There was something wrong with the new baby. Something strange. Mom and Dad didn’t believe me, and I’d even overheard them talking about me being jealous. Me? Jealous? I was too busy playing basketball at Jim’s house after school to be jealous, not to mention torturing the neighbourhood girls with my buddies. I kinda had a crush on Jenny who lived a few houses down, and I teased her more than the other girls. She always gave it right back to me with some clever remark about my clothes or my hair. I think that’s what I liked about her. She didn’t back down easily, and even though I said I hated playing sports with a girl and tried everything to at least keep her off of the opposing team, I really just didn’t want her playing because she was pretty tough. She once gave me a pretty nasty bruise in a friendly game of football! No one knew I liked her, and no one knew I was afraid of her. The guys would never let me live that down.
And they would never let me live it down if they had found out I’m the one who named the new baby. Megan Elizabeth. And they would really give me a hard time if they found out that I had picked out almost everything in the nursery, from the pink giraffe, pink bunnies, and pink blankets, right down to the paint: Baby Powder Pink. I had a theme going on, and for good reason. When the sun came in through the blinds, all that pink gave the room a sort of rosy glow.
Does that sound like someone who’s jealous? I had been so excited waiting for the new baby that it was all I ever thought about! There was really something bizarre with that baby, and though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I wasn’t making it up!
I sat there with Jenny on the front step of her house. I rarely had meaningful conversations with anyone, but I felt close enough to her to tell her how I felt.
“Well,” she said, “I don’t think you’re jealous like your parents say you are. But maybe you just expected something more from the baby when your parents brought her home. But you have to remember, Megan is just a baby. They don’t do much of anything. It will be a while before you teach her to say your name, and it takes time before she will be able to get around on her own. I think you might have been expecting someone to play sports and video games with, and it doesn’t work that way. As you watch her grow, you’ll get closer to her. I’m sure of it. Until then, maybe you could feed her. Hold her. Read to her. You know, just bond with her.”
“I hope you’re right. It feels weird, sharing your home with a stranger.”
Just then, we spotted Jenny’s friends at the end of the road. “Oh, great!” she said under her breath. “Don’t tell them any of the stuff I just told you. I don’t want them thinking I like you!”
I got a little jolt from that, wondering if she really did like me.
“I’ll see you later, loser!” I said when her friends were close enough to hear.
“Yeah. See you later, slob!” she yelled back.
I played some basketball with my friends until it started to get dark, and I was exhausted. I went home, took a shower, and I went straight to bed.
It was around two in the morning when I heard the baby cry. Mom and Dad had been so tired lately. Thinking that maybe Jenny was right, I figured I would take the opportunity to bond with the new baby. And it would help my parents out, too.
I changed her, and after I scrubbed my hands she still seemed a bit fussy. I had fed her before, but I had never made her a bottle. Time to learn, I thought. Besides, I didn’t think it could be that hard. I’d just read the label. Simple enough.
I found the formula, and when I opened the can I was hit by a terrible smell. I wondered if it was supposed to smell that bad, or if it had just gone bad. The label was weird, but maybe because I was reading by the night-light. It didn’t look like something you would buy for a baby, but it read:
BABY FORMULA: No Artificial Ingredients
Well, this must be it, so I looked at the label, made it as quickly as possible and put the lid back on the formula can, making sure it was tight enough that the putrid stench couldn’t escape.
“Okay, Miss Megan. I got your bottle. Are you hungry? Is that it?”
I picked her up and could swear she said yes, only it sounded like a hiss. I figured she was just sighing.
Cradling her in my left arm, I used my right hand to feed her. And suddenly, I felt a nip on my right thumb! Weird. I didn’t think babies had teeth. I moved my hand higher on the bottle so it wouldn’t happen again.
It was time to burp her now. I had done it once before, so I threw a towel over my shoulder and propped her up. As I was patting her back, I felt that same nip I had felt on my thumb, but this time it was on my neck. I yelled in pain, careful not to disturb her too much. So, I switched shoulders to investigate.
Nothing on my shirt that could have caused it. No sticker burrs. No safety pins. Nothing on the towel or in her blanket. And as I inspected my clothes and everything around me to make sure it wasn’t a spider or some other kinda creepy-crawly, I felt that nip again. Right on my ear on the side I had switched Megan to. And this time, the pain didn’t stop.
I screamed, trying to figure out what it was. I tried to pull the baby away. And that’s when I realized…the baby had latched on and wasn’t about to let go.
Mom and Dad came running and Mom flipped on the light. They looked panicked and when they saw what was happening, they managed to pull the baby from my bleeding ear.
“Oh, Josh! Are you okay, honey?” Mom asked, taking a close look at my injury.
“She bit me!” I cried angrily. “I told you something wasn’t right with her!”
Mom cleaned my ear with a fresh wash rag that was meant for Megan. She looked at me with worry in her eyes, and then she looked away.
“It’s about time we told him,” said Dad.
Mom sighed. “All right. Josh, we had meant to tell you one day. But things seemed too perfect and we didn’t know how you would react.” She was silent for a while.
“What? What is it?” I was curious now. The pain in my ear had subsided and I felt an urgency to know this secret they had kept from me.
“We’re not from here. We came from another realm. Oh, it’s a dark, dark place. We were invited through a Ouija board, and the portal was eventually closed and there was no way we could go back, even if we wanted to. Not that we wanted to. We were able to take the form of whatever we wanted, so we thought we would try blending in with the people. We decided to have a family.”
“What does this have to do with anything?” I said impatiently.
“You’re adopted,” my father said matter-of-factly.
“Then where did I come from?”
“The couple with the Ouija board. They had promised us their first-born child as an offering.” Mom looked away as she spoke.
My eyes were wide with disbelief. “An offering?”
“That’s just the way it works,” said Dad. “But look at the way things are now? Things are great! We don’t feel the craving for human flesh or blood anymore.”
“But it looks like we need to teach the new baby not to bite people. What happens when I take her to the park and she has to play with other children? Or when she’s at school and her teacher gets too close?” Mom was worried. If I could still call her ‘Mom’.
