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message 1: by Maren K (last edited Dec 25, 2012 07:12AM) (new)

Maren K (mkgunning) I just need feedback here. I always write stuff and am afraid that I can't see it properly because I wrote it. You know what I mean? Like I'm blind to its flaws or something. So just enjoy and tell me what you think!

message 2: by Maren K (new)

Maren K (mkgunning) Here's the beginning of my (hopefully) future novel.

When I was little, I used to make a lot of wishes. I wished on eyelashes, on birthday candles, on fallen acorns, on pennies in a fountain--pretty much anything wish-worthy you could find. And every night after my mom had kissed me goodnight and our dog, Chamomile, had been shoved reluctantly off my pillows, my father would come into my room and sit on the corner of my bed. He’d open the window and let me put my hand out the window. I loved to smell the breeze and listen to the crickets, but most of all I loved the stars.
"Find your star, little peanut,” my dad would say before he tucked me in every evening. I would always point to the biggest one, squeeze my eyes shut, and make a wish. I used to wish for a lot of things. When I was little I wished for a lollipop, or I wished that I didn’t ever have to go to sleep. As I got older I realized that most people wish all day long for things that they can’t have. I learned that you never get exactly what you wish for. But I guess I never quite knew what the price of wishing is. What is so important that you’d die for it? What is so important that you’d give up your wish?
It took me too long to find the answer.
My story starts not too long ago, and not very far away. And it starts with a newspaper.
Groggily, I pull open the front door, rubbing the last traces of a good night's sleep from underneath my eyelids. The morning sun is just peeking over the treetops in the distance, glancing off my eyelashes at the edges of my vision and lending the tiny dewdrops on every blade of grass a soft golden glow. I bend down to pick up the morning paper from the front step. The plastic bag is all wet, and little rivers of rain run down my palm and up the sleeve of my pajamas. A little shiver runs up my spine. Winter is almost gone, leaving melting puddles and the first spring crocuses in its wake. I love this time of year. Most people here in New England are always complaining about the dirty snow banks and the mud that seems to end up everywhere no matter what you do, but for me, there's nothing more better than digging out my short-sleeved shirts and running through the last patch of snow barefoot. Spring isn't about how beautiful everything is, or what nice weather there is, because there's not. Spring is about the anticipation, the promise of flowers and vacations and flip-flops, about the exhilaration of being on the cusp of something perfect.
Just like all of us, I think, spreading my arms and letting the breeze whip my pajama top tight against my chest. Maybe everyone's a step away from something beautiful.
"Astrid!" I hear my mother's voice calling from the kitchen. "Pancakes are ready!"
My stomach growls just at the thought of my mom's signature breakfast: perfect golden pancakes covered in syrup and sprinkled with fresh blueberries. As I've grown up, she's had to start making double batches, because I can eat four at every sitting. "She's a bottomless pit!" my best friend Sabrina always jokes. "She's a growing girl," my mother always says. And my dad is always too busy stuffing his face with pancakes to say anything at all.
Maybe all those pancakes are the reason I don't fit into my jeans from last year, I think to myself, half joking, half not. That's the other thing about spring. It's the season when everything changes.
I turn to go inside, but as I do, something catches my eye. At first, I think it's probably just a trick of the light, a glimmer of sunlight off the porch steps, but as I bend to pick it up, I realize that it's a letter. It's pale green, a pretty shade, and feels softer to the touch than a normal envelope. Astrid Fletcher, it says on the front, in spindly cursive print. It's for me. I flip it over and check for a return address, but there's nothing.
"Astrid!" my mom shouts again, sounding less patient and a lot more like she should at seven fifteen on a Tuesday morning. "Your pancakes are getting cold!"

"Coming!" I call back, and run back inside, letting the screen door slam behind me on the way in.

My bare feet on the cold hardwood floor makes me shiver, despite my flannel pajamas. Hugging myself to ward off the chill, I dash up the stairs and back to my room for a sweatshirt and a pair of slippers, but as I turn to run back downstairs for breakfast, I pull the letter out of my pocket and place it down on top of a pile of schoolwork on my desk. I look back over my shoulder once to make sure it hasn't grown legs and ran away, but it's still there, innocent as ever, perched like a little green bird on top of my algebra textbook.

A second later, it's out of sight.

Out of sight, out of mind, isn't that what they say? I had a strange feeling that even if that letter was all the way across the country in freaking California, there was no way I was going to be able to keep it off my mind. And I was right.

I think about it all the way downstairs to breakfast and down the hallway to the kitchen. Who on earth would send me a letter and not put a return address on it? And what could the letter even have inside of it? Maybe I shouldn’t even open it at all. Mail from a stranger could be something scary, like maybe a death threat...or a bomb or something.....But on the other hand, what if it’s something innocent like a thank-you note or a bat-mitzvah invitation? It could be a surprise from my aunt, or from Sabrina. Maybe it could even be something even cooler, like front-row seats at a One Direction concertor a winning lottery ticket. I can’t just throw something away because it might be something weird, right?
“Earth to Astrid!” my mom says, waving her hand in front of my face. I jump. I’m in the kitchen without even realizing it. I must be more tired than I thought.
“Morning, Mom,” I say, stifling a yawn.
“Well, well, has the sun come up again or has my beautiful daughter just come in the room?” That’s my dad, peering at me over an enormous stack of pancakes with a smile in his eyes. I can’t help grinning back.
“Sleep well?” I ask him, sliding into my usual spot at the kitchen table, facing out the window, looking across our perfectly manicured lawn. I can see the first dandelions sprinkled over the fresh green grass.
My dad follows my gaze out the window, and smiles. I swear he can read my mind sometimes. “Did you know that dandelions were purposely introduced to American lawns by early settlers in order bring a little color to their lives?”
My dad loves spouting random facts at me. I guess that’s what dads are supposed to do. Give you a lecture even though you didn’t ask for one. Let you have hot fudge on your ice cream even when you’re not supposed to. Laugh with you like you’re the funniest person in the world.
I’m not surprised that the Pilgrims liked dandelions. They’re so cheerful and bright, and so persistent. No matter what you do, they’ll always be back next spring. Plus, I think, smiling wryly to myself, you can make wishes on them.
My mom plunks a large glass of orange juice in front of me. "Drink it all," she says, planting her hands firmly on her hips. "You need to stay hydrated."

