Posted in Poems

Apologies – The Human Race

Lord, forgive his bite for he only meant to say that he was hungry

Forgive her scratch and hiss

For she only meant to protest my grasp

Forgive that meal he just made of me

For I had come with ill intent

Forgive them, Lord

For they know not what I’ve done


Lord, tell her I’m sorry for I only meant to feed my young

Tell him I was greedy, desperate for more

I only meant to sooth my insecurities

Tell her I was stubborn

I only meant to keep things the way I knew

Tell them, Lord

I only thought about today


Lord, hold him tight with the comfort I never gave

Hold her while you pick the trash from her stomach that I never took out

Hold him as he chokes on the beer ring that I never cut

Hold them, Lord

I never thought it would be me


Lord, hear her whimper when I inject her with posion

It is not her fault that I only wanted her when she was little

Hear his cry when I fire straight into his heart

It is not his fault that I only wanted his head for my broken ego

Hear her last breath when I have taken the air from her seas

It is not her fault that I ignored the warnings

Hear their murmurings, Lord

It is not their fault that I did not listen

Posted in Short Stories


She was kneeling, wings extended. A noise behind caught her attention and she turned. A bullet whizzed by her ear, nicking the side. Voices clambered nearer, heavy footsteps hurrying up the steep mountain. She flexed her wings and made to flee, but another bullet flew through her feathers. Her hands slammed to the ground, a grunt escaping her lips as she bit back the pain throbbing through her right side. The voices were so close now, yet her wings would not lift her. She curled her wings in, protecting the fragile feathers. She shut her eyes, drowning in the pain, ignoring the growing footsteps. She was wounded. She couldn’t fly. She couldn’t feel the cool wind, nor the warmth of the sun, nor the — she hissed as a bullet tore at her leg. The footsteps were so loud, so near. She hardly noticed the tears on her cheeks, her body was aflame with incessant pain.

She felt their fear, the footsteps were still, their voices gone. She knew. Knew why they had come. She shifted, turning to face them. She stumbled and grumbled as she did so, but she met their eyes at last. That was what frightened them most. They stepped back, widening their dark, simple eyes and shot. Her wings shredded under their bullets, her power over them fluttering to the ground as flakes from the sky. Her eyes grew dim and empty, the defiance and pride slipping away.

And they breathed.

And they gasped as their eyes took in the frail form before them. A girl. Wearing the same clothes as their own children might. A girl, whose face had once smiled and laughed. A girl, alone on the top of a mountain. A dead girl with feathers strewn about as if she had been visited by the angels.

They gathered round her then, cradled her body, lifted the wingless girl from the earth and spirited her down to the village below.

She was lain amidst the feeble dwellings they had clumsily built for the harsh winter, her skin already paling to match the clouds above. They paused then, their minds no longer sure what to do with the wingless body. They glanced back at the mountain top, proudly standing amongst their precious trees. Yet the stone gave no reply to their wanting looks. The birds ceased their song and gathered along the tree line, beaded eyes sweeping the village.

The blood stilled and wrapped around the fresh grass, its exodus complete. And still the villagers did nothing. They stared at the mangled figure, their eyes simple and dark. They murmured, something had to be done. Someone would come by asking.

The women shook themselves and busied their hands with cloths and water, mopping the layer of earth and blood from her skin. The men woke and set about preparing a hole to bury the girl as they might their own.

The birds watched on, their beaks firmly closed.

Only once the wingless girl had been cleaned and carried to the hole did the birds speak. They began low, almost warning. The villagers made to lower the girl down and the birds became adamant, their sqwaks louder. They left their perches and fell upon the assembly, screaming. The villagers disregarded the crazed animals and dropped the girl deep within the arms of the earth, enveloping her body in soil.

After all, she was just as wingless as they.

Posted in Poems

The Call

Vibrations break the serenity

Pull me from a pleasant dream

It’s her

My heart skips, panic flourishing

No, no, no, no

It can’t be

Not her

My hands shake as I pick up the phone

I have to swipe the screen thrice

My voice cracks as I whisper,

“What’s wrong?”

She coughs and sniffs

“I’m hurt.”

My heart throws itself from my chest

Panic forces my posture to perfection

I’m grabbing boots, keys, license

Starting the car before I ask where she is

“I don’t know.”

