Befriending Vinny (Short Story P1)

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

This is rather long for a single blog post, so the second half will be out tomorrow.

It was a bright, sunny day in Connilville when a moving truck pulled into the neighborhood. Mara and James stared.

“Who do you think it is?” Mara asked.

“Do you think they’ll have kids?” James asked excitedly.

I hope so!” Mara said. She ran to her front door and inside the house. “Mom, Mom! We’re getting new neighbors!”

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Do you want to make them cookies and we can take them over later?”

Mara clapped. “Yes!” She ran outside and told James, “We’re going to make cookies for them! Come on!”

They sprinted back into the house, Mrs. Williamson slightly surprised.

“Hello, James. Are you here to help us make cookies for the new neighbors?” she asked.

“Yeah! Let’s make chocolate chip!” he said.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Of course. I should have some in the pantry.”

She helped them gather the ingredients and prepare the cookies. When the cookies were finished baking, they placed them on a paper plate and took them to the house with the moving truck in the driveway.

James ran up to the door and Mara followed more slowly, carrying the cookies for them. James knocked on the door. “We have cookies!” he shouted before the door opened.

A middle-aged Asian man answered the door. “Hello.”

“Hi! We’re your neighbors now! We have cookies for you!” James said.

Mara presented the cookies.

“Thank you,” the man said. He took the plate of cookies, then called into the house. “Vinny, there are some kids here who would like to meet you!”

A young girl, probably a year younger than Mara, came to the door. She wrapped her arms around her father’s leg, peering at them shyly.

“Hi, I’m Mara!”

“And I’m James!”

“We’re your new neighbors!” they said together.

“I’m Mr. Kituma, and this is my daughter, Vinny. They brought us cookies,” the man said. “Wasn’t that nice?”

Vinny nodded. “Thanks for the cookies.”

“Do you want to take a break from unpacking and play with them for a bit?”

Vinny shook her head. “Not right now,” she mumbled.

Mara frowned. “Okay, well it was nice to meet you, Vinny!”

“Bye, see you!” James said, following Mara away from the house.

Vinny watched them go. They had wanted to play with her. They had even brought over cookies. “Can I have a cookie?” she asked her dad.

“Sure.” He lowered the plate and let her take one. “Why don’t you want to go play with them? They seemed nice.”

“What if they’re like Lilly?” she whispered. “What if they’re not nice?”

“If you go play with them, and they do anything that’s not nice, you can come right back home and tell us about it,” he promised.

“Maybe later,” she said.

James and Mara went back to Mara’s house, sitting in the front yard.

“Why do you think she didn’t want to play?” James asked.

Mara shrugged. “I don’t know. We might have to try again later. Do you think Drake can play now?”

“He said three o’clock. Let’s see what time it is.”

They went into Mara’s house.

“How did it go?” Mrs. Williamson asked them.

“We gave them cookies and they have a daughter, but she didn’t want to play,” Mara said.

“Yeah, I really wanted to get to know her,” James said. “There’s only the four of us kids.”

“There’s your older sister, James, and Drake’s older sister too,” Mrs. Williamson pointed out.

“They never want to play with us,” Mara said.

“What time is it?” James asked, changing the subject.

Mrs. Williamson pointed to the clock. “The little hand is almost to the 3, and the big hand is at the 9.”

“So… two forty-five?” Mara asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded.

“Thanks, Mrs. Williamson!” James said.

Mara and James went back outside.

“Just fifteen minutes til Drake can play!” James said excitedly.

“Maybe he can play now,” Mara said. “Look, he’s outside!”

James looked across the street to Drake’s house. His best friend, a tall black haired boy a year younger than he was, closed his front door and waved.

“Can you play?” James yelled.

“Yeah!” Drake said, looking both ways before barreling across the street to Mara’s front yard.

“We met the new neighbor girl,” Mara said.

“We gave her family cookies, too. You missed out, we made the cookies ourselves! It was so fun,” James said.

“Was she not able to come play?” Drake asked.

“She didn’t want to,” Mara said, shoulders sagging.

“Yeah, I don’t know why, but she seemed nervous,” James said.

Drake thought for a minute. “Maybe she’s shy.”

Mara nodded thoughtfully. “Hey, Mom!” she called suddenly.

