CWWC

Loren from the blog Let’s Be Lost is hosting a writing challenge called Creating Worlds Writing Camp, or CWWC for short. I’ll be posting my entries for the challenge on this page. 🙂

I am on Team Hogwarts in CWWC 2017. Let’s do this, guys!

Entry #1:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– w o r d s –

There are so many things I want to say.

But the words never seem to make it past my lips.

My head is full of thoughts – broken sentences and shattered paragraphs that lay in dusty, unused piles in the dark recesses of my mind. I struggle to form them into words, to push them out of my mouth and into the air. Whenever I manage to morph a thought into speech, my voice feels strange and unfamiliar. I often regret speaking at all.

When I pass a homeless man on the sidewalk on a windy December day, huddled on a rusty metal bench, I want to speak. I want to stop walking and go sit next to him and give him a warm meal. I want to tell him that there are places that can help him, help him find a job and friends and a warm place to sleep. I want to give him a thick coat and a map, show him where to go and reassure him that things will get better.

Instead my feet pull me past the huddled figure as I plunge my hands deeper into the pockets of my warm coat and my hair blows in my face, hiding my sealed, silent mouth that does not speak.

When I climb onto the bus and cling to the sides of my seat as the driver swerves and slides on the snowy roads, I want to talk to the redheaded woman who’s standing quietly in the back. The one with a battered guitar case covered in faded, peeling stickers from all the places she’s been, with mismatched clothes and a strange accent and an air of adventure that seems to hover over her like a cloud. I want to ask her what it’s like to be a musician, what it’s like to see the world, to know adventure. Instead, I sit still, gripping the arms of my seat in stiff silence, and watch as the passengers in the seats in front of me strike up a conversation, smiling and nodding at one another as they chatter away.

Just like that.

They make it seem so easy.

“Hi, do you mind if I sit here?”

Startled, I look up and see the woman with the guitar case smiling down at me. My heart pounds as I slide over into the seat next to the window and pull my backpack into my lap to clear her a space.

The woman settles down beside me and balances her bulky instrument in her lap. “Thank you.”

A polite reply – a simple “you’re welcome!” – materializes in my mind and pushes its way toward my mouth, but my lips won’t part. The words die in my throat and the moment passes, leaving us in awkward silence.

I turn away and gaze out the window, observing the way my warm breath leaves little clouds of damp fog on the cold glass. I watch as the world blurs on the other side of the dirty window. Sidewalks and houses and people and snowflakes all slide by in a silent world of color and motion.

We pass the city park, blanketed with snow, and I catch a glimpse of the tall statue of a regal Greek goddess that rests by the park’s entrance. In a way, I muse, the statue and I are much alike.

We have mouths, yet we do not speak.

The bus comes to a stop with a loud, screeching sound and I stagger to my feet. I tug my backpack onto my shoulders and wrap my scarf around my neck. The woman smiles at me as she picks up her guitar and melts into the crowd of people surging out the doors.

I wait until the stream of people has thinned before descending down the metal steps and onto the crowded sidewalk. Moments after my shoes touch the rough pavement, the bus rumbles away, leaving me coughing in a cloud of fumes. I pull my coat tighter around my body and cling to the straps of my backpack. Voices float through the air, bold and soft, high and low, mingling with each other in a strange sort of harmony. It seems like everyone around me has something to say.

I stand still and silent and listen to the voices.

I wish I had the courage to speak.

__________________

Entry #2:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– h o m e –

A grand house.

Tall and regal – a masterpiece.

Broken gingerbread trim.

Creaky shutters.

Fraying curtains.

Faded colors, dusty floors.

Silent hallways, rickety stairs.

Cracked windows, sagging ceilings.

Overgrown gardens, an empty doghouse.

If you listen closely, you can hear the occasional lonely sigh.

Once, a family called this house their home.

Now all that remains are fading echoes of the past.

 

The wild laughter and light footsteps of two happy children.

The low, smooth voice of their smiling father.

The soft swish of their mother’s skirts.

The excited barking of a dog.

Broken, fuzzy sounds of the late-night radio.

The crackling of a fire in the fireplace.

The clattering of dishes at the dining table.

The gurgling of water in the bath.

Soft whispers of “goodnight” and “I love you.”

