen his spirits. In the fridge he found sliced lemons Mommy sometimes used in drinks. He took one, found paper and a toothpick, and worked on his secret message. Finished, he looked for something to eat and, finding nothing but more stale Cheerios, he sat down to munch and watch TV.

Mommy was home late again. A man accompanied her, different than the previous night's. Jacob raced to the kitchen snatched up his message, and cried, "Look, Mommy, look! I made you a letter!" Then he held the paper up to a lamp. The words "I Love You Mommy" magically began to appear on formerly blank paper. Jacob grinned with joy, but when he turned around, he saw that Mommy hadn't been paying any attention. His face fell. Then his Mommy disentangled herself from the man's embrace. "I think it's time for bed." Now Jacob was scared.

Mommy gripped Jacob's arm. Hard. She tugged him away and forced him toward the basement. He stumbled down the uneven stairs. It was dark, but Mommy was able to find his neck and squeeze. "What did I tell you about interrupting? Huh? Why don't you ever listen to what Mommy tells you?" She shook him by the neck for emphasis while she spoke, and her strong breath nauseated Jacob. He felt dizzy, and his eyes had started to roll back in his head when she finally released him. He crumpled to the floor. Then she kicked him in the gut and yanked him back to his feet. One more slap across the face, then Jacob felt his head crack against the brick wall as he was thrust into it. Jacob was silent and enduring. Mommy left. He slid to the floor again, laying his bruised, throbbing cheek on the cool cement. He felt sticky liquid pooling around his face but the pain was fading. . . .

The man from Jacob's dream was back, his white clothing glowing faintly in the darkness. The man's clear blue eyes drowned Jacob in love and compassion, everything the boy tried so hard to get from his mother. The man sat next to Jacob, legs crossed, and lifted the boy's head gently onto his lap. He ran fingers through the boy's hair and began to hum a sweet lullaby. The white clothing was swiftly staining crimson, but the man didn't seem to mind. Jacob's eyelids drooped. His pain and hunger and thirst were quelled by the calm of the lullaby. He slept.

The next day Jacob did not go to school. His mother went to the basement to get a lightbulb when she found her baby on the floor and remembered. "Oh no. No. Jacob! My baby . . . oh, my little boy . . ." she sobbed and took his head in her hands, rocking back and forth. But Jacob did not wake. It was too late.


Finish a Story

The deep woods seemed to grow thicker and darker as I raced through the thickets and briars. I could still hear the baying bloodhounds somewhere behind me. I stopped and listened, panting and gasping for breath in the cold November air. The hunds seemed closer now. I started to run again.

I crossed a dry creek bed and stumbled up a steep embankment. I was running slower now, my knees weak and my throat dry. I wanted to rest, to lie down and press my hot face against the spruce needles of the forest floor. But I had to keep going. The dogs, the dogs would get me if I stopped.

Suddenly the trees grew less dense and finally gave way to a clearing. No, it was the river. The river at last! Then I fell. The pain hit my leg like a bolt of white hot lightning. Only fifty yards ahead my motorboat was moored at the base of an old fir tree. But less than a mile behind were the howling bloodhounds.

The pain came in jolting shocks now. I looked at my leg and saw the blood and the splintered shin bone peeking through the skin. I wondered if I could crawl. The dogs! And now the pain again? I had to do something. Now!

There was no time to think. I grabbed for the nearest tree root and pulled. My wound dragged across the ground, jabbed by pine needles and twigs. Excruciating pain exploded in front of my eyes. Nausea overtook me, yet somehow I scrambled on, crawling, falling. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of safety and Jackson waiting in the motorboat. It was so close. But the cries of the hounds became louder and more frenzied.

Suddenly, there were no more trees, and I was in the clearing by the river. Having nothing to hold on to, I deperately tried to get up and run, no matter the pain. My leg buckled, hurling me to the ground. I could feel my flesh tear open further, and then I was screaming, rolling down the sloping riverbank. Just as I was about to fly into the water, strong hands caught me. Jackson. Waves of relief washed away my terror and agony as he lifted me and splashed to the motorboat. That was our only hope now.

The dogs reached the clearing then, snarling and mad with the excitement of the hunt. Jackson struggled with the knot on the old fir tree, our last connection to danger. He pulled a blade from his back pocket and sawed at the rope frantically. The bloodhounds had spotted him; they lept and bayed and sprinted toward Jackson. I cried out his name when the tether finally broke. We were free! Jackson pushed us off, started the motor, and our escape was made. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my treasure. The diamond was ours at last.


Sound

I was riding the waves, feeling the wind in my face, when something suddenly felt wrong. My hair lashed across my face, stinging like whips as the sky darkened with banks of clouds. I started losing control of the board as the water tossed its wild mane. Branches of lightning reached for the sea and I tried to head for shore. Halfway there, my board was sucked under, me with it. The roaring monster swallowed me with sound so overpowering it seemed silent. Currents pushed, pulled, rolled me. I heard muffled white noise, like a television channel that goes out. Slowly everything faded into the background. The monster purred. Silence deafened me, darkness smothered. I struggled, then let it all go. . . .


