This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finally Moving

It's been a long five months since Luke moved away. Some days if feels like he just left and others the weight of the months can be felt in full force. I am almost having a hard time remembering that this weekend when I see him I won't have to say goodbye Sunday night. No more goodbyes, only see you later.

The car is mostly packed up; the only things that are missing are necessities like shampoo, makeup, and a couple outfits for my last days. I work a double tomorrow and then will drive up to Carol Stream on Friday morning. It's slightly telling that my entire life, sans my bed and a small dresser, can fit in my tiny ass pink car.

I've been getting nostalgic the past couple days but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I think that's because I already said goodbye to Iowa City six months ago when I graduated. It's as though I've been living here on borrowed time. I feel like a dinner guest that has overstayed her welcome; it's time for me to go.

The actual move date snuck up on me faster than I thought it would. Everything is set except for finding someone to take my current apartment. I can financially take care of it through January but after that things will get interesting, and not in a good way. I hope people who are moving to the area for second semester will start looking for their apartments soon.

I have a couple interviews when I get to town and the part-time gig at the steakhouse up in Schaumburg. My apartment is great and I cannot wait to get settled in even though I have no furniture to my name so the amenities will be severely limited.

Since I've graduated, I've had the worst writer's block I've had since freshman year of college. It's gotten worse since I started worrying about the move. Maybe changing my scenery will help get me back on track, or at the very least, itching to produce something.

Luke mentioned to me tonight that I haven't written in a while. It bothers me how defensive I get when he mentions that but it's good that he does; no one else would dare call me out on something like that. For the first time in a while I've been trying to write again the past week with little success. But I'll keep trying harder especially in the winter months when there is little else to do.

Besides Luke I don't know anyone else in the Northwest suburbs. Hopefully that'll be to my benefit to make some creative solitude. I'm both excited and terrified for this move for this reason: I don't know anyone. I'm fairly good at making new friends but to be perfectly honest I don't really feel like putting forth the effort. I've been exhausted in every aspect of my life the past few months that any effort that isn't toward making money doesn't seem worth it. I need to get out of this mind-frame.

Anyways, enough babbling about nothing. I have one more relaxing evening here in Iowa City before I schlep myself across the state and over to Illinois. I will miss this town greatly; it has been my home for five years. I have made so many friends and had some of my more important life-changing experiences in this fantastic city.

So thank you, Iowa City, for housing me and helping me grow up. And thank you to the entire state of Iowa for being so welcoming and loving these past five years. I fell in love with this little Midwestern pocket. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Days are Just Like This

Today has been a particularly shitty day.

When I woke up I thought I'd go get coffee with my best friend who just got engaged the other day. Upon getting in my car, I noticed the tire pressure light was on. That's fine, I thought, it's cold out and that's probably the problem so I'll just go to Kum & Go to fill them up a bit.

After finishing filling the tires, I was upset to see my light wouldn't go off still. Fine, I thought, you can just go to the dealership in Coralville and see what's up. I turned to get back in my car and realized I had locked my keys in the car. At this point I was thoroughly pissed and started hitting my car.

I waited inside for the road side assistance to get there (which thankfully my insurance covered) and paced the entirety of Kum & Go for a half hour. My coffee date was now ruined. The shining star in this whole fiasco was the wonderful people at Kum & Go who I've known for five years now making me laugh and giving me free coffee.

After the road side assistance people left I noticed someone had keyed my entire car. Fine, I thought, when you're at the dealership ask them about it. The dealership fixed my tire pressure light and sent me next door about the keying. The guy was friendly and helpful but let me know, before insurance, it would cost about $2,400 to repair. He said insurance would cover a majority most likely though.

I finally get home and am exhausted. I try to log in on the insurance website to find out what I can do and realize my password is wrong which locks me out of the system. I call them and after another half hour, they fix it. After all that, my last thought was spending an hour on the phone with the insurance company. That's a call for another day.

I realize I haven't heard from the apartment company I'm looking at in Chicago for a couple days so I give them a call. They let me know that I've been approved for the place except for verification from the apartment company here where I live. I laughed a bit on the phone when they said they called and left a message. I said, "Yeah, it might take a couple days."

From a horrible beginning to a surprisingly positive end, it's been an odd fucking day...and I haven't even started my shift at work yet. I'm already tired.

I've been accepted over at the LongHorn in Schaumburg so that's a plus. I'm closer to finding a person to take my apartment here. All I need to do is find a second job now and my plans will be perfect.

These last couple weeks finalizing everything have been horribly stressful and the person taking the brunt of my stress is my loving boyfriend, Luke. I'll need to find some way to make it up to him for all of his patience. Hopefully his epic Christmas present will do some good. If I didn't have someone like him by my side helping me through this, I would be a mess right now. And as it stands, thinks are sort of going well.

"Sort of" is okay for me at the moment; "perfect" would be scary because I would be worrying that something would fall through and go wrong. I'll gladly ride the "sort of" train straight into Chicagoland.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Breaking Down and Still Being Okay

Three days ago I had the first mild flashback I've had in years.

I guess it was a bit cocky of me to think those days were entirely behind me, but a girl can always hope. It was the smell of a perfume insert that triggered it and while it was not nearly as bad as others, it was still jarring and affected me for a couple hours.

I didn't think much of it, just ignored it and went about my weekend, until about an hour ago. On the way home from a long-ish lunch shift I was listening to the radio on the drive. The song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles came on and I started singing along. Zipping down the Coralville strip, I sang happily to the upbeat and inspirational lyrics.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I started bawling. I'm talking big puppy dog tears for no particular reason. Sure I could stretch and try to connect the song to my childhood but I feel like it would be a reach. Maybe it was a combination of the cloudy skies and that I'm moving in six weeks and stressed about that, but what I had been holding in for days came tumbling out.

After the song was over, I dried my eyes, deposited some money at the bank, and was fine.

Now this could be a depressing story of the past haunting me and my inability to handle "flare ups" but I'd rather not see it that way. To me, I was faced with an issue, dealt with it in the only way I knew how, and moved on. I broke down a bit and was still okay at the end.

I look back at all the therapy over the years and wonder how much of it really helped me. I think back on that a lot, actually. But beyond that I wonder when I "became okay" and able to handle all of these emotions. I wish there was a more concrete marker for such an event besides crying and getting over it but I cannot find one. It was a journey, as these things often are, but it feels good to have some level of control in my life.

The stress of the impending move is coming at me full speed. From waiting to hear if the LongHorn in Schaumburg will take me (my manager said it's almost a guarantee...but almost scares me), to finding someone to take my current apartment, to finding one in the Northwest suburbs that will take Lucy and me, it's amazing I'm not curled up in a ball.

It's days like today that remind me I am capable of handling all of this and I can make it work. Sometimes you need to fall apart a little to remember you can pick up the pieces and bounce back.

Monday, October 14, 2013

So Many Changes in So Little Time

Oh I apologize, I apologize so hard. These past couple months have been all over the place and writing, let alone blogging, has been the farthest thing from my mind. On August 4, my boyfriend moved to Chicago. Within twenty four hours of finding this out a week prior, I decided to follow suit. It was a remarkably easy decision when I realized Iowa City was never going to be my forever home. I needed a push or a pull of some kind finally to get me to leave the safe confines of my former college town and move on to something greater.

