Short Story – A Smoky Lesson

Hello everyone! Today I’m back with another short story, this time an older one that I wrote last summer. Now, I need to give some background to this story before I post it…

The Circle C Adventures series by Susan K. Marlow have been one of those series that is just an integral part of my childhood. Though actually, I didn’t get into them until I was about 10, so perhaps they’re more part of my adolescence. 😀 I read the ‘Adventures‘ series first, then read the ‘Beginnings‘ (even though I was much above the target age range for them :D) In the recent years I’ve really enjoyed the ‘Milestones‘ series, buying them as soon as they’ve been published. The series chronicle the adventures of a girl named Andi Carter, who grows up on a Californian ranch in the late 1800s. They tell her story from the age of six up until she get’s married. I’d totally recommend checking them out, they’re wonderful books!

My love for historical fiction was deepened through reading these books, and my love for writing was partly sparked by them. Yes, I wrote some before I encountered them, but the fan-fiction contests that Mrs M held for her readers pushed me to start writing more. I actually won honourable mention in 2015/16 yearly writing contest. (I might post that story on here one day! ;))

So anyways, now that I’ve got all that explained, you’ll better understand where this story is coming from. It was written for a small writing contest Mrs Marlow held last summer. Though it didn’t place, I thoroughly enjoyed writing it! Perhaps because it’s based on a true life story. 😀 So without further ado, here’s the story! I hope you enjoy! 🙂

~

A Smoky Lesson

Six year old Andi breathed a deep shuddering sob that turned into a cough as she breathed in the acrid smoke. Mitch and Peter were frantically rushing around the kitchen, opening windows and trying to fan the choking smoke out. But Andi just stood there, staring at the charred and smouldering pot on the stove, sobbing.

My surprise for Mother is ruined! How could this have all gone so wrong? She took another shuddering breath, and let her mind go back over the events of the afternoon….

*

As Mother had left the house just before noon that day, she’d lined up Mitch, his best friend Peter, and Andi on the front porch.

“Mitch, I expect you to take good care of Andi. And Andi, listen to your brother. He’s in charge.”

“Yes Mother, don’t worry we’ll be fine.” Mitch had airily assured Mother.

“We’ll take care of Andi, don’t worry.” Peter had added.

“Good. Now have fun and be safe! I’ll be back in time for dinner.” Mother had smiled and then climbed into the buggy. As it headed away, she’d called back. “And don’t burn the house down!” Mitch looked at Peter and laughed.

“Come on, let’s go down to the corral where all the mustangs are!”

“Can I come?” Andi asked.

“No, they’re too wild now. Too dangerous for a little girl like you.”

“Please?” Andi begged.

“No, go in the house and play, we’ll be back in a few minutes.” The two boys had headed off, leaving Andi standing disconsolately on the porch. If Mother hadn’t cautioned her to obey Mitch, she would have ignored him and followed along.

But I’d better listen to him this time, I guess. She wandered aimlessly into the house, searching for something to do. It was the servants’ day off, and there was no one around in the house or yard. None of her toys looked inviting, compared to the lure of forbidden mustangs.

Maybe I’ll get a snack. Andi eventually thought, heading for the kitchen. A few minutes later, mouth full of cookie, she slumped on a chair. Mitch is no fair! He should have stayed with me instead of going off with Peter and leaving me all alone. As she slowly munched her cookie, Andi’s eyes lighted upon a large crate of rosy apples in the corner of the kitchen. Those must be the apples Mother asked Luisa to make into applesauce. Andi mused. Hmmmmm… A light bulb clicked on in her brain. I know! I’ll make applesauce to surprise Mother!

*

A little while later, the apples were peeled, cut, put into a large pot, and already sending up warm, sweet smells above the hot kitchen stove. Since she knew Mother’s warnings about using knives, Andi had enlisted the boys’ help for the surprise she had concocted, and amazingly they had gone along with it with nary a murmur. Andi’s mouth and hands were sticky with all the apple peelings she had eaten while picking up after the boys, who had raced to see how many apples they each could peel and cut.

“Well, what do we do now?” Peter questioned to nobody in particular. “This applesauce won’t be done for a while, and there’s no use just sitting here watching it.”

“Let’s go for a ride.” Mitch suggested.

“Oh yes! Can I come?” Andi exclaimed.

“Sure.” Said Peter generously. “Let’s go!” As the three headed out for the barn, all thoughts of applesauce were swept from their minds.

