I want vs. I have

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With God, relationships with Him and others are an outpouring of His love. ❤

I want a connection

My mind is awake
I want a deep conversation
From a guy or a girl—
Either one, I don’t care.

I just want real interaction
All I hear is
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
But that’s it and I’m drowning
Yearning for a connection
I just want a connection.

The human connection
That grows a soul
The touching a heart
The filling a hole
Deep inside me.
I want that.

We hide in the dark
But we want the light
Friendship means nothing
If we don’t really know
One another
If we think we know them
but never feel that we need each other.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of smiles and hugs and politeness
I want to understand you
I really do.

I want, I want,
This selfishness wired inside me
It’s taking control; it’s becoming a desire
I can’t withhold.

I want love to bind us
Because without love,
We’re only a pair
Of separate individuals
Yearning for something more.

 

I have a connection

My heart is awake
In a deep conversation
With my Savior and Lord
He’s the One who cares.

This is real interaction
Not just
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
If that was it I’d be drowning
Yearning for a connection—
But I have a connection.

The supernatural connection
As He grows my soul,
Touches my heart,
And fills a hole
Deep inside me.
He does that.

When I hide in the dark
He guides me to His light
Our relationship with God means nothing
If we don’t really know Him
If we think we know Him
But never feel that we need Him.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of prayers and songs and kindness
I want to understand Him
I really do.

I want, I want
This desire fires inside me
It’s taking control; it’s breaking the boundaries
Of my restricted soul.

His love binds us
Because without love
We’re detached from our Creator
Yearning for something more.

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S7: Dahlia’s Speech

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For this Creative Writing assignment, I was supposed to write about my main character in my novella, The Healer of Istagun, making a speech. Here, Dahlia makes a speech to humans about rising above Queen Hazina’s gripping control (also I read world history for almost 3 hours today, so maybe some of that is affecting some of this speech too ;P). I hope you enjoy! 😊

Humans crowded around me, eager to hear what I had to say. A speech, they cried! And didn’t I have plenty to say? Yet in the face of these people I wanted to contract into a ball and hide away forever in a dark cave. My mind blanked, and I couldn’t think of a single word. Where was the passion I had when I poured out long monologues into the night to the empty audiences of silence?

Tarquin leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Just talk about the queen.”

The queen. Oh, that horrid, mystical creature! Tarquin knew how to get me going.

I cleared my throat. “Well, Queen Hazina is… awful.”

To my relief, the crowd cheered. So, I soon forgot about them and began to think of only the queen’s awful deeds. “She certainly is trying to destroy us. The Treelanders are a stronger species of humans, and they will make Istagun produce a better economy. It’s simple and practical in her mind.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and then opened them again, drawing a deep breath. “She wants us all to die from the plague, but we can’t let her have her way. We have a reason to live beyond working the orchards of Spring, the fields of Summer and Autumn, or dying in the snowstorms of Winter. We’re worth something to each other and that is enough reason to stay alive. Even if the Treelanders become her laboring force in her economical world, we’ll always be forces of love in our own little worlds.”

Tarquin smiled at me as the crowd roared with enthusiasm.

Bolstered by everyone’s fervent support, I continued. “Gesu has given us the power to love beyond our natural abilities as humans. His healing not only restores our physical bodies, but restores our inner souls. With his powers, I’ve found the values of kindness, joy, and peace resonating within me. Not only that, but faith in Gesu himself ties us in with an eternal story that brings us to a place we can finally say: this is right; this is how I’ve always wanted it to be. Our souls our fulfilled through Gesu, now and even after we die. I do not know how I know this, but Gesu teaches our spirits beyond normal communication.” I glanced up at the wondrous spectacle of stars. “And here we are, together, forever. Queen Hazina has no power over us, whether we die or stay alive. Long live Gesu!”

NP6: Chapter 6 of The Healer of Istagun – The Palace

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(Photo by Neil Rosenstech on Unsplash)

This is chapter 6 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun. Enjoy! Chapter 1 2 3 4 5

Chapter 6 

The Palace

Axes met the hard ground, as deep voices rose in song in the air. The smell of dirt and soot met my nostrils, matching the odor of Tarquin’s filthy shirt and baggy workpants he insisted I wear.

“Do I have to wear this?” I moaned, embarrassed to wear Tarquin’s clothes, instead of my usual green cotton dress.

Tarquin secured the miner’s helmet on my head, his grimy miner-fingers giving off a filthy stench. Then he patted the protective headwear lightly. “It looks good on you.”

“Oh, please!” I rolled my eyes.

But his calculating gaze silenced me, reminding me of only a few days ago when he’d tried to help me after I’d fainted. I needed to guard myself against this strange man. Besides, he was right. Disguising myself as a miner was the only way I’d could be in this mine where Summer and Autumn joined together—where the great healer must be waiting for us.

“So, Prima, use your powers to find him,” I challenged her.

Prima laughed. “You think I can do anything? My wand is very spontaneous. It does whatever it wants. Only when I use my actual gift of soothing does it obey me.”

“So we’ll just have to wait till it gets dark to read the stars?” I said sarcastically.

Tarquin watched us but said nothing as we squabbled back and forth. He set down the “sack of gold” that kept moving restlessly about. Kari was too small to pass as a miner, so he had to pass as our bundle of precious metal for today.

