Winners of the 2020 Teen Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest

Winners

of the Teen Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest 

First Prize: Malina Oliver

Second Prize: William Isle

Third Prize: Caitlyn Isle

 

Congratulations to all who participated!

Prizes

First prize- $50 Amazon gift card.
Second prize- Fat Cat’s movie date pack.
Third prize- Rexburg Floral gift certificate for free corsage & boutonniere.

All three winners will receive publication online at www.madisonlib.org and an award certificate.

Read the Winning Stories

Fractured Fairy Tale Second Prize Story: A Slippery Investigation

Fractured Fairy Tale Second Prize Story: A Slippery Investigation

Second Prize Story

of the Teen Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest 

“A Slippery Investigation” by William Isle

READ "A SLIPPERY INVESTIGATION" BY WILLIAM ISLE

It was hot. Blistering hot. The kind of heat that makes the air all wiggly and your pits all sweaty. Especially in my office. The windows don’t open for some reason. I don’t pay rent, though, so I guess I kind of deserve it. But I’m getting off topic.

It was on this hot-as-Helena day that he walked in. Charles Prince. The richest billionaire in the city. Probably the world, too, but I wouldn’t know either way. He walked in, still in his tuxedo from whatever highbrow party he threw most recently. “I need your help, Mr. Parker,” he said. The guy sounded frantic, like his life depended on me.

“What do you need,” I asked, “Some chump run off with one of your gold watches?”

“Don’t patronize me,” Prince said. “It’s a girl.”

“A girl?” I asked. “Must be some girl if you’re coming to me.”

“They told me you were the best in the business.”

“And they’re right,” I said. “Now, tell me about her.

Prince explained how they met at the charity ball he threw the week before. They “danced for hours and hours and hours” as he put it, and at the end of the night, he had asked this girl to marry him. She accepted, then promptly ran off once she noticed the clock. He hadn’t seen her since.

Now, I could overlook the fact that he had asked her to marry him after just one night, but there was one thing I couldn’t…

“What do you mean you don’t know what her name is?”

“It never came up,” Prince said. “It didn’t seem important at the time.”

“Didn’t you have a guest list?”

“At every ball we hold a lottery. A random citizen gets chosen to come to the party. She won.”

“And you didn’t have a record of her name from that?”

“We do it by number, not by name.” 

“Alright, so you don’t know her name. What does she look like?”

“I don’t know. It was a masquerade ball.”

I was starting to lose my cool at this point. “Well what in the name of Mike do you have?” I shouted. Prince jumped back in alarm. Then he pulled something out of his jacket pocket. A shoe.

“This was all she left behind,” he told me.

I examined it. “The only thing?” I asked. Prince nodded. I smiled. “Well, it looks like we have ourselves a mystery!”

 

***

 

The shop name on the inner sole of the shoe was mostly worn off, but there was just enough to get a location. It was an average looking shoe shop just off of 32nd. Neat trim, friendly staff, the works. At about 3 in the afternoon, Prince and I walked into the shop, hoping to find our girl. We didn’t.

“What do you mean you don’t know who bought the shoe?” I asked the man at the desk. “Don’t you keep tabs on this sort of thing?”

“Well, of course we do,” the man said. “It’s just that this specific shoe is very common. We usually sell in bulk to restaurants and diners. That sort of thing.”

I thought. There were dozens of restaurants in the neighborhood alone, not to mention the rest of the city. This would be nearly impossible, unless another clue turned up soon.

“Hmm,” the clerk said.

“What, what is it?” I asked.

“The size of the shoe,” he mused. “It’s much smaller than almost any of the shoes I’ve seen in the store.”

“Well, then it would have had to be a specialty order,” Prince chimed in.

“Yes, must have been,” the clerk said.

“What was the last place to order a shoe of this size?” I asked.

The clerk went to his books. “Let me see,” he said. The man flipped through the pages for a bit. I was beginning to get impatient.

“Ah, here it is,” he said. “A little place called the Perrault Family Diner. Can’t say I’ve been there myself, but I’ve heard good things from friends.”

“Where is it?” Prince and I asked at the same time. The clerk looked in his book.

“Just a couple of blocks down,” he said. “The corner of 1st and 30th.” We were out the door quick as a bolt of thunder.

 

***

 

The Perrault was a nice enough place. Not anyplace special, but good enough to duck out of the rain and enjoy a nice cup of coffee with a side of solidarity. Prince and I found a booth next to the window and sat down. “How are we going to find her in this place?” Prince asked.

“I’m thinking about it,” I said. “You have money, right?”

Prince looked confused. “Money?”

“Yes, money,” I said. “I’m a little low on funds, so to speak, and I’d like to order myself a cup of coffee.”

A waitress walked over to our table. Blonde. 21, 22, maybe. “What can I get for you gentlemen today?” she asked.

“Two cups of coffee, please,” Prince requested. The waitress’ disposition changed. She almost looked… nervous. 

“Alright,” she said quickly. The waitress ran off to the kitchen.

“That was strange,” I remarked.

“You get used to it,” said Prince.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“My face is in the papers every other week,” he said. “Strangers often recognize me and get a little jumpy.”

“Including waitresses from downtown restaurants?”

“Especially them,” Prince said with a hint of ego in his voice. “I am the most eligible bachelor in the city.”

The waitress was back with our coffee. “Here you go,” she said. She set our cups down and walked away. This time, I noticed something. One of her shoes was a slightly different color. I tapped Prince on the shoulder. He looked up from his coffee. “I think I found your girl,” I said.

