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Weekly Flash Contest #14: Write a poem or a story where a sudden change in the weather provides a pivotal point.
The week commencing June 29th (Daily Creativity prompt #71) was our fourteenth week of flash contests–and we would not have guessed so many of you would be inspired by the weather! We had a record number of entries (more than 50 this week), and we were, as usual, very impressed. Everyone brought to life various weather events–from blizzards to rainstorms–in varying forms–from poems (including concrete poems) to prose. The judges had a hard time battling through all those changes in temperature, but in the end we emerged, windswept and drenched, into the warm sunshine of decisions made. Well done to everyone who entered, but particular congratulations to those who made it with us through the storm as Honorable Mentions and Winners. See below for all their names, and read the whole blog post to experience the weather conjured up by our top-placed winners.

Winners

"Cabin Catastrophe" by Isabel Bashaw, 10, Enumclaw, WA
"Michi and Kieto" by Lucy Berberich, 11, Oxford, OH
"Transformation" by Sofie Dardzinski, 9, Potomac, MD
"A Line of Cars" by Wesley Moniz, 9, Belmont, MA
"The Hotel of Angels" by Emerson Swift, 12, Mill Valley, CA

Honorable Mention

"The Flower's Lesson" by Audrey Fan, 10, Cary, NC
"Driftwood on the Sea" by Meleah Goldman, 10, Oakland, CA
"Rain" by Misha Nasarpuri, 12, Portland, OR
"Rose After Rain" by Amruta Krishnan Srinivasan, 9, San Jose, CA
"The Money Rain" by Cici Zou, 11, Concord, MA


Isabel Bashaw, 10
Enumclaw, WA

Cabin Catastrophe

Isabel Bashaw, 10

¨Dad! Where did you put my slippers?? I can't find them!¨

Hi, my name is Bella. I live in Seal Rock, Oregon. It's spring break, so my family went on a trip from the damp Oregon coast where we live, to even damper forests in the mountains. We were staying in the same small, cozy cabin we always did, but this year it seemed to be raining even more than usual. It was nearly time for dinner, and our family was almost done unpacking.

¨I don't know honey!” replied my Dad. ¨Check in the bags.¨ I rolled my eyes, since obviously I already had. I gave one last glance at my bedroom before I walked out. My bed was creaky, but the rest was fine. There was an antique dresser, where I had put my clothes and my ipad, as well as an old wooden bookshelf. Each year I neatly lined up the collection of books I would read that week. Deciding that I must have left my slippers at home, I sat in an old armchair and looked out the window. The misty fog had drifted away (thank goodness), but in its place a slow drizzle showered the forest. Dull gray clouds wandered along the dark sky, but the cheerful cabin was cozy. There were  radiators for heat, so I put my cold toes on one to warm up. The cabin was at least as warm as our own house in Seal Rock, but each year my little sister, Lola, still insisted on having Dad light a fire in the fireplace every day.

¨Well, time for dinner! Dish up!¨ my Mom said as I walked into the kitchen. I took a slice of sourdough bread and a bit of salad, but nothing else. Lola took the opposite: roasted potatoes, broccoli, and chicken. I despised anything roasted or burned, and I didn't eat meat. For some reason my parents made whatever dinner they wanted to anyway. I nibbled at my bread and picked at my salad. I never really wanted to leave home to visit this small cabin. I didn't like nature walks or rain (or worst of all, nature walks in the rain). I preferred the idea of tropical climates, five star hotels, and crystal clear oceans with white, sandy beaches.

¨Bella. You hardly have any food and you aren't even touching that! Are you sick? Do you feel alright?¨ Mom looked at me, worried. I shrugged.

¨Can I go to bed?¨ I asked, not wanting to eat.

Mom sighed. ¨Okay, go ahead. I´ll come and tuck you in after dinner.¨ As she picked up my plate I went back to my room and got into my pajamas. I clambered into my soft bed, and read until I heard Mom coming up. I turned off the lamplight and shoved my book under my pillow. Pretending to be asleep, I closed my eyes as my mom kissed me on the forehead and whispered, ¨Goodnight, Bella.¨ After she left the room, I pulled out my flashlight and read until dark. Then I put my book on top of my dresser, and laid on my back, trying to sleep. After a while my eyelids felt heavy, and I drifted off to sleep.