"But there's pulp in it!" I protest, holding the glass up the the light so she can clearly see every last chunk floating around inside. "I hate pulp."

"Y'know, I never really got that," my dad says thought a mouthful of pancake. "I don't see how the pulp could change the taste of the entire thing."

"It's a texture thing," I answer automatically. It's true. I hate the way it feels going down.

"I don't care what it is!" cries my mother, throwing her pancake-y hands onto the air and accidentally smearing some flour across her cheek. "Drink it. It's good for you."

Struggling is futile. I sigh and look over at my dad, who shrugs and rolls his eyes. The message is clear: Sorry, honey, but I'm not getting into this. I make a face at him, pinch my nose, and chug down a few inches of orange juice. "There," I say, showing it to my mom. "That enough for you?"

"Yes, Astrid," she says, coming over and plucking the glass from my hand. "Thank you for cooperating. Oh," she adds, almost as an afterthought. "I don't believe I've said good morning to you yet."

"No," I say huffily, still peeved about the juice. "You haven't."

"Then good morning," she say, kissing my cheek and brushing a stray lock of auburn hair off my forehead.

The timer on the stove dings. Pancakes! I snatch my plate off the counter and make a grab for the spatula lying next to the stove, but my dad is a split second faster. "Hey, no fair!" I protest. "You've already had seconds!" It's just a guess, because of course I've only seen him with one helping, but the look of surprise on his face betrays him. I grin and poke him in the stomach. "You'll be fat soon if you keep hogging all Mom's breakfasts."

Looking wounded, he plunks two pancakes onto my plate. Their heat seeps through the ceramic and warms my hands. They're steaming slightly, and the aroma is literally the smell of home. I take a deep whiff. No use wasting comfort while you've got it.

I pull out a chair and dig in. Within moments, my plate is clean and I'm back in front of the stove, grinning hopefully at my mom. She sees my expression and shakes her head. "You'll be late for school," she says. "And don't forget that you're walking home with Sabrina today. Your father's got a meeting and I'm working late."

"Okay." I pluck another pancake off the stack on the counter and eat it plain as I jog back up the stairs to my room. The green letter is still sitting there on my desk. I study it for a moment, as though I could see through the envelope to what lay inside if I just stared hard enough. Of course, nothing happens. I sigh and turn away. It's just a letter, I remind myself. Nothing to get excited about. Them why haven't you opened it yet? asks the logical side of my mind. I don't answer.

Rummaging through my closet, I find a pair of jeans in wearable condition plus my favorite T-shirt and study myself critically in the mirror. I have my mom's snub nose and wavy auburn hair, but my dad's green eyes and friendly smile. I suppose I'm pretty enough, if not a little chubby from all those pancakes, just...I guess I'm not the kind of pretty that gets you noticed. Like, when I meet one of my dad's coworkers or another parent from my mom's yoga class, they don't say, "Your daughter's beautiful" like people do for Sabrina. They say, "Look how grown-up you are!" or "You have your father's eyes." I mean, I don't think I'm ugly. I just don't think that I'm the kind of girl who boys like, who elderly ladies fawn over, who can get people to do stuff just by batting her eyelashes.

I glare at my reflection in the mirror (like that'll change anything) and go back to hunting for a pair of socks.

A minute later, there's a knock at my bedroom door. "What?" I snap, a little too harshly. The sock crisis has drained me of patience.

"I can't find my car keys," my mom calls through the door. "I'm sorry, honey, but you're going to have to walk."

I kick my pajama bottoms across the room in frustration. "But I'm already walking home!

"I know," she replies. "What else is there to do?"

I don't answer.

"You better hurry if you want to catch Sabrina," she offers a few seconds later. I don't say anything.


"What?" I yell through the door. "I'm coming, all right?" I hadn't meant it to be so rude, but I feel dumb apologizing now. Instead I just yank a handful of shirts from my drawers and toss them on the floor under the pretense of checking for socks.

message 3: by Maren K (new)

Maren K (mkgunning) And here's a poem I wrote:

I love the way
you tilt your chair against the wall.
That devilish glint in your eyes
like it's impossible to fall.
I love
when we're the first ones done in class
and you look over at me and smile.
And nothing could go wrong

I love how you call me sweetheart
Even when I'm shouting at you
How you tell me I'm so smart
When I'm just telling the truth.
When it's two in the morning
And we're high on caffeine
The world is transforming
In the streetlight light.

You make me want to
Laugh all day
And scream in the rain
Cry all night
And smile through the pain
Dance to no music
Jump off the roof
Spread my arms and try to fly
Even if I fall I have the will to survive
I just want to
Punch you and kiss you
But I don't know which to do
So I pretend
Like I don't love you
Even when I'm
Upside down
Inside out
Back and forth
Left and right
All the way
And torn apart
I'm falling for you.

Im laughing in my nightgown
But no one can hear.
Everything burns down
And we're the last ones standing here.
They say you fall in love one time alone
But obviously they wouldn't have known
Because every time I look at you
I fall for you again
And again.

I used to be afraid to fly
Afraid that I might fall.
Now I know that if I fly
You'll fly with me.
I know that if I fall
You'll fall for me.
Like I'm falling for you.

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