A Maze of Lies – Part Two

Continuing the story of lies, deception, and wrong choices. Click for Part One. I’d love feedback! 😀

Hailey yawned. She could feel the heat of the sun on the side of her face. She finally mustered enough strength… to open her eyes. The sun was shining brightly through the window. She sleepily sat up and glanced at the clock. It was already well past noon. Melanie and Kaitlyn were still sleeping soundly in their sleeping bags. Hailey automatically reached for a pillow.

“Oof!” Melanie grunted groggily. She pushed the pillow off her face. She looked over at Hailey, who was trying her best to fend off laughter and look innocent. Melanie rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t very nice,” she stated.

Hailey gazed at her solemnly. “You’re going to use the pillow to wake up Kaitlyn, right?”

“Of course.” Melanie snorted. “Do you think I would pass up an opportunity like this?” Hailey grinned at her.

Five minutes of pillow-pounding later, a very grumpy Kaitlyn was sitting up in her sleeping bag. “What time is it?” she grumbled.

“Almost two,” Hailey informed her.

“What time did we fall asleep?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Well, I remember popping the seventh bag of popcorn around five, and we never did finish it.” Melanie nodded to the half-empty bowl. “So, I think it was around six.”

Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “No wonder,” she muttered. “We’d better get dressed and eat something. My mom’s coming to pick me up in half an hour.”

~~~

“Hi, Hailey, Melanie!” Brenna called, winding her way to the other girls through the post-class traffic. She finally reached them. “How was the sleepover?” she asked. “I wish I hadn’t missed it.”

“It was great,” Melanie told Brenna, mentioning all of the best parts. Of course, she left out the part about Finding Nemo.

Kaitlyn walked over to them. “Hey, guys. I was actually able to make it through today. Apparently the kid that the guys are usually messing with isn’t here today.”

Hailey didn’t say anything, but looked up, relieved, although she did wonder where Jason was. The girls left the school together and split up, heading their separate ways.

Once at home, Hailey couldn’t focus on her homework. She kept wondering why Jason hadn’t been at school. Finally she picked up the phone.

“Hello, Craywell residence.” The voice didn’t sound like Jason’s.

“Hi, can I talk to Jason?” she asked hesitantly, feeling awkward. She and Jason hadn’t really talked lately, after all.

“This is he. Who is this?” Hailey still didn’t think it sounded like him.

“It’s Hailey.”

“Hi, Hailey!” A smile leapt into his voice. “What’s up?”

“Not much. I was just wondering why you weren’t at school today.” Hailey fiddled with her pencil.

“Oh, Kelly got a cold and passed it on to me. I’ll probably be back tomorrow, though. Thanks for thinking of me! I missed church on Sunday, too.” He sounded genuinely happy to hear from her.

“Do you need any of the assignments?” Hailey asked quickly, changing the subject.

“Sure!” Jason replied eagerly.

Hailey found the assignments for the classes they were in together and listed them. As she waited for him to write them down, an idea hit her. Jason was always asking her to go to church with him. She had always refused, coming up with various excuses. This was her chance to get him off her back once and for all.

“Thanks, Hailey. I guess I have something to do tonight.” They laughed. A short silence followed. Hailey twirled her hair around her finger nervously as she tried to think of something to say. Finally Jason broke the silence.

“So, do you want to, uh, come to church with me on Wednesday?” he asked somewhat awkwardly.

This was the question Hailey had been waiting for. “Nah,” she replied after a moment. “I didn’t really enjoy it much when I went on Sunday. I had wondered where you were—”

“You went yesterday?” Jason interrupted excitedly. “Aw, you should have called me. I wish I could’ve been there! Did you like it?”

“Not really,” Hailey replied hesitantly. Jason’s enthusiasm was starting to make her regret her lie.

“Oh.” Jason said thoughtfully. There was a short pause. “I’ve got to go, Hailey, my dad’s calling me. Feel free to call me later.”

“All right, ‘bye,” Hailey replied. She hung up the phone with the guilt weighing down heavily on her shoulders. She tried to concentrate on her schoolwork, but she couldn’t keep her mind on it. She couldn’t help hoping that this would be the last of all of the church invitations.

~~~

“Hey, Timothy!” Jason called as he slipped into the nearly-empty youth room that Wednesday.

The kid sitting at one of the small tables looked up, brushing his short brown hair out of his eyes and adjusted his glasses. He slipped a bookmark into his book and grinned. “Hey, Jason, I’ve got an open seat over here that has your name on it!”

Jason grinned and slid into one of the open chairs. “How’s it going, Timothy?”

“Pretty good,” the boy replied. “We missed you here on Sunday.”

Jason made a face. “Yeah. I was at home, sick. You’re still working on Moby Dick, huh?” Timothy nodded. “Oh,” Jason began, remembering. “A friend of mine came on Sunday. Did you get to meet her? Her name’s Hailey, she’s got red hair. She’s not very easy to miss.”

Timothy thought for a little while, unconsciously chewing on the eraser on his pencil. Finally he shook his head. “No, I didn’t see her. There were only a few people here on Sunday, and they were all regulars.”

Jason frowned. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Timothy nodded.

