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  • Chapter 4: Lexy and the Lady

    Before I could backout, and before fear could take over, I ran into the hallway. “I’m Annabeth Hawkins!” I called out into the chaos, and I was certain the whole world seemed to stop. Everyone around me, stopped. There were no more screams. You could have heard a pin drop. My eyes met Seth’s across the hall. His face was horrified. So horrified, I had to look away. And that’s when I saw her. A lady with red hair, wearing a long bright red dress walked toward me. I swallowed hard, but I pushed away my fears as her heels went click, click, click. “What a shame,” She stated when she was close enough. I looked at her in surprise. “Do you think, I am easily fooled, Alexandra?” I shrugged, not trusting myself to speak. She knew my name. She knew I had tricked them, but I didn’t know where Annabeth was at the moment. I just was hoping she was as far away as she could get. “You think that a measly name switch would stop me? I know exactly who you are. You look so much like your father.” She was getting closer, and it took all I had not to just back away. Everyone was staring at me. The hall was now silent. It took everything in me to not lose my concentration. I needed to keep her out of my head. I could feel her trying to pry. I could feel her powers at an overwhelming rate. I knew I was in over my head the second she had said my name. But for her to bring up my dad? That shook me the most. “How do you know my dad?” I managed to finally voice. “He’s my brother, of course,” She stated coldly. “We’re family.” She laughed like it was funny as she walked up and touched my face. I didn’t like the feeling. Pain began to course through my body. “You slowed me down.” She hissed. “You will pay. You will join me, or you will watch everything you ever loved burn to the ground.” I couldn’t help it. I had this insane urge to fight back. I felt angry that my life was being threatened. I felt angry that there were lies in my family. I felt a lot of things that I wasn’t sure were even really rational. “Somehow, I feel neither of these choices are good ones.” I surprised myself by how tough I sounded. There was movement I caught out of the corner of my eye. I saw Seth move closer to me. I knew he had a plan. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know if I should trust him. But I knew I didn’t trust her. “Your choice is easy.” The lady told me. She was so cold. But she had green eyes that matched my dad’s. I realized that now. “You join me.” It was then, Seth was at my side, and I knew what I had to do. “No.” I grabbed Seth’s hand and I was racing time through the hall. She would know where I lived. She would know Annabeth was heading there now. She would know because she was good at her game. Even I, someone completely lost in this situation, could tell. But I was trusting my gut, and I was hoping to catch Annabeth before she could pass more danger. Seth had a death grip on my hand as we ran, and I felt like he was slowing me down. “Where are you going?” He shouted as a storm raged around us and we reached the branch to choose Anna’s or my house. I stopped. Partially to catch my breath, but mostly because I was trying to track her. I had a hunch she went to my house, but hunches weren’t for sure. I closed my eyes trying to feel past her panic. But I couldn’t. “We have to get to the safe house!” Seth tried again when I didn’t move, and he tried to pull me a different direction. “Lexy!” “I have to find Annabeth!” I called over the storm. I was soaking wet. It was freezing. But my adrenaline was pumping. I took off running in a different direction than my house, cutting through my neighbors’ yards, splashing through puddles. I couldn’t feel anything but panic. And I wasn’t sure it was mine. Then I saw her. On the ground, bleeding, and the woman from the school had beat me there. “Welcome,” The lady smiled as if she had won. “I don’t think I am.” I told her slowly as Seth finally caught up and slowed down. “You can still join me, Alexandra. You could make us all very proud.” “Can you feel pride?” I shot back. I was trying to keep my eyes on her, and more importantly, eye contact with her. I didn’t know what I was trying to accomplish, but I didn’t want to look scared. She looked angry at my questions and created this ball that glowed an orange and yellow mix before she threw it at me. I don’t know what I thought it would do, but I threw my hands up in defense and a shimmery, see-through shield seemed to come from them. I almost let it fall in my surprise. “I have a way out.” Seth whispered in my ear, nearly touching me. “But you have to trust me and distract her for just a little while longer. Can you do that?” “Just we can’t leave Anna,” I answered. “Promise me, you won’t leave her.” I looked over my shoulder, and he nodded. I lowered my shield. “Is that the best you have?” I taunted. I know. Dumb to do when I had no idea how to do it, but I needed a distraction. I let out a scream in surprise. I looked down at my arm as she made a large cut slowly appear. “I am not one to mess with my dear.” She replied simply. “Join me or pay the price.” “I’ll pay the price,” I replied through gritted teeth. She threw something at me again, and I threw my shield up, and gave myself a second to look around, I could see Seth moving toward Anna, and if I didn’t do something fast, she was going to be able to stop him. So, I thought hard and moved my hands the way she had and low and behold a ball of orange and yellow light emerged from it. I could have stared at it all day, but there wasn’t time. It was life or death. So, I threw it as hard as I could at her. She looked stunned, and defended it easily, but her focus was on me. She threw one back. She was going to kill me. Seth grabbed Annabeth throwing her over his shoulder and ran at me hard. I stumbled back as he hit me, and I fell. Except, I didn’t fall and hit the ground. At least not right away. Instead, I fell through something. And I felt my body being pulled in every direction. It didn’t hurt. It just was a weird sensation that I wasn’t a fan of. Then, the floor did come too quickly, and I landed with a bang, surrounded by a whole crew of people with a thousand questions, and I couldn’t help but rack up a 1000 more.

