Befriending Vinny (Short Story P1)

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

This is rather long for a single blog post, so the second half will be out tomorrow.

It was a bright, sunny day in Connilville when a moving truck pulled into the neighborhood. Mara and James stared.

“Who do you think it is?” Mara asked.

“Do you think they’ll have kids?” James asked excitedly.

I hope so!” Mara said. She ran to her front door and inside the house. “Mom, Mom! We’re getting new neighbors!”

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Do you want to make them cookies and we can take them over later?”

Mara clapped. “Yes!” She ran outside and told James, “We’re going to make cookies for them! Come on!”

They sprinted back into the house, Mrs. Williamson slightly surprised.

“Hello, James. Are you here to help us make cookies for the new neighbors?” she asked.

“Yeah! Let’s make chocolate chip!” he said.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “Of course. I should have some in the pantry.”

She helped them gather the ingredients and prepare the cookies. When the cookies were finished baking, they placed them on a paper plate and took them to the house with the moving truck in the driveway.

James ran up to the door and Mara followed more slowly, carrying the cookies for them. James knocked on the door. “We have cookies!” he shouted before the door opened.

A middle-aged Asian man answered the door. “Hello.”

“Hi! We’re your neighbors now! We have cookies for you!” James said.

Mara presented the cookies.

“Thank you,” the man said. He took the plate of cookies, then called into the house. “Vinny, there are some kids here who would like to meet you!”

A young girl, probably a year younger than Mara, came to the door. She wrapped her arms around her father’s leg, peering at them shyly.

“Hi, I’m Mara!”

“And I’m James!”

“We’re your new neighbors!” they said together.

“I’m Mr. Kituma, and this is my daughter, Vinny. They brought us cookies,” the man said. “Wasn’t that nice?”

Vinny nodded. “Thanks for the cookies.”

“Do you want to take a break from unpacking and play with them for a bit?”

Vinny shook her head. “Not right now,” she mumbled.

Mara frowned. “Okay, well it was nice to meet you, Vinny!”

“Bye, see you!” James said, following Mara away from the house.

Vinny watched them go. They had wanted to play with her. They had even brought over cookies. “Can I have a cookie?” she asked her dad.

“Sure.” He lowered the plate and let her take one. “Why don’t you want to go play with them? They seemed nice.”

“What if they’re like Lilly?” she whispered. “What if they’re not nice?”

“If you go play with them, and they do anything that’s not nice, you can come right back home and tell us about it,” he promised.

“Maybe later,” she said.

James and Mara went back to Mara’s house, sitting in the front yard.

“Why do you think she didn’t want to play?” James asked.

Mara shrugged. “I don’t know. We might have to try again later. Do you think Drake can play now?”

“He said three o’clock. Let’s see what time it is.”

They went into Mara’s house.

“How did it go?” Mrs. Williamson asked them.

“We gave them cookies and they have a daughter, but she didn’t want to play,” Mara said.

“Yeah, I really wanted to get to know her,” James said. “There’s only the four of us kids.”

“There’s your older sister, James, and Drake’s older sister too,” Mrs. Williamson pointed out.

“They never want to play with us,” Mara said.

“What time is it?” James asked, changing the subject.

Mrs. Williamson pointed to the clock. “The little hand is almost to the 3, and the big hand is at the 9.”

“So… two forty-five?” Mara asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded.

“Thanks, Mrs. Williamson!” James said.

Mara and James went back outside.

“Just fifteen minutes til Drake can play!” James said excitedly.

“Maybe he can play now,” Mara said. “Look, he’s outside!”

James looked across the street to Drake’s house. His best friend, a tall black haired boy a year younger than he was, closed his front door and waved.

“Can you play?” James yelled.

“Yeah!” Drake said, looking both ways before barreling across the street to Mara’s front yard.

“We met the new neighbor girl,” Mara said.

“We gave her family cookies, too. You missed out, we made the cookies ourselves! It was so fun,” James said.

“Was she not able to come play?” Drake asked.

“She didn’t want to,” Mara said, shoulders sagging.