That’s weird, Jason thought. I guess I’ll ask Hailey about it tomorrow after school.

~~~

All week long Hailey’s friends had dragged her over to watch Jason getting bullied. She was finally tired of it. She was barely able to escape through one of the side entrances. She had plenty of time to get home since she had made it out of school early, so she strolled leisurely down the sidewalk.

Hailey had almost made it to her house when she heard running footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw Jason running towards her.

“Hi, Hailey!” he called, catching up to her.

“Oh, hi, Jason,” she replied somewhat nervously. She felt a twinge of guilt as she thought about the phone call.

“Hi,” Jason gasped as he finally reached her. “How’re you doing?”

“Pretty good,” Hailey replied. “What about you?”

“I’m fine,” he replied, still trying to catch his breath. “Oh, last night at church I asked a friend of mine if he’d met you, and he said he hadn’t seen you in youth.”

It only took a split second for Hailey to realize how bad this could be for her, and another one for her to come up with a reply. “Oh, I stayed in the main sanctuary, you know, with the adults. That’s probably why he didn’t see me.”

Jason laughed. “That makes sense. It also explains why you disliked it, too. Youth’s a lot of fun, while the adult service… not so much.” Hailey mentally groaned. She knew what was coming up next.

“So, do you want to come again on Sunday? You can try out the youth group. It’s a lot better than the sermons in the sanctuary,” Jason suggested eagerly.

“No, I don’t think so. I’ve got a big project due on Monday since it’s the week before spring break.” Hailey lied again. “We’re going shopping on Saturday, so I won’t have much time the rest of the weekend.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jason nodded understandingly. “Those teachers always dump extra homework on us right before spring break.”

Hailey laughed, relaxing. “Yeah. Well, I’ve gotta get home. I’ll talk to you later.”

Jason nodded. “Okay. See ya tomorrow!” he called over his shoulder as he jogged back towards his house. Hailey continued down to her house, breathing in the scent of the flowers blooming in the flowerbeds. She was really glad to have dodged two more tough spots, but she wondered how many more would follow.

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A Maze of Lies – Part One

Love this short-story-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-novel. 😉 Let me know what you think of this part. More parts coming soon!

Hailey Baker slammed the door on her locker, pulling her hands through her strawberry-blond hair. Her light brown eyes focused on a group of kids laughing farther down the high school hallway. She groaned inwardly, realizing immediately what was going on.

One of her fellow softball players and close friends, Melanie Brandt, looked up too. Pushing her short brown hair behind her ear, she took in the scene unfolding down the hall. She rolled her brown eyes. “Great,” she complained. “Haven’t those guys got anything better to do? They do this every single day after the classes are over.” Her loud voice carried to most of the people around them.

Brenna Cooper, another volleyball teammate, looked up from pulling her books out of her locker. She shrugged, flipping her blond hair over her shoulder. “We might as well watch the action.”

Brenna and Melanie immediately moved down the hall towards the commotion. Hailey followed reluctantly. Finally they were able to find a good vantage point to watch “the action”, as Brenna called it.

In the middle of all the commotion, a blond sophomore named Jason Craywell was standing next to some lockers, clutching a stack of books to his chest. Two of the other sophomores were teasing him and pushing him around. His green eyes blazed, and Hailey could see him gritting his teeth. The kids at school often teased him about his beliefs, but he continued to stand strong. He made eye contact with Hailey, and she quickly looked away. She knew he was disappointed that she was simply watching and not intervening, but she didn’t know what else to do.

Hailey and Jason had known each other since they were in second grade in the same class. They didn’t truly become close until one day close to the end of their second grade year. It was Jason’s first day back at school after his mom’s death. During recess, Hailey found him crying behind one of the school buildings. They had eventually become best friends, and this friendship continued throughout elementary school and their first year of middle school. Not long into middle school, though, Hailey had become popular, and they began to grow further apart, especially when Jason became a Christian and began to become unpopular. Now that they were in high school, the two of them didn’t hang out very much at all, although they did talk occasionally, outside of school.

Hailey’s attention returned to the scene before her. The noisy laughter must have finally caught the attention of the teachers in the nearest classrooms. A few of the teachers came out to restore order, and the kids began scattering. Jason, looking slightly relieved, turned and walked out of the building.

“Guess the fun’s over,” Brenna sighed, faking disappointment.

Melanie ignored her, turning to Hailey. “Will you be able to sleep over Saturday night?”

“Yeah,” Hailey replied. “I’ll be there at six.” She looked distractedly at her phone. “I’ve got to go now, though. I have a babysitting job I need to get to.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow!” Melanie called to her as she wove her way to the front doors. Hailey turned back and waved, and then continued pushing forward through the crowd of teenagers.

~~~

“Where’s the popcorn?” Kaitlyn Monroe called from the kitchen. Melanie looked up from searching through the DVDs.

“There are some bags in the top part of the cabinet, far right,” she replied. She turned to Hailey, who was arranging the sleeping bags. “Do you think we should watch VeggieTales: The Penniless Princess?”

Hailey laughed. “No, I think it’s too scary for Kaitlyn,” she joked.

“I heard that!” Kaitlyn yelled from the kitchen. The other two girls laughed. They soon heard the popcorn popping in the microwave.

Hailey grinned slyly at Melanie. “I brought jalapeno kettle chips,” she confided.

Melanie licked her lips. “My favorite.”

“So, where’s Brenna?” Hailey asked. “I thought you invited her, too, and she never misses a party if she can help it.”

Melanie laughed. “Well, this time she couldn’t help it. They have family visiting this weekend. She begged her parents to let her come, but it didn’t work.”

“I’ve got popcorn!” Kaitlyn announced, slipping into the room, balancing a bowl of popcorn with one hand.

“Don’t drop it!” Hailey and Melanie chorused, laughing.

Kaitlyn frowned jokingly. “You doubt my abilities?” she asked incredulously. The bowl wobbled as she stepped towards the table.

“Yes,” Hailey stated, “and for a good reason.” Melanie laughed and took the popcorn from Kaitlyn. Hailey moved to the stack of DVDs that Melanie had been looking through. The other two girls joined her.

“Oh, here it is!” Melanie held up a DVD.

Hailey raised her eyebrows. “Finding Nemo?”

“Yes, I love that movie!” Kaitlyn settled down into a mountain of pillows that she had brought with her.

“You guys are so weird!” Hailey said, laughing. She had to admit that she wouldn’t mind watching the movie, though. She settled down on her sleeping bag.

Melanie put the disc in. “This is going to be one fun night.”