We stood up from our booth and walked to the counter. The hostess was standing there. Redhead. Mid-40s. “Can I help you boys?” she asked. 

“In fact, you can,” I said. “I’m a private eye, and we’re looking for someone. One of your waitresses: blonde, early twenties, one shoe a different color from the other?”

“Hmm,” she said. “Let me see.” She wandered into the kitchen. Suspicious. Shouldn’t she know her own staff? 

What followed wasn’t visible, but there was definitely some sort of kerfuffle in the kitchen. Arguing. Pots and pans. After a few awkward seconds, the hostess returned. “I’m sorry, gentlemen,” she said, “there seems to be no such person in this diner.”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “Something’s definitely athwack.” We pushed the hostess aside and walked into the kitchen.

“Excuse me, sirs,” she shouted, “you cannot just barge into my kitchen in my diner without my permission!”

“I can and I will,” I said curtly. I was looking at all the waitresses’ shoes. Thus far, none of their shoes matched. That is, they didn’t match what I was looking for. Which means their shoes did match.

We got to the back of the diner. The girl we were looking for wasn’t there. Nothing but a closet door to our right and a window to our left. 

“See?” the hostess said. “The person you are looking for simply does not exist.”

“It seems you’re right,” I said as I opened the closet door. Inside was a blonde girl with one shoe of a different color. “Or maybe you’re wrong.”

“I’m sorry,” the girl said frantically. “I don’t think I’m the one you’re looking for.”

“Wait, no,” Prince said. “I know that voice. You’re her!”

“No, I’m not,” she insisted.

“Yes, you are,” I said. “And I can prove it. You’ve been working here for four, maybe five years. I would assume you’ve always wanted to see the city. Most do. So when you won the lottery for the ball, you took whatever dress and shoes you could find. But, you left something behind.”

Prince pulled out the shoe. “May I?” he asked. The girl took off the mismatched shoe and extended her foot. Prince knelt down and put the shoe on her. A perfect fit.

“Why did you run off?” he asked.

“I was afraid you’d think less of me if you knew who I really was. I didn’t want to take that chance.”

“I’ll never think any less of you.”

They kissed. It was sweet, I suppose, if you liked that sort of thing. But one thing still bothered me.

“Aren’t you going to introduce yourselves?” I asked impatiently. They separated their faces.

“Right,” the girl said. “I’m Ella.”

“Charles,” Prince replied. “Now, will you come with me? That is, if you still want to marry me.”

“Of course I do,” she replied. They were about to leave the diner arm in arm when I stopped them.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” I asked Prince. He pulled my fee out of his pocket.

“Sorry,” he said. “Slipped my mind.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “You two kids take care, now.”

“Thank you so much, Mr. Parker,” Ella said. “You’re invited to the wedding, of course.”

“Don’t bother,” I said. “I’ll just take up unwanted space. Besides, I wouldn’t have anything to wear.”

We parted ways. The happy couple went on their way, and I went on mine. As far as I know, they’re satisfied. Me, I’ll never be satisfied. Not when there are still cases to solve and bills to avoid. But that’s the way life is.

 

THE END

Fractured Fairy Tale Third Prize Story: Ship-Shape and Pirate Fashion

Fractured Fairy Tale Third Prize Story: Ship-Shape and Pirate Fashion

Third Prize Story

of the Teen Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest 

“Ship-Shape and Pirate Fashion” by Caitlyn Isle
READ "SHIP-SHAPE AND PIRATE FASHION" BY CAITLYN ISLE

Viola had been waiting at the docks all afternoon. The sun was setting now, turning the clouds shades of pink and orange, but still, she waited. Her maid, Katherine, had brought her a sandwich and grapes for an early supper, but Viola’s stomach ached for more. You can eat at the feast, she reminded herself. At his feast.

When it had been announced that Colonel Benedict was being assigned to Jamaica, Viola had just smiled a secret smile. They had known each other as children, but when her father was sent from England to Jamaica, she was forced to leave all that behind. Colonel Benedict’s ship had been spotted this morning, leaving the rest of the day for Viola to get ready. She checked her reflection in the water now. Her sun kissed golden hair was twisted into an elegant bun, her lilac dress adorned in lace. Viola’s skin, tanned from her stay in Jamaica, was bedecked in plum colored jewels.

Her father approached. He was a short, squat man, but his status as general earned him respect. “His ship is drawing near,” he remarked in his commanding voice.

“So it is,” Viola replied, the vessel looming very close now. The colonel’s ship was large and beautiful. It edged up to the dock, then set anchor. A gangplank was lowered.

Colonel Benedict stepped off the boat, his whole self glowing in the rosy gold sunset. He made a beeline for Viola and her father.

“General,” he nodded. “Lady Viola,” for her, a kiss on the hand. Viola suppressed a giggle.

“Colonel Benedict.”

“You may call me Clive.”

“Well then, you may call me Viola.”

The lady smiled. She had a feeling that things in Jamaica were about to get a lot more interesting.

⬖◍⬗

Colonel Benedict was such a dolt! Viola’s father had thrown a big feast in honor of all of the soldiers who had arrived that evening. The colonel had been seated right next to the general and his daughter. At first, Viola had blushed at all of the compliments Clive had given her, but once she gave him one, he lost all appeal to her.

For the rest of the meal he had bragged about all of his accomplishments, medals he had won, islands he helped conquer, on and on! Viola had hardly got a word in after that. The colonel was nothing like she remembered.