So there I had the answer. Something was wrong, and it wasn’t with the baby. There was something wrong with me. How could I ever live up to the expectations of my parents with the new baby around? I was nothing like her. I would probably never be as smart or as strong. It was that night, at only a month old, she said my name clear as a bell. “Josh!” she yelled, standing on her tip-toes in her crib, pointing at me. “Josh!” she said again, giving a high-pitched giggle. My parents both got so excited that I felt invisible for the first time since the baby had arrived. Mom took a minute to explain to her that she was not to bite people, she had “special” food. Mom held up the bottle, and now I had a feeling I knew what that strange stench was that came from the can of formula. Even though I had an inkling, I didn’t want to know for sure.
I told my parents goodnight, even though I wasn’t sure if they’d heard me with Megan laughing and talking. “Goodnight, Josh,” I heard Megan say. As I turned to look at her, I got a glimpse of a pair of fangs and her glistening eyes, a pair of eyes that settled upon me. “Sleep tight!” Then she laughed again, her trademark squealing happy laugh. The last thing I saw was my baby sister holding onto the bars of the crib, bouncing up and down and throwing her head back, giggling. Her fangs seemed to glow from the light of the full moon coming through the window.
I left the room. I wasn’t a part of this family. I wondered if my parents loved me when I was a baby as much as they loved Megan now. How could monster parents love a human kid? Would they ever be as proud of me as they are of her? From what I had seen that night, I understood that monster babies must grow at a much faster rate than human babies. I could only imagine what she’d be like at six months. Or a year. Or the “Terrible Twos” everyone has warned me about. I shuddered at the thought.
No, I could never really be part of this family. And I realised how true that was when I shut my bedroom door, and pushed the dresser in front of it.
I dabble in Beat Poetry. It’s my favourite, aside from Poe and Thomas Hardy, and I had written this one some years ago. So I present here:
Optimist Blues by Joslyn Corvis
The thought of Coffee started me awake.
Like the darkness enveloping my room.
A sudden thought—–The Coffee Shop!
To get my Coffee fix
The white of my socks tainting the black of my clothes
Like liquid cream tainting the taste of
I pass my own building, the corner store, the post office, the thrift store. And the sky is . . .
With stars still sprinkled in the Black sky
Glistening like the dim lights from my favourite booth shining into my cup of Coffee . . .
Which I like
I imagine the flavour growing stronger the closer I get, but when I am close enough to make my mouth water with the uncontrollable craving for
I realise something.
The Coffee Shop is closed.
I never liked Coffee much, anyway.
UPDATE! October 2011:
I am saddened beyond words to report the passing of Vexie of Ghostriders Paranormal. As a fan of the show and of Vexie’s, I wanted to express my anguish. She was amazing as you can tell from watching the Ghostriders, and from reading this interview. It’s no small wonder why she was my favourite paranormal investigator.
God Bless Vexie and to all of those whose lives she touched.
With deepest sympathy,
I was *beside* myself with excitement to get an interview with the HOT NEW GHOST INVESTIGATORS, Bad Max and Vexie, stars of Ghostriders Paranormal, the new series airing here ( http://www.viddler.com/explore/GhostridersTV/videos/1/ )! If you click now, you can view the trailer!
It’s premiering on June 4th, 2011, at 8pm EST (That’s right! This Saturday night! So mark your calendars and stock up on snacks!) You can also check out their website, www.ghostridersparanormal.com , and don’t forget to “LIKE” them on facebook!
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/GhostridersTV?sk=info Here is the interview I did with Ghostriders Paranormal, and their personalities just shine right through! They answered my questions, and thensome! I just can’t wait to see what Bad Max and Vexie have in store for their viewers!
1.) How did you two meet?
[Bad Max] I was playing in a rock band in Atlanta, GA; we met at a club I was playing at called the Dog House, (appropriate as I have been in the Dog House ever since!)
[Vexie] Yeah, and you thought I was much younger than I was…(Giggling) He’s been “Bad” Max ever since I met him. (Slugs Bad Max on the arm)
2.) What inspired the idea for the show? How did you get the ball rolling?
[Bad Max] We have been Ghost Hunting ever since it wasn’t cool. We love to do it and with technology today we felt we could offer a web only option for Paranormal fans around the world, especially fans in countries that don’t have access to these kinds of shows on their local TV stations and for people right here that don’t have cable.
[Vexie] I enjoy using the camera and I have an eye for what needs to be told.
[Bad Max] *interrupts…* You don’t look bad in front of the camera, either.
[Bad Max] We got the ball rolling by spending some money on equipment, computers and editing software, then it was just a matter of using the social networks available to build our fan base. And it’s still growing.
3.) What’s the secret to working together as a team?
[Bad Max] We have known each other for more than a decade and we really enjoy the hunt. If you love what you do it’s easy.
[Vexie] Agreed, it is a lot of fun and I have learned so much about the Paranormal and the afterlife, and let’s not forget you have to believe. We both are firm believers on a spiritual and scientific level.
4.) I love the graphics and I love the narrator’s voice. How many people are involved behind the scenes of Ghostriders Paranormal?
[Bad Max] Thank you, you will be surprised to learn that there are two people always involved in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes. I used to be a Wedding DJ.
[Vexie] (Jumps in)…Can you believe that? Big ole Bad Max a wedding DJ! (Laughs Hysterically.)
[Bad Max] As I was saying, I used to be a Wedding DJ as well as being a pitchman on QVC on Television. Through this experience I’m able to change and adapt my voice for different situations, like Seth McFarland does on Family Guy, for example. I am the narrator for our shows. I also do all of the editing for the shows and I built the website.
[Vexie] Show off…*smiles*
5.) Paranormal investigators all seem to have different reasons for doing what they do. Maybe they want proof for themselves or to reveal to the world, or to communicate with ghosts or help them to move on. What are your reasons?
[Bad Max] I personally have different reasons than most; I guess you could call me an adrenaline junkie. Some people skydive, some people bungie jump, some people race cars or snowboadr to get that rush. I Ghost Hunt, same thing really. There is also the desire to help people and I have found that if you really want to help someone with a Ghost Problem, understanding the paranormal is a good place to start.
