Chapter 25: The Coma

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After Ryan’s apology, the group eventually returned to their discussion of summer camps. Mara hadn’t ever been to one, in fact, she’d never participated in any non-mandatory activity. Her parents sent her to school, but they never had much interest in sending her elsewhere. She told the group of the trips to the mall, and of night spent watching cars drive down the street while she waited for her father to go to sleep. It was the closest she’d come to socialization outside of school. Continue reading “Chapter 25: The Coma”

Chapter 24: Camp

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The mountains lit up brighter than they’d seen in weeks. Bouncing colors flitting from peak to peak. The sky seemed lighter than usual, the world seemed to be in a state of activity, if that could exist. It was noticed by each member of the small group, spurring discussion. Continue reading “Chapter 24: Camp”

Chapter 23: July

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“What month is it?”

“I think it might be July now”

“I can’t believe that I’ve lost track of time, this never would have happened when I was a teacher”

“It never would have happened when I was a student, counting down the days”

Mrs. Corum and Sara Beth were both about right, Ryan confirmed later in the same day that it was around July 5th.  Continue reading “Chapter 23: July”

Chapter 18: Torment and Resent

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The next day the mountains turned red once more, and the cycle repeated itself. The following day, however, they lit up sporadically, but no flash of red appeared, and no pain or despair came upon the group. Ryan had stood up early that morning and decided to go for a walk, shrugging off the suggestions of others that he stay back. If he was going to be in pain, he reasoned, then it didn’t matter where. No one could help him anyway. Thankfully, though, he likely escaped pain free that day.

Back at the group, about midway through the day, a different event happened that caused excitement.

“Oh my! I can’t believe it!!!”, G-ma said as she looked to her side. She’d been sitting with Mrs. Corum to her right, talking with her about everything and nothing, and didn’t notice a bag that appeared next to her, seemingly out of nowhere.

“What is that?”, Mrs. Corum exclaimed. It was the first new thing to ever appear for either of them, excluding living people.

“It’s my knitting bag!”, G-ma said, amazed and nearly speechless, “I haven’t seen it in so long”. Quickly she opened the bag, and tears of joy streamed down her face. “It has everything in it! Everything I ever needed. Needles, patterns, yarn, markers, absolutely everything. And wait… I never owned this…”

She reached into the bag and pulled out several skeins of yarn.

“Feel this”, she said as she handed the yarn to Mrs. Corum.

“Feels like yarn?”, Mrs. Corum replied. Obviously Mrs. Corum did not appreciate the finer points of fiber arts.

“Oh you wouldn’t understand… Jamie!”, G-ma called out. Jamie, a bit farther out, turned to face them and was shocked to see G-ma holding the yarn.

“Where did you get that?”, Jamie asked, excitedly.

“I don’t know! It just appeared here a few moments ago. Come over here and feel this”.

Jamie obediently came over and sat down next to G-ma. Holding the yarn, she began to speak in amazement.

“This is the softest yarn I’ve ever felt – it’s not coarse or stringy, and the dye job is beautiful”.

“I know, dear”.

As they sat there, a torrent of yarn-speak came forth, with Mrs. Corum tuning out after they began talking about what sort of animal the yarn had come from. Sadly it had no marking on it.

“Ladies…. Can we talk about what happened?”, Mrs. Corum interjected.

“Uh… sure”, G-ma said, “Just let me get started on something here. I haven’t had real needles and yarn in so long!”. G-ma grabbed a size eight needle and the yarn.

“I’m going to knit a scarf!”, G-ma said excitedly.

“That’s great…so where do you think that yarn came from”, Mrs. Corum asked.

“I don’t know… and I really don’t care”, G-ma said.

It was obvious that Mrs. Corum wasn’t going to get much out of G-ma or Jamie. So she got up and began to walk toward where Mara and Sara Beth were sitting.

“What’s going on over there”, Sara Beth asked. She wasn’t close enough to hear the commotion, but could tell something interesting had occurred.

Mrs. Corum explained what she’d seen, and both Sara Beth and Mara were left speechless.

“G-ma is so preoccupied with the arrival of her knitting bag that I don’t think she realizes how weird this truly is, or what it could mean. If it is the case that Julie can ‘control’ us in some ways, or can create a reality for us, she could also give us things. Maybe the knitting bag is the first step. Maybe somehow G-ma signaled to Julie she wanted her knitting bag, and that’s how she got it.”

“Well, she has been knitting here for 8 years without yarn or needles”, Sara Beth observed, “That’s a pretty strong signal”.

“Perhaps. I just hope we don’t have to spend 8 years before we get something nice”, Mrs. Corum replied.

Mara eyed Sara Beth, wondering if this might be the point at which Sara Beth mentioned Mara’s purse. But Sara Beth stayed quiet. Mara felt relieved.

After Mrs. Corum had left, Mara looked at Sara Beth and quietly spoke.

“Jamie knows why Julie would suddenly start handing out presents”

“Should we talk to her about it”

“We can try”


 

“Jamie”, Sara Beth said as they walked toward the girl. She was sitting next to G-ma, watching her knit.

“Yeah… what do you want?”, she replied, obviously not interested in interacting with Sara Beth.

“Mara wanted me to ask you to come see her.”

Jamie was torn. On one hand, she wanted to know what Mara wanted. The girl was an enigma, that so far only Sara Beth seemed to be special enough to crack. Perhaps Mara was getting tired of Sara Beth, and wanted to be friends with Jamie. On the other hand, Jamie was quite happy watching G-ma knit, and learning how to do it herself.

“Go off and see her”, G-ma said, urging her granddaughter to be more social.

“Fine”, Jamie said, getting up and walking in front of Sara Beth on the way to where Mara liked to sit.

As she went over the small hill, she was shocked by what she saw in Mara’s hand.

“Come sit in front of me”, Mara said. In her right hand she held a simple hair brush, the kind that secretly, Jamie had dreamed about since coming here. It was bad enough that all she was wearing was a nightshirt and underwear, but the fact that her hair was a complete disaster had always bothered her.

“I’ll brush your hair out for you”

Jamie eagerly accepted the offer, sitting in front of the older girl as Mara gently began to brush her hair out. Jamie hadn’t ever had a haircut, other than simply work done to trim split ends. She’d insisted that she wanted long, flowing locks, and her parents had allowed it. Her sister kept her hair trimmed to about the middle of her back, whereas Jamie’s reached at least 4 inches lower. She would normally spend 20 minutes or so brushing her hair each morning before school, and it was always easier if someone else would help, like her mom, or in years past, Julie.