BOOM!! BOOM!! I shot up in bed. Was this a nightmare, or real thunder? I couldn't tell. I rolled over on my side, trying to get back to sleep. BOOM!! BOOM!! It was louder this time. I tried to ignore the noise and just go back to sleep, but it just went on. I couldn't sleep, and it was all nature's fault. I bet it wasn´t thundering back at the beach, where my friends were probably hanging out at a sleepover, playing video games and having fun. I sleepily got out of my bed, and shuffled down to the kitchen, dimly lit by one light. I made myself hot cocoa to try to make myself drowsy again. As I sipped it, I looked out the window into the pouring rain. It was all blackness, but during the day we had a great view of the mountainside from here. I was startled out of my thoughts when a great white flash of lighting struck across the midnight sky. Then almost immediately came more booms of thunder. Suddenly Lola appeared in the kitchen doorway. She glanced at my cocoa.

¨I can't sleep. Can I have some hot chocolate?¨ she asked. I nodded and went over to the counter to make her a mug while she looked out the window. I saw her eyes widen at the sight of the lightning.

¨Did you see that?¨ she asked me, excitedly. ¨That was real-life lightning!¨

I rolled my eyes. ¨Of course I saw it. It's been happening all night long.¨ She shot her gaze back to the window and I immediately felt guilty. It wasn't Lola´s fault that I was missing my friends. I made sure I smiled as I handed her the hot cocoa, trying to make up for my bad mood. She sat down at the table, gulping it down. Then my parents walked in.

¨Oh, you guys couldn't sleep either?¨ Mom asked drowsily, looking at us, and then our mugs.

¨Yeah, and guess what?” replied an excited Lola. ¨There was real-life lightning out the window!!¨

Mom chuckled as Dad said, ¨That's great honey!¨

¨Lola–do you want to watch the storm from the porch with me?¨ I asked. It sounded like something a fun older sister would suggest, and suddenly I wanted to be a little bit more fun. We walked out in our rain boots, catching glimpses of the forest with each lighting strike. Suddenly I saw the most sickening thing. During each flash, in slow motion, the mountainside behind the cabin seemed to be moving. I could see a dark ooze slowly dripping down the mountain, heading in our direction. I grabbed Lola and screamed, running us back inside, not bothering to take off my muddy boots.

¨Bella what's wrong? Are you OK?¨ asked my Mom. ¨You girls are tracking mud all over the place!”

I panted in fear, and shouted breathlessly, ¨I think there's a mudslide! Coming down that mountain behind us!! We have to leave right now!!¨ My mom put a hand over her mouth as Dad ran outside. He came back in, eyes wide in fear.

¨Bella´s right. This rain must have weakened the mountainside, causing all the mud to slide down. I noticed a few boulders in it too. We have to leave now! Get in the car! No Lola-forget about your stuff–MOVE EVERYONE!¨

I had never seen my Dad like this. I wanted to argue that I needed my iPad, but I was too scared. I ran to the car, still clutching Lola´s hand, Mom and then Dad right after us. Dad started the car, and we sped away from the sliding mountainside. I trembled, and kept glancing back until Dad stopped the car. Somehow we were in an unfamiliar town, parked at a police station. It seemed to me that we had only been in the car for moments. Dad ran into the station, and then came back out.

¨We´ll wait the storm out here, girls. In the morning the officers will radio on the status of the road and we´ll see if we can safely go back to the cabin.¨ We sat in chairs at the police station until dawn. I should have felt tired, but I was way too shaken up to even think about sleeping. Lola was the only one who managed to get about two more hours of sleep, laying in Mom's lap. I just sat there, watching as Dad sometimes checked his phone. He had grabbed it from the counter when we ran from the cabin. Other than our pajamas and muddy rain boots, everything we had packed was back at the cabin.

Finally a hint of light appeared out the window of the station, and we climbed back into our car, ready to follow a State Trooper back to our cabin.

As we drove, Lola asked Mom: “Will the animals be alright? Or did they all die in the mudslide?” I had never thought about that. I wondered how animals survived through natural disasters.

Dad just distractedly said, ¨I'm sure they're fine, Lola,¨ but I wasn't so sure. When we drove near the cabin, it was just–gone. In its place were eerie looking lumps and bits of debris and mud. I gasped. I was scared. My brain couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing–the whole cabin was gone?! My mind started racing. If I hadn't been woken up by the thunder, if my sister had not come downstairs, if I hadn't wanted to make a special memory with Lola–our whole family could be dead.

After we watched the officers carefully looking around for a while, Dad said we should just drive home. Nothing seemed to be spared. I was both incredibly sad that the cozy cabin was lost forever, and incredibly grateful that we were alive. Suddenly it all felt like too much and I just started laughing. ¨Next time we go on vacation, can we please go to the tropics?¨ I asked.


