I'm sort of in the process of just working on what is speaking to me at a particular moment. That's very common for me right now. --Bruce Springsteen, January 9th, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

"An Elf With Down Syndrome"

Blogging Friends.... Well, I did it!! I complete my 2014 New Year's Resolution of writing twelve fictional books in 365 days!! Wow. Me, the one step forward, two steps back flawed personality type?! I actually started something.... And finished it?! This calls for a Happy Dance!! In my wooden "office" chair. As though I am "hip swaying" to Elvis Presley's version of "Here Comes Santa Claus". With my arms up like Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. Oh. Yeah, wow!! I am truly proud of myself for this accomplishment!! Twelve fictional books. In 2014. And keeping this New Year's Resolution has not been easy.... Especially toward the end!! In July? We switched my sister and brother's bedrooms up. In August? We experienced a last hurrah of Summer when our dear, dear friends drove up from Idaho. In October? If memory serves me right--and it seldom ever does!!--we began watching my nieces, "Amethyst" and "Opal" three days a week. But I managed!! Somehow!! I am already excitedly anticipating 2015--and have been for months!!--because I intend to write twelve more fictional books!! Stay tuned!! Love you later.

Sorry for posting this fictional book eight days into December. Eight freakin' days!! First we were busy, busy, busy. And then it has seemingly taken me longer to edit this fictional book than write it!! Ridiculous!!

I have an adult brother--named Michael--who has Down syndrome!! He is my best friend, roomie, and a far better person than me!! Several months back? I wrote an Independence Day-themed fictional book and named a character Brayden after somebody who I very much love. Shortly thereafter? My youngest brother asked that I name a character Michael!! "Can he have Down syndrome.... Like you?" I asked. Michael did not hesitate. "Yeah," he answered. "Can I write it for October?" I asked. That is when Down Syndrome Awareness Month is!! Michael only had one request. That I write this fictional book for December!! Michael had his logical reason why, but I will not mention it here!! I then decided to make this fictional book Christmas-themed!! Because I can!! And it was quite the nerve wrecking story for me to write!! Why? Because while I usually write for God's Glory and myself? This time? I was also writing for Michael!! And I did not want to disappoint him!! But I received the Michael Seal of Approval!! Score!! Although Michael love, love, loves music, he does not play {Or build!!} most of the instruments mentioned throughout this fictional book!! And I do not play anything!! So that being mentioned. I am quite ignorant on musical notes, melody, harmony, rhythm and such!! Anyhoo. I did quiz Michael on his favorite Christmas songs. That was fun!! I included most of his favorites in this fictional book--minus "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"--so you have my full permission to sing along!!

Disclaimer. This is purely a fictional story. Although I know that children and adults with Down syndrome are small/short, I mean zero disrespect in any way, shape, or form to these Beautifully Unique individuals by making Michael Thomas an elf!! I just thought I'd express this!!

"An Elf With Down Syndrome"

The North Pole is a place where temperatures are freezing cold and never-ending white snow piles clear up to your knees or higher. {Unless, of course, you are an elf!! Being small in size, the never-ending snow piles clear up to their chests or higher!!} It is a magical place where Santa Claus lives. His nine reindeer, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph fly as though they are unicorns. While wearing red-colored harnesses, they pull Santa Claus' green-painted sleigh around the world every single Christmas Eve as he delivers presents. It is where Santa's Workshop was built many, many, many years ago. And during Christmastime? Santa's Workshop is a very busy place as his elves create toys for every nice child. {And the naughty kids, too!!}

But an elf named Michael Thomas is different from all of Santa Claus' other helpers. {In more ways than one!!} Like all of Santa Claus' other elves, Michael Thomas is small in size. But he has brown-colored almond-shaped eyes. A long tongue. Michael Thomas' head is round. He has a short neck. Michael Thomas' pointy ears are small. He has a cute little button nose. The middle of Michael Thomas' small hands have one deep crease across them. He has a gap between his big toe and second toe. Blond-haired, Michael Thomas' smile has been known to spread Christmas cheer all around the North Pole!! This elf has Down syndrome!! And another way that Michael Thomas is different from all of Santa Claus' other helpers? Rather than create toys for children, he makes musical instruments!!

Michael Thomas builds complete drum sets. He makes harmonicas in every key available. Michael Thomas builds acoustic, bass and electric guitars. He creates keyboards. Michael Thomas builds red and green hand-painted maracas. All so that every musical instrument is ready to be delivered on Christmas Eve!! As a matter of fact. If it is a musical instrument {Bamboo flute? Violin? Bongo drums? The list goes on and on and on....} then Michael Thomas can definitely build it!! One December afternoon, young Rudolph--who was new at the North Pole--heard a steady rhythm coming from Santa's Workshop.