“Thanks…”, Jamie said as she felt her hair finally get under control.

“Don’t thank me, thank Sara Beth – she’s the one who noticed my hair brush and suggested you might like to use it. I’d been so preoccupied with this place that I didn’t realize it.”

“Uh… Thanks Sara Beth”, Jamie said, with slight hesitation.

“Sara Beth is always doing those caring things for others”, Mara said, as she continued to brush the younger girl’s hair.

“Uh… yeah”

Mara knew that, if she were to get anywhere with Jamie, she’d need to start slow. Over the next hour, they chatted about a number of topics, with Mara showing extreme restraint every time Jamie said something that was mildly infuriating to the girl who had spent most of her life as an outcast. Jamie had bought into a lot of the cultural aspects that Mara never found important, and the thought crossed her mind that in the real world, Jamie would have despised Mara for not ‘fitting in’, much like she despised Sara Beth for being a better sister to Julie than Jamie was. This was an angle that Mara could use.

“It’s funny”, Mara began, “In the real world, we’d probably never be friends. And here I am, brushing your hair like girlfriends do for each other”

“Yeah… I guess I wouldn’t have thought you’d want to have been my friend – you are kind of…”

“Weird?”

“Uh… yeah…”, Jamie said, self consciously.

“It’s OK, I know what people think of me”, Mara replied, reassuring her.

“Doesn’t it bother you?”, Jamie asked.

“Not anymore, it used to bother me a lot though. It used to really hurt me that others found me so different and would make judgments about me. They didn’t know me, and it felt like all they did was try to hurt me.”

At the last few words of that sentence, Jamie flinched slightly. Mara suspected she may have struck a nerve, figuratively speaking.

“Have you ever been hurt by others?”, Mara asked.

“Just my sister… she doesn’t like me as much as she likes other people”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I don’t know…”

“Well, something must have happened to make her like you less. After all, you are sisters”.

This line of questioning took awhile, with Jamie dodging around the issue, and Mara re-focusing back on Julie and Jamie’s relationship. Finally, Jamie couldn’t dodge any longer. Mara had asked about what Julie and Jamie did together over the past few years.

“I guess Julie doesn’t like playing with me anymore, cause of what I say”, Jamie said, as she moved away from Mara and ran her fingers through her hair. It was long and straight, no more clumps or mats.

“What do you say?”, Mara said, as Jamie turned to face her.

“I guess I kind of figured out how to get to her”, Jamie said, “But it was just for fun – she’d get so upset, and I’d keep kinda, you know, poking at her. Saying stuff that would get her riled up until she finally went a little crazy at me”

“Crazy?”

“Yeah… anytime she’d get really, really angry with me, she’d kinda cry and then start mumbling the craziest stuff. She’d talk about how she was gonna get me back, how she’d… make me feel the same pain she did…”

“How would she do that?”

“Uh… I don’t remember”

“I think you might, if you want to borrow my hair brush in the future, you’ll tell me”. Mara felt it might be time to use the biggest threat she had available.

“She said… that she wished I’d burn up with the same embarrassment and rage she felt… she described it like a fire burning within her”.

As soon as she let it out, things began to make sense to Mara and Sara Beth, but they weren’t prepared for what Jamie said next.

“If I made fun of her further, then she’d really go a little nuts, and talk about how she’d change things. She’d talk about G-ma, and her friends, and other people, and how she imagined they all had these wonderful lives, with cool stuff, and fun adventures.”

As Mara and Sara Beth watched, a thought occurred to Jamie.

“She always talked about giving G-ma 100% baby alpaca yarn, as much as she wanted, to make whatever she wanted from it”

“I think we might know why the knitting bag appeared today”, Mara replied.


 

As the reality of the situation set in, the characters all took stock of how life might change. It seemed that things were really getting pushed to the extreme for Julie, on a regular basis, if she’d actually started imaging the physical items she’d give to people vividly enough in her mind as for them to appear. G-ma was happy she had her yarn, but wasn’t sure if it was worth it, knowing how Julie might be feeling.

The red mountain tops had stopped appearing regularly, which they took to mean that perhaps Ryan and Julie weren’t having their meetings anymore. It could be summer, or perhaps Ryan wasn’t getting to her as badly. No new items had appeared since the knitting bag a few days earlier, and the group wondered if Julie needed to get upset to make new items appear, or if perhaps she just needed to use her imagination, even when happy, to manifest them. So many questions.

But what nobody expected was what happened between Jamie and Sara Beth after the hair brushing (Incidentally, Mara was happy to loan her hairbrush around to the rest of the group, as long as it came back to her. She also told the others that it was the only thing in her purse, and strangely, no one pressed her on that strange fact). Jamie and Sara Beth were, amazingly, on speaking terms with each other. Apparently Jamie had decided that, perhaps, she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life angry at 20% of the population she knew presently. Or perhaps in revealing her secret, she felt little need to stay so angry, realizing that perhaps she was somewhat to blame for the way that Julie felt about her.

Sara Beth welcomed having Jamie behaving in a less hostile way, however she felt she’d probably remain skeptical of Jamie’s motives for at least some time. After all, while it might be nice to instantly make a friend, it didn’t seem to work that way in the real world. Nonetheless, it appeared that after the events of the previous week, life may be calming down a bit inside the mind of Julie McKay.

Chapter 15: The Sins of the Father

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They’re all staring at me

Mara sat about 20 feet away from the rest of the group. It had been a tiring few hours with them. She’d learned all about their past, while successfully keeping them away from her’s. The boy had come back, and she learned his name was Ryan. He looked like he could be trouble for her, as many boys were, but at least he seemed pretty jovial after his walk. She wondered what his secret was.

Continue reading “Chapter 15: The Sins of the Father”

Chapter 14: Contact

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If I go out there, there is no coming back.

The girl sat alone in the park. It was near dusk, and the birds were beginning to fly up into the trees for the night. They didn’t like intruders mulling around below them, making a terrible racket whenever they sensed a disturbance. The girl hoped and prayed that perhaps they’d allow her to stay. She needed to be here, now, more than anything. She knew they wouldn’t be likely to understand. Birds don’t have to deal with the issues she had been dealing with.

She felt ashamed, deeply, deeply ashamed. It shouldn’t get to her like this, she thought, and that made her even more ashamed and guilty. She didn’t think it was her fault, but then again, no one had told her she was free from guilt. Others, however, did seem to think she had a hand in it. Whatever the reason or cause, she felt very unhappy that night, and she hoped the birds would show her some sympathy.