Finally, he spoke. “Don’t you think Gesu would have drawn a crowd by now? Why don’t we ask if anyone has witnessed a great healer perform miracles around here?”

Prima and I laughed in relief at his obvious idea. Of course. You’re right, Tarquin, I thought, half amazed and half embarrassed. You’re always right. You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, not at all dulled by the fairies’ spells to make humans docile. But that’s not what I said.

I shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”

 

“Hey, sir, have you seen Gesu?” Tarquin asked a middle-aged miner.
The man was bent over rocks, hacking his axe recklessly in search of the treasure Queen Hazina greatly desired. “Who?” he mumbled, not looking our way.

“Gesu,” Tarquin repeated, firmly. “He is a great healer. Surely you must have seen this human perform miracles—you know, healing the sick.”

“Nah, if I had seen a great healer, my wife wouldn’t have passed on from the plague yesterday. And if there was any great human, they wouldn’t have allowed the fairies to take my children…” Crash. The axe shattered a large rock in half, stunning me.

So, the plague had spread to Autumn as well. What was happening to Istagun? My people, enslaved all their lives, now had to die from a horrid disease, but for what purpose? Why did fate so despise the human race?

“Get your girl out of here, kid,” the man grunted. “This is no place for women.”

Tarquin swallowed, glancing at me for a second. I blushed. So, the middle-aged man saw past my disguise.

Prima fluttered up to the miner, smiling easily. “Well, sir, I am a Summer fairy, commissioned by Queen Hazina to find this man Gesu, and you must tell me the exact truth. Have you indeed never heard of him?”

“How can I think of an imaginary healer when my family is gone from me!” The man spat at the ground. “My wife and I only saw glimpses of our children’s newborn faces. And now even she’s gone. The blasted queen is up to something!” He wiped his hand over his face, shaking his head.

I longed to embrace this poor man who had lost everything. I imagined my parents had felt the same way as this miner when Hollis and I had been taken to Spring as soon as we were born. Bitterness rose like a burning fire within me. Queen Hazina knew nothing of what she was doing to her subjects. She knew nothing of pain.

Traveling deeper into the mine pit, we questioned several other men about Gesu before giving up. They had never heard of such a man. I wondered if one of the miners was my father, but I had no idea how I’d be able to recognize a man I’d only seen vaguely in my dreams, or how he’d recognize me.

By evening, we climbed to the other side of the steep mine pit, worn out from the days adventures. We had every once in a while sneaked Kari briefly out of the sack, so he could breathe more deeply.

Now we faced the main portion of Autumn. I gasped. For a moment I thought the forest was on fire. Then I saw that the trees were not green as in Summer, nor pink as the cherry trees were in Spring. Instead the leaves were glorious yellows, oranges, reds, and browns, like nothing I’d ever imagined. It was beautiful.

“Maybe getting older isn’t so bad,” I joked, though amazement filled my heart.
Tarquin looked at me steadily, and then grinned. “Right, Dahlia. Maybe it isn’t.”

“I’m thirsty!” Prima exclaimed. “You guys haven’t drunk a sip of water all day, and I’m over here dying!”

A breeze cut through my miner’s suit. It was chilly here, the air as cold as the river back home. “I never liked the taste of water, but I suppose the river’s not too far off.” Tarquin studied me. “I never liked the taste either.”

Oh, sure. What a coincidence! I laughed silently to myself. He was just trying to gain my approval.

 

We found the river, let Kari out, and cupped water into our hands to drink. Prima drank deeply, but Tarquin and I only had a few sips. Kari, too, drank very little.

“You need to drink more than that, Kari,” I urged him.

“It tastes awful!” he wailed. “You said so yourself!”

Tarquin glanced at me and shrugged. We drank heaping scoopfuls after another, eventually racing each other to see who could drink more. Much to my relief, this encouraged Kari to drink as well.

Finally, we sat back and relaxed against rocks, satisfied. I hadn’t realized how refreshing it was to drink water, regardless of its awful taste. I remembered when I’d sent Rhia to the river. I realized with sudden sadness that she’d probably come back to the hut by now, only to find it completely empty.

“What’s are next plan?” Prima asked, glancing between Tarquin and me.

“We’ve got to go to the center.” His voice was deep and quiet. “To Queen Hazina’s palace.”

“Are you crazy?” I burst out. “She hates us all. What would she do for us?”

“She’d take away a great healer, that’s what she’d do. I bet a hundred sacks of gold she captured him or even…” Tarquin’s eyes sobered.

“No one can kill Gesu,” Prima said firmly, though her teeth chattered in the chill breeze. “He is unstoppable.”

Tarquin frowned. “But so is the queen.”

***

With her insistence to the guard fairies that she was abiding by the queen’s orders, Prima helped us enter the center of Istagun. Of course, we had to be escorted immediately by one of the guard fairies to the queen’s palace. Since Prima could come up brilliant excuses for anything, we were able to let Kari out of his sack to breathe and take in the wonders.

As we followed the curt, no-nonsense guard fairy, we looked around us at the village of fairies—fairies of all colors, shapes and sizes, flying about, chirping, singing, dancing, or hurrying to obey Queen Hazina. The village was in a valley, under the gaze of a towering mountain.

The silver guard fairy grunted as we approached the base of it. “That there is a mountain carved out in the interior, marking the luxurious dwelling of the queen.”