“Yeah, I don’t know why, but she seemed nervous,” James said.

Drake thought for a minute. “Maybe she’s shy.”

Mara nodded thoughtfully. “Hey, Mom!” she called suddenly.

“Yes?” Mrs. Williamson asked, pushing aside a curtain from the window.

“Can we make something else to take to the new neighbors?” she asked.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “I don’t see why not. What do you want to make?”

“What if we made dinner and invited them over?” Mara asked.

“That’s a lovely idea. James, Drake, would you like to help too?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Drake said.

“Yeah! Can we eat dinner with you, too?” James asked.

Mrs. Williamson nodded. “Of course. Do you want to go invite them over for dinner? They might want a heads up.”

“Okay! Thanks, Mom!” Mara said, turning and running across the lawn toward the Kituma’s house.

“Yeah, we’ll be back soon!” James said, running after her.

“Thanks!” Drake said, following James and Mara.

Once they were all together on the Kituma’s porch, Mara rang the doorbell.

“Coming!” a female voice called. “Hello?” an Asian woman, presumably Mrs. Kituma asked once she’d opened the door.

“Hi! We were wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner since you’re new to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

“Bill, are these the kids that came here earlier?” she yelled into the house.

Mr. Kituma appeared behind the woman. “Yes, they are. James and Mara. And who’s your friend?”

“I’m Drake,” he said, offering his hand.

Mr. Kituma shook his hand. “How can I help you?”

“They invited us to dinner,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“How lovely. What do you say, Lou, shall we accept their invitation?” he asked.

“Sure. Do your parents know about this?” she asked.

Mara nodded. “Yeah, my mom said we could!”

“Which house is yours?” Mr. Kituma asked.

“It’s two down, number 15,” Mara said.

“What time should we be there?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Uh… Mrs. Williamson didn’t tell us… she just asked us to invite you,” James said.

“Okay,” Mr. Kituma smiled. “Just let us know when it’s almost ready, then.”

“Okay!” Mara said.

“See you later, Mr. Kituma!” James said.

“Bye!” Drake said.

After the Kitumas closed the door, Vinny spoke from behind them.

“So we’re eating dinner with them?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetheart. It will be a good opportunity to get to know them and their parents,” Lou said.

“Okay,” she said.

Outside, Mara, James, and Drake ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’re coming for dinner!” Mara yelled as she ran into the house.

“Awesome. What do you want to make for them?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“I don’t know,” James said.

“We should have asked what they liked to eat!” Drake said.

“Yeah, why didn’t we?” Mara asked.

“I’d soy go asked them but you already rang their doorbell twice in about fifteen minutes, so that might not be a good plan,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay… we could make one of our favorite foods!” Mara said.

“What if all our families came over and brought lots of food, like a party!” James said.

“Yeah! Then they can eat whatever they want and we don’t have to worry about it!” Drake said.

Mrs. WIlliamson smiled. “Okay, James, Drake, how about you go invite your parents over for an impromptu potluck dinner with the new neighbors. What were their names?” she asked.

“Mr. and Mrs. Kituma, or Bill and Lou they called each other, and Vinny,” Mara recited.

James and Drake nodded.

“Okay, tell your parents to come over for a welcome dinner for the new neighbors the Kitumas and to bring food!” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Okay!” James and Drake said, running out the door and to their respective houses.

“What do you want to make for dinner?” Mrs. Williamson asked Mara.

“Can we make mac ‘n’ cheese?” she asked excitedly. “It’s my favorite and maybe Vinny will like it too!”

“That’s a great idea,” she said. “do you want to make anything else?”

“Bacon!”

“How about smokies wrapped in bacon?”

“Yeah, that’d be better!” Mara said.

“Anything else?” Mrs. Williamon asked. “Do you know of anything you think they’d like?”

“Um… well they looked Chinese…” Mara said thoughtfully.

“So they’re Asain,” Mrs. Williamson said. “We could make rice.”

“Yeah, we should do that!” Mara said.

“Okay, I think we’ll make that and then see what James and Drake’s families are bringing,” she said.

