Writing Camp with Natalia Sylvester
The unofficial theme for this summer's Girls with Pens camp quickly revealed itself to be "Anything is Possible." This group of ten talented campers explored metaphor, point-of-view, imagery and word choice to blend the real with the so-called impossible in their stories. They wrote collective poems, interviewed one another as inspiration for a short fiction piece, and painted pictures for one another using only words. All expressed a desire to write longer pieces, so at the end of each day, they worked for 30 minutes straight on one continuous story.
Molly A. Benton-Jonshult
Those who dance with the shadows are lost so dance.
People see the outside. They see shapes and words and tones. The outside sometimes reflects the inside, but more often it does not. People see you cry and smile and groan. But they don’t see you.
People know my outside by the name my parents assigned me. Ljusets. My family name is Grotta. That makes me Ljusets Grotta. Cave of light. They couldn’t have picked a more ill-fitting name.
I am a dancer, but my outside stays still. My outside sits on a bed while I dance. When I dance, my outside sleeps, when I sleep, my outside dances. What controls an me-less me?
“You join me. Why, creature of light, have you come to see the shadows home?” you are lying on your back, staring up at the cold, distant sky.
You can feel the ice beneath your back, but you’re oddly warm, as if a warm blanket encompasses you. You see a young woman in a loose-fitting dress. You watch as she approaches. “I thank you to not assume my pronouns, light creature."
You reach out to grab her hand to pull yourself up. “You’re here on borrowed time. Don’t touch anything besides the ice and the air.“ She turns away. “I thought I told you to not assume I am a she. I am neither a she or a he. I am a dancer, that is all. And I’m not truly one. I am here and there and everywhere. Don’t you know a they when you see one?”
You push yourself up, “Why have you come, light creature?“ they ask. You open your mouth and try to answer, but no sound comes out. The person waves their hand. “You need to go. Any more time here and the shadows will claim you. Go dance with the light where you belong,” they say, then suddenly you wake. What an odd dream.
The Gold Plate
“Silence my people,” the queen ordered. “Or you will be banished to my dungeon.” She laughed an evial laugh and stomped away.
The year is 3015 and us people have evolved since your time more or less. And me being a present and all I have no school so I don’t know what your year was like. But I have the joy of being one of the 5 people invited to the queens castle for the day. (Some people say that it’s like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but I don’t know what that is so I don’t really care because I don’t know how to read and that’s only for readers.)
We joined the queen through the hallway of gold and riches. The queen said not to look but we did anyway. Near the end of the hallway (it never really seemed to end we had already been walking for 30 min) a gold plate caught my eye.
Then a boy interrupted the silence saying “What is that can I have it?” and all the queen yelled while looking at it was “silence and don’t look!”
The plate was a red cushion in a sparkling glass box with a spotlight on it (it was hard not to notice.) We all looked away or face the consequences.“You get a prize if you listen to everything I say,” she demanded. So we all stood up straight and did not look or make a sound. “Now put on these so I can look at you without feeling sick,” she said while gagging.
She held up velvet red capes, pants and shirts. The shoes made of gold. For the girl she held out velvet purple capes dresses and heels made of gold and gemstones. We hurredly put them on and walked out of the dressing room. “Wonderful also you can keep them I don’t want your stench through the halls. She said in a disgusted voice.
“Come we must dine before we take you to your rooms. Said one of the guards. We get rooms! I know that we will stay for a week but I thought that we had to sleep outside then out of nowhere the queen said “my guards begged me to give you rooms.”
It was like she read my mind. We sat at gold tables with white lace table clothe and vases upon vases of roses. Then I smelled the most magnificent smell in my life. I smelled spaghetti with meat balls, chicken with orange sauce, fresh water melon juice, bluebarries, pappers, carots, and red velvet cake with butter cream icing. We dined (at least I think it’s called dining, normally I just call it eating.)
We all got sent to our rooms with a basket of treats and a new outfit for dinner. My room is on the 34 floor of the castle. This castle is crazy considering there is a 13th floor. I get 2 floors all to myself 34 and 35. Floor 35 is for TV hoverbords, amusmit park, spa, and snack bar, everybody here has a floor like this. Floor 34 is for my quadruple king size bed, huge wait make that gigantic bathroom and closed, robot maids and a room of pillows made of the softest materials ever. (I don’t even know if we need that room if we have huge beds.) Oh, and did I mention a zoo on floor 35? Because there is a zoo of floor 35, with pandas! I going to miss this place.
Then I remember the gold plate in the hall of gold and fortune. I wanted to get a closer look so I go to the first floor. I think this is a huge place for Austin! When I get down stairs I see guards everywhere! I ask about the plate and if I could see it. They say yes as long as I don’t tell the queen. “Yes” I say. When I got to it I see a kid trying to steel it. “Hey, your the one who wanted it earlier,” I exclaimed.