She had fled to her room as soon as the meal was over. Viola was brushing her hair gently when her father knocked on her door. “Viola, dear. Colonel Benedict has something to tell you.”

She sighed. Her father opened the door wider. Clive walked in. Goodness! Even when Viola hated him he was handsome.

“After this evening, your father and I have come to a decision.”

She looked at him, not sure where this was headed.

“Viola, the colonel has asked me for your hand…”

Her eyes widened. No, no, no! “And I’ve agreed.”

Both men looked at her expectantly. “Very well,” Viola said, emotionless.

Clive looked as if he wanted to say something, but her father ushered him out, closing the door behind them. She could hear them arguing, but didn’t care enough to try to listen. Viola was getting married to the man she most despised.

⬖◍⬗

Near the shore of Jamaica, a ship approached. The crew was rough and intimidating, the boat looked as if it had never been introduced to a mop in all its sailing years. The captain was cruel and blunt. That ship was a terrible place for a lady, yet its sole purpose that night was to capture one…

⬖◍⬗

Late at night, Viola was startled by pounding footsteps and shouting. “Lady Viola!” Katherine, her maid, rushed into the room, red faced and panting. She only had to utter one word. “Pirates!”

The two young women sprinted very unladylike to the safe room. Viola could hear shouts and gunshots. They only made her run faster.

When they got to the hidden room under the stairs, the door was ajar. When the girls stepped closer, they saw a shadow of a man, but it was too late. The pirate jumped out and grabbed onto Viola’s arm. He swiftly touched a part of her neck, and she went limp like a ragdoll. Viola had passed out.

⬖◍⬗

She woke up in a cell. The bars were rusted, the walls and floor moldy. Everything smelled like men who went without baths for months on end.

Viola’s head was pounding. She looked outside of the cell, and saw a man sitting on a stool, watching her. He had tanned skin, much like hers, and russet hair that was a bit overgrown. Viola realized that this was the same man who had kidnapped her. She glared at him, putting every ounce of hatred into the look.

He only responded with, “Did you sleep well?”

“No,” she said.

“Well, that’s too bad. You’ll be wanted on the main deck now, M’lady. The captain will explain everything.”

He then unlocked the cell and led her up the creaking stairs to the upper deck. A terrifying, smelly crew was there to greet her. A giant of a man stepped forward. He had dark skin, and an even darker beard. Viola could swear she saw eyes peak out of it.

“Welcome to the ship Prunella ye landlubber,” he snarled. Viola just raised her eyebrow.

“Your ship is called Little Plum?” she snorted.

“On account of the purple sails,” the man from the brig whispered in her ear. Viola looked up. Sure enough, the sails were a deep violet.

“I will be your cap’n for this voyage,” the giant said. “And ye have three choices: One! Write a ransom note to that handsome colonel of yers. Two! Walk th’ plank,” the crew cheered at this, Viola just shuddered. “And three. Become a lowly pirate, like meself.”

Viola pretended to think, while really, there was no choice. She did not want to become fish food, and she would rather live with these disgusting fellows than with Colonel Benedict. “I will,” Viola waited for the crew to still. They looked at her expectantly. “Become a pirate like yerself,” she imitated the captain. The whole crew cheered viciously. The whole crew, that is, except Viola’s kidnapper. He just sighed sadly.

  As soon as the cheering died down, Viola was thrust into the hands of a young woman about her age with jet black hair and cedar colored skin. The girl wore a purple bandana and trousers.

“You all seem to love that color,” Viola remarked.

“Oh yes,” the girl replied while leading Viola to a room under the main deck. Her accent was unfamiliar to Viola, yet beautiful all the same. “It’s sort of like our signature look,” she gestured to Viola’s clothes. “You’ll fit right in!”

Once in the room, the girl, who’s name Viola later learned to be Amancia, started ripping Viola’s dress. She had protested at first, but soon realized that the rips were planned and precise.

Amancia babbled on the whole time. Finally, she said, “Ah, here’s the last one.” Viola heard a great big tear before she was being led to a mirror. “There.”

Viola was no longer wearing a dress. The full hoop skirt had been ripped until it reached her knees, the crinoline taken out entirely. Viola’s petticoat was ripped until the sleeves barely passed her shoulders. All of the lace had been taken off, too nice to be ruined doing pirate work.

“Not exactly ship shape and Bristol fashion,” she muttered.

Amancia giggled, “You might say it’s ship shape and pirate fashion!”

She let Viola bask in her new found glory before pulling her aside. “You seem like a nice girl, so I’m going to give it to you straight Lady, er…”

“Viola.”

“Right. Tomorrow morning the captain will reveal the three tasks you must complete in order to become a pirate. They’re all impossible. No one has ever passed them. Ever. This charade is just a trick, the captain will just kill you for failing.” she sighed. “I know you don’t want to do it, but the only way you’ll possibly survive this ship is to write that ransom note.”

Amancia sighed again, patted Viola on the shoulder, then led her to her cell to get some rest. Viola said nothing the whole time. The man from before sat down on the stool, watching her again, she looked down.

“Did she tell you?” he asked. Viola nodded. “And your decision?”

Viola looked at him then, her eyes determined. “I’m going to become a pirate.”

⬖◍⬗

The captain had woken her up, bright and early.

“Yer first task for becoming a pirate,” he boomed, “Is to fill this bucket at least halfway with water, so we can use it to cook later.”

Viola took the bucket, along with a rope, eying it warily. Amancia and the man from the brig watched her. Amancia bit her lip, and the man shook his head.

