The Shoebox

A little girl named Autumn pressed her cheek against the window, watching the rain pour down out of the sky. Tall buildings surrounded her high-rise apartment and cars flew down the slippery road. People outside ran frantically through the busy streets, trying to avoid getting wet. Others sulked as they pulled out dark-colored umbrellas and looked up at the sky with dismay.

Autumn closed her eyes, listening to the rain drumming down on her roof. She paused for a second, soaking in the calming, rhythmic sound that it made. Shaking her head, Autumn wondered how anyone could dislike the rain.

Rain meant cuddling under blankets, putting together puzzles, drinking hot chocolate, looking at picture books, and taking little naps under a pillow fort.

She paused for a moment, remembering the time when bad weather had ruined a beach day. Autumn recalled the dark sky, pouring rain, and rumbling thunder as her family began driving towards the west coast. Unfortunately, the storm became so wild that they had to pull over just fifteen minutes after leaving their neighborhood.

It was obvious that the beach day was canceled.

When Autumn’s family returned home, her mom brewed a cup of coffee, pulled out a pile of blankets, and snuggled with Autumn while watching the rain outside the window. Soon the thunder and lightning trailed off, leaving only a slight drizzle behind.

Autumn’s mom slipped the blanket off her legs. “I have an idea,” she announced. A few minutes later, she returned with two shoe boxes held behind her back.

“When I was a little girl,” she began, “I used to wear these all the time, and now, I am going to pass them on to you.”

 

She handed one of the shoe boxes to Autumn, who eagerly opened it. Inside were a pair of old fashioned rain boots a faint white-ish color. Autumn gently took the shoes out of the box and put them on her little feet.

Her mom pulled the second shoe box out from behind her back and set it down on the floor.

Autumn’s eyes widened with surprise as the box was opened. Inside were another pair of rain boots her mom’s size!

“How would you feel about me joining you?” Autumn’s mom asked playfully.

“You’re going to get all wet just to do this with me?” Autumn giggled.

“Why, I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” her mother exclaimed.

*

The sound of a neighbor’s car rolling into the driveway interrupted Autumn’s thoughts. She turned to the window again, a big smile creeping over her lips. The sky was now a clear blue color. Running into her bedroom, Autumn pulled out her rain boots and slipped them on. Then, with a little squeal of delight, she flew out her front door and splashed into the biggest puddle she could find.

 

 

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Memories of the Past

Ellie sat perched on a soda fountain stool, her small legs swinging gently from side to side. Slurping her favorite milkshake, she watched her daddy work.

He hummed while cleaning the old ice cream machine, a sneaking smile on his face. “Ellie, have you ever seen your daddy tap dance before?” he asked, his brown eyes twinkling.

Ellie shook her head “no”, although she had seen his little comedy act many times before.

Her daddy grabbed one of the brooms from a corner and swept the floor while tapping wildly with his feet. This sent Ellie bursting into giggles, spraying milkshake all over the clean floor.

He just grinned, and swept Ellie up in a big bear hug. The two stood there for a moment, embracing each other.

“You know,” he whispered. “Your momma and I used to dance a lot together. She was real good at it, too.”

Ellie closed her eyes for a moment, imagining her father and mother dancing together. It was a funny thought. For as long as she had been alive, it was just she and her daddy.

“I wish I had known Mommy,” Ellie said. “Tell me again. What was she was like?”

Her father’s face softened.  “She was pretty,” he began, “with bright, happy eyes and a dimple in one cheek. She wasn’t a very good cook, but she was the best dancer in the world and she loved ice cream, just like you. You know, she visited this ice cream parlor every week when we were dating. She told me she got a hot mouth for ice cream, but I think secretly, she just wanted to see me.”

Ellie laughed.

 

“After you were born, life changed a lot.” he said.

He suddenly grew quiet, but Ellie knew why.

 

“Mommy got sick.” she finished.

He nodded, but quickly added, “You brought sunshine into those sad days, though. You made me smile everyday.” He paused for a moment, caught in the memories of the past.