“Okay!”

~to be continued~

 

My Trip to Millstadt

Last week I used my day off to take a trip to Millstadt, IL. If you didn’t know, I’m writing for the Millstadt News magazine once a month. This month I was researching the old drug store. The problem: I couldn’t find the information I needed online. So I drove about forty minutes one way to go to the Millstadt Library and interview two of the pharmacy’s former owner’s children.

I learned a few things:

  1. Know ahead of time if a certain library has the necessary resources available by calling them or looking it up online. I wasted a good deal of my day sitting in the Millstadt Library, unable to get any further in my research. A different library had the old newspapers I wanted to look at, but I didn’t have time to go there.
  2. Plan for an interview by having questions you think you want to ask. Some of these may not need asking during the interview, depending on what you learn and what you already know about who you’re interviewing or the topic you’re trying to learn about. Going into my interview, I had questions based on misinformation because my research didn’t give me a clear picture of things. This is okay. Ask new questions that you think of based on what you learn.
  3. Be sure to ask if you can record the interview so you can double check details and will not miss anything. I forgot to ask about recording my interview. I know I lost some interesting details that were shared because I was in the middle of writing down the previous thought.

It was a good trip, worthwhile overall. For the amount of time I spent, though, I would have liked it to be a bit more productive. If I take writing-related trips in the future, to Millstadt or elsewhere, I will be better prepared as best I can. As this was my first, I went in rather blind.

Deleted Drafts “The Etaloniy Story” 3

Five years ago I began writing a story about a girl named Etaloniy Whitlock. The result was quite the disaster of a story. Because it is rather long, I have split what I have of her story into three parts. Part one went up two weeks ago and part two went up last Wednesday.

5: MOM TO THE “RESCUE”!

After assessing the situation, she walked right up to the police officer pinning Clamal to the building. I stand there in complete shock, with my mouth open as I watch her. I force myself to move closer so I can hear her.

“…So you can’t let me take custody over her unless her mother doesn’t show up within twelve hours?”

“Lady, I told you — as soon as her mother shows up, you can transfer responsibility for the offense over to yourself.”

“What happens if any other family members come and admit the family relation?”

What was she trying to do?! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Mom! Mom, can we go to the mall?” I hurry over before she can ask any more questions.

“No, we can’t. If you like you can find an outfit in one of the shops here in the square.”

“Please! Please! I told you — they don’t have the new shirt that I want!” I have to get her away from this police officer!

“FIne, you can go to the mall, but you have to pay with your own money.”

As I walk away I say some things in a language my teacher at school said is called English.

~~~~~

I go home after spending fifteen minutes at the mall, not actually having wanted to go when I remember my cake!

I don’t expect to find the piece I had first cut for myself — Bran probably ate that one. I’ll cut a new piece, eat it, and go back to the square to make sure Mom didn’t get arrested.

~~~~~

After rushing to the square, I look over and see Mom — chained on the police rack next to Preana! I facepalm myself, but resist the urge to go over to her, not wanting to get arrested myself.

6: JAILBREAK!

I call our home with my cell and quickly fill in Bran on what’s happened. I say it in a language I made up several years ago that only my siblings and I know. He knew my message was important as soon as I started using it.