Panic, panic, panic, worry

I drive anyway, going in circles

To anywhere I know, anywhere she may be

Not her

I stay on the phone, hoping

Hoping her voice will guide my way

I drive for hours, finding her car at 4

By then, I’ve lost her voice

Her voice, not her voice

But that phone call at 2 am

Was the last

Posted in Poems

The Eyes

It’s the eyes

They draw you in

The pain, the exhaustion

Written plain in the blue

A story of a life regretted

Within dusty gray and blue

The wrangled hair

Fading with age

Brows dropped as if gravity has

Yanked them to the floor

Yet there is a kindness

And perhaps a sort of happiness

Something lingers that the eyes

Won’t regret

A daughter? A son?

A lover? A friend?

A speck of joy in the sea

A small fish floating by that he

Doesn’t drown

The smile at his lips play

Bursting through the blue shell

Telling of some happy moment

Amid a life of doubt

And pain regretted

Posted in Short Stories

Knock Knock

There was a knock. The boy looked up from his toys on the floor, relieving them of his relentless torture. He hesitated as the knock sounded once more. His mother should be near. He glanced about and saw no sign of her. Perhaps she was upstairs. He stood and ambled over to the front door. He remembered his mother always opened the door when there was a knock. The boy then surmised he should do the same and turned the handle. A woman stood towering over him with a kind smile and a bag of sweet smelling somethings. The boy eagerly returned her smile.

“Is your mother home, dearie?” she inquired.

The boy looked over his shoulder and frowned. No mother in view. He shrugged. The kind woman gave him an understanding glance. “That’s alright, dearie. I just needed to drop off these for the bake sale.”

The boy had heard his mother speaking of the bake sale. He stepped aside, allowing the kind woman within the home.

She walked immediately toward the kitchen and plopped her bag onto the counter top. The boy resumed play with his animals and trucks. He didn’t notice the kind woman leave the kitchen and begin a tour of the home, meticulously checking every room and corner. He failed to notice her ascension of the stairs and the doors creaking open. The boy rushed his trucks for an interstate collision as his mother’s voice greeted the kind woman in surprise. He was seating his teddy for the court room sentence as his mother choked. The kind woman descended the stairs and reentered the kitchen with wet hands. She smiled gently as she dried her hands and the boy glanced over. He quickly dismissed the audience and continued his court room process.

He noticed that the kind woman had left the kitchen and was now watching him from the couch but he paid her no mind. Grown-ups were always more amused by his antics than disruptive.

“May I ask what is happening?” the kind woman asked.

The boy pointed to the trucks, dented by their deadly collision, and gave his teddy a toy mallet with which to call the court to order. The woman nodded, seeming to understand, and calmly approached the boy. The boy brushed off her hands when she laid them on his shoulders, feeling far too involved in his case. The woman chuckled and retreated, moving toward the kitchen. She reached the bag as the boy considered which driver was at fault. The woman extracted a sleek blade while the jury pronounced their verdict.

The boy felt a strange sting at his neck just as the judge had declared the red truck driver to be at fault. He collapsed, eyes fixated on his teddy, wondering what the sudden weakness of his body was. Why couldn’t he get up? He clutched his neck, trying to rub away the sting and brought his hand into view. His red hand. The boy’s heart began beating faster and his shirt began to soak and stick to his chest. The edges started fading as he desperately looked about, unable to move. The kind woman smiled and removed a box of cookies from the bag. “Shame you couldn’t have stayed for dessert.”

And his heart stopped.

Posted in Short Stories

Grasp of Freedom

I have been working for quite a few years on this story so I just wanted to let you guys have a taste of it and see if it’s truly any good as of now. This is a part that’s somewhat into the book so background information is that Evangeline is Jessamine’s older sister and that they live in a sort of modern/medieval time period. I will be trying to get something up later, but I have been busy with life lately. So I will be getting something up, although which story I have packed away, I don’t know. None of them are done 🙂 I’ll wing it. So enjoy reading folks!

Jessamine hadn’t married at fifteen as Evangeline had. Her betrothed had married another and no eligible bachelor had appeared that her mother approved of. She supposed she should be glad her mother wouldn’t allow her to marry a man more than seven years her senior nor one with a line of dead wives nor one that was more than two years her junior. That made very small pickings. Several of the eligible ones had already been dismissed by her mother and it seemed every day another was dismissed.