It is now mid-October and the move is almost exactly two months away. The Craigslist posting is up for my current apartment and I'm going to set up three or four apartment showings for the next time I am in Chicago (early November). Luckily for me, working at a corporate restaurant has it's perks. One of the greatest ones would have to be the ability to transfer to another location with ease. And with this great help I have a job in Shaumburg and am currently looking for another part-time one to make ends meet.

I was in Chicago this past weekend and it was probably the best weekend Luke and I have had to date since he left. Him leaving was infinitely harder on me than I imagined, but we've made it work. We each visit the other every two weeks and Skype/call frequently and text constantly. It's strange, but I've felt closer to him since he left. I value time with him much more than I ever did. You don't realize how much you take for granted time with others until it's severely limited.

The other crazy thing about this past weekend was that the idea of the move was no longer an idea; I was thinking about which town I would live in and which stores would be closest to my new home. I was thinking about how far I would live from Luke and work and how to manage all the traveling. It felt weird that the thinking was no longer thinking; it was planning for a very real future. I'm still enjoying my life as a server, even if I've been stretching myself a bit too thin trying to make it all work. 

Alright, now I'm two very full glasses of wine in to this post and I should probably stop typing because I'm tempted to stay something like, "Live, life, love." So yeah, that's it for now. I promise to keep this more updated as a come closer to the move date and with my new life as a Chicago girl.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stories from a Server #1

I'm packing currently and suddenly realizing I'm really good at it. Granted, this is a useful skill at certain times in your life, but not exactly one that is marketable. I suck at unpacking and would happily live amongst boxes rather than unload anything. Anyways, all I have left are clothes and cleaning the room. I'm going to be living in the living room for four days so the new girl can move into my room. It will be dangerous to have me sleep so close to the TV.

I have a few (specifically three) server stories to share. I do not have names or any other definable characteristics that would legitimately give away identities, but feel free to think up a character in your own head. I've had difficult and rude people as well as overly kind and generous ones; it comes with the territory. And though we servers may complain about the rude ones, the crazy ones are the people who, believe it or not, make the job fun (the tips are pretty baller as well).

   The Asparagus Lady
This woman seemed a bit aggressive from the beginning, and she was one of my tables on my first night having three. I brought out her parmesan asparagus starter and she asked me if I'd ever tried it. I gave my little speech about, "No, I haven't had the pleasure of trying this dish yet in our restaurant." She turns to me, takes a piece, and tells me to put out my hand. Not realizing what was happening, I oblige. She then stares at me blankly, "Eat it." I smiled and practically ran to the kitchen. My manager saw me wandering around the kitchen, blindsided, carrying a piece of parm asparagus around in my hand. She yelled, "What are you doing?!" I yelled back, "She told me to eat it!" "Throw it away! Throw it away!" When I went by the table later, the customer looked at me blankly again and asked if I had eaten it and I said yes to save face. She said, "Good," and returned to eating her meal.

Licked Plates
There was a table (same table strangely enough as the Asparagus Lady) a week later who stayed for quite awhile. One had rather severe OCD and had to repeat everything she said three times, which took awhile but it was fine. After they had been there for an hour and a half (rather long for us), I came by to pick up the remaining plates and found them to be strangely clean, like ridiculously clean. Upon closer inspection, it looked as if they had been licked completely clean. The napkins were clean and the silverware was spotless. They both remained until they finished every morsel of butter, ate the bread crumbs off the table, and ate each and every ice cube from their water glasses. At the end of this bizarre exchange, I wondered what their tip would be. I've begun to know what to expect based on people's appearance what the amount will be (this sounds horrible, I know, but rarely have I been off by more than a few dollars in my guesses and it doesn't affect how I treat the table ever) and I wasn't expecting more than five dollars. Both ladies thanked me for my patience, and the older lady left me a $20 for the check, smiled, and said, "Keep the change!" I was left with 57 cents.  

"Eh Yo Gurl!"
I had a table come in one night that I could tell would be my last of the evening; I was next in line to be cut.  The parents were boozing it up and the ten year old kid from the get-go had a bad attitude. He was the only one of the three who could speak English (the other two, only Spanish) which was fine but I could tell I would have to deal with this kid exclusively. First thing I noticed was the kid had a hat that read, "I Love Bad Bitches” and winked at me when he noticed me gawking at the cap. After I dropped the drinks, the kid yelled after me, “Eh yo gurl! Why you no bring my mamma her straws for her drank!?” He continued to speak to me like a mini gangster for the remainder of the meal.

These are the three biggest "stories" I have at the moment of customers I have personally dealt with in my first two months. I'm loving my job so there will be many more to come. Though these people gave me a headache more times than not, at the end of my night it is all worth it and I try to keep a smile on my face. And I may or may not interact with one of my coworkers now by calling out, "Eh yo gurl!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reflections on Life as a Server

Well hello, people, sorry it's been so long, but working two jobs was a bit insane for a month or so there. Starting this past Thursday, I began working full time at LongHorn as a server and left my student job at Tropical Smoothie. I've had four jobs now since I was 15, two of which were for at least three years. This is the first job though that I've loved from the beginning. My co-workers are hilarious and helpful, and the constant customer interaction keeps every shift interesting.
My booklet and apron

It has not been smooth sailing entirely though; I've had doubles where I've been at work until 11:30pm and been stiffed on tips at least twice now. Frequently I only get 10% tips when I see other servers pulling 20% consistently throughout a shift. Yesterday, I was thrilled to make $88 in a dinner sift and one of my managers pulled me aside to tell me how sorry she was that I was struggling (apparently that's not a lot of money after all...). She said, "Don't worry, once you have some more service experience under your belt and start to have regulars, you'll do better!"

That was a wee bit of a kick to the face. But if I can pull at least $50 in a dinner shift, I'm plenty happy with myself. This is the first job I've had that is actually supporting me and paying my bills. I bought my first car a little over a month ago and my first payments on that are due in a couple weeks; I'm also moving into a new apartment with my new roommate, Katie, at the end of the month.
My new pink car

My schedule as a server is different every week, but I'm seeing a pattern develop: Tuesdays and Thursdays off and working every night of the weekend. I've never had an insane social life so the hours are fine to me. When I do get into work, there is no downtime to get myself situated for the day; usually my tables are already sat and I have to rush over to greet them.

I've had good tables and crazy bad tables. Quiet people who look annoyed by my presence and men flirting a bit too obviously with me. I've had a business man who tipped well above his tab and two women who were so thankful for my service they tipped double their lunch bill. I've also had people complain there were too many chicken fingers in an order and complain I did not pre-cut their bread load for them (it comes perforated). I've had mistakes, big and small ones, and some that completely ruined a table. I've had days that I almost cried and days I was tempted to run to the walk-in to text my boyfriend and tell him how great it was going.
Us at Summerfest on the 4th

I'm headed off to work in a couple hours and hoping it's busy on this Sunday night. I'm hoping my boyfriend get's this job he interviewed for and gets into the cool apartment complexes he's been looking at on the west side. I'm grateful I have him as a support system and care about him insanely so. I'll try to have a monthly post about crazy restaurant stories and odd customers (as much as I can without being too obvious). Stay tuned for more info on this wild journey as my first post-grad job in the serving industry. And, of course, feel free to stop on by and ask for me to wait on you. It'll make my day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Post Grad Life Thus Far

Almost two weeks ago, I graduated from University of Iowa. I wasn't nearly as excited as I hoped I would be for a day that has been building since I first began schooling at the age of four. My entire life was supposed to follow a certain path, all leading to higher education and a Bachelor's Degree at the very least. A couple Saturdays ago I got that degree and I don't feel like I wish I would.