Lucy Berberich, 11
Oxford, OH

Michi and Kieto

Lucy Berberich, 11

“Kieto?” I tripped over another log as I tried to keep up with my adoptive mother’s quickening pace. “Kieto, slow down!”

I was running as fast as I could, but Kieto was faster than me, with longer legs and a leaner build. She was sprinting, her body flying through the air like her life depended on it. Well, it did.

“Michi, keep up! We’re almost there, just a little further!” She called back. I stumbled, trying to maintain a steady pace. We were running from the cops was all I knew. I didn’t know why, or what we had done to make them want us, but they were tracking us down, and Kieto wasn’t having it.

“Kieto…” I gasped for air, sweating dripping down my face, the shade of the forest doing nothing to soothe the burn of the heat against my skin. “Why… are they coming for us?”

Kieto was quiet for a moment, and the only noise was her footfalls and my labored breathing. Then she spoke, breaking the silence. “They want you, Michi.”

Her words didn’t compute. “. . . what?”

“You. They are after you.”

It didn’t make sense at all. The police? They were after me? What had I done wrong? When had I broken the law?

“It wasn’t anything you did, Michi, I swear.” Kieto reassured me softly, running slower now, letting me catch up to her.

“But . . . why?”

Kieto was quiet for a minute again. I could hear the caution in her voice when she spoke again. “It was my fault.”

“How?! What did you do?!” I didn’t want to sound angry, but if Kieto had hidden something this big from me, it wasn’t something to sit around and sip tea to.

“Michi . . .”

“Tell me!”

“I shouldn’t have taken you.” She shook her head, her eyes wet. “I should have left you there, maybe you would’ve been safe growing up alone.”

“Kieto, what do you mean? Where did you find me?” We had completely stopped walking now, and I had a hold of her sleeve, damp with sweat.

I could see her tears, but I couldn’t feel sorry for her. She was hiding something, something big, about me. My pulse was quickening, and I could hear the roar of blood in my ears.

“When I found you, I knew you were different. From the day you were discovered in the forest . . .”

“The forest?! You said you adopted me from an orphanage!”

“I know. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do...” The look of shame on her face almost extinguished my anger, but I rekindled my flame and got ready to yell at her again. She looked down at me with a teary gaze, and spoke before I could chastise her more. “You were made as a weapon, Michi. A dangerous one. And the government . . . they want to wipe you out. They do not appreciate your existence like I do.”

“My . . . existence? A weapon?” I wanted to smack her. “You’re kidding. Are you pranking me or something?”

Non, my son.” She said, in her French way. “I do not kid. They created you, but you failed the test. They do not understand that your mind is still human even if your body is machine.”

“I’m not a machine!” I gripped my arm tightly, pulling on the skin to prove my point. “I am flesh and bones! What you’re saying makes no sense at all!”

“Ah, but my son, have you ever gotten injured? Or been ill?”

That was a firm no. But I always thought that was because I was careful and had a really good immune system.
My head was spinning. None of this made sense to me. Kieto had just told me to pack up my things and run off with her. She hadn’t said . . .

“Michi.” She put both of her hands on my shoulders, looking me right in the eyes. “We will run. As long as we have to. To keep you safe.”

I could feel my eyes burning. You will not cry! Heck no! Not over this, not with Kieto so close. Even so, I felt my face get wet, and Kieto pulled me, wrapping her arms slowly around me. I was shaking, my face burning with shame and disgust.

Before either of us could even pull out of the embrace, a frightening crack of lightning sounded, and we both jumped in surprise. I choked on a scream at the sudden noise, and the light that flashed in the sky. Kieto shrieked, scrambling over to the nearest tree, her back against the trunk, breathing hard.

Rain began to fall from the sky, a sudden downpour that had me soaked within seconds. The wind was howling something fierce, and I flew over the grass to Kieto, stumbling and shivering as I reached her, clinging to her shirt. I could hear the tornado alarms blaring from the nearest town.

“Michi.” Kieto whispered urgently into my ear. “The tornado will scare off the police. We have a chance.”

“We don’t have a chance if we die out here!” I screamed at her. She pulled my head onto her chest, and I could hear her heart pounding even over the roaring thunder.

“We’ll be okay. Just stay calm. We’ll be fine.” She whispered this to me, over and over, even when the thunder died down and the pouring rain became a mere drizzle. We both were shaking violently, the branches of broken trees littering the ground around us, the hot air slowing down and resting. I almost cried out of relief when the fierce winds slowed and all was quiet again. The police had stopped tracking us. Everything was fine.

Kieto kissed the top of my head and sobbed. “We leave now. Back to France. We will stay with my mother. The police chasing us have likely gone back because of the tornado. We have time.”