We stared at it in amazement. A large oak wood door elaborately decorated stood before us at the base of the mighty mountain.

“Sure has a lot of space,” Prima said with a short laugh.

The silver fairy shrugged. “She needs it for all she has inside.”

As we followed the silver fairy through the dark stone halls, we gasped. Sharp cries filled the musky air, while torches lit the far ends of the wide halls, revealing prisoners trapped behind bars. Most if not all of them were brown skinned with green leaves for clothes—or were some growing out of their heads? They wailed loudly, so I covered my ears. Was Gesu among them, here in the dark? We could not see.

Then I looked down at Kari and saw he was crying. I bent over and picked him up. I carried him on the side of my hip as he buried his sobbing face in my shoulder.

Prima clutched hold of my hand, her wings fluttering softly, but I knew she was crying, too. I tried to rise above my sadness, to be the comforter rather than the one who needed comforting. I had cried too much today. And I couldn’t let a tear fall in front of Tarquin.

“Dahlia,” he whispered, terror in his voice. “These are the Treelanders.”

I nodded, hopelessness almost overwhelming me. “I didn’t know she did this. I didn’t know…”

“What is the queen’s purpose in imprisoning these people?” Tarquin asked the silver fairy. I knew he was trying to speak only out of polite curiosity, but anger edged his voice.

The fairy laughed harshly as he stepped up stone stairs. “Well, I suppose someone’s going to find out soon anyway. Let me ask you, kid: Why do you think the queen’s killing off everyone with the poisonous water?”

His casual words echoed down the stone staircase. I shivered, and as I held Kari on my hip, I looked down at my hand. Alarm roiled through me. There was a single red tumor in my palm, enflamed as red as a Summer sunset. I stared at my trembling hand. I had probably drunk almost a gallon of water at the river.

Tarquin finally spoke, hesitantly. “I had not realized the water was the problem.”

His formal voice amused me somehow. He could be a little more straightforward. “Sir,” I said to the fairy, “the queen is awfully dense to kill off the people who are working so hard for her.”

I set Kari down, so I didn’t have to carry him up the steps.

“The Treelanders are a stronger species. They will work much harder for her.”

At that, we finally reached the top of the steps, where another large door welcomed us. We stepped into an enormous room, decorated almost entirely in gold. Before us sat the gold throne where the queen sat with her wide rainbow wings and pleasant, unnerving smile. Beside her stood tall, erect silver guard fairies. Behind her a waterfall gushed downward, into a hole that undoubtedly led to the valley. Its sparkling freshness made me thirsty, but I quickly reminded myself of the poison. I would never want to drink water again. Would I even get a chance to before the plague consumed me?

Guilt choked me as I remembered how I’d insisted Rhia should go to the river to fetch water, and how I’d urged Kari to drink more today. By all that has life and breath, what have I done!?

We approached the throne, our confidence shattering at the sight of it.

Prima bowed low. “Oh, queen, I am your humble servant. I have brought these honorable subjects to your abode because they are some of the only few humans left. Please do them a favor and answer their questions.”

“I will hear your questions before I deem them worthy to answer.”

Tarquin stepped forward and bowed deeply. “Your majesty, I ask you one simple question: Where is the man Gesu, who has healed many humans and fairies in your land?”

Queen Hazina’s uncanny smile twisted into a grimace. “Dear sir! What right do you have to ask such a question? Gesu’s in Winter, but now that you asked, you’re going to the dungeon!”

She ordered the silver guard fairies to take him away.

I cried out for him, but it was no use. The one person I hadn’t wanted on this journey was now gone, and I had to admit I already missed him.

S6: Tarquin’s Perspective

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This is a scene from chapter 5 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun, told from Tarquin’s perspective. Enjoy! To see the original chapter 5, click here.

“Tarquin, am I going to be okay? Do you think I’ll get over this?” My sister Mara’s hollowed dark eyes pleaded me.

I could hardly bear the sight of her weak figure and pale face splotched with tumors. Would she be sent to Winter with the dying ones before she got well enough?

Before I could answer her, I heard a knock at the door. Wondering who it could be, I rushed to open it.

Dahlia, with her wild brown hair and beautiful dark eyes, stood there, with a young Spring boy at her side. My heart stopped.

“Hi, Dahlia,” I said in greeting.

She blushed, no doubt surprised I remembered her name. I was half embarrassed I had.

“Oh, never mind,” she said quickly. “I thought this was where the younger boys or girls—”

“—it is. My sister is here.” I raked my hand through my hair, worried that Mara thought I’d left her forever. Her brain was in a muddled state due to the plague. “I was caring for her and the rest of them since they have no one else to help them.”

Dahlia’s face paled whiter than the sick ones. “We came here to…” She cleared her throat, but before she could finish, the Spring boy held out a basket of fresh buns.

“Want some, sir?” His voice was small; I hadn’t seen a Spring boy in so long. He was adorable.

Dahlia smiled a little. “We were giving them out to the sick.”

Her concern for the sick ones warmed my heart. I wondered if she knew Gesu. Not just knew about him, but knew him, like I did. Gesu’s kind-heartedness, after all, inspired me to tend to these girls.

I watched Dahlia for a moment as she stared around the room, as if searching for something, or perhaps someone. Then she and the Spring boy began handing out the fresh buns.