“Yes?” Mrs. Williamson asked, pushing aside a curtain from the window.

“Can we make something else to take to the new neighbors?” she asked.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “I don’t see why not. What do you want to make?”

“What if we made dinner and invited them over?” Mara asked.

“That’s a lovely idea. James, Drake, would you like to help too?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Drake said.

“Yeah! Can we eat dinner with you, too?” James asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded. “Of course. Do you want to go invite them over for dinner? They might want a heads up.”

“Okay! Thanks, Mom!” Mara said, turning and running across the lawn toward the Kituma’s house.

“Yeah, we’ll be back soon!” James said, running after her.

“Thanks!” Drake said, following James and Mara.

Once they were all together on the Kituma’s porch, Mara rang the doorbell.

“Coming!” a female voice called. “Hello?” an Asian woman, presumably Mrs. Kituma asked once she’d opened the door.

“Hi! We were wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner since you’re new to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

“Bill, are these the kids that came here earlier?” she yelled into the house.

Mr. Kituma appeared behind the woman. “Yes, they are. James and Mara. And who’s your friend?”

“I’m Drake,” he said, offering his hand.

Mr. Kituma shook his hand. “How can I help you?”

“They invited us to dinner,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“How lovely. What do you say, Lou, shall we accept their invitation?” he asked.

“Sure. Do your parents know about this?” she asked.

Mara nodded. “Yeah, my mom said we could!”

“Which house is yours?” Mr. Kituma asked.

“It’s two down, number 15,” Mara said.

“What time should we be there?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Uh… Mrs. Williamson didn’t tell us… she just asked us to invite you,” James said.

“Okay,” Mr. Kituma smiled. “Just let us know when it’s almost ready, then.”

“Okay!” Mara said.

“See you later, Mr. Kituma!” James said.

“Bye!” Drake said.

After the Kitumas closed the door, Vinny spoke from behind them.

“So we’re eating dinner with them?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetheart. It will be a good opportunity to get to know them and their parents,” Lou said.

“Okay,” she said.

Outside, Mara, James, and Drake ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’re coming for dinner!” Mara yelled as she ran into the house.

“Awesome. What do you want to make for them?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“I don’t know,” James said.

“We should have asked what they liked to eat!” Drake said.

“Yeah, why didn’t we?” Mara asked.

“I’d soy go asked them but you already rang their doorbell twice in about fifteen minutes, so that might not be a good plan,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay… we could make one of our favorite foods!” Mara said.

“What if all our families came over and brought lots of food, like a party!” James said.

“Yeah! Then they can eat whatever they want and we don’t have to worry about it!” Drake said.

Mrs. WIlliamson smiled. “Okay, James, Drake, how about you go invite your parents over for an impromptu potluck dinner with the new neighbors. What were their names?” she asked.

“Mr. and Mrs. Kituma, or Bill and Lou they called each other, and Vinny,” Mara recited.

James and Drake nodded.

“Okay, tell your parents to come over for a welcome dinner for the new neighbors the Kitumas and to bring food!” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay!” James and Drake said, running out the door and to their respective houses.

“What do you want to make for dinner?” Mrs. Williamson asked Mara.

“Can we make mac ‘n’ cheese?” she asked excitedly. “It’s my favorite and maybe Vinny will like it too!”

“That’s a great idea,” she said. “do you want to make anything else?”

“Bacon!”

“How about smokies wrapped in bacon?”

“Yeah, that’d be better!” Mara said.

“Anything else?” Mrs. Williamon asked. “Do you know of anything you think they’d like?”

“Um… well they looked Chinese…” Mara said thoughtfully.

“So they’re Asain,” Mrs. Williamson said. “We could make rice.”

“Yeah, we should do that!” Mara said.

“Okay, I think we’ll make that and then see what James and Drake’s families are bringing,” she said.

“Okay!”

~to be continued~

 

“A Love Letter to Wifi”

Written 18 July 2018.

I’m working on writing a poem every day. This is day one of this streak.

Why do I not have wifi?

I’m trying to waste the time

before I am forced to leave

for work, important but un-fun.

Come back, please, wifi,

don’t leave me alone,

I need you to function,

without you life drones.