I don’t trust them.

This time she wasn’t in a park – she had ventured to a local shopping mall. She’d blend in well here, since there were others about her same age. She wondered what time the mall closed, and what time security would chase her out. If it closed at 9, she’d probably have until 9:30, provided that she kept moving until finally a guard told her it was time to go. Then she wasn’t sure where her next stop would be. The gas station on the corner wasn’t very reputable looking, and she’d tried that in the past with disastrous results. The park was an option, but perhaps somewhere new would be best.

As predicted, around 9:30 she was asked nicely, but firmly, to leave so the mall could be locked up. She left the bright fluorescent world and went out into the cold. It was around 30 degrees that night. She figured she wouldn’t want to be home until around 11:30, so for 2 hours she looked for somewhere to rest. A bus bench seemed like a good idea. She checked the schedule and found two busses that would be by. She could easily fake that she was waiting for the other, and at this hour, the drivers wouldn’t be back around. They’d be off and back home to their families. That thought, of the tired bus driver heading home to his wife and children made her tear up. She pictured herself as the wife, waiting for her loyal husband to return, tending to her children. It was all so enviable, so desirable. She wanted it to be her so badly.

By the time she came back to reality, the busses had stopped coming by her little bench. It was 10:45, and she knew that without busses coming by, the cops were bound to stop and ask her questions. She looked a lot older than she was, which was why the guard at the mall hadn’t asked her about why she was there alone so late. Cops rarely checked her for ID, which was good, because at her age, she didn’t have one quiet yet, except for her school’s library card.

It was a blessing and a curse to look older at her age. She’d developed early, or at least that’s what her teachers had told her. She knew something had happened as soon as the boys stopped avoiding her and instead began looking at her, staring her down while pretending to look another direction. Some days she wished she looked like the other girls again, to keep the boys at bay.

11:30 – enough time had passed now. She quietly walked toward home. No lights were on, but the key was easy to find. She’d been prepared this time – last week she’d found her dad’s oil can and oiled the hinges so they wouldn’t creak. She even lubed up the lock and handle mechanism so it turned silently. The preparations had paid off, even though at the time, she had hoped she wouldn’t have to make use of them. Silently she crept in, got up to bed, and feel into a restless sleep.

They’ve already seen me – they’ve already decided what they like about me.

Six months later the door had begun to creak again, however by that point, the rope ladder had been acquired. She’d found it out on the curb the previous month, a discarded portion of a child’s backyard treehouse. Each time she climbed it she would think of it’s original owner, wondering how many days he or she had climbed in excitement to get back up to the treehouse. She knew his or her name was Taylor, as she’d found a discarded piece of wood near the ladder bearing the name. Taylor was all grown up now, and didn’t need the treehouse anymore. The new owner of the rope ladder wished she could slide back in time, pre rope ladder, when she wouldn’t have needed it’s assistance.

It was sad that she found herself in this situation – it wasn’t supposed to be like that. She thought back to the trip to the mall, over a year ago, and the bus driver’s wife fantasy she’d had. It was a foolish fantasy of a girl just beginning to notice the effects of puberty. Now that she’d become accustomed to it’s effects as well as the way the world reacted to her transition from girlhood to womanhood, she took a much more jaded view of her future. What were the odds she’d find a decent bus driver husband? Previous experience didn’t seem to predict future success.

Climbing up the ladder, she was grateful it was dark. She didn’t need to worry about anyone nearby, looking up at her (and thus looking up her skirt), and also could climb slowly, careful not to touch too loudly on the outside of the house. Thankfully her window was on the far side of the house from the other bedrooms. She wondered if that was intentional, or just circumstance.

Into her bedroom, she quickly but quietly pulled the rope ladder up. It was getting increasingly hard to find a place to stash it, but she realized that under the mattress still worked pretty well for now. Had to put it in the middle, so that it wasn’t visible when the corners were lifted to put the sheets on, or else Mom would have found it. She carefully stowed the ladder and changed from her clothes into her pajamas. Picking out her clothing for tomorrow (the one day a week she could wear blue jeans, which was fine, since she only had one pair of blue jeans), she settled into her to-do list. Homework had been finished hours earlier. She thought of the essay she was supposed to be writing, but figured that she wouldn’t actually need it’s grade to pass the class. She could still get a D without it. She’d also finished her chores already, leaving her free to work on her own projects. Tonight that included work on removing a loose floorboard in just such a way that it could be easily put back in place. She’d found a tutorial on the Internet that spoke of this, and had the plans committed to memory. She’d grabbed a butter knife from the restaurant they’d been at last Saturday, and used that to gently loosen the edges of the board. Soon the rope ladder would have a new hiding spot.

As she worked, she thought of her former friends. She reasoned that at one point, she had actually been popular. But those days were long past. Tears dropped to the floor as she went about her task.

Why not, it’s better than going crazy watching them.


 

She decided to head out right after the sky brightened up for the day. The boy was off – she’d watched him long enough to realize that he left for awhile and then came back. The less the better. The two older women were sitting and talking, and the two girls were sitting conspicuously far from each other. She wondered why they didn’t get along, but drawing on her own past, could come up with a number of plausible reasons. She’d been in that situation before, she knew how relationships could look innocent and friendly on the surface, but in reality be deeply dysfunctional and hurtful. Same old story, just new people playing the roles.

She knew she was going to regret this. She always did regret opening up to other people – they never bothered to care about her anyway. Once she had tried talking to the man sitting next to her at the bus stop. He seemed friendly, and interested in what she had to say. He also seemed different than the others – he didn’t make lewd comments or ask her if she was one of ‘those kinds’ of girls. At least he didn’t initially. But after about 20 minutes he showed his true colors. Thankfully the bus came at exactly the right moment, and she hopped on board, begging the driver to simply drive off without fare, who did so, recognizing the look in her eyes and the situation before him.

But this place was too weird to stay away. She’d been hiding just over the hills for awhile now, circling to stay out of sight, moving quickly in and out of their midst as she could. She’d knocked over the girls shoes that last time she rushed by, and hastily put them back differently than they were. She knew that they noticed this, but could do nothing about it. She was surprised they didn’t bother to come look for her after that one. It was a sign, she was sure, that they didn’t care already. Otherwise they’d come find her on their own, right? Or maybe this strange place was inhabited by stranger people.