Quiet, rhythmic sounds of sleep.

“Good morning, darling.”

The creaking of the front door.

The purring sound of a car’s smooth engine.

Slow, sleepy footsteps of a child.

“I’ll see you after school!”

The front door creaks once again.

 

The sounds of life, of a home and a family, continued for three more happy years.

 

The door creaks too soon.

“You’re home already?”

Gentle voices. A gasp.

Tears.

“I’m sorry.”

 

Unemployed.

They could not afford to stay.

 

The clicking sound of a suitcase being closed.

Forced sounds of fake happiness from the parents.

Broken words no one wants to hear.

“Goodbye.”

 

The house watched through sagging shutters.

Don’t let it end like this.

It waited for the children to protest, to shout and kick, to run back through the front door and into the house with it’s familiar, inviting feel of home.

The family’s retreating figures became smaller and smaller.

Please, say something!

But the children did not speak. They turned away with silent, tearstained faces as their parents lifted them into the car and closed the doors.

The house wished it could reach out, could pull the family back into it’s many rooms, rooms that smelled of aging wood and warm firesides. It wished it could chain it’s doors shut and keep them from escaping.

They would be trapped, yes, but they would be where they belonged.

They did not belong in that little car with the purring engine and the shiny windows.

They belonged here.

Their home.

Don’t leave!

The last thing the house saw was the faces of the children, stricken with sadness, their eyes large in their small faces.

Then the car’s engine coughed and whirred.

No!

With a creaky moan that made the front door swing on it’s hinges, the house closed it’s eyes.

It could not watch them leave.

The rumbling sounds of the car faded slowly away.

 

The old house was no longer a home.

__________________

Entry #3:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– m e m o r y –

once upon a time

we remembered everything

but now the words are dimming

and the pages are wiped clean

 

these curled, cracking images

are memories of the past

quiet voices and blurry faces

that are fading much too fast

 

soft and unclear stories

of what used to be

slowly becoming nothing

in our memories

 

the things spoken long ago

are fading in our minds

from the simple, honest questions

to the twisted, smiling lies

 

we’re not so sure anymore

which memories are real

and which are just our fantasies

deceptive lies that try to heal

 

photographs and stories

blend with spoken words

creating an illusion

that’s unclear, dimmed and blurred

 

our minds are falling into disrepair

like an old house with dusty floors

the colors and sounds of the lives of the past

have become no more.

__________________

Entry #4:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– m i r a c l e –

The five senses.

Sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.

Simple things, really, but with such deep meaning and complexity that it makes my mind spin.

Sight — Colors, vibrant and faded, soft rainbows in the sky and bright crayons in a row. Shapes, round and friendly, sharp and foreboding, towering above and sinking below. Motion, blurred and smooth, crooked and spinning, up and down, sideways and around. Light, slivers of the sun through my bedroom curtains, and darkness – angry pools of shadows lurking in the corners, waiting to overtake the light when the sun’s rays fade away. Faces – bright, meaningful eyes that can speak without making a sound and smiles that twist into angry frowns and back again.

Smell — The crisp, bright aroma of my backyard on a winter morning. Warm, smooth smells of bread rising in the oven. Sour, hazy wisps of bitter smoke and the sweet, bright scent of fresh lemonade. The tangy aroma of a tree on Christmas morning and the dusty smell of an old book’s worn pages. The rough, friendly scent of freshly dug earth and the bright, damp smell that hovers in the air after the last traces of a thunderstorm.

Hearing — Whispers in the darkness, laughter in the daylight. Words from thousands of lips, honest and deceitful, words that tell you you’re pretty and then scoff at your smile, syllables that paint laughter on your lips and then wipe it away. Music, soft notes in the air, dancing and spinning with each other to create a melody that follows you, that flows through your mind and settles into your soul. The smooth ivory sound of a piano’s keys, the rusty music of a fiddle, the cheerful jingle of a tambourine. Footsteps echoing on the dance floor, beating a rhythm in time to the song.

Taste — Cold, sweet ice cream cones that melt in your mouth and crisp, tangy apples that crunch against your teeth. Steaming bowls of soup, warm and spicy on your tongue. Fresh, cool peppermints and bubbling cans of soda that fizz in your throat. Rich, sugary slices of pumpkin pie with light, airy spoonfuls of whipped cream balancing on top. Mugs of cocoa filled with cinnamon and warmth. An ice-cold drink of water that tastes of raindrops and the earth.

