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Our December 2023 Flash Contest was based on Prompt #278 (provided by Stone Soup intern Sage Millen), which asked that participants craft a story around a family heirloom. Our submitters wrote about a variety of items passed down between generations including rings, a bracelet, a deer figurine, necklaces, a wooden fox, and a piano that unleashed a demon. Some of these heirlooms were desirable--giving their original owners' descendants special powers--while others were cursed. As always, thank you to all who participated, and please keep submitting next month!

In particular, we congratulate our Honorable Mentions, listed below, and our Winners, whose work you can appreciate below.

“The Box" by Nandan Chazhiyat, 12
“A Music Memory” by Chrysanthi Constantinou, 13
“The Holgate Gauntlet” by Yuna Jung, 10
“The Path to Atlantis” by Ethan Lee, 9
“Twain's Pencil” by Gargi Mondal, 11

Honorable Mentions
“The Chandler's Revenge" by Matilda Carliner, 10
“The Locket" by Angelina Chen, 13
“The Wooden Fox" by Wilson Chen, 11
“Santanic Symphonies" by Andrew Khawam, 13
“Cursed Earrings" by Taeeon Alya Kim, 12

The Box


Fear was clouding my mind. My parents had just told me that they wanted to talk to me, and every bad thing I had ever done was in the forefront of my mind. As I walked into the office room, an unusually weighty silence filled the room. I looked inside and...I was in the wrong room. I slowly walked over and opened the door.

“Hey, we have something for you.”

I was confused. I thought they were punishing me, but they are giving me something?

“What is it?” I spluttered.

“As you know, we have a...rather large family.” my mother begins. “And we have many things passed down, but this one is rather special,” she finished. My father takes out a small black box, curved and twisted with engravings and chips in the material.

As I reach out my hand to take it, I feel a coldness surrounding it. I grab it in my hand and instantly, a dark energy seeps around my hand and through my arm there's a sinking feeling. I shiver. I feel...different. “Normally it isn’t that violent!” my mom says. I shriek in surprise as I feel a coldness curving through my body. “GOODNESS GRACIOUS GOLLY GEE WILLIKERS!” my mom screams.

“What just happened?” I quiver.

“That was a spirit, not evil. It helps you. It’s lucky in a way.”


“It will teach you, just listen to it.” And so I listened. And I learned. And I got better.

What did it teach me, you ask? It taught me to fight.

“Good job!” my mother exclaimed when she saw my practice. “You are getting better! You are finally ready to start the REAL training.”

“Real training?” I asked in a meek voice. Suddenly, I am pulled into a swirling tunnel of lights. I am thrown roughly onto the ground. A feeling of bile creeps into me and I throw up. Black surrounds everything except a small island I am on. I look up and a pair of white eyes stare back. “AHHH!” I shriek, crawling back on the hard stone surface.

“Do not be afraid,” it says.


“You need to test your skill,” I hear. The voice seems to come from everywhere at once, and every voice is a symphony in this one. And so I am not afraid. And I train. And train. And train harder.

I have been hunting someone. He steals from the poor and gives to himself. He kills ruthlessly, and leaves no potential money-grabbing opportunity alone. And I know where he is. As I walk into the small, broken door of the museum, night encroaches on me. He seems to have disabled the lights and security. Clever. I hear the shuffle of feet. Shh shh shh shh. I walk toward the jewel room. And I burst into it. There he is. The man I have been trailing for so, so long. You see, after my training, I fought people who did evil. And this person is one of my greatest adversaries.

“You can’t escape now,” I crow.

“OOOOOOH yes I can!” He crows back. And he runs. The power of my box-spirit pulls me forward, grabbing the back of his shirt. He turns and punches me in the gut. I block his fist and ram his elbow into his face, hurting his arm and face. He tries to go for a left hook, but I grab him and flip him over; however, he manages to kick me in the face. I step back, reeling from the blow and send a flurry of punches his way. I hit a few, but he dodges the rest. I kick his leg and pull it out from under him, forcing him to the ground. I kneel on him, ending the fight. Or so I thought. He rips reality, and suddenly, I am falling. The air whips past me, striking my cheeks and pulling at my skin. He grabs me and punches me so hard I seem to fly. The concrete street is still hundreds of feet below me, but I know in my mind it won’t be far away for long. I feel a cold shiver in my arm, and I turn just as he knees me in the face, causing a burning, stinging pain in my nose. I try to punch back, but I'm too slow. In what seems like an hour but is only a few seconds, I fall. And fall. And fall. I try to turn, to flail, to do something, but I cannot.