Quarzyls (Species Description)

Some details relating to names are pending an edit so they conform to the language used by the people rather than English.

(Derogatively called Scars)

Characteristics:
human-like body with longer, more flexible limbs, taller and generally lighter than humans, not very muscular, long fingers and toes, soil colored skin, male or female, thick and heavy hair

Found on:
Irqulnirn (Irqulnirn’s ecosystem is dependent on quarzyls)

Social habits:
mature at 15 (Irqulnirn) years, couple with another quarzyl generally within two (Irqulnirn) years — bisexual species, not particularly social, don’t prefer isolation, like living in groups of 10-20 quarzyls

Lifespan:
80-150 (Irqulnirn) years, excepting tragic accident

Housing:
one story, squatting structures, drab exteriors, slightly more vibrant but still plain interiors, mat-like beds after 2 (Irqulnirn) years, most of house one large room, smaller rooms with plant-based doors for bedrooms

Familial structure:
one parent keeps house while the other makes money, keeping house includes gardening, children go to schools centering around applicable life skills from very a young age

Children:
both genders “lay eggs,” but two quarzyls must make one complete “egg” together; incubated in plant matter for 3 (Earth) months, hatch and eat plant matter; one egg at a time, a couple can lay up to fifteen eggs per lifetime

Hierarchy:
based on lifespan of ancestors, then skin color, and then mastery of life-giving abilities

Abilities:
nurturing plants and soil, creating life (plants, in most cases, but occasionally animals) from other non-living things, and sustaining and prolonging life — this is how Irqulnirn is able to support life while having such distance from N’Zembe

Art Style

My drawing style has changed a lot in the last few years. This is especially noticeable when I compare the first drawing in my current sketchbook to my most recent drawings of the main four in Mystical Warriors. That drawing is in my portfolio. This is the third distinctive style I’ve had over the years. It is still somewhat comparable to an “anime” style, but it is more realistic now than it was before. I hope I keep this style for a while, but who knows how long it will last? It will definitely change in the future, all with the developing abilities of an artist. It happens, it’s expected, it’s welcome, it’s evidence of progressing skill.

 

When I originally wrote the majority of the text for this post more than a year ago as a journal entry, I remarked:

I also received feedback from [two of my friends] about the transformation of my art style–[friend 1] likes my current style best! [Friend 2] said she thought I was really good at drawing people. [The girl I had just met days before] didn’t have much to say, but she’s quieter, and doesn’t know me well.

More recently I have not spent as much time drawing, but my style is still similar to then.

Brian and I.JPG

Improving Productivity

First, this is simply what I am trying to increase my productivity and get more done, specifically for my writing.

Between working two jobs, writing for Over the Invisible Wall, and keeping this blog posting every day, I feel really busy. At the same time, I don’t think I’m spending enough time writing or generally working on my creative projects. A lot of my free time is whiled away on the internet, especially Discord. Chatting with my friends is great, but I want to direct more of my time to good use.

Recently, I was late for work for the second time in almost a year. I forgot when I worked and left home when I was supposed to be signed in. I have my schedule in my phone with calendar alerts so I can’t forget. But I still forgot. So I bought a large journal from Walmart for about $5 and I’ve been writing down when I work the current day, when I work tomorrow, and a to-do list. Anything I don’t finish goes to the next day’s list.

I also started getting up an hour and a half earlier every day. I was staying up late and getting up at about 10 am. I decided to change that so I’d have more time before I left for work to write or get other things done. Now I’m getting up closer to 8:30 and I hope to change that to 8 once I adjust better.

Even with this, I still feel unsatisfied with my creative output, but I’m only just establishing a habit of it. I’m forcing myself to write a poem every day. Some of them have been unsatisfactory because I didn’t have an idea for a poem but I wrote one anyway. At some point it will be better and I’ll get ideas when I go to write because I’m programming myself to be that way.

I’ve only just started, but I think this, making a list, checking things off, getting up earlier, etc. will help me be more productive and finish more in shorter amounts of time.

My Trip to Millstadt

Last week I used my day off to take a trip to Millstadt, IL. If you didn’t know, I’m writing for the Millstadt News magazine once a month. This month I was researching the old drug store. The problem: I couldn’t find the information I needed online. So I drove about forty minutes one way to go to the Millstadt Library and interview two of the pharmacy’s former owner’s children.