"What is that?" asked Rudolph, "Drum beats....? Where is it coming from?"

Rudolph listened curiously. Then he heard Michael Thomas' voice sing: "Little Baby, pa rum pa pum pum, I am a poor boy too, pa rum pa pum pum, I have no gift to bring, pa rum pa pum pum, that's fit to give our King, pa rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum, shall I play for You, pa rum pa pum pum, on my drum...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'Little Drummer Boy'!!"

Rudolph looked inside through a window. Well, he tried to, at least!! For the windowsill had white snow piled up on it!! So Rudolph could not see inside!! He balanced on his back legs and brushed it away with one front hoof.

"Michael Thomas?!" exclaimed Rudolph, "He is playing on a red-painted drum set!! Wow....!! He is very talented!! Michael Thomas really has some rhythm going!! And he can sing, too!!"

Just then Prancer--who was older and has lived at the North Pole for several years now--walked by. He overheard what Rudolph had said.

"Michael Thomas can play the drums and sing!!" announced Rudolph.

"Yes!!" explained Prancer, "You are absolutely correct!! That is our elf, Michael Thomas!! He builds musical instruments for every nice child who wants one!! {And the naughty kids, too!!} Then he plays Christmas songs on every musical instrument before Santa delivers them!! It is a years-long North Pole tradition around here!! Everybody has come to excitedly anticipate Michael Thomas' beautiful music!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of harmonicas. {First? It was in a C key. Second? It was in an E key. And third? It was in a G key.} Then they stopped. Soon Rudolph and Prancer heard Michael Thomas sing: "Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, over the fields we go, laughing all the way. Ha, ha, ha! Bells on bob tail ring, making spirits bright, what fun it is to ride and sing, a sleighing song tonight. Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, Hey! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to ride, in a one horse open sleigh...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'Jingle Bells'!!"

"Yes!!" explained Prancer, "Michael Thomas is very talented indeed!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of an acoustic guitar. Next? They heard the sound of a bass guitar. And last but not least? They heard the sound of an electric guitar. Then Michael Thomas sang: "We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we travel afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star, o star of wonder, star of night, star of royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to Thy perfect light...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'We Three Kings'!!"

"Correct!!" said Prancer.

"This is so much fun!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "Which musical instrument will Michael Thomas play next?! I wonder!! Which Christmas song will Michael Thomas sing next?! I hope it is 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'. That's my song, you know!!"

"I haven't a clue!!" smiled Prancer, "It is anybody's guess!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of maracas shaking. Then Michael Thomas sang: "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'Feliz Navidad'!!"

"Very good!!" replied Prancer, "That was a hard one to guess right!! But you did it!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of keyboards. {First? It was a sixty-one key keyboard. Second? It was a seventy-six key keyboard. And third? It was an eighty-eight key keyboard.} Then Michael Thomas sang: "Joy to the world! The Lord is come, let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'Joy To The World'!!"

"Correct!!" replied Prancer, "Michael Thomas has said that this Christmas song is fun to play on any musical instrument because it's fast paced!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of bamboo flutes. Then they stopped. Soon Michael Thomas sang: "On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven Swans a swimming, six Geese a laying, five golden rings! Four calling birds, three French Hens, two Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is '12 Days Of Christmas'!!"

"Correct!!" laughed Prancer, "Boy is that Christmas song hard to sing!! I can never remember where we are, the first day or the twelfth!!"

"Oh, but it is so much fun!!" said Rudolph, "Kind of silly. But so much fun!!"

Young reindeer!! Prancer thought, smiling, Their minds are filled with such wonder!! I love it!!

"Have you heard The Muppets sing '12 Days Of Christmas'?" asked Prancer, "It is so much fun!! Especially with Miss Piggy's crazy 'Ba-da-bum-bum' in the end!!"

"No, I have not heard it!!" answered Rudolph.

"Oh, you should!!" said Prancer, "You'll love it!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of violins. {Children's arm lengths can vary. So Michael Thomas builds violins in all kinds of sizes!! From 1/16 to 3/4.} Then Michael Thomas sang: "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet Head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'Away In A Manger'!!"

"Yes!!" said Prancer, "'Away In A Manger' is really fun for many small children to sing!! Do you know why? Because there are hand signals to it!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the sound of saxophones. Then they stopped. Soon Michael Thomas sang: "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it you would even say it glows, all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names, they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games, then one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came to say: 'Rudolph with your nose so bright won't you guide my sleigh tonight?' then how the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee, 'Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!'"