  • The Outside Life of Authors

    I was looking at prompts today to see if anything sparked my interest on something to add to my list of things I want to write about when a prompt sparked my thought process and sent me spiraling a little. There are often times when a writer is brilliant, but when their life is looked upon they fall short. And in present day, many people think the only solution is to not support that author, and that's fair, I think. I mean, I don't have a better 'solution', but something about that just feels... wrong. I mean, I completely understand why some people do it or say it. But they didn't start writing because they wanted fame. They didn't start writing to get noticed. Sure, it comes with it if you're lucky. There are many famous books out there. However, there are even more brilliant ones that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Does that make them less good? Does that make the person behind them less accountable? I think my biggest problem with this 'cancellation' of authors is that everyone in the entire world has shortcomings. They say things wrong, and when they try to clear it up, it just gets twisted. Or maybe they blatantly and ignorantly mess up. Maybe they lack an understanding about every single issue out there. Does that really make their work, their breathing line that insignificant? Take J.K. Rowling for example. She's struggled on platforms like Twitter trying to untwist and only to retwist homophobic statements. Her books lacked diversity in a lot of ways. There were no people with disabilities, there was "queerbaiting", and there was a lack of many other races. So yea, she has shortcomings, and might not be the best person. I'm not arguing that. But does this make her work any less brilliant? Or what about the similar thing that happened to Sarah Dessen? People defended her books, however they do lack a similar diversity. Or when Lori Wick, was donating to a church that eventually got in trouble for child abuse. There's a good chance she had absolutely no idea it was happening and was just donating simply because she was a Christian author, but she lost all her support. She doesn't write anymore. At least not to my knowledge. And yes, these weren't great moments for them. But people make big mistakes every single day. And they typically don't lose their jobs because of it. Not that anyone actually lost their job in my list. I also want to point out most people write what they know. Or at least, I do and all my friends who like to write do. The plots are different. But this character is similar to this person. This character has the hair of this person. This character would say this like that person does. You take the feelings that you feel or have felt and you put them in new places. For me, writing is my safe place. I can say what I would never say to someone's face, good or bad. It's where I can be the hero and the failure all in one. It's pieces of you and your life or the absolute total opposite. However, when I personally write, I don't write about things I don't know much about. I'm not writing to learn at this point. I'm writing to process and feel the things I ignore usually. I'm writing to get stories out of my head, so I can focus on real life. And as much as I'd love to have more diversity in my stories, it does lack in those aspects. And it isn't because I don't care about black lives or disabilities. It's not because I don't care about the genocides or LGBTQ+ communities or anything going on in the world around me. It's much more simple than that. I'm not black. I'm not disabled. I'm not LGBTQ+. I'm not being prosecuted. I'm a white straight female who grew up in a predominately white area. I have a sister who is disabled, but the only point of view I have on any of that is from the outside. Of course, I've read books that opened my eyes on a lot. And of course I want to support these causes and show representation. However, it feels forced if I try to bring it into my stories because again, I am an outsider. And I can only speak for myself on these issues in literature, however, I'm sure I'm not alone in these feelings. And sure, I could go do research. And I could try and place myself in these situations that I've never experienced. But I'd feel like a fraud. And what if I get it wrong? What if in an attempt to bring representation, I only bring hurt to that community? This doesn't mean I won't try in the future, however, when I'm writing, I'm not writing for anyone but myself. And yes, I'd love you to like it. And yes, I would love to make an income one day doing the thing that helps me breathe. But if there's nobody in the entire world that ever reads and likes my stuff, that's fine. I'll live. So, now we talked a little bit about why sometimes writing lacks diversity and authors are sometimes shitty human beings. But does this really effect their books? Are their books really the unreadable when the person behind them sucks? Reading books like Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, and White Chocolate by Lori Wick have all affected my life a great deal. For a time, if I didn't have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on in movie form I would have never slept. I just struggle with this concept that when someone is not perfect, they get cut. I understand that in an ideal world, everyone would love everyone and they would always say and do the right things. But we're humans. And when looking back on the past, we still read books and poetry by 'terrible' people. Like Edgar Allen Poe was a drunk. And his work is still beloved by many, and no one seems to be criticizing