It had been two years since her fifteenth birthday and she still wasn’t married, much to her mother’s disappointment. Jessamine feared that any longer and her mother would marry her to the next man who asked. Luckily, the king of Hiandra was trying to marry his son and was sending messengers to every eligible girl within the next two kingdoms. Jessamine being one, even though she was only a lord’s daughter.

“Hurry it along, Jane,” she said impatiently. She wanted the meeting over as quickly as possible and she hated the long getting-ready process.

Her maidservant mumbled, “Trying, miss.” while she pinned up Jessamine’s brown hair.

It was supposed to be an attractive hairstyle, but Jessamine didn’t like how her hair looked. She dearly wished she had either sister’s blond locks. She sighed and frowned at herself in the dressing table mirror. Her nose was too childish and covered in freckles. Her eyes were a plain brown color and slanted. Jessamine bit her lip and scowled. She looked plain, maybe even ugly.

“All done, miss. Now the gown,” Jane said brightly.

Sometimes, Jessamine really wanted to strangle the happy maid. She stood up nonetheless and let Jane slip the violet column gown over her head. Jane quickly moved to tying the gown firmly on while Jessamine looked at herself in the mirror on her wall. She hated dresses as a rule, but this one was just awful. She looked like one of those snobby girls. Jessamine humphed.

Jane glanced up and said, “Don’t worry, miss. You look stunning in violet.”

“I’m not exactly in the stunning mood today. I don’t need stunned messengers, I need a stunned mother so I can get out and see the world,” Jessamine sighed.

Jane gave her a small smile and said, “You’ll get there one day, miss. Who knows? Maybe you’ll stun this one and he won’t be able to wake back up.”

“That would be nice,” Jessamine said, smiling. “Thank you, Jane.”

She walked toward her bedroom door, ready to step out and stun people, but Jane reminded her, “Shoes!” and she had to slip on the Pinching Slippers of Torment before walking out of her room. Jessamine let Jane have one last tug at the gown as she slipped out of the bedroom into the hallway and headed gracefully for the stairs. But Isabella was crouched by the banister and gestured for Jessamine to come over. Jessamine ducked and sat down with her sister.

“He’s handsome, Jessie,” Isabella whispered, pointing up.

Jessamine took the hint and raised her head up enough to look over the banister. He was indeed handsome, although Jessamine could only really see the top of his head and his clothes. Wavy light brown hair that hung just past his jawline, cut in a very handsome way. His clothes were definitely made for a man of status, even though he wore his green jacket loosely over his white shirt. His black boots went to his knees, over his blue jeans. Despite not seeing his face, this messenger was certainly handsome. Whoever he is representing is surely a rich man and hopefully equally as handsome, Jessamine thought.

“She will down in a moment,” Mother assured him, smoothing her dark red gown.

The man nodded and glanced up. Jessamine and her sister dropped to the floor, hiding behind the banister. Both of them covered their mouths, trying to not giggle. In that split second, his bright, grass green eyes had met Jessamine’s. His eyes are enchanting, she thought.

“Jessamine!” their mother called.

Isabella looked at Jessamine and whispered, “Go on.”

Jessamine smiled and ruffled her sister’s blond curls before getting to her feet. Isabella grinned mischievously and hissed, “You’ll be fine. He’s handsome.”

“That just makes me more nervous,” Jessamine replied.

Isabella rolled her green eyes and crawled away, still in yoga pants and T-shirt. Lucky. Jessamine took a breath and swept around the corner, walking down the stairs.

Her mother was smiling, though the tightness of her smile told Jessamine that her mother was faking it. Her mother had never taken to Jessamine. Especially not after the night she’d overheard Evangeline’s wedding plans.

Jessamine reached the floor and curtsied to the man. He bowed back. “Milady,” he murmured, his green eyes mesmerizing her as he took her pale hand. Jessamine was able to tear her eyes away as he kissed her hand. She looked at her mother, who was a little redder in the face and was tucking one of her gray-blond hairs behind her ear. Jessamine frowned at her. The messenger then straightened and said, “I am William Tomlin, my father is Lord Tomlin of Wellfield. It is an estate in Hiandra.”

Hiandra? That was the country east of Driskel. Jessamine glanced at her mother and found her still happily grinning. She knew who had sent William. Jessamine turned her eyes back into William’s captivating gaze and said, “I am Jessamine Allen and I am pleased to meet you, sir.”