"It is my song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "Finally!! Michael Thomas played and sang 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'!!"

"Yes he did!!" said Prancer, "I like that song!!"

A few short minutes later, Rudolph and Prancer heard the steady rhythm of bongo drums. Green-painted, they were tall. Then Michael Thomas sang: "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior's birth, long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth, a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices. O night divine, O night when Christ was born, O night divine, O night, O night divine...."

"I know that song!!" exclaimed Rudolph, "It is 'O Holy Night'!!"

"You really know your Christmas songs!!" said Prancer, "Wow!! You have guessed every single song right!!"

Just then, Michael Thomas walked through Santa's Workshop's door and stepped outside. He was not carrying any musical instruments in his hands. The moment Michael Thomas' brown-colored almond-shaped eyes saw Rudolph, he noticed something different about him. Something unique. Unlike all of the other reindeer's black noses, Rudolph's was bright red!! Michael Thomas did not say a word. He just spread Christmas cheer and smiled at Rudolph. For Michael Thomas loved that this reindeer was one-of-a-kind. Just like him!! And the moment Rudolph saw Michael Thomas, he knew that this elf has Down syndrome. He knew that this elf was born different. Just like him!! Rudolph did not say a word, either. He just smiled back at Michael Thomas. For there was a definite "special needs" connection between them!! Finally, Michael Thomas broke the silence when he started singing "Wonderful Christmastime". And soon everybody sang along with!!

"The moon is right, the spirits up, we're here tonight, and that's enough, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, the party's on, the feelin's here, that only comes, this time of year, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, the choir of children sing their song, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding, ooh, ooh, we're simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, the word is out, about the town, so lift a glass, ahh, don't look down, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, the choir of children sing their song, they practiced all year long, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding, ooh, ooh, the party's on, the spirits up, we're here tonight, and that's enough, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, we're simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, the moon is right, the spirits up, we're here tonight, and that's enough, we're simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, oh, Christmastime."



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"An Unlikely Thanksgiving"

Blogging Friends.... There is a line in Toy Story 2 by Geri the Cleaner that goes something like this. "You can't rush art." That line has become a constant reminder to me as I write fictional books. "You can't rush art." I remind myself of these words every single month when I create fictional books, as art, well, it takes time!! I just need to be patient.... And write!! In the case of this month's Thanksgiving-themed fictional book? It took precisely one week. Seven freakin' days!! But then again. There was tons of living in between writing!! I baked Rose some dog cookies for Halloween. We watched my nieces "Amethyst" and "Opal" three days a week. I spent quality time with Rose. And every chance I had? I wrote!! Blam!! Now that is a lot of living.... Love you later.

"Creating beautiful mosaic artwork" with the broken, shattered pieces of my lifelong dream to be an author....

For my dear Blogging Friends who have children. You may print this story off and read it to them!! I am alright with that!! Enjoy!!

"An Unlikely Thanksgiving"

Thanksgiving. It is a day when many people set aside time to count every single blessing that God has given them!! One clear-sky, cold, sunny November morning, Emily, a long-furred white-colored Dalmatian/Siberian Husky mix with countless black spots who has floppy ebony-colored ears and blue eyes was happily exploring her fenced backyard. Several bushy-tailed squirrels often travel through there to climb tree branches, eat peanuts or hang upside down on birdfeeders like gold medal-winning Olympic gymnasts while licking seeds. {Especially during Autumn as they gather food for long Winters!!} And while most dogs chase squirrels until they run away scared, Emily is different. She wants to become friends with the visiting squirrels!! However. None of the squirrels know this about Emily. As soon as their round brown eyes see her, they always run.... Fast!! For none of the squirrels ever give Emily a chance. Rufus was no different.

This always hurts Emily's feelings and confuses her.

Why do the squirrels keep running away from me? she asks herself, I don't understand!! I am a nice dog!! I just don't understand!!

When Emily's eyes saw Rufus from across the backyard, her floppy ears perked. However. Just as she was thinking about walking toward him to bark a friendly "hello", he noticed the dog.

Oh no!! Rufus panicked, That dog is out again!! She will chase me up a tree!! I know it!! Oh, what if that dog catches me?! Run!! Run for your Life, Rufus!!

And that is exactly what he tried to do. Run. But Emily stopped him.

"Wait!!" she called, "Don't be scared!! I am not going to hurt you!! I promise!! Come back!! Please!! I will not even chase you away!! I just want to be your friend!! Please, come back!!"