him. Is it different once the author is dead? As much as society deems that you have to be professional all the time, it is not possible. It is not always easy to say the right things, and be under constant scrutiny. Obviously, more representation needs to come out in all areas. But I do not feel it is the authors job to have to place it in their stories if it would be forced, or harmful to to the community they are trying to help. I think it's important to remember that authors are human beings with real feelings and real thoughts that sometimes just get lost in translation, and sometimes are just shitty. They also can't fully support every cause in the world because it's not humanly possible and it's exhausting to try. However, there is no easy solution to separating the author from the book. What are your thoughts on this? Did my author rant make sense or did you read it and simply go 'what the hell did I just read'? Let me know in the comments. <3 CC

  • Chapter 3: Annabeth and the Warnings

    “You know you can stay, right?” Lexy asked, her eyes looking me over. “I know.” I answered. “But I should get home. My foster parents might get worried.” I told her. Despite living with them for the last 3 years, and them promising to keep me till I was 18, I couldn’t call them Mom or Dad. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them or anything. But I didn’t really trust anyone. I had burned too many times as a kid in the foster system to think things couldn’t change. But I was super grateful for the days I did get to spend with them. She nodded in understanding and gave me a quick hug before I headed out and she closed the door behind me. I didn’t live that far from her house, but it wasn’t a short walk either. I had walked it thousands of times since we first met. We had walked it together and I had walked it alone. There was little about this path that I didn’t know. But to my surprise, the boys I had never seen any where near here before we’re sitting on the front porch on the corner of the street when I turned. “Hawkins!” Jake Graening, the guy who had dumped his spaghetti all over me called out. I rolled my eyes. I had never even noticed the house there. I just kept walking. “Hawkins!” He called out again, jogging to catch up to me. “Yes?” I asked, I knew I sounded annoyed, but the truth was, I was. “Are you okay?” He asked a little breathlessly when he finally caught up. “Why wouldn’t I be?” I responded, a little harsh even to my own ears. “I mean, I didn’t mean to run into you so many times. It’s just… Something happened when we did…” He looked a little flustered for someone who always seemed so confident, but these were my secrets and I wasn’t ready to give them away to a stranger. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” I answered with a sigh before continuing to walk. He looked at me confused. “What do you mean? You felt it, right?” He asked urgently. The vision of him on a prison floor and the dread that filled me made me shake my head so the image would leave. I couldn’t get involved. His imprisonment was not my problem. “No.” I responded. “I have to get home. It’s late.” “Let me walk you home then.” He grumbled. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m fine thanks.” He just shook his head, the confident Jake the world knew was back. “Fine, whatever you want Princess.” And he turned around and ran back to his house where his friend was standing on the porch watching our exchange. The whole thing freaked me out enough, that as soon as I was out of their sight, I ran the rest of the way home. I woke up the next morning to the sound of a door slamming. “Are you awake?” Lexy pounced on me. She was breathless. She had to of run the whole way here. “I am now,” I grumbled, rolling over and pulling the pillow over my head. “Get up,” She stated, pulling the pillow off my face. “You have an awful lot of energy right now.” I told her. “And you are very early.” “I-“ She paused for dramatic affect. “Am right on time, and ready to get this show on the road.” “You’re being ridiculous.” I told her, but she ignored me. She seemed so happy. So carefree. It made me smile. “You don’t do mornings.” I teased as I stood up. “You’re too happy. Who are you and what did you do with my best friend?” “You know what today is,” she threw a shirt at me and a pair of jeans. “Yes, I know. The dance tickets go on sale today, and the first 30 sold are half off.” I repeated the words she had told me a thousand times. “Yes!” She squealed excitedly. “So we have to hurry. I can’t afford them if they go to full price.” “Lexy, why do you even want to go?” I asked as she turned away so I could get dressed. “I would think it would be a living hell for you. If you think the hallways or the cafeteria is bad, this is going to be way worse.” I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell she was smiling. “That’s why we need the half off tickets,” She explained. “So if I leave early, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t spend a fortune.” I let myself let out a chuckle. She was always thinking through these things. Her parents would give her the money for a ticket, full-priced, if she asked. It was me who couldn’t afford it without the discount. Her parents would understand if she left early, and said it was lame. But my foster parents would not. And she had answers to every question. I really didn’t want to go. But she was my best friend. I had to go if she wanted to, and this was my only option. Lexy was happy and almost giggly the entire walk to school, and it made me happy. We chatted about the dance and what we were going to do after school. There was little stress in our lives. We were just normal teenaged girls in that moment, and it was something to be grateful for. But when we got to school. Everything changed. The air was different. Lexy froze and looked around. Her headphones were in her hand, and I gave her a curious look. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She tilted her head as if she was listening to something that confused her. “There’s new voices.” She said quietly as we approached the building. “How many?” I asked, feeling a churning in my stomach, full of unease. “I don’t know,” She whispered back. With that, we both walked into the building and moved as one to our lockers. We could both feel that something was off. We kept looking at each other, opening our mouths then closing them. The truth was, probably nothing was wrong. It wasn’t totally abnormal for Lexy to hear new voices if there was a new kid, especially if they were super nervous, or just in general people visiting the school. That was semi-normal. But this, this we couldn’t put our finger on it. Something was off. And Lexy’s smile had changed to a troublesome frown. I sighed. “You ready?” I asked after I grabbed everything I needed for my morning classes. Lexy nodded, and I noticed her headphones were still out. Something that never happened. Only if she was listening for something. We walked to our first class in silence. We were sitting there in silence as the bustle around us started to take their seats and settle in. I watched Lexy turn her head slightly. I could tell she was listening to something I couldn’t hear. “What is it?” I asked, but she was focused in. Suddenly, she turned around just as the bell rang to tell me something, but she stopped. I followed her eyes to the door. A new kid with blonde hair and the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen stood there, his eyes locked on Lexy. She looked away quickly, but she mumbled, “I know him.” And I felt my own confusion grow, but before I could ask what she was talking about, class started. It was normal by all means that could describe normal. But the feeling of something being wrong didn’t ease with time. By the end of the class, I could tell something was very wrong. When the bell finally rang, I realized I had been too lost in my head to really know what class had even been about. I stood up and began gathering my books, but I realized that Lexy hadn’t moved at all yet. “Lex?” I tapped her on the shoulder. “Are you good?” She looked at me with a slightly dazed expression as our classmates all moved out of the room. “Something is really wrong.” She stated in a hushed voice. She looked toward the door, as if she was questioning its existence. “Lex, you’re scaring me,” I told her. “Girls, is everything alright?” Our teacher Mrs. Garrison asked, giving us a weird look. “Yes,” Lexy answered, standing up, her expression back to normal. “I was just thinking about our book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?” Our teacher looked at us curiously. “Yes, I suppose it does Miss. Marks. But if you think about it anymore, you will be late for your next class, girls.” She chided. Lexy gave her a smile and turned toward the door. “Have a good day, Ma’am.” “You too.” Mrs. Garrison replied uneasily. “What the hell was that?” I muttered when we finally got out of the classroom. But there was no time to answer me because the new kid was walking toward us, his eyes asking a thousand questions. “Lexy!” He exclaimed happily. I looked at my best friend to see if she shared his same excitement, but to my surprise, she was completely ignoring him, looking the other way. His face fell slightly, but he didn’t seem too discouraged yet. “Come on,” He pleaded, “You can’t be that mad at me… It’s been years.” It was a rarity to see Lexy mad, but her face showed a whole lot of anger, mixed with just a smidge of hurt. “It’s been 6 years. You left without a word. You didn’t say goodbye. You never wrote. You never called. You just disappeared. I have 6 years’ worth of anger.” She snapped. I understood then. This was the guy who had been her best friend before me. This was the guy she never talked about, but his picture hung in her room. And now he was here. I understood her frustration. Then suddenly, someone grabbed my elbow and pulled me away from their conversation. “We need to talk, Princess.” I turned to look at the person who was moving me, only to see the angry face of Jake Graening. “Oh, come to spill more spaghetti on me?” I taunted, trying to match his anger. “Or follow me home again? “No.” He shook his head and looked at me like I was the one who had lost it. “You need to be careful.” “What are you talking about?” I asked. I felt as though I was being suffocated, my world felt like it was stopping. “Just be on the look out for weird things. Something is going to happen soon, and you need to be ready.” “Are you threatening me?” I felt outraged at the thought. Again, he shook his head, and looked at me like I was the crazy one, but this time he added an eye roll. “Just be careful, Princess!” He called back at me. “Why do you keep calling me that?” I yelled after him, feeling incredibly frustrated. He didn’t answer though. He just kept walking. I turned away from him, frustrated as the bell rung. “We’re late.” Lexy barked as she marched toward me. I could tell she was furious about something. More than that, I could feel it. “What’s wrong?” I asked as we walked to class. “Everything.” She huffed as we walked in the door. “Literally, everything.” I didn’t get a chance to answer because class had started and the only person talking was the teacher. We were about