William smiled and offered his arm. Jessamine tried to hide her blush as she took his arm and resolved not to look at him. Her mother led the group into the sitting room, the same room Jessamine had burst into two years ago. Jessamine quickly released William’s arm and sat in a chair near the door, hoping for a swift escape. Her mother pursed her lips, but said nothing. William ignored both women and lounged in one of the sofas, spreading out his arms along the back as if he were a bird. Jessamine barely contained her laugh. She wished Isabella were there to laugh with her.

Her mother hovered for a moment before sitting herself in an armchair near Jessamine that faced William. “When will she be leaving?” she asked, almost too eagerly.

William looked up, mildly amused. “The prince wishes her presence as soon as possible, but you may take as long as you would like to prepare. It is curious you ask so quickly, Lady Allen. Most of the daughters I have gone to collect did not have so excitable of mothers as you.”

He painted the last statement like a compliment, only, Jessamine and her mother both caught the insult hidden underneath. Her mother laughed, “I am sorry I am not as torn about my daughter leaving, Lord William! I have already married one daughter. I am a very adaptable woman, you see.”

William nodded and said, “I would like to be leaving by tomorrow morning.”

Jessamine smiled a little when her mother gasped. “Tomorrow morning?”

“Of course. That will be enough time, will it not?”

Jessamine’s mother quickly recovered and gave him a winning smile. “Yes. It will. Why should it not? When will the wedding be?”

“The wedding will take place within a week of our arrival which will be roughly in two weeks,” William replied. “I should mention that the king cannot guarantee–”

Her mother cut him off with an exclamation of, “Married in three weeks! And to a prince! This is greater than I ever dreamed for you, Jessamine!”

“Mama, the man’s trying to say something,” Jessamine said, bringing her mother back from her own daydreaming thoughts.

Her mother’s blue eyes regained focus and she immediately apologized. “Forgive me, Lord William. I am afraid my excitement overwhelms me.”

“It is quite alright,” William soothed. “As I was saying, the king cannot guarantee the prince will choose your daughter as his bride. She may be sent home, with compensation, of course. I am afraid the journey will be a dangerous and difficult one, not meant for the weak of heart.”

“I have been to Hiandra many times,” her mother scoffed. “There was never a danger nor difficulty in my travels. Ibeadian and Tianskderr are good to travelers.”

“We are not going that route, Lady Allen,” William said, earning a confused glance. “We are going through the forest as the route is shorter and therefore quicker.”

Jessamine’s mother frowned. “No. I will not allow my daughter to travel through the forest. Either you travel through Ibeadian and Tianskderr or I will not allow her to marry the prince.”

“You will lose a very advantageous marriage,” William reminded her.

“An advantageous marriage is not worth losing my daughter’s life over. I will not send her into the heart of danger on merely the possibility that this prince will even choose her as his bride,” her mother stated icily. She stood abruptly and said, “Good day, Lord William. I pray the saints watch over your travels.”

William got to his feet and bowed. “Good day, Lady Allen and Lady Jessamine. I pray the saints watch over your household.”

Jessamine barely had the time to stand and curtsy before William left the sitting room, mumbling something about showing himself out. As the sitting room doors swung shut, Jessamine turned to her mother and said, “Why didn’t you let me go with him?”

“Did you not,” her mother corrected. “And because I do not want to lose you,” she explained, walking toward Jessamine and holding out her arms.

Jessamine made a face and retreated toward the doors. “You’ve never shown more affection to me before now. Mama, you could care less if I died,” Jessamine snapped.

“Jessamine!” her mother cried. “I would care if you died!”

“No you wouldn’t!” Jessamine yelled, her throat tightening. “You never loved me! You hated me! Always! I hate this family! I am not happy with a cage! Don’t any of you understand?”

She left her mother’s shock filled face and raced out of the sitting room, flying up the stairs and bursting into her room. She didn’t want to catch up with William yet. He was probably already long gone. She would make her way to the forest and hope to find him along the way.

Jessamine blindly grabbed clothes and anything else she might need for the journey, throwing it all into a knapsack. She tore the violet gown from her body and changed into light blue jeans, gray long sleeve shirt, and knee-high black boots. Jessamine slipped on a black hoodie as well and swung the knapsack over her shoulder.

She walked out of her room while tying up her brown hair into a messy bun when she bumped into Isabella. Her sister began to say, “Ouch. Hey, watch it. What are you, an elephan– What’s going on, Jessie?”

