Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Subscribe
Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

An update from our thirty-fourth Writing Workshop!

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday February 20, plus some of the output published below

This week with Jane we talked about magic or magical realism: stories in which a little magic is introduced into everyday life, often as a metaphor for something important to the life of the main character(s). We discussed the difference between magical realism and fantasy, and agreed that whereas in fantasy we create a whole world that depends on (believable) fantasy for its existence, in magical realism we are fixed in the real world, and a few elements of fantasy slide in. We talked about the magic realism in the myth of Daedalus and Icarus (real humans with their attempt at real, failed wings), and read an excerpt from Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude where a (funny, rather than scary!) trickle of blood with very precise and unrealistic intention moves through the realistic, streets and around the rugs and furniture in its journey to a kitchen in another house, making us question what is really real. We watched movie clips from Amélie and Midnight in Paris, and considered the unlikely but realistic characters and underlying stories in Stig of the Dump and Skellig. And then we wrote!

The Writing Challenge: Create your own work of Magical Realism. Write a story set in real, present-day life, with a few magical elements that have meaning for your characters.

The Participants: Madeline K, Peri, Leo, Kaidyn, Georgia, Pranjoli, Nova, Julia, Lindsay, Ismini, Margaret L, Tilly, Lina K, Liam, Sierra, Sophia, Anya, Jonathan, Samantha, Grace, Rachael, Sage, Simran, Olivia Z, Ruhi, Angela, Charlotte, Anna, Madeline, Alice, Emma, Yasmine, Elbert, Lucy R, Charlotte K, Oliver, Iago, Reese, Emi, Olivia S, Enni, Hera, Ava


Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 10 (Bellevue, WA)

Memory Loss

Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 10

He walked with a stride so large. He was as quiet as a mouse. So, I didn’t run when he came, because I did not realize that he was there.

I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I spun around.
The man stared at me, his green eyes twinkling like emeralds.
His mouth twitched, and his long, black cloak swayed with the wind. His pale skin glittered, and when he turned away, I saw that he had a long cat’s tail. I knew this man. I did. But I couldn’t place my finger on who he was.

I couldn’t place a finger on anything. I tried to think of my name, but I couldn’t remember it. I tried to think of my life, but I couldn’t. I realized, suddenly, that I couldn’t feel anything. It was like my nerves stopped working. I knew that I needed a mirror.

Who was I?
Who was that man?
Where was I?
What did I look like?
I looked down at my hand. They were gray and looked hard as stone.
Was I wearing gloves? They were very interesting gloves.
What were gloves?
Why didn’t I know what gloves were? Were they things to put on your feet? Or were the things on your feet called socks? What were socks? Did I know anything? I looked down at my feet – toes – whatever they were called. They looked as hard as stone.

I reached down to touch them, but I found that my body wouldn’t bend. What was my body?
I was losing my memory quickly.
What was memory?

Was it a beam of light that told you things? Was it a sign of hope, destiny?
What was hope and destiny?
I began to feel very depressed. Dark thoughts took over my head. Would I be able to get out of here? Where was I?
I tried to move, but then I realized that I had been turned into stone. What was stone?
How much time had passed?
What was time?
Questions swarmed in my head. Soon, my eyes began to close.
Or maybe they were open.
It didn’t matter. I couldn’t see anything.
What were eyes?
I didn’t know.
What was a know?
What was a what?
What was an a?
What was a...


Peri Gordon, 11
Sherman Oaks, CA

Heart and Brain

Peri Gordon, 11

I sat at my plain wooden desk and waited for the lunch bell to ring. I didn’t know how to answer the test question, and unless I cheated, I never would. I stared stubbornly at the white tiled classroom floor. I am not going to cheat, I vowed silently. How much guilt would I feel if I did?

Oh, but it would be so easy. The smartest kid in the class, if not eighth grade, if not the school, was my desk partner, and she was off sharpening her constantly-in-use pencil. Her test was not being guarded at all, and it was right next to me. And if I didn’t do well on this test, getting grounded for a week would be right around the corner. It was the logical thing to do, right? And as long as I learned the material for next time…

“Yeah, right. I am not going to learn anything from copying Samantha’s answer,” my heart told me.

My brain said, “But—if mom and dad don’t find out—"

Well, I would know. And I would feel too much shame,” insisted my heart.