My shirt tears from another brutal punch, and a flash of light as he teleports away. The punch shoves me back, so I have a few more seconds. In that second, I know I will die. SPLAT I will go on the concrete. And then, I remember. I remember what I have learned, what I have done. I am not afraid. I am focused. And just as the concrete fills my vision, just as I can almost feel the bone-breaking impact, I teleport away. Sweet, sweet, solid ground. My ears and cheeks sting from the wind. I reach through the air and grab him by the shirt, chaining him to the ground with my box-spirit’s power. I pull him into a shadow realm prison, and enter my spirit’s small island.

“How can I ever repay you?” I question.

After a few minutes, the spirit replies. “I would like some of what they call Hershey's. I have never had it before.”

A Music Memory


It was a chilly, October morning. The dew from the night’s cry was resting peacefully on the grass, and the rays of the sun were almost non-existent, shaded by the swollen clouds. I stepped out of bed and sighed. It had been a rough week, and I wasn’t in the mood to do anything that Sunday. I wandered across the upstairs hall and made my way to the stairs. But then, I came across some braided yarn, hanging idly from the ceiling. It was a ladder to our attic. I remembered spending countless hours up there with my little sister, just sauntering around the old wooden floors, looking for something to play with. I hadn’t been up there in ages, and for a second, I thought I forgot what it looked like. I reached for it hesitantly, grabbed the cut end, pulled it toward me with a hasty tug and groggily walked out of the way. The ladder leisurely descended from the ceiling. The dust flurried into my nose as I climbed the rigid old platforms.

I exhaled shakily, and began to trudge across the worn rug. I placed my hand on the dusty old toys and dead LED lights that we had put up. It looked the same as when we played in it last. I chuckled as I took the switch in my hand, flipping it back and forth, which did nothing but bring back beautiful memories. I sat myself down. The color of the pillows that made up our blanket fort behind the lights (that had fallen from the rusty nails we used for hooks) faded. Shifting over onto my hands and knees, I climbed into the dark entrance of our dynasty of quilts and stuffed animals. I took one in my hand, stroking the now rough, almost coarse fur of her beloved Danny Dog (as she called him). I held him to my chest and squeezed his paws, which still contained the stitches he received after falling from her bed frame. I giggled, remembering treating him in our doctor’s office.

I got up, eyeing something that I had missed as much as Ari. A ripped, coffee-brown cover, wrapped around the legs of my great-great-great grandpa’s piano, a bench, still missing a couple of the buttons that had fastened the leather to the seat, and a red velvet chair, right next to the bench. I approached it slowly and uncovered the heirloom, revealing its stained, yellow keys. I sat down on the bench, cold as ice. I shut my eyes as hard as I could and blindly placed my vibrating hands on the keys. It all came back in a deluge of evocations. I remembered the feeling of each lifted black key, in a sea of the white ones. I remembered how big the spaces in between them were and the difference of each one without hearing their sound.

I played a minor chord then switched to its major, as the tone of the piece shifted from a mysterious groan to the satisfaction of relief. Sounds that weren’t even existing in the moment were reverberating throughout my head. I heard the exquisite vibrato of her voice. It was so euphonious with the harmony of the piano that it was pacifying my body inch by inch. This tiny little girl that was so small, but her voice, so powerful, so mature, so meaningful. I continued to play, now the soft, empathetic notes of the piano. It was soothing to hear the sound of music again. So comforting despite anything that could be going on. The notes I had known stuck with me. They were still in the tips of my fingers, in my head, and in my heart. My left foot tapped, and my right foot lifted and pressed into the pedal, that amplified the stress of the long legato. I glanced to my right, meeting the glistening eyes of my sister, singing happily in the velvet chair. I smiled at her, and she smiled back, reminding me of a sense of serenity that I had forgotten how to feel.

I lifted my hands off the keys, and released the gold head of the pedal. It was over. I looked back in the direction of the chair, to see nobody was there. I stood up, closed the lid, and took the cover from the floor. I tried to cover it, but I couldn’t bear to say goodbye like before; not again. Folding the cover, I swerved behind the music stands and tucked it neatly away in a shelf. I ambled over to our den and stooped down, taking Danny Dog as I made my way back to the piano. Passing the bench, I sat Danny on the velvet chair.

“So how’ve you been?”

He grinned back at me with Ari’s silver eyes.