halfway through class when the announcements started to go off. “Teachers, please check your emails, immediately.” The voice asked. Lexy turned toward me with a curious and worried look. “What’s that about?” She whispered. “I don’t know but look out the window.” I made slight gesture toward the window, and she turned to look. “Jeez, there wasn’t a storm in the forecast today!” She exclaimed still in a whisper. “That’s odd,” Our teacher, Mr. Sanderson muttered. “There is no email.” This caused Lexy to look at me with wide-eyes full of panic. “We need to get out of here.” She said under her breath. “No. We can’t ditch,” I replied seriously. “Annie, listen,” She sounded desperate. “Something isn’t right. I know you feel it too.” My mind flashed back to my conversation with Jake that I had just had. “Jake Graening told me to be careful.” I started slowly. “I wonder if this was what he meant by it.” This didn’t ease the expression on Lexy’s face though. She looked more serious though. “After this class, I’m leaving.” She stated. “And I think you should too.” It was almost an ultimatum. Almost. But the bad feeling in my stomach churned. It wasn’t fair. Something was off though I couldn’t tell what. And I couldn’t let her leave alone. And I didn’t have to wait long, or even more than a couple minutes. There was no bell that rang for the change of classes. There was no signal to move. But there was chaos in the hallway. First, our teacher opened the door to peak out there. She heard the ruckus and she went to check, but that’s when we heard the screams. “We can’t stay.” Lex’s eyes were big. “We are out of time.” “What do you think will happen?” She looked at me, her eyes showing she was scared. “I don’t kn--” She was cut off as a chilling voice cut through the air. “Annabeth Hawkins!” A woman’s shrill voice called out. “Come out, come out wherever you are!” Shock and fear ran a chill through my body. The people left in our class looked at me, and our teacher quickly slammed the door. Before I could even think, Lexy was pulling me toward the teacher’s desk. All eyes were still on me. She fumbled with the window, swearing under her breath. She rarely swore so I wasn’t really sure what this meant. “Lex?” I could hear the shakiness in my voice. She shook her head at me as she yanked the window open. She looked over her shoulder, and I turned to see what she was looking at or for, but I saw our teacher nod at us and I realized she had been silently asking for permission. My heart swelled with appreciation for her as she grabbed my hand and pushed me through the window. “What are you doing?” I argued as she began to close it. She didn’t answer me. She just shook her head. I had thought she was coming with me. I had thought that we would leave together. Leave the city. Go anywhere... But she closed the window as someone yelled my name again. And I couldn’t help but watch in horror as she walked to the door and heard her call out, “I’m Annabeth Hawkins.” I felt like a terrible best friend, but I didn’t stick around to hear what happened next. I took off running. But where I was going was a mystery to even me.

  • 3 Things I'm Excited For Within the Next Few Months

    It isn't always an easy thing to feel emotions for me. Good or bad, I'd rather ignore whatever I feel and move on with my life. However, as a human being, I often have to remind myself that that is not always or usually ever, a healthy way to live. And to be excited is probably the hardest emotion for me because it is simply very easy to get excited and then get disappointed. But does this mean I should just never get excited about anything? That seems unrealistic and unwise. So despite risking some disappointment, here are some things that I am excited for that are happening in the next couple months. I am going to see my youngest sister in about 1 month. She currently goes to school in small town Tennessee and plays for the schools soccer team. It's only been about 1 week of actual classes right now, but she's been there for a few weeks and has been having a rough go. So, waiting a month to go see her seems incredibly hard right now. However, I know it will be worth the wait to have some sister time. I am going to see a Sharks hockey game. In November, my cousin is getting married, which is exciting in itself. My family, especially on my dad's side is all very close, so any time we get to get together is a party. I've never been to California before, however that's where my cousin is getting married, and it just so happens to be where my favorite team the San Jose Sharks play. AND they happen to be playing that very weekend. The best part of this is that I wasn't even the one to discover this. My dad actually did, and he even booked our flights a day earlier than originally planned so that I could potentially go to the game. There are still some X factors of course, like covid restrictions. But I might actually cry of happiness if we can pull off going to the game. It will be the perfect weekend. I'm moving home. And I'm lucky that I'm not going to have to pay my parents rent, and least not right now. I get to save my money or buy the things I've been putting off because it wasn't a necessity but I could really use. I looking forward to having enough money to buy actually groceries. And not having to stress if I get a flat tire. And getting myself slightly more out of debt. I'm excited to give freelance a shot. And figure out my actual future without being pressured at the moment. I'm incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, and I know many people don't. So I'm excited to see exactly where this path leads me.