He started to run but the guards caught him and told the queen. He had to pack up and go home the next morning. This happened to a couple people, they got sent home for trying to steel the plate. In the end it was just me and a girl named Lusy. Our floors were right next to each other. She has the floors 32 and 33. For the last two days we became really good friends. Sometimes we even bummped into each other on the roller coaster ride.
On the last day though her mom got sick so she had to leave in the morning. The queen had thought she was nice so she paid for the medical sooort.
“I won,“ I exclaimed. I promise to visit my new friend and share the prize with her too, it wasn’t her fault her mom got sick.
Then the queen came up to me and (she sounded so exited) “You won!” “What do I get?” I asked. “You...get...my...castle!” she was so excited and that she wanted to try something new for the town.The End or not...
I had been held captive in the St. Brutus’s Care for Highly Dangerous Transforming Human Beings. I had been locked up behind bars for most of my life, just watching as time passed and I was left all alone, isolated. The world didn’t bother about the pain I endured every day, and how happiness had been sucked out of my life. No one sympathized for me or the fact that I had a family, because to them I wasn’t even a real human being and was unsafe to be around. I was free to operate on just because I was half-tiger.
I was used to people unmercifully prodding at me with their medical instruments to get samples of my blood. All I was was a scientific discovery, a mystery to all. But I always wondered why the world couldn’t accept me. They treated me so terribly, and no one wanted to touch me, as they were afraid of being attacked. But I only transformed into a tiger during the night. For the whole day up until midnight, I was a human and retained the same qualities as a human. I was no different, but I was always subject to all sorts of punishment. If you say, “Why didn’t he escape?“, I would say “It’s too dangerous, you could put my life on stake.”
But at the same time, I was exhausted at people treating me as a piece of filth from the wild, when in reality I had the same intelligence, strength, bravery, and kindness as any human, in most cases even better. I wasn’t going to let people use me anymore, and I didn’t care about being one of the most memorable contributions to science. Because I was tired of being cursed at, and tortured.
So, I hatched up a plan, to go savage. So what if I gave in and made their suspicions come true? I wanted to escape so when I saw a mouse in my prison room when I transformed into a tiger, I threatened to eat him (not that I was going to eat him anyway). He quivered with fear, and I told him that he had to go through the prison bars and fetch me the savage killer.
“You wild animal! Move, move aside! Come to the operating room, if you know what that means. There’s nothing to be proud or happy about. Your dumb father married a tiger, oh what a disgrace to mankind. I reckon you have no sort of intelligence, you’ll never be regarded as human."
I wake up in a dark small room. I prop my head up and listen for any sounds. Suddenly I hear someone’s footsteps coming my way they open the door and I notice it’s the tall man. I curl up in the corner of my room frightened, the man says “Come on out I won’t hurt you.”
I see him smile a big shiny scary grin. I get up, very sore and slowly I walk towards the tall man. The man says come on we are going outside.
I follow him outside. I walk a little and then I see that the gate is open. I sprint out the gate very frightened and I run and think to myself I escaped I finally escaped after a whole year.
I walk very sore. I walk for about 30 minutes until I can’t move, my body can’t move. I slowly fall asleep, and I haven’t woken up since.
I brace myself for impact but I feel nothing. The waves hit me, feeling as if I had just been splashed by a cup of water. I decide I’ve had enough of being hit by the waves and I get up.
I start to walk along the edge of the ocean, sand between my toes as the water barely touches my feet. The sun was setting, making the clouds in the sky orange and pink. They looked as if someone had taken watercolor and painted the sky.
I stare out into the ocean. I wonder how it would feel like to be the fish in the water, away from the chaos in the world. They didn’t have to worry about school or friends or drama. How I wish I could be like the fish, drowning out the sound of the world with the water, being free and swimming all throughout the ocean with no rules or responsibilities.
Just then the sun had completely set making the sky dark. There were no stars in the sky, nor was there a moon. I will come back tomorrow, I thought as I raced back home.
Cupcake (a true story)
I was whining at the door because I really had to go to the bathroom so one of my owners let me out. I did my business. Relief! It was after dinner so it was quite dark but that didn’t bother me because I’m a dog.
My territory is quite big, much bigger than the one they gave me at the shelter. I run around sniffing the fence. I hear a dog growl. I don’t like other dogs. They make me anxious.
I continue sniffing. There is a gate I try pushing against it but it’s locked. I keep walking until I reach the end. Its a tall wooden fence so there is no way I can jump over that. But then I see it its a hole in the fence almost invisible I can see where the nails broke off. I crouch hoping I can fit.
I make it through. It was a tight squeeze but I did it! I look around. I am standing on gravel. This looks like a parking lot. I sniff the air...is that, wait, I sniff again yes! I smell fried chicken. I continue there is a small building. I enter through the door. Someone says “dog.” They grab me by my collar and tie me up. They gave me a chicken drumstick. It was delicious!
Maybelle’s head shot up from her pillow where she had been laying for the past hour.