The Holgate Gauntlet


My family, the Holgates, have always believed in the sort of unreal, inconceivable magic. Our neighbors would call our family insane. You know, I think I would too. Just think about it. Don’t you think it’s totally unreal that magic exists? Apparently, my family doesn’t.

My name is Quinlan Holgate, by the way. I had never had the impression that magic truly existed, so don’t mix me up for my foolish parents.

I had awoken at precisely eight o’clock this morning in our manor in London, and I saw my brother, Silvester, hovering over my face, his expression stern.

“Quinlan, father wants you. He expects you to be in the dining hall in ten minutes. Do not, by all means, keep him waiting,” Silvester set his beady eyes upon me.

“You can’t tell me not to keep him waiting, Silvester,” I said, raising an eyebrow. Silvester’s expression was indifferent as I spoke.

“It is in our ancestor’s respect, Quinlan, that we worship our elders,” he responded blankly.

“Mum and Dad are no elders,” I remarked.

“I do not wish to argue, Quinlan. You do as I say, or you deserve a spanking,” Silvester narrowed his eyes and left my room.

Sighing, I got out of bed, and dressed in a comfortable shirt and pants. Brushing my shaggy hair, I trudged out of my bedroom and made my way downstairs. As Silvester suggested, father was seated in the dining hall, his eyes upon me.

“You’re late,” he said sternly.

“By thirty seconds, yes, and I am quite proud of that,” I smirked.

“It is no funny matter, Quinlan. It is time we had a talk. I sent Silvester and your mother out of the house, as what I’m going to tell you is only for your ears. Now, If you’d follow me here,” Dad led me to the sitting room, where a large mosaic portrait of Jesus hung on the wall.

“What’s even here?” I asked, bewildered.

“Things aren’t always as they seem,” he responded, turning to face the mosaic of Jesus.

Then, he pressed three distinct tiles with his fingers. At first, it seemed there was merely any change. However, just then, the portrait swung open to reveal something like an elevator.

I gasped.

“Do Mum and Silvester know about this?” I asked, honestly wowed.

Father ignored me and just beckoned for me to step into the elevator with him. I reluctantly did so. We were quiet as the metal chains holding the chamber chugged down, reaching below ground levels. The elevator came to a halt and Father and I stepped out. What lay before us was a dimly lit corridor with a vault door just meters in front of us. Father led the way, taking me to the vault door, silent. A pin pad was adjacent to the vault.

“Do you perhaps know the pin, Father?” I asked inquiringly.

He smiled wickedly.

“There is no need for a pin, Quinlan. Just watch,” Father cleared his voice. “I, Radnor Laurence Holgate II, hereby request permission from thee to access our family’s magical secret, and sincerely believe in the Lord and the principles of magic.

Father spoke in a serious, dreamy voice, and just like that, the vault opened. I gasped. Father merely smiled.

He led us down a dark chamber, and it seemed that at the end of the pathway, some sort of object was emitting a faint blue glow.

"Ah, yes, here we are. Memories, memories, I remember when my father, Radnor I, took me down here. I thank thee for granting me permission. Now, shall we begin?” Father looked at me.

“Who is thee?” I asked, puzzled.

“Thee is my great-great-great-grandfather, Alastair James Holgate, who has created the very object we see before us,” he said simply.

“What object?”

“Questions, questions,” Father smiled, “but I guess I have to answer you. Look, you may not see it at first, but if you concentrate your mind, it’ll come to view, son.”

I closed my eyes and relaxed my brain. Just like that, when I opened my eyes, something was in the place of the blue glow. It was a gauntlet, sleek gold and seemingly made of titanium. The gauntlet itself seemed that if I were to wear it, it’d come up to about my elbows.

“It is the Holgate gauntlet, Quinlan, capable of amazing magical powers. It is time you took possession of the gauntlet,” Father reached at the gauntlet and handed it to me.

Shaking, I took the titanium glove and wore it. The minute it touched my wrist I felt an exhilarating sensation pulse through my veins. I felt as if I was flying through a bunch of clouds, the wind whipping my face…It felt truly amazing.

“You feel it don’t you? It’s the power of our ancient heirloom, passed down from generations, capable of extraordinary magic,” Father said dreamily.

“Magic is not a thing, Father, and I’d rather it not be.”

Father pursed his lips.

“If you do not believe, the gauntlet will have to make you. Say, would you fancy some fish and chips?”

I nodded. I definitely did fancy some food, as I realized it was already ten o’ clock, and I hadn’t had breakfast yet.