Isabella’s green eyes were wide. Jessamine’s heart broke. She hugged her little sister tight and whispered, “I have to. But I’ll be back, I promise.” before running down the hall to the stairs and swiftly descending them. Jessamine jogged to the stables, glancing around for her mother, but she reached the stables unhindered. She walked straight to her brown and white mare, patting her long face. “Wanna go for a ride, Lizzy?”

The mare neighed and Jessamine gracefully mounted her. She pressed Lizzy’s sides and rode out of the stables onto the Driskelian hills for the last time. She never wanted to come back there, even if she had promised Isabella she would. With luck, Isabella would be married soon so she would only have to visit Isabella at her new home. Jessamine gave the estate a backward glance, then turned and faced her new life on the road.

Posted in Short Stories

The Party (and The End)

Here’s the final part 🙂 Enjoy reading and I’ll have something up soon after. Again the comments are appreciated 🙂

Ella and Kody arrive home around one in the morning. I hear them come in, laughing and chattering as usual. They’re surprised to see me still awake, and even more surprised when they see me baking cookies. Ella twirls a strand of blond hair around her finger as she steps closer to the counter, her tongue sticking out of her mouth just a tiny bit. She eyes the cookies greedily and glances up at me. “These are for me, right? Me and Kody?”

    “No. They’re for me,” I reply.

    Ella raises an eyebrow and takes a cookie, shoving it right into her huge mouth. “Oops.”

    Anger boils up inside of me. “Alright, fine. You take them. You take all of them. Make yourself happy. You deserve to eat as much as you want,” I say, walking out of the kitchen. “You can just do what you do best: be a pig.”

    I don’t even turn around to see her face, I keep walking toward my room and slam my newly replaced door shut. I lean against it and steady my breathing. I’m not angry, I tell myself. I’m completely calm. I nod to myself and pad over to my bed, sitting down on the edge. Ella’s going to get me back for the pig comment. But for some reason, I’m not scared of her anymore. Okay, I am, but I shove the fear to the back of my head. I’m not in the mood to be scared of her. I’ll be scared later. Right now, I just want to cry my eyes out and whine about how pointless everything is.

    I want to run out of the house and see Ari. I want to say I’m sorry. I want to hear him say he’s sorry. I want to push Ella and Kody the way they’ve pushed me for all these years. I want to go home, but I am home, at least in the physical sense. I haven’t felt at home anywhere since Dad died, except maybe at Ari’s house.

    I hear Ella and Kody talking, their voices low. Probably plotting again, I think sourly, laying down on my bed. I glance at a picture of me and Ari from last summer. We’re at his parents’ cottage along the nearby lake. We’re happy. I sigh and wish I could transport myself back in time to that moment. Then my eyes close and I fall asleep, one last tiny worry slipping out: Ari might be crying right now, because of me.

    The dance at Tyler’s place is on Saturday, today. I wake up around nine and stagger to my dresser, barely thinking as I grab jeans and a T-shirt. I have to talk to Ari. I hurry to the shower and finish in record time, nearly falling over as I try to quickly pull on my jeans. I dash back into my bedroom and grab my phone. A new text.

    hey, i’m sorry. can we talk? It’s from Ari.

    My fingers find the keyboard and I begin to text back, then my bedroom door is thrown open. I jump and glare. “No barging in, Ella! Remember the rules?” I say angrily.

    Ella moves her hand off the door and says, “Sorry. Mom’s not here and those rules are rather old, don’t you think?”

    Kody is right behind her, carrying something. They enter my room and shut the door behind themselves. My heart starts pounding in my chest. Whatever they’re planning, isn’t good. I turn my attention back to my phone, hoping to alert Ari before they do anything. Ella snatches my phone and asks, “Oh, what do we have here? Your boyfriend again?”

    “He’s not my boyfriend,” I protest, reaching for the phone.

    Ella, being taller, holds it out of reach and grins. “Really? Then what’s he apologizing about?”

    “We had an argument,” I admit. “We’re friends, Ella. Just friends.”

    This time Kody says, “Are you sure about that? You two have been spending an awful amount of time together. Plus I’ve caught him looking at you, at school, behind Nina’s back. If I remember, he followed you into the girl’s bathroom! He’s not just your friend, Lu.”

    I take a moment to glare at her. Kody smiles back. “Don’t you want to see what we got you? We got you a dress for the dance, it suits you very well,” she says, unfolding the dress in her arms.