I rushed to my sister’s side. “I’m here now.”

Mara struggled to open her heavy eyelids. “Tarquin, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” I dabbed a wet cloth on her forehead. “You’ll be all right, sis.”

Suddenly I noticed a green fairy entering the room. “Attention, everyone!” she shouted. “Queen Hazina has made a new decree for the lands of Spring, Summer, and Autumn: ‘All the sick must proceed to Winter.’ The ‘sick’ are defined by the queen as ‘those unable to work for her majesty.’ Therefore, if you do not stand up within five seconds, you will be taken immediately to Winter.” Four other green fairies stood by, with chains ready.

I stood up straight, but the sick ones couldn’t even begin to sit up. I stared at Dahlia from across the room, not taking my eyes off her as her dark eyes drew me in. I hadn’t stopped thinking about her since Gesu’s miracle session a few days ago. She hadn’t wanted to marry anyone, but I could fix that.

When the door closed sharply, I realized then that the fairies had indeed taken away the sick ones, leaving Dahlia, Kari, and me behind.

I dropped my gaze from Dahlia, thinking of Mara, dear Mara. I should have tried to save her, to help her stand somehow.

“Can I eat a bun?” Kari asked the young woman.

After a pause, Dahlia told him he could have them all.

The boat. She needed to see the boat. If we were some of the only few left well and alive in Summer, she needed to know about it, in case the time came for us to leave Istagun.

“Dahlia.” Her name came out weaker than I intended. “I want you to see something.”

“I’ll be right back, Kari.”

Her willingness to follow me surprised me. Was I so attractive that I could change her mind about me within a few days?

I led her down to the dark, filthy basement. Perhaps I was a fool to bring a pretty girl down to this place. I probably was just going to scare her off. Still, it was important she knew.

“The boys wouldn’t let me use theirs, so I come here sometimes and…”

I lit a lantern, revealing the boat I’d spent hours laboring over.

“It’s called a boat,” I said quietly.

“A boat?” She stared at me, almost blissfully, and my heart ached.

“I built it, so I could one day travel across the seas, to the mountains. There are rumors about these people called Treelanders, who live in the forests. I want to meet them, to escape this Summer, and to be free.” I gazed off into the dark basement, remembering the stories I’d heard from the Gesu-following fairies. They dreamed of traveling to the Treelanders to live among them and share the goodness of Gesu with them.

“It floats?”

I stifled a laugh. “Well, I hope so. A fairy used to tell me stories, so that’s all I have to go off of.”

Dahlia grimaced. “Why are you showing me this?”

Her question caught me off guard, but I shrugged. “You and I… we’re some of the only few left here, and—”

“—and we have responsibilities!” She folded her arms across her chest. “You can’t just leave everyone here to die, while you go on a silly adventure to a land far away!”

I lowered the lantern from my face, grimacing at her biting remark. So, she thought I was an idiot. I could change that.

“I showed this to you so you’d know, when the time came,” I said steadily, though inside I shook at her entrancing gaze. “But you’re right. Now is not the time for adventures… Now is the time to find Gesu.”

“Gesu?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Dahlia. He’s the only one who can save us.” I searched her face, willing her to believe me. Of course she believed. She had seen the miracles. But there was so much more to just believing in what Gesu could do. You had to believe in who He was.

“Tarquin,” she whispered, “can he bring the dead back to life?”

I frowned, unable to grasp why she’d expect so much from the man. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I need to find my sister, Hollis. She’s been sick for years. I don’t know where she is, or even if she’s still…” Her voice cracked unexpectedly, and she turned to leave.

I wanted to reach out and clasp hold of her small hand, but I restrained myself.

“Wait, Dahlia,” I said, thinking of my own sister, and how I’d be just as anxious to find Mara as Dahlia seemed about finding Hollis. “Is that why you came to this hut? To find your sister?”

“Yeah.” She took a step up the stairs.

“Oh.”

I stared at the back of her head where her dark curls cascaded down to her waist. I couldn’t let her leave. And we both knew that Gesu was the only cure to this plague.

“Let’s go to Autumn to get Gesu,” I suggested. “He can heal everyone choked by the plague—and your sister, once we find her. She’s probably in Winter. We’ll figure something out and…”

I watched as she stormed upstairs, her sobs resonating down to me in the dark basement. My heart went out to her. Both of our sisters were gone.

Only Gesu could help us now.

Once Upon a Time – The Message of the New Testament

My cousin wrote this about the gospel story. As believers it’s our story, and the Light wins over the darkness in the end!

The Caylor Family

Once upon a time God created the world with a word. He traced the trail electrons would orbit. He bound atoms together with His mighty power. Land rose from the sea on His command. Man gained breath from God’s own mouth. He holds the world in His hands, and it is He that sustains it.

Once upon a time a goat gave birth in the field. God gave her the hot air she breathed in and out and pushed. God created the atoms of the tissues of the muscles that had carried the baby around for months. This moment was the perfect place, at the perfect time, for the kid to be born, because it was the time that God had chosen. He gave strength to the legs of the baby goat as it took it’s first wobbling steps. It would be generations before humans came here, no one…

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NP4: Chapter 5 of The Healer of Istagun – A Boat

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This is chapter 5 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun. Enjoy! Chapter 1 2 3 4

By the time we reached the village, the sky was dark. Everyone was asleep, so there was no way for me to find Hollis now. I said goodbye to Prima as she fluttered back to Gesu’s house to spend the night in her own bed.