“Well, then, say it.”

I reluctantly obeyed, still completely unconvinced of magic and spoke clearly, “I want fish and chips.”

At first nothing happened. I snorted, as if proving my father’s foolishness. Just then, though, out of nowhere a neatly prepared plate of fish and chips appeared.

Following my shocked gaze at the food, Father smirked, saying, “Magic is real, Quinlan. It is right in front of your eyes. Should you follow this one rule, you get magic at your fingertips forever, that one rule being—”

“I’d rather not hear the rules, Father, at least not from you.”

Just like that, Father’s lips tightened and couldn’t speak at all. I smiled. However, right then, a wispy figure appeared from where the gauntlet had been, with craggy blonde hair and a goatee. I turned. “Who’re you?” I demanded.

The figure remained nonchalant.

“I said, 'Who are you?'” I bellowed.

At once, the figure spoke.

“I am Alastair James Holgate, creator of the Holgate gauntlet. Now if you’d just unjinx your father, he’d just tell you the rules and responsibilities that come with the gauntlet.”

“I do not fancy rules, thanks.”

“I’ll have to tell you then, stubborn one. The gauntlet’s powers are not to be used for global superiority, but a solution to your every problem. As long as you follow this rule, the powers will lie with you forever.”

“I don’t fancy rules, did you not hear me?”

“I did in fact hear you, but you must follow the rule, whether you like it or not.”

“Well, how about you shut up and go away!”

Alastair vanished. Father stood and looked at me scowling.

“Oh fine, fine, I’ll lift the jinx, so leave! You will not tell me to do anything or badger me about this rule! Understand?” I questioned.

Father nodded, reluctantly.

“I want to go to Buckingham Palace!” I yelled.

The gauntlet sparkled and then, after blinking, I opened my eyes to find myself in the sitting room of the queen, who just happened to walk into the room.

“Dear, dear, who are you, now?” she asked, smiling.

“I’m Quinlan Aurelio Holgate. Now, if you don’t mind, would you let me be king of London?”

At first, she seemed taken aback by my request, but then her expression softened and she said, “Sure, my king. We’ll make arrangements for you to hold the throne tomorrow.”

I cast a sinister grin.

“Yes, that would be just fine. Now if you don’t mind, I believe that I’d like to meet Jude Bellingham and get his autograph and spend the day with him, as he is my idol. Good day.”

I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I found myself face-to-face with Bellingham, who had just been training.

“Who are you?” his brown eyes fixed on me.

“I am Quinlan Aurelio Holgate, Jude. Let’s spend today together, shall we?”

Bellingham seemed greatly bewildered, but then, just like the Queen, smiled and said, “That’d be most wonderful, my majesty.”

I spent the day with Jude Bellingham, and it was, I had to say, amazing. I felt so superior falling into bed that night, remembering I’d be appointed king tomorrow evening. I smiled to myself and fell asleep.

I awoke to the howling thunder outdoors. Flashes of lightning erupted in front of me, as I rounded on the view.

“Stop thundering, you’re disturbing my sleep!”

However, nothing happened.

“You’re disturbing my sleep!” I bellowed.

Nothing happened. Agitated, I slipped off the gauntlet, and threw it to the ground.

“What rubbish! How idiotic of me to believe that thing had magical power, utterly foolish!”

Just then, the gauntlet began emitting the same, faint blue glow like earlier today. Suddenly, Alastair’s wispy figure emerged from the shadows of my room.

“What’re you doing here, stupido?” I sneered.

“I don’t believe I’m stupid, Aurelio.”

“Call me Quinlan!”

“As Aurelio is part of your name, I have every right to call you it.”

“Fine, whatever! Just explain to me why the piece of rubbish stopped working its ‘magic!’”

Alastair pursed his lips.

“You have, Aurelio, broken the rule coming with the gauntlet. The gauntlet has given you all your desires for superiority over others and rulership, and I see you seek more. Until you have learned this lesson, I believe there is no more for the gauntlet to give you. Until you feel remorse at this rule break will the powers be within you again.”

With that, Alastair evaporated into a thin smoke, leaving me with nothing but a moral to remember.