Who cares? This is an important test!”

Yeah, too important for cheating.”

That’s when I noticed the staring. Every scholarly, ignorant, friendly, and cruel kid in my class was staring at me. And so was the teacher.

For some reason, I burst into tears. What had just happened? I hadn’t said anything. No, no, it was my heart speaking and my brain speaking. Speaking to me—no, speaking to everyone, apparently.

“That’s quite enough, Shauna,” said Mrs. Allyseth, my teacher. “We’re taking a test, and we don’t want to hear your mumbling, especially not mumbling about cheating. We don’t cheat in Room 37, do we?”

“But, Miss Allyseth,” I said, acting like a child and forgetting to articulate “Mrs.,” “It wasn’t me! It was—” I pointed to my heart and brain—“them!

Mrs. Allyseth raised an eyebrow at me. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, “but whatever it is, it warrants a trip to the principal.”

I groaned, then smacked the skin that covered my loudmouth heart and brain, but that hurt as much as the pain of this huge embarrassment, so I stopped.

The principal, Mrs. Dromeda, greeted me with a stern look. “Please state the reason you’re here.”

“Mrs. Allyseth sent me,” I said, taking deep breaths to regain my composure. Though I had managed to get out “Mrs.,” I was still a teary mess. “My brain wanted to cheat, and my heart didn’t, and they were arguing, and everyone heard!” I blubbered. I expected Mrs. Dromeda to be confused, but…she wasn’t.

“Oh,” she mused, giving me a knowing look. “That happened to me when I was your age. You’re dismissed. But please—” she gave me a twisted smile—“don’t cheat.”

I frowned. “Yes, Mrs. Dromeda,” I said. Then I left the office as quickly as I could.


Anna K., 11
Saint Louis, MO

Valkyrie

Anna K., 11

Brook stood by the River of Time. She was a valkyrie. She loved being the valkyrie. But she wished to learn of humans and their kind. How could a creature so beautiful and intelligent have beliefs so ugly and foolish? She decided to watch. She saw food being cooked. She saw humans planting trees. She saw more and more until she decided that perhaps war was merely a myth to humankind. But then, she saw the dismal things. Explosions. Blood. War. Death. What was wrong? Being a valkyrie, she would never understand. Perhaps, the blind were more wise. They could see things the “seeing” could not see. Perhaps they could hear that the “seeing” couldn’t see. There was a reason Skuld, the Norn of the future was blind.


Lina Kim, 10
Weston, FL

The Shadow Wolf

Lina Kim, 10

I sigh. Summer is so hot in Florida that I think I’ll burn into a pile of ashes. It’s not as hot in Massachusetts, where I used to live. I peer at a squirrel scurrying by. Since I have nothing else to do, I follow it.

It races across the sidewalk and rushes into the Everglades. I pause. No one will notice if I’m gone, I have no family. I step in after the squirrel.

I wade through the swampy marshes and eye the tall grasses, making sure that an alligator won’t find me. The water rises as I go deeper into the marsh. It is up to my knees now.

I jump as a snake slithers by, but soon relax. It’s harmless. Most are harmless. Except pythons. I shudder. I did a project on pythons in third grade, and have been terrified— yet fascinated— by them ever since.

I spot the squirrel. What innocent creature would want anything to do with the Everglades? It stops to nibble on an acorn and is suddenly swallowed by a shadow.

Yes, I mean swallowed. Literally. A wolf shaped shadow leaps out of the grass and its dark mouth opens wide, ridding the squirrel from it’s very existence. I freeze.

The creature is made of Shadow. Not the animal parts that I studied in science, the science that I relied on to not be afraid. If I learned enough, I’d be fine. But this. I don’t know anything about this creature. So the fact that an animal can be made of shadows and not be the shadow of another is horrifying.

Well.

Maybe not horrifying. That may be an overstatement. But terrifying.

The shadow turns to me and smacks its lips hungrily, as if to say, you’re my next snack. I unfreeze. My brain sends my nerves one vital message.

RUN.

I zoom past the large trees casting eerie shadows over me. I race past the probably python-infested grasses and onto the sidewalk. My leggings are soaked.

Yet the shadow continues to chase me.

It skids to a stop next to me. I back away slowly. Maybe this wasn’t the end. But I knew it probably would be. It snarled and growled as it closed in on me. Was no one noticing?