She meticulously planned out how she would approach them. What she would say, or more appropriately, what she wouldn’t say. They were going to ask questions. People always asked a lot of questions. At first she thought they asked the questions because they wanted to help her. But over time she realized they just wanted lurid details for their own use. She wasn’t into giving details, even if they weren’t particularly interesting. Best to keep some distance. She was going to need answers that wouldn’t arouse suspicion, so she quickly came up with some.

She also wanted answers – she’d been here for about a week and had no idea where she was. This place was really weird, and she hoped they had a better clue as to what it was than her guesses. Her guesses were that she was dead (unlikely, since nothing seemed to happen to her – no afterlife – no life at all actually), or that she was held captive (also unlikely, nobody would want to kidnap her). With her guesses falling flat, she was prepared to open up just enough to get the answers she wanted, without opening up too much. With answers prepared, she stood up and began to walk toward the group.

Before she was within sight, she stopped and paused – she hadn’t thought about if she should talk first or they should. In the past, whenever she had appeared friendly, people would behave the same way even if they weren’t to be trusted. She figured she’d let them make the first move. See how they reacted.

A few moments later, she got close enough they could see her. What they saw was a five foot seven inch young woman who looked to be around 16 years old, but in actuality was only 13. Slightly overweight, but by no means fat, and dressed in a black v-neck blouse and her only pair of blue jeans, she looked out of place within the rest of the group. Her black rain boots and long matted black hair further made her stand out among the group of women. Over her shoulder hung a black purse. On her face, dark makeup accentuated wrinkle lines not typical of someone so young in age, but typical of one so old in experience. She walked quietly and purposefully toward the group.

G-ma was the first to notice her and immediately they locked eyes. G-ma smiled, trying to put the new person at ease. As the others talked to G-ma they realized she was no longer listening, and turned to see what G-ma saw.

And while all four women knew it was impolite to stare, they had a hard time looking away. She just looked so different than them. For one thing, she really had a thing for the color black. If anything, this group had a love of grey and red, black wasn’t a color they saw often.

“Hello”, Mrs. Corum said, in a tone that wasn’t meant to be too cheerful and yet was also meant to be welcoming. Mrs. Corum had been in these situations before – approaching new children on the first days of class. She knew she’d have to be gentle.

Following her lead, G-ma spoke next “Hi dear, welcome”. G-ma referred to everyone as dear, but noticed the clear wince that the new visitor had to the term. She mentally made a note not to use it again.

They all looked at her, unsure what to say next.

Finally one action seemed to diffuse the tension. Sara Beth got up, holding her most precious possession, Sonic, in her hands. She walked over to the visitor and smiled.

“Hi, My name is Sara Beth, and this is my friend Sonic”.

The visitor looked down at the squirming hedgehog.

“I’ve never seen a pet hedgehog before”, she said in a low voice.

“They’re super fun – you just have to know how to hold them, and don’t get your fingers too close to their teeth.” Sara Beth then gave a quick lesson on how to hold little Sonic, and passed him off.

As she held Sonic, she almost let her guard down. These people seemed nice, and one of them even trusted her with her pet. But she’d been burned before. She briefly thought of jamming the hedgehog back into Sara Beth’s hands before running as fast and as far away as she could. This was too much and way too fast. She was holding another person’s pet! What happened to her plan to stay aloof, to learn what she needed to learn, and then decide purposefully if she wanted to stay with this group or if she wanted to go off on her own. She had plans that apparently she was breaking already.

But, alas, she was already here. Already committed. So instead, as she held Sonic (Who appeared to be fine with it), she simply looked at the group and spoke softly.

“My name is Mara”

Chapter 8: Old Married Couple

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“I can’t describe it other than to use the word ‘bliss’”, G-ma said, reflecting on the experience.

“I think that’s pretty accurate”, Mrs. Corum added, “It was as if, for a moment, the entire world stopped, and I was basking in a warm glow. I didn’t want it to ever end”

For a few minutes, Sara Beth felt guilty that she had taken such measures to knock her friends out of the light they had been engulfed in. Sensing this after several minutes of talking about the glow and emotional effects of it, G-ma abruptly changed gears.

“But you did the right thing, Sara Beth, don’t get us wrong. We’re waxing poetic about something that wasn’t right. I don’t care where we are or what we think we want, human beings weren’t meant to suffer 100% of the time, or be high 100% of the time. It was as if I was on drugs, not that I’d ever known any of those drugs you hear about on TV. Closest thing I’d ever felt was the pain medication they gave me a few years ago when my back was out – and this was way more intense than that.”

Sara Beth was relieved to hear G-ma defend her actions. Mrs. Corum came around gradually as well, thanking Sara Beth for her quick thinking.

“I wonder what that place was”, Mrs. Corum mused.

“Still is – it’s right over there”, G-ma replied.

They hadn’t moved far away from the valley, it was still within sight just off in the distance. Sara Beth, this time, had a theory.

“It’s that place you go to right before you fall asleep, I think”, she began, “You know how it feels – you’re lying in bed and trying to get yourself ready to drift off. But maybe you’re too amped up, or maybe you’re distracted. So you start trying to relax, and eventually stumble upon on pleasant thought, one that makes you feel happy and content, and you fall asleep. That’s what it felt like to me, like that blissful state of relaxation right before you lose consciousness.”

The other two women thought about it, mulling the idea around for a few minutes.

“I could see something like that”, Mrs. Corum finally replied, “Or it might not be that pre-sleep state, it might just be that happy place we all think about – the enjoyable moments that we bring back up each time we’re sad or lonely, in need of a quick pick-me-up. I suppose that stepping into those moments may cause one to enter a state like we experienced – after all, those moments were designed to be the best our minds could come up with. It wouldn’t surprise me if we wanted to stay there, all the time”

“It was nice,” G-ma began wistfully, “But not for us to stay in. Especially not for the two of us to stay in and leave you here!”. It was clear that the longer she was away from the light, the more guilty G-ma began to feel for succumbing to it’s intoxicating atmosphere.

They decided to put the matter behind them, literally, and walk back up toward more familiar ground. Exploring would be done in future days, but for now, a return to places known was in order. Privately, each women reflected on potential uses for the valley, with G-ma taking the harshest stance. Over the next few hours, she would grow determined never to return to it under any circumstance, fearing that it would take what little humanity she may have left, turning her into a mindless hedonist. Mrs. Corum would think differently, wondering if perhaps, in limited quantities, the valley could be therapeutic. Straying into the light was dangerous, no doubt, but given the emotional tole this place could take out on someone, the prospect of a blissful few minutes seemed like it might have it’s place. In contrast, Sara Beth felt that both the valley and even the light may be useful in small doses (and with friends to back you up), but was not keen to try it herself. She thought, though, that if anyone were to ever go completely mad in this place, the valley might be the only way to help them. Over time the true abilities, nature, and limitations of the valley would be seen, with neither G-ma, Mrs. Corum, or Sara Beth hitting the nail on the head in terms of its best uses.


