Starting Line

Back in the Groove

It’s almost May 1st! How exciting! I’m so glad to be back on my Story A Day blog and writing. I haven’t written enough the past semester. That’s completely my fault, however, because I could have made the time to write, but I didn’t. Then again, NaNoWriMo kind of wore me out. A break was probably just what I needed to rejuvenate my mind and generate some new ideas.

However, I don’t know how I feel about May being here again so quickly–I mean, it feels as if last year’s StADa just began. Story A Day was my first writing challenge, the first time I got serious about writing. It felt liberating to discipline myself for a month to take those ideas that dance through my head every day and elaborate on them, nurturing them into a rich, living story. I remember being so ready to write, so anxious to get started last May. Looking back, I feel much older (spiritually, mentally, and emotionally), that I’m sure this year’s StADa will be more “grown-up” than last year’s. I can’t wait to find out how my writing style has evolved through my experiences since that time.

Lately I’ve felt as if my progression from childhood to adulthood has been catalyzed to light speed. Literally, I’m on a high-speed rail to a whole new epoch in my life. And I’m so ready to jump right into this new adventure. I’ve still got a long way to go, trust me, but I’m getting there.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

To me, a story can be as concise as a few hundred words (or less) yet parallel a reader’s heart so perfectly that it makes it want to shout “Yes! That’s me! I know what it’s like to feel that way!” Therefore, I won’t aim for a certain word count for my stories. Quality over quantity is so, so important to me. You should watch me go through an email I’ve just drafted and cut out every extraneous word. I laugh at myself.

I’ve kept a list of story prompts (from those swing-dancing ideas!) in Excel for about 2 months, and a few of my stories will come from that warehouse. But the majority of them will come from my day-to-day life from May 1st through 31st. Each day I’ll take what I see, hear, and imagine, and transcribe that day’s story here on my blog.

Planning to be continued after 100 Anatomy and Physiology flashcards are made…groan.

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Library, Part 2: Story 20

Greg thought about taking some kind of weapon with him for self-defense, but decided not to when he imagined how silly that would look when he walked around the corner and found Patrick the librarian shelving books. Plus, he didn’t have any weapons with him.

He took a deep breath and rounded the end of the bookshelf. The back wall of the library was empty. Well, there were no people in sight, anyway. That was normal, since Greg knew he and Patrick were probably the only people in here at this late hour. But those substantial footsteps he’d heard a moment ago were not Patrick’s: the middle-aged librarian was a pretty thin guy.

Then a couple of things caught Greg’s attention:

1. A window was open, blowing in snow from the storm.

2. A piece of notebook paper was on the ground next to the window, dancing around as gusts of air and snow blew in.

The carpet under the window wasn’t too wet, so Greg reasoned that the window had probably been opened just after he heard those footsteps, which meant either someone had left through the window (it was on the ground floor, so that was possible) or was pretending to have left through the window, and waiting to attack Greg from somewhere nearby. That made him shudder. He grabbed the paper, left the window open, and returned to his study desk–this time facing away from the fire so his back wasn’t to the main library space.

He smoothed out the paper and took a close look at it. Unfortunately, it was in Greek. Fortunately, Greg was minoring in foreign language and had taken Greek. Unfortunately, that was modern Greek and this was ancient Greek. Who uses that anymore?! He picked out the words “fourth floor” and “key” in the same sentence, and “no prisoners” at the end, kind of like a closing reminder. Lovely. He thought. A Greek with the build of a rugby player is tearing apart the second floor right now to find a key and when he sees me he’s going to kill me. This is getting sooo not good.

A detailed drawing of a key, which had started to run from the melting snow on it, took up the bottom quarter of the page. Greg looked over at the nearest staircase that led to the next floor. It was too late to leave. Patrick was here somewhere, and his fate was looking worse every minute. Greg had to find out what was going on.

To be continued…

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Saturday evening, Part 2: Story 19

After a few moments of tense silence–except for the now-pounding rain slapping the windows–as Ethan drove, he found the courage to ask the gunman what he wanted.

“They think I killed my family. They’re wrong.” That low voice replied.

“Then why are you runn–” Jess broke in.

“Because I’ve been framed.” He cut her off, keeping the gun close to her head so Ethan would focus on driving. “It really looks like I did it.” He was angry, but his voice was full of sorrow. “I loved them.” He whispered, then continued in his gruff, apathetic voice, “Check the radio. I wanna know if they’re still looking for me.”

—————————

They drove for what felt like hours, Jess quivering from fear and cold, Ethan nervously driving, and the runaway anxiously looking behind them every few minutes for the police. “Kill the lights!” He suddenly yelled. “Pull over behind those trees.”