The actual day my sister and I forgot to set my alarm the night before; thank God she naturally woke up at 7:50am and thank God my boyfriend was awake to come pick us up and run us to the ceremony. The car ride there I was trying to wipe the smudges of mascara from under my eyes and comb out my hair with my fingers. I didn't look as nice as I wished I would.

Once there, I ran for the Carver Hawkeye Arena and waited to be seated. After a couple minutes, I saw Luke from the corner of my eye. He had broken away from my family for a minute to come wish me good luck. That kiss on the forehead was what I needed. My dad and stepmom emerged minutes later with one of the twins (who are getting huge by the way) to cheer me on.

The only time I became even slightly teary eyed was walking down into the arena to "Pomp and Circumstance," but besides that I was bored. The speakers were dry and uninspiring and their advice was either cliched or fucking stupid. After I got my diploma, I got up from my seat, pushed my way through some other students, and ran up the steps of Carver and out of the auditorium. Hell no was I sitting through another hour of this shit. I felt a little peeved that after four years at the university I didn't even get to shake Sally Mason's hand.

I got a couple bouquets of roses, wine from Luke (thanks dear), money from family (greatly appreciated), and hugs. My parents were gone within two hours and I felt alone. Luke hung out with me for a bit but still, I felt suddenly, horribly lonely and unfulfilled. I walked through the Ped Mall in a blue tuxedo tee I stole from a guy on New Year's Eve and saw everyone with their families and was filled with jealousy.

My parents were exhausted, had a huge drive before them, and two babies who were sick of being on their best behavior after so long; I do not blame them for getting the hell outta Dodge as quickly as they did, but I was sad they were gone. The next day I didn't have work or any real responsibilities, so I decided to deposit that glorious cash and do a little shopping. After ten minutes in CVS, I burst into tears at the sight of chocolate bars completely unprovoked. Here I was, 22, an adult, sobbing over chocolate for no goddamn reason. And all because I was sad college was over.

Since graduation I've been working like crazy with little "me" time to speak of and I realize now how insane and difficult it is to have two jobs. LongHorn has been great about training me, but the serving world is hectic and terrifying. I know I'll get the hang of it but in the meantime with all the menu tests, acronyms for teamwork I have to memorize (R.U.L.E.S., C.P.R., C.S.S., C.A.R.E., etc.), and trying to remember each step of the alley in the kitchen, I feel like I'm going to pass out. Also it turns out I'm a wimp when it comes to carrying hot I kinda chose the wrong profession.

The other day Luke picked me up from LongHorn at 11:30pm and I burst into tears almost instantly once in the car. I was stressed and exhausted. We talked later about my writing and I mentioned my plans for a trilogy I want to write soon. He asked when the first book would be done by and I felt dumbfounded. No longer did I have the crutch of school as an excuse to my laziness and lack of productivity when it came to my fiction work. Now I was just a sad excuse of a failed writer if I didn't pony-up. I told him Mystieks would be finished by Christmas. Granted, he isn't going to yell at me if I don't, but this is the first time I've verbally shared a concrete writing goal with someone else...and it's terrifying.

Today is my first day off in a week and it should feel better than it does. Instead, I'm depressed, moping around the house, wondering when I'll have to go back to work (tomorrow). I've finally found a place to live next year, but I feel like I still have a million and one things to do to get my life on track. I'm jealous of everyone I see with nice "real" jobs where they get to wear business suit sets and get coffee breaks and have an actual five day week rather than balancing two jobs over seven days. To have a weekend is a luxury I already forget.

I'm trying not to break down and completely freak out, but I can feel it coming. I've had freakouts before and this feels like it'll be a big one. It's weighing on me and threatening to explode at the slightest misstep in my life, whether it's taking on an extra shift or nighttime plans falling through. The tiniest things are pissing me off and sending me off the rails. An employee was forty minutes late last weekend and I sent her to work upstairs because I was worried I would punch her in the face. This is not okay.

Nothing is peaking my interest, not the four books I could read or my Pinterest page I haven't checked since before finals. I'm clean out of energy to do much of anything that isn't going to earn me some money. When I hang out with friends I find myself spacing out, unable to create interesting or engaging conversation. I'm feeling like a burden.

I'm worried I'll annoy the shit out of my boyfriend with my complaining, or worse yet scare him off with my inevitable meltdown. He hasn't had to see my anxious, depressive side yet. I'm always worried that's what destroys my relationships: the darker parts of me I try to keep at bay early on. He's so good to me and hell if I'll let him get away. He takes my crazy and is sweet and encouraging. But whenever I have anything going well for me all I can think about is when and how I will lose what I care about. I think I have my mom to thank for that one.

I didn't intend for this post to be nearly as sad as it has turned out, but not writing in a while is making my fingers itch and my wrists ache with need. It's strange how something so tedious which is, in fact, not that fun, can make you insane if you stay away from it for too long. Anyone who tells you writing is a blast is a bold-faced fuck. It sucks. It's solitary and draining and makes the voices in your head suddenly appear on paper and become real. But not to write is far worse than the writing itself.

Maybe writing, even bullshit, self-indulgent nonsense like this will sate this beast laying on my chest. Maybe that will take the edge of off this hysteria and stress that alcohol cannot seem to fix.
Me with Maisey and Soren on graduation day

Michelle and I have a graduation photo shoot

My grad party

Training booklets and long hours with few customers

Thursday, May 16, 2013

They Say the House is Haunted

Hello everyone! I'll have a graduation themed blog entry most likely in the next couple days, but I have a short piece of fiction I wanted to share. It's nothing profound or amazing, but it was a quick write up I had to turn in to accompany my Writing Commons Final Portfolio. The idea was to base it off the concept of a haunted house in a one page story. Enjoy.

They Say the House is Haunted

They say the house is haunted, but I am not so sure. I remember growing up there as a child, remember the suddenly bleak hallways and the strange bumps in the night, but after that one evening I don't remember much else about our childhood home.

I remember looking into Jonny's room across the hall from mine. His door was always open with his Mickey Mouse nightlight and it gave me a sense of comfort to see my little brother there safe near me. He had a small alcove attached to his bedroom that you could only see if you were sitting on his bed looking to your right. It was cold and dark in that cramped corner of the room and Jonny refused to keep anything in there. He told me he wasn't allowed.

One Friday night in November of '89, I was trying to fall asleep but I could hear Jonny giggling. I threw a book at him across the hall and told him to shut up. The book bounced off of his bed and slid into the shadows of the alcove. Jonny's eyes went dark as he watched the book slide into the forbidden area. I thought he was being silly so I ignored him. Several hours later I awoke to hear Jonny speaking, though to whom I still do not know. I crept out of my bed and listened at the wall next to his opened bedroom door.

"Uh huh...uh I don't want to hurt you promised you'd leave them alone...please, please no!...Okay, no okay I understand. Yeah, yeah I will..."

"Jonny?" I called out quietly.

I peered around the corner of the wall and saw Jonny sitting cross-legged on his bed, staring blankly into the darkened alcove. I knew logically he was not talking to anyone, but the sight struck me to my core. A cold breeze could be felt coming from that side of the room and it sent me running to my bed for the safety of my covers.