Rufus stopped running. But he did not move a muscle. Instead? Rufus just stood there--as far away from Emily as he could possibly be--confused.

"Wait.... What?!" exclaimed Rufus in a high-pitched voice like Alvin, Simon and Theodore's from Alvin and the Chipmunks, "'Don't be scared'?! What are you talking about?! You're a dog!! And you want to be my friend?! This must be a trick, or something!! Why aren't you chasing me away?! Like all dogs do?"

Rufus was still not moving.

"No, this is not a trick!!" replied Emily, "I really do want to be your friend!! And not 'all' dogs chase squirrels away.... I, for one, never have!! So please give me a chance!! You'll quickly learn that I am outgoing, friendly, intelligent, sensitive, alert, active, gentle, and energetic!! {Now, how is that for positive character qualities?!} Please!! Do not be scared!!"

Slowly, nervously and cautiously, Rufus stepped closer to Emily.

"Come on!!" she encouraged.

Then, while walking a little faster--yet still very cautious!!--Rufus crept closer to Emily. Step by step by step.

Emily waited patiently, her floppy ears perked.

And, eventually? Rufus bravely walked across the backyard until he was face-to-face with Emily!! At last!! And, to his surprise, Emily kept her promise!! She did not chase him away!!

"Well, hi there!!" Emily began, "You finally made it over to me!! My name is Emily!! I'm a Dalmatian/Siberian Husky mix and I live here!! {Well. Actually, I live inside that house with Mama!! She is my owner!!} Mama takes good care of me!! What is your name?"

"Rufus," he answered shyly, "I am--as you already know--a squirrel. {An Eastern Gray squirrel, actually!!} I live from nest to nest--wherever I want, really!!--that I've built all by myself. See. I like to keep my nest clean, free of insects, and safe from predators!! Sometimes, I live up on a tree branch like birds do. But right now with the weather being cold? I live inside a tree hole!!"

"Wow!!" exclaimed Emily, "A tree hole?! Birds live in those, too!! Did you know that? Because one of our trees has a hole, and, last Spring, a mother Chickadee hatched her eggs in it!!"

"Yes, I did know that!!" said Rufus, "I sometimes use their leftover feathers for insulation to keep my tree holes warm!!"

"Cool!!" said Emily, "You are very clever, Rufus!!"

Then suddenly, every single fear, worry and doubt left Rufus' mind about Emily!! For he decided that she was safe, after all!!

Then--completely out of nowhere--Emily had an idea!!

"Next Thursday, November 26th, is Thanksgiving!!" she announced.

"What's that?" asked Rufus.

"You do not know about Thanksgiving?!" said Emily, a shocked tone in her voice.

"No," Rufus answered, "Should I?"

"Thanksgiving is when Mama invites all of her family, close friends and relatives over for a huge delicious-smelling feast!! Sadly? I am not allowed to eat any of it. Although.... Mama does always sneak me a little bit of boneless white turkey!! Which I love, by the way!!"

"White turkey?" asked Rufus, "What does that taste like? I've never eaten any white turkey before."

"You haven't?!" said Emily, a shocked tone in her voice, "Well, first off. Turkeys are big birds. Most people cook, eat, and serve them on Thanksgiving!! White turkey is the big bird's breast!! Some people say that dogs should not eat it. Why, you ask? Because turkey meat has too much fat in it, or something crazy like that. But Mama is a rebel!!"

"Oh," said Rufus, "We Eastern Gray squirrels eat birds, too!! It happens in the Springtime!! Eastern Gray squirrels eat downy-feathered nestling birds!! It is one of my very favorite seasonal treats!!"

"You eat helpless baby birds?!" said Emily, a shocked tone in her voice.

"Yes!!" replied Rufus, "Downy-feathered nestling birds are delicious!! Besides. Downy-feathered nestling birds are also one of the only ways we Eastern Gray squirrels eat meat!!"

"Really....?" said Emily, "I would hate it if I did not eat meat all year around!!"

"Now," said Emily, "About Thanksgiving!! This is how it works. Either you or I are supposed to invite each other over for this huge delicious feast!! But.... Since I'm a large-sized dog, I definitely will not fit inside your tree hole!! So you'll need to invite every single Eastern Gray squirrel you know--family, friends, relatives--here. I have an old abandoned red and blue-painted doghouse in my backyard that I'll clean up for our Thanksgiving Day meal!! Okay?"