Gone

I’m pretty sure this is the very first story where I had one of the characters die. Since then, I believe there’s only been one other character that has died. So I’m mostly not violent. 😉 A sad story to write. Hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!

“Get out, Hilary!” I yelled. I pushed my little sister out of my room.

“I was just looking around!” Hilary whined.

“It doesn’t matter!” I shouted. I was fuming. “You shouldn’t be in my room at all!” I pushed my seven-year-old pest, I mean sister, the rest of the way out of my room, slamming the door shut behind her. I sighed, plopping down in my desk chair. I then began to work on my homework.

Just a minute or two later, I heard a knock on the door. “Who is it?” I called grumpily.

“Erika.”

I immediately recognized my mom’s voice. “Come in.”

My mom opened the door and slipped into my room, Hilary trailing in behind her. I gulped. My mom perched on the end of my bed, with Hilary on her lap. I could feel a lecture coming on.

“Erika,” my mother began sternly. “I think you owe an apology to your sister.” She held up her hand to ward off all of my protests. “I understand about you wanting her to stay out of your room, but you could have asked her to do it in a more kind and loving way.”

“But, Mom—” I began with a whine in my voice, until my mom cut me off with a glare. I turned to Hilary. “I’m sorry,” I grumbled grudgingly.

My mom sighed. “That’s good enough for now, but I expect a sincere apology later,” She nodded towards my school books as she stood up. “You can get back to your homework now.” She picked up Hilary and left my room, closing the door softly behind her.

I immediately jumped up from my desk chair and paced around the room, stomping furiously. I stopped by my bed and slammed my fist into the mattress viciously. “She always takes Hilary’s side!” I growled to no one in particular, glaring at my door. I finally sighed, frustrated, and slumped back into my chair to work on my homework.

~~~

I sat in silence during dinner, just picking at my food. I was still fuming. My dad had finally made it home, and Hilary was chattering on and on about everything that had happened to her that day. Needless to say, I was having a hard time keeping my temper under control. I really just wanted to get away from Hilary.

“How was your day, Erika?” my dad finally managed to ask when Hilary took a break to eat her hot dog and macaroni and cheese. Of course, it was her favorite meal.

“Fine,” I muttered, pushing back my chair. “May I be excused, please?” At least I’d said it politely.

Mom looked over at my plate. “You can probably eat some more of that food,” she told me in her no-nonsense voice. I slid my chair back into place.

“Did you have a bad day at school?” Dad asked. He wasn’t really concentrating on me; he was too busy trying to keep from laughing as Hilary’s hot dog began to drip ketchup on her plate.

“No, it was fine,” I mumbled. I ate several more bites of my food. After choking down the rest of the macaroni and cheese and half of my hot dog, Mom finally let me leave the table, so I hurried up to my room.

After the rest of the family finished dinner, I went downstairs to use the computer in the living room for my homework. I narrowed my eyes when I got in there. The computer was taken… by Hilary, of course. I checked the screen over her shoulder. Ugh. Of course. She was playing some princess game. She looked up at me, smiling.

“Look, Erika, I’m designing a princess and her horse. I’m making her look like me.” She paused, grinning proudly. “Do you think I could be a princess?”

I rolled my eyes. “You have to be the daughter of a king or queen or married to a prince. Now, get off the computer. I need to do my homework.”

“But I got here first!” she complained, putting on her pouty face.

My homework is more important than your silly princess game!” I snapped. I picked her up out of the chair and set her down on the couch. I sat down in the chair myself and immediately began working on my homework.

“Erika!” Hilary squealed, tugging on my arm. “Don’t close my—” Too late. I clicked the button to close the window with her princess game. She flopped down on the floor by my chair, sobbing loudly. Drama queen. I ignored her.

“Erika? Hilary?” Uh-oh. Mom poked her head into the room and spotted Hilary sobbing in a heap on the floor. Of course, she fell for Hilary’s drama queen act. “Hilary! Oh, what’s wrong, honey?”

What happened next was totally predictable. Hilary ratted on me, but completely exaggerated the whole thing, painting me as the mean, scary bully, while she was the absolutely innocent angel. She was sobbing throughout the entire story. I do have to admit that she’s a pretty good actor. She was pretty convincing. Almost.

Unfortunately, my mom bought the entire performance. She comforted Hilary, and told her that she should stop crying. Then she turned a steely glare on me. “And you, young lady, will go to your room immediately. I’ll be up there to talk to you in a minute.” She turned back to Hilary. Luckily, I had enough sense to remember not to stomp up the stairs or slam my door. I flopped down on my bed.

It had hardly been a minute before my mom came into my room, a frown pasted on her face. I stayed where I was, staring up at the ceiling. She perched on the edge of my bed again and studied me.

“I’m very disappointed in you, Erika. You really need to work on loving your sister more. I understand that sometimes little sisters can be annoying, I had three of them, but, since you’re older, we expect you to be more mature, especially now that you’re in eighth grade. Is that clear?”

I reluctantly said what I knew that she wanted me to say. “Yes, ma’am.”

My mom looked at me thoughtfully. “Maybe you should read First Corinthians 13 tonight.”

I sighed and nodded, my fingers crossed behind my back. I might read just enough to be able to give my mom a short summary in the morning. I don’t mind church stuff, but I didn’t want to read anything that my mom thought would help me be nice to Hilary.

Mom stood up. “Dad’s playing Go Fish with Hilary, so you can use the computer for your homework if you still need to.” She patted my knee, standing up. “Think about what I said, Erika.” She left my room quietly, closing the door gently behind her.

~~~

The Wednesday night youth group meeting is one of my favorite parts of the week. That’s mostly because I get to hang out with my friends. Our youth pastor, Keith Jenkins, is pretty cool, too. He’s only twenty-five, so he’s really good at making his lessons interesting to us. He’s also really good to talk to.