    My heart sinks. It’s the worst sort of dress. A murky green fabric sits on top of an unflattering orange, a horrible design covering the top fabric. It looks like it would reach my knees and the sleeves are just beyond awful.

Kody holds it out and Ella grins. “It does suit you,” Ella says.

“I’m not wearing that,” I snarl, glowering at each of them.

Ella shrugs. “Then you aren’t going to the ball, are you, Cinderella?” she teases.

Kody giggles and Ella smiles. Kody lays the dress on my bed and turns to the door, waiting as Ella walks so close to me that her face is inches from mine. “You aren’t going to get the prince this time. You wear that, or nothing at all. We’ll be waiting in the car,” she hisses. “Please do tell us if you decide not to go. Otherwise, don’t be late.”

“I’m not wearing that,” I say, pointing at the dress.

“Okay. We’ll need baths prepared for when we get home, oh and, more cookies,” Ella says, grinning at me and patting my cheek.

Kody laughs and the two of them leave, closing the door behind themselves. Most people would be thinking about escape right now. Not me. I know Ella and Kody. They’re going to lock up the house in a way that I can’t go to the dance wearing anything other than the dress they gave me or the clothes I’m currently dressed in. I sit down, hard, on my bed, scowling at the horrendous dress laying beside me. I’m in the story of Cinderella, but I don’t have a fairy godmother to whisk me off to the ball where I’ll meet my prince. Not that I really want to. Ari knew what he was talking about with Tyler, I should trust his judgement. Despite this, I still want to go, just to make sure Tyler is what Ari makes him out to be and doesn’t just act like that around Ari.

I hear the car start and the noise of the engine fade away. I lay back and think, Now I’m officially stuck at home with nothing to do. I sigh and get up, walking to my bedroom door. The door opens and I step out into the hallway. Their doors will be locked, as usual, I think to myself. I continue down the hall and pass through the kitchen, going to the living room. I plop onto the couch just as I hear a car pull up.

I jump to my feet and race to the front door. Ari came to save me, is my only thought as I thrust open the door. But it isn’t his car sitting in the driveway, nor is he the slim woman climbing out. Mom, I think, my heart dropping.

She ambles up to the house, tottering on three-inch high heels, and smiles at me. “Hey, Lucinda,” she greets. She’s the only person who ever calls me by my full name anymore.

“Hey, Mom,” I reply, stepping aside to let her in the house.

Her braided brown hair sways with each step. She sets her bag down in the kitchen and kicks off her heels, letting out a relieved sigh. Mom then goes straight for the fridge, grabbing a yogurt container, snatching a spoon from the drawer, and stalking to the living room. I follow her to the doorway of the living room, but I don’t go any further. Instead, I lean against the doorway and ask, “Did you know Ella and Kody hid all my dresses and skirts?”

Mom shovels a spoonful of yogurt into her mouth before answering. “No.”

“Well, they did,” I say, angrily. “And gave me a crappy dress in return.”

“Do you know why?” Mom asks, mildly.


Mom looks up, her brown eyes wide.

I continue, “They don’t want me to go to this party. They’re getting me back because I called Ella a pig.”

Mom blinks at me for a second, then she laughs. “You called her a pig? Oh, that is too funny!” she gasps, trying to catch her breath from laughing. She calms herself and asks, “Do you want to go to this party, honey?”

I hesitate. “Well, sort of. The whole school’s going, most of it anyway. I just thought I’d get to know a few more of the kids,” I reply, shifting uneasily.

“Like a boy?” Mom asks, raising her eyebrows.

“No!” I say, too forcefully. “Well, yeah. But I just wanted to meet him myself. I don’t want to go off of what other people say. You know how much I don’t like doing that.”

Mom nods. “So you don’t like this boy.”

“I’m not sure. He seemed to be nice the one time I did talk to him, but I want to see him again to confirm that. Or to confirm what Ari has told me.”

“Oh, Ari told you? Honey, Ari is a boy. I’m sure he knows a thing or two about them. If he told you this boy was bad, then I’d say he was too,” Mom says, walking toward me.

I frown at her. “Ari could be wrong.”

Mom rolls her eyes and says, “I see this is a useless argument. Would you like to glimpse my dresses, honey? I’m sure I have some that would pass in this century.”