[Vexie] We can also kick its ass!
[Bad Max] She means clear the house or place of business if needed.
6.) Do you feel that ghosts are supernatural, or do you think their explanation lies in unstudied science?
[Bad Max] It’s definitely a combination of both, anything that is not natural must be sueprnatural and if you’re at all spiritual, then you believe in some form of life after death. On the science side, we can quote Albert Einstein: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” That’s the best scientific nutshell explanation for the afterlife. Since everything on earth is made from energy at its very core, then it doesn’t simply just disappear, it has to change its form.
[Vexie] Yeah, I believe him ’cause I’ve seen it; when you hear your first disembodied voice or see your first apparation it tends to make a believer out of you.
7.) I’m sure you deal with a lot of skeptics in your line of work (and of course, some closet Believers as well). How do your friends and family respond to your line of work?
[Bad Max] Let’s face it, you have to have some balls to do what we do. My brother thinks it’s cool but he’s too chicken to go out with us on a hunt.
[Vexie] My family things it’s intriguing, no problems there.
[Bad Max] Even though our friends say they want to come, something always comes up. I believe they’re chicken too.
8.) I’ve gone to the website ( www.ghostridersparanormal.com ) and watched the trailer ( www.youtube.com/GhostridersTV ) for Ghostriders Paranormal, and it looks *AWESOME*! I know why I can’t wait to see it (click here to watch: http://www.viddler.com/explore/GhostridersTV/videos/1/ ), but what do you think makes Ghostriders Paranormal stand out among the sea of paranormal programs out there? What makes you unique?
[Bad Max] Do you really want a spoiler? Let’s say we allow our audience to be the investigator, that’s all I am going to say about that.
[Vexie] (Devilish smile on her face…) That’s all we’re going to say about that.
9.) Ever come across anything malicious? What would/did you do in that situation?
[Bad Max] You run the risk of that at every hunt. I am formerly trained in several clearing techniques: American Indian smudging, Tibetan clearing bells, and I am an ordained minister so I can bless a house as well.
[Vexie] What we don’t mess with is Demonic entitites; we are not demonologists, we get a friend to deal with that.
10.) Was there something unexplainable that happened to you to make you take an interest in ghosts, or maybe some experience that you’ve had that stands out in your mind?
[Bad Max] I have always been intrigued by the afterlife. I think if I were to put a finger on it, when my mom died, I was cleaning her house, getting ready for it to be sold, I was by myself in her bedroom and asked her to give me a sign that she was ok, I can’t explain what happened next, I felt her warm hand on my back, it sent chills up my spine, I knew then that I wanted to get to the bottom of the spiritual world.
[Vexie] We all know that what happens after you die is the big question; I want that question answered. And I believe we can make that answer known to the people in the world that don’t understand it.
Thanks, Bad Max and Vexie, for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing the show!
Don’t forget it airs on June 4th, 8pm EST right here: http://www.viddler.com/explore/GhostridersTV/videos/1/ ! Visit the Website here: www.ghostridersparanormal.com
and “LIKE” them on Facebook to keep track of all the ghostly fun!
~Until we meet again, “Don’t Stop Believin’!~
I wrote this story quite some time ago, when I was but a mere youth. Where has the time gone?!?!?It has been years since I wrote this story, and I haven’t read it in forever! It was just a fun little side-project for me that I wrote so that I could share it with a friend of mine, who just happened to be a fellow gnome-enthusiast. I did a lot of editing, but my main focus was on pieces that I planned to have published so there may be some mistakes lurking about. So please forgive any typos (although bringing them to my attention is always appreciated)!Typos aside (not to mention spacing and centering because I haven’t figured out how to fix those little tidbits on REDROOM yet), I hope you enjoy ADVENTURES IN GNOME VILLAGE!
Adventures in Gnome Village
by Joslyn Corvis
* * *
Dedicated to those who believe . . .
* * *
“They have sharp fangs and long claws, and their eyes glow red!” Norman the Gnome raised his hands beside his pudgy little gnome cheeks and wriggled his stubby little fingers to try and frighten his friends who were all sitting in a circle around him. His long, white beard made him look much older than his years, though his face was smooth and unwrinkled.
“No, they don’t!” cried Cherry Blossom. “They don’t even exist!”
“Oh, yes they do!” Norman lowered his voice to an awe-invoking whisper. “I’ve seen them.”
All of the other gnomes in the circle sat and looked at Norman with wide eyes, except for Cherry Blossom. She didn’t believe a single word of it. She knew that there were no such things as humans and whenever Norman made up stories about these strange creatures she would toss back her cherry-red hair and roll her big brown eyes.
Esteban, who was the adventurous gnome of the bunch, had an idea. “Let’s go find one!” he said as he pounded his right fist into his open left palm. He liked to go exploring new and unseen parts of the forest, and he was the bravest gnome of all.
“What if they try to eat us?” little Ellie cried as she covered her eyes with her hands and shook her head.
“Aww, it’s okay, Ellie. I’ll protect you,” declared Esteban as he climbed on top of a big, grey stone. This was the stone where all of the Gnome Village meetings took place, and everyone knew it as The Gnome Rock. He looked down at the other gnomes and started to organize a Human Hunt. “Meet me here on Friday at sundown! We’ll prove that these things Norman calls “humans” do exist! Now let’s all get back to our chores-Break’s over!”
All of the gnomes in the little community went back to work. Cherry Blossom sprinkled her Magic Gnome Dust over all of the wild berries she found to make them grow nice and juicy and ready to eat. Ellie gathered nuts and acorns and put them into the pockets of her tiny pink apron. Stan dug around for rocks which he would take back to his workshop and make into tools and chisel into furniture. Belle gathered special materials to take to Petie so that he could make new clothes and shoes for everyone. Esteban gathered firewood so that they would have a large supply during the cold seasons. And Norman went back to his lab to work on some new inventions and conduct some experiments.