Little Jonny was never the same after that. A couple weeks after that night he tried to slice our mother's face with a butcher's knife and almost succeeded. He went to a juvenile center after that for much of his middle school years. I'll never forget how dark his eyes looked as he lunged toward mom with that blade, or forget how he smiled at me the night he came back home, or the night he finally made good on his promise to his alcove and sliced mom up for good.

I don't think it was the house that was haunted.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Old Town Hall

Apologies, everyone, I know it's been a while since I have posted! I have a zombie noir piece I just finished that I'm rather proud of, which is darker than a lot of stuff I've posted here before (which obviously makes it more fun). It's interspersed with pictures taken from Getty Images, Flickr, and The Walking Dead Facebook page. Let me know what you think, and enjoy my final piece of fiction for my undergraduate career.

The Old Town Hall
            James tucked his 9mm into his back pocket as he departed from his crumbled home. He did not know why he still bothered to shut the door, since anything that wanted to come in would find a way eventually. Looking around quickly but cautiously, the street seemed rather deserted except for a few stragglers far down on Lucas Street to the right.
He walked down the deserted road, being careful to avoid the sharp glass and random bodies of familiar faces around him.
            It had been four months since the onset of the undead.
            “Hey Bill,” he said to his neighbor as he picked him up on the way. “Crossbow still working?”
            “Wouldn’t leave home without it,” Bill smiled weakly before closing the door behind him.
            Bill and James had gone to the same high school some twenty years ago and were never anything more than classmates and teammates on the local soccer team. Now they were the only two people left within five blocks.
            “I found her,” Bill said quietly, “I found Susan. She wandered back to the house finally last night. It’s still strange to look into the eyes of one of them as a child, so young. She barely looked like my sweet Susan anymore.”
            “Did you…?”
            Silence hung in the air as James let his voice trail off slightly. James remembered Susan, who was around seven when this all began. Bill had been a single dad for quite a few years since his wife ran out on him for the postman. James’ wife, Daphne, had helped any way she could; they had never been able to have children of their own.

            “I’m sorry, man. I really am. I had hoped that maybe she’d never come home, for your sake that is.” James offered.
            Bill nodded solemnly as the two headed up Jefferson Ave. toward the Old Town Hall. James, as well as nine other people including Bill, remained in their small town of Oak Crest. Once a week on Tuesday afternoons, the ten remaining people would gather in the Old Town Hall, one of the few places not completely overrun with the undead. There was no distinct leader of this small group; they were simply too tired to argue over who was best fit to lead. Any survival instinct or desire to fight was forced out of them many weeks ago.
            James noted how the streets felt quieter on that foggy afternoon, or maybe he had simply gotten so used to blocking out the sounds of bones breaking and human flesh being torn. The sound was eerily similar to macaroni and cheese being stirred slowly in a large crock pot. Sounds like that had become so common place they replaced the expectation of hearing birds chirp in the morning. Spring was fast approaching and there were no robins in sight. Only the sound of organs and intestines being strewn throughout the town were heard instead.

The two men came to the town hall and knocked on the door four times in quick succession as was customary. Lucille, an elderly women from about a half mile west from the Old Town Hall, opened the door and smiled at the two as they entered. Nathan, a former Marine,  came in from around the corner to do the inspection for bites. James and Bill disrobed without much thought and Lucille turned around blushing slightly.
            “Clear,” said Nathan, “I think Gretchen and Peter are about to start with dividing up the rations if you want to go along.”
            James saluted Nathan casually, almost mockingly, and they continued on. After about a month of the initial infection, people began to realize that the infection was spread through bite. The original thought was it was some strain of Mad Cow disease which led to a lot of starvation cases early on. Eventually though, the mode of transmission was discovered. Yet not before millions had been killed. Statistics were a bit fuzzy even before the news channels cut out completely, but the words “pandemic” and “plague” and “apocalypse” were thrown around.
            As they entered the town hall, James saw they were the last to arrive. Gretchen and Peter, the only surviving couple, were standing at the front with the food ready. Before all of the hysteria had his the town, Gretchen was an EMT and Peter a former Marine. Harry, the old elementary school principle, sat along on the far right, looking bleaker than usual. Maybe his wife had paid him a visit last night as Susan had done to Bill. The one remaining child, Rachel, sat with Olga, who had become a surrogate mother type to the teenage girl after her family was killed. Insane Larry stared wide-eyed at Bill and James as they sat in the chairs of the old senate chambers.
            “When will we finally accept who is really behind all of this?!” shouted Insane Larry who stood suddenly as everyone was getting settled in. “We know those mutha fucking Nazis, those damn Mexicans, and the gays are all in on it, not to mention Obama. You know he’s an atheist Muslim? All those goddamn liberals have been ruining this country for decades now and we know it’s their pot smoke and music that really started this a—”
            Nathan slapped Insane Larry upside the head as he and Lucille finally came into the room. Larry grumbled and sat, finally giving in to obedience. These outbursts were sadly normal nowadays. Everyone sighed, shook their heads, and kept their attention at the front of the room. They went through a list of anyone who had died in the last week that they had known, and Susan was on the list as well as about fifteen others. Apparently a lot of family members had been wandering home in the last two weeks. This was causing much stress for everyone and the creation of the new rule: kill all who enter your home on sight.

“We all know this must be done, as we discussed last week,” Gretchen said to which her husband nodded. “We don’t mean to be harsh, but whether it is your elderly mother or disabled aunt or twelve week old newborn crawling back up your stoop, you need to shoot.”
            The audience cringed. Of the two of them, Gretchen was far blunter about the realities of Oak Crest. Peter, more soft spoken, still had this hint of an edge to him that let you know he was not to be messed with under any circumstance. James had this odd feeling though he could not shake, one that had been building ever since Gretchen and Peter took over rationing the food a month ago. They had agreed, they all had, in the beginning of all of this that no one person would lead. And this still held true. But now it began to feel like there were two leaders in front of them at the pulpit on Tuesday afternoons.
“Now listen here,” Olga said as she stood with her hand still on Rachel’s shoulder. “It is much easier for you to take such a stand, Gretchen, when you still have some family left. Just think though, think of us who still might have someone wandering home, like a child for heaven’s sake.” Olga’s hold on Rachel tightened noticeably.
James kept his eyes focused frontward; he had known this debate would erupt eventually and wanted more than anything to take his food for the week and sneak out through the back door.
“I think we have to remember Gretchen’s experience in the medical profession as an EMT. My wife knows what she is talking about, as hard as it may be to hear,” Peter said.
Clearing his throat loudly, Nathan stood next. “Have we considered though, Peter, that it’s all more than muscle memory as Gretchen suggested last Tuesday? I mean, it’s a logical argument, but have we even thought of the idea of these…these things becoming sentient again?”