The captain went into his cabin, and Viola lowered the bucket into the sea. It was a sunny day, and the water was calm. But as soon as she lifted it out of the ocean, the water leaked out. By the time it had come up all the way, all of the water was gone. Viola soon spotted the holes in the bottom and sides, so one couldn’t turn it and fill it that way.

Amancia and the man from the brig were whispering. “Please, Dax. I know you don’t want her to die, so help her!” The man, Dax walked over to Viola.

“I will help you, but for a price.” Viola raised her eyebrows. What could he possibly want? She had nothing on this boat.

“A kiss would suffice,” he said softly.

Amancia raised her eyebrows suggestively. Viola replied, “No. I’m not kissing you, you’re a pirate.”

Dax looked at her for a moment, then pulled something out of a pocket. It was a wooden circle, big enough to block the opening of the bucket. “All of the holes are near the bottom. You only have to fill it halfway, so if you put this in and let the holes fill the bucket up, then you’ll have your water.”

Sure enough, when Viola tried this, the bucket was more than half full.

“Thank you.” she said, meaning it.

Just then, the captain came out of the cabin, humming. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the bucket. “What the flippin’ ‘eck?” he muttered.

He took the bucket from Viola, looked inside, and growled. “Get back in yer cell!” Dax gently took Viola by her arm and led her to the brig, where she wondered what the next “impossible” task could be.

⬖◍⬗

The next day, Viola could see clouds gathering. She guessed that a storm was coming. In more ways than one, she thought when she saw the captains furious face. “Yer next task,” he spit at her, “Will be to cook a supper that everyone enjoys,” the captain sneered, “includin’ me. If anyone complains during the meal, yer done for.” He walked off, chuckling.

Viola grimaced. “Wonder how I’m going to get out of this one.”

Just then, Amancia and Dax approached. “We just heard,” Amancia said.

Dax nodded. “But,” he added, “I know how you can beat this one, for a price.”

“I’m not kissing you,” Viola said bluntly.

“It was worth a shot,” Dax muttered, blushing.

“Anyway…” Amancia said, turning them back to the task at hand. “What’s your plan, Dax?”

“Lady Viola is going to make peanut butter.”

After some more discussing and planning, the three made their way to the cluttered galley.

“I really don’t see how peanut butter is going to help,” Amancia stated.

“Because it’s sticky,” Viola said. “The captain, or anyone for that matter, won’t be able to complain if his mouth is sealed shut by peanut butter.”

Amancia grinned. “You’re a genius, Dax!”

The trio got to work. All of the meat, beans, and unrecognizable food was slathered, stuffed, and basted in peanut butter. It probably wasn’t going to be delicious, but no one would be able to say so. When the meal was finally ready, the food was carried to the mess room and placed on the table.

The whole crew was seated, even the captain. Viola, Amancia, and Dax sat at the end of the table. Viola could not believe how raucous and rude the pirates were being, but once they started eating, things quieted down. She could see all the faces of the pirates. Some were confused at why their mouths weren’t opening, others were mad that it prevented them from yelling like they were a few minutes ago. The captain was aghast, and looked as if he was about to explode.

“You said if anyone complained, I would be done, but I don’t hear anything. Not even from you.” She then walked regally out of the room, escorting herself to her cell. “I do hope the next task will be impossible, those are the best kinds,” Viola joked to Dax when he came into the brig to guard her that night.

“Your welcome,” he snorted.

“Thank you,” she managed to yawn right before she fell asleep.

 ⬖◍⬗

They were not sailing when Viola woke up. She could hear shouted orders as supplies were brought in from the port they had stopped at. Dax opened her cell without a word, and escorted her to the main deck. The captain was grinning, his eyes shining. Viola gulped.

“Time for yer third task,” he told her cheerily.

“Yes,” Viola replied, her stomach churning. Last night she had been so confident, but it had all shattered when she saw the captain’s apparent joy. The task must be hard if he was so happy.

Amancia walked up, preoccupied with braiding her dark hair. “Has he told you what it is yet?” she whispered to Viola, who shook her head.

“Yer third and final task,” the captain boomed, “Is to steal from that ship.” He pointed with a gnarled finger at a magnificent boat. Viola squinted, trying to figure out why she recognized it. Then she gasped. “That’s Colonel Benedict’s ship!”

The captain chortled. “Is it? I wouldn’t know. Now get goin’!” He roared.

Viola made her way to the docks sullenly. She had all but given up when Dax and Amancia caught up with her. “Don’t give up hope now!” Amancia cried.

“I have a plan,” Dax added.  “But it comes with a-”

“I am not kissing you!” Viola shouted, then sighed. “Out with it then.”

“First, take these.” Dax handed her some plums and a canteen.

“But what am I going to do with these?” Viola asked. Dax shushed her, then told her his plan.

 ⬖◍⬗

Viola walked gracefully to the colonel’s vessel. She started up the gangplank, but a soldier stopped her. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” He questioned. He looked tired, and he kept licking his lips, as if very much parched. Viola handed him the canteen, then walked on as he drank thirstily.

She had made it to the deck, when a rough hand turned her around. The hand’s owner started leading Viola off the ship, but she took one look at the man, gave him the plums, then left as he filled his empty stomach. The poor soldier looked as if he hadn’t eaten in a week.

Viola skulked into the colonel’s cabin. She rummaged around until she found what she was looking for, a small chest of gold coins. She pocketed it, but just as she was making her leave, a voice stopped her. “Kidnapped by pirates, now?” she turned around. Colonel Benedict emerged from the shadows. “More like joined them.” he shook his head. “You could have married me, Viola. You still can! All you have to do is put the chest back, and leave the pirates behind.”