“Is she here?” Maybelle called, charging down the staircase and flying towards the front door. When Maybelle reached the door, she flung it open and dashed out onto the front lawn. Her heart sank in disappointment.
“Sweetie, come inside,” Maybelle’s mother said, leaning in the doorway. “She’s not here yet.”
Maybelle sighed in defeat and trudged across the lawn to the door. Maybelle’s mom, adorned in her nicest outfit, was already heading toward the kitchen, but she stopped and called over her shoulder, “Maybelle, take off your socks before you come inside, they’re disgusting.”
Maybelle rolled her eyes but stripped off her mud-cake Harry Potter socks and followed her mother to the kitchen. When Maybelle reached the kitchen, her mother was leaning against the oven, phone in one hand and a glass of white wine carefully poised in the other. “Oh, no,“ Maybelle’s mother said, staring at her phone.
“What? What?“ Maybelle asked, rushing over.“Your Aunt Cristina’s flight has been delayed! She won’t be here for another hour.”
“No!” Maybelle whined, clinging to her mom’s elbow.
“Enough," Maybelle’s mom cried, springing away from Maybelle. “I can’t take Mopey Maybelle. Just, do something!"
“Like what?“ Maybelle asked, jumping up and sliding onto the counter.
“You like baking! Bake a cake for your Aunt Cristina so when she lands and arrives here, she has a yummy cake waiting.“
“Great idea, mom!“ Mabel exclaimed, her heart filling with joy; baking truly was her specialty. An hour and one huge mess later, the cake was complete and Maybelle was tired and content. Her cake was a delicious work of art. On the outside was a beautiful ombre from a bright pink to soft purple, and on the inside were two layers of fluffy red velvet with the slab a vanilla buttercream in between. Maybelle had even carefully piped her aunt’s name in gold on the top of the cake.
After doing so, Maybelle collapsed on the couch and reached for the remote. It was at that exact moment, when Maybelle’s fingers had just barely brushed the remote, that the doorbell rang.
Maybelle sprang up and raced to the door, her mother following.Then, Maybelle opened the door to reveal…“AUNT CRISTINA!!!”
Aunt Cristina squealed and scooped Maybelle into a hug.“Awwww! May, you have no idea how much I’ve missed you.” Only Aunt Cristina called Maybelle May. Maybelle clutched her aunt tighter and sighed with joy.
“Let’s go inside,” Maybelle’s mother said, clutching her daughter’s arm in one hand and placing the other on her sister’s back. And for the rest of the night they joked and laughed, gorged on cake, and we counted stories of old times. It was truly pure joy.
The New Girl
“Hey eyes can see through your soul!” exclaims Vivian!
“I’m sure you’re just exaggerating, who can be that scary?” I ask.
“Beatrice Ravener!” Vivian exclaims. “She looks like a deamon!”
“You haven’t had a class with her. She also acts weird.”
“Everyone’s weird, that’s what makes us human!” I point out.
“Fine, go in there and see for yourself.” Vivian motions to the door.
I walk in the cafeteria. Everything is chaos! People are running around shouting punching and hitting each other. In the middle of it all is a girl with glowing red eyes and black hair. I have a sense of deja vu. I jump out of the cafeteria.
“What?” Vivian asks. “Did you see her?”
“How could you miss her? She was the only one in the room standing still. And she had glowing red eyes.”
Vivian looks confused. “What are you talking about?”
Now I’m confused. “You didn’t see all the chaos?”
“As much chaos as there is for lunch,” Vivian says.
“What?” I walk back in. Everything is normal. People are eating lunch and Beatrice is nowhere in sight. What is going on?
I write for peace of mind. When all my thoughts swirl like bubbles in an imaginary tub, writing pulls the plug.
When I want to give up, I remember one particular day in my 1st grade year. I loved to write stories. We were assigned to write a story about anything. I chose to write about a headless man & a jack-o-lantern joining together so that they could become a complete person.
My teacher liked it so much that she asked me to read it in front of the school. I said yes, and that Friday I was holding my book, listening to the laughter that erupted at the end. I beamed at my parents, and when we got home I went straight to my room to write.
Day 1: One Spark
The sky was black and sad but then they saw a spark. Not just a spark, a beacon of hope. Calling the pair of girls to walk into the dark forest. With no hesitation they followed as the light grew from dim to almost blinding. The girls were confused of the monstrous light that lit up the forest but were even more perplexed when the light spoke.
“What are you waiting for?” it called. “Take the risk!” it hollered even louder than before.
The girls turned to each other, fear in their eyes.
“Sometimes you have to give up what you love.”
Without even a blink of an eye they girls ran. What were they running from you may ask? The war. They were giving up their families because they both escaped but no one else did.
The girls ran with all their might further away from the death camps until they hit a neutral country. Both had not stopped for 3 days without food, water, or rest. The spark of light was their fuel like a car with endless gasoline.
They listened to that spark which saved there own lives. Because sometimes you have to use that spark run it into a fire and use it to give you strength.