That’s why, when I got to church, I headed straight to the youth worship room instead of the fellowship room. I knew that the worship room was where Mr. Jenkins stayed until about fifteen minutes before the service started.

“Mr. Jenkins?” I called when I peered into the worship area. He looked up from reviewing his notes about the sermon and smiled.

“Erika! Come on in.” He sat down on one of the chairs and patted the one next to him. I came in, letting the door shut behind me. He motioned me over. “Sit down. Do you have something on your mind?”

I looked down at my hands. I’m not very good at opening up to people; it doesn’t feel very natural to me. “Uh, kind of.”

He leaned towards me. “Go ahead. And, remember, anything you tell me is confidential; I won’t tell anyone about anything unless you tell me otherwise.”

“Well,” I hesitated, “I’ve been having trouble with my sister.” I told him everything that had happened, starting with Hilary in my room. “She’s just so annoying. She’s such a pest!”

Mr. Jenkins nodded. “I understand. Sometimes it’s really hard to get along with our siblings.”

“Sometimes!” I protested. “She’s always bothering me!”

He laughed. “But you do see your sister a lot, which makes her a very good candidate for a really close friend.”

I snorted. Not very ladylike, I know. “No way. I’ll never be able to be friends with Hilary. She gets on my nerves so much. Sometimes, I wish… I wish she’d never been born!”

Mr. Jenkins studied me. His face was dead serious now. “You may feel that way now, but someday you’ll realize how much you really need her and love her.”

~~~

About halfway through homeroom the next morning, the intercom buzzed. Mrs. Walton, my homeroom teacher, was clearly indignant at the interruption, but she replied anyway. “Yes?”

“Please send Erika Gardner to the office immediately.” the voice requested, crackling over the speaker.

Mrs. Walton nodded at me. I was immediately the center of attention as I stood up to leave. Ugh. I hate it when other people stare at me, and they were all wondering what I had done. I quickly escaped into the hall, my mind racing. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done (at least, not lately) that would be severe enough to force me to go to the principal’s office. Most of the time, I’m a pretty good kid, except for a few mistakes every once and a while, like the time in third grade when I dared Donny to go down the playground slide on his back, head first. Not good. I got in trouble big time. There was also the time last year, seventh grade, when Cindy and I started a food fight. That was fun. But I couldn’t think of anything I’d done lately.

Finally I reached the principal’s office and walked in. Uh-oh. Something must have been really wrong, because both of my parents were there. Both of their faces were pale, and my mom’s eyes looked puffy and swollen, like she had been crying.

The principal stood up and nodded at me. “I’ll leave the three of you alone.” She left the room, closing the door behind her.

I glanced nervously at my parents. Something was going on, and whatever it was, it was definitely not good. My mom looked over at my dad, and he reluctantly took over.

“Sit down,” he told me. I obeyed. He took a deep breath and began. “After the Johnsons picked Hilary up to take her to school, they were involved in a car accident. Hilary died in the crash.” He was clearly having a difficult time.

I opened my mouth to protest, wanting to say something that would help Hilary not be dead, but no sound would come out. The room started to spin before my eyes, and I gripped the chair, my knuckles getting white. I could hear my parents talking to me, but they sounded really far away. “No,” I was finally able to whisper hoarsely as the room stopped spinning. “No!” I yelled, sobbing hysterically. “Hilary can’t be dead! She can’t! She can’t…” My voice faded away into choking sobs.

~~~

I diligently went to Hilary’s funeral that Saturday, but when we got back home, I threw myself down on my bed, sobbing. I remembered what Mr. Jenkins had said on Wednesday night, the day before Hilary died. Boy, was he right. I really did love Hilary, deep down inside. Sometimes you never know what you got till it’s gone.

 

“They say you never know what you got till it’s gone…”

Gone-tobyMac-

Chloe – Part V

The final part in the Chloe story! Please let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoy it. Click for Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

Jen and I slipped into the living room after dinner while our parents were talking. I heard her flop down on the couch. “Your parents are so going to let you go to public school.”

I snorted. “What makes you say that?”

“They’re practically hanging on my parents’ every word,” she pointed out. “They’re not really exchanging notes on raising blind kids. It’s more like they’re asking my parents for advice.”

I thought about it for a minute. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’ll be awesome if they let me go to Thatcher.”

“You have a crush on John, don’t you?” she teased, laughing.

“What makes you say that?” I asked, surprised. Nobody really knows how to read my feelings, not even my parents most of the time.

She giggled. “Hey, I’m a fellow blind person. I can tell what others have on their minds a lot of the time. You’re hoping you’ll get to go to Thatcher to be with John.”

“And…” I prompted.

“And because you want to be normal,” she added, a bit of the levity falling out of her voice. “You know that it won’t really happen, right?”

“I know,” I replied, sighing. “But it’s not just being normal, I also want my parents to just treat me like I’m normal.”

I heard her sigh. “It took my parents a while to do that. They have to learn, just like you have to learn how to respond to change in your own way. Sometimes it’s really hard for them to realize that they can’t hold on to their image of you as a poor blind girl and that they have to let go.” She took a deep breath and let go. “You have to let go of that false identity, too. You can’t let the label ‘blind’ define you your entire life.”

I nodded slowly, then remembered that she couldn’t see me. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Chloe, Jen!” my mom called from the dining room. “Could you girls come in here?”

We walked into the dining room, which my mom had dressed up really nice for our guests. One of her fancy tablecloths had been laid out, along with the nice silverware and real china, well, for everybody except me. My mom didn’t really trust me around breakable things.

“Chloe,” my dad began, “we’ve been talking to Jen’s parents about how you want to go to public school, and they’ve given us lots of helpful tips. They think that you’re probably responsible enough to be able to go to public school, so…” He took a deep breath. “We’ve decided to let you go to public school at Thatcher this year.”

“Really?” I asked, hiding my excitement.