As they walked farther away from the valley and up toward Mrs. Corum’s old spot, they caught sight of something far off in the distance. It was odd in that it appeared to be moving. Nothing here moved other than the three of them and Sonic, so this was something potentially very interesting. They picked up the pace to try to catch up with the figure off in the future.

As they grew nearer, they were amazed – about 200 feet ahead were what appeared to be two children, walking quickly and talking in a very animated fashion.

“They can’t hear us”, G-ma reminded the group as Sara Beth began to call out, “We’re too far off”.

As they grew nearer, the forms took on more detail. Both children looked to be about the same age as Sara Beth. On the right was a boy, wearing what appeared to be a standard school uniform similar to the one that Sara Beth recalled seeing Julie wear. A red polo shirt and khaki shorts, with white socks and sneakers. Red was the same color Sara Beth wore at school, it was popular in that area of the country. She also surmised that it must have been hot whatever day he was copied into Julie’s mind – the shorts were likely only allowed during that weather. The girl, on the other hand, was not wearing the school uniform, or much of an outfit at all. She appeared to be clothed in an oversized t-shirt, slightly ratty with age, that stretched past her knees. It looked as if it might have been a nightshirt. She was barefoot, and her long hair was unkempt and wild. As she walked, she ran her hands up and through her hair multiple times, likely trying to straighten it.

As they drew closer, but still out of range to call out, Mrs. Corum and G-ma began to hear the conversation between the two children. Unaware of the women approaching them, the two newcomers were deeply engrossed in an argument.

“I don’t care what you think – I like her”, the girl said firmly.

“Her music sucks!”, the boy said in reply, “She’s just popular because people say she’s popular.”

“Is not – she’s really talented”, the girl replied.

“Talent?!? She sounds stupid – her voice sounds like someone ran my neighbor’s cat through the blender!”, the boy said, making simulated cat screeching noises.

“Stop it you idiot”, the girl shrieked. She was not a fan of animal cruelty, real or simulated.

“Make me!”, the boy replied.

“Shut up”, the girl called out.

From off in the distance, Mrs. Corum and G-ma were amazed at what they heard.

“It doesn’t seem like they’re too concerned with being here”, G-ma said.

“Yeah, they don’t seem to even notice it”, Mrs. Corum replied.

“What are they saying”, asked Sara Beth, who hadn’t trained her hearing to be as precise at the others.

“Something about a singer one likes and the other doesn’t, and the boy is talking about screeching cats”, Mrs. Corum said, looking toward Sara Beth. Sara Beth just shot a confused look back, “Yeah, I know”, Mrs. Corum replied, “Seems like they should have other things to think about, seeing that they’re here”.

With their backs to the approaching women, it wouldn’t be for another few minutes that they’d make contact. And with the conversation being so bizarre, the three ladies approaching wondered how to make first contact with their new guests. While they had no concrete evidence they’d been here longer than the boy and girl they approached, it certainly seemed that arguing over such a trivial thing wouldn’t be taking up the time of someone who had been here for awhile. It seemed more at home with the conversation of those who had just arrived.

Mrs. Corum and G-ma continued to listen to the two as they approached, but heard nothing important other than school yard taunting. Both of them began to appreciate the maturity of Sara Beth more and more as they thought of how these two might make life in Julie’s head a bit more untenable. Maybe they’d grow up quickly after realizing the magnitude of the situation.

Up until that very moment, the three ladies hadn’t ever considered that potentially the new arrivals in Julie’s brain would be less than stellar people. It appeared that Julie had selected people in her mind that would bring her comfort and peace, not people who would argue. Sara Beth, G-ma, and Mrs. Corum all felt as if the situation had been balanced before, and they began to wonder if these two might unbalance it. What if they decided not to be quiet during the dim hours? What if they decided not to be quiet at all? What if they didn’t want to join the ladies at all? The three of them had grown a bit dependent on each other, and the thought of finding two people at the same time, and then having both of them not want to join their small group seemed  crazy. But then again, all three of them had found each other alone, with the loneliness potentially drawing them in. These two had each other, although perhaps they didn’t really want each other.

They were approaching the two new children quicker now, within 20 feet. Mrs. Corum decided it was time to make contact.

“Hello” she called out.

Neither child stopped.

“Hello!”, she called out again, this time with G-ma lending support.

The children stopped abruptly. By now the women were just about 10 feet away from the pair.

The children turned, looks of surprise and worry on their faces. It was as if they just now thought perhaps others could be here in this place. The five of them stood staring at each other. Then, slowly, a look of realization came over the faces of Mrs. Corum, the boy, and the girl. Sara Beth and G-ma watched, realizing that all three of them seemed to know each other. The girl began to look relieved, as a small smile came across her face. Tears began to stream from her eyes. The boy had a different reaction – a sullen look washed over his face. He wasn’t afraid, worried, or panicked at all. But he definitely wasn’t happy to see the sight before him.

Mrs. Corum broke the silence.

“Ryan?”, she asked. The boy nodded.

“G-ma!!!”, the girl cried, running toward the older woman who, in surprise, stooped down and opened her arms.


“Where am I”, Ryan asked Mrs. Corum, with a slight twinge of nervousness in his voice. He knew he wasn’t Mrs. Corum’s favorite student, given previous events, and she wasn’t his favorite teacher by a long shot. In asking the question so abruptly, it appeared to the rest of the group that, perhaps, Ryan had just realized that he was in a completely new and different world than he had ever previously known.

“It’s kind of hard to explain”, Mrs. Corum began, “And all that we know are theories that we’ve come up with over our time here. How long have you been here?”

Ryan thought for a few minutes, and realized he had trouble remembering too far into the past. In fact, the only thing he could remember was having the stupid argument about music with the annoying girl he had found only several minutes before. He recognized her as someone from the grade below him in school. Now she lie wrapped in the arms of the old woman. ‘They must know each other’, he thought.

“Just a few minutes”, Ryan said, answering Mrs. Corum’s question.