I’d ended up picking up Kari half of the way, and he had fallen asleep, his body heavy in my arms.

“What’s going on?” Kari yawned. “Are we there yet, Dahlia?”

The young boy was growing restless.

“Yes. Here we are. Don’t worry.” I knocked on the little hut I lived in with eight other young women.

Rhia opened the door, exhaustion lacing her gentle complexion. “Hey, Dahlia, I was so…” Sudden alarm shone on her face. “Who’s the kid?”

I set down the young boy, who clung tightly to my arm as he leaned sleepily against me. “Kari.” I stared into Rhia’s stormy eyes. “Please, Rhia, let us in. Don’t ask questions.”

She let us in, but as she did so she muttered, “You were hanging out in Spring all this time when you could have been helping out here?”

I narrowed my brows, puzzled at her sour mood. It had only been two days. And there were so many humans that the fairies wouldn’t notice one of us gone, as far as I could tell.

Before I could point this out to Rhia, a reeking odor wafted into my face, disgusting me. Holding onto Kari, I stepped back and looked around the room. Five of my roommates were lying in beds, sleeping, as would be expected at this time of night. But—I looked at Andrea’s bed.

She was gone.

“Where’s Andrea?” I demanded. “And what’s that awful smell?”

Rhia put her hands on her hips. “While you were off gallivanting in Spring flowers, Gesu became middle-aged and was taken away to Autumn. Then, like a dam was broken, the plague flooded onto this village. It’s insane, really. Andrea got knocked out so badly she couldn’t even pretend to work anymore, so they took her to Winter. Don’t know why it hasn’t affected me yet, but here I am, the only one in this hut fit enough to care for my friends. Not to mention the extra work on the fields the fairies are forcing on me. Look what you’ve done to me!”

Rhia collapsed onto her bed, groaning loudly.

So Andrea was in Winter. What was I supposed to do now? Choose between finding my friend and finding my sister?

Kari yawned again.

“I’m sorry, Rhia. Can we talk about this tomorrow? This kid needs sleep.”
Rhia rolled her eyes. “If you insist.”

***

In the morning, I helped Rhia care for my roommates as I explained to her all I had found out in Spring. Kari stayed in the basement away from the sickness, playing with the dog Lucy.

Rhia was shocked. “So, it’s everywhere, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know about Autumn and Winter, but it’s certainly here and in Spring.”

“What a twisted coincidence!” she exclaimed miserably.

A coincidence indeed. It made no sense that two lands completely separated from each other could catch the same sickness. Did the fairies have something to do with this?
Rhia’s face was so pale, and I did feel badly for leaving her with so much responsibility.

“Have you been drinking water?”

“Not much. Never liked the taste of it.”

“Neither have I,” I laughed. I handed her a bucket. “Here, go fetch some water. Take as long as you like—a dip in the river if you want. I’ll take care of things here. You need some rest.”

She nodded. “Thanks, Dahlia.”

After she left the hut, I heard a knock at the door. Opening it slightly, I saw Prima’s fluttering green wings. “He’s gone!”

“I know,” I said gravely, letting her inside to the one-room hut filled with beds. “Yes, it’s awful, Prima. I need to make sure these girls are cared for. But I need to find Hollis too, if she’s somewhere in Summer. Can you care for them while I look for her?”
Solemnly, Prima agreed to watch over them.

That day, I searched house after house for Hollis and Kari’s brothers, including the fairies’ houses. We avoided the older boys’ and older girls’ houses though, since Kari’s brothers and Hollis were younger.

I pretended to be visiting the sick, and Kari and I offered fresh buns to them that I had baked that morning. Some were too sick to eat. The tumors on their skin burdened my heart for them… and reminded me of Hollis. My sister who was still alive. My sister who was here, somewhere, in Summer, hiding just out of my sight.

She had to be here.

I stopped at the last hut for young women. I knocked, slowly, chills running up my arms even in the heat.

The name and face of the man who opened it connected in my mind instantly, though I had only met him once. Tarquin.

“Hi, Dahlia.”

Heat flushed into my cheeks. “Oh, never mind. I thought this was where the younger boys or girls—”

“—it is. My sister is here.” He raked his hand through his short brown hair. “I was caring for her and the rest of them since they have no one else to help them.”

Was my sister here, too?

“We came here to…” I cleared my throat, but before I could finish, Kari held out my basket of fresh buns.

“Want some, sir?”

I smiled a little. “We were giving them out to the sick.”

“All right, come on in.”

I searched the room for my sister, but she was nowhere in sight. Kari and I then proceeded to hand fresh buns to the young women. I whispered sympathy to them, but my throat was thick with grief, so my comforting words came out stiff and feeble.
I noticed Tarquin dabbing a wet cloth on a young woman’s forehead. “You’ll be all right, sis,” he murmured.

Silent tears coursed down my cheeks as the truth pounded inside me like a jeering taunt. Hollis would not be all right. She was dead! Why had I been so foolish to hope for her existence? My hope was destroying me, shackling me in lies I had no reason to believe.