Ethan obeyed and they halted in the dark. A vehicle’s headlights appeared around a bend they had just passed, and it slowly drove by their hiding place. Jess groaned inwardly but was also glad the car hadn’t seen them, because she’d probably be used as a shield or a hostage if the police found this guy.

“We have to go on foot now.” Their captor commanded.

“But–” Ethan started.

“I have the gun, remember? Get out.” He was serious.

They left the car and began stumbling through the forest, guided only by the gunman’s penlight. They were on an old, overgrown trail that Ethan and Jess didn’t recognize at all, and was perilous in the dark. They were lost.

To be continued…

…for the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.–Matthew 18:11

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Library, Part 1: Story 18

The old library was dark, quiet, and extremely creepy during the snowstorm, but Greg was used to it. Long nights studying in the Gothic-design, intricately carved wooden labyrinth of a building were common because his day job didn’t leave much time for schoolwork. The massive fireplace crackled a few feet away from his desk, and one of the few librarians puttered away in a nearby row, reorganizing heavy volumes of classic literature.

It would all be a little much for some people, but Greg thrived on the oldness of it all. Since when did “new” ever live up to “better”? Rarely. He focused again on his studies, tracing the illustration of an organic compound with his finger as he tried to understand why this bonded there and how to memorize that.

A muffled cry startled him, and he whipped his head around to find out where it had come from. He was alone, as far as he could tell. Patrick, the librarian, had vanished. But he hadn’t finished shelving the books, Greg noticed. This realization was followed by a rush of goosebumps, at which Greg chided himself for being so easily alarmed. There really was nothing weird about a librarian moving to the next row of books, was there? No, there wasn’t. He returned to his textbook. Then, he heard heavy footsteps fading farther into the library. He turned around again, yet when he didn’t see anything, he ignored the sound.

But when half an hour passed and the librarian did not reappear, Greg got up. This was not what normally happened when he pulled all-nighters at the library. Something was wrong.

A/N: This was quite short, but I have an exam tomorrow so I’m out of time. Maybe I’ll continue this tomorrow…

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Saturday evening, Part 1: Story 17

Jess closed her eyes as she sank down into the plush couch and sighed happily. Finally the dishes were done, the laundry was clean and folded, the floors were vacuumed, and the yard was mowed. Saturday evening couldn’t feel more rewarding than this. She was looking forward to getting lost in a novel for the rest of the night.

“Hey, Babe, wanna hit the trail with me? We have plenty of time before sunset if we wanna watch it over the ridge.” Ethan, Jess’s husband, had a bad habit of planning the most lovely outings with her at the worst times. First, she glared at him and held up the book she’d just started reading. Then, she remembered he’d just finished a big project at work and they hadn’t spent much time together for the last week.

“Okay, okay, I’ll come.” She got up to change her clothes.

Half an hour later, they were at the trail that wound its way over Copper Mountain. They chose to drive up most of the mountain to where the middle of the trail crossed the road, so they wouldn’t be hiking back too far in the dark.

Jess’s attitude had completely reversed after the thick, mysterious forest came into view and the fresh air made its way into her lungs. She gladly hopped out of the car and strapped on her light backpack, which carried only some water and the ingredients for s’mores.

“Man, it is so good to be out here again!” Ethan was happy as a kid on Christmas morning. He led the way as they climbed up a twisting, unpaved trail bordered on both sides by the forest. After about a quarter of an hour, they came to a clearing at the edge of the mountain, from which they could rest and watch the sunset over the peaks of nearby mountains.

Jess laughed as Ethan tried to light a small fire for the s’mores but the light rainfall kept putting it out. “We’ll just eat them raw,” she said, giggling, and Ethan reluctantly gave in. They sat close and kept as dry as they could under the trees’ covering as the sun set in its purpley-orange splendor.

The rain came harder after the sun set, and their trip back to the car was difficult because of the slippery pathway. When they broke out of the trees, they ran for the car and jumped in, sopping wet but relieved to reach the car safely. That’s why Jess screamed when a gun from behind was pointed at her head and a low, gravelly voice began to speak slowly. “Calm down, lady. I’ll only use it if I have to. Now, you, mister, drive that way and she won’t have to die.” The man motioned farther up the mountain, deeper into the trees and away from civilization. Jess squeezed her eyes shut and sank into her seat, the cold gun barrel poking her scalp in a most uncomfortable way.

Ethan grimaced and flicked on the lights with a trembling hand. He began to drive apprehensively, the tires barely grabbing the slick, wet road below.

To be continued…

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