The evening soon came and the gnomes had a large feast, as usual. Everyone contributed, and while they dined they talked about the hunt. Norman explained that he was going to make some new equipment to help them in their search, and Esteban stroked his soft white beard as he listened very closely. Stan, Ellie, and Petie weren’t as adventurous as Esteban, but they knew that with him around they would all be safe. Belle, on the other hand, was very excited and asked at least a hundred questions about how they were to catch a human-“What will we do with it when we find one? Where will we look first? What do they eat? Are they friendly? Where do they live…?”
All through supper, Cherry Blossom fidgeted with her floppy red hat, and though she didn’t believe in humans, she kept quiet. She wasn’t interested in hunting down a non-existent creature but thought that it might be interesting to do something out of the ordinary for a change. Besides, she figured she might find a pretty flower or make friends with a chattering little squirrel while the others were concentrating on finding a human.
The very next morning, Esteban crawled out of his cave which was at the bottom of a big rock and walked over to Norman’s house. Norman lived in the hollowed bottom of a tree stump. He knocked three times and after several rustling and clanking sounds, Norman answered.
“Any new ideas, Norm?” asked Esteban as he stood there expectantly.
“Oh, a few. Follow me.” Norman invited Esteban inside to look at some of his charts and his special new invention for the trip. On a long table there were many different contraptions, charts, and diagrams. “I’ve mapped out all of the places that we should look first. I think that the first place a human might go is near a stream of water to drink, so we should start there! They probably eat bugs, so we should also look near the rotting trees.” He traced his finger along a map of the forest along places that they would search, and Esteban’s eyes followed.
After Norman went over the trail they would use, Esteban pointed to one of the strange contraptions and asked what it was. It was a small jar filled with lightening bugs, and it had a little handle on top.
“You see,” said Norman, “You feed them through the lid at the top, and when you want to go out at night, you carry it around with you and they light up so you can see your way.”
“Ahhh,” said Esteban, intrigued. “This will work wonders!”
“I sure hope so! I have made one for each of us.” When Esteban was ready to leave, Norman showed him to the door.
Everyone was giddy with anticipation and had a hard time sleeping since they were so excited about what the next day might bring, but it wasn’t long before Friday evening came and the sun began to sink out of sight. All the gnomes gathered at The Gnome Rock and stood in silence as Esteban climbed up on top and showed them Norman’s map and handed a copy to each gnome. Then he held up a lantern and told them how to use it before he distributed them.
The gnomes started off on their way, walking through the forest, but they were so busy talking and laughing that they weren’t paying all that much attention and would have probably walked right past a human if they were to encounter one. Their giggling echoed through the stillness of the night, startling all of the creatures of the forest that they passed by.
Cherry Blossom was beginning to get bored already, so she finally spoke up. “I think I’m going to just head back and I’ll meet you by The Gnome Rock when you get there. Besides, you know we’re not going to find anything anyway. It’s just a waste of time!”
All of the other gnomes protested because they had faith that they would find something. They promised her that they would meet her back at The Gnome Rock, and that they would be bringing back a human; they were determined to prove her wrong. Cherry Blossom turned back and left the others to go on their merry little way.
* * *
Meanwhile…Elizabeth was lost in the forest. She tried to find her way back, but each time she just got herself deeper and deeper in the woods and the sky was already growing darker by the second. She could hardly even see where she was going and the sounds of the forest at night were starting to frighten her.It all started when she woke up this morning. She spilled her glass of juice all over the kitchen table and her mother had to help her clean it up. She was late for the bus and had to walk to school which also made her late for class. She got in trouble for talking when she asked the girl sitting next to her about the class assignment and then, when she was on the playground, a boy pushed her down for no other reason than to be mean. Her new dress was covered with dirt and grass, and though she felt like crying, she didn’t.
But what made her even madder was when she got home and found her little brother eating the very last cupcake! Her mom had saved it just for her, and she had been looking forward to it all day long. Every time something bad happened, she reminded herself that it was there on the kitchen counter waiting for her. She and her mother had baked them the night before, and her brother had eaten several already. He wasn’t even considerate enough to save just one for her. And so, out of frustration, she ran off to her favorite spot in the forest under the shade of a huge tree.
She sat there for quite some time, just thinking about things. She was beginning to feel much better and thought that all she really needed was a few minutes of quiet time to herself. Her mind started to slowly drift off to other thoughts and she realized that even though she had lived in the little house by the woods all of her life, she had never actually explored the forest in depth. She walked into the thick growth of trees, wondering what new and interesting things she might find. And that’s when she lost her way home.
Suddenly she heard giggly little voices cutting through the silence. She was right about to call to them to save her, but she was afraid. She didn’t know who the voices belonged to, and after all, someone would probably come looking for her soon, or at least she hoped.
She sat on a gray rock, discouraged, hungry, and tired. She withdrew a piece of candy from her pocket and put it in her mouth, hoping to stave off her hunger. The chocolate candy melted slowly in her mouth and she started to miss her parents. If she had only stayed in one place, she would have been enjoying a nice hot meal right about now. She closed her eyes for just a moment, and tears began to run down her freckled face. Now she was worried that she would never make it home!
Cherry Blossom stood there watching the giant the whole time. She had turned back to wait for the others at the big, gray rock, but when she got there she was a little startled to see the monster sitting there. Cherry Blossom was so afraid that she hid behind a tree, but when she saw that the thing was crying, the fear began to subside and she started to feel sorry for her. She cautiously walked over to the girl, stood in front of her and softly said, “Hello.” Elizabeth looked around but didn’t see anyone.
“Down here,” said the squeaky little voice.Elizabeth looked down in disbelief and scooped up the small gnome. “What are you?” asked Elizabeth as she blinked her eyes and held the tiny person close to her face. The little gnome shivered and shook with fear, covering her eyes with her tiny hands, so Elizabeth gently said, “It’s okay; I won’t hurt you.”
Cherry Blossom slowly removed her hands from her eyes and stared at Elizabeth for a moment with wide, curious eyes.
“My name is Cherry Blossom. This is my forest, and what are you doing sitting on my rock?”
Elizabeth didn’t even notice the gnome’s rudeness, but rudeness in a gnome is only a sign that the gnome is inquisitive, although there are a few out there that are just plain rude. But Elizabeth was entirely too fascinated to pay attention.”Are you a tiny human?” she asked.