James felt Bill sit up straighter in his seat next to him. He could sense him looking at him for approval, but James betrayed that look and stared directly at Peter’s eyes. The heat in the room was strikingly higher, radiating off of Gretchen. Her hair seemed redder than it had moments before.
“What on God’s earth are you talking about, Nathan?!” Gretchen squealed, “Sentient? As though they are human? We have to remember, everyone, that these things are not human any more. We have to believe that!”
“But that’s just the thing,” Nathan continued, leaning forward slightly toward the front of the room, “we don’t know anything about this disease, about any of this, we have no proof that it isn’t like the flu and goes away in a couple weeks.”
“It’s been months though, Nathan!” reasoned Lucille.
“Honestly, we can want them to get better, but maybe they can’t,” offered Rachel.
“Either way, the real concern right now should be divvying up the food,” said James.
“They aren’t people, we can’t think like that! I had to kill my Susan, I had to!” cried Bill.
            Gretchen, red with fury, banged her gavel against the pulpit furiously. One by one each member of the small group sat, but Gretchen continued to crack her gavel. Peter approached her and took the gavel calmly from her hand. Gretchen was shaking and looked to her husband for comfort. The fact that they still had each other, regardless of what anyone would admit, made all of them envious.
            Peter spoke, “There is one man who had remained silent here, isn’t there, Henry?”
            Gretchen’s eyes widened and everyone turned in their seats to look at Henry whose face was buried in his hands.
            “He-Henry?” Lucille said timidly.
            Henry raised his head from his hands, his face stained with tears. His chest was raising and falling rapidly as he searched for the right words. 

“I…” Henry started, “I just couldn’t kill Zachary, Peter, he’s only a boy.”
There were audible gasps heard throughout the small crowd and confused, accusatory whispers. All sat more rigidly in their seats as they looked to Gretchen and Peter to see what would happen. Both of their eyes looked dead and cold.
            “You have put us all in danger now,” Peter said in a low voice.
            Taking the gavel, he rammed it into the side of the podium in one swift movement, causing the head of it to break from its base. Silence fell on the small Senate chambers of Oak Crest.
            “Gretchen, lock back up the food!” Peter shouted in his wife’s direction. “You,” he spat at Henry, “you are coming with me.”
            His old army muscles still powerful, Peter grabbed the father by the scruff of his collared shirt and dragged him through the chambers.
            “Follow me if you ever want to see food again! And leave your weapons!” Peter yelled while Gretchen was returning with the key to the food safe prominently held in her hand.
            Everyone dutifully, though with evident fear, rose form their seats and followed the couple dragging Henry through the streets. The old school principle lived about a block from the Old Town Hall so the trip was short. 

Within minutes, the small gang stood in Henry’s front hall of his crumbling townhouse. Gretchen grabbed Henry by his hair and demanded to know where his sixteen year old son, Zach, was. Zachary had been a football player and a good math student before the outbreak. James remembered his paper route when he was a younger kid and how friendly he always was to his wife, Daphne.
            Henry, blood spilling from his mouth where Peter had punched him upon entering the house, pointed a shaking finger toward the master bedroom which bore a strong deadbolt. A faint growling could be heard from behind the door. Peter reached in his back pocket and pulled out a pistol he handed to Nathan. Gretchen worked a bobby pin on the deadbolt.
            “Please, Nate,” said Peter, his voice softer, “you know we have to do this to be safe.”
            Nathan looked at his friend and old army comrade with obvious difficulty. He held the gun in his hands carefully, looking from the gun to the door where Gretchen had finally jimmied the lock. He sighed, his voice shaking, and gave Henry a look that said, “Sorry.”

Rachel buried her head in Olga’s chest and James placed a comforting hand on Insane Larry who was mumbling and sobbing slightly. As the door closed and Gretchen stood guard outside, Henry stopped struggling. He knew it was over. After a few moments, a loud bang could be heard from behind the door and Nathan yelled out of anguish at what he had just done.
            Returning from the room with some blood on his shirt, Nathan nodded to Peter and returned his pistol to Gretchen. Gretchen smiled to her husband, as though they had just shared an intimate night of lovemaking and kissed him on the cheek. The sight of it made James’ stomach turn.
            “Now,” said Gretchen, “we need to make sure nothing like this little mishap ever happens again.”

            Cocking the gun, she pushed Henry onto his knees. It took James seconds to realize what was going to happen next, but by the time he realized it, it was too late. Gretchen had taken the shot, right between Henry’s eyes, and the old principle’s body slumped to the ground.
 “Throw his body out back,” Gretchen said and Peter agreed, “The stragglers will take care of the remains.”
            Nathan, the look of shock evident on his face, took a hold of Henry’s body, his eyes hard. Within minutes, the body was gone and the remaining members of the group stood in an icy muteness. James heard Gretchen’s voice, but it sounded miles away. His gaze was foggy and his mind racing. He heard her say that the food this week would be hand delivered by Lucille later today and that they would continue next Tuesday as planned.
            Back home James collapsed against his closed from door. Standing slowly after a couple moments, he headed out to his garage and to his backyard wear a faint mewing sound could be heard. What appeared to be a woman’s body was chained to the back of the garage. Her tongue had been cut out to avoid detection and her teeth filed down to avoid a bite. James sat next to Daphne, held her close, and rocked back and forth with her as the sun set.

“We’ll be fine, my sweetheart,” James whispered, “I promise, my dear, we will be."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Only A Couple More Months

It's March. Holy fuck, it's March. I recently applied for my degree and now I'm wondering how long until I'll be ordering my cap and gown (the thought only now just popped into my head). My social and love life seem to have evened out and I'm finding enough time to hang out with good friends and my boyfriend amidst a relatively easy semester.

Right now, I have about six different PowerPoints up in various windows, cramming for a Classical Mythology midterm at 2pm. So of course instead of focusing on that, I come and write a blog post. I'm not too worried for it, since I studied a fair amount last week and have a good background in mythology to begin with. The coffee sitting to the right of me is my new best friend.

This year, this semester even, have been flying by faster than I ever thought possible. The job search has begun, though I'm thinking right out of college I may want to do something low-key like bank telling? Or an administrative assistant? Something away from managerial in the slightest. My Tropical Smoothie manager job is secured through July, but I can leave really at any point once the semester ends. And I'm only now realizing I need to start looking for a place to live for once I move out of my apartment in July.

I've put off my scholarship requirements until now, of course, because I like to make myself suffer. But I still have a good two months so going to three events should be fine. I am a bit worried though since the calender looks rather empty for the month..I'm hoping they just forgot to update. I'm working on a story for a class for which I have little investment and need to come up with another in a couple weeks.

I know my parents do this because they care, but the whole, "What are you going to do to support yourself?" thing has increased ten-fold to being a part of almost every phone conversation. I'm certain I'll be fine, really, but the panic in my dad's voice is doing little for my upcoming graduation anxiety. I graduate in eleven weeks. I'm starting to feel like the cliche senior who doesn't want to graduate and suddenly has no idea what she wants to do with her life. And that feeling increases daily.