 

“Daddy?” Ellie asked, looking into the soft brown eyes.

“Yes?”

“Will you dance with me?”

Her daddy’s face brightened. “I would be delighted,” he answered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Recognition Award

I’ve been nominated by my friend Rayne at The Bus Stop. Thanks so much for thinking of me, Rayne!
Rules
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to display your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select (up to) 15 other bloggers for this award.
  6. Comment on each blog to let them know you nominated them and link to the post you created.
How it all started

The Words of a Writer was actually first called Everything Awesome and Important. (Yes. That was really the name of my blog.) Looking back, I can’t believe I thought that was a good idea, but hey, everyone makes mistakes. 😉 My dad helped me set up the blog, and soon I was posting almost every day. At the time, stories flowed onto the pages freely, and new ideas would constantly pop into my head. Nowadays I struggle to be committed, but I hope to become more consistent this year.

Advice for new bloggers

Don’t let your blog become a burden. Write when it’s fun to write, not when you feel like you have to. None of your followers are sitting in front of their computer screens waiting for a post notification, so take your time. Trust me. I can tell you from experience. I’ve done it before and it was a horrible mistake. Lastly, have fun. I know it’s cliche, but just be free and write your heart out!

Nominations

Congratulations to all of these lovely bloggers! You guys are ALL awesome. 😉

The Little Thief

Jack pulled his knees up to his chest, his heart beating out of control. He pushed his small body up against the wall of an abandoned building. The sound of approaching footsteps echoed throughout the dark alley.

“I know you’re here,” a deep voice growled. “Now show yourself!”

The voice belonged to Robert, a menacing man with unruly hair and a fiery temper. He kicked over a pile of heavy boxes, his face twisted with anger.

Quickly, Jack slipped out his hiding spot, running as fast as his little legs could carry him.

“Hey! Come back here!” Robert yelled.

Jack shoved a nearby trashcan in the man’s way, accidentally dropping four coins that he had stolen. With no time to pick them up, Jack bolted out into the open streets of England, winding his way through horse-drawn carriages and streetlamps.

Slowing his pace, Jack stopped to catch his breath.

Stealing had become a way of life for little Jack. Every day, he went from place-to-place in search of odd jobs. Once he was given the job, Jack would steal from his masters and then disappear, just like he had tonight.

Only tonight, Jack thought angrily, I got caught. He pressed his nose up against the window of a bakery, drooling at the sight of food.

****

 

The next morning, Jack awoke on the front step of the bakery. A young woman with soft blonde curls and a rosy complexion approached him, a gentle smile on her face.

“Hello. What is your name?” she asked.

Jack looked at her skeptically for a moment before answering, “Jack,”

“A pleasant name,” replied the woman. She knelt down to look the boy in the face. Her eyes were full of concern.

“Jack, where are your parents?”

“I don’t have any,” he muttered, tears rolling down his cheeks.

The woman was quiet for a moment, and then replied, “What about breakfast? Have you got any of that yet?”

Jack shook his head fiercely, knocking the tears off his face. “Don’t got no parents, don’t got no money, don’t got nothing.”

The woman glanced up at the bakery, then said, “I’d like to buy you breakfast here at this bakery. Would that be okay?”

Jack’s eyes grew wide.

The woman laughed. “Come now, I haven’t got all day! Aren’t you hungry?”

Jack nodded, his stomach growling. The smell of fresh-baked pastries tantalized him.

“Very well then. Let’s go and eat,” she said.

Jack smiled for the first time in a long time. His once-empty stomach would soon be full of food, and his once-empty heart full of joy.

 

The Parking Lot

Saige wiggled in her seat with excitement, a big smile stretching across her freckled face.

“Oh, Melanie,” she cried, clasping her hands together, “I’m so excited about going to the zoo with you. You know, this is the first time I’ve ever been. Thanks so much for planning it!”

Melanie chuckled as she clicked her seatbelt in. “For me, planning was half the fun! Oh, and don’t forget to save some room- we’re going out for ice cream afterwards.”