Of course not. Because I’m backing away from a shadow.

That’s what it is, I think. It’s just a shadow. Why are you running?

Because it just ate that squirrel whole! The rest of my brain retorted. What are you doing? Run to the nearest homeless shelter!

The nearest homeless shelter happens to be two miles away.

An idea clicks into my brain. Shadows show up when there’s light and the object— living or non-living— blocks the light. So if I can just remove the light . . .

But what if the wolf just gets more powerful in the dark? part of me wonders. But I know that I need to take the risk.

I rush back into the Everglades and find the perfect spot. The light is all blocked off by a canopy of thick leaves. I hide under the canopy. The usually silent, shadowy wolf stays on the edge of the dark, letting out a howl. A real wolf runs past me, then skids to a stop. It backs up and slowly jumps right on top of the shadow. When the real wolf steps back, the shadow wolf steps back as well. When the real wolf jumps, the shadow wolf jumps as well. The shadow belonged to the wolf.

The wolf nods in appreciation to me and races off back into the trees. I stand in amazement. A wolf in the Everglades. No one has ever heard of such a thing.

At least, not until me.


Madeline Kline, 13
Potomac, MD

Dream

Madeline Kline, 13

I am standing in my backyard.  The trees are tall, towering over me.  The birds land on the ground, pecking and pulling worms from the earth.  One lands on my hand.  It looks like an oriole, with the grey feathers and red belly.  I open my palm, with seeds inside for it.  The oriole pecks at my hand, reaching for the seeds.  It doesn’t hurt.  More orioles come.  One lands on each finger.  There’s also the one in my palm.  I count the birds.  Seven total.  One in my palm, and one on each of my six fingers.  The voice from the video comes back to me, reminding me that, in dreams, most people have six fingers.  I’m dreaming.  So while I’m here, my body…

I lay in bed and open my eyes to the ceiling of my room, and groan.  Another thing the video said: whenever you’re aware you’re dreaming, whatever you think of becomes reality.  So if you think about your body, lying there motionless, your mind will take you there, however much you’d rather stay dreaming and have fun.  Light streams through my closed blinds, and I turn my head to the left to look at my alarm clock.  The digital numbers show 9:09.  I’m not going to be able to get back to sleep, so I haul myself out of bed and open my blinds.  It’s a beautiful day outside, with a clear blue sky, fluffy clouds, and a shining sun.  It also happens to be a weekend.  I don’t have any virtual school to attend.

I get dressed and go downstairs, eating a quick breakfast.  After brushing my teeth, I put my hair up into a pony and pull on my shoes.  Putting on my coat, I grab my phone.

“I’m going out for a walk.  Call my cell if you need me.” Dad looks up from doing laundry

“Okay.”

I rush out the door, then pause and step back inside.  I almost forgot my mask.  With my face mask now hanging from my wrist, I start walking.  I decide to walk over to the forest at the end of Goya street.  It’s a beautiful place, and I love going there.  Often, I go and bring snacks.  When we would reach the best part of the trail, we would stop, and spread out a picnic blanket on the sand next to the stream.

I start walking down the street, and towards Goya.  Right before crossing the busy street, I see people approaching.  I put on my mask, waiting for a break in the cars.  The people approaching stop when they get to me.  Neither are wearing a mask.

“Excuse me,” the taller one says, “what year is it?”  That’s a strange question, I think, but I answer anyway.

“The year is 2021.  Why?”  The shorter one nods.

“So that’s why everyone is wearing a mask.”

“We chose the right time period.”  The taller one takes a small test tube out of his pocket.  “We’re from the future.  This is the cure for your current global pandemic.” I stare at them.  They must be insane.  Either that, or I’m still dreaming.  But I’m not dreaming.  I remember exactly how I got here, and the events happen in a logical order.

“What do you want me to do? I’m only 13 years old.”  The shorter one pulls out a phone.

“We’ve created a video explaining it, and placed it on your ancient technology.  Just show this to an adult, and give them the cure.”  I take the phone, open the video, and press play.

A woman with short cropped hair appears on the screen with an unfamiliar logo behind her.

“If you are seeing this, it means that my assistants were successful in delivering the cure to the 2019 coronavirus.  The current year is 3004, and time travel was recently invented, allowing for this delivery to be possible.  The file containing the procedure for creating the cure is attached on this mobile device.  Please make sure it gets to the Center for Disease Control.  Thank you.”