"It will take some time, of course, to convince every single Eastern Gray squirrel that you--a dog!!--is outgoing, friendly, intelligent, sensitive, alert, active, gentle, and energetic," said Rufus, "Because.... I did not believe it at first!! I was sure that you were lying about wanting to be my friend!! They will, as well, I'm afraid."

"But you can do it!!" encouraged Emily, "Go on. Just tell them that I don't chase squirrels away, like most dogs do!!"

"I will try...." said Rufus, "I will try...."

Then--while feeling doubtful that he would successfully be able to convince all of his Eastern Gray squirrel family, friends and relatives about enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with a dog--Rufus ran off. Because try, Rufus did!! And several days later on Thanksgiving? Emily's backyard was filled with literally countless Eastern Gray squirrels!! And--each carrying food--they were bravely walking toward her doghouse!!

"Welcome!!" said Emily, "I am so very glad that you all could make it to my doghouse!! Happy Thanksgiving!!"

As everybody ate, Emily quickly learned that Rufus and the Eastern Gray squirrels brought a lot of unfamiliar foods. Like acorns. Sedges. Hickory nuts. Maple tree bark. Twigs. Samaras from maple trees. American Hornbeam seeds. Beechnuts. Cedar, hemlock, pine, and spruce seeds. American Holly. Hazelnuts. Forbidden birdseed that they stole from nature lover's hanging feeders. And chestnuts. But then they also brought some foods that were familiar to Emily. Such as grass. Pecans. Apples. Walnuts. Mushrooms. And unsalted peanuts.

Emily? She served some unfamiliar foods to Rufus and the Eastern Gray squirrels, as well. Like dry dog food. Potato peels that her Mama dropped on the kitchen floor. Fishy-smelling crunchy store-bought salmon dog biscuits. Baby carrots. Sliced cheddar cheese. Boiled broccoli. And, of course, juicy white turkey meat!!

Then, the unthinkable happened. Two completely different animal species {A Dalmatian/Siberian Husky mix and countless Eastern Gray squirrels!!} from two completely different worlds peacefully joined together!! Emily happily tried new foods. {Being a dog, she will eat almost anything!!} Rufus and the other Eastern Gray squirrels happily tried new foods, as well. {They especially loved that juicy white turkey meat!!} Everybody got to know each other. And since it was also Thanksgiving Day? With Emily's encouragement, everybody took turns listing things that they are grateful for!!         





Saturday, October 4, 2014

"The Wicked Witch"

Blogging Friends.... While writing fictional books, it often feels as though I am watching a movie play out within my own crazy, never shuts down head!! Odd, I know!! But while writing fictional books, I can "see" every character who I've created. Certain things that they do. Trees. Bushes. {Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!!} And while writing fictional books, it always feels as though I am the actor who plays every single character--girl or boy--as they leap to life out of my head!! Odd, I know!! But while writing fictional books, I literally get into my characters' heads!! Every. Freakin'. Time!! And as so many films are based on true stories? This fictional children's book is not exempt!! For it's {loosely} based on a true childhood story!! {See. When I was growing up, some oddball friends did, actually, tell me that my next door neighbor, Miss Chang, was a witch who lived in a haunted house. And, being as gullible as I am? I believed this story!! Then--several years later!!--I was blessed to know Miss Chang as a nice elderly Chinese/American lady!!} Now. As filmmakers always create changes to their based-on-a-true-story movies, I definitely did with mine. I added characters. I built a plot. I infused humor.... Love you later.

"Creating beautiful mosaic artwork" with the broken, shattered pieces of my lifelong dream to be an author....

For my dear Blogging Friends who have children. You may print this story off and read it to them!! I am alright with that!! Enjoy!!

"The Wicked Witch"

Autumn arrived, as Summer's seemingly long days with hot temperatures were at last over. Yes, the October air outside felt much more brisk than it had just months before!! Tree's leaves were changing colors everywhere from red, yellow, orange and brown. Soon, they will all fall off leaving nothing but bare branches!! Pumpkins had been harvested and were now a bright orange. Soon they will be gutted, carved and lit up on Halloween night!! Juicy sweet-tasting apples were once again ripe. Soon they will be peeled, cut up and baked into pies with cinnamon-sugar on top!! Yes, Autumn had definitely arrived!!

A short, silver-haired, old lady named Charlotte lives all alone in her little white-painted house. An enormous-sized green bush frames over half of Charlotte's small backyard. {It makes a natural "fence" which provides privacy!!} And in the very middle of Charlotte's backyard is an enormous-sized apple tree with thick branches. During Autumn, it's covered with ripe, juicy, sweet-tasting fruit!! Underneath the tree, there are often several rotting, wormy apples that have dropped. Among Charlotte's next door neighbors is a brown-haired, hazel-eyed ten-year old girl named Autumn.