He promised to hurry over to help me get them away from the police.

~~~~~

They showed up thirty minutes (thirty minutes!!) later and asked me in Fintalarkan if I had a plan.

I said I did, but wasn’t sure if it’d work.

“What’s it?”

“Well…”

“Out with it!”

“We get arrested and then pick the locks to escape. Or we can go home, get the rubies that belong to use cause they’re on our property, and after selling them, pay the fees to get Preana, Mom, and Clamal released from jail tomorrow.”

“…Tomorrow! Why not today!” Bran asked.

“Cause on a case like this, meaning one involving Rubies, they’re tried, or taken to court, before put in jail. We have to wait till tomorrow after they’ve had their appearance in court.”

“Oh… Why does it work that way?” Bran hadn’t been to school long enough to figure that out on his own, it seems, even in third grade.

“Because of Wheenman… The monster hates when his precious rubies are tampered with…”

“Oh… I guess let’s go home, then…”

We go home quickly and when we get there revert back to the native language of M’lenkaa, Lenkaan.

When we get there after a long walk, we’re not quite sure what to do… It’s almost dinner time and only Clamal and Mom know how to actually cook… Then I think about the frozen meals that only require being put in the oven at around 350 degrees or 400 degrees.

“I got it! Frozen pizza!”

My Birthday: A Reflection

Some of you reading have never met me, but over the next year and beyond you will probably come to know me better, even if it is in a limited sense. Since I only now started blogging, I cannot point you to any posts with more details about the events and progress I am referencing in the body of this post. I plan to do this again next year, however, and there should be a plethora of blog posts about the events I mention in my reflection.

Today I am eighteen. Legally an adult. Wow. I still can’t believe it. It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

I could take this reflection in a direction similar to Life Is What You Make It, but that’s not what I plan to do. I want to look over the past year and how I’ve grown and some of the big things that happened. It’s really too bad I didn’t start blogging a year ago instead of only a week ago.

Last year about this time I was a recent high school graduate. I had procrastinated calling the local high school about my failed driver’s ed behind the wheel and so did not yet have my license. Once I did meet with the person in charge of the program, I found out I didn’t have to do anything and could go get my license.

I was hired at Panera Bread in late May shortly after graduating, but couldn’t take myself to work until after I got my license in July. Then in August I was hired at Walmart.

For a while I was a bit lacking in direction. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was not taking active steps toward it for the most part. At some point in the fall my friend Justine reached out to me about writing for a blog she wanted to start. Initially we had four people, two of them unfortunately had to leave the project for the time being. Justine and I were still committed to starting the blog, and we launched in February. That gave me some focus and it felt like I was taking real steps toward my goal of someday making money writing. Additionally, I applied to Praxis in October for the second time and was accepted. Between Over the Invisible Wall and my acceptance into Praxis, I felt like I had a clearer picture of the near future and that I was taking real steps toward my goals.

Around the same time that I was accepted into Praxis, I noticed that I had a crush on one of my co-workers at Walmart. We had orientation on the same day and were forced to hang out because of it. We’re both very introverted, but we were forced out of our shells in order to complete the various tasks/activities we were given. Over time, we interacted at work and became friends, though we only saw each other occasionally because we worked in different departments. After I became aware of my crush, I thought about whether I was interested in dating as a general. I did want to date him, but I was open to the possibility that he wouldn’t want to date me. We were merely friends and co-workers and didn’t know each other very well. Leading up to the night when I asked him to hang out in the breakroom for lunch and he later asked for my phone number, I noticed that he seemed to like me too. I’m not sure when we shifted from just dating to really being a couple, but we’ve been dating for seven months now. (I omitted his name at his request. He did not want his name included so I wanted to be sure to respect that.)

Less than a month ago I decided to commit to my decision to start a personal blog and launch in July. I knew that if I waited til I felt fully prepared I would never start, so I needed to jump in as soon as possible. At first I was only going to post at least once a week, probably twice, in order to have more time and be “comfortable.” I quickly changed my mind and have been posting every day instead.