Touch — A warm pillowcase against your cheek. Cold raindrops hitting your face. Rough, unforgiving concrete. A welcoming, gentle embrace. The smarting pain of a burnt finger. The chilling relief of a cold stream of water against your skin. The smoothness of the kitchen counter and the bumpiness of an oak tree’s twisted trunk. Broken, angry pain and sweet, smiling comfort. The overwhelming wetness of the swimming pool and the warm dryness of a crackling fire. A hard floor under your feet and a thick, soft blanket around your shoulders.

We’re wonderful miracles – working minds and smiling faces, beating hearts and pumping lungs, flowing voices creating powerful words, bright eyes watching the world. You – yes, you! You are an incredible miracle.

My wandering thoughts come to a slow halt and I open my eyes. After a moment I realize I’m smiling in the darkness – a smile that no one can see, a smile that grows as I ponder the wonderful, incredible miracle of life. I lean back against the pillows and feel the gentle warmth of my blankets around me.

Dozens of glow-in-the-dark stars are scattered haphazardly among the solar system painted on my bedroom ceiling. I gaze up at the ceiling, squint my eyes, and watch as they blur into hazy, shimmering circles of light. For a moment, they almost look like real stars.

I feel my eyelids drooping and I pull my blanket tightly around myself. My eyes fall closed, the stars shimmer above me, and I curl up and let my mind wander – wander back to words and music and darkness and light – as sleep slowly overtakes me and I drift away into nothingness.

__________________

Entry #5:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– t r a p p e d –

rooms with doors

locks with keys

windows that open

 

and then there’s me

 

all I want

is to mend my wings

lose these bonds

and finally see

 

but there’s no escape

my hands are tied

my wings are broken

I’ve vainly tried

 

to mend the cracks

and pull away

this blindfold of darkness

that blocks the day

 

once I soared

over mountains and trees

my wings were strong

and my spirit was free

 

now I stand trapped

alone and afraid

wishing and hoping

to see the day

__________________

Entry #6:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– hide and seek –

__________________

Green leaves and broken bits of sky blur above me as I squint in the rays of sunlight that are peeking through the tree branches. The soft hammock I’m lying in stretches slightly under my weight as it sways slowly back and forth. The gentle motion of the hammock and the warm sunshine on my face makes me feel incredibly drowsy. I yawn and close my eyes. As warm breeze rocks the hammock, plays with my hair, and touches my face, I feel as if I’m being held gently in the arms of the wind.

“Hi, Scarlett.”

I’m jerked from my drowsy thoughts as a wild mess of hair and two green eyes appear suddenly above me.

My little brother grins. “Wanna play something?”

I groan and close my eyes again. “Go away, Tristan.”

Tristan huffs and pushes the hammock. “You’re no fun.” The hammock rocks violently as I shriek and struggle to keep the whole thing from turning over. When the motion slows I glare at him. “I don’t want to play with you.”

Tristan scowls. There’s a mischievous look in his eyes and I know exactly what’s coming. “Oh, no.”

He takes a deep breath. “Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease-”

The incessant, annoying stream of ‘please’ continues as I press my hands over my ears and try to ignore the sound.

Minutes pass.

“FINE!” I shout. There’s not going to be any arguing with him. The ‘please’ instantly stops and Tristan begins to do a victory dance. I moan and try not to smile as I say, “I’m picking the game, though. How about hide and seek?”

Tristan stops dancing and starts to jump up and down instead. “Okay! Let’s do it!”

I sigh. “Okay. You know the rules, right?” I sit up in the hammock and almost fall out. “Stay in the yard, don’t hide in the woods, and no peeking.” I steady myself by clinging to the hammock’s edge and get slowly to my feet. Tristan rolls his eyes. “I know the rules, Scarlett.”

I nod. “Just making sure.” He turns away, puts his hands over his eyes, and begins to count. “One… two… three…”

I take off at a run away from the trees and towards the garden shed at the base of the hill. I wriggle through the door and wince as it creaks loudly.