Chelsea and I

Me and my best friend, Michelle

Me and Luke at my birthday

Mardi Gras with Ceci
If it wasn't for the great friends I have in my life and my loving (albeit pressuring) family and great boyfriend, I would be an emotional wreck right now. I need the support more than ever in my college career and I thank God for them every day. These weeks are going by too fast, the days are not as long as they were my freshman year, and spring is quickly approaching. All I can say is I'm thankful for my friends and for alcohol briefly keeping my mind off the impending doom of true adulthood.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Mystieks

I recently realized I've mentioned the Mystieks a couple times now on this blog, but have never posted the story. This is the trilogy I've been working out for a couple years now and plan on writing soon. The first short story I did for a class in college was the prologue to the trilogy in my sophomore year. It still is good, for my expectations, but it could use a bit of tweaking so it sounded less "young" and stripped away some needless description. Overall though, I love it's feel. Here it is, the first short story I ever wrote:

The Mystieks
The cold wind bit at my cheeks, the kind of cold that sucked the life out of the air.  The dark trees hung low in a canopy above the main avenues, leaving behind fallen branches scattered along the sidewalks.  Heavy gray clouds covered the early morning sun; the sun rarely showed her face in the village and her sister, the rain cloud, took over for her most seasons.  Sometimes though, I swore I could glimpse slivers of sunshine on the horizon beyond the barriers.  The village was unbearable this time of year, leaving the streets barren and open for my wandering.  I was grateful that it left me alone to think.  Yet no matter how I analyzed the situation, I could find no way to avoid my fate.  The Council’s word was law and I, unlike many others my age, respected the ways of our land and the traditions in place, at least until a couple days ago. 
Running my fingers through my hair, I tried to contain the dark blonde strands that whipped around my face.  The crumbling sneakers I wore moved along the streets with a silent ease, a welcome addition to the rest of my clothing that helped me to blend into the background.  My white button-up blouse was fading and the sweater vest that accompanied it was dull and thin.  The dreary beige colors did little to compliment my pale complexion.  I felt no fear; it simply wasn’t in my blood.  So, why now would I be scared?  My summons had been clear, which arrived on the front stoop two days prior:
Miss Isabelle is hereby summoned to appear before the Council of Elders to discuss the events that took place on the seventeenth of January.  The defendant has two days to prepare his/her defense before the summons takes legal effect.  The Council has spoken. –Elder Katherine, M.B.
Defendant?  Discuss?  Why mock me by insinuating I have any rights in these matters? 
            “Remember your place, Isabelle,” I said to myself.  “Keep your head low and your nose clean.”
            I rolled my eyes; well, Isabelle, your plan is working perfectly!  I was to appear before the Council, alone, so they could gather information about the day’s events, as Prescott explained after I read my summons to him.  Prescott was the closest thing our village had to legal aid; his obsession with our village’s history, both legal and social, proved to be a valuable asset to those in trouble.
            His smile was long gone; I think I was the main source of his worrisome look.  I disappeared for long periods of time, but Prescott had to remember he was not my father nor was he my lover.  What reason did I have to answer to him?  This did not mean, however, that Prescott was unattractive; his chestnut brown hair was neatly styled daily and his overtly preppy attire—hence my sweater vest—was at times gag-worthy.  Yet none of these things could lead distract you from his toned abs and forearms that bulged from his shirts.  But attraction?  Perhaps, on a merely sexual level, but he was twice my age (not that that would stop me) and a friend of my father’s.  Prescott knew me since my father was sent away, always making sure I had plenty to eat and a place to sleep.   He and my father were close friends from prep school and for some reason Prescott felt a certain debt to my father. 
            “You’re too stubborn,” he said.  “Please, for once Isabelle, let someone help you!”
            Prescott knew me better than that; I denied help at every turn.  Besides, I didn’t need the type of help he offered: a clich├ęd Age of Rebellion defense. 
            “My father would want me to speak the truth, Prescott,” I retorted.  “I’m not going to insult the intelligence of the Elders and claim a drug-induced rage!” 
            From the ages of 17-21, teens in our village emancipated themselves from their parents and were given free-range to use any illicit drugs and alcohol they could get their hands on; this rite of passage was known as The Age of Rebellion.  Sex was rampant, though a strict distribution of birth control eliminated most adverse effects of our promiscuous ways.  It was popular to mock the Council while in the Age of Rebellion, to get high and complain about how hard and unfair our lives were.  The preachers warned us about our self-destructive ways.  After prep school, most of us didn’t bother attending services since it was no longer required.  The preachers would leave the safety of their pulpits briefly every Sunday to shout threats of damnation at the Age of Rebellion teens—or, as some affectionately called them, “rebels”—that walked past their churches.
            The year was 2010; that was what little knowledge I had of the “outside world.”  Now, where exactly our village was in relation to the rest of the world, I had no idea, but what I did know was we were the only human life left and the rest of the planet was dangerous, dangerous beyond our comprehension.  We had food, clothing, shelter, and supplies as needed; never did we question the origins of our good fortune.  What reason was there to? 
            I grabbed the flask from my coat pocket and took a long swig of the gin.  Slumping down onto the curbside, I rubbed my temples and tried to concentrate.  Unlike my peers, I didn’t need to shoot up to focus or get shitfaced to function, but people had their crutch.  Mine was men. 
            “Of course, the one thing I indulge in has to get me in trouble!”
            I sighed; it wasn’t his fault.  Shit, what was his name?  Taking another gulp from my flask, I tried to remember that night.  It had been a normal Friday evening for me: hanging around Studio 7, hoping to pick someone up.  I made eye contact with what’s-his-face nursing a beer at the bar.  His hand slid up my thigh and I smiled coyly; he knew my game and was ready to play. 
            We were at his flat at the edge of the village before I asked his name, basking in the afterglow of our lovemaking.  I hadn’t bothered asking his name and I didn’t care to know; anonymity kept things from getting too dicey.  The silk sheets were twisted and stuck to our sweaty bodies.  Lying on his chest, I snatched the cigarette out of his hand to take a drag.  I loved sex, the loss of inhibition and serenity that clouded my never resting mind.  At the end of the night though there would be an emptiness I couldn’t shake.   I didn’t need the Age of Rebellion to show me this.  My life was a never-ending cycle: eat, sleep, sleep with someone, continue my search…
            What’s-his-name and I talked for what felt like hours.  In that after-sex moment, when the air is heavy and the world is at peace, words flow more easily.  I rolled to my stomach and stared at him. 
            “What?” he asked. 
            “Nothing,” I mumbled, but he knew that wasn’t the truth.   “Don’t you ever think there has to be more to life than this?  Drugs and sex?”
            He laughed, which pissed me off.  Why are people here so content? 
            “Listen to me baby, it’s our Age of Rebellion.  This is what they expect us to do!  Why not live it up and enjoy freedom while it lasts?” 
            I turned toward the window that overlooked the ominous fence bordering our safe, little village.  My temper was rising and I could feel the anger boiling from within.  I was always so angry and I never knew why.  I could feel this energy that I could not control.  That was another thing I hated, not being in control. 
            “Freedom?  You call this freedom?  Don’t you ever wonder what’s on the other side?  I mean aren’t you the least bit curious?” 