Ginger Snap

I awoke to my dad’s voice, shouting about something. Well, that wasn’t unusual. As I crept stealthily down the stairs to see what was going on, the sickly stench of urine overwhelmed my senses. Dad was grumbling as he labored over a damp spot on our dining room rug. I saw our elderly dog, Ginger, curled up in a dark corner nearby looking guilty and ashamed. I moved over to her and buried my face in the thick golden fur around her neck. “Shh, it’s okay, Ginger. You’re such a good girl, yes you are....” I cooed and petted her for a while, but then I had to get ready for school.

When my brother, Wyatt, and I got home later that day, Ginger was on the front porch, struggling to greet us, tail wagging exuberantly. She wasn’t ready to give up yet. Mom, from the rocking chair on the porch, eyed Ginger sadly. “The medication isn’t helping,” she told me later. “We made an appointment for her on Saturday.” I knew what “appointment” meant. We had discussed this. But Ginger didn’t seem ready to go--she still had bright eyes, she was still trying. We had to use a towel like a sling under her belly to help her walk, since her back legs were so arthritic, but she was still making an effort to live.

The next day, Wednesday, September 17, 2008, we took Ginger to the vet. She’d barely moved all day, her eyes were sad, and she clearly was not going to improve. I reached over the backseat of the van to stroke her fur on the way to the vet’s office. She seemed scared, but she’d never liked car rides. Finally we arrived, and they made us wait. And wait. Mom and I stayed in the van with Ginger while Dad and Wyatt were inside. I did some homework--I remember having a lot that night--and two hours later, when it was getting cold and dark, the doctor came out at last. We agreed to have the procedure done right there, in the back of the car, where Ginger was comfortable. Mom, Dad, and Wyatt backed away, but I remained were I was, seated at my dog’s head. Dr. Knight began to test the needle, and Ginger snapped at him. She didn’t trust strange men, never had (smart girl). The female assistant hugged Ginger tighter around the neck to hold her still. I just kept stroking the fur on her chest, and then Mom stretched across the backseat to cradle Ginger’s head gently. She seemed to relax a bit. Then, the needle wouldn’t go in, so Dr. Knight left to get a new one. Ginger wasn’t making this easy. Suddenly, I didn’t want to do this. I was convinced this must be a sign we were doing something wrong. It should be easier than this.

Memories flashed through my mind. Ginger, a little puppy dwarfed by a beloved bean bag chair, which she later destroyed, scattering clingy beans everywhere. Ginger, meeting Wyatt and me getting off the school bus every day and wagging her tail so hard her whole body moved. Ginger, her happy tail knocking Christmas ornaments off the tree. Ginger, barking when nothing was there, or dancing on her hind legs with my dad. Ginger, having to be rescued by Wyatt when she fell in the river. My dog was all I could think of, and I didn’t want her to go.

“I’m going to give her the injection now.” We all tensed as those words brought us out of our thoughts. Dr. Knight pressed on the syringe, causing the green poison to disappear into Ginger’s veins. She jerked away from the vet, her eyes wild. Mom held her head and comforted her as her eyelids drooped. It hit me then that this would be the last time I saw life in those big brown eyes. In a few minutes she’d be gone. Forever. But she couldn’t be, an irrational voice in my head was protesting. She’s only going to sleep. . . .

But this was reality. And in reality I saw the life leave those eyes that never closed. Dr. Knight placed his stethoscope against Ginger’s chest. “She’s gone,” he confirmed as he drew her eyelids down. “There’s no heartbeat.” Tears rolled freely down all our faces, and the doctors left. Ginger let out a final, horrible gasp, half whimper, eyes popping wide open again, staring at me, lifeless and dull. I just sat there, feeling Ginger’s weight on me, unable to move. Somehow, I did. We left the vet’s office - the ride was unending, the silence unbearable. But then we were home, and everything looked the same, yet it was all different.

Burying Ginger took a long time. Wyatt had gone a little deep on the grave, but I could tell he was just glad to have something to do. Ginger was cold and alone in the pit, wrapped in an old Winnie-the-Pooh blanket. Wyatt shoveled some dirt in, and the thud as it landed on my dog’s body was sickening. Dad helped him. It seemed to take an eternity to fill that gaping hole. In reality it must only have been minutes, yet time no longer had any measure. Mom and I watched, crying and shivering in the chill wind, breathing in the dampness of fall, when all things come to an end. When the burial was finished we planted mums and ferns over the fresh grave. I heard a dog’s bark--it was Riley, our younger yellow lab, forgotten in his kennel.

For a long time after that day, I saw Ginger everywhere. I’d see her hobbling to greet us whenever we got home. I’d see her out of the corner of my eye, in a hallway, only to turn and remember she was no longer there. The hardest part was when someone would call her, forgetting that sad day. Yet time, as they say, heals all wounds. And though that may be clichéd, it’s true. By Christmas, we had a new puppy--a shelter pet, like Ginger was. We named her Gemma, and sometimes we’d swear she was our Ginger’s reincarnation, though in appearance they are opposites.