“This is going to be so fun!” Saige squealed.

A few minutes later, the car pulled up to the front of the zoo.

Melanie frowned. “Wow, no one is here! And the sky, look at it- it’s so dark!”

“It’s not so dark,” protested Saige. “It’s just–kind of dark.”

Melanie raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, but it’s raining.”

“It’s only drizzling!”

Melanie shrugged. The weather was extremely depressing for an outing to the zoo. Slowly pulling into a nearby parking spot, the car came to a stop as the girls hopped out.

By the time they reached the admittance booth, it was pouring. Melanie’s mom, Mrs. Bently turned to the girls and sighed. “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make sense to do this.”

“WHAT?” Melanie gasped, her eyes wide. “W-what are you talking about?”

“Honey, it’s raining.”Mrs. Bently answered. “We can’t be outside when there is thunder and lighting. That’s dangerous.”

“B-but-but Mom, we can go to the penguin exhibit and then after the storm passes we can do everything else!” Melanie argued.

“I just checked the weather on my phone and it is going to rain all day.” Mrs. Bently said.

Melanie threw her arms up in the air.  “Well thanks a lot, Weather Man in the sky! If that’s how it’s gonna be, that’s how it’s gonna be! No trip to the zoo, huh? Ok, then, no trip to the zoo. I give up!” Quickly she added, “Can we try again on Sunday?”

Saige giggled. “Mel, you’re such a pessimist!”

Mrs. Bently smiled. “We can try again on Sunday.”

“And can I bring Autumn?”

“Yes, you can bring Autumn.”

Melanie remarked with sarcasm, “Ok, then, let’s go home and plan something else that will get canceled!”

****

When Sunday arrived, Melanie made sure that the forecast was going to be sunny. Then, she, Saige, and Autumn all buckled up and drove off once again.

“Nothing could possibly go wrong on such a beautiful day!” Saige chirped.

Melanie wasn’t so sure. The place was packed! Nevertheless, they looked around for half an hour in search of a place to park, but soon discovered that every spot was full.

Just as Mrs. Bently was about to turn around and go home, Autumn spotted a car pulling out. Mrs. Bently sped right into it, only to realize what time it was: 6:45. 15 minutes until the zoo closed.

“Well- that’s it! That is it! I give up!” Melanie screeched.

“We can go again another day,” Autumn suggested.

“It wouldn’t be the same!”

“Why not?” Autumn asked.

“Because–because it just wouldn’t.” Melanie stuttered. “The sky– you know, it’s–never mind.”

“Well, this will definitely be a memorable event!” Saige piped up.

“It most certainly will!” fumed Melanie through gritted teeth, taking Saige’s remark as sarcasm.

Saige laughed. “No, no, I don’t mean it that way. I mean, it will be memorable because I will always remember it as the first time I visited the zoo parking lot!”

 

 

A Movie in the Making

Over the past few months, I have been working on a big project: co-writing a screenplay with my friend and blog follower, Rayne. The movie is loosely based on my blog post, Katie and the Word Wall. Of course, the storyline had to be adjusted (for example, Katie’s walls are not entirely white like they were in the post), but the original plot line has pretty much stayed the same. Our screenplay even has a title song written just for the film by Rayne’s dad!

Throughout the process of creating the movie’s screenplay, there were numerous obstacles that we had to face. First of all, we didn’t even know if the movie would happen because Rayne and I live on opposite sides of the U.S.- and I’m in the cast! Fortunately, we were able to pull together the money needed to buy me a plane ticket and I will be visiting her this month. There were more complications, though. The actor who was originally going to play the antagonist quit after the screenplay was finished, and before that, we couldn’t figure out how to create an audience. At one point, we even called off the entire production before realizing it was still possible a few days later.

It is the first time I have ever written a screenplay, made a movie with a cast I have never met (excluding Rayne’s brother, whom I know) and filmed in a different state. I can’t wait to be a part of all of the fun and meet the rest of the cast!