*

An hour and a bit later, the three ambled slowly back towards the ranch on their horses. The two boys were farther back, letting their mounts cool off after a heated race. Andi on Cocoa was in front, considering a particularly interesting dispute Peter and Mitch had had over who’d won the race. As they neared the house, she looked up, and to her immediate horror, saw black smoke billowing out of a window in the house!

“Mitch, Peter!” She screamed. “The house is on fire!!!”

*

Now as Andi stood surveying the charred pot that was still belching out putrid smoke, and the blackened stove underneath it, she wasn’t sure what to do or think. The boys had immediately jumped into action, opening all the windows in the kitchen, and throwing a bucket of water on the stove, where it had hissed fiercely. Andi had taken one look at her ruined surprise, and started to sob.

My wonderful surprise has turned into a horrible mess! As the smoke slowly disappeared, leaving the stench of charred apples, Mitch left the kitchen to open all the windows around the house, hoping to dispel just some of the smell that had permeated the whole house. Peter seeing Andi’s distress, kneeled down and gave her a gentle hug.

“Hey, it’s ok now.” He comforted, awkwardly trying to wipe away her tears. “There’s no fire, and everything will be jim-dandy once we clean up.” Peter assured her.

Mitch came back into the kitchen, and said “We’d better try and scrub out that pot. Mother will have a fit if she sees that mess in it.” He hauled the pot to the table and began to scrub it. Peter began to wipe off the blackened stove, and Andi slowly began to pick up stray apple peels off the floor.

“I guess… I guess we shouldn’t have left it.” She tentatively said.

“Yeah, it was my fault for suggesting to go for a ride.” Mitch answered.

“And it was my fault for agreeing!” Peter added.

“And it was my fault for…”

Andi was cut off by Mitch. “It wasn’t your fault at all! Don’t you worry over it, I’ll explain everything to Mother.” He flashed her a cheery grin.

*

As it turned out, Mother was so grateful that nothing worse had happened, that she really didn’t mind about the awful smoky smell or the scorched pot.

“Thank God that you came back when you did! It could have been so much worse!”

“Yeah, I’m sorry Mother, I should have thought.” Mitch apologized.

“I’m sorry my surprise for you was ruined Mother.” Andi said, hugging her Mother tightly.

“Oh darling, it was the thought that counted.” Andi grinned up at her Mother, and then straightened up.

“You know what?” Andi looked around at everyone. “I’ve learned a very important lesson: Don’t ever leave the house when you are cooking!” Everyone erupted into laughter.

“You got that right, Andi!” Peter chortled. “You sure got that right!”

*Dedicated to my dear, long-suffering Mother, who recently did come home to find her best pot ruined by my surprise that had literally gone up in smoke. Thanks for forgiving me again, Mum! 😀

~

As you can see from the dedication, this story was really based on a true life story. Like Andi, I decided to make applesauce for a surprise for my Mum, and also like Andi, I totally forgot about it and ruined it and the pot it was in. I wasn’t able to laugh about it as quickly as Andi did, but looking back now I can! 😀

That’s all for today! But before you go, I want to let you know about a new blog that has just been launched. I am part of a course called the Young Writer’s Workshop that was launched by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe early this year. It has been an invaluable tool to help me grow in my writing, and is part of the reason why I started this blog! As a part of this course, there is a community where we can interact with all the other young writers on the course. I’ve met so many wonderful writers, it’s been amazing! And one of my fellow writers, Bethany, is launching her blog today! You can find her at Behind the Pen, where she’ll be posting behind the scenes of her writing, story snippets, writing tips, book reviews and the occasional fun/off-topic post. I know she’d love it if you could check her out! 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful week (celebrating Thanksgiving if you’re in America, enjoying the lovely, rainy weather if you’re in England, and just plain enjoying life if you’re somewhere else :D) and I’ll see you back here next Saturday!

Advertisements

Poem – Broken

Hello everyone! It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted a poem, so I’m going to share another one today. 🙂 It’s another ‘pinterest-inspired’ piece, and it’s fully based on my imagination. It is not based off of any person I know or any experience I’ve had. Just pure writerly imagination.. 😀

This is the quote that sparked my imagination:

who were you?

 

And this is what I came up with:

Broken

 

Who were you

before they broke your heart?

What were you like

before they crushed your dreams?

I wonder

if I could’ve known you,

and come to love you

For who you once were?