Viola hugged the chest to her chest. “A few years ago, I might have said yes. But you’ve changed, Clive. I would rather become a filthy pirate than marry you!”

Colonel Benedict lunged at Viola, who stepped out of the way. He growled and threw himself towards her, but Viola ducked under  the Colonel and evaded him. She then planted a kiss on his cheek, just as Dax had instructed. She detested it, but the kiss worked. Colonel Benedict stood, stunned, as Viola ran out of the cabin. Coming to his senses, the man called for his crew to stop her. Viola dashed past the hungry man, making it to the gangplank. She glided around the parched soldier, sprinting to her vessel.

Just as Dax had said, they wouldn’t stop her because of the kindness she showed them. She had made it off the boat in one piece because of her generosity.

When Viola made it to the pirate ship, they immediately shoved off. The captain was glaring daggers at her, but the rest of the crew was cheering. Amancia hugged her, whispering, “I knew you could do it!”

After a few pats on the back, some so strong Viola nearly fell over, she made her way over to Dax.  He was leaning against the wall, staring at her. When she stared back, he looked away. Dax’s russet hair fell in his face.

“Thank you,” Viola said. “For everything.” Dax just shrugged. “You know, you proved me wrong,” she continued.

“About what?”

“I thought all pirates were rotten fellows, but you-” she struggled to find the words. She didn’t have to. Dax leaned in, his lips pressed against hers. The kiss was breathtakingly lovely, just like him. When Viola stepped back she smiled and said, “Maybe being a pirate isn’t going to be so bad after all.”

THE END

Fractured Fairy Tale First Prize Story: Lost

Fractured Fairy Tale First Prize Story: Lost

First Prize Story

of the Teen Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest 

“Lost” by Malina Oliver
READ "LOST" BY MALINA OLIVER
She’d never meant to go into the forest.
After all, her grandmother had only ever spoken of it with great fear in her eyes.
Emma understood that fear now. The darkness around her was tangible and dense, obscuring not only her vision but her thoughts as well. As her mind grew increasingly frantic, she strove to focus her grip on the torch handle, and on the light which emanated from its flame. Something howled in the distance. She suppressed the urge to turn back, and instead trained her efforts on masking her fear. She didn’t care that no one was there to see her: she put on the brave front for herself. She wouldn’t be a coward. She would die upright like her grandmother surely had . . . If I die . . . I’m not going to die! she resolved, just as something moved behind her, and she turned to face–
Nothing.
Nothing was there.
She quickened her step, cloak billowing behind her. Nothing is after me. I’m being silly. I’m not going to die . . . .

The shadow creature sunk low, its colorless eyes never leaving the foolish girl that dared trespass the forest. The pathetic child knew nothing, she was nothing, nothing but a mere child with a cloak who was trying to be brave. The creature could almost smell the child’s fear, see through the brave front into those dark brown eyes that told a different story.
Good. Flesh was so much sweeter when accentuated by fear. The rare, unfortunate squirrel that wandered into the forest had taught the creature that much. It could not even fathom what a human child might taste like with such great fear burning within . . . .
But there was something else there. Some other . . . emotion. Something like sadness, something like pain. But why, then, was there happiness, too?
Disgusting. The creature had forgotten how terribly complex human emotion was. It was unnerving.
The girl’s fear mounted. The creature extracted its claws. It wouldn’t be long . . . .

“Grandma?”
“Yes, dear?”
It was another warm summer’s day in the garden, and they had sat there in companionable silence for some time, sorting through runner beans, when Emma broke the silence.
“That cloak that hangs in your room. I was only wondering why you don’t wear it anymore?””
Grandmother didn’t hide her look of surprise. Emma grew increasingly curious at this: ordinarily, the older woman loved to tell stories about the different items she had collected over the years. Each seemed to have an epic story, at least the way her grandmother told them.
“I’m sorry,” Emma said when Grandmother continued to look shocked. “I . . . shouldn’t have asked.” Perhaps she had just brought up some terrible memory for her grandmother.
“Our family has a legend,” Grandmother said. “A legend of an ancient forest, infused with its own energy, it’s own power, if you will.”
“You mean, an enchanted forest?”
“Something like that.” Grandmother took off her hat and wiped her brow. Sweat glistened against her silver hair. The grey still took Emma aback sometimes; after all, her grandmother’s curls had only begun to lose their darkness in recent years. 
“The forest is said to be invisible to the human eye,” Grandmother went on. “Or almost all human eyes, anyway, save those who are most gifted. The legend speaks of a great treasure in the center of the forest, protected by the most hideous of enchantments. Some say that within the depths of the forest live the most vicious of creatures. Wolves of a sort. Shadow dwellers.” Grandmother’s eyes filled with something that could only be fear, and she looked at her lap without another word.
“What kind of a treasure?” Emma asked, desperately trying to continue the conversation.
“No one knows,” Grandmother said. “Those who have gotten far enough to find out haven’t returned. There is said to be only one means of survival.” Grandmother leaned in closer, and she lowered her voice. “A cloak, infused with the blood of a wolf, among other magical herbs and the like.”
“Ew.”
Grandmother raised her eyebrows. “There is a kind of magic in blood. Families pass their gifts through the generations. Fantastical creatures do much the same.”
“But . . . why a wolf’s blood?”
“Now, now,” said Grandmother, “not just any wolf’s blood, but that of a shadow creature. You see, those creatures are not born of nature. They are capable of feeling human emotion because that is what they once were. It is the worst enchantment of the forest. Those who allow fear to creep into their hearts become those creatures that most evoke fear. It is nearly impossible to override their savage tendencies. However, the cloak, that blood, can bridge a connection between a traveler and the wolf.”
“I still don’t understand.”
Grandmother looked at her with those blue, blue eyes. “I hope you never have to.”