So that’s about what my past year has looked like. I’ve taken some big steps forward from unfocused general goals of making money writing to actually working towards that. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds and how much things change between now and then. To everyone who is part of my journey now and to those who will join me in the coming year: Thank you. It’s been a wild ride and I’m sure it will continue to be.

My Thoughts on Hemingway Editor

I adapted the majority of the text for this post from a journal I wrote. It was rather rant-like and angrier than it needed to be. I apologize if any of it still comes across that way.

A while back, a friend of mine gave me the link to a website called Hemingway Editor. I don’t really agree with the premise of the website, that simpler is always better. So what I write is supposedly too hard for sixth graders to read and has some sentences longer than ten or so words. Is that really so bad? Does that truly make it hard to read?

When it was initially shared with me, I put several of my college discussion board posts into it, and one of them was rated a “grade seventeen” reading level; the site gives the grade level required to read the writing, not the grade level the writing itself is at. The website said it was “poor” because it was a grade seventeen. I might have gotten a really bad grade if I simplified it to about tenth grade like the website suggests!

“Simpler” is not always better. Using adverbs doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong verb, or that a verb exists that will give the exact nuance of the verb already used with an adverb modifying it. Passive verbs, yes, they should not be used much, but there are cases where they are necessary.

Additionally, the website thinks simpler synonyms are better. I’m not trying to be verbose by using larger or more complicated words, I’m trying to use the best word, or avoid using the same word too many times. Occasionally I do use a word as a “Hey, look! I understand how to use this word properly in actual sentences!” Normally I choose “harder” or “more complex” words because they are necessary for the sentence to convey just what I intend. Using the right word is much more important than using a word everyone knows that has a similar though not identical meaning. If someone has to look up a word, fine. I do it all the time while reading! It’s not a hassle anymore now that we all have access to the internet.

Just for kicks, I put the body of this post into Hemingway Editor to see what it had to say. I have nine adverbs too many, three hard to read sentences, and two very hard to read sentences. Overall I was told this post is grade six.

What do you think? Is simpler better? Should writing be as easy to read as possible, avoiding adverbs, passive voice, and words that have simpler alternatives? Let me know in the comments!

Scene Challenge

A while back The Write Practice shared a post with scene prompts in several parts. I used a random number generator to choose each part of the prompt. Here is the result.


It was a normal Saturday afternoon for Sara Lanning, which meant she was at the nearby grocery store. She browsed the produce, considering what she wanted to eat for the next week.

Gala apples, or braeburn? she wondered. She grabbed a bag and opened it while she debated. I’ll get gala, she decided, grabbing four of them.

As she turned away from the display, she momentarily froze. Just across the way, by the tangerines, was a tall stocky blonde man. He looked perfect.

I should get some tangerines, clementines, or oranges, she thought. She twisted the bag of apples closed and set it in her cart. She steered her cart in that direction.

Mr. Perfect glanced up and met her eyes for a moment, then looked back at the fruit.

She was almost to where he stood when the lights flickered once, twice, three times, then went out. Sara furrowed her eyebrows. It wasn’t raining as far as she knew. She didn’t hear thunder or see lightning.

“Everyone, please leave your carts and proceed to the nearest exit!” an associate yelled. Other workers were doing the same and ushering everyone out of the store.

Sara did as asked, abandoning her cart. To leave, she had to walk past the citrus display she had been heading for.

Maybe I’ll run into him outside, she thought hopefully. She walked faster, hoping to catch up.

The only light comes from the windows around the edge of the store, and Sara knocks into something and falls. Right next to Mr. Perfect. He looks down through the near-darkness.

“Need a hand?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she takes the stranger’s hand and lets him help her to her feet. “Thanks.”

“No problem. What did you trip on?” he asked.