I breathe in the musty smell of potting soil and damp wood as I squint in the small amount of light coming in through the cracked door. Dust and spiderwebs cling to my hair and clothes as I crouch down among the shovels and buckets, make myself as small as I can, and pull a torn piece of canvas over my head. I don’t want Tristan to find me easily. I hug my knees to my chest and wait. My breathing sounds loud and harsh in the silence of the shed.

I can hear Tristan’s small voice from where he stands counting on the hill. “Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred! Ready or not, here I come!”

I hear his footsteps fade away as he takes off in the opposite direction. I close my eyes and sigh. This could take a while.

__________________

Entry #7:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– realization –

__________________

high glass ceilings

hurrying crowds

and I stand mesmerized

 

thousands of voices

blend and move

echoing as they rise

 

A man with a briefcase and a tired face.

A mother holding onto three energetic children while talking in a language I don’t recognize.

A frowning teenage girl who’s short rainbow-dyed hair flies around her face as she walks.

A woman with a guitar case and a barking dog in a crate.

A frantic man with a blue backpack bouncing on his shoulders as he rushes to catch his flight.

A half-asleep boy with baggy clothes and a scuffed skateboard under his arm.

A neatly-dressed flight attendant who smiles a red-lipsticked smile. “Welcome to Delta Airlines.”

 

as I stare

I come to the realization

that I never truly visualized

 

just how many people

there are in this world

until I saw them with my own eyes

__________________

Entry #7:

Loren, I used the following prompts:

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

THIS PROMPT

– summer memories

__________________

It’s a Saturday in August.

I’m in the back of a blue pickup truck with old AC that never seems to work right.

We’re rolling down a tiny country road lined with wilting pine trees and melting trailer parks.

In other words, it’s unbearably hot.

Green fields of cotton and peanuts blur outside the truck’s window as I shift my legs to make more room for the plastic grocery bags that are piled at my feet. We’ve been running errands all afternoon – just my mom and I – and I’m finding myself with less and less leg room as the day goes on.

Despite the limited space, I’m enjoying the ride. The truck’s engine makes a rough, comforting sort of sound and I like the way the rubber tires crunch against the gravel road.

Suddenly my mother’s voice breaks the peaceful silence.

“Oh dear. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen.”

I lean forward to see that she’s pointing to a small gauge on the truck’s dashboard that’s labeled “OIL PRESSURE.” The red arrow is sliding rapidly to the left. After a moment it hits the zero mark and she sighs. “We’d better stop.”

We slow down and pull into the dusty, overgrown parking lot of a tiny white church. My mom pulls the keys out of the ignition and climbs out to investigate the problem. As the engine stops whirring, the last cool wisps of air conditioning quickly die out and I can feel the stiflingly hot air filling the small cab at a rapid speed. I unbuckle my seatbelt and push the all of the doors open, hoping to cool myself off. It doesn’t help much.

I can hear my mother’s somewhat worried voice as she talks with my dad on her cell phone. The open hood of the truck obscures her from my view, but her words echo loud and clear in the empty parking lot. I listen to the one-sided conversation. It seems that we need more oil for the engine. They decide that my mother and I should to walk three blocks to the nearest gas station and buy some.

My mom hangs up the phone with a sigh and a smile. “Well, let’s get going, then. This will be an adventure.” She pushes the hood shut with a bang and and swings her purse over her shoulder.

I slide off the hot leather seat and my feet hit the ground hard, creating small clouds of dust around my legs. I push the truck doors closed and we head for the tiny, cracked strip of concrete that winds closely along the side of the road. Some would refer to as a sidewalk, but I would hardly call it that. The air is still and hot and thick and I can see little heat waves shimmering on the road ahead of us as we begin our journey down the narrow path.

The glaringly bright sunshine reflects off of the sides of passing cars and into my face. I blink and shield my eyes with my hand. The cars move slowly and steadily, their inhabitants waving as they pass. No one seems to be in much of a hurry today.

The walk to the gas station is mostly grassy fields and roads. At one point we pass a tiny, dirty, dilapidated white house with broken windows and a gaping hole in the roof. A car is parked in the driveway and some plastic toys are lying scattered on the porch. I’ve seen people living in that house before, but they never stay for very long. I wonder how long this family will stay.