“Yes,” my mom told me. “You know that this will be a really big commitment, right? You’ll have to work very hard on your schoolwork and keep your grades up, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I agreed. I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to public school.

———-

I walked carefully down the high school hallway, my cane tapping gently against the lockers. My first week at Thatcher had been a tough one, but I had mostly figured out how to get around the school. Most of my classes were pretty easy, since, with my mom’s homeschooling, I was a little ahead of the class. My teachers were really nice, too, and super helpful. Most of the kids acted like my cane was poisonous or like I had a disease or something, avoiding me. I didn’t mind that much. I still hadn’t made any friends, but being a loner didn’t bother me.

A locker slammed almost directly in front of me. I went wide around the area where the locker had slammed to avoid running into the person. I felt a foot hit my shin, and I stumbled, slamming into the hard floor. Laughter rang out around me. I could feel my face burning.

“You need to learn how to walk, blind kid,” a taunting voice said to my left. Giggles reached my ears. I felt somebody grab my shoulders and yank me up off the floor. The next thing I knew, I lost my breath as he slammed me into a locker. There was more laughter, and I could feel the anger bubbling up inside of me.

“Leave her alone, Brian,” a slightly familiar-sounding voice called, and I heard footsteps approaching. The guy holding me, Brian, I guess, loosened his grip and stepped back.

“I was just messing around,” he protested.

“Whatever,” the voice snorted. “Are you okay, Chloe?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, John,” I replied.

“How’d you know who it was?” Brian asked, surprised.

John nudged me with his elbow. “She has a built-in voice recognition system, right?”

I laughed. “Yeah.” John led me down the hall towards the front door. “Thanks,” I whispered in his ear.

“No prob,” he told me. “Besides, what are friends for?”

The End

Chloe – Part IV

This short story is one of my favorites, but it’s fourteen pages long, so I’ll be posting it in parts. Please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy! Click for Part I, Part II, and Part III.

“Hi, Mom,” I said cheerfully as I slid into my seat at the dining room table. “What’s for dinner?”

“Spaghetti and meatballs,” she replied. I could smell the sauce and the pasta in the air, but I knew she liked it when I asked, like a normal kid, instead of saying something like, “Oh, I love spaghetti and meatballs!” Sometimes it makes her uncomfortable when I show how much I can figure out without my eyesight.

“I’m home!” my dad called, slamming the door into the garage. I heard him clomp into the kitchen. “Hi, honey,” he said to my mom. I heard them kiss and could barely keep from gagging. He came over to the kitchen table. “Hi, Chloe. How was your day?” He leaned over and hugged me.

“Good,” I told him. “I got a lot done.”

“Good,” he replied. I could hear a smile in his voice. Unlike my mom, he didn’t treat me like I was fragile all the time. He treated me like a normal person.

“I went for a walk in the park down the street, and I met a blind girl,” I told him. It wasn’t exactly a lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth either. “She was really nice. I was wondering if you could convince Mom to let her and her parents come over sometime. I’d really like to get to know her better.” I knew my dad would at least mention it to my mom, and, if he agreed, he’d convince her, too. She always listened to him.

“Sure, Chloe,” he agreed. “It sounds great. I’m glad you’re getting to know other blind people. It’ll be good for you and probably pretty helpful.”

You have no idea, I thought. “Yeah, you’re probably right, Dad,” I said aloud.

He grinned. “You know I am.”

———-

Later that night, when I was up in my room, my mom came and sat on the end of my bed. “Be sure to tell your friend that she and her parents can come over tomorrow night for dinner,” she reminded me.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, hiding my grin. I was so happy that everything was working out. My mom kissed my forehead, then, after a short pause, left the room and went downstairs. I reached for the phone and punched in John’s number.

“Hello?” a high female voice asked when I picked up the phone. I frowned. This was definitely not John, and it didn’t sound like Jen. I gulped.

“Hi, can I talk to John?” I asked nervously.

“Who is this?” the lady asked suspiciously.

“Tell him that it’s Chloe,” I replied, trying to sound pleasant. Really, I was nervous, but I tried not to let it show.

There was a long pause as I heard the person on the other end set down the phone. “Okay, he’s coming,” she told me.

A few seconds later John came on the phone. “Hi, Chloe, sorry about that,” he told me.

“Who was that?” I asked curiously.

“Oh, that was my aunt, Jen’s mom,” he replied. “Okay, we just moved into my room, and I now have you on speaker phone so Jen can hear too.”

“Great,” I said.

“So how’d it go?” Jen asked impatiently.

I laughed. “You and your parents are officially invited to dinner at our house tomorrow night,” I told her.

“Awesome!” she exclaimed. “Did they give any specific reasons?”

“My dad said that he thinks it’s great for me to get to know other blind kids, and it’s apparently helpful for them to get to talk to other parents with blind kids.”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what my parents say. I guess we’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Chloe – Part III

This short story is one of my favorites, but it’s fourteen pages long, so I’ll be posting it in parts. Please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy! Click for Part I and Part II.

The next day I was at the park bench again, waiting eagerly and listening for the sound of John’s footsteps. I had left the house while my mom was out with some of her friends, so I had easily made it out of the house. Finally, I heard John’s footsteps, along with another pair of footsteps that I didn’t recognize. They stopped right in front of me.

“Hi, Chloe. I already found an open picnic table. You ready?” John asked.

“Yeah.” I stood up. “Who’s with you?” I asked.

“I told you that she’d notice.” The girl’s voice had a hint of laughter in it.

“Yeah,” John agreed reluctantly. “Chloe, this is my cousin that I told you about, Jennifer. Jen, this is Chloe… oh, I don’t know your last name.”

“Caldwell,” I told him.

“Chloe Caldwell,” John repeated, grinning.

“Nice to meet you,” I told Jen.

“You too,” she replied. “Are you guys ready to get started?”