Children, as everyone very well knows, can have active, crazy, wild, and somewhat weird imaginations. Stories that they tell other kids, friends, or classmates are usually passed on from person to person. Like an untrue rumor. This is exactly what a group of three ten-year old neighbors named Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley did. Their active, crazy, wild, weird imaginations created an insane ghost story. And it all began with Sarah....

"Hey, Dimetri, Stanley," she said in a mysterious voice one clear blue sky day, "You know the old lady who lives next door to Autumn? I heard that she is a wicked witch!!"

"Oh. My. Gosh!!" exclaimed Stanley, a shocked tone in his voice, "Oh.... My.... Gosh!! A wicked witch?!"

"Well, that explains why her skin is so wrinkly," said Dimetri in a matter of fact way, "Huh. A wicked witch?! Wow.... She probably has a huge wart on her big nose, too!! Just like the wicked witch character in Snow White!!"

"Yes, it does explain why her skin is so wrinkly!! Good point, Dimetri!!" Sarah continued, "And I heard that the wicked witch does, in fact, have a huge wart on her big nose!!"

"That house is probably haunted, too!!" said Stanley.

"Oh, of course!!" Sarah continued, "I heard that the wicked witch's house is haunted by ghosts and spirits!!"

"Whoa, creepy!!" said Dimetri, "Her dead husband is probably the one who haunts that house!! Am I right, Sarah? Or dead pets that the wicked witch owned haunts her house!!"

"Maybe...." Sarah continued, "I heard that the ghosts and spirits who haunt this wicked witch's house are, in fact, more than one!! Not just her dead husband. Or deceased pets, even. I heard that these ghosts and spirits are anyone who has ever lived in her little old white house!! They date all the way back to its very first homeowners!!"

"Wow!!" exclaimed Stanley, "That haunted house looks really old!! It was probably built and bought well over one-hundred years ago!!"

Sarah nodded in agreement.

"Good sense of observation, Stanley!!" she said, "I heard that the haunted house was built and bought in 1904!! If my math is correct, that was well over one-hundred years ago!!"

"Wow. Just.... Wow!!" said Dimetri, "Over one-hundred years ago?! Really?! Just imagine how many people would have lived in her haunted house throughout the course of that many years!!"

"I know, right?" exclaimed Sarah, "Isn't it exciting?! To think that the wicked witch's old haunted house has over one-hundred years-worth of homeowners!!"

Suddenly, Dimetri gasped.

"I just thought of something!!" he said, wide-eyed, "What if anybody ever died inside the wicked witch's haunted house?!"

"Good question, Dimetri!!" Sarah continued, "I heard that lots of people have died in that haunted house over the years!!"

Then Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley all stood speechless for several minutes. Lots of people have died in that little, old, white-painted house?! Suddenly they were all feeling quite haunted by this ghost story!!

Finally, Stanley broke the silence.
   
"Autumn lives next door to a wicked witch?!" he said, "Does she know about all of this?"

"I have not told her yet," replied Sarah.

A sorry expression was written on her face.

"She needs to know!!" said Dimetri, "I mean, come on. Autumn lives next door to a haunted house!!"

So Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley found their neighbor friend. She was at home. They explained everything to her. Autumn listened, with absolutely no interruptions.

Finally, she spoke.

"Wait, what?!" said Autumn, "My next door neighbor is a.... a.... a.... Wicked witch?! How can that be?"

"It is true," Sarah mysteriously said, "And nobody can make eye contact with this wicked witch!! Nobody. Because I heard that if your eyes meet her's, she will cast a spell on you!!"

"My next door neighbor is a wicked witch...." repeat Autumn.

She, too, believed it.

"I have an idea!!" announced Sarah, "Let's all play a game of 'Dare'!! I will go first. I dare.... Autumn!! She will walk into the wicked witch's backyard.... Alone!!"

"I do not think that is such a good idea!!" protested Stanley, "Nobody should walk into the wicked witch's backyard!!"

"I can't but agree," said Dimetri, "Especially not Autumn!! Because she lives next door to the wicked witch!!"

"I will do it," said Autumn.

She was somehow feeling very, very, very brave.

Autumn swallowed hard. She inhaled some deep, deep, deep breaths. Then, as Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley nervously watched her every move, Autumn walked down a city sidewalk. She passed the enormous-sized green bush. Autumn turned a corner. She tiptoed up the wicked witch's steep driveway. And then Autumn disappeared into her next door neighbor's backyard.