At last, we round a final corner and the gas station comes into view. It’s red-and-blue-striped sign stands out against the greens and browns of the surrounding landscape. We cross the road and enter the small parking lot, which is empty except for two extremely dusty cars and a lone plastic bag that the slight wind is pushing half-heartedly along. Two gas pumps stand in the middle of the parking lot, unused and lonely.

We head towards the short brick store. It’s slanted tin roof provides little shade to the dusty cars beneath it. I can see that the outside walls of the building were once painted white, but they’ve long since faded to a dirty gray color. Bright neon signs advertising cigarettes, soda, and low prices are plastered onto the building’s crowded front windows.

We reach the front of the store and I push the glass door open. A bell rings cheerily above my head, a cool rush of air hits my face, and my nose tingles as I breathe in the sharp smells of lemon cleanser, sweet tobacco, 99 cent hot dogs, and bitter, overcooked coffee.

I’m feeling very thankful for air conditioning in that moment. The door swings shut behind me with another jingle of it’s bell and the thick, hot outside air is replaced by the coolness of the tiny store. My loose hair is stuck to the back of my neck, wet with sweat. The cold air feels so good.

I wander slowly behind my mother as she walks up and down the tiny aisles, looking for the engine oil. She finds it and turns to check out, then pauses as we pass the Icee machine. “Do you want a drink?”

I nod as I realize just how thirsty I am. We take paper cups from the stack on the counter and plastic lids from a small cardboard box. A neon yellow sticky note with “OUT OF ORDER” scrawled on it is stuck to the lever below the cherry-flavored ice. The red cylinder has stopped spinning and I can see the mixture melting inside.

I reach for the lever below the whirring blue cylinder and push it down hard. The icy drink quickly fills the paper cup. I can feel it’s wet coldness seeping through the sides and chilling my fingers.

We head towards the register and hand the drinks and oil to the tired-looking woman behind the counter. She unwraps a stick of gum, pushes it into her mouth, and rings up our purchase while her jaw moves in a slow, rhythmic motion.

When she finally finishes counting the change she hands us our drinks, smiles, and calls me “sugar.” Her voice is slow and sweet and muffled by the chewing gum. She draws out the “u” sound in in a lazy, unhurried sort of way.

I take a sip of the drink through the red plastic straw as we walk out the door and re-enter the sunny parking lot. The cold, sugary ice melts in my mouth and chills my throat. It feels wonderful. The plastic sign in the store claimed the drink to be “blue raspberry”, but I’ve tasted raspberries and they taste nothing like this. This is sweet and soft and shockingly cold, not warm and bumpy and bitter.

The walk back to the yard of the tiny church doesn’t seem quite as long now that we’ve got something cold in our hands and the promise of a working truck to take us home. I count the cracks in the narrow sidewalk and lean down to pull a smiling yellow dandelion from between them.

This time, when people inside the passing cars wave to us, I wave back.

__________________

More entries coming soon!

27 thoughts on “CWWC

  1. Go team Hogwarts! 😀 I love the first challenge you have up now. ❤ It’s really quite beautiful and wistful. I can relate to it so much. Excited to see what else you come up with through the rest of CWWC! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this was great, Clara! Also it’s funny because parts of your story are almost EXACTLY like mine, even though we haven’t seen each other’s story (that I know of). XD I can’t wait to read the rest of your entries!

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh, I do want to do it! I just need to make sure it’s OK with my parents first. 😀

              Comments are turned off on the CWWC page, but I just wanted to let you know that your story is SO SAD AND AMAZING! ❤

              Like

              1. Oh, YAY! I’m so glad you want to! I didn’t want to force it on you or anything. 🙂 Yeah, I totally understand!

                Oh, whoops! Thank you SO much for letting me know about the comments, and aww, really?! I’m soooo glad you liked it! I wasn’t sure if I did or not – it turned out kind of strange. XD But I’m glad you did!

                Liked by 1 person

  3. OH MY GOODNESS! CLARA! The poem for the 4th challenge is SOO GOOD! IT”S SO BEAUTIFUL! I’ve never really liked poetry but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THAT GREAT JOB!!! That was SO AMAZING!!!! I LOVED THAT! IT WAS WONDERFULLY GORGEOUS! Wow. It just flows so beautifully! THanks SO MUCH for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

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