There are many lessons to be learned from family pets. Ginger never stopped loving us, and she was extremely loyal. She never gave up, yet she knew when it was time to let go. I will always love her, miss her, and most of all remember her as the dog who gave back so much more than we ever expected. Rest in peace, Ginger.


'Mallowphobe

Oh no; this was it. I'd actually have to eat a marshmallow - a gooey, sugary, ghoulish marshmallow. There it was, right in front of me, on the end of an unsanitary branch of maple. Ew. It was yellowed and partially blackened with sickly char, reeking of burnt flesh. Oh, but I had to eat it now, seeing his beautiful, playfully pleading eyes was enough incentive to put aside my hatred and contempt for a few mouthfuls, surely. So, I took the 'mallow from his outstretched branch and shoved it past my lips. It was disgusting! My tongue felt glued to my teeth, and I gagged as the crispy burnt shell crumbled into my throat. My eyes watered and I tried to smile and act natural (I think I failed). But soon the ordeal was over, the hated goo had oozed its way down my abused esophagus with relatively minimal discomfort. He smiled, and I smiled back. I'd like to say that from then on, marshmallows were a delicious symbol of my victory, but I will forever be a "'mallowphobe," I'm afraid. And no boy is going to change that.


Image Description

The hulking, frenzied feline opened its ferocious maw and snarled. Sweat drenched its neck, matting the ebony fur and filling the dank room with its sickly stench. Its ragged ears were pinned to the skull in malicious contempt of its surroundings and the child mounted on its back. Burning eyes flashed with hatred, an evil orange glow. Spiderwebs of wrinkles and cracks spread across its face as the beast gnashed its yellowed fangs. Saliva dripped in gobs, froth covered the thick, pale snake tongue, and rancid breath spewed from mammoth jaws. The beast's moist nostrils flared as shaggy fur danced in anticipation for blood. Slavering, the beast advanced. . . .


I Want

I want someone I don't have to be careful with. I want to share every thought and feeling freely, without fearing the reaction. Is that too much to ask?


MRF

You are a housefly ensnared in the gossamer web of my mind. Whenever you so much as twitch, it reverberates through me, both of us prisoners to our own helplessness.

 


Well

If I dropped a stone into your well, would it really only take two seconds to hit the bottom?


Gnome Monorhyme

There once was a small garden gnome.
He called the lush garden in which he stood his home.
His immense boredoms were enough to fill a tome.
Oh, how he did wish he could roam!
He longed to feel the salty sea and its foam,
but he was stricken with sedentary syndrome.
Oh, how he did wish to roam,
away from the garden he called home!
But there he stood, the little garden gnome.


Statue

It's like I am a block of marble in the center of a bustling square. Everyone who goes by takes out a chisel and chips a bit of stone away. Each person leaves their mark, helps form who I will become.

. . . But they move so quickly . . . and I am frozen, doomed to wait as I'm slowly chiseled down to size. . . .


1-20 of 60 Blogs   

Previous Posts
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Paper Masks, posted April 13th, 2010
Final Hope, posted February 10th, 2010
Books of 2010, posted January 8th, 2010
Jacob's Story, posted November 25th, 2009
Finish a Story, posted November 25th, 2009
Sound, posted November 25th, 2009
Ginger Snap, posted October 16th, 2009, 2 comments
'Mallowphobe, posted October 1st, 2009
Image Description, posted October 1st, 2009
I Want, posted October 1st, 2009
MRF, posted October 1st, 2009
Well, posted August 19th, 2009
Gnome Monorhyme, posted August 8th, 2009
Statue, posted August 8th, 2009
The Void, posted August 8th, 2009
Inspired, posted July 11th, 2009
Story from Sixth Grade, posted July 11th, 2009
Personal Metaphors, posted July 11th, 2009
Writer, posted July 11th, 2009
Old, posted July 11th, 2009
Superhero, posted July 11th, 2009
Envy, posted May 23rd, 2009, 2 comments
Charity, posted May 23rd, 2009
Love is . . ., posted April 10th, 2009
Mockingbird, posted March 24th, 2009
My Books of 2009, posted January 23rd, 2009
Kool-Aid Man, posted January 23rd, 2009
Shadows of the Past - a Holocaust Poem, posted December 26th, 2008
That was Then, This is Now, posted December 26th, 2008
Auto-Bio Poem, posted December 26th, 2008
Psalm 55:22, posted December 26th, 2008
An Ode to my Beloved Dog . . . R.I.P. Ginger, posted September 15th, 2008
Geography of a Woman and Man, posted August 9th, 2008
What is the wind?, posted May 20th, 2008
What are the shadows?, posted May 20th, 2008
Please Comment!, posted May 12th, 2008, 2 comments
Boboltz, posted May 12th, 2008, 1 comment
If Only #2, posted May 12th, 2008
Happy/Sad Diamante, posted May 12th, 2008, 1 comment
Despair, posted May 12th, 2008
Realization, posted May 12th, 2008
If Only, posted May 8th, 2008
Mother's Day Poem, posted May 8th, 2008
The Desolate City, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, posted May 8th, 2008
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