A Caged Heart

My heart flutters behind its bars. It struggles vainly to be free of the cage I have placed it in. Last time I let my heart go it came back, broken and bleeding. Now I fear to set it free. Not in fear that my heart won’t return. Only in fear that I won’t be able to repair the damage that has been done. Spring is here heralding the changes to come, calling seductively to my heart. It is promising fun, freedom, adventure, and love. It has no answer for the pain that may come. Should I allow my heart to remain forever caged? Safe from those who would seek to abuse the poor creature, so full of love? Or should I set it free and hope that it finds its missing piece?

Maybe it’s time to fly.

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Chapter One of Jessica Broderick’s Story

I am having trouble with chapter one so I am posting it here. Please feel free to critique, anything would be great. While I don’t mind negative commentary they should be directed at my work and not at me.

Books crammed every available space wound around me in an endless maze. Dust like the thoughts of authors flaked off of the bindings tickling my nose. The lettering on the spines swam before my eyes changing shape as I tried to read them. It didn’t matter, I already knew where to go. I turn right where the gold lettering on the red cover turns into a bird. I keep going straight when I see the book that grows out of the stacks. I turn left once I reach the blue book that bursts with sliver stars. I know I’ve reached the end when I see the green book with the title coiling around it’s cover. Emerging past the books is the round receptionist’s desk in the middle of the maze. All of the shelves seem to strain forward, reaching for the person sitting behind the desk.

The person could be a librarian anywhere, with her blonde hair up in a messy bun, stuck so full so full of pencils and pens it looks like a hedgehog on top of her head. A scarf as red as her glasses wrap around her shoulders nearly obscuring her white t-shirt. She never looks up from her work, just makes a note on an ancient parchment with a quill. “Is there something I can help you with?” The Librarian asks sounding bored. It would only be a few more seconds before she waved her quill dismissing me.

I open my mouth to answer her, the question already poised at the tip of my tongue. Except words don’t come out, instead it’s the sound of birdsong. Frustrated I snap my mouth closed frowning.

The Librarian looks up at me for the first time, her green eyes dancing with amusement. “Still having trouble talking?” She dips her quill into the ink well. “Don’t worry your time will come soon Jessica. For now, it’s time to wake up.” The Librarian waved the quill in dismissal. I opened my mouth to protest, the birdsong only grew louder. Soon the whole library was filled with the cacophony of chirps, everything fading around the edges.

In the darkness the birdsong became less pleasant. I cracked open an eye to see a small, green feathered fiend greeting the morning on my head board. “Ahhhhgggggg,” I stuffed my pillow over my head trying to block out the sound. “Enough Freddy!”  The feathery little bane to slumber changed tactics. A sharp peck on my hand sent my pillow flying along with the bird. “Ow! Dang it, Freddy!” The pillow thumped uselessly against the wardrobe sliding to the floor. The instigator landed unharmed on top of the wardrobe.

“I’m awake now,” I complained to the preening little turd. I threw back my blanket, my feet coming into contact with the cold wooden floor. I shuffled quickly into the bathroom, the wooden floor gave way to even colder tile. Standing under the warm spray my toes curled against the cold ceramic. My mind wandered towards last night’s dream. Dreams only change when something significant happens in your life. I wonder what had happened in my life to cause a change in my dream.

Showered and dressed I hastily made my bed shoving things into my backpack as I worked. A flick of the blankets sent a book flying to the floor. As I bent over to pick it up Freddy whistled to get my attention. “Alright, I’m coming.” I stuffed the book into a free space on a shelf behind Freddy’s cage. I flipped a page on the book that sat on a pedestal that sat beneath his perch. “Stay out of trouble,” I said scratching the top of his head. I’m not sure he can actually read the book but he sure does love staring at the pages.

I stomped down the stairs into the kitchen pulling my hair back into a ponytail. Mom stood at the island scrapping eggs onto a plate her cell wedged between her shoulder and her ear. “I don’t need excuses Gary,” she practically yelled into the receiver. “I need supplies.”  The pan banged down onto the stove, Mom blew a stray blonde curl out of her face in exasperation. “Well, what’s Jimmy’s problem this time?” I took the plate from the counter snatching a piece of toast on my way to the table.

Diana already sat there her little feet dangling. “Morning Mess Monster,” I greeted picking a piece of toast out of her curls. “You know you are supposed to eat your breakfast, not wear it.”

“I am eating,” she stuffed a forkful of egg into her already full mouth. “See.” Diana grinned eggs dripping out of her smile. I shook my head at the hopeless cause then sat down across from her.

“Well, then call me if anything changes,” Mom slammed the cell phone down on the counter physically biting back a swear word. She rolled up the sleeves of her flannel shirt before picking up her coffee mug.

“Problem with the Adler House?” I asked piling my eggs onto my toast. The Alder House is one of the first houses built in Prosper that Mom is renovating for the Historical Society.

“Just Jimmy being stubborn,” Mom leaned against he counter nursing her coffee. “Some nonsense about the old Mayor cursing the place. I’ll get it sorted out.”

“Why would he curse his home?” Diana asked the rest of her breakfast forgotten.

Before Mom could answer her Beth descended wearing clothes that could barley be considered decent. Forest green cargo pants hung off of her slender hips pooling around her combat boots. Her black top clung to her ribs not even reaching her stomach. The neck of her shirt was stretched out far enough it slipped off of one shoulder informing everyone that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Beth’s red curls were pulled back into a messy bun stray strands framing her face.

“What are you wearing?” Mom demanded her coffee mug hitting the counter with a thunk.

“Clothes, duh,” Beth rolled her eyes snagging a piece of toast off the counter. “I’m running late, ground me later, ‘kay?”