  • Chapter 2: Lexy and the Content Night

    I waited by my locker for Annabeth. She had to finish her math test before we could walk home. She was late, which wasn’t unusual, but I had to get home to watch my sisters. “Lexy!” She exclaimed after what seemed like forever. I didn’t see her till she was right in front of me though, there were too many people in the halls still for me to take out my headphones. I nodded at her and moved toward her locker that was only three away from me. She then slipped something in my hand, and I nonchalantly opened it up. It wasn’t unusual for us to pass notes. But usually they were of some importance of things we couldn’t say out loud, in fear that if someone knew our secrets’ we would never live normal lives again. I opened the letter, my back against the locker as was our protocol. We might have trouble coming. Keep your mouth shut till we get home. Earphones out. Listen to what’s around us. I folded the letter and put it in my pocket. I wondered what she was talking about, but I knew better than to talk about it here. My studies had shown me that people who are different, are always in danger. And as much as I hated it, fitting in was our best chance of survival. “Hurry up,” I said, trying to sound normal as I took my headphones off. “I have to be home before my sisters. I told my parents I would watch them.” Annie looked up at me and nodded, but her face looked worried. I knew better than to ask about it at school. Her note literally told me to be quiet. But if my headphones were off, with this many people still around, I needed to focus on something. It was weird though. I had survived many years with no headphones and school. When I was younger, I’d get these awful headaches that I didn’t know how to handle because to me, the world was very loud. I knew from an early age that I was different. I had survived many years being the only person I knew that was different. I often didn’t wear headphones because I liked the voices sometimes, if I was in the mood for it. But today, I was surrounded by the same people as always, but the sound was different. And there was a low humming noise droning on in the background that I had never heard before. The second I noticed it, I didn’t want to hear it anymore, but I fought the urge to just shove my headphones back in and drown it out. “How was your last class?” Annie asked as we started to walk out of the building. I furrowed my eyebrows. I could hear her unasked question in my head as if she asked it out loud. “It was fine. Completely normal.” I answered, choosing my words carefully. As we were walking, I noticed 2 guys walking behind us. One of them being the one who had spilled spaghetti all over Annie earlier today. Annie looked back too, but when she realized who was behind us, she sped up. “They won’t hurt us,” I whispered. “They aren’t a threat.” “Keep your voice down.” She answered in a hushed tone. “Hurry up.” “Do you wanna run?” I asked. I didn’t really want to, but it wasn’t unusual for us to run home. When we were younger, we used to race, and occasionally, we still did. “No.” She stated shortly. “Tell me something funny.” I let out a chuckle. “Well let’s see, today was a fairly normal day at school, until my best friend got spaghetti dumped on her, and turned into a total lunatic.” I teased. “Not funny, Lex.” She said through gritted teeth. “I think it’s hilarious. Because that boy is following us home, and we’ve not once seen him before on this route.” “What if he’s some creepy stalker?” She whispered. I laughed; I couldn’t help it. “I’m the one with the crazy theories, remember? Besides, it would be weirder if he was like a new kid who you were being pulled to. He’s been at this school with us all year, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of.” This time she smiled. “Come on, crazy lady. Those clouds don’t look promising.” Her smile then fully stretched across her face just before she took off running. “No fair!” I yelled after her, as I started to run too. “You got a head start!” Neither of us slowed down till we reached my house. I don’t know what I was expecting, but part of me was surprised to see it still in one piece. I had no reason to think otherwise, but still, I felt a little surprised when I walked in. “Mom? Dad?” I called out, but I wasn’t actually expecting an answer. Neither of them was supposed to be home. Mom was doing some volunteer activity today and my dad was at work. It was just a typical Tuesday. As soon as we knew the coast was clear, we ran up the stairs to my room, and Annabeth immediately raided my closet for the clothes she left over here for days when she didn’t expect to spend the night, or on days like she got spaghetti dumped on her by random boys. Things like this happened more frequently to us than one might think. “Okay,” I started as I plopped down on my bed. “So what’s the big thing that’s actually wrong?” “I didn’t say anything was wrong.” Annie answered trying to sound nonchalant. “Yes, you did.” I responded. “You told me to keep my earphones out, and that means you were worried about something. What has you freaked out?” “I ran into Jake again.” She blurted out after a moment. “Who?” I questioned, not following. “Jake. Jake Graening. The kid who spilled the spaghetti all over me. The kid who followed us home.” “Okay… I’m not following…” I replied slowly. “I can’t explain it,” She answered sounding flustered. “Both times, I don’t think I should have run into him. It was like we were being pulled into each other or something. And when we touched…” “When you touched, what happened?” I questioned, sitting up. I could feel that she didn’t want to tell me. I could feel her trying to decide if she should. If I wanted to, I could have just read her mind, and been done with it, but I respected her privacy. I rarely ever read her mind. And sometimes when you’re close to someone it’s harder to read them. “I saw something that scared me.” She finally answered. “Okay, you lost me again.” I replied, leaning back again. “I saw you, and I saw him, in a bad situation.” “How bad?” I asked, remembering the weird noise I had heard at school. Anna didn’t answer… She just ignored the question. “Annabeth Layne Hawkins, tell me right now what you saw.” She still didn’t want to tell me, but the urge to tell someone was overwhelming so finally she blurted out, “I