“Human? Why, no! I don’t have sharp teeth, long claws or glowing red eyes!” Cherry Blossom bared her teeth, wiggled her fingers, and blinked her eyes and Elizabeth had to laugh at the elaborate display Cherry Blossom gave. Then she puffed out her chest proudly, put her fists on her hips and declared, “Why, I’m a gnome!”
“Wow! I’ve never seen a real live gnome before! Just in books and on the television. My name is Elizabeth. I live in a little house past the edge of the woods but I got lost and can’t find my way back home. Do you think you could help me?”
“Sure thing! But first could you tell me what you are? A giant of some sort, perhaps?”
“No,” Elizabeth laughed. “Not at all; I’m a normal-sized human! But I guess I do look like a giant to you, huh?” Cherry Blossom jumped out of Elizabeth’s hand and stood on the rock, squinting her eyes to get a good look at Elizabeth. “Where are your fangs? And your claws? And your glowing red eyes?”
Elizabeth was confused. She didn’t know what her new friend was talking about, so Cherry Blossom explained how she had heard stories about these “human-things” before and what scary creatures they seemed to be. Elizabeth had blonde hair and blue eyes, and she surely didn’t have claws or long, sharp teeth. In fact, she wasn’t scary at all! She looked just like a gnome, though her cheeks weren’t chubby and she didn’t have a pug nose. The main difference, though, was that Elizabeth was much, much bigger than any gnome Cherry Blossom had ever met. They both chuckled at how silly it all sounded, especially now that she was standing face-to-face with a human.
“This way,” cried Cherry Blossom as she swung her hand over her shoulder to motion for Elizabeth to follow. Elizabeth hopped to her feet and followed behind Cherry Blossom, careful not to accidentally step on her.
They had been walking for such a long time and Elizabeth was so tired, thirsty and hungry that she asked to stop for just a minute. They found a tree stump and Elizabeth sat down and lifted the gnome up to sit beside her. She then took out the half-eaten chocolate bar and broke off a piece for herself, and another tiny gnome-sized piece for Cherry Blossom.
“What is it?” asked Cherry Blossom.
“Choc-O-Late,” repeated Cherry Blossom. “So what do you do with it?”
Elizabeth laughed. “Well, you eat it; I bet you’ll love it!”
After taking a big bite, Cherry Blossom gasped with delight. It was so good; she had never tasted anything like it before!
It was time to get going again, and Cherry Blossom asked the girl how she had gotten lost, so Elizabeth went on to tell all about how horrid her day had been, and all about the cupcake, too.
“So you ran away?”
“No, I wasn’t running away at all. I just can’t find my way back to the path leading home. I come to the forest when I’m sad or sometimes just to sit and think and be alone. I walked further than I ever have before, so I didn’t really mean to run away; I just got lost.”
Cherry Blossom understood, but she had to ask – – – What was this thing called a “cupcake”? Elizabeth was about to answer but when they came to her favorite, familiar old spot in the woods she was too excited to speak! Now she could easily find her way back home! She thanked Cherry Blossom for her help and gave her a big piece of chocolate to take home with her.
“So I guess this is…Goodbye?” Cherry Blossom seemed sad.
“We’ll see each other again! Don’t you worry!” Elizabeth tried to comfort her new friend, and suddenly Cherry Blossom’s eyes lit up as she remembered something. She dug into her pockets and pulled out a tiny whistle. She held it between her finger and thumb, reaching up on her tippy-toes so that Elizabeth could grab it.”Here. If you ever get lost in the forest again or need me at all, blow on it and wherever I’m at I’ll come and find you. Go ahead; give it a try!”
Elizabeth held the tiny whistle to her lips and gently blew, but it barely made a sound. “I think it’s broken.” Elizabeth sounded disappointed.
“Nope, not at all! No matter how far apart we are, I can always hear it. It’s my special whistle. Maybe one day you can come visit Gnome Village; just give me a whistle!”
“I’d like that,” said Elizabeth.
“Oh! And one more thing before you go; please don’t tell anyone about us gnomes. We like our privacy. Only very special people can see us in our true forms.”
Elizabeth gave her word that she wouldn’t tell a soul, and then she thanked Cherry Blossom for all of her help. Pretty soon she was out of the forest and she could clearly see her house. There were police cars in front, and she ran as fast as she could. Her father was standing there talking to one of the policemen, and as soon as he saw his daughter he ran to her and gave her a great big hug. In the distance the officer was talking on his radio and notifying everyone that the little girl had come home, safe and sound. Her mom and little brother heard all of the commotion and ran out of the house, and the police soon left after talking to Elizabeth, who had to once again explain that she wasn’t trying to run away, and that she was very sorry. Even so, her parents both scolded her for causing them so much worry and told her to never run off like that again. She tearfully apologized and though she was crying, she felt much better on the inside. She was home again with the family who loved her, and no matter how bad things ever got, she knew that they would always love her, and that she’d always be able to come back home.
When Elizabeth got inside the cozy house, she saw by the clock that it wasn’t as late as she had thought. She still had time to eat dinner and take a bath, and since it was Friday she hoped that she would be able to stay up a little later; that is, if she wasn’t in too much trouble. Her mom made her a plate of spaghetti with a slice of garlic bread and salad, and while she ate, her brother brought her a large plate filled with cupcakes. He and their mother had baked up a whole new batch, just for Elizabeth, while they awaited her return.
“I’m sorry, Lizzie. These are all yours. I didn’t mean to eat the last cupcake, but it’s just that they were so good! I couldn’t help myself.”
Elizabeth leaned over and hugged him. ” And I’m sorry I got so upset, it’s just that I had a really rotten day. I won’t eat all of these cupcakes so help yourself!”
* * *
Back at the Gnome Village, everyone showed up at Gnome Rock empty handed.
“So, you didn’t find any humans, did you?” asked Cherry Blossom sarcastically as she stopped playing her tiny flute and put it back into its case.
“No,” cried all of the other gnomes disappointedly, almost as if they were singing in a choir.
“See? I told you!”