The video is short, and it doesn’t seem to prove anything to me.  I look back up, and the two men are gone.  I look down at my hands, carefully counting my fingers.  Five fingers, like usual.  So I’m not dreaming.  At my feet, I see a sticky note.

We’ve returned to 3004.  Nice meeting you.

I shake my head, and turn around.  There’s a break in the cars, but I’m not crossing the street.  I start walking back to my house, and push open the door, slipping off my shoes on the entrance mat.  I pull off my coat, take off my mask, and walk into the living room, where Dad is still folding laundry.  He looks up when I walk in.

“Well.  You weren’t gone long.”  I plug in my phone as he notices the test tube and the other phone in my hand.  “What are those?”

“Call me crazy.”

“Okay, you’re crazy.  What are those?”  I turn on the phone and the woman pops up again on the screen.  I sit down in front of Dad and place the test tube and the phone on the table.  I press play on the video, and the woman starts speaking again.  After she finishes, I place the post-it note on the table and look up at Dad.

“This is what the men who delivered that left for me when they disappeared.” He picks it up and shakes his head, completely forgetting the laundry.  I trust him with the objects.

I retreat to my room, close my blinds, and crawl back into bed.  It’s not even ten o’clock yet, but I’m exhausted, and my brain is spinning.  I close my eyes, and open them standing back at the busy street, with the two men once again in front of me.  I don’t even have to look right now.  Because when I do, I know, I’ll have six fingers.


Nova Macknik-Conde
Nova Macknik-Conde, 9
Brooklyn, NY

Eclipse

Nova Macknik-Conde, 9

Jane laughed in her seat, the seatbelt pushing the air out of her lungs and cutting into her shoulder
through her t-shirt as she lurched forward. Dad smiled and reached behind his seat, brandishing two
solar eclipse sunglasses, for Jane and her twin brother Jamie. An hour later they arrived in Tokyo, Japan.
Then, Mom, Dad, Jamie, and Jane, sat on the ground at the beach, sand dirtying their jeans, sunglasses
pushed onto their noses and hooked onto the back of their ears, watching the black circle creep slowly
over the flaming, yellow-orange-white ball that was shining relentlessly to blind any onlookers that
didn’t have protection. Then, Jane blinked, and when she opened her eyes, the circle and the ball had
merged. The now black ball was on fire, the contrast of black and whitish, yellowish, and orangish flame
extreme. In that moment, everything was perfect. That moment was magic. At least, so Jane thought.

Georgia Marshall, 12
Marblehead, MA

I Was the Fly

Georgia Marshall, 12

It started out as just a normal day. I lugged my backpack over my shoulders, wincing as it faithfully dug into my shoulders in the usual rutted pathway. My sister, Clara, lay on the couch, her fists balled up with tissues, her face strongly sustaining its pallid luster, reminiscent of the burnished silver of the moon. I stared down at her enviously. She was sick, she said, and got to stay home from school, while I had to drag my feet to the subway, desperately sucking on a smoothie straw, and stand motionless as the sleek grey train soared along the tracks. I have always hated the subway. They smell like cigarette butts and there is always gum underneath the hard, stiff seats. I usually grab hold of one of the round, sticky poles and jam my earbuds into my ear to block out other people's conversations. Clara loves the subway. She says she feels like she is in some mystery novel as she flies down the underground track. I trudged out of our apartment without looking back at her. She was laughing at something on TV.

I dragged my fingers down the side of our building as I stomped along the pavement. Mrs. Rossi was walking her dog, Jingles, down the sidewalk, hobbling along. She nodded her head at me and continued on her way. I reached the corner of the street. And that's when the crazy thing happened. Something crashed into me from above. I screamed as I hurtled toward the pavement. A muffled yelp followed my own groan. I stood up, wobbly kneed and confused. Standing in front of me was . . . well . . . I didn't know what to call it. She had the head of a girl. A human girl. Her eyes shined like black stars, and her hair, a rich chestnut brown, fell in clumps in front of her face, a curtain shielding her from the merciless eyes of the outside world. She was trembling like something was wrong. I gulped and glanced down at her body. Thousands of stiff, bristled black hairs clung like moss to a round spider-like body part. Eight spindly legs branched out of the massive black sphere shape, four on each side, like barbed wire. She had red spots all over it, just like a black widow spider.