“Then you’re probably a bit overwhelmed”, came Mrs. Corum’s reply. “For now, just know that we’re in a place unlike any on Earth, and that you’ll be OK here. We’ll talk about it more over the next few hours.”

Turning their attention to the other newcomer, the group watched as G-ma and the girl finished their embrace.

“G-ma, I’m so glad you’re here, I feel better”, the girl said.

The look on G-ma’s face was priceless, a look that the old woman felt would never return to her face as long as she stayed inside this place. But here it was, a miracle come true.

“Everyone, this is my grand daughter, Jamie”, G-ma said, verifying what Mrs. Corum had already suspected. Sara Beth nodded, acknowledging the presence of someone the same age and gender as her, but apparently not someone she already knew. Julie might have been Jamie’s sister, and Sara Beth’s best friend, but it did not appear that the two had ever met before.

“Welcome to our group, Ryan & Jamie. As Ryan knows, I’m Mrs. Corum, and as Jamie knows, this is G-ma, and as neither of you may know, this is”

“Sara Beth”, Sara Beth said, cutting Mrs. Corum off.

The group looked toward each other, each with a different perspective on events. If the children had been older, they probably would have shaken hands, however at this age, the immediate reaction was to stand and not appear too comfortable.

As he stood there, Ryan had a realization wash over him. Jamie’s grandmother was the same person he’d seen pick up Julie on occasion at school. He connected the dots quickly that they were related, and suspected they might be sisters.

“Jamie – are you related to Julie, in my class?”, Ryan asked.

The entire group waited for the answer that all but Ryan knew already.

“Yes, she’s my crazy older sister”, Jamie said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm on the word crazy. This emboldened Ryan.

“She sure is weird”, Ryan began, careful not to say too much more around Mrs. Corum, remembering what happened last time, “Are you a weirdo like her?”.

“No, I’m normal – she’s the crazy one!”, Jamie said.

Abruptly, as if lightning had struck, both Ryan and Jamie clutched at their stomachs.

“What’s wrong? What do you feel?”, Mrs. Corum asked.

“I don’t know”, squeaked Ryan, “It feels like my insides are on fire. It came on so suddenly”.

Jamie nodded in agreement. Neither of them had appreciated the connection that Mrs. Corum, Sara Beth, and G-ma had.

“This is going to sound weird”, Mrs. Corum began, “But I think I know what’s going on here. You two need to apologize to Julie”.

“Why are you making us apologize?”, Ryan asked incredulously, “She isn’t even here”.

“Yeah, she doesn’t know what we said”, Jamie added in.

“That might not be completely true. Just go ahead and apologize”.

“Fine”, Ryan said “I’m Sorry”, delivered in the signature sing-song voice that children used when forced to apologize.

“You have to mean it”, Mrs. Corum instructed.

“Just make it stop”, Ryan replied.

“I’m not controlling it”, Mrs. Corum said, “Julie is”.

Ryan’s face distorted – a rush of questions came over him, however in his state of pain, he felt compelled to listen now and ask questions later.

Both Ryan and Jamie began to make a heartfelt apology, or at least as heartfelt as pre-teens can make when they really don’t want to.

The painful feeling began to lessen inside each of them. Finally after several minutes, it had passed.

“What is this place?!?”, Ryan asked again, this time Mrs. Corum and the others began explaining it to him and Jamie, as they sat in a circle.

Chapter 5: The Meeting

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“No, I can’t say that it ever got that bad”, G-ma said. The look on Mrs. Corum’s face was a bit crestfallen, obviously she had hoped that G-ma might empathize a bit more. G-ma noticed. They had been talking about their former lives outside of this place, specifically the low points.
“I’m not saying I don’t see how it could be that way for you, dear, I’m just saying I don’t think I ever got to that point”.
“It was years ago”, Mrs. Corum said softly, “Right after I found out that I wouldn’t be able to have children. I guess it took a huge toll on me. At that time, it didn’t seem like a man would want to date you if he couldn’t see a future with you… and they didn’t seem to see a future with me. I thought the world was ending – that no one would ever be interested, and that I’d be a spinster for the rest of my life”
G-ma didn’t quite know what to say. Mrs. Corum had been a lot more talkative over the last few days, ever since the rain storm and earthquake. It almost appeared that she had something she needed to talk out, but for the life of her, G-ma had no idea what that was or how to help. G-ma wasn’t used to serious conversations on mental health – her life had been mostly one of mundane happiness. It appeared that Mrs. Corum had been through some rough times that G-ma and her family only approached on rare occasion, and even then, were blessed to have pass quickly.
“I can’t imagine”, G-ma said. The words rang truer than most people would admit – in this case, she truly couldn’t.
Mrs. Corum and G-ma were lazily making their way back to Mrs. Corum’s original spot, planning to explore a new direction relative to it. They hadn’t seen any new or unusual weather events in at least 3 days, although they often looked up and squinted at the sky, wondering if they were missing some subtle shift of color. It was possible that they had become so attenuated to the world they lived in that that their sense had been dulled to it’s shifting nature. Or perhaps they hadn’t, but the ladies were simply all out of energy in a mental way, their bodies still fully powered as the moment they had awoken in this place.
They were both quiet for a few minutes, until Mrs. Corum began to speak.
“It just feels like I can think for the first time in years”, she began, “Throughout my entire working life I was consumed with the day-to-day world. Papers needed to be marked, students needed to be taught, bills needed to be paid, and I suppose that even leisure activities needed to be done. The TV wasn’t going to watch itself at the end of the day. Then I came here. Here I have no papers, no students, no TV. All I have is my time talking with you, and my own thoughts. You ever see that old Twilight Zone where the man is thrilled to have all the time in the world to read?”
“Yes, that’s the one where his glasses break right before he can start his first book”, G-ma replied.
“Yes. But in this case, my glasses haven’t broken. If anything, they’ve gotten sharper as I’ve got so much time now to think about things. I wonder how this place will change me, as I think about all that stuff I’ve ignored for so many years.”
G-ma hoped that the next question wasn’t going to be what she feared, but inevitably, it was.
“Have you changed since you got here?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
G-ma took a long moment that, to Mrs. Corum, would appear that she was gathering her thoughts. In reality, she was hoping something strange would happen again so that she could avoid answering the question.
No earthquake, sky color change, or warm fuzzy feeling came.
“I was afraid you would ask that”, G-ma began, “Yes, I have changed quite a bit”.
Mrs. Corum was somewhat taken aback by the abrupt reply and failure to elaborate. She weighed her options: Ask about how she’s changed, or simply let it hang there. In the end, she didn’t have to worry, G-ma had decided to open up.
“I used to be more extreme”, G-ma said as she sat down on the ground, indicating to Mrs. Corum that she planned on speaking for awhile. “I had wild mood swings day to day during my regular life. Before I came here, there were days I was no picnic to be around. I suppose now that I’m still no picnic to others, but at least I’m less annoying to myself. Maybe what you said about having time now to think is what it is. I can engage in the soul searching that I put off before”
For next few hours, G-ma let out all of the thoughts that, previously, had just been worked out in her mind. No one had heard the life stories, the philosophical rants, and the humorous musings that the older woman had pondered and pieced together over the past 8 years. It grew dim and then light again before they had finished.
After that conversation, Mrs. Corum changed her evaluation of G-ma. The woman had always seemed a bit too direct. A bit too sure of herself. It became clear, though, that this was simply because she’d had a lot of time to decide on what she believed to be true in this world and in her life outside of it. Mrs. Corum decided that speaking to G-ma was different only in that it wasn’t what she would say or do in the given situation. G-ma had a distinct viewpoint. Mrs. Corum wondered if she might, one day, have the same viewpoint, if she lasted long enough here.