*Due to privacy, I will not be posting the movie when it is finished. 🙂

The Gift

I lay in the stillness of the night, listening to the rain drum on our make-shift roof. The ground beneath me felt cold and hard.

“Mamá?” I whispered.

“Sí?”

I switched to English. “Why do we have to be missionaries in Mexico?”

“Jaden, you know the answer to that question. It is God’s plan for us.”

“Moving to the poorest city in all of Mexico, away from America, away from my friends, away from everything I’ve ever known?” I shot back.

Mamá sighed. “I know this has been hard for you.” she whispered, stroking my dark black hair. “I miss America too, you know.”

A pang of realization hit me. How could I be so selfish, to ignore the feelings of my own mother?

She rested her hands on her lap, and continued, “Yes, the United States is a very special place. Eight months ago, when we lived there,  it was a place I took for granted. Up until we left, I didn’t realize how privileged and blessed every American citizen is.” She was quiet for a minute before she continued. “But it is very late, and you need to go to bed.”

I moved over to my laptop and turned it on. “Five more minutes?”

“Ok, but then it’s lights off.”

“Ok,” I replied.

***

A week later, as Mamá was making breakfast, I decided it was time.

“Mamá?” I asked, politely clearing my throat.

“Yes, Sweetie?”

“Can I-uh- show you something outside?”I stuttered.

Mamá shot me a puzzled look. “I guess so,” she replied, sliding two hot eggs onto a plate.

When we walked outside, I handed her a little cardboard box. “There’s nothing I wanted you to see. I just wanted you to- well, just open it,” I urged, a huge smile on my face.

Mamá shot me a suspicious look. “It’s not Christmas is it?” she asked, her eyes dancing.

“No,” I laughed. “Now just open it!”

Carefully taking off the cover, she gasped. “Jaden! How could you pay for all of this?”

“I’ve been saving up for a new phone, but I thought tickets for a vacation to the U.S. was much more important.”

Mamá wrapped me in a hug, her eyes filling with tears of joy. “Oh, Jaden. You are one of the most generous, self-less people I know. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome. There’s only one thing I ask you do in return.”

“What is that?” she asked.

“Helping me find a more creative way to tell Papá!” I laughingly replied.

Katie and the Word Wall

Students+Compete+Annual+National+Spelling+TL-rVbFVc3sl.jpgDear Readers, the story you are about to read is completely fictious. In other words, the picture I am using is NOT the girl in my story! Enjoy. 😉

Katie was a very unusual girl. She didn’t care about Instagram, selfies or Taylor Swift, and her room was white with a white bed and a white desk. That very room happened to be her favorite spot in the whole house, too.

“My white walls are a blank slate for new ideas,” she told her parents. “I don’t need any supererogatory decorations that will distract me.”

“Supererogatory?” her father repeated, his forehead creased.

“Yes. It means unnecessary.”

You see, Katie was abnormal in yet another way. Besides liking a completely white room, she also liked using big words. In sixth grade, her teacher, Mr. Waldroop, had noticed this, and asked her if she would be interested in competing in a school spelling bee.

“You are a very gifted speller,” he told her. “What do you say?”

“Thank you, I would love to.” Katie replied.

And so it was settled.

Every day, Mr. Waldroop gave her notecards with new words on them. Katie would study these words, and then tape them all over her plain, white walls. At night, when the moon was bright enough, Katie could read the words again, until her brain knew them backwards and forwards.

When the day of the spelling bee arrived, Katie was ready.

“Your word is Czechoslovakia.” the judge said.

Katie took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. She imagined her wall at home, covered in words. Czechoslovakia, she thought. Where was that? Oh yes, over my door!

Her eyes popped open. “Czechoslovakia. C-z-e-c-h-o-s-l-o-v-a-k-i-a.”

“Correct!”

The contest continued for another hour and a half. Then, it was just Katie and one other girl.

“Katie, your word is…assimilate.”

Katie’s heart stopped. She hadn’t learned this word! “Can you please use that in a sentence?” she stuttered.

“Yes. Bob tried to assimilate the day’s events.”