“Now wait a minute,” Mom followed Beth out of the kitchen the door swinging erratically.

“Is Mommy gonna curse Beth?” Diana asked her blue eyes wide.

“Curses don’t exist, sweetie,” I assured her. “Come on kiddo, you know the drill.” Diana scampered out of the kitchen her curls flying behind her.

My bus almost took off without me. Diana’s bus driver showed up late because he doesn’t seem to believe in schedules. I slid in just as the doors start to close to the groans of the other passengers. “Sorry,” I apologized slinking past the glaring driver. “Sorry,” I repeated to the glaring passengers as I passed by.

“Freak,” one of the girls muttered as I walked by.

“Ah man, held up by the freak,” came another whispered comment. Legs and bags hindered my progress through the bus. It took all of my concentration not to trip as I neared my goal.

“Nice shave,” Kat said as I slid into the seat next to her. “I think you left some skin back there.” She didn’t even look up from the pages of her book as she spoke.

“So what’s todays book?” I dug through my back pack looking for last night’s homework. The bus jerked to a start throwing everyone forward.

“You wouldn’t like it,” she sighed flipping a page. Sunlight filtering through the window turned her golden locks into a halo around her head, the silver cat winking around her throat.

I groaned, “Another post-apocalyptic thing from Veronica Roth?”

“Right author wrong genre,” Kat pulled her locks back, twisting them into a bun, then pinning them down with a stray pencil. “It’s more like man versus his inner beast.”

“What is wrong with a good old classic?” I complained for the hundredth time.

“Did you finish your History assignment?” Kat changed the subject.

“As if I could,” I glared at the offending paper, just a title at the top of a page. “I don’t see how I am going to find a connection between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Pagan Conversion.”

“Your creative, make something up,” my friend dismissed with a wave of her hand.

Before I could reply the bus stopped, the front doors squeaking open. Kat looked up from her book, her green eyes narrowing in annoyance. The last of the students filed on board, chatting excitedly with their friends. Then the din died down and the girls began giggling and whispering. I could’ve sworn Kat growled next to me when Sean Caporaso came into view. His modest tan and athletic build designed to make girls swoon. Blue, black locks always in place and baby blues that never frown. Yep, Sean Caporaso, the sickening epitome of teenage perfection. I almost didn’t see his shadow.

The guy isn’t very remarkable in loose black clothing. The skater shoes, beanie, and wallet chain mark him as a slacker. But his dark eyes never miss anything behind his glasses. The beginings of a goatee and mustache remind me of a villain in an old black and white move. Not someone I would normally associate with Sean.

Mr. Perfect slid into the only open seat in front of us his shadow sliding in next to him. “Can’t you sit somewhere else?” Kat demanded slamming her book closed.

Sean turned to look at her giving her that thousand watt smile girls would kill to receive. “Oh, Morning Kathrine I didn’t see you there.”

“Like hell you didn’t,” Kat snapped.

“I’m,” I cleared my throat trying to be heard over Kat and Sean bickering. “I’m Jes.” Sean’s shadow turned to look at me. “How, how do you know Sean?”

“His my cousin,” was his simple answer. He started to turn back then stopped.  “I’m Joe.”

“It’s nice to meet you Joe,” I felt my mouth stretch into my first real smile of the day.

Joe raised an eyebrow nodding his head in the direction of the bickering couple. “Do they do this every morning?”

“Pretty much,” I replied quickly. “Basically, every time they are together for more than five minutes. Sometimes I wonder why they don’t just go out.”

Joe frowned, “Some things just can’t happen.” He turned around as Kat and Sean stopped fighting. Kat went back to her book leaving Sean to flirt with the girl in front of him.

Writing For The Young Mind

I am young at heart. Always have been, always will be. However, my mind has been above the maturity of my peers since my Dad taught me how to read at the age of four. By the time I was in the sixth grade I could read almost any book in the public library short of classic literature. I chose not to because I thought the woes of Adults were stupid. (I couldn’t see why liking one guy would pose a problem to a current spouse.) It is marginally different now though. I understand why Adults face the problems they do. I still find it ridiculous. My belief is that any personal problem can be fixed if you have a deep understanding of why there is a problem. But I am getting off topic.

Who I write for, or am trying to write for, is the young mind. Teenagers I completely understand even when they are being utterly ridiculous. Teenagers, like their parents, want status and power. They are scrupulous, even devious, in their means to obtain that power. Understanding this I believe I would be able to write a story that would show the young mind that status and power isn’t everything. It is what you do with your lives to better the world that matters. However, the problem I face is that the young mind doesn’t want to hear that power isn’t everything. Even the outcast, nerd, or bookworm believes that having power makes you great.  They also don’t like coming to their own conclusions. You have to present facts in an orderly manner and they have to make sense to keep your young reader in thrall.

I plan on defying one teenage logic. In my story my heroin will save a supernatural society without any powers of her own. At least she won’t have any until the end of the story . No matter who you are you can’t go through something big and not come out changed in the end. I just need to figure out how to present the facts in such a way to keep my readers intrigued.

Characters In A Book

Isn’t it strange how sometimes the characters I’m our mom’s are more real than the people around us. Well, that is the way it seems with me.

When I’m in a bar shopping my rum and coke, reveling in the fact I’m being left alone I think of a character I made up. A wild theif who would have either been dancing on the bar or flirting with the boys. And definitely would have been on her third beer. I don’t drink beer. And yet I suppose there is a wildness inside of me that would call to a person like her. 

Sometimes I think about my current character Jessica. She is supposed to be a book worm and a realist in a magical world. I’m still kind of stucknon how to make that happen.