saw you and Jake both in handcuffs and chains on a dirt floor looking pretty beaten up…” “Oh.” I responded. “Look, I don’t know what that means. It’s just weird. It could be one of those things that have a different meaning or something.” She tried. “Annie, we both know you don’t have those very often. It must be a warning. We can probably prevent it.” I didn’t feel confident with that answer, but it seemed to make her feel better. “Lexy!” My little sister, Calynn shouted as she walked in the door. “We’re home!” “Okay!” I yelled back. “I’ll be down in a minute!” “So, what do we do now?” Annabeth asked. “Now, we go give the children a snack, and we forget about everything for the time being.” I replied simply. “There’s no use worrying about something that may or may not happen.” She nodded and we headed downstairs. It was Tuesday so that meant I had to cook dinner tonight. Sometimes, I made a real meal, but more often than not, I put in frozen food like a chicken cordon bleu and made some instant mash potatoes in a pot with some microwave corn and called it a day. Annabeth, being a vegetarian, kept her own supply of food at our house, so she would make some fake meat food from our freezer. Dinner was in the oven, and we were all doing our homework by time my parents came home. It was nothing out of the ordinary, for which I was grateful. “Mommy!” Sari, my youngest sister exclaimed when they walked in. “Sari!” My mom wrapped my sister up in a hug as my dad walked in behind them. “What? No hug for me, Sara-Bear?” He teased. Sari made some very odd noise, sounding a little bit like a pterodactyl, before letting go of mom and jumping into Dad. “How was your day, girls?” Mom asked as she put her stuff down and walked over to the table. “It was good.” I answered, and there was a round of echoes of about the same thing from around the table. “And your presentation, honey, how did that go?” “Eh,” I answered, writing down the answer to the math problem. “It could have gone better.” “What? The people didn’t like your presentation on uh what is it, the supernatural appeal to teens?” “More like I stuttered and stumbled and made it about as unappealing as I could have.” I told her with a sigh. “I told you, you just gotta sing a happy song when you’re stressed. It works like a charm every time.” My dad responded. “You listen to enough music, I’m sure you have a good song for things like that.” “Dad… It never works that way for me,” I stated annoyed. “You don’t know it till you try it.” He reminded me. I sighed and closed my math book and moved to take dinner out of the oven. “I have tried, dad.” I responded. “But it doesn’t work for me.” Annabeth rolled her eyes at me but didn’t say anything. “Annabeth, how did her presentation really go?” My mom questioned. “You know, she did her best,” Anna stuttered, nearly choking on the glass of orange juice she had just gotten. We only kept orange juice in our house because she like it. “That’s my girl,” My dad hugged me as I was walking dinner to the table. “Careful, it’s hot!” I exclaimed. And just like every other night we sat down around the table and had dinner. The way we had every night for as long as I could remember. And the thought of something bad happening, disappeared in the contentness of the night

  • How I Knew My Mental Health Was Getting Bad Again

    I sure many of you who have found my blog have struggled yourself with mental health challenges. Or maybe you're one of the lucky ones who have never really struggled with anxiety or depression and your just curious to know how the brain of someone who's not you works. Either way, welcome, as I try to explain just exactly how my brain works, or well doesn't work. Usually, when my mental health starts to decline, I completely ignore it. Yep, that's right, I ignore almost all feeling at almost all times. And on a good day, that's fine. But it gets a lot harder to ignore the glaringly obvious signs of depression as it creeps back into daily life. But you guessed it, I continue to ignore whatever those feelings are, at all costs. Feeling down? It was just a bad day. Feeling anxious? There's a lot going on, I'm just a little overwhelmed. Breakdown? I'm just tired or I don't feel well. And while all of those are true statements, I am completely ignoring the pattern and frequency that they come in. I ignore and I ignore until I can't anymore. But what's my telltale sign that I'm ignoring the bigger picture again? Well, it's actually a very easy answer. It's not a lack of showering. Or lack of sleep. Or even too much sleep. It's not I can't get out of bed today. Or even a burnt out feeling that I sometimes get. No, my telltale sign that my mental health is off it's rocker? I start watching Grey's Anatomy again. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, what does Grey's Anatomy have to do with literally anything? Well in truth, it has a lot of factors for me. The first one is, I'm obsessed with quotes. So, the speeches at the beginning and end of every episode, plus great monologues in the episodes feed into my love of quotes with a dramatic flair. I also really like that the main characters are all "dark and twisty", something about that makes them more relatable, more like me, especially when I, myself, am feeling dark and twisty. And once I get going on the show, something about it makes me want to not sleep. It makes me want to stay up later than I normally would for just one more episode. The intensity, no matter how fake the show is, gives real feelings. Feelings that typically, when I am in a good mental health space, I can ignore. I typically do not watch or want to watch Grey's anatomy when I am in a good headspace. It brings up past feelings and thoughts that I want absolutely no part in. However, when I am feeling down, it makes my feelings seem valid and as though I am not alone. Even if I am. The world doesn't stop for anyone, but there are moments that are telling. Typically, I deny my depression until it goes away before I even realize it was more than just a few bad days or months. It wasn't enough to totally disrupt my life. It was there, but it was deniable. But when I start Grey's Anatomy, it reaches a point where I cannot deny it anymore. I'm back in that dark whole, and I'm watching something that both brings out those ugly feelings and comforts me, just the same.