It was time for dinner and everyone was preparing different things. Stan made some stew and Belle made an acorn-berry salad. Norman brought some water and Ellie made the berry juice. Esteban made a mushroom casserole and Petie made his absolute favorite dish — Mud Pies! But Cherry Blossom brought a very special dessert to share with her friends at their nightly feast.
After everyone had gotten their fill of the main courses, it was time for dessert. They were all requesting some of Petie’s Famous Mud Pie, and since everyone always contributed to the meal, they all looked at Cherry Blossom and asked what she had brought. She took out the chocolate bar and set it on the table so that her friends could serve themselves. Everyone was surprised when they tasted it, and shouts of “This is delicious,” and “What is it?” and “Where did it come from?” filled the air. All Cherry Blossom could say was, “It’s called ‘Chocolate,'” and “Oh, I just got it from a friend I met in the forest,” but everyone was enjoying this new treat way too much to care where it had come from.
That night, all of the gnomes went to bed with full little pot-bellies and the taste of chocolate on their tongues. It was very early the next morning when Cherry Blossom heard a single whistle that woke her from her sleep. Elizabeth needs me, she thought. She crept out of bed and climbed out of her underground home as quietly as she could so that the other gnomes wouldn’t hear her. She followed her ears to where she had heard the whistle and recognized the area immediately. Elizabeth’s favorite spot! But where’s Elizabeth? she wondered. Though it was dark, Cherry Blossom could see that on top of a stone was a little note with something on top of it to hold it down in case a draft should blow it away. All it said was, “Cherry Blossom-This is a cupcake! I hope you and your friends like it.”
Even though it was big, Cherry Blossom carried it all the way home, propping it up on her back. She knew that whatever this cupcake was, she and her friends would love it. She also knew that she would be seeing a lot of her new friend from now on, and there was still so much more that she wanted to learn about humans.
Elizabeth walked home in the darkness knowing that her friend would love the cupcake. It made her feel good to be able to do something nice for Cherry Blossom; after all, she did help her find her way back home. She hoped that they would be seeing much more of each other. After all, she thought, there is still so much I want to know about gnomes!
This is the first chapter of FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry, the first book in the creepily delightful FOREVER GOTHIC series by me, Joslyn Corvis.I welcome any and all feedback, so post a comment, or leave a message here or on facebook.This chapter is intended to give some insight into the personality of Marnie. I have been told by one critic that the character of Marnie was “darling”, and that the book itself, especially the first chapter, really captures that essence of teen angst and that socially awkward time everyone experiences at some point or another.Marnie and her best friend Willis set out on a journey to find out whether or not the most popular girl in school is just your average, prissy cheerleader, or if she’s really a witch.
FOREVER GOTHIC: Witchery and Rivalry
by Joslyn Corvis
“I’m gonna be late because of you!” shouted Marnie Deegan. “Why won’t you ever do what I want?” She furiously shook her brush as she scolded her hair.
Any other day her unruly hair wouldn’t have been a big deal, but today, however, it was a different story. Today everything had to be just right. Because today was her first day of high school.
Marnie didn’t consider herself to be the prettiest girl, or the most popular, or the tallest, the thinnest, or even the most athletic. She didn’t think she was a spectacular or even an interesting person. She was just an average girl with above average intelligence, though she never really thought of herself as smart. And she just happened to be goth. She wanted to make a good impression, but she didn’t have much to work with.
“Why can’t I just be perfect like…?” she trailed off, gazing into the mirror.
Overall she was pretty happy with herself. But she secretly wished she could be like Rhonda Drake, the most popular girl in school. She was the head cheerleader and had been since junior high. If she just had long blonde hair and clear blue eyes like Rhonda, everything would be perfect. She resented her plain brown eyes and brown hair that she kept dyed black, sometimes with streaks or tinges of blue, red, or pink. Rhonda had it all.
It wasn’t the expectation of harder classes that intimidated Marnie. Teachers always remembered her as she had no problem making the grade. Her peers, however, would often mistake her for a new student. There wasn’t anything special or memorable about her. Thoughts of school years past flooded her mind.
What can I do differently this time? she wondered. What will make people remember me?
She was sure that Rhonda wasn’t having this dilemma right now. She was going to walk right into the front doors of Morning View High without a worry in the world, and before lunchtime, everyone, even the upperclassmen, were going to know the name Rhonda Drake. And every single hair on her head would be perfectly in place! Just the thought of it annoyed Marnie.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at her bedroom door.
“Honey, I made breakfast,” her mother said, poking her head inside. “Oh, you look like an angel!”
Marnie rolled her eyes and smiled. “You have to say that. You’re my mom!”
Downstairs, she prodded her breakfast as she and her mom talked about the day to come.
“Just be yourself. Everyone will love you. You’ll do just fine.”
Marnie knew her mom was trying to be helpful, but it didn’t relieve her anxiety. When her mother offered to drive her to school, she nearly had a full on panic attack.
“I won’t do anything to embarrass you. No hugs, kisses, or embarrassing nicknames. I promise.”
There was no way that Marnie could decline the offer and the next thing she knew, her mother was pulling up in front of the school. Marnie sat in the car for a moment, summoning some courage.
“I promised not to embarrass you, so all I’ll say is you’ll be just fine.”
She leaned over and gave her mom a big hug.
“Thanks,” Marnie said drawing in a deep breath. She slowly made her way to the school. She didn’t dare turn around; she didn’t think she could bear to see her mother drive away.
Once inside the building, a wave of optimism struck her like a bolt of lightening. She smiled as she walked past the other students who stood in small clusters, catching up on the latest summer gossip. As she glanced at her schedule she felt a little lost. There was an upperclassman with a blue mohawk, so she approached him to ask where her first class was. He pointed the way, told her his name was Frank and wished her luck.
It wasn’t a huge school, but she got a little turned around. By the time she found her first class, the seats were almost full. She was beginning to feel right at home by the time second period came, which had been cut a little short to make time for a special freshmen class orientation.
Rhonda walked to her locker, followed by three of her closest friends. The girls were engaging in the latest gossip about their fellow cheerleaders.