            “They keep us trapped here like cattle,” he said, like a sound bite of the others our age. 
            I shook my head, hoping someone would understand.  “No, there has to be a good reason they keep us here, and I believe that with every fiber of my being.  The Council of Elders is not a group of washed up adults controlling our every move,” I said to what’s-his-face, the belief in my statement growing as my mind raced. 
            “So, why do you think they are keeping us here, then?” what’s-his-face asked.
             “I don’t want to know why they keep us here,” I said, afraid to say what I really felt. 
            I had felt this my whole life and my father hinted at it, but to speak of such things was to risk getting dissolved.  People in the village disappeared from time to time, either dissolved or sent away.  No one knew what happened when a person was dissolved, but everyone knew when it occurred.  The actual event was never witnessed by citizens and only occurred after extreme disobedience or disrespect toward the Council of Elders. 
            Before the pregnancy regulations, the Age of Rebellion resulted in a surplus of children.  My mother gave birth to me when she was only seventeen, dying during childbirth.  My father took care of me, but disappeared when I was four.  I remembered very little of his physical appearance, only recalling the tidbits of knowledge he shared.  He had committed no act of disobedience; in fact, he is the one who instilled respect for the Elders in me.  He was sent away, but I did not know where, and I did not know why. 
            When someone was sent away, it wasn’t spoken about.  It wasn’t something to be ashamed of, but people who asked questions drew attention.  Attention wasn’t good; it arouse suspicion.
            “Oh come on darling, you’re among friends.  What are you interested in then?” he pried. 
            Friends?  Right, I forgot, fucking someone once, especially a stranger, automatically lays the foundation for a healthy friendship!  I pulled on my clothes and walked to the window, looking past the village’s boundaries. 
            “I want to know what is out there, what is so dangerous that it threatens our existence,” I said.  “I want to know what’s on the other side of that fence.” 
            Laughing again, he turned to his bedside table.  He pulled an elastic band taught around his forearm with his teeth while his free hand rummaged through a drawer in search of a syringe.
            “What, so you’re going to jump the fence?  You’d be shot, no doubt,” he said absentmindedly, as though it was a fact of life I must accept. 
            “Shot?  You must be joking.  You know the guards would never take such drastic measures,” I replied. 
            We spoke matter-of-factly, as though it was not odd to discuss such things post-mind-blowing sex.  For me, it wasn’t odd; I didn’t bother to beat around the bush or worry about revealing too much to a complete stranger.  For him, well, he was a no-good druggie; who knew what went on in his liquefied brain.  I sometimes wondered if the drugs were to keep us from nosing around, to keep us subdued and under control.
            “Don’t be ridiculous, they are not the enemy.  You need to find out who is,” I thought.
            The boundary guards were wimps from prep school whose dads wanted them to be “real” men.  Being a guard was a joke to most people nowadays.  We accepted it would be dangerous to test the limits outsides our village.  Besides, most believed it was electrical, eliminating the need for added protection.  The guns the guards carried were for extreme circumstances and to shoot anyone for being attempting to escape would result in being dissolved.  Such drastic measures would be a direct violation of their oaths of maintaining peace.
            What’s-his-face wasn’t listening anymore and was more concerned with letting the high wash over his body.  Heroin, cocaine, meth, I hated them all, hated what they did to people.  The way their eyes rolled back and the way their heads lolled from side to side did more than frighten me.  It angered me.  No one around me was coherent long enough to listen to me, and I grew tired of talking to myself.  The adults were busy with their own lives and assumed we in the Age of Rebellion were having plenty of fun on our own. 
            I was sick of it, sick of it all.  Sick of the mindless, anonymous sex, sick of the drugs flooding the veins of my peers.  Sick of the lonely, cold nights searching for answers in libraries, office buildings, and factory files for an answer.  Yet to find the answer, I needed to know the question I was posing, and that I did not yet know.  I didn’t even know what I was trying to find!  Maybe I was in search of an epiphany of total clarity, a spiritual revelation to re-evaluate my path in life, or a conspiracy theory buried deep in the foundations of our government.  Something was off with not only this village, but also me.  I wasn’t normal; I could sense it.  I did not cry, hug, or get overly excited.  Instead I was cold, shut-down when made angry to keep whatever was growing within me at bay.  Something was wrong and maybe my chance at an answer meant taking risks, more of a risk than I’d dared ever take.
            “This is crazy, you’re being crazy!” I thought.  “Just stop and be rational for a second, if you don’t, you could jeopardize the entire search!”
            Ignoring my subconscious and leaving what’s-his-face in his distorted state, I made my way to the fence, the one thing between me and my answer, the answer I had searched for fifteen years.  The boundaries were quiet most nights; anyone with half a brain was smart enough to stay away from the fences.  People in the village were afraid of the unknown, afraid of what could be.  Carefully, I tested the fence with my fingertips, expecting an electric current to throb through my body.  Nothing.  I looked around; the coast was clear.
            “Come on, Isabelle, don’t be afraid.  You can do this, you know you can,” I whispered. 
            What did I expect to find on the other side?  Some giant monstrous creature?  Another village?  I didn’t know and for some reason, I didn’t care.  The only thing on my mind was jumping the fence before me.  I wrapped my fingers around the wired barrier, braced one leg on the ground and the other on the fence, ready to move.
            The next thing I knew, I heard a guard shuffling his heavy feet toward me, huffing and puffing along the way. 
            “Hey!  Hey, you there miss, what do you think you’re doing?!  You don’t want to go out there, it’s for your own protection!” the guard yelled as he approached.
             I rolled my eyes, did he really think saying that would stop me?  He had to let me go; I knew the rules: once the citizen is on the fence, they are free to test the limits outside, but can never return after he or she’s passed over to the other side. 
            “Listen, sir, stay out of it, go back to your post, and just let me jump this fence.” I said to the guard, not even bothering to turn my face.
            This one had to be a new guard; his voice raised an octave as he continued to plead with me and I could hear his keys jiggling as he trembled.  Oh no, this was bad, very bad.  New guards, especially scared ones, were potentially dangerous.  I heard rumors that some snapped from the stress and tried to shoot anyone who approached the boundaries.  Very few though had to be this unstable and very few were as irrational as me to attempt this.  I heard him load his gun, cock it, and pull the trigger…shit.  Bracing myself for impact, I held still waiting for the inevitable pain.  But wait, where was it?
            My head turned slightly and I found I was centimeters away from the bullet, suspended in midair.  An icy calm overcame me that coated my body from head to toe.  Looking up, a saw a dome of light, like looking into a flashlight, surrounding me in a bubble.  The bullet hung there as I stared in fascination, noticing that the guard was moving in slow-motion, meaning time had either stopped or I was moving faster than time.  No, no that cannot be. 
            Staring the bullet down, it fell to the ground, and soon after another came hurling toward me.  One by one the bullets flew at me and my ball of light.  My body was moving on its own, my arms flailing around painting intricate patterns in the sky.  The movements drained me of my energy and I watched as my skin grew hot and white.  Stumbling, I lost hold of my light, my body crashing with it in a cloud of fury.

