Audrey’s No Rules Friday

photo

Rusting © Copyright, Audrey Goshorn 2014. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Train

“Noah!” I scream and catch the back of his collar, choking him to a halt. “Those pennies’ll be hot.”

“Ow,” he whines.

“Well try thinkin’ for once in you life.” I’ve gone too far. He’s sniffling and smearing his runny nose all over his new ground suit. I sigh and my helmet fogs up a little. Putting a gloved hand on his shoulder, I try to pull him towards me, but he shrugs me off. “Just wait a few minutes, all right? Grandma’ll be mad if you burn your gloves.”

I walk off a couple yards, kicking rocks as I go. I like how they sound bouncing off the rusting metal of the old scrap yard. Howie and I found this place a couple years back, before he left for the mining colony. The sky is an impenetrable brown haze. I can’t tell where the sun is, but the info screen in my helmet says Noah and I have ten minutes before we need to high-tail it home for dinner.

There’s all sorts of things in the scrap yard. Some I recognize from school like cars and refrigerators, others I just guess at. It was a game Howie and I used to play.

“Hey, Howie,” I’d say. “What d’ya think that was for?”

And he’d say something like, “Honestly, Clarabelle! Can’t you tell? That is a tarfunkel. Obviously.”

I’d laugh and ask what it did. He always knew.

I hug myself as best as one can in a ground suit. It didn’t help. If I could see the stars, I still wouldn’t be able to find the rock Dad shipped Howie to. At the time I was grateful for Howie to have a job. I thought it meant we would have a life together.

A whistle reverberates through the yard, echoing against the walls of metal. I turn around but I’ve wandered far in the yard. My feet send clouds of dust pillowing into the air as I push myself as fast as I can. The whistle sounds again, closer. I skid to a halt before I run into a large metal cylinder. I’ve turned the wrong way.

“Noah!” I scream, but the whistle drowns out my voice.

“The Song of the Wandering Aengus” By WB Yeats Inspires Audrey

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

Maidens of the Sea

Summer break should be devoted to something big. Not like photographing every sunset, finding the perfect shade of nail polish, or seeing how many times you can watch The Fault in Our Stars and still cry big, but something really important. Like finding out what happened to Vanity Harrison.

I was two weeks into break and no closer to the truth, halfheartedly studying her house with my grandfather’s faded binoculars through a break in my curtains, my feet dangling off my bed, Fatty Fred happily purring on my back as he cut my lung capacity in half, when Mrs. Harrison drove up her circular driveway in the red convertible looking more like a Hollywood ingenue than a grieving mother had any right to. She parked in front of the elaborate Greek columns lining the exterior of the entryway and went inside. Just like normal. Just like she had everyday since she woke up and found Vanity gone.

“Gah! This is pointless, Fred.” I rested my chin on the edge of the bed, my arms hanging like weeping willow branches to the floor, and dropped the binoculars on the ground. I wanted to turn over and stare dejectedly at the ceiling, but I was at Fred’s mercy and he seemed pretty comfortable for the moment.

There was a soft knocking on my door before my dad pushed it open. I rolled my eyes. Luckily, he could only see my feet and Fatty Fred.

“Hey, honey.”

“Dad, you’re supposed to wait after you knock. What if I was naked?”

“It’s 10:30 in the morning. Why would you be naked?”

continue reading …

“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men inspires Audrey

The Howlers

I didn’t think they would follow me out here where the ice thins and I can hear the crash of the ocean. The wind is wilder here and has freed the ice of its protective layer of snow, making it slick. Slipping now would be fatal. The wind whips off my hood, but I can’t stop to fix it. Their chilling calls rise above the roar of the wind and sea, and I know the Howlers have nearly reached me. My lungs ache with each cold breathe I take, but I push myself harder. I have to.

My eyes leak frozen rivers across my cheeks. I lost my goggles when I tripped and rolled down a powdery hill before reaching the flat ice. The cold and wind burn my eyes. That, and I might be crying. A rush of heat runs up my thigh and all I hear now are Howlers. They’re breathing on me! I scream. It doesn’t help me run faster or release the fear clawing at my heart, but it excites the Howlers. I want to cover my ears to their deafening cries; they know a kill is soon.

No one will hear me out here, days from the shining citadel of Hiverfryt, but I can’t go quietly. I release another scream. It’s part fear and part anger. I was so close to finding my sister when the Howlers caught my scent. Now I never will. Suddenly, my fur boots slip. I try to correct myself by flailing my arms, but there is nothing to catch. I’m grabbing at air as I fall backwards. The Howlers are so close, one leaps over me in a giant stride before turning on me.