“Yeah,” John told her. “Chloe, Jen’s going to help us out. She’s had a lot of experience with these sorts of things, especially with her in the same situation as you.” We strolled over to the picnic table that John had picked. I explained everything to Jennifer that had happened, about my argument with my mom. I could tell that she understood.

We reached the picnic table and sat down. I heard Jennifer rest her elbows on the table. “Do you have any ideas, Jennifer?” I asked.

“Ugh. Please, just call me Jen. Only teachers call me Jennifer. Although my parents call me Jennifer when they’re mad, too.” I heard her lean forward, her arms brushing against the table. “My parents were the same as yours when I decided that I wanted to go to public school. I think that it might help if your parents could talk to my parents about this.”

“Do you really think that would help?” I asked hopefully.

“Yeah,” Jen replied. “So, how are you going to get our parents together?”

I thought for a second, and then an idea popped into my head. “I guess I can just ask my mom if a blind friend and her parents could come to dinner some night. I know they like talking to other parents with blind kids. And she encourages me to be friends with other blind people, so it’ll probably work.”

“Sounds good,” Jen agreed. “Why don’t you do that, and then you can call us and tell us how it goes.” She slipped a small sheet of paper to me. I felt Braille numbers on it. “Here’s my number,” she told me. “John knows how to set up a conference call, so we can all talk at the same time.”

“Got it,” I said. “I’ll go get to work.”

Chloe – Part II

This short story is one of my favorites, but it’s fourteen pages long, so I’ll be posting it in parts. Please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy! Click here for Part I.

Silence. I could imagine him gaping at me. The silence only lasted about thirty seconds before he spoke. “That explains it.”

I was confused. “Explains what?”

“Explains why you weren’t making eye contact while we were talking.” I could hear the smile in his voice, and my jaw dropped. He must’ve notice the surprised look on my face. “What’s wrong?”

It’s just…” I hesitated. “Most people act totally different towards me when they find out that I’m blind. They either ignore me because they don’t know how to react, or they treat me like a little kid or like I’m made out of glass. But, you—you’re acting exactly the same!”

He laughed again. “”My cousin’s blind, so I’ve learned a lot about all of that. She hates it when people treat her different just because she’s blind. So I’ve gotten practice with treating her ‘normal’.” He paused. “It sounds like your mom could use a couple lessons in that.”

“Definitely,” I told him, and began telling him everything that had happened, up until he had sat on the bench.

“Whoa,” he said, interrupting me. “So your mom doesn’t know where you are?”

“Uh, no,” I admitted reluctantly.

“You’d better get home before your mom goes nuts. It’s already been about half an hour.”

“I guess so.” I sighed, standing up. I wasn’t looking forward to going home.

I heard him stand up, too. “I’ll walk you home.”

“I don’t need any help!” I snapped.

He laughed. “I know. But, from what you said, I think we live in the same neighborhood. I’m heading that way anyway.”

I could feel the heat rising on my face. “Oh,” was all I could say. I hesitated. “I’m sorry for snapping at you— wait, I don’t even know your name.”

“I’m John,” he told me. “I don’t know your name either.”

“I’m Chloe.”

We walked back over towards my house. John was great, not trying to help me unless I asked him to. We talked on the way home, too, and found out that we had a lot in common, especially a love for books and reading.

“So, do you use audio books to read?” he asked as we strolled down the street. I nodded. There was a long pause, just the sound of our footsteps and the tap-tap of my long feeler-cane. He finally broke the silence.

“I was just wondering, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but why are you blind?”

I’d never really talked to anyone about being blind or anything like that. This was new territory for me. But I realized that I didn’t mind opening up to John; it felt like we had known each other for ages. So I told him. “I was born blind.”

“So you’ve never been able to see?” he asked. I nodded. “Same with my cousin. What number is your house?” He changed the subject abruptly.

“368.” I had memorized it a long time ago.

“Then it’s this next house,” he told me. “I only live about four houses down. Do you have one of those scanners that reads books and things?” I nodded. “Then here’s my number. Call me later and let me know how it goes.” He pushed a slip of paper into my hand, and then I heard him jog ahead of me down the street. My cane thumped against the familiar wooden fence. I hoped I wouldn’t get in too much trouble.

As soon as I opened the front door, my mom was hugging me and crying into my hair. “Oh, Chloe,” she sobbed. “I was so worried. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay, Mom. See, I’m fine,” I insisted.

“I know, but that was very irresponsible of you. What if something had happened to you? Why don’t you go to your room for a little while.” I nodded and went up to my room without any fuss.

I guess my mom doesn’t realize that my room is my favorite room in the whole house. I spend most of my time in it, and all of my gadgets are in there: my book scanner, talking computer (I named the voice ‘Bob’), and my Braille books. I read the Braille books sometimes, but other times I like to just listen to the books.

When I got into my room, I pulled out my book scanner and scanned John’s number into my computer. “Bob” read off the numbers to me, and I pressed them into the phone. I waited while it rang.

“Hello?” It sounded like him, but I figured that I should check.

“Hi, this is Chloe. Can I talk to John?”

“Oh, it’s me, Chloe. So…” He was waiting.

“It wasn’t too bad. She was super upset when I got home, so she sent me to my room as punishment, except it’s not a punishment for me.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I guess not. Do you spend most of your time in your room?”

“Yeah. All of my gadgets are in it.” I couldn’t figure out what to say next, and I guess John couldn’t either, because an awkward silence followed. I searched for something to say, but I couldn’t think of anything. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair.

“Okay, now that’s what I call an awkward silence,” he finally said. I laughed, relieved. “Did you ask about going to school again?”

“No. She was too upset. She would definitely not have reacted well.”

“Do you want to meet at the park tomorrow so we can try to figure out how to convince her?” he asked.

“Really? I mean, you’d help me?” I was surprised.

“Yes, of course. So, what time do you want to meet tomorrow?”