The darkness intensified, until it was so thick that it smothered the torchlight and sent Emma to her knees, gasping for air. Whether it was all in her head, or she was truly suffocating on a lack of light she could not say, all she knew was that she wanted an end, the panic in her chest was paralyzing, she wanted out . . . .
“It’s all in my head,” she mumbled desperately, trying to gain control of the sudden onset of fear. She gripped at her knees as the world began to tilt and the darkness pressed in around her. The world felt strange and cold, she hated it all, the fear was too much, she would die here, she would be gone, she would be nothing

The creature crept forward, watching as the girl fell to her knees in agony. The enchantments of the forest were plentiful, but none was so terrible as was the disorienting fear. The creature found pleasure in watching the girl suffer. Oh, to sink its terrible claws into the girl’s flesh, rip the pitiful cloak to shreds, it would do nothing for her now . . . .
That cloak.
It knew that cloak.

The day her grandmother died, Emma was sitting by the window, embroidering, and anxiously awaiting the return of the only mother she’d ever known. She didn’t remember her parents. She didn’t need to remember her parents. She had her grandmother, someone who cared about Emma more than anyone else did, her friend and her confidant. They shared a thousand beautiful memories, and Emma had no reason to believe those times had ended.
Until her grandmother didn’t come home.
Emma couldn’t explain it, but she felt in her bones that her grandmother was gone, consumed by those terrible forest dwellers, the creatures of which her grandmother had spoken in the garden that day so long ago. The wolves.
Entering her grandmother’s room, teary eyed, she smelled a mixture of fresh bread and flowers, of which her grandmother had always smelled. She fingered her grandmother’s jewelry. She wallowed in her misery, in the loss, and tried to explain away the feeling that the wolves had gotten her grandmother. Surely, there was no rational way she could know such a thing. She was only imagining it.
And then she touched the cloak.
The red cloak, which her grandmother said was infused with the blood of werewolves . . . .
It was as if an electric shock had torn through her, and then, she knew. Her grandmother was no more. The wolves had administered the final blow.
She fell to the ground, and wept, clutching the cloak to her heart like it alone would save her from the terrible pain she felt. It could not be true. Her grandmother could not be gone.
Memories . . . so many beautiful memories. All of it was a blur, now . . . . All the details of Grandmother’s life, her voice, her sparkling blue eyes, her caring presence, all of it was slipping away, like water through the fingers of a child desperate to keep it all . . . .
The cloak warmed in that moment, as she thought of her grandmother, though she was sure she had only imagined it. 
The cloak, which she hadn’t been able to see until recently, which her grandmother had never mentioned, not until Emma had asked . . . Had it been there all along? And if it really did offer protection in that terrible forest, why hadn’t her grandmother taken it along? Surely, if she had, she would be alive and well, striding up the hill even now, tired but with a smile on her face and a warm hug for her beloved granddaughter.
It was not to be.
Emma would never know.

The cloak warmed around Emma’s skin now, just as it had the day her grandmother had died. The warmth spread up her body, calming her heart, bringing feeling back into her paralyzed body, bringing light and sense to the mind that had so refused to be calmed. She allowed thoughts of her grandmother to sustain her, which made the cloak warm further. She wondered again why her grandmother had not worn the cloak to protect in her journey through the forest. She had left one day, kissing Emma on the head and promising to return. Grandmother had never been a treasure hunter, but then, Emma suspected the treasure hidden in the forest was not the likes of a pirate’s hoard. Her grandmother had been spending much time in her room, looking at old books and maps. Emma rather wondered if her grandmother had finally figured out what was hidden in the center of the forest. It didn’t really matter. All she knew was that she had to find her.
Emma hadn’t known what made her hope her grandmother was still alive, not when she’d felt so distinctly that something terrible had happened, not when she trusted the strange magic of the blood cloak. Perhaps it was pure denial, or pure stupidity. More likely, it was the dreams.
They had begun not long after her grandmother’s death, and were as vivid as life itself. In the dreams, her grandmother was trapped in the forest, alone and afraid, and always, always the sound of wolves howling.
Emma felt a sudden hatred for the wolves of the forest, those terrible creatures of shadow her grandmother had described. Surely it was they, and they alone, who were responsible for her grandmother’s . . . death? Injury? Emma couldn’t say, she only hoped . . . . She knew there was always a chance . . . .
Something moved in the distance. Emma stumbled backward as the thick darkness began to clear, wary of the creature approaching her, hoping against hope that it was not what she thought it to be . . . .
A wolf.
It bared its teeth at her, which were bloody and yellowed, sharp as knives. Its ears pointed upwards; its claws were unnaturally long and also looked as if they’d been dipped in blood.
Emma didn’t want to run. Surely she couldn’t outpace the wolf, and what was the use trying? She would die anyway. Might as well take it head on, get it over quickly . . . .
The creature crept toward her, its eyes never leaving her; they had no color. There was nothing behind them; nothing but savage appetite. She would receive no mercy from this creature, of that much she was sure. Like her grandmother had received no mercy, she would be eaten alive, until there was nothing left of her.
She had felt such intense fear moments before, but it was nothing to what she felt now.
She tried to calm her mind as the wolf stalked ever closer, closer . . . .