Gripping my mother’s arm as she guided me through the forest, I thanked whatever greater force was above for sending me this storm. I just hoped it would be enough to keep me safe.


Sofie Dardzinski, 9
Potomac, MD

Transformation

Sofie Dardzinski, 9

The scorching sun beats
Down on a barren, desolate
Desert;
The sand sweeps across the flat
Plain
and the wind whistles in the silence.
Dun, drab, earth-yellow, rusty red,
Blanketing the dry land as far as the eye
Can see

Sky as hard as lapis
Blue,
Straight and even,
Sharp
Edges carving the horizon.
Drought, no rain,
a plain painful cracked
Earth, waiting . . .

Vagrant white clouds
Gather,
Greying into iron
Black.
The skies darken and torrents
Of rain cascade down

The rain rhythm
accelerates,
Sliding down the sky
Soaking, hydrating, stampeding the desert
Land

Dormant seeds
Exploding into life,
A riot of color appears: flowers
Blossom, vivid colors;
Soothing green, sun-yellow, and
Scarlet red,
Shining throughout
The shimmering heat,
and
Sow their seeds
For the next

Transformation.


Wesley Moniz, 9
Belmont, MA

A Line Of Cars

Wesley Moniz, 9

All Around Milford, families were packing bags. At 786 Halcrest Rd., an injustice had recently occurred.

The Nolgs

“I want to go to the beach!” Jamie rudely exclaimed.

“Well, we're going to grandma's house,” Jamie's father said.

“She just got out of knee surgery, and we're giving grandma a fun, Nolg family dinner!”

“Why do WE have to go?” Jamie asked, not getting the point.

“Because it's polite,” his mother chimed in. But she also said, “Although, there is a lot of traffic in our neighborhood, and grandma’s on the other side of town!”

“Well, we’re going, and we can just use the route around the pond,” his father said.

“All right,” his mother agreed. This annoyed Jamie, as the pond route was tantalizingly close to the very beach he was asking to go to. If only he had more privileges like his friend . . .

A loud SLAM interrupted his thoughts. The car door closed. Jamie sighed.

“Let’s go!” his mother said. And they drove into the street, mixing into the traffic.

The Crests

Holly Crest was the definition of a good kid. She did what she was told, and more. In her mind, however, there was not an urge or desire to do what grown-ups wanted. It was simply that she was smart. She knew that as a good kid, she would get more privileges. She was right. When her brother was in bed, she got to stay up, and talk with her parents, who adored her. One Saturday morning, over breakfast, she asked her parents, “Can we go to that beach by the pond?

“Well, I suppose, as you’ve been such a good child recently,” her father said.

“We can go later, but I need to run some errands first,” her mother said over a plate of eggs, while reading a particularly interesting issue of The Milford Cryer (a rather interesting newspaper in general). It was common knowledge that “errands,” at least for Holly’s mom, included helpful chores such as sitting in bed watching trashy films, popping chocolate covered strawberries, or even a combination of the two. After Holly’s mother’s “errands” were completed, the Crests got in their car, and set off for the pond.

The Petersons

Elisa Peterson loved bugs. Her room had bugs in jars. The kitchen had a butterfly named Randolph. The living room had a praying mantis, named Marvin, in a lush fish tank! But Elisa loved the garden the most. She loved the roly polies. She loved the fountain too. Sadly her water strider, Elvis, had passed away. This meant that the fountain had no bugs in it. Elisa planned on changing that. She knew the best place to find water striders was at the pond. So, one Saturday morning, she asked to go to the pond, to spend the morning searching for water striders.

“Absolutely!” her parents declared.

“I’ll make sandwiches!” her mother said.

“Would you like to bring friends?” said her father.

“No,” said Elisa, “I plan on spending the morning trying to replace Elvis.”

“That would take a lot of work, Elvis was a musical genius,” replied her father.

“No, Elvis was my water strider,” said Elisa.

“Ah yes” said her father, with a hint of disdain in his voice.

“Well, let's get to the beach, it might rain soon,” said her mother, clutching a bag of sandwiches, looking eager to go.

The Nolgs on the Road

“AAAARG!!!!” This was a sound Jamie heard when his father was mad. It was also the sound he heard right now. “The weather forecast said the darn storm wasn’t going to happen until tomorrow!”

“Well I only trust the forecast from The Milford Cryer,” said Jamie's mother.

“What is it with you and The Milford Cryer?”

“All my friends read it,” Jamie's mother replied.

“Well it didn’t predict this,” his father said. This time, his mother didn’t answer.