"What - I mean - w-who are y-you?" I stammered. She glanced up at me, as if I had just pulled her out of a sickening thought. She gathered up some silky silver strands of . . . rope?

"I am Arania. I - I didn't mean to frighten you. Humans are so . . . easy to scare. You mustn’t tell anyone that you saw me; Mother will be awful mad, and my siblings will tease me to death. Ugh, I'm such a clutz! I might as well be a beetle!" She spoke in a strange accent, kind of old fashioned and slanted. She elongated her Os and As, so that when she said awful it sounded like awwwwful. I backed away, reaching behind me for my bag, which had been flattened to the ground. I gulped again. My hands trembled like mice cornered by a cat.

"Oh, you're scared, aren't you? Please don't be mad at me or tell any other humans. We are supposed to be a secret, you know. Please will you not tell a soul?" her voice trembled as she said this. She bit her lip and slammed her forehead with the palm of her hand.

"I suppose mother won’t let me have dinner tonight. Oh, I hope she lets me sleep in the web!" She gathered up some more of the sticky, silvery rope, and began weaving it into a beautiful, intricate pattern. She lifted into the air on a strand of her magical stuff, spider web, I suppose. It was the most graceful thing I had ever seen. She seemed to fly through the air as she hopped in and out, creating a massive spider web.

"Umm . . . not to be rude, but - what exactly are you?" I asked, aware that I probably sounded harsh, but I couldn't think of anything else to say. Arania suddenly looked eager. She lowered down to the ground, and bended low on her legs, curtsying.

"I am an Arachnide. We are spider people, that's what. We were started off by Arachne, Queen of Spiders," she did a sort of salute as she uttered the name of her queen, "She planted a batch of eggs and came out our ancestors. I never have seen her, I can assure you, she has been deceased ever since wretched Athena the Evil One defeated her. She was growing more powerful, she was, and she was beginning to take over. Athena, who had cursed her in the first place, went and defeated her. She killed our queen, beautiful Arachne, and now we Arachnides seek revenge. We have been coming to the human world to gather weapons and strength, then we will attack." She finished with a grit of her teeth and a newly replenished gleam in her eyes. She returned to her weaving.

"Um . . . well, maybe you should get out of here. I don't think the . . . human race will be very kind when they find out about you. How did you crash into me anyway?"

Arania blushed, a deep shade of crimson. She bit her sharp fingernails, which were almost like claws.

"Well, Mother said we could explore the city for war weapons, but to stay close to the nest. She may have said not to build a web up to the top of buildings, but it looked so beautiful up there on that city skyline, and I wanted to to get a good view, so I lifted myself up to it. I was careful to avoid human eyes, but then I lost my balance at the top. Arachnides are supposed to be stealthy, and we can conceal ourselves in star string, but I'm not particularly good at weaving it. I usually stick to web. I - I won't do it again! Please, please, please don't tell Mother!"

I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. It was just dawning on me that I might have been going insane. Was it really a brick that had hit my head, and this was all a hallucination? I didn't know. I just knew that Clara was having a much duller day than I was.

Arania suddenly gasped. I felt a cold shadow falling over me. A strong hand with an iron grip clamped down on my shoulder. I was thrust to the side. I glanced to the left and saw the stairs that led down to the subway. If I left now, the day could become normal again. Maybe I could hit my head and forget about everything. The subway suddenly didn't seem as unappealing anymore. And yet, for some reason, I stayed. I felt a strange pull to Arania. She was different - in a nice kind of way. I stared up at the thing in front of me.

She looked like Arania but bigger and scarier, and less human. Giant pincers jutted out of her chin like curved clifftops. Her hair was a faded ebony black that cascaded down her back in a waterfall of black-gold ripples. I stared down at her legs and felt my stomach churn. One of her legs, bigger versions of the ones that Arania had, was ripped out of its socket. A giant leaf was stuffed into the hole that it had left behind. Arania had her own legs curled backwards in shame as she stared in fright into the eight eyes that beaded the huge Arachinides forehead like glistening black drops of perspiration.

"You fly head! What have you done? I don't know what I will ever do with you! You've decided to stray from the web and introduce yourself to a human, have you?" the Arachnide yelled in a booming voice.