Emma’s grief never let up. The pain was heart-wrenching; a thousand emotions all at once, pounding at her. Love, sadness, anger, happiness, sorrow; nothing was just one thing or the other, but a collision of feelings so overwhelming Emma could scarcely describe it. The dreams only made it worse, or perhaps, better in some selfish way, because she could see her grandmother. But to see her suffering . . . it was all too much.
Perhaps, like the feelings the cloak gave her, the dreams were true. Her grandmother had spoken of gifts, of a sixth sense. Had she meant these feelings? These instincts?
At last, she’d had enough. She took her grandmother’s blood cloak. She knew what she had to do.

The wolf crept closer, so close now, that she could see its eyes, its colorless, piercing gaze . . . .
Just when she thought death couldn’t come fast enough–just when she’d prepared herself for those knife-like teeth to pierce through her flesh, she saw a flash of blue in the wolf’s eye.
She knew that sparkling blue iris, though it was gone as quickly as it had come.
The cloak had warmed again.
The wolf paused.
Emma stood there, holding her breath, watching as the wolf’s gaze changed . . .
And then she knew.

Warmth.
Warmth was coming from that cloak.
For a moment, the creature saw the girl for who she was.
It was a fleeting notion.
The smell of the girl’s fear wafted up its nostrils, and it wanted nothing more than to strike . . .
But no, something was there now, a realization of sorts, this girl . . . this girl . . . .
Those eyes. That hair.

“Grandmother.”
Emma dared to step forward, holding out a hand.
“The forest has twisted you. But you’re still there. I see it now.” Emma didn’t know if the wolf could understand her, or if there was indeed any chance that it would have mercy on her. But she couldn’t stay silent. Not when she knew who the wolf was.
It was watching her, its eyes, she thought, less savage. Or perhaps she only hoped that to be true.
Emma took a stealing breath. “You . . . you weren’t eaten by a wolf. You became one.”

Emma. The girl before her was Emma. The girl–Emma–was speaking.
She wore the cloak.
How she’d ever wanted to eat her granddaughter, her dear, lovely girl! she would never know. But why the urge was still there . . . she shook her head, willing it away. She needed to be strong. She couldn’t slip back. If she did, she may never return, nor be herself again . . . She had to try, she had to fight the wolf inside of her . . . .

The wolf was changing before Emma’s eyes. What was once matted fur became flesh and skin and torn clothing . . . claws became fingers, a snout became a face . . . .
Until there was no wolf at all, only her grandmother.
Her dear grandmother!
The woman was deathly thin, and bloodstained; her skin was graying, her wrinkles more prominent. Her hair was no longer gray, but white.
But the eyes.
She had those same, sparkling blue eyes.
Emma didn’t hesitate another moment. She ran to her grandmother and embraced her.
“I’m so sorry,” Grandmother whispered in a broken voice. “So sorry.”
Emma said nothing, only hugged her tighter.
“I was . . . foolish,” Grandmother managed, pulling away slightly. “Foolish. I only sought your happiness. I did it for you, for our family. But I was so foolish to . . . not realize . . . the only treasure I needed was you.”
“Never leave me again,” Emma whispered.
Her grandmother smiled sadly.
“We’re all meant to leave. But that doesn’t mean forever. The fear of the forest changed me. But . . . never again.”
Grandmother sunk towards the ground, clutching at her ribs.
“No!” Emma cried. “Please.” Her eyes welled up with tears. She pulled off the blood cloak, and wrapped it around her grandmother’s shoulders, supporting the weak old woman the best she could. “Please. Stay, don’t leave me again–”
Her grandmother smiled weakly. “I could never leave you.”
Emma smiled through her tears. “Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
One lonely girl entered the forest that day.
Two left the forest, huddled under a single, blood-red cloak.

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Week 6 of Teen Summer Crafts

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need:

  • 5 ft plastic string
  • 6 red beads
  • 12 orange beads
  • 24 yellow beads
  • 36 green beads
  • 24 clear beads
  • 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need: 5 ft plastic string 6 red beads 12 orange beads 24 yellow beads 36 green beads 24 clear beads 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Build a fairy house! You will need: about 60 popsicle sticks scissors glue/glue gun materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Fold these paper cranes! You will need: a square sheet of paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need: 150-200 thumb tacks styrofoam egg desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don't forget the tassle! You will need: printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock) yarn contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Wizard Wand Pens

Create these wands and personalize them however you want! You will need: paper Glue pen (optional) paint (optional) paintbrush (optional) tissue paper

February Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in February!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday February 3rd from 4:30 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, February 6th at 4:30 pm – Neverland Silhouette Art . YOUNG...

November Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in November!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday November 4th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, November 7th at 4:30 pm – Let it GLOW Holiday Cards. YOUNG...

October Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in October!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, October 3rd at 4:30 pm – Deathly Hallows T-Shirt TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday October 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm YOUNG LEAGUE...

September Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in September!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do:   TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, September 5th at 4:00 pm – Dragon Eye Globes YOUNG LEAGUE OF WRITERS: Monday September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00...