“Attention, everyone!” a green fairy roared. Apparently she had slipped into the room when I hadn’t noticed. “Queen Hazina has made a new decree for the lands of Spring, Summer, and Autumn: ‘All the sick must proceed to Winter.’ The ‘sick’ are defined by the queen as ‘those unable to work for her majesty.’ Therefore, if you do not stand up within five seconds, you will be taken immediately to Winter.” Four other green fairies stood by, with chains ready.

I relaxed when I saw Kari hide behind a bed. They couldn’t know a Spring boy was here.
Tarquin and I stood up straight, but the sick young women made feeble attempts to sit up. I stared at Tarquin from across the room, and he stared back, as the fairies took the sick girls away. The door slammed shut.

It was only us now.

“Can I eat a bun?” Kari asked quietly, eyes wide with hunger. I cursed myself for not thinking of getting the little boy breakfast. I usually didn’t eat anything in the mornings.

After telling Kari he could eat the rest of the fresh buns, Tarquin spoke to me. “Dahlia.” His voice was hoarse. “I want you to see something.”

“I’ll be right back, Kari.”

Hesitantly, I followed Tarquin down to the basement.

“The boys wouldn’t let me use theirs, so I come here sometimes and…”

Tarquin lit a lantern, revealing an enormous wooden box, curved into a semi-circle at the bottom.

“It’s called a boat,” he said quietly.

“A boat?” My mind blanked as I stared into his penetrating dark eyes.
“I built it, so I could one day travel across the seas, to the mountains. There are rumors about these people called Treelanders, who live in the forests. I want to meet them, to escape this Summer, and to be free.” He gazed off into the dark basement, but I sensed his mind wandered farther than the boxes and tools shelved there.

Across the seas. I’d only thought about such things as a young child, questioning everything. The unknown didn’t bother me so much anymore. I’d long ago squelched my curiosity, knowing it would never be satisfied.

But here I was, standing before a giant thing called a boat, with a man who built it in the wee hours of the night. A boat built on the foundations of dreams to journey far away from the cruelty of Istagun.

“It floats?”

He laughed a little. “Well, I hope so. My father used to tell me stories, so that’s all I had to go off of.”

Suddenly, I frowned. Tarquin was a stranger to me, but he acted as if he’d known me all my life. “Why are you showing me this?”

There wasn’t much of a point in journeying far away when Istagun needed healing. We had to do something about this plague.

Tarquin shrugged. “You and I… we’re some of the only few left here, and—”

“—and we have responsibilities!” I folded my arms across my chest. “You can’t just leave everyone here to die, while you go on a silly adventure to a land far away!”

Tarquin lowered his lantern, so shadows covered his expression. That terrified me. Was this strange man hurt by my words?

“I showed this to you so you’d know, when the time came.” His voice was steady. “But you’re right. Now is not the time for adventures… Now is the time to find Gesu.”

“Gesu?”

“Yes, Dahlia. He’s the only one who can save us.” He searched my face, as if willing me to believe him. Of course I believed. I had seen him do miracles. Yet his earnestness mirrored Prima’s. Perhaps there was more to believing in what he could do. Perhaps you had to believe in who he was.

I wiped away a stray tear on my cheek, thankful it was too dark for Tarquin to notice. Hollis had to be alive, but if she wasn’t…

“Tarquin,” I whispered, so softly I almost couldn’t hear myself, “can he bring the dead back to life?”

A frown flickered across his face. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I need to find my sister, Hollis. She’s been sick for years. I don’t know where she is, or even if she’s still…” My voice cracked unexpectedly, and I turned to leave, as tears threatened to spring from my eyes. I couldn’t tell this young man anything.

“Wait, Dahlia,” Tarquin said abruptly. “Is that why you came to this hut? To find your sister?”

“Yeah.” I took a step up the stairs.

“Oh.”

I could feel his eyes on my back.

“Let’s go to Autumn to get Gesu,” he said. “He can heal everyone choked by the plague—and your sister, once we find her. She’s probably in Winter. We’ll figure something out and…”

I couldn’t hear the rest of his words as I fled up the stairs, sobbing into my hands. Hollis was dead. If I had any hope left, it was that Gesu could bring her back to life.

S5: Chapter 5 of Love Myles

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(Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash)

So this week in my creative writing class the assignment was to write chapter 5 of someone else’s novella in the class! I chose Megan N’s Love Myles book. It was definitely a challenge, but now I almost want to write the rest of her book! It’s a great story. Go check out her novel blog here.

Dear Ruthie,

I had a dream last night. I know I used to tell you about my dreams all the time, and they never made sense. But this one did.

It was about you.

You were smiling at me. We were running across an open glade. Earth. It was surprising, like seeing an old friend. The one blazing sun, the wide blue sky, and the fields of grass.
Finally, we climbed up the ladder to the tree house, and you told me a story. You smiled at me again, but suddenly the tree house shook and the whole earth quaked like it was being juggled in the universe by the hand of God.

I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see your smile. I heard you crying out to me, and I tried to reach for you, but I felt the wood of the treehouse collapsing and I heard my heart pounding so loudly until everything caught on fire, scorching my skin and blinding me.

And then it was gone. Not just the treehouse, but the sun, the sky, the grass—and you, Ruthie. I cried out for you, but you were gone.

It was so dark. Clearly, I miscalculated when I’d hit the ground again. The whole Earth disappeared, and it was only me. Only me and the stars.