"I - I didn't mean to . . . I just wanted to get the view. It has ever so much more web room up there, and I can see so much further out! I can find weapons in all corners of the city! Mother, please don't bring me to the, “gulp,” Corrector," Arania trembled, trying desperately not to burst into tears.

I took a step forward, curious to know what the Corrector was. The Mother Arachnide turned to me and sneered. She clenched her fists and lunged at me.

"You dare speak to my daughter! To the Corrector she shall go, because of you! You will make good practice for battle, though, human!" she sneered scathingly. She had me pinned to the outer wall of a nearby brick building. I felt my hands go ice cold and fought the urge to scream in terror. She began to gather up more web in her leather skinned hands. She was wrapping me in web, snapping her pincers every time I tried to wriggle free.

Then suddenly it happened. Arania hurled herself at her mother. She stabbed the sharp tips of her legs into her mother’s spideresque hide. I watched as her mother screamed in surprise and rage. I gasped. Arania was saving me.


Kaidyn Robertson, 11
Sooke, British Columbia, Canada

World Hopper

Kaidyn Robertson, 11

It was a quiet summer afternoon. The kind of summer afternoon when the entire neighborhood had collectively decided that it was much too hot to do anything of use. Finn could see people sitting in the shade reading cheap paperback thrillers and drinking ice cold lemonade. Finn made his way down the sidewalk towards the forest. The only reason he was doing this and not relaxing in the sun was that he thought he had seen a strange light appear above the woods only moments before. And Finn was not one to just ignore it, he was curious, so therefor, he had to find out what the strange light had been. Finn entered the wood, keeping an eye out for anything strange or mysterious. He turned on his camera, the light had been strange so most likely whatever (or whoever) caused it would be strange too. If he got a picture of it (or them) he would have proof of whatever this thing was. All he hoped was that it wasn’t something mundane like someone being dumb enough to light a firework in a forest. Finn walked through the forest, his keen eyes searching the area. The flash had appeared around here somewhere. Finn looked around – the forest looked like it usually did in summer.

Maybe it is just something normal, he thought, maybe it’s nothing.

And that was precisely the moment when a man fell out of the sky.

Finn yelled and dropped his camera in surprise. The man however looked unharmed despite falling thirty feet out a tree, he had landed as if he had JUMPED from the tree instead of falling from the tree. His skin was a slight orange color and had three eyes.

“Blithirfangot!” the creature\man said, stamping his foot. “Gotangraf: Yinfigird virhgare tonn!!”

Then he turned to Finn. “My apologies” He said, “My companions do not speak this world’s language”

Finn was so shocked that he was barely able to speak. “who are you?” He asked.

“I have many names; I presume you mean the one that belongs to this world”

Finn was completely bewildered by now.

“My name to you would be Kerk Meldenor, I’m the captain of the Worldhopper” Kerk nodded his head.

“What do you mean by ‘this world’” Finn asked, stepping back.

“I’m sorry my boy, I always forget that I’m one of the only worldhoppers! I can travel to different universes; I have been doing so for centuries. I am originally from this world but I have adopted features of other worlds as you can probably see…” Kerk said. “Now, I’d best get going! Good seeing earth again!”

The next thing Finn knew, Kerk was gone. Finn walked out of the wood with the feeling of someone who has seen something special.


Pranjoli Sadhukha, 11, Newark, OH

Here and There

Pranjoli Sadhukha, 11

I woke up to a pair of big playful eyes staring at me and wings flapping fiercely in my face. I sighed, knowing that there was no point in trying to get more snooze-time with Spice awake. Yawning, I stretched my arms and blinked rapidly. Spice impatiently tugged on my rumpled bedhead hair, urging me to begin the new day with him. “Okay okay I’m getting up. It’s Saturday you know” I huffed. Even as I grumbled my way out of bed, I couldn’t muster any anger at Spice. Having Spice here in front of me was a miracle. Spice is no ordinary house pet. He isn’t a cat, a canary or even a toucan. Spice is a dragon. My parents and I had found him in our yard on a blustery autumn evening last year. He was caught in the wildly thrashing branches of our enchanted birch tree. My heart beat a million times a minute that evening as all my dragon fantasies came to life. After we freed the merlot colored dragon from the entwining branches, we bathed and fed the scrawny little creature. For the first few months, we were anxious about how he would fare, but soon enough, his energy levels soared. By now, Spice’s scales robustly glimmer with health.