The Path to Atlantis


Jackson Smith stared hard at the amulet, which annoyingly stayed still. Just moments ago, it had been vibrating furiously, but now it was unmoving. The amulet that Jackson was holding was the Amulet of Plato. It was said that the amulet was created by Plato, the ancient Greek scholar. Legend says that it would lead whomever to the ruins of Atlantis, but Jackson was beginning to second guess his decision to look for the lost city. When his father had given it to him for his 17th birthday, he had eagerly jumped at the chance of adventure. Jackson came from a long line of water-related people, such as fishermen, explorers by sea and marine-biologists. At age two, Jackson could tie anything from a reef knot to a box knot. At age four, he had memorized the layout of all of the 15 ships his family owned. And now, he would be the first person to see Atlantis. If the amulet worked.

Jackson growled in frustration. His partner, Joe Harl, also 17, and a professional swimmer and fisherman, looked up.

“What is it?” He asked.

“This rock went silent! How are we supposed to know where to go if the amulet won’t help?” Jackson cried, glaring at Joe. He sighed. “Maybe we should turn back.”

“Definitely not! We’ve gotten this far. And you're saying we should turn back! Of course not! Maybe we passed it. We’ve been going down this cliff for a long time. Maybe there was a cave or something we missed! We should go back up.” Joe’s words seemed to comfort Jackson, and he passed the news to the pilot, who abruptly changed direction. This time the submarine moved slowly, giving the two boys time to scan the cliffside.

“There!” Joe pointed out the window. As they got closer, Jackson realized he was right! A small opening was on the cliff side. Unfortunately, a large rock protruded from the entrance, leaving enough space for a human but not the sub.

“Looks like we need to swim,” Jackson sighed. Along with the boys, a small crew of professional divers and deep-sea swimmers as well as two marines had been in the back of the sub. In case of emergency or if swimming was involved.

Joe pulled the sliding screen up and addressed the crew. “All right everyone! We’re all geared so we’re ready to go. Everyone have enough air?”

“I don’t think we can fit extra tanks into the cave. What will we do if we run out of air?” Inquired one of the marines. Jackson remembered her name was Patricia Hancock.

“Find the nearest team member and start sharing air. Then, swim to the sub,"Jackson answered. “Now let's get going!” The crew closed the door that connected to the cockpit and then opened a hatch. The crew lowered themselves into the water. Normally, the water pressure would have killed them, but thanks to special suits, an average person could go at least 5000 miles below the surface. All of the people chosen for the expedition were professionals, a couple of them had even won awards in the Olympics! Upon reaching the rock, Jackson peered closely at it. Ancient Greek letters were etched into it. Their first clue. He gestured for the others to join him. Joe ran his hand on the boulder. “If this is from Atlantis, how do you think this got here?” He wondered out loud. The others heard him because of the communication devices in the helmets.

“Dunno, but we should look for more symbols as we go. Might lead us to Atlantis!” Jackson said over the com links in the suits. Suddenly, a deep vibrating in his special compartment alerted him. The amulet was buzzing again. Jackson let it guide him into the crack, where he, and the rest of the crew, were plunged in darkness.

“Turn on the lights!” Chet Malcro, a deep-sea diver commanded. There was a hum, then the cave was illuminated. A passageway connected from the cave to somewhere. The Amulet began to hum louder, and it seemed that it wanted the group to go down the passage. Jackson began leading the team down it. It seemed to go on forever, until the team reached a wall. Not a natural wall, but a man-made wall. The amulet was vibrating furiously, shaking his hand back and forth. Jackson accidentally let go, and it began zipping about in the water. Chet dusted some lichen and dust off the wall, and he uncovered letters. This time, they were etched in every language in the world. English, Korean, Chinese, Russian and more. The letters spelled out:

The entrance to Atlantis is behind this door.

You have done well to reach this far.

But before you go through, you must go through a trial.

If you manage to open the door, the trial will be complete.

Jackson shuddered as he read the words. This reminded him too much of a horror movie. “How do we open the door? And who made the door in the first place?” he asked.

“Try pushing for the door, and to answer your second question, I’m pretty sure no one here knows,” Gordon Mcfeely replied, a swimmer who had swum from Molokai, Hawaii, to Lanai, Hawaii.

“I don’t think that pushing would work. It's a riddle, and riddles are tricky. There might be a switch or something.” Korean swimmer Mary Kim piped up. The team groped around for a lever or switch, but nothing was there. The team pondered the answer for a moment until Jackson, who had been tracking the amulet, had the answer.

“Maybe this isn’t the right door!” He cried out.

“What do you mean?” Joe asked. “You think there is another door?”