Katie was silent for a moment. She let the the word tumble around in her brain before slowly answering, “Assimilate. A-s-s-i-m-i-l-a-t-e?”

The judge glanced down at his paper.

“That is correct.”

 

Jeremy’s Christmas Wish

1Jeremy sat in his hospital bed, watching snowflakes drift through the pale winter sky. There were only a few days left until Christmas and the doctor had announced that he would not be home for the holidays.

Jeremy had dreaded this news.

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he loved Christmastime. His family would always decorate their tree and eat homemade sugar cookies.

Jeremy sighed. Those were the picture-perfect Christmases.

The door cracked open and Jeremy’s mom came in.

“How are you doing, Honey?” she asked in a tired voice.

“Okay,” Jeremy replied.

Mrs. Smith sat down on Jeremy’s hospital bed. “I…I know it will be hard to be here on Christmas,” she said. A tear rolled down her cheek as she took a deep breath and rubbed Jeremy’s back. Then Mrs. Smith cleared her throat.

“What do you say we do something fun for a change?” she asked.

“Like what, Mommy?”

“Well, I could wheel you down to the cafeteria and we could get some ice cream, or we could do watch a movie together up here.”

Jeremy shrugged. “Could we decorate for Christmas?”

Mrs. Smith thought for a moment, and then said, “Sure. Dad can bring some extra decorations down. Sound good?”

Jeremy nodded, a big grin on his face.

***

When everything was finished, Jeremy’s room had a little Christmas tree on the bedside table, a wreath hanging on the door, and lights all over the entire room. The little boy smiled. It may not have been the picture-perfect Christmas he was used to, but it came pretty close.

Serious Work in Giggle Garden

Over the last few weeks, I have been writing this magazine article for Matthew’s Hope Magazine. It is my first piece of journalism. Enjoy!

Volunteer art teacher and mentor Debra Vineyard walked around, cleaning up after her art class.

“Can you help me for a little bit?” she asked.

Braedon nodded, because no matter how old you are, helping always feels good.

“Have you ever worked in a garden?” Debra asked.

“My dad had one, but the garden foods died,” Braedon answered.

After a bit more conversation, the two walked down the stairs of the preschool to a little garden right outside the door. Outside were two garden planters with a sign on them that read, “Giggles Garden.”

Standing over the cedar planters, Debra mentored Braedon by chatting with him, and showing him how to plant seeds and flowers. Braedon didn’t like getting his hands dirty though, so Debra did most of the “messy work.”

Her 5-10 minutes alone with a preschooler almost every week can help his or her bad day become brighter. If Debra notices a child is less giddy than usual, she brings them out to the garden and asks simple questions like “How are you?”

“Most of our kids have working parents, while other private schools don’t,” said Ginger Allen, director of the preschool. “[The parents] work so hard. They bring them to our school because they want them to have a quality education with loving teachers where they can learn about Jesus.”

If the Giggles Garden isn’t working, Debra will mentor a preschooler somewhere else. For example, when one child was having a hard time at school, Debra brought him over to the playground and taught him how to pump his little legs on the swing set.

“I think that it helped him because I saw the look on his face. He had discovered something about himself. He could swing,” Debra said.

The plants in the garden planters need care and nurture to help them grow, just like the preschoolers need love and attention. Typically, the kids remind Ginger or their other teacher, Mrs. Reed, to water the plants.

Community effort in the preschool — 23 people from the general public in total — have contributed to the garden. Boy Scout Ryan Behrle of Winter Garden chose Matthew’s Hope for his Eagle Scout Project and requested a list of things he could help with. When Ginger Allen gave him that list, she put “garden” at the top.

Ryan began work on two garden planters, each built at a comfortable height for a preschooler. He also installed a paver patio that measured 70 square feet.

Ace Hardware has joined the community effort, too. When Debra requested plant donations, the store donated seeds and apologized for not having any flowers. Shortly after, they gave away some of their flowers, too.

“Everybody’s doing what God wants them to do there. It’s perfect,” Debra said.