I awoke three days later, at Prescott’s place, with no memory of the days I lost.  Prescott barged into the bedroom early that morning.  
            “You showed up here this morning, covered in dirt, muttering something about a ball of light,” he said as he handed me the legal document he found on his doorstep. 
            He battered me with questions, assuming I got high and attacked someone or destroyed government property.  I couldn’t tell Prescott what happened.  I didn’t know what happened. 
There was no use worrying now; I had to go to the Council and state my case, beg for mercy even. 
            The Council’s Quarters lay at the north end of the village high upon a hill.  When I entered the premises, two guards escorted me to the chambers.  White marble covered every surface and the drapery accenting the Quarters was deep red.  My shoes clogged noisily on the floor of the hallow chambers.  The guards bowed and exited, pulling the great oak doors shut behind them.  I walked to the center of the room, trying not to let the seven sets of eyes send me shaking into the ground.  The Elders sat perched high above me in a semicircle.  A sighting of the Elders was rare; I had only seen them in photographs.  Yet here I was, before the seven most powerful people in the village: Elder’s Karl, Frank, Rebecca, Jacob, Katherine, and Greg.  A few stood out from my studies, most notably Elder Katherine M.B. and Elder Karl F.F.  Their title’s origins were ambiguous in the village, further shrouding the Council in mystery. 
            “Forgive me Elders, for I have forgotten my manners.  My name is Miss Isabelle, daughter of Mr. Dayton and Mrs. Cynthia.  I have come as a response to my summons,” I said, bowing before the Council while desperately trying to recall the formalities I learned in prep school. 
            Elder Katherine signaled me to rise.  Unlike the others, her hair was not gray; in fact, Elder Katherine did not look a day over thirty.  She was indeed the youngest of the Elders, yet seemed to hold a remarkably high position of power for someone so young.  Her eyes told me she must also be the kindest of them; they were a piercing blue and moment I entered the chambers, I felt her eyes understand.  They were so mesmerizing that I tried to keep eye contact, but I could feel my arms shaking at my sides and lowered my head bashfully.  I had never been nervous in my life.  Then again, never had I somehow cheated death, lost three days worth of memory, and been summoned before the Council. 
            “You may relax, young Isabelle.  You are not to be dissolved.  You are the daughter of Mr. Dayton and do not need to worry yourself with these frivolous formalities.  Please, we must speak freely,” Elder Katherine said. 
            I let out the breath I was holding in since I last spoke, thankful I was to be spared.  Elder Katherine was not finished with me though and continued to gaze down on me as though she could see into my mind, her eyes darting back and forth across my face in rapid succession.
            “You are special, Miss Isabelle, are you not?  Well, of course you are, but you already knew that about yourself, didn’t you?” she stated. 
            I knew it was a rhetorical question, but I couldn’t shake the feeling she knew the answer to every question she asked of me. 
            “We both know, I mean, we all know what happened on the 17th of January, hm?  Well, I happen to know you are experiencing a great deal of confusion on this issue, Miss Isabelle.  Why don’t you tell me what you think happened by the barriers?”
            What on earth made her think I knew what happened ?
            “Something came over me I guess and this…this light covered me and the guard’s bullets couldn’t penetrate it.  It was like a kind of shield of light that I was making…,” I said, letting my voice trail away when I felt the red begin to cover my cheeks. 
            I sounded silly, I mean, what did I think I created?  A shield?  A ball of light?  This wasn’t child’s play we were dealing with; this was my life!  I was making a fool of myself and they were encouraging me.  I wanted to disappear for real, to crawl in a hole far away and pretend none of this ever happened.  I should have kept my mouth shut, fucked what’s-his-face, left him alone with his heroin, ignored my stupid subconscious, and been done with it all!  I could feel Elder Katherine’s eyes bore into me. 
            “Miss Isabelle?  You are special,” she smiled knowingly.  “And I can assure you this is far from child’s play,” Elder Katherine said. 
            Wait a minute, child’s play?  I hadn’t said that out loud, had I?  How did she know what I was thinking?  Was she reading my mind or something?  I backed away slightly, my heart racing.
            Elder Katherine smiled at me again, “Yes, Miss Isabelle, yes I am.  It is alright, there is no need to be frightened.”
            I gulped audibly, clasping my quivering hands together behind my back. 
            “Don’t be afraid, I’m a Mind Bender, one of two kinds of our special forces,” Elder Katherine explained.  “And you, my dear Isabelle, are a Force Fielder like your father before you.  I must say though, we have never seen power of your kind in our history.”
            M.B.?  Mind Bender?  Of course, it all made sense now…damn, who was I fooling?  None of this made any sense.  I must have finally snapped or succumbed to crack and was having a bad trip.  Oh shit, or was I dead?  Did I die out by the barriers a week ago?  This was impossible, completely insane. 
            “Never discount the impossible, for the truth lies in improbability.”
            I heard those words ring clearly in my head, my father uttering them to me after I cried when my classmates told me fairies were not real.  Beyond my lingering fear though, a part of me wanted to soak up her words, accept them and make them mine.  Somewhere deep down, I knew this was my answer.  I didn’t care how far-fetched it was or how shocking it must seem, this had to be my truth.  Finally, after all these years of searching, I could find out the reason for my father’s disappearance.
            “Is that why my father was sent away?” I asked. 
            The Council looked among themselves, ignoring my question.  Elder Karl, the great Elder Karl, known for his brutish ways and blunt attitude, stood suddenly and spoke with conviction. 
            “Enough skirting around the issue at hand, Katherine!  This girl is bright, are you not?” 
            Was he talking to me?  I nodded obediently. 
            “There,” he said.  “No need to sugar-coat the truth from this young Force Fielder.”  Elder Karl looked at me, stroking his chin in thought. 
            “Miss Isabelle, there will be plenty of time for us to play Twenty Questions.  In the mean time, we have work to do.  You will accompany me upstairs.  I will introduce you to your classmates and then show you to your chambers.  In the morning, we will begin your training,” he said.  
            Snapping his fingers, he beckoned the guards by the glass elevator.
            “Wait, training?!” I shouted at Elder Karl as he came down to the main floor. 
            Instantly, I covered my mouth with my hands; I could not believe I spoke so freely to an Elder!  Elder Karl looked tired.  He rolled his eyes as though this type of disobedience was ordinary.  Perhaps the students here did not share my level of respect.
            “We, as I said, have never seen someone with your level of talent before, Miss Isabelle.  I do not know if you can grasp this concept, but in the field last Friday night, you stopped thirteen bullets without any prior training.  Do you realize just how powerful you are?” Elder Karl spat at me.
            “Karl, you’re frightening the poor girl!  This is a lot of information to absorb.  We must give her some time,” Elder Katherine pleaded.
            Elder Karl ignored her, “You, my child, are destined for greatness!  In the past, the highest number of bullets a Force Fielder stopped without recharging was six.”
            Recharging?  What, was I a robot or something?
“You surpassed that two-fold with no prior instruction,” Elder Karl continued.  “Who knows what other unknown abilities lay within this magical body of yours!” Elder Karl said, gripping my shoulders. 
            I walked with Elder Karl across the marble floor toward the glass elevator.  Questions, so many questions swam in my head.  I felt dizzy and was on the verge of passing out from excitement and terror.  Never again would I see Prescott, or my peers, or find out who what’s-his-name’s really was.  This chapter of my life was over now, and a new one must begin.  I knew that once you were sent away, you were gone forever.  Now, where exactly that might be I had no clue.  Any chance I had at finding out was on the floors above.  The Council of Elders was now standing, nodding in approval, except for Elder Katherine who still looked concerned it was all happening too fast.  I looked to Elder Karl, whose stern grasp of my shoulders comforted me and reminded me of something I couldn’t place.  As we stopped short of the elevator, I understood what it was reminiscent of: my father. 
             I had to be strong, no matter what was at the end of this elevator ride.  My father was out there somewhere, maybe beyond the barriers I foolishly tried to scale.  Elder Karl nodded to the guard who led us into the elevator.  He looked to me, his eyes smiling for what I guessed was the first time in a long while. 
            “Welcome to our village’s secret army, and I can assure you the Force Fielders and Mind Benders welcome you too,” Elder Karl said. 
            The elevator doors closed, taking me to my new place in life, to my answer.
            “Miss Isabelle, welcome to the Mystieks.”
Mock book cover I've uploaded before, but may make more sense now