Squinting at the sun, he is nothing more than white wisps. Despite this, their teeth are sharper than knives. I’m nearly nose to nose with him, staring into his red eyes before I think to turn on my stomach and cover my head with my hands. Teeth try to find me through the layers of my clothes as I press my nose into the ice. I scream again as one tears off my mitten and bites my wrist. There are paws on my back and my hood pulls taut across my neck. It cuts off my scream.

continue reading …

Audrey’s No Rules Friday

Pushing (Part 2)

To read Part 1, please click here.

“1…”

The countdown stops and there is a moment of silence. We’re all holding our breaths, even table 14 girl. There is a sudden burst of cold air from the vents above and table 5 boy gasps. The cold air drifts down and little bumps spread over my skin. I clench my teeth so they can’t shiver against each other. My breath freezes in the air above my nose. I close my eyes.

“Phase one commencing. Please begin with your toes,” the metallic voice commands.

It tickles, pushing my soul out of my cells. My feet are especially sensitive. Laughing now would be disastrous so I bite my cheek until a coppery tang reaches my tongue. The tickle eases with the pain. My toes feel lighter, stronger, no longer burdened by the weight of my soul. I keep pushing.

Inch by inch, I make sure to remove every spec of soul. I don’t want to fail the scan. Up my ankles, calves, thighs, my soul moves before pooling around my intestines. The real pain starts as small prickles around my knees and increasing to bruising aches in my thighs. My chest is rising and falling heavily and beads of sweat are rolling off my forehead. I take a moment to catch my breath. My legs tremble with lightness causing a slight hum from my table. Other tables are humming too.

“Please maintain control and begin phase two.”

continue reading …

Audrey’s No Rules Friday

“Lie down, children,” calls the monotone voice from the speaking at the front of the classroom. “Testing will begin in 100… 99… 98…”

I find my table. Number 4. Front row. I can’t believe testing day is finally here. I’ve been fighting a nervous smile all morning. I hop onto the cold metal surface making a metallic pop as the table adjusts to my weight. The girl at table 14 clicks her tongue at me scornfully. She climbs onto her table without a sound. I watch as she adjusts her white robe, making sure her knee caps never show.

“87… 86… 85…”

I swing my own legs up and stretch out my toes. My knee caps are showing. When table 14 girl turns to look over her shoulder disparagingly at table 22 boy when his sweat covered hands cause him to slip with a terrific metallic rumble, I quickly pull down my own white robe. I press my fingers to my lips to stop the smile-twitch. I have to do better than table 14 girl.

“68… 67… 66…”

Table 5 boy is facing me with crisp blue eyes. He’s clasping his hands to try and stop the trembling. Today is a big day. We’ve practiced hundreds of times but it’s one thing to pretend and another to actually do it. And we have to pass.

“57… 56… 55…”

Table 78 girl shares a dorm with me. She told me that if we don’t pass, we don’t get a career. I can feel a bubble of panicky giggles building behind my belly-button. I lie down and press a fist hard into my stomach. I can’t laugh now.

“42… 41… 40…”

Not getting a career is just about the worst thing ever. My parents work at BioChem II. I met them 3 months ago. After testing, I can go and live with them instead of table 78 girl. The temperature is being lowered and I can feel my table all down my back and legs.

“30… 29… 28…”

Table 78 girl says that BioChem II is really important and reports directly to the PM. She says I giggle too much to get a career at BioChem II. I punch my traitorous stomach once more before spreading my fingers flat-palmed on the table. The cold helps.

“10… 9… 8…”

It’s so quiet I can make out the erratic breathing of table 5 boy. He needs to calm down.

“4… 3… 2…”

I close my eyes and focus on the voice.

Story continued here!

“Love Song to California” by Jen Hickman Inspires Anne

LoveSongtoCalifornia_JenHickmanLa Terreur

3 November 1793

Paris, France

The bells are ringing in Saint-Germain-des-Prés across the Seine. I pull my shawl tighter with each peal as I try to keep my slippers clean as I walk as quickly down the Rue Honoré. The pale pink shoes are the only nice thing I have on. It wouldn’t do to wear the matching silk gown. Papa would have noticed that slipping out the back gate. I borrowed the dress and shawl from Claire, but her feet were too big and her boots clunked and slipped when I walked. I glance up at the darkening sky.

A shout from a man on a mud-splattered white horse stops me. I nearly ran into its path. I turn and cling to a lamppost and lean my cheek into it, squeezing my eyes shut tight. Maybe this is a bad idea.

I came down to breakfast this morning to find Mama fretting around the house, her handkerchief pressing into her reddened eyes. I followed her to the blue parlor at the back of our townhouse.

“Mama?” I ask, placing a hand on her arm and turning her toward me. Her eyes dancing everywhere but on me. “Mama? What is wrong?”

Papa slams open the front door, thumps hurriedly down the hall, bursts upon us, and heads straight to the cognac on the sideboard. Two glasses later, he turns to us.

“It must be tonight, Mama.” She nods. Her eyes seem to focus as her pupils expand engulfing the blue into black.

continue reading …