This is it, she thought, There's no turning back. And I made it in before the wicked witch could even see me!! Yes!!

Meanwhile, Dimetri and Stanley started feeling very guilty about sending Autumn into the wicked witch's backyard all alone. {Even though it was Sarah's idea!!}

"I.... I.... I.... I think we should go in after her," Stanley bravely suggested, "Come on!!"

"Go in after her?!" said Sarah, shocked, "What are you, insane?! The wicked witch will make eye contact with us and cast one of her spells!! No. I am not going in there!!"

"Well.... We are," declared Dimetri, "You can stay here and be a chicken all you want, Sarah. But.... We are going in after Autumn!!"

So they did. Dimetri and Stanley swallowed hard. They inhaled some deep, deep, deep breaths. Then, as Sarah nervously watched their every move, Dimetri and Stanley bravely walked down a city sidewalk. They passed the enormous-sized green bush. Dimetri and Stanley turned a corner. They tiptoed up the wicked witch's steep driveway. Then Dimetri and Stanley disappeared into her backyard.

Sarah followed closely behind.

Once they joined Autumn, everybody looked around the wicked witch's backyard. It was dark. For with the enormous-sized green bush and huge apple tree? It was quite shady!! Autumn could even see her home above a rusty wire fence!! But the wicked witch's house was hidden behind that enormous-sized green bush. Therefore. As long as she did not step foot into her own backyard, Sarah, Dimetri, Stanley and Autumn were safe from making any eye contact with the wicked witch!! For this way? She could not cast a spell on them!! Dimetri and Stanley started to climb the apple tree's thick branches. Sarah picked a ripe juicy sweet-tasting fruit. She started to eat it.

But Autumn stopped her.

"Wait!!" she screamed, "If my next door neighbor is truly just like the wicked witch character in Snow White, then these apples are probably poisonous!! Do not eat them!!"

Sarah immediately threw her apple onto the ground.

"Oh my goodness!!" she said, "Why didn't I think of that?! This could very well be true!!"

Soon it was time for Sarah, Dimetri, Stanley and Autumn to bravely step outside of the wicked witch's backyard. Because they could not stay trapped in there forever!! Sarah, Dimetri, Stanley and Autumn needed to go home.

They each swallowed hard. Sarah, Dimetri, Stanley and Autumn inhaled some deep, deep, deep breaths. Then they bravely started to tiptoe back down the wicked witch's steep driveway. However. Before they could, the wicked witch looked out a window. And Autumn saw her. She quickly looked away, completely terrified of making eye contact with the wicked witch. Then Autumn ran as fast as her legs could carry her, screaming loudly.

"The wicked witch saw me!!" she yelled, "The wicked witch saw me!! The wicked witch saw me!!"

"Oh no!!" exclaimed Sarah, "You did not make eye contact with her, right?!"

"No!!" answered Autumn, "But the wicked witch saw me!!"

Then, one late October day, out of curiosity, Autumn secretly did something that neither Sarah, Dimetri, or Stanley would have ever been brave enough to do. Because it was crazy. Reckless. And foolish. {All at once, really!!} Autumn walked up the wicked witch's front porch steps and rang her doorbell. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Autumn could feel her heart pounding hard.

This is it, she thought, There's no turning back....

The wicked witch opened her old wooden door. Autumn just stood there, completely motionless. She could not breathe or speak. And Autumn wouldn't even dare make eye contact with the wicked witch!! Because she felt terrified by Sarah, Dimetri, and Stanley's ghost story!!

"Hi there, child," said the wicked witch, "How are you doing on this beautiful Autumn day?"

There was a soft gentle grandmotherly tone in the wicked witch's voice. This took Autumn by surprise, as she definitely did not expect it!! For her next door neighbor's voice wasn't sounding raspy like the wicked witch character's in Snow White at all!! And now Autumn felt very, very, very confused. Was--or was she not--a wicked witch?!

"Did you hear me, child?" asked the wicked witch in a concerned tone of voice.

"Uh.... I.... Yeah...." began Autumn.

"Well, speak up!!" said the wicked witch in a patient tone of voice, "Don't you have something to say?"

Then--without making any eye contact with the wicked witch--speak up Autumn did.

"My friends, Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley said that you are a.... a.... a...."

"What?" asked Autumn's next door neighbor.

"A wicked witch!!" she blurt out.

Then, Autumn's next door neighbor laughed. Hard. But it was not at all a cackle sound like the wicked witch character had in Snow White!!

"Fascinating," said Autumn's next door neighbor, "A wicked witch? What else have your friends said about me?"