Chloe – Part I

This short story is one of my favorites, but it’s fourteen pages long, so I’ll be posting it in parts. Please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

I flopped down on my oversized bean bag on the floor of my room. I was completely bored. Summer was almost over, and it had been like every other summer of my entire life. I had hardly left the house, mostly because my mom wouldn’t let me go anywhere. She was always worried that something would happen to her “poor little Chloe”. That, and I didn’t have any friends to do anything with. I had hoped that this summer would be different, since I had just finished my freshman year of high school.

I could hear the kids across the street playing, and wished, for the millionth time, that I could be normal like them. It was a wish I knew could never come true, but I still wished anyway.

“Chloe?” I heard my mom call from behind the door.

“Come in,” I responded. I heard her open the door and walk in. The bed creaked when she sat on the edge. People say that she’s pretty. I just love her soft voice.

“What did you want to talk about, sweetie?” Mom asked. My sensitive ears picked up the curiosity and worry in her voice.

“Mom, do you think that I could go to public or private school this year? I think I’m ready to stop home schooling.” I immediately sensed her tensing up. Just great.

“Oh, honey, I think it might be better if we home school for a few more years. High schools are hard enough to get around in even if you can see. For a blind girl,” she hesitated, “they can be really dangerous.”

“But, Mom—” I began, and then stopped. I took the whine out of my voice and started over again. “You know that I’m not totally defenseless! I could figure it out.”

“Chloe…” My mom paused, and then continued reluctantly. “It’s not just that. A lot of times kids alienate people who are different.” She sighed. “I just don’t want you to get hurt, either physically, mentally, or emotionally.”

I could feel the anger rising in my chest. “Mom, you can’t protect me my entire life. Just because I’m blind, you try to keep the world away from me! I don’t need you to do that! I can handle it. I’m older. How am I going to learn if you’re always trying to shield me from everything?” I was shouting now, and I couldn’t stop. “You won’t even let me leave the house! I feel like a prisoner in my own house!” Finally, I ran out of breath. I grabbed my cane, the one I use to help me feel my way around, and stormed out of the room and out of the house. I could hear my mom calling me, but I ignored her and kept going. I could feel the hot, angry tears streaming down my face.

I walked to the end of the block and stopped. The only times I had ever left my house, we had been in a car, going on trips or to doctor’s appointments, and I had no idea where I was going. I could tell that I was at an intersection, but I had no idea where. I heard someone push the crossing button on the pole.

“Excuse me?” I called.

“Yes?” It was a woman’s voice, clear and strong.

“Is there a park or anything around here?” I asked. I figured that a park would be a good place to sit and think.

“Sure,” the lady responded. “I’ll take you there.” She led me across the street by my arm. I went with her reluctantly. I really just needed her to tell me where it was, not take me there, but I followed her anyway.

“Here it is,” she told me. “Turn left here and you’ll be in the park.”

“Thank you so much,” I thanked her.

“No problem. It was on my way anyway.” I could hear the smile in her voice. “Will you be able to find your way home?”

“Yes. Thanks again,” I told her and turned down the path, the sand and pebbles crunching under my feet. The birds were singing, and I could hear squirrels scampering in the trees. My cane hit something hard. I felt it and realized that it was a park bench. I sat down on it and started thinking. I was so deep in thought that I didn’t hear the footsteps approaching my bench, not even when they stopped right in front of me.

“Hi, can I sit down here?” The young male voice startled me, interrupting my thoughts. I turned towards his voice.

“Sure,” I told him. I heard him sit at the other end of the bench. I felt pretty uncomfortable.

“Did I surprise you?” he asked. I could feel his eyes on me.

“A little,” I admitted. “I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t hear you coming.” I didn’t know if he had noticed that I was blind yet. If he hadn’t, he probably would soon.

“Are you in high school? I’ve never seen you at Thatcher.” He seemed genuinely curious.

“Yeah, I’m in high school, but I’m home schooled,” I told him.

“Oh,” he paused. I could tell he wasn’t sure what to say next. You don’t have to see to know these things. “So, let me guess. You’re a… junior?”

I laughed. “No.” I’m going to be a sophomore this year.” I hesitated. “So, what grade are you in?”

“I’m a junior.” He paused again. “So, do you like home schooling?”

“It’s okay, most of the time. But sometimes I wish my parents would let me go to public school,” I confessed. “So you go to Thatcher?” I asked quickly, changing the subject. “What are you involved in? Sports?”

“I play a little football and baseball,” he replied, seeming eager to change the subject again. “Wait, why won’t your parents let you go to Thatcher?”

“Because my mom thinks that I’ll get teased and trampled and everything. She’d be worried sick about her ‘little girl’ in the ‘huge high school’.”

He laughed. “Thatcher’s not that big. Anyway, why’s your mom so worried about you at high school? I mean, there’re lots of girls at Thatcher who are smaller than you, and they survive. And it’s pretty easy to get around Thatcher, once you figure it out. So why’s she so worried about you?”

I gulped. I had been expecting this moment, when I would have to tell him that I was blind, but I still didn’t know what to say. So I just blurted it out. “Because I’m blind.”

Interviews from the Writer’s Desk – Iris O’Gara

This is another of the characters from my Teen Warriors series that I’m working on, which is the same series that Haven Agnelli is in. Please note that all characters are subject to change. 😉 Enjoy, and please let me know what you think in the comments below.