Still groggy, I opened the curtains of my window. The view outside stole the sleep from my eyes, though all I could see was endless fog. My fingers grazed the clear, spotless window. I stared transfixed at the dreamy vision which mesmerised me more with each passing day. My window faced the other realm, the world no one spoke of, the land of magic. If I squinted past the rolling waves of fog, I could see the hazy shapes and colors so curious and mystical. From time to time, a few pinches of the faraway enchantment would seep into our world. I knew I was merely getting a glimpse of the realm’s wonders. I was certain that Spice was born in that dream-world. Each time I pulled open the curtains, I pulled a curtain away in Spice’s mind unearthing sudden memories. He would claw at the window with his snout pressed against it, waves of longing overwhelming him. He always seemed so mournful that I closed the curtains quickly, hoping to quench the yearning in his golden heart. I wanted to bring back my carefree, spirited dragon.

Today, however, I was the one pressing my nose against the window, oblivious to the frigid bite of the glass. I needed just a few more moments of the mystical view, a few more seconds to see the land I could only visit in my exquisite dreams. I would give anything for a chance to actually go there. I didn’t care about my mom’s warnings. She said that people feared the other realm. They considered it a threat to humankind. I couldn't help feeling frustrated. They widely perceived the enigmatic land as dangerous, yet everyone still reveled at the small wonders of magic. I longed to see all the mythical creatures or at the very least, an occasional elf out on his regular errands. With Spice in my life, I craved magic and mystery like never before. I pined for fairies, griffins and dragons to brighten my sky, for unicorns, mermaids and serpents to glorify my existence.

Lost in my fantasies, I didn’t notice that Spice’s whimpers had ceased. Turning my head sharply, I saw Spice trying relentlessly to open the window. My sudden movement startled him and he let go. I winced as the window closed with a sharp crash. A moment later, as anticipated, a familiar voice called “If you are going to wake up early, can you at least let us sleep in? In fact can you please just sleep in tomorrow, it’s Saturday for heaven’s sake?” “Okay Mom” I yelled back. “Do you understand what she is saying Spice? Please please save us all another groggy morning” I grumbled, nudging Spice with my elbow. I took one last look at the view, my wide eyes devouring the world of endless dreams. “Oh well, maybe someday” I thought, drawing the curtains once again.


Olivia Zhang, 9
Allen, TX

The Magic Stone

Olivia Zhang, 9

EEK! EEK! On the beach, the seagulls were crowing, demanding that they wanted to join in the fun; the hundreds of people gathered on the shore and in the water, splashing and laughing at each other. Nobody noticed a young girl with flaming red hair creeping onto the cliff that towered over the beach. Mindy leaned against the caves entrance, located on top of the cliff. She watched the beach with the hundreds of people for a second, then turned her back to them and headed into the cave. Inside, it was cold and eerie, a contrast to the over crowded beach that made Mindy’s throat tighten and her ears throb. Suddenly, a muffled shaking and tapping bounced off the walls of the cave but Mindy brushed it off, reassuring herself it was only a mouse. As she did so, she forgot to look where she was walking and tripped over something. The something was limp and cold, about Mindy’s size. Her heart beating, she flipped the something over with her toe and found herself looking at two clouded, lifeless eyes. Mindy’s heart nearly stopped. She was looking at a body. Her eyes scanned the dead body, from her slit throat to her bloody hands, holding a glimmering purplish-blue stone. Almost immediately, the stone shined, letting loose a radiant blue light that made Mindy’s eyes hurt looking at it. Following her instinct, Mindy reached for it, although, looking back, it wasn’t such a wise decision. When Mindy’s hand had clasped over it, the stone made a strange noise like it was propelling itself forward and she found herself flying upward, even higher than the clouds yet never touching the cave’s ceiling and never being short of breath. Soon, she found herself out of the cave and seeing a sort of beige-colored kingdom, like a sand castle. There appeared to be nobody inhabiting this kingdom but when Mindy looked closely, she found shadows crawling each and every way, raising their heads at her. The stone parked her in front of the castle, in front of the great, stunning doors as they slowly opened…

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join us in saying YES to kids—Support Stone Soup Today!

X