But I awoke again, so I know now it was just a dream. That only confirms the reality that I’m here, and not with you. It confirms that I will never see you again. I have to admit this truth, but I can’t stop writing to you either. I have to continue on, without forgetting the past. I have to keep going, with the fleeting hope that you’re here with me through all this, reading about my travels.

Soshomia has convinced Cola’s parents to let him travel with us. I don’t know if I want him to come, since his vain endeavors to act like a human reminds me that I’m so far away from home. But Soshomia is determined he comes with us. He is only one of a few who can speak English. He may help us find the answers to why I am here, and how I got here.

We took off from Fabulinus in the late morning.

“You excited, man?” Cola grinned at me.

“Yeah.” I shrugged. His use of “man” annoyed me. My guy friends in high school always talked like that, but a green monkey-human-alien wasn’t supposed to talk like that. Especially not thousands of years in the future.

“How are we going to do this, Soshomia?” I asked.

I was anxious to get back to Sidhe. The few days I had been there with Soshomia had already made me feel like it was somehow home. Not Earth home, but a temporary home anyway.

Soshomia didn’t seem to be hearing me as she worked the controls on the ship.

“I mean, how are we going to find the answers?”

“We’re going to the planet Huro,” she said finally. “There’s a man who knows about ships…. and humans.”

So she did have a plan. I wondered if she had been sorting the words out in her head to make sure she spoke it properly.

“Your English is getting better,” I told her.

That put a smile on her face. Whenever she smiles, she makes me think of you.

“What’s up, guys?” Cola asked suddenly, even though he had been hanging with us this whole time. “What are we trying to figure out, anyway?”

I laughed a little but didn’t answer.

“Myles… mysterious!” Soshomia pointed at me as her eyes sparkled. She was a very simple person—if a person is what you’d call her—but she was somehow beautiful.

Cola looked at me and patted me on the back. “Mysterious. Hm. Well if we’re going to solve a mystery like they do in Sherlock Holmes, I’m in!”

Soshomia looked extremely confused.

I shook my head. This guy never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge about Earth.

“We don’t know how I got here, two thousand years into the future,” I explained to him.

“And we don’t know what happened to the rest of my friends on the space mission.”

His eyes widened and then he scratched his neck. “Well, yeah, I was wondering I guess about how you came here. That’s really weird!”

“Answers found here, I’m hoping,” Soshomia said, pointing down at the little brown planet we saw through the clear glass window of the ship.

Answers. I don’t know why, but I hate the idea. I’m angry that we have to find anything. Part of me just wants to drift off into space and forget. But at the same time I know Soshomia is doing what she can to help me. And I keep telling myself that if you were here, you’d do the same.

We landed on Huro with a jolt. It was a desert, with strange creatures of all shapes and sizes passing through a market place.

After Soshomia received the intelligent man’s address, we arrived at his house. He had a bald head and was much larger than the tallest humans I’ve ever known. He had red eyes and red fingernails, but his body was human-shaped.

“Hello,” he said in Likpirksar. Evidently, we were not far from Sidhe.

Soshomia chirped some words back that I couldn’t quite understand.

The alien giant let us into his enormous house and pointed to leather chairs for us to sit on. Only I was certain the chairs were made from an animal very different than a cow, leather was just the closest thing to what it looked and felt like.

As the man pressed some buttons on a machine, a screen appeared on the stone wall with numbers, all while Soshomia chattered on and on to him in Likpirksar.

Two thousand years ago. That’s what Soshomia was saying. So much time had passed.

Soon I saw the same numbers on the screen: 2000. It went black for a moment as the man pressed more buttons, and then a picture and an article appeared. The picture was of a ship. My ship.

“This was sent around the galaxies,” Cola exclaimed, translating their words for me. “And they don’t know how it disappeared, along with its passengers. The article is about the mystery of this disappearing space mission.”

Soshomia’s Likpirksar was clearer now. She was telling the giant who I was.

Suddenly, the man’s calloused face turned as red as his eyes and his massive body ran towards me. Soshomia and Cola cried out, but they were hopeless to do anything. I struggled to fight against him, but it was no use against his strong arms.

That’s why I’m here now, Ruthie. Here under the ground of a strange planet, writing to you.

I’ll write again soon.

Love,
Myles

 

NP4: Chapter 4 of The Healer of Istagun – The Plague

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(Photo by Kat J on Unsplash)

This is the chapter 4 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella, The Healer of Istagun. Click here to read chapter 1. I hope you cry!–I mean, enjoy! 😉

Chapter 4

The Plague

When Prima and I reached the tiny huts, horror shot through my veins.

A small redheaded girl was lying dead on the ground, her body covered in tumors. As we drew closer, I saw that many bodies of children scattered across the ground, with living children mourning over their brothers and sisters.

I felt like a peach seed had caught in my throat that I could not swallow. I didn’t know if I wanted to gaze at the sight out of silent reverence or turn and run away from the overwhelming spectacle.

Prima began sobbing violently. “Dahlia—it can’t be! I never knew this was possible.”

I enveloped her in my arms, as tears slipped down my own cheeks. “Come on, Prima,” I murmured, trying to build a strong wall around my heart so it wouldn’t break.