“Look dad, the roads are blocked because of flooding!” Jamie, somewhat joyously, exclaimed.

“Well, we’ll have to turn back,” his father said, far less joyously.

“Honey, there are two cars behind us, and the roads are blocked that way because of flooding too.” his mother said.

Meanwhile, some other issues are happening elsewhere . . .

The Crests on the Road

“Get in the car, get in the car!” Holly’s father yelled, almost drowned out by the heavy rain.

“Wait, so, no beach?” Holly asked.

“Sorry dear, I guess not today,” Holly’s mother said. Holly wanted to scream. She was used to getting what she wanted, so this was an outrage to her. She was compliant, however, and opened the door to the car.

She was slowly climbing into the car, when her father yelled, “Holly, get in quickly, you’re letting water into the car!”

“Sorry dad!” she yelled and shut the door. Ah, it felt very nice to be in a warm, dry car with a storm raging around you. It was like being in a secure forcefield, and Holly could survey all the car’s surroundings, like in the back and front there were two other cars. One person in the back of the front car she very much recognized . . .

The Petersons on the Road

“Sorry Elisa, I guess replacing Elvis will have to wait until tomorrow,” said Elisa’s mom.

“That's too bad,” said Elisa.

They all got in their car, and Elisa’s mother said, “We’ll  have to turn back.”

“I don't think that's gonna be possible, the roads are blocked both ways,” said Elisa’s father. At this point Elisa was bored. Maybe she could have talked to her parents, but she didn’t feel like it.

“Hey,” her mother said, “it’s the Crests in front of us, isn't it?”

“Yeah, I think it is,” said Elisa’s father. “You text Kelly.”

“Who’s Kelly?” Elisa asked.

“Holly’s mom,” said Elisa’s mother.

“Oh,” said Elisa. Elisa’s mother texted Mrs. Crest.

“This rain is crazy, do any of you guys have rain jackets we could borrow?”

Mrs. Crest replied by texting “Yes, we have ten in the trunk! By the way, I think the Nolgs’ car is in front of us.”

“Awesome” Elisa’s mother replied, clicking send and saying, “Mrs. Crest was kind enough to lend us some rain jackets, they said they have plenty extra. Also, the Nolgs are in the front car.”

“Ah, excellent,” said Elisa’s father.

While Elisa’s father went to pick up some rain jackets, the Nolgs joined in and fetched the extras.

The Ending

Because of the flood, both roads on either side of the short, narrow pond route were blocked. Only three cars fit, but the families inside knew each other, and with help from a few texts, one of the moms had remembered they had extra rain jackets in their trunk. While all the families got into their rain jackets, the kids were excited. The parents had decided to let all the children have a fun, rainy, beach day. As long as they kept their rain jackets on, and didn’t run off too far, and didn’t go into the water, the kids could play on the sandy beach. This was Holly’s idea. She wanted a beach day, and she got a beach day. Jamie agreed because he also wanted a beach day. In the end, even Elisa liked the idea, as she didn’t usually spend time with friends, and she couldn’t look for a new Elvis in the rain. The parents listened to Holly, and in the end agreed, as they could hang out too. The parents decided to stay in their cars and chat over Facetime, so they wouldn’t get wet. The kids didn’t mind getting wet and happily chatted and played tag on the beach.

It was a funny thing, they all decided, that rain, instead of ruining a beach day with friends, made it possible.

The End!


Emerson Swift, 12
Mill Valley, CA

The Hotel of Angels

Emerson Swift, 12

It happened here.
In this country—in this city.
Not in this place, exactly.
Paris, France.
You were standing outside.
L'Hôtel des anges:
The Hotel of Angels.
Umbrellas high up in the air,
Almost as if pulling us away.
The air was smoky, polluted.
You were inside now,
Watching from the lobby,
The spot.
The very spot.
Were our footprints stained
On that spot?
Near the edge of the curb,
A taxi pulled up beside it.
He approached slowly.
He left in a hurry.
You wanted to feel the magic again . . .
But the sky was clear.
You recalled the heavy downpour.
The sun teased me right then.
You stepped outside,
Shaking.
Suddenly you felt the first drop.
It was your imagination,
Surely.
But the next few fell
Like morning dew.
You thought it was a coincidence.
Turns out it wasn’t.
The sky became faceless.
Was it holding in emotion?
Love?
Did time freeze?
You can’t remember,
Because then,
Out of the fog,
Someone came.
Could it be?
The taxi driver uniform appeared,
Like a dream into a nightmare.
He asked you if you wanted a ride.
You shook your head,
Tears forming,
Heart breaking.

 

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