Sara flushed and laughed, “I think I tripped over myself. It’s hard to see with the lights off.” She couldn’t see his face and he didn’t answer.

They made it out of the grocery store and he started to head for his car. Sara stood waiting for a moment, unsure of what to do.

This is my chance, she thought suddenly. I might never see him again! “Hey, wait!” she called.

He turned and looked at her. “What?”

“Do you–” she froze. What am I doing? I just met him!

He raised an eyebrow.

“I’m Sara,” she said, offering her hand.

“I’m Mike,” he said, shaking her hand.

“Do you want to hang out sometime?” she blurted.

He seemed caught off guard, having opened his mouth right as she started talking. Then he smiled. “I was about to ask you the same thing.”

Sara smiled back. “Sorry I interrupted you.” She dug in her purse for a piece of paper and scribbled down her number. “Here, text me sometime and we can figure it out.”

“Okay.” He walked over to his car and drove away.

After he was gone, Sara asked an employee if the store was going to reopen. It turned out they weren’t, so she went somewhere else. At that same store, she saw Mike again. He was talking with a friend and didn’t notice her.

“I was over at the grocery store across town and this random girl asked me out,” he said.

“Was she hot?”

Mike snorted, “Pfft, no.”

“So what’d you do?”

“She gave me her number so I took it but I threw it away.”

Sara felt tears rush to her eyes. She ran out of the store to her car, crying.

Deleted Drafts “The Etaloniy Story” (2)

Five years ago I began writing a story about a girl named Etaloniy Whitlock. The result was quite the disaster of a story. Because it is rather long, I have split what I have of her story into three parts. Part one went up last Wednesday and part three will go up next Wednesday.

3: SCHOOL

We rushed inside and went to class. It was about the usual junk about our heritage, the Ruby Rains, and how beneficial Shanry E. Wheenman was to our country. (Shanry E. Wheenman was the monster of a man.)

After three hours we had lunch with extra dessert for everybody. (Including the people who brought their lunches.) If only the next day was a real holiday, then we’d actually enjoy the dessert, more anyway.

We went back to class and listened to the teachers drone on and on. Finally school was over, and I rushed to the bus before anyone could say Etaloniy Whitlock. I hurried (as usual) to the very back of the bus. My friends and I always choose the back so we can sit close to each other, and as I’m always the first person on the bus I save our seats.

My friends show up right before the bus is to leave! They burst onto the bus and run to the very back with me. Ameria knows they’re in for it, really bad this time. Ameria is the “leader” of our friend group, she’s not in charge she just helps us settle disputes in an orderly fashion. (Not that we have many disputes.)

“Hey, where were you guys?” I ask.

“We were… uuh it’s a secret,” said Emalagy after seeing Ameria shake her head.

“Why won’t you tell me?! You are always keeping secrets from me!” I almost shout before I can stop myself.

“It… It’s a surprise,” replies Nadolina softly.

“Nadolina! You weren’t supposed to tell her!” says Ameria angrily.

After that no one said anything the rest of the way home. I was glad to ride in silence until the doors opened to my neighborhood. Bran, Maglina, and I jumped out and ran home, eager to see Preana and Clamal.

4: PREANA’S PROBLEM

We arrive home and rush into the kitchen.

“Mom can we have a snack?” asks Bran eagerly. (He’s always hungry so Mom has to pack him an extra large lunch for school.)

“Yes. I made a cake for your snack today.”

“Where is it?” asks Bran checking all the places he thought the cake would be in.

“In the freezer, Bran,” says Mom as she walks out of the kitchen.

Bran pulls out the cake and goes after the knife rack, when I reach out and stop him.

“Bran, you know you’re not allowed to use the cake knife. Let me cut the cake,” I say.

He reluctantly steps back towards the cake knowing that I’m right. He’s four years younger than me, but acts like he thinks he’s four years older than me.

I grab the knife carefully; then head back to Bran. I ask him to get plates as I carefully cut the cake into twelve even pieces.

“I get the first piece!” says Maglina before Bran can, because he always gets the first piece.

“Bran, go see if Clamal and Preana would like some cake.”

“Fine,” he sighed.

He rushed upstairs and knocked on their doors. Then I heard his feet pounding as he came back, panting.

“They’re… They’re… they’re not there.”

“Of course they’re there. It’s been about thirty minutes since school got out.”

“No they’re not there.”

“How can they not be there? By now they are here!”

“Go check for yourself then!” he snapped at me.

I ran upstairs and tried opening Clamal’s door — only to find it locked. I knocked loudly to no avail. I decided to ask Mom for help.

Mom!” I yelled across the house.