When Prima only cried harder, her wings unable to flutter, I gathered her up in my arms and carried her slowly through the children. Soon we reached the familiar thatched hut that had branded a place in my heart. I had never knocked on this door before, but because it had been so long, I felt I no longer had a right to just walk in.

At the sound of my knocking, a yellow fairy opened the door. Her usual sunny smile was replaced by blue eyes filled with pain. “Who are you?” she asked quietly.

“I’m here to see Hollis.” I averted my eyes from her. Perhaps my slim eighteen-year-old frame looked young enough to be thirteen.

“Dearie, I’m so sorry, but we do not allow anyone above the age of thirteen. Go back to Summer, ma’am.”

Or perhaps not.

Prima came to the rescue, brushing back tears and speaking hoarsely. “I brought her by the queen’s orders.”

The yellow fairy grimaced for a moment at the green fairy in my arms, but then swung the door wide. “Anything for the queen.”

As we stepped inside, the Spring pixie sighed. “Who did you say you were here to see?”

After I set Prima down in a cushioned-back chair, I stared blankly around the half-empty room. A few young boys and girls lay in beds, and the Spring fairies rocked crying infants in their arms. But many of the beds lay empty, including Hollis’ in the far corner.

I pointed to her pallet, my finger shaking. “W-where’s Hollis?”

The yellow fairy’s wings wilted. “I’m very sorry. I don’t know what happened to that one, ma’am. Some of them died from the plague but others were taken away to Summer whether they were old enough or not—just so they wouldn’t catch the plague. I go around to many huts. Too many to keep track of.”

I grabbed a hold of Prima’s chair, suddenly feeling like I might fall over. “Those tumors—they look just like the ones she had.”

Prima clutched my arm. “Dahlia, it’s going to be okay.”

My heart broke into fine pieces. How could she say that, after she had seen so clearly the devastation outside? Hollis was dead. I should have known.

“Maybe she got better, and they took her to Summer.” Prima shrugged.

“Get along now, or the other fairies might get suspicious.” The yellow fairy lowered her voice. “Not everyone is loyal to the queen, you know. The queen never ordered the children to be taken to Summer before their Time, but many fairies are doing it secretly to save lives. But I don’t tell on them either. Lucky for you I don’t choose sides.”

When I just stood there in a trance, Prima pulled me gently out of the hut.

I yanked my hand out from her grasp. “Are we really supposed to believe her? What if Hollis’ dying in Winter with the other sick ones, or what if she’s already dead?”

“Then it’s too late,” Prima said firmly, strength returning to her tear-stained eyes. “But if she’s still alive in Summer, there may be a chance.”

Her words shook me. She was just stating the facts, that was all. Hollis was probably dead, but if I wanted to keep hoping, I had to go to Summer.

“But—I don’t understand. Why would fairies disobey Queen Hazina’s orders like that?”

“We just passed the mud walls, Dahlia. We aren’t very loyal to the queen either. There are more Gesu-followers in Istagun than you think.”

A young boy ran up to me and hugged me, giving me a start. “Dahlia! It’s been so long. You’ve got to help us.” His tousled brown hair drooped over his weary young eyes. “My brothers are all dead. I don’t want to die, too.”

“Kari,” I choked, remembering his three other brothers and their bright dimply smiles. “I’m so sorry. Maybe we will find them in Summer.”

If there was any hope for anyone, it was in Summer. Had Hollis been in Summer for weeks, months, or years, and I simply hadn’t seen her? I ached at the thought. Had this trip to Spring been pointless?

Prima looked at me, understanding filling her eyes. “Ah, yes. Let’s go, everyone. It’s freezing here!”

I wanted to laugh at her joke, for it was only slightly cooler here than in Summer. No doubt Winter was much worse, if water actually turned into a solid there. But I only grimaced for the sake of the horrors surrounding us, as I clutched Kari’s little hand.

A young girl carried a bucket of water on her head, stepping in between the children’s bodies. She brought it from the river, I knew. The river that quenched the thirst of all four seasons. There were not many children to taste the cool refreshing water anymore.

We trudged slowly back to the mud wall. The stench of death filled my nostrils, making me light-headed and nauseous. Deep within me, I bled for the children. Whatever had caused this, I could not stand by and do nothing.

As I searched for Hollis, I had to search for the cure of this awful plague as well.

 

S4: Facing Fears Mad Lib

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Here is a mad lib for you all! The paragraph is taken from one of my short stories, Facing Fears. Try it out! Comment your results! 😊

Word List:

Verb:

Adverb:

Adjective:

Plural noun:

Adjective:

Plural noun:

Noun:

Verb:

Verb:

Adjective:

Mad Lib:

I _____ (verb) _____ (adverb) across the bridge, hoping to prove to Shauna that I was truly _____ (adjective). The layer of (plural noun) over the river was _____(adjective), but I didn’t mind anymore. I was elated at my discovery that my ______ (plural noun) could be conquered. A sparrow in a (noun) across the bank (verb) at me, but then (verb) away in a panic, along with its ______ (adjective) family.

Original paragraph:

I strode easily across the bridge, hoping to prove to Shauna that I was truly brave. The layer of fog over the river was heavy, but I didn’t mind anymore. I was elated at my discovery that my fears could be conquered. A sparrow in a tree across the bank winked at me, but then fluttered away in a panic, along with its whole family.

 

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)