“Here it was”, Mrs. Corum said of the spot of ground in front of them.

They had gotten back to her original starting point in the abyss, and had decided to explore a new direction.

“I was over there”, G-ma pointed, “but I always sort of wondered what was that way”, as she pointed sharply in the opposite direction. Previously they had walked perpendicular to the two spots they knew well, today the would start walking parallel, off into the distance neither had ventured. They could make out something far off in the horizon that looked different than the rest of the sky. It would be a journey of several days, but perhaps would be worth it.

They began walking. Today the conversation had been rather light. Some shared stories from their childhoods, and discussion of politics and religious beliefs (They figured that there was no way they were going to scare each other off, so they might as well approach these ‘friendship forbidden’ topics). As they walked, slowly the conversation turned back to the world they found themselves in.

“What do you think you’ll do the next time we find someone here?”, Mrs. Corum asked.

“You think we’re going to find others?”, G-ma replied.

“Well, we found each other”, Mrs. Corum said with a slight bit of cheer in her voice.

“Yes, after I’d given up on ever having that happen. I guess my perspective is different than yours – I think a new person arrives here every 8 years or so, to you, they arrive every few weeks”, G-ma pointed out.

“I suppose you’re right, but I keep getting the sense that we’re going to find others, and not just one, perhaps a dozen. We might even get to start our own community here. You could be mayor”, Mrs. Corum said with a grin.

“I never had the mind for politics!”, G-ma said with a laugh.

“Seriously, though, what are we going to do when we meet them”, Mrs. Corum said, directing the conversation back to her original question.

“I suppose spend the first day just explaining everything – we don’t know much about this place, but we may know more than they do, assuming they haven’t been here longer than we have. Maybe they’ll know more. Maybe your community of friends has been here longer than I have”, G-ma said, as the thoughts came pouring out. Evidently this was one topic she hadn’t fully discussed in her mind during the previous years of living in isolation.

“I wonder if they’ll all be from the same place we grew up?”, Mrs. Corum pondered.

“Aside from you and I both knowing Julie”, G-ma replied, “We don’t seem to have any other link than geography. It would be interesting to meet someone who came here from a more exotic locale than the boring places we frequented on Earth.”

“Do you think we’re still on Earth?”, Mrs. Corum said, half jokingly.

“Aliens again?”, G-ma said with a smile.

“No, but perhaps we’re on a different plane of existence. Maybe we’ve evolved!”, Mrs. Corum optimistically replied.

“No hope of that for me, dear, I’m devolving if anything!”

“Why would you say that?”

“I don’t know… just seemed like something to say”, G-ma said with a smile.

As they walked further away from Mrs. Corum’s spot, a thought struck G-ma that hadn’t before. In retrospect, even if she had thought of it, she would have had no way to test it.

“Can you hear me?”, G-ma asked Mrs. Corum.

“Yes, why?”

“Just let me try something – stand here”

G-ma walked about 10 feet away from Mrs. Corum.

“Can you hear me?”, G-ma asked. Mrs. Corum nodded in agreement.

G-mailed about another 10 feet away from Mrs. Corum.

“Can you hear me?”, G-ma asked. Mrs. Corum started to nod, but then paused. A perplexed look came over her face.

G-ma walked back toward her.

“I saw you perfectly, you weren’t but 15 feet away, and I could see your lips open, and knew you were asking if I could hear you. But I couldn’t.”, Mrs. Corum stammered.

“That explains a lot”, G-ma said, and began walking, motioning Mrs. Corum to join her.

“I realized that whenever someone shows up in this place, one thing is generally on their to-do list as soon as they realize that they’re not in metaphorical Kansas anymore”, G-ma began, “They cry out. They scream. They yell. They curse. They make noise. Did you do that?”

Mrs. Corum blushed slightly. She hadn’t told G-ma that this was, indeed, something she did a few times during that first day. She called out, hoping others might hear her. In fact, a few times, she let out a yell so loud it surprised her.

“Yes, I did”

“But no one here heard you. Think about it – this land has some subtle rises and dips, but is fundamentally flat. We can see for perhaps a mile in any given direction. Sound should travel here just fine, but the distance it travels is tiny compared to the distance we can see.

Mrs. Corum was starting to put the pieces together as G-ma continued.

“So if there are others here, they might spend hours, or days, or weeks calling out, staying put where someone can find them, not realizing that even though they yell as loudly as possible, this place seems to dampen sound.”

“I wonder if there is anyway for us to train our ears to hear better”, Mrs. Corum replied.

“What do you mean?”, G-ma asked.

“I’ve taught my students in science about how the sense can become more highly trained. How they can adjust if need be. I wonder if we were to spend time practicing if we could train our ears to be more sensitive”.

“How long would that take?”, G-ma said.

“Got somewhere you need to be?”, Mrs. Corum smartly replied with a wink.

For the rest of the day, and the next few, G-ma and Mrs. Corum strained to pick up the smallest sound, often whispering to each other. To their amazement, it actually started to work. They could increase the distance between each other to 25 or 30 feet and be heard perfectly. They didn’t need to speak as loudly as they had before either. A light whisper was enough. It was almost as if super hearing was something this world found metaphysically cool, as a teenager might put it, and helped their minds grasp it quickly and easily.