A smile tugs at my lips and Mom beams, leading me away to her room. Her room is neat, like a hotel room. The bed is expertly tucked and fluffed, the blues and greens giving off an air of comfort. Mom’s windows are curtained by thick purple fabrics, designs outlined in beads. The soft carpet cushions my feet, a much different feeling to the wooden flooring everywhere else.

Mom takes me through the room to a back door, which she opens to reveal a smaller room: a walk-in closet. I gape at the amount of clothes. I didn’t know my mom had this many things to wear, probably because she was never home. She murmurs to herself as she fingers through the clothes, her eyes flitting from piece to piece. Finally, she pulls something out and I turn my attention to her. Mom holds it out expectantly and I ask, “You want me to wear that?”

The dress is beautiful. The complete opposite of the dress lying on my bed. This one is a dark blue strapless ball gown like, knee-length dress. I take it from Mom and notice there’s a layer underneath the blue that’s black. It peeks through where the blue is pinned up and away from the hem. I glance at Mom and mumble, “Thank you, Mom.”

She grins. “I just want to see my baby girl all dressed up and happy. Put it on.”

I don’t bother with being embarrassed around my mom. She’d bathed me as a child for goodness sakes. I slip into the dress and Mom helps me zip the back. She has me spin around and says, “Hair.” then she disappears into her bathroom which also connects to her bedroom. I follow her, a smile plastered to my face. Ella and Kody would be so jealous and angry, especially since Mom’s the one helping me out.

I enter the bathroom and immediately find my hair being seized by Mom. She furiously brushes it, rinsing the brush in the sink so as to wet my hair. She mutters something about my hair curling naturally when it’s wet and how pretty it looks. Mom’s brushing takes only a couple of minutes and she drags me to her mirror, beaming over my shoulder as I examine myself. I am beautiful, I think happily.

“Thank you so much, Mom,” I say, turning and hugging her tight.

“No worries, honey. You go show those sisters how amazing their baby sister is. I only wish I could’ve raised them better,” she sighs.

I kiss her cheek. “You can’t help that now,” I say. “Now you have to help me find some shoes.”

Mom jumps a little. “Oh!” she exclaims, running back into the closet. She emerges a moment later, dark blue one-inch heels in hand. She slips them onto my feet and says, “I’ll drive you there, but I want you home by midnight, young lady. No late nights. You’ll be tired anyhow.”

I nod and she shoos me out of her bedroom. “I have to change before we go.”

The door closes and the smile on my face spreads. I’m Cinderella and I’m going to the ball. Then I hear knocking at the front door. Curious, I click my way over to the door and open it. Ari stands there, panting, his dirty blond hair messy and his brown eyes wild. As he takes in my dress, I stand there in shock. I’d thought Ari would come for me, but I’d almost forgotten and had begun to expect him not to. He stares at me and gasps, “You’re beautiful, Lu.”

My heart leaps at his words and an uncomfortable heat fills my face. I find my voice and say, “My mom let me borrow it. Ella and Kody–”

“Hey, Ari!” my mom greets cheerfully from behind me. “How are you?”

He seems taken aback at the sight of her, but he quickly answers, “Oh, fine, Mrs Woods.”

My mom puts a hand on my bare shoulder and asks, “Since you’re here, why don’t you drive Lucinda to the party? I assume you’re going there too, right?”

Ari nods and my mom says, “Great. See you two later. Remember, midnight.”

I walk outside and the door shuts. Ari seems to have recovered from the shock and says, “Well, um, let’s go then.”

He hurries to his car and I feel a burn of embarrassment flood my body. I bite my lip and walk in his wake, slipping into the passenger side of the car. It’s old, Ari’s dad’s, so it takes a moment to start up. Ari’s nervous, his hands trembling and he keeps avoiding my gaze.

The ride to Tyler’s house is quiet. Ari keeps his eyes on the road, but I notice him straining to do so. Ari pulls into a rather long driveway, an iron gate and all. He stops behind a dark green car and turns off his car, glancing again at me. He gets out of the car and hurries to my side. I roll my eyes at his insistence on manners and climb out of the car by myself. Ari stares at me and stammers, “I was going to…”

I smile at him. “It’s fine, Ari. I can handle it. I’m a big girl, remember?”

I pat his arm and walk up the drive, weaving around countless cars of all shapes, sizes and ages. I hear Ari hurrying after me, but my attention is taken by the house that comes into view. It’s like a dream house, no, mansion. It’s styled exactly as a fairytale palace might look, scaled down somewhat, but still extravagant.