———

I press the intercom button on my desk. “Benedict? Do you have the schedule for today?”
The device crackles. “Yes, Bri. Do you want me to come in?”
“Yes, please,” I reply.
Benedict enters my office, a sheet of paper in his hand. I raise an eyebrow at my secretary. “Is that all of the schedule?” I ask.
He nods. “Just some paperwork and the interview with Iris O’Gara.”
I sigh. Another boring day. At least I’ll have time to work on more stories. As long as I don’t start playing Solitaire on my laptop. “Do you know when she’ll be here?”
“She’s outside waiting right now,” he tells me.
“Oh! Well, then, send her in,” I say. Benedict nods and leaves the office. I begin preparing for the interview. The door opens again and I look up, expecting to see Iris, but instead, Benedict is standing in the doorway. He walks over and sits down in the chair in front of my desk, normally reserved for interviews.
“Benedict?” I ask, confused. “Where’s Iris?”
“Unfortunately, I can only do optical illusions,” Benedict says in a laughing female voice. “Otherwise I would enjoy this longer”
The next instant, Benedict transforms into a pretty teenage girl. Her long, wavy dark brown hair, creamy brown skin, and sparkling green eyes give her a somewhat exotic look. She smiles at me, her eyes twinkling. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.”
I grin. “That’s okay. You must be Iris.” I start taking notes on her appearance. Unlike her friend and partner, Haven, she’s not very tall; a little less than average height, I’d say. “Are you ready for our interview?”
Iris smiles. “You bet I am. Haven told me some of the questions you asked her, so I’ve given them some thought.”
“Good,” I tell her. “I’ll probably use most of the same questions, although I may add in some others.” She nods. “Okay, first question. How old are you?”
“Eighteen,” she says, grinning.
“Can you tell me about your family?”
“I’m tied for the second youngest in my family. I have two older brothers, a twin brother, and a younger brother. All of us are at least two years apart, except me and my twin. And, yes, I grew up in a house full of noisy boys. My oldest brother, Calo, is twenty-three, five years older than me, and my other older brother, Lory, is twenty, two years older than me. Then there’s Ozel, my twin, who’s younger than me by two minutes, and Yemo, the youngest at fifteen. Yemo’s the quietest, while all the others are really rowdy. WE grew up roughhousing together, so that’s what I blame my competitive spirit and troublesomeness on. My mom died while giving birth to Yemo, so my dad raised us. He worked a lot, but he always found time to take care of us and spend time with us. Our aunt came to the house whenever we needed a babysitter, so she was a lot like a replacement mom.” Iris smiled as she finished. “Sorry. My family’s so big that I can talk about them for ages.”
I smile. “That’s perfectly fine.” I check my question list. “Any more to your back story I should know.”
She shakes her head. “Not really.”
“Okay, then, what is your Gift and its limitations?” I grin. “Although I already know some of it.”
She laughs. “I can create optical illusions. They can be as simple as a shadow on a while or a spot on the floor, or as big as a whole army of soldiers, with the occasional unicorn or giant mixed in. I can change my appearance, and other people’s, and I can make things invisible, too. My only limits are that anything I create isn’t solid, it’s just an illusion. So if I make a sword, yes, I can “hold” it, but it certainly won’t hurt anybody. Same with that mythical army. And, like I mentioned earlier, I can only do optical illusions.”
I nod, finishing my notes. “How would you honestly describe your personality?”
Iris purses her lips thoughtfully. “I guess I could say that I’m kind of… reckless, I guess. I’ve never done anything horrible, but I find it hard to turn down a dare. Danger kind of excites me, and sometimes I’m accused of not thinking very much before I do something. I’m always up for an adventure or a practical joke, and I have a good sense of humor. I’m definitely –” she laughs “ –outgoing, and cheerful, and I’m pretty good at being friendly and nice. My dad always says I’m the perfect hostess.”
“What are some of your faults or bad characteristics?” I ask.
Iris smirks. “Well, I definitely don’t think things through very much before I act sometimes. Like I said, I’m pretty reckless, and I’m often over-confident. Sometimes I’m so curious I become a pest, and many, many people have described me as overbearing, annoying, and thoughtless. I can be loud, too, and sometimes my outgoing-ness bothers others, although I try to balance that out by being friendly.”
“What are your strengths?” I ask her, grabbing another sheet of paper. I’m getting plenty of good notes.
“Well,” she begins, “I guess I’m brave, and I always try to be friendly and meet new people and make them feel comfortable. I always finish what I start, and put my whole heart into what I do. I’m crafty, sneaky, and sly, which is useful when I need to spy.”
“Last one,” I announced. “What is the Name the King gave you?”
Iris nods, grinning. “The Illusion.”
I grin back at her. “Thanks so much for this interview. It was great to meet you.”
She smiles. “You’re welcome. And sorry about the Benedict thing. I’m a bit of a practical joker.”
I laugh. “No apology needed. I enjoyed that.”
Time to get back to work on the boring stuff.

The Answer

“Please wake up, Betsy,” Alice whispered.

Alice gripped her sister’s hand as she listened to the heart monitor beep. She hadn’t slept in days while her sister was in the hospital, and her face was pale and drawn. Her sister’s white face looked so small on the pillow. Alice bowed her head in silent prayer.

“God, please, heal my sister,” she pleaded silently. “I need her so much. My parents told me when I was young that you listen to every prayer, and that you’ll answer. I know I haven’t been the most faithful,” she gulped back tears, “but I need you to heal Betsy.” Alice laid her head on the hospital bed, struggling to hold back tears. She drifted off to sleep, not noticing when the heart monitor’s beeping slowed and then, finally, stopped.

“Miss Alice?” a nurse asked softly, gently shaking Alice awake. Alice sat up, struggling to hold back a yawn. She looked down at her sister’s still figure. The hand she was still grasping was icy cold.

“I’m sorry, Miss Alice,” the nurse whispered sympathetically. “She-she died only a few minutes ago.

Later that day, Alice dragged her feet in through the autumn leaves that had fallen and covered the sidewalk. She looked up at the gray cloud-covered sky. A single raindrop fell and landed on the end of her nose. She wiped it away harshly.

“God, why didn’t you answer me? I asked you to heal Betsy, but you didn’t,” she whispered angrily.

A voice deep inside her soul whispered to her. I did answer. But I have something better in mind for both of you. Just trust Me.