Therefore it was not a huge surprise when they found themselves walking one day and having the following conversation.

“I just don’t know about…. Did you hear that?”

“Yes…”. The two women turned and pointed in the same direction.

They walked over a small hill, and found her sitting there, softly crying, a plastic ball with a missing piece lying to her side.


Mrs. Corum and G-ma turned to each other and shot a quick glance that communicated everything they both had rush through their minds. Who was this girl? Why was she crying? Had she been here long? What’s with the plastic ball? Where had she come from?

Despite all of these questions, the humanity in both women rapidly took over.

“It’s OK honey”, G-ma called out while they were still a few feet away. She didn’t want to startle the child and only make things worse.

“We’re here to help”, Mrs. Corum added.

Sara Beth looked up at them through tear filled eyes.

“Sonic got loose”, she sobbed.

“Who is Sonic?”, Mrs. Corum asked, showing a confused look to G-ma. G-ma, perhaps more skilled at pets than Mrs. Corum, picked up the plastic ball.

“Oh dear, the top came loose, didn’t it honey”, she said.

“Yeah…we were talking and I looked away for just a moment. He’s so small, and so gray, and so… easy to lose in this stupid place”, Sara Beth proclaimed.

“Who are you?”, Mrs. Corum asked.

“We’ll sort all of that out later – right now we have to find Sonic!”, G-ma said, taking charge of the situation. Mrs. Corum stood there, admonished for her curiosity, but felt perhaps G-ma should take the lead here.

“Is Sonic a hedgehog, dear?”, G-ma asked.

“Yes”.

“You heard her – let’s fan out and look. We know he didn’t come by us in the direction we came – I’m sure we would have seen the little guy. I’ll head this way, my friend will head that way, and, this is really important dear, you need to calm down and start looking that way. There are 3 of us, we’ll find Sonic in no time.”

The search party split into three directions and looked, careful to walk over and prod anything on the splotchy gray ground that could have been a tiny hedgehog. Sara Beth was worried, but happy to have the help of the others. She had barely even started looking when she heard a voice call out “I found him”.

Mrs. Corum had walked back over to Sara Beth and led her over to where Sonic lie, seemingly content. “I… uh… don’t know how to pick him up”, she said. Sara Beth adroitly picked up her friend and placed him in the pink ball, making sure the top was tightly in place. They then walked toward the direction G-ma had headed, and found her lightly tapping a gray bump in the ground with her foot.

“I’m glad to see the crisis has been averted”, G-ma said, as she saw the two approach.

“What did she say”, Sara Beth asked Mrs. Corum.

“She said that she was glad our crisis was over”, Mrs. Corum replied, aware that G-ma was still too far away for Sara Beth to hear her.

As the three women and one escapee hedgehog came together, G-ma reached out and put her hand on Sara Beth’s shoulder.

“I’m glad that we’re all safe.”

Sara Beth smiled, perhaps the first true smile that she had produced since coming to this place. She looked up at G-ma and asked “Who are you?”

“My grandkids call me G-ma”, G-ma said, “And as I told my friend here when I met her, no one has called me anything else in quite awhile. Guess I like the sound of G-ma now”.

“I’m happy to meet you G-ma, thanks for helping me find Sonic”, Sara Beth said in gratitude.

“What’s your name, dear”, G-ma asked.

“Sara Beth”

Both women paused for a moment, mentally scanning their pre-abyss memories for a Sara Beth. They were both keenly aware that despite their hard work to fill in the gaps, this place was still somewhat messing with their mind. Sara Beth would be the one to break the moment of silence.

“Who are you?”, she asked Mrs. Corum.

“I’m just a misplaced 6th grade teacher”, Mrs. Corum said with a smile, “My name is Mrs. Corum”.

“I was in 6th grade, well, before I ended up here”.

“Were you?”, Mrs. Corum asked rhetorically. In her mind she further scanned her memory. Sadly she knew very few of the other 6th graders at her school that were not in her class. That amounted to around 30-40 more students. And even then, they had no assurance that Sara Beth had come from the same general area they had.

“We were just going for a walk, would you like to join us”, G-ma asked.

“I can’t”, Sara Beth replied.

This took the two older women by surprise.

“Why not?”, Mrs. Corum asked bluntly.

“Because I need to stay in this spot so they can find me”, Sara Beth said indignantly.

“Honey, I don’t think that’s how it works here”, G-ma gently said.

“How do you know?”, Sara Beth asked.

“Because I sat in the same spot for almost 8 years”, G-ma replied softly. “No one came for me until Mrs. Corum happened to find me a few weeks ago”.

“Well you see – you see – someone found you by staying in the same spot”.

The girl had her there. G-ma had to think quickly.

“Then I’ll tell you what – we can come wait at your spot today, and then tomorrow go on our walk again, and if you choose to come with us, we can come back to your spot every so often and see if anyone is waiting for you”. Sara Beth pondered the idea, and shook her head in agreement.

The three of them sat down, just as it began to dim for the night.

Chapter 2: G-ma

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Mrs. Corum stood there, blinking several times to be sure she was seeing what she thought she saw. There sitting before her was a woman, slightly older than herself, knitting. Well, she would have been knitting, if she had actually had yarn or knitting needles, but her fingers moved in concert as if they were present. The woman sat on the ground, legs crossed, hands busy with their imaginary handiwork. She wore a scarlet handmade sweater, and simple black slacks. House slippers adorned her feet. Her face showed the signs of age, with her wispy grey hair loosely framing features.

“I’m sorry if I startled you”, the old woman said. Mrs. Corum stood there, still not saying anything.

“Please, come sit down with me”, the woman continued.

Continue reading “Chapter 2: G-ma”

Chapter 1: Mrs. Corum

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I hope you enjoy this story. In it we are introduced to Mrs. Corum, a lovely person, albeit a tired person. I haven’t decided on a title for this project yet, so for now we’ll just go with the Chapter titles. This is part 1 of 30. Happy NaNoWriMo!

Mrs. Corum opened her eyes and yawned. She barely remembered the previous night, no doubt one punctuated by grading papers and planning lessons. One wouldn’t think that 6th grade could be as hectic as the 2nd graders she’d left a few years back, but it surely was. At least the kids were a little less rambunctious, on most days. Nights felt like they were sent from God in heaven – a time away from the noise and activity. She could rest in her bed, away from the job and the world, for a blissful 8 (or more commonly, 5) hours.

Continue reading “Chapter 1: Mrs. Corum”