As I approach the house, popular music drifts out through the open front door and windows. I tug on the hem of my dress as a cool breeze floats past, and look over my shoulder at Ari. He meets my eyes and immediately, his face flushes a bright red again. I grin at him and turn back to the house, walking up the front steps. I enter the house and wave to a few of my other friends, giving some hugs and wading through the crowd.

“Hey, Ari!”

I turn toward the voice, recognizing it. It’s Nina, his hot but stupid ex-girlfriend. I frown at her as she skips to Ari, who gives me a helpless look. I sigh and turn around, heading back toward him. Before I can reach him, someone grabs my arm. “Hey,” I begin to say, but stop short. Tyler is standing there, his fingers wrapped around my bicep. He smiles, showing off pure white teeth.

“I never got your name,” he says, leaning closer to make sure I hear him.

“Lucinda,” I reply, trying to gently tug my arm out of his grip.

    “That’s pretty,” he says, turning me toward him.

    My heart is racing and my brain is whirling. Okay, just leave him. Ari needs you. Go to Ari. Come on. Get him off you and go help Ari. Ari is in trouble. But however hard I try to remove his hand from around my arm, he won’t let go.

    “Tyler, I have to go,” I say.

    “Go where?” he asks, pulling me a little closer to him.

    “My friend needs me. Like, now,” I answer, getting uncomfortable with the lessening space between me and Tyler.

    His face comes nearer to mine. “She can wait,” he says, his arms wrapping me in a hug.

    I don’t like the look in his eyes. “Please, Tyler,” I say, not bothering to correct him. “I have to go see my friend.”

    In that second, he presses his mouth to mine and I find out what sloppy kissing really is. My hand instinctively raises and slaps him hard across the face. Tyler steps back, bewildered. His cheek is red where my hand hit. I glare and snap, “Don’t ever do that again.”

    Then he smiles and walks away. “Don’t plan to,” he says over his shoulder.

    I wipe the back of my hand against my mouth and fling the saliva off. Gross. I turn to rescue Ari and find him still with Nina. She’s holding his face to hers, kissing him. She’s pretty strong, I think as I notice Ari pushing her away. I walk over just as she releases him and say, “He’s mine.”

    Nina scowls. “And what claim do you have on his beautiful body?” she hisses.

    “He’s my friend,” I reply, pushing her backward.

    The other people around us let Nina fall, her friends hurrying to her side as fast as they can in high heels. They get her to her feet and Nina brushes herself off, her green eyes still staring daggers at me. “You are a know-it-all, sneaking, grabby little creep!” she gasps, trying to catch her breath.

    “Well thanks,” I say, smiling. “You really don’t want to know what I think of you.”

    A hand moves to my shoulder and I glance over my shoulder to see Ari. Nina spits at me and stalks off into the crowd. I turn around to face Ari and ask, “This isn’t much of a party is it?”

    He shrugs. “Your sister seems to be enjoying herself.”

    My eyes follow his and find Ella kissing Tyler. I turn back to Ari. “As long as she’s happy.”

    Ari grins and hugs me. “What would I do without you?”

    “You’d get kisses from Nina,” I say.

    He laughs. “Yeah, I guess so.”

    My hands act before my brain fully thinks through the action. I grab his face and press our lips together, much to Ari’s surprise. But only a moment after, his arms wrap around me. His embrace is much more gentle than Tyler’s, as is his kiss. We part, smiling.

    “How does that compare to Tyler?” Ari asks, not hiding a hurt tone very well.

    I bite my lip and tease him. “Hmm. A bit too good.”

    Ari smiles. “Let’s go watch a movie,” he says, leading me out of the house.

    “I’m all for that,” I reply. “Who likes high school parties anyhow?”
And so we did. We drove back to my house and watched movies until we both fell asleep. Ari and I dated. Here’s the moral of the story: rich guys are not always nice. Ella dated Tyler for three months before figuring out that he was seeing two other girls behind her back. This is the real story of Cinder. The one where the prince is a jerk and the real man for the job was hiding right where he’d always been, by my side. I won’t tell you if we got married or had kids. That’s up to you. You can imagine anything you want. I prefer it when someone gets to make their own story. Best wishes from me (and Ari). Go make your own story, and make it a good one.