  • Like Us: Chapter 1: Annabeth and the Spaghetti That Started Everything

    Chapter 1: Annabeth and the Spaghetti that started everything Tick tock. Tick tock. I looked at the clock. It was moving slow. I wasn’t even supposed to be in this class. It was my free period. But my best friend was about to give a presentation, and she was a terrible public speaker. She always stuttered and got clammy and freaked out. Her anxiety had a habit of getting the best of her. So instead of enjoying my study hall, I was watching terrible presentations put on by average middle-class American teenagers, talking about things that mattered to them, that really didn’t matter at all. “Alexandra Marks.” Mrs. Johnson called out, after the clapping of the last presentation ended. Lexy stood up slowly and straightened out her sweater before turning back toward me with a nervous smile. I nodded encouragingly at her, but I knew there was really only one way this was going to end. I had sat through every presentation she’d given in English this semester. I had helped her practice each one. I knew she knew the stuff she was talking about. But I also knew it would be painful to watch. “The common reasons many teenagers turn away from their parents and start trying to practice magic or other supernatural things.” A mouth full in itself, but Lex rushed through it. She was always that kind of person who didn’t like boring. And she had been fascinated with the supernatural world since 7th grade when we discovered my house was haunted. Now, we were freshmen, and her obsession had tampered off a little, to only watching Ghost Adventures on Saturday nights, a show that only terrified me, but had been our tradition for 2 years now. But this project had opened a whole new can of worms. If I had thought she was obsessed in 7th grade, that was nothing. This was her project for the next four years. This was her baby. Bringing to light the similarities between religions and fables and cultures. Anything and everything, she had 100 pages already. It was what she loved to do in our free time. Some would call it crazy, but I knew it was because there was something different about us, and she just wanted answers. Finally, she stumbled to the end of the presentation and the bell rang. “You did great,” I told her as we picked up our books and made our way to our lockers. “It was disaster.” She replied with a sigh. “I should never be allowed to speak in front of anyone ever again. This was a thrilling project that should have had everyone’s attention, but instead those who did pay attention were laughing at me, and everyone else was thinking about random stuff that was totally irrelevant and way less entertaining than my presentation.” “You listen to people’s thoughts while you’re up there?” I laughed as I traded my books for my lunch. “Well, I can’t block them when I’m trying not to throw up.” She answered, her tone defeated. “Maybe that’s your problem.” I told her, nudging her as she closed her locker. “Well, I hope not,” She let out a chuckle, “it’s not a problem I can fix.” I shook my head as she put her headphones in. We were headed to the cafeteria, and if the noise level there wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t imagine how loud Lexy’s head used to get. I used to wonder why she sat alone during lunches, just listening to her music. I always thought it was weird. No one ever sat alone during lunch. I mean, even the weird kids seemed to have a group. But I learned later that it was because she couldn’t bear the flood of thoughts. There were too many people to block out and she couldn’t handle it. Music though, could drown it out. A trick she had figured out forever ago. If she turned it up loud enough, she could ignore the thoughts protruding her head. Now though, I didn’t allow her to sit alone. But we had an agreement. In winter, we would go make an appearance in the cafeteria then eat in the library and when the weather was warm enough, we would eat outside. The cafeteria affected me too, so I was never opposed to eating away from it. Not since I discovered I could feel other people’s emotions. That’s how I learned about Lexy’s problems. I felt she was upset one day. We weren’t even in the same class, but I could feel someone was upset, and then when I closed my eyes, I saw her crying in the bathroom. Me, being young and stuff, didn’t understand, so I went to the bathroom only to find out her dad was having health problems and she was in a tough spot. Of course though, that was only the beginning for us. Neither of us told the other about our gift for a while. But the closer we got, the easier it became to talk about it. The more we understood that we were different. I nudged Lex as our mutual friend passed us in the hall, and she immediately pulled an earphone out so we could talk to them a moment. She made it look so natural, you would never have guessed she even had headphones in to begin with. “How did the presentation go, Lexy?” Marianne asked. “You already know.” Lexy answered, making it sound like a joke. Marianne laughed at the joke. “Are you guys eating in the café today?” “Nah, we gotta hit the books.” I answered. “Grabbing drinks and going to the library.” “You guys are no fun!” She called back at us as she walked away. Lexy smiled as we turned back toward the café, but her headphones were already back in. The cafeteria was louder than usual when we walked in. I turned toward Lex to make a comment about it, but she had her game face on, and her music loud. Sometimes, I forgot she wore the headphones. We had signals that if I needed her, I could get her attention. But most of the time we could be together in a comfortable silence. We then separated like we normally did, where she would go buy her meal, and I’d go buy the drinks. But as soon as I got out of line and started walking to our meeting spot, some idiot was not paying attention and ran right into me, dumping his spaghetti all over me. I let out a sharp gasp and looked up to see who the perpetrator was. A guy with jet black hair and the greenest eyes I had ever seen was looking down at me. In other words, Jake Graening spilled his lunch all over me. “You have a noodle in your hair.” He laughed. “Yea thanks to you!” I exclaimed in frustration. “Annie,” Lexy gasped, coming out of the meal line herself. “What happened?” “Can we go?” I mumbled