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Fairy Houses

Week 5 of Teen Summer Crafts

Build a fairy house! You will need:

  • about 60 popsicle sticks
  • scissors
  • glue/glue gun
  • materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need: 5 ft plastic string 6 red beads 12 orange beads 24 yellow beads 36 green beads 24 clear beads 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Build a fairy house! You will need: about 60 popsicle sticks scissors glue/glue gun materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Fold these paper cranes! You will need: a square sheet of paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need: 150-200 thumb tacks styrofoam egg desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don't forget the tassle! You will need: printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock) yarn contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Wizard Wand Pens

Create these wands and personalize them however you want! You will need: paper Glue pen (optional) paint (optional) paintbrush (optional) tissue paper

February Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in February!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday February 3rd from 4:30 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, February 6th at 4:30 pm – Neverland Silhouette Art . YOUNG...

November Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in November!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday November 4th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, November 7th at 4:30 pm – Let it GLOW Holiday Cards. YOUNG...

October Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in October!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, October 3rd at 4:30 pm – Deathly Hallows T-Shirt TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday October 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm YOUNG LEAGUE...

September Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in September!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do:   TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, September 5th at 4:00 pm – Dragon Eye Globes YOUNG LEAGUE OF WRITERS: Monday September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00...

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Origami Cranes

Week 4 of Teen Summer Crafts

Fold these paper cranes! You will need:

  • a square sheet of paper

Step by Step Illustrated Instructions

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need: 5 ft plastic string 6 red beads 12 orange beads 24 yellow beads 36 green beads 24 clear beads 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Build a fairy house! You will need: about 60 popsicle sticks scissors glue/glue gun materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Fold these paper cranes! You will need: a square sheet of paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need: 150-200 thumb tacks styrofoam egg desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don't forget the tassle! You will need: printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock) yarn contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Wizard Wand Pens

Create these wands and personalize them however you want! You will need: paper Glue pen (optional) paint (optional) paintbrush (optional) tissue paper

February Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in February!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday February 3rd from 4:30 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, February 6th at 4:30 pm – Neverland Silhouette Art . YOUNG...

November Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in November!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday November 4th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, November 7th at 4:30 pm – Let it GLOW Holiday Cards. YOUNG...

October Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in October!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, October 3rd at 4:30 pm – Deathly Hallows T-Shirt TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday October 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm YOUNG LEAGUE...

September Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in September!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do:   TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, September 5th at 4:00 pm – Dragon Eye Globes YOUNG LEAGUE OF WRITERS: Monday September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00...

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Dragon Eggs

Week 3 of Teen Summer Crafts

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need:

  • 150-200 thumb tacks
  • styrofoam egg
  • desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need: 5 ft plastic string 6 red beads 12 orange beads 24 yellow beads 36 green beads 24 clear beads 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Build a fairy house! You will need: about 60 popsicle sticks scissors glue/glue gun materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Fold these paper cranes! You will need: a square sheet of paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need: 150-200 thumb tacks styrofoam egg desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don't forget the tassle! You will need: printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock) yarn contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Wizard Wand Pens

Create these wands and personalize them however you want! You will need: paper Glue pen (optional) paint (optional) paintbrush (optional) tissue paper

February Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in February!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday February 3rd from 4:30 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, February 6th at 4:30 pm – Neverland Silhouette Art . YOUNG...

November Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in November!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday November 4th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, November 7th at 4:30 pm – Let it GLOW Holiday Cards. YOUNG...

October Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in October!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, October 3rd at 4:30 pm – Deathly Hallows T-Shirt TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday October 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm YOUNG LEAGUE...

September Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in September!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do:   TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, September 5th at 4:00 pm – Dragon Eye Globes YOUNG LEAGUE OF WRITERS: Monday September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00...

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Harry Potter Bookmarks

Week 2 of Teen Summer Crafts

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don’t forget the tassle! You will need:

  • printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock)
  • yarn
  • contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Pony Bead Dream Catchers

Build a glow-in-the-dark pony bead dreamcatcher! You will need: 5 ft plastic string 6 red beads 12 orange beads 24 yellow beads 36 green beads 24 clear beads 48 purple beads

Teen Summer Crafts – Fairy House

Build a fairy house! You will need: about 60 popsicle sticks scissors glue/glue gun materials to decorate

Teen Summer Crafts – Origami Cranes

Fold these paper cranes! You will need: a square sheet of paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Dragon Eggs

Make these incredible dragon eggs! You will need: 150-200 thumb tacks styrofoam egg desired color(s) of fingernail polish

Teen Summer Crafts – Harry Potter Bookmarks

Color these Hogwarts bookmarks. Don't forget the tassle! You will need: printed bookmark template (preferably on cardstock) yarn contact paper

Teen Summer Crafts – Wizard Wand Pens

Create these wands and personalize them however you want! You will need: paper Glue pen (optional) paint (optional) paintbrush (optional) tissue paper

February Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in February!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday February 3rd from 4:30 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, February 6th at 4:30 pm – Neverland Silhouette Art . YOUNG...

November Teen Events

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in November!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday November 4th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, November 7th at 4:30 pm – Let it GLOW Holiday Cards. YOUNG...

October Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in October!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do: TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, October 3rd at 4:30 pm – Deathly Hallows T-Shirt TEEN ACTION COUNCIL: Monday October 7th from 4:00 to 5:00 pm YOUNG LEAGUE...

September Teen Events, Clubs, and Crafts

We have LOTS of fun things planned for the teens in September!  Here’s a breakdown of all the great things you’ll want to do:   TEEN CRAFT: Thursday, September 5th at 4:00 pm – Dragon Eye Globes YOUNG LEAGUE OF WRITERS: Monday September 9th from 4:00 to 5:00...

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