I learned a few things:

  1. Know ahead of time if a certain library has the necessary resources available by calling them or looking it up online. I wasted a good deal of my day sitting in the Millstadt Library, unable to get any further in my research. A different library had the old newspapers I wanted to look at, but I didn’t have time to go there.
  2. Plan for an interview by having questions you think you want to ask. Some of these may not need asking during the interview, depending on what you learn and what you already know about who you’re interviewing or the topic you’re trying to learn about. Going into my interview, I had questions based on misinformation because my research didn’t give me a clear picture of things. This is okay. Ask new questions that you think of based on what you learn.
  3. Be sure to ask if you can record the interview so you can double check details and will not miss anything. I forgot to ask about recording my interview. I know I lost some interesting details that were shared because I was in the middle of writing down the previous thought.

It was a good trip, worthwhile overall. For the amount of time I spent, though, I would have liked it to be a bit more productive. If I take writing-related trips in the future, to Millstadt or elsewhere, I will be better prepared as best I can. As this was my first, I went in rather blind.

Deleted Drafts “The Etaloniy Story” 3

Five years ago I began writing a story about a girl named Etaloniy Whitlock. The result was quite the disaster of a story. Because it is rather long, I have split what I have of her story into three parts. Part one went up two weeks ago and part two went up last Wednesday.

5: MOM TO THE “RESCUE”!

After assessing the situation, she walked right up to the police officer pinning Clamal to the building. I stand there in complete shock, with my mouth open as I watch her. I force myself to move closer so I can hear her.

“…So you can’t let me take custody over her unless her mother doesn’t show up within twelve hours?”

“Lady, I told you — as soon as her mother shows up, you can transfer responsibility for the offense over to yourself.”

“What happens if any other family members come and admit the family relation?”

What was she trying to do?! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Mom! Mom, can we go to the mall?” I hurry over before she can ask any more questions.

“No, we can’t. If you like you can find an outfit in one of the shops here in the square.”

“Please! Please! I told you — they don’t have the new shirt that I want!” I have to get her away from this police officer!

“FIne, you can go to the mall, but you have to pay with your own money.”

As I walk away I say some things in a language my teacher at school said is called English.

~~~~~

I go home after spending fifteen minutes at the mall, not actually having wanted to go when I remember my cake!

I don’t expect to find the piece I had first cut for myself — Bran probably ate that one. I’ll cut a new piece, eat it, and go back to the square to make sure Mom didn’t get arrested.

~~~~~

After rushing to the square, I look over and see Mom — chained on the police rack next to Preana! I facepalm myself, but resist the urge to go over to her, not wanting to get arrested myself.

6: JAILBREAK!

I call our home with my cell and quickly fill in Bran on what’s happened. I say it in a language I made up several years ago that only my siblings and I know. He knew my message was important as soon as I started using it.

He promised to hurry over to help me get them away from the police.

~~~~~

They showed up thirty minutes (thirty minutes!!) later and asked me in Fintalarkan if I had a plan.

I said I did, but wasn’t sure if it’d work.

“What’s it?”

“Well…”

“Out with it!”

“We get arrested and then pick the locks to escape. Or we can go home, get the rubies that belong to use cause they’re on our property, and after selling them, pay the fees to get Preana, Mom, and Clamal released from jail tomorrow.”

“…Tomorrow! Why not today!” Bran asked.

“Cause on a case like this, meaning one involving Rubies, they’re tried, or taken to court, before put in jail. We have to wait till tomorrow after they’ve had their appearance in court.”

“Oh… Why does it work that way?” Bran hadn’t been to school long enough to figure that out on his own, it seems, even in third grade.

“Because of Wheenman… The monster hates when his precious rubies are tampered with…”

“Oh… I guess let’s go home, then…”

We go home quickly and when we get there revert back to the native language of M’lenkaa, Lenkaan.

When we get there after a long walk, we’re not quite sure what to do… It’s almost dinner time and only Clamal and Mom know how to actually cook… Then I think about the frozen meals that only require being put in the oven at around 350 degrees or 400 degrees.

“I got it! Frozen pizza!”