“Yes, Etaloniy?” she said coming over to me.

“Clamals’s door is locked,” I said jiggling the handle for emphasis.

“She must want to be alone, sweetheart.”

“Well it’s urgent.”

“Fine, I’ll get the key for you. Meanwhile go tell Preana to come downstairs.”

I walk down the hall and try to turn the door knob. Also locked. “Drats,” I say under my breath. “Preana open up! Mom wants you downstairs!” I shout quickly and loudly.

“You don’t need to yell! I’m right here!” she told me appearing at the top of the stairs.

“Sorry,” I said blushing.

“I brought the key,” she told me, calming down.

I take it and unlock Clamal’s door. I open it slowly and dramatically for emphasis. I look in and find it empty.

“Mom can you get the key to Preana’s room?”

“It should be in Clamal’s room. Although I don’t want you snooping in her things.”

“Mom! I’m worried about Preana and Clamal!”

“Fine. Get the key. And hurry about it,” she gave an exasperated sigh.

I went in saw her key ring on her dresser, and grabbed it and left.

“Found it,” I say as I go unlock Preana’s door. I open it quickly, then walk into her maze of a room.

“Preana! Preana are you in here?” I shout into the messy void.

I wait, still making my way inside, but hear no response. I head back out and close and relock her door.

“Mom, I’m going to town!”

“Wait a second!” she calls after me as I round the corner at the end of the street.

I must find Preana! And Clamal, but right now Preana is my priority.

I rushed to town square covering my head with my hands because it’s raining rubies a day early!

“Oh, Preana! What did you get yourself into this time?” I wail.

I soon reach the town square with bleeding hands (a lot of rubies hit me). I quickly scan the area, and spot Preana chained to a police rack!

(The police rack is like a bicycle rack that police officers chain prisoners to while the officers is arresting someone else.)

“Preana! What happened?” I ask in a stupor. She looks at me with a pained look in her eyes. Her eyes quickly widen and she shakes her head fiercely.

“Preana I can’t leave you!” I tell her, “By the way where’s Clamal?”

Preana nodded her head over to where the police had a teenage girl pinned agains the side of a nearby building.

I gasped loudly, “What happened?!”

“Miss I’ll have to ask you to leave the crime scene,” I gruff police officer told me.

“Can you tell me what happened first?”

“This girl here was inspecting some rubies that belong to Shanry E. Wheenman and smashing them on the ground to obtain the valuable middle section of the ruby.”

“What about the other girl?” I ask pointing to Clamal.

“She said that she was this young ruby thief’s sister and asked if we’d let her go if she returned the rubies. Obviously we couldn’t do that. Right now officers are trying to find the rest of the girl’s family to put them under house arrest.”

“Thank you for telling me. Is there any way I can help you find them?”

“Do you know the family?”

“Couldn’t say. She looks too young to go to school with me as I’m only thirteen.”

“Well then you be on your way then, but if you see any of her family members let us know,” he told me as I walked away.

I pull out my cell phone and call Mom. “Mom, come to the square quickly. Preana and Clamal have been arrested.”

“They what!” she shouted in my ear.

“Ow! They got arrested,” I said enunciating carefully.

“Oh no! That’s terrible! I’m coming to give those police officers a talk.”

“Mom you can’t they’ll arrest you, too!”

“What are you talking about?”

“I talked to a police officer acting like I didn’t know Preana and Clamal. They only arrested Clamal because she said that she was Preana’s sister.”

“I’m still getting Preana back! If it takes getting arrested, then fine. They can arrest me if they’ll let Preana go!” Mom tells me and I know that I can’t stop her from trying to do just that. I’m about to respond when I hear the phone click on the other end, telling me she hung up.

Nooo!! She can’t come to the square! She’ll get arrested, and I can’t let that happen. I scream in my head knowing I’d get arrested for screaming it out loud.

Then Mom showed up in the square yelling at a police officer in another language.

“Mom! Mom, thank goodness I’ve found you!” I shouted in Nargatolan recognizing it instantly.

“This is your daughter?” the police man asked it sketchy Nargatolan.

“Yes, sir. Thank you for your help,” he seemed to understand even if he didn’t speak Nargatolan.

“Where are Preana and Clamal?” Mom asked, switching to another language that was less common in our area.

“Over there,” I responded in the same language and tip my head in their direction.

Mom’s response is almost immediate, and I have to grab her arm to keep her from rushing over to save the day.

“Mom, if you tell them who you are they’ll arrest you.”

“Etaloniy, you should know me better than that. I am not going to go over there and get myself arrested.”

“Then what are you going to do?” I ask, feeling relief.