“I saw the whole thing! I thought she was going to start crying!” said Cindi with a ruthless laugh. “He just broke up with her right there in front of everyone! What a way to start off the first day of school!”
“I would just die if that happened to me!” said Kristi, “But I doubt it ever will!” She began to laugh, loudly and obnoxiously.
Kristi and Cindi could have passed for twins, but they were actually cousins. It wasn’t until the seventh grade that they went from “Kristy and Cindy” to the trendier “Kristi and Cindi”, with an “i”. The main difference between the two was that Kristi was slightly taller, but when they weren’t together it was hard to tell them apart. Marnie had always thought of them as androids from the sci-fi movies she so loved; they were near-perfect annoying carbon-copies of each other.
“Are any of you guys going to sign up to help out with the dance? Everyone is going to meet up in the gym on Saturday to discuss decorations and stuff,” said Rhonda, but her friends ignored her when they noticed Marnie walking by. They were like vultures, standing and staring silently, waiting to make their move. Marnie found her locker and began to twist the numbers on her lock until it popped open. Due to a very unfortunate coincidence, she was assigned the locker right beside Rhonda’s, and wherever Rhonda went, the flock was never far behind.
As usual, Marnie was decked out in all of the latest goth gear: Combat boots, fishnet stockings, knee-length ruffled skirt and a Victorian blouse, all in black and complete with a cameo choker. Only a couple of days before school started, she had touched up her hair with black dye and refreshed her bright red streaks. She was feeling pretty good—until Miranda started in on her.
“Nice costume,” said Miranda, the red-haired-green-eyed Irish beauty, “but isn’t it a little early for Halloween?”
“Yeah, you should really think about taking off that mask,” Marnie replied.
The girls stood there stunned for a moment, and then in true android style, Cindi and Kristi bellowed, “Ooooh,” in unison. Miranda looked less than pleased and threw her hair back.
Cindi and Kristi, laughing, followed Miranda as she stormed off unamused.
Rhonda waved goodbye.
“Catch up with you guys later!” she promised.
One of Rhonda’s books toppled out of her locker while she was trying to get organized. She was wearing strange crystal at the end of a velvety black thread that caught Marnie’s eye when they both bent down to pick up the book, nearly bumping heads.
“Thanks,” said Rhonda faking sincerity as Marnie handed the book to her.
“No problem. By the way, I like your necklace. In fact, I’ve seen the same necklace in Witch’s Coven Magazine, a replica of the very one Grace Faulkner wore during her witch trial in Salem! They say that everyone gathered around her to watch as she burned at the stake, and several of the jurors and the judge all fell dead on the spot. On the first full moon after she died, the courthouse mysteriously burned to the ground as a cackle rang through the air, and bad luck struck the whole village for years to come. I haven’t had the money to buy it yet but I’m saving up!” Marnie’s feeble attempt at conversation didn’t go over as well as she had hoped.
“This isn’t one of those cheap, generic necklaces from your stupid magazine.” Rhonda accented the insult with a flip of her hair and narrowed eyes. She then took the necklace off, stroked the stone, and gently polished it on her blouse before she tucked it away into the safety of her locker. After the assembly, the cheerleaders were to attend a meeting during study hall to get organized and practice some moves. She usually took the necklace off before practice so as not to ruin it, but she was really making a show of it before disappearing from view as she headed off to the auditorium.
Marnie stood there, tears nearly welling in her eyes. This year will be different, she’d promised herself just as she had each new school year before, but of course, things never changed. She wanted to start fresh and make new friends; she would have even settled for just one. So far, things weren’t looking too bright but she still had an ounce of hope, if only an ounce. People either teased her or ignored her completely. She wasn’t sure which was worse—Being bumped into accidentally without an apology or being pushed on purpose and having her books scatter onto the floor, which was sometimes accompanied by a sarcastic “Sorry”. It didn’t really matter, because either way she felt invisible to the world. No one seemed to care about her or how they made her feel. She figured that she had better toughen up since it looked like Rhonda and her friends would be a part of her daily life unless she requested a locker change, but Marnie, being a bit stubborn, refused to let them get to her.
As she struggled to keep an optimistic outlook, she was hit by a sudden thought—This year would be different, but only because her best friend Willis Bradford was going to a private school now. She would be completely alone, but this wasn’t the kind of change she had in mind. Sadly and quietly she put her things into her backpack, which was black with spider zipper-pulls that she had put on herself, and though she felt like crying, she fought back the urge. If she cried, her thick layers of black eyeliner would smear and everyone would know, which would only cause the taunting to worsen. Freshmen aren’t supposed to cry.
Marnie made her way through the back doors of the stage in the auditorium where she met up with Mr. Higgins, the principal. He was one of those people who worry over the tiniest of things and it was apparent that he was now worrying over Marnie’s special appearance. He walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder, rushing her towards the stage. All of her sadness soon subsided with all of the excitement that surrounded her.
“Marnie! You have less than five minutes until you’re up! Is your speech prepared?”
He patted the perspiration from his forehead with a white handkerchief which he folded up and put back into his suit pocket, but he was so nervous that the sweat continued to bead and glisten on the top of his bald head. He was short and stout and as he spoke to Marnie, she couldn’t help but notice his resemblance to a beardless lawn gnome.
“Yes, Sir, I’ve been working on it all summer to get it just right!”
“Good! Now wait until your name is announced, and then you can go out there and give your speech! Knock ’em dead!” Knowing her speech was prepared apparently eased his mind as he smiled and sat down to watch the rest of the assembly. He had already made his speech to welcome the new freshmen class, so at least he didn’t have to worry about that.
Marnie was the ideal student. She never made less than an A and had never been in any trouble, so when Mr. Higgins contacted the junior high to find a student to make a speech at the freshmen orientation, there was no doubt that it would be any other than Marnie Deegan. He had only met with her once before the end of the last school year. He explained to her how it wouldn’t have to be lengthy, as long as it inspired her classmates to take school more seriously and look at different options for a better future.