“Look at the amulet!” Jackson was practically dancing with joy. The crew did as they were told, and sure enough, the amulet had stopped above their heads. And behind it was a metal door right above them. It was well camouflaged, hidden with seaweed and other items. Chet and Joe began pulling away the seaweed tangling it. When it was done, they pushed up on the door, and it swam open. They swam up, and the others could hear a gasp of amazement. The others swam up after them, eager to see what had shocked their comrades. They soon found out. A temple as big as half of the Empire State Building loomed in front of them. Statues of gods and goddesses littered the ground. The amulet drifted into Jackson’s open palm and went still.

“My friends. It looks like we found Atlantis,” Joe whispered. Suddenly, a dark shape darted from the ruins. Another emerged from the temple. A third exploded from the sand. The divers tensed. They had all been trained to fight sea creatures. The three shapes began circling the crew. Joe could catch glimpses of what looked like scales, but also a stretchy material like skin. Finally, one of the shapes presented itself to the group. Jackson gasped as a merman unfurled his majestic tail. It was then that it dawned on Jackson that the adventure had just begun...

Twain's Pencil


"Ow! Jeez, Aidan, if you don't stop poking me with that pencil, I will break it in half,” I said, as I was getting really annoyed that a stub of graphite was doing more damage to my ego than the teacher yelling at me to shut up.

Ooooh, Alex, but you better not break it. My great-great-godfather’s ghost lives in it–”

I quickly shut him up, telling him that Aidan’s great-great-godfather’s ghost would come out maybe when it rained popsicles and pigs flew.

Nine days later, it rained popsicles and pigs flew.

We were walking home after school that happened to be, of course, Friday the Thirteenth, and there was a full moon out. Aidan started joking around about how "breaking a pencil would release the ghost of his great-great something when it rained popsicles and pigs flew" when something rustled behind us. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was pretty spooked with the idea of breaking a pencil and releasing a ghost, mostly because I had broken a certain pencil nine days ago.

“What happened?” Aidan said. “You look like you saw a ghost!” And he was right. I could’ve sworn I saw a ghost, but the ghost looked like a young man in his twenties or thirties, not some creepy old guy who was half blind and had liver spots.



“I think I saw something.

“Uh-huh. Right. You saw a ghost and now you’re freaked out about it.

Well, of course I was scared when it started gliding towards us. “Run!” I yelled.

“From what?”

“Trust me and run!”

Aidan listened to me for once, which is as rare as Jupiter lining up with the Moon. He ran with me towards our neighborhood, but not fast enough. I threw a big branch in the ghost’s way (as if that would help) but the ghost just touched it, and the branch became a ghost. Like, how is that even possible? The branch was a dead branch, so how does it have a ghost anyways? When I saw that, I was super scared; I did not want to become a ghost. I ran even faster, and I could see the tops of the houses and a few chimneys.

The sun was setting and the ghost seemed to glow brighter every second. We passed under a street lamp, and I risked a glance backwards. The ghost apparently didn’t like lights because it skirted around the yellow light that the street light cast on the asphalt. That’s it! I thought. The ghost can’t go through light!

As we entered the neighborhood, street lights became more and more frequent, and the ghost had a harder time getting to us. Mist rolled off the ghost’s shoulders as more and more lights intercepted its path.

We were almost theremy houseand it would be safe, as we had a ton of Christmas lights up. If the lights didn’t scare the ghost, the garden gnome statues definitely would. They were creepy. But we still had to cross our neighbor’s driveway, and that was always super dark, and the driveway was big.

The ghost was catching up, gliding across the ground, and Aidan and I were slowing down. I didn’t dare look back, or sideways, or anywhere other than forward.

Suddenly, I felt light, like I could run a marathon and feel perfectly fine. It felt amazing at first, but then I realized...

...I was now a ghost.

I looked over. Aidan was also a ghost. The ‘great-great-godfather’ must have gotten us both.

In case you’re wondering how it rained popsicles and pigs flew, we had a class thing where we were making popsicles, and Aidan slipped when he took them out of the freezer, which made them fly up and fall down like rain. As for the pig, the physics teacher threw a pig plush and a paper airplane to compare how aerodynamic they were. So when I realized this, I started thinking about the pencil I had broken and asked Aidan where he got the pencil. He thought that was a weird question, but he told me: he had found it under the mantelpiece on his fireplace. Then I asked him what his middle name was.

It was Twain.

Aidan Twain Johnson.

The pencil was used to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. When I broke the pencil, Aidan’s great-great whatever got mad and decided to pay us a visit. So that is why I am hovering by your shoulder right now, watching you. You just can’t see me.

Signing off,

Alex Finn

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