The wicked witch is quite amused by Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley's ghost story so far!! thought Autumn.

"They said...." continued Autumn, "Your wrinkles are proof that you are a wicked witch!!"

"Ha!!" laughed Autumn's next door neighbor, "They are called 'laugh lines'!! And when you're eighty-years old like me, you'll have them, as well!! For laugh lines are simply something that comes with age!! They cannot be avoided. What else have your friends said about me?"

Wow, the wicked witch's feelings are not even hurt by Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley's ghost story!!   

"They said...." continued Autumn, "That your house is haunted by every ghost and spirit who has ever lived there!!"

"Interesting," said the wicked witch, "But tell me. How can a little old white house be haunted? I mean. Aren't huge dark abandoned mansions usually the haunted houses? What else have your friends said about me?"

Hey, the wicked witch has a good point!! thought Autumn, Haunted houses usually are huge dark abandoned mansions!!

"Now you wait right here, child!!" the wicked witch enthusiastically said, "I will return in a minute!! Just wait right here!!"

Autumn watched as the wicked witch disappeared into her "haunted house". She was gone!! Now would be a very good time to escape!! But Autumn did not run away. For she no longer felt terrified of her next door neighbor!! Just curious. Nonetheless, Autumn was still acting cautious. For she absolutely refused to made any eye contact with the wicked witch. So Autumn waited. Soon, the wicked witch returned, as promised. In her hands she was carrying a large tray. On it were cookies and two mugs!!

"I have always believed in serving my guests yummy-tasting food," said the wicked witch, "It is a good thing that I just baked these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!! Here, try some homemade apple cider, as well!!"

"Wow!!" exclaimed Autumn, "Homemade apple cider?! We always buy ours from the store!!"

"Well, I have a huge apple tree growing in my backyard that produces tons of fruit!!" smiled the wicked witch, "Now please continue, child. What else have your friends said about me?"

The wicked witch wants to hear more of Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley's ghost story!!
   
"They said...." continued Autumn as she ate a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, "That your house was built and bought over one-hundred years ago, in 1904!! Which means. Lots of people have lived in it over the years!!"

"Your friends were very close!!" said the wicked witch, "It was built and bought in 1911. Lots of people have lived in this home. {Who I've known personally, anyway!!} My husband. He died before me. Our five children. The family Golden Retriever/Basset Hound mix. See, I've lived in this home ever since I was in my early twenties, when I married my husband. Now. As for how many people lived in this house before us? I do not know!! What else have your friends said about me?"

Wow.... thought Autumn, The wicked witch is still curious about Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley's ghost story!!   

"They said...." continued Autumn, "That lots of people died in your house over the years!!"

"Well...." said Autumn's next door neighbor, "As for those unknown homeowners who lived here before me? Yes, I do suppose that 'lots' of people could have died in this house. But, honestly? I haven't a clue!! Because I've never even thought about it!! Now, as for my husband? He died in a hospital with doctors, nurses, our kids, close family and myself by his side. What else have your friends said about me?"

Oh my goodness!! thought Autumn. The wicked witch just shared some very personal details of her Life with me, and she still wants to hear more?!

"They said...." continued Autumn, "That you have a huge wart on your big nose!! Like the wicked witch character in Snow White!!"

"A huge wart?" she said, "On my nose? I had a big ugly mole!! Which I did have removed!!"

Then the wicked witch looked closely at Autumn. She had observed that her guest was constantly looking down. Or away. For Autumn was not looking directly at her.

"What is wrong, child?" the wicked witch gently asked, "Why aren't you looking at me?"

"Because.... Because.... Because...." Autumn started to say, "My friends Sarah, Dimetri and Stanley said.... That if I make eye contact with you.... You'll cast a spell on me!!"

"Oh, nonsense!!" said the wicked witch, "You can make eye contact with me!! And I promise I will not cast any spells!! Go on!! Look into my eyes!! It will be all right!!"

Slowly, Autumn looked up. Now there truly was no turning back. Slowly, Autumn's eyes met her next door neighbor's!! They were a very pretty grey color!! Not at all enormously-sized like the wicked witch's in Snow White!!

"By the way? My name is Charlotte," said Autumn's next door neighbor, "You and your friends can stop thinking of me as 'a wicked witch'. What is your name, child?"

"Autumn," she answered, while drinking her apple cider.

"Like the beautiful season that we are in!!" smiled Charlotte, "I love it!! Nice to have finally met you, Autumn!!"

"Same here.... Charlotte," smiled Autumn.

And then a friendship was born!!