As Miss Donovan, a science teacher, spoke about the many career choices in the field of science one could pursue, Marnie began to daydream. She was hoping this speech would help her to gain popularity and respect from her peers, but the daydream was cut short as she caught her name being said on the microphone, followed by a feeble applause that bubbled through the crowd. Miss Donovan moved away from the podium and handed over the mike, which squeaked horribly as Marnie adjusted it to her height. There were several annoyed groans from the audience.
“Fellow freshmen…We are still young and have the rest of our high school years to figure out where we want to be and what we want to do after graduation, but now is the time to contemplate it very seriously.” Here, a paper airplane swirled over the crowd as a few giggles rose and fell. Marnie continued.
“As you all know, this is the most important time in our lives; some of us are planning to head off to college after high school; others are still deciding which college to attend; some of us still have no idea what we want to do at all. We have a lot of decisions to make, but keep in mind that we are paving the roads to one of the most important highways—Our future! It’s our first year here at Morning View High and we all have clean slates, so make the most of it!” Marnie paused and smiled as excited cheers rose up in the audience.
“These next four years will be gone before we know it, so study hard, and have a great time at the Back to School Dance; it’s only two weeks away!”
There was an even louder cheer from the audience at the mention of the dance. She felt quite satisfied with herself as she walked across the stage and sat in a chair behind the curtain to watch the rest of the speakers. Yes, this year will definitely be different, she thought optimistically as the applause died down.
Maybe they’ll remember my name!
I’m a big believer in names. There is strength in a name. Sometimes weakness. And sometimes we give attributes to people just judging them by their names. Before I get into my favorite character’s name, I would like to illustrate the point to show why this character’s name is so special to me.
Brett Davis. What would someone with a name like Brett Davis be like? Athletic, favoring baseball and maybe NASCAR over other sports, loves pizza and fries and working on cars with his dad. The All-American type of guy that you can rely upon to be there when you need someone, especially if whether it’s to be there at the time help you when you need a hand or a shoulder to cry on when on. He would be strong and pride himself in his strength, maybe to a point where he is so afraid to show his weaknesses. He’s masculine and does not often show his sensitive side, unless it’s to someone he cares about.
Mortimer Abbernathey. Yes, I can see this poor child’s future. Loves math, science, and reading, but is quite the introvert, mainly because his peers don’t want anything to do with him unless they’re picking on him. Loafers with trouser socks and high-waters. A plaid shirt with a pocket protector. And a bookbag so full he has to slouch over just to balance himself!
Cheryl – Whether or not she has a last name, Cheryl is a very down-to-earth person. Even if she did have a last name, she’d tell you to just call her “Cheryl”. Someone that you would bring up in conversation quite a bit. “Me and Cheryl…Cheryl and me….Cheryl said…Just the other day, Cheryl told me ….” Cheryl would be a great character, and better yet, you would never have to even introduce her into the story personally, nor would she ever have to say a word to be the star of the story!
Burt Goldchester would definitely be a used car salesman. The moustache, the cheesy 1970s suit. The beat up 1970-something Pinto that he’s either driving or trying to sell you. And the fakest gold watch you’ve ever seen! (I know fakest isn’t a word, but there’s no other way to describe such a watch!)
When it comes to characters, there are some names that can depict a certain age. A certain disposition. A certain ethnicity. As a fun little game, jot down a few names and give them personality traits and see if you can visualize them as real people. It’s something that is quite helpful as a writer when naming your characters.
Jimmy would be a young child who wants to be called “Jim” as he gets older, but no one can break the habit! Gertrude would be a very stern person, possibly a teacher well past the age of retirement. Emily and Maggie would not be over the age of three, maybe four. And Salvatore would be an exotic dark-haired, dark-eyed hunk of a man!
A name can paint a picture. It tells us gender, ethnicity, age, and disposition. Imagine everyone you know, including yourself, being known by a different name. It’s equally as important as what we look like on the outside. I’m not saying we should judge people on how they look, but that’s what makes us all individually unique, and a name is an extention of who we are! I don’t think any other name would suit Dolly Parton. Marky Mark sounds so perfectly ’90s, and now that his image has matured, Mark Wahlberg is more suitable. Even though ‘The Fonz’ was a nickname, it’s hard to picture him as an “Arthur”; the only one who could get away with calling him that was Mrs. C! The list goes on!
And that is why I needed a very special name for my characters, especially the one character in particular. I know it might seem distasteful to consider my character’s name to be my favorite, especially since it’s not even published. It’s just that naming her, I felt, was as important to my story as the story itself.
I had thought about naming her Josh to give an interesting spin on a because I myself like boys’ names for girls. But it would have complicated things. “Josh was wearing a long black dress and a pretty black ribbon in her hair.” No, she couldn’t be a Josh. Then I thought of Starla, but that name sounds ever-so imaginary. It captured this outer essence of glamour and glitz. But it was too glammy for my character. And then I decided upon the perfect name:
Sounds so plain. So one-dimensional. Nothing special about it. It’s a name that might be easily overlooked. But Marnie is quite the opposite! And once you get to know her, you might find that she would never be “Marnie” by any other name. Sometimes a name gives us an idea of what someone might be like. But in this instance, she gives the name an identity.
Marnie Deegan is a freshman in high school. She’s gothic, dresses as if every day is Halloween, and happens to be a bit of a nerd. All of those things cause her to be targeted by bullies. She is condemned because she’s different. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes in some aspects. Teacher’s pet. She makes good grades. And she suffers because of it.
There are times when someone says something hurtful to Marnie, bringing her to the brink of tears. And there are times when she puts them in their place, rendering them speechless!
Marnie is not shy and usually speaks her mind, spouting sassy, yet quirky, good-natured remarks. Even though she seems so confident, so put-together, in her mind she wishes she could be more than what she is. She is merely content with herself and has yet to be happy with who she is. She’s the daughter every parent would love to have. She is a loyal and true friend. She’s there when someone needs her. She’s extremely bright, funny, pretty, and all of the things she wants to be. She just has to realize it for herself.
In Marnie’s spare time, she loves to hang out with her two best friends, watch scary movies, and read books about the supernatural. But Marnie rarely has spare time since she started high school. Especially since she and her friends serendipitously gained the responsibility of keeping the streets of their sleepy little town monster-free!