I would’ve liked to see you dream,

to see your face light up with laughter,

and your eyes spark with happiness.

But

I will never know now

because

you and your broken heart

have broken mine.

You are a doubter

because you once were a dreamer

who had your dreams crushed.

You are a breaker of hearts

because you had your heart broken.

I will never know

who you once were,

you, the broken-hearted.

I will never share

in your dreams of life,

you, the doubter.

We will never know

each other

because of the wall.

The wall of brokenness

that separates us.

Oh you beautiful,

broken

doubter.

I will never know

who you were

before your heart was broken.

~

That’s it for today, thanks so much for reading! See you back here next week! 🙂

Top 5 Books – October 2015

Hi there! It’s time for another favourite books of the month post. I seem to do a lot of these, but that’s because time keeps marching on, and I keep reading lots of good books. 😀 I read a lot of good books in October, and I actually have 5 to review today! So without further ado, let’s get on to the reviews!

~

betsy

Betsy and the Emperor – Staton Rabin 

A monster has descended upon Betsy Balcombe’s small island home. Her family are being forced to put him up in their house until his quarters are finished being constructed. So she’s got the terror of her childhood stories, the boogie man of her dreams, living in her house. Not only that, he is the terror of all Europe, the nightmare of all who get in his way. And what is this monster’s name? Napoleon Bonaparte.

But as the weeks wear on, this monster-man does not really live up to his reputation. Instead of the frightening killing machine that Betsy expected, she finds a short, eccentric man that misses his family. As she gets to know him, she finds that she has met her match in wit, daring, and spirit. And this discovery does not just have the potential to change her life and Napoleon’s life, but indeed, to change all of history.

‘Betsy and the Emperor’ painted a vivid picture of the last years of Napoleon’s life, as well as the lives of other characters that surrounded him. It was so fascinating to learn about another side of Napoleon than the one you normally hear in the history books – to learn about the man who loved children, who loved matching wits with opponents, and who loved certain people very deeply. The story was engaging, partly because of the fact that it was recounting a little known side to Napoleon’s character, and partly because of the new, vibrant characters it introduced. Betsy was a relatable and fascinating character, and I loved watching how she changed during the course of the book. Overall, this book was very informative, as well as engaging and funny! I learnt a lot through reading it, and feel that I have a much more rounded picture of Napoleon than I had beforehand. I’m giving this book 8* out of 10 (no higher because some of the things the characters did I did not agree with morally, and there were some adult topics covered in a slightly raunchy way) and recommending it for ages 12+.

~

Island-at-the-End-of-Everything-website.jpg

The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Millwood Hargrave 

Amihan’s worst nightmare has come true. She has been torn away from her nanay, and taken to an orphanage. Why? Because her nanay is Touched. And Amihan is not. She is now separated from everything she’s ever known, surrounded by strange children, and kept captive by fear and the cruel Mr Zamora. It is only by the strength of love and new friendships that she is able to protect the flame of hope that burns inside her. She must get back to her nanay before it is too late and she will do everything in her power to do so. The island at the end of everything is waiting for her.

The Island at the End of Everything is a really beautiful book. The themes of love and hope and of the strength of family and friends are very prevalent in this story. The writing was whimsical and imaginative, it fit the story perfectly (if that makes any sense :D). The story itself was very unique and captivating. I’ve never really come across anything like it, and that was a really positive quality about it! (I love unique-ness in books) I really, really enjoyed reading this book – it was beautiful both in the story and in the way it was written, and I loved seeing how it unfolded. I’m giving it a solid 8* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 12+.

~

wdg.jpg

Where Dandelions Grow – Lydia Howe 

Destiny longs to mend the broken relationships within her family. But she needs to find out where her family went first. Her first step towards forgiveness and reconciliation with them is also step of hope when she moves back to the town where she grew up. Through some surprising friendships and a job at a whimsical coffee shop (btw, if I were to find this place actually existed I would go there in a heartbeat because it sounds AMAZING. Seriously, a bookshop combined coffee shop where you can write = pure happiness in my books :D), Destiny will soon find out that life is never quite how you imagined it, but that forgiveness and hope have surprising power.

‘Where Dandelions Grow’ was such a charming book. I bought it because I’ve had previous interaction with the author, Lydia Howe. I’ve followed her blog for years (and loved it! It’s such a great resource for writers and readers alike), and recently had the privilege of beta reading one of her books. I really like her writing, and this book was no exception! The setting, the characters, and the story all melded together into one really sweet book. I loved the character of Destiny – I related to her love for writing so much! The town of Swallow Ridge is described so wonderfully (I wouldn’t mind living there one day! :D), and, like I said before, this coffeebookshop called Noveltea sounds SO cool! ❤ 😀 I loved seeing how Destiny grew throughout the course of the story, and the themes of family and forgiveness were really beautiful and encouraging. I’m giving this book a solid 9* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 13+

~

johnny tremain.jpg

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain has it all – the apprenticeship he’s been dreaming of, a position of authority among his peers, and a comfortable house to live in. He’s got his life stretched before him, full of possibilities and dreams. But then disaster strikes, and with the cracking of a crucible, everything shatters around him. Unable to continue his apprenticeship, pitied and bullied in turn by his peers, his position replaced in his house, life seems very dark. Alone, unemployed and crippled, Johnny is alone in the wide world, and the world isn’t a very comforting place to be at that moment. Boston in the early 1770s is a hotbed of political unrest, foreign soldiers, and whispers of rebellion. Not exactly the place you’d want to be with nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. But some surprising turning of events will soon give Jonny a role in Boston that he never could’ve dreamed of. His life will never be the same after he is swept away in the turning tide of the Revolution….

‘Johnny Tremain’ is an absolutely beautiful, fascinating book. Esther Forbes brings the world of Johnny to life in incredible detail. You can tell that there has been an immense amount of research and time put into making it as historically accurate as possible. And the story itself is stunning. It’s a coming of age story about a boy who has to find who he really is when his identity is stripped away in a tragic accident. It’s an adventure story about a boy who gets caught up in the very heart of the American Revolution. It’s a friendship story showing how relationships can spring out of unlikely places and grow into a bond that ties many hearts together despite differences, distance and death. It’s a historical story, detailing the exciting events that led up to the explosion of shots in Lexington that were heard around the world. It’s a story about perseverance, about healing, about hope, and about freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was my second time reading it. I’m giving it a very solid 9* out of 10 for the historical accuracy and beautifully touching storyline. I’m recommending it for ages 12+.

~

seeking allah finding jesus.jpg

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Nabeel Qureshi 

A devout Muslim sets out to prove Christianity wrong, and has his life transformed by the person he least expected – Jesus.

I picked this book up because I had been studying Islam in school and was interested in learning more detail. I literally read it in less than 24 hours, and goodness gracious, this book is amazing! Seriously, it’s one of the most informative, helpful and fascinating books I’ve read in a very long time. It chronicles the true story of the author on his journey from being a dedicated Muslim to a convinced Christian. Mr Qureshi writes in a very clear, readable manner, but he also manages to convey a very large amount of information within the 300 odd pages of the book. He provides a vivid picture of what it was like growing up in a devout Muslim family, as well as a window into the Islamic culture and beliefs. He gave a clear introduction to the basics of Islam, as well as answering many different questions of why Muslims do the things they do.

Not only that, but he tells the story of how he became a Christian in very intricate detail. His story begins with intense questioning of Christianity, leads to many doubts of Islam, and ends with finding truth in the person of Jesus Christ. He shared the arguments his Christian friend gave for Christianity and how he responded to them as a Muslim, and he gave the reasons why he began to doubt Islam, and the reasons why Christianity began to attract him. His testimony of how he eventually became a Christian is absolutely fascinating (hint: it involves some really amazing dreams!). I came away from this book really encouraged for two reasons:

  1. – This book really bolstered my own faith as I read how Christianity can stand up against intense questioning and is able to convince even the most antagonistic to it. God is at work, and it was so wonderful to read the testimony of how he transformed Mr Qureshi’s life!
  2.  I found that I had a much more rounded picture of Islam and had learnt ways to relate to Muslims more. In this day and age it’s very easy to vilify Muslims without learning the facts about them and what they believe, and I found it really helpful to learn about Islam from someone who had been there himself.

I would really recommend that everyone read this book. For people that know Muslims personally, for people who want to learn more about how Islam relates to Christianity, for people that are searching for the truth themselves, this book is a powerful and educative tool. I’m giving it a very solid 10 out of 10*, and recommending it for anyone and everyone above the ages of about 14. If you go out and buy any book after reading my reviews, this is the one for you to buy!

~

There we are – my top 5 books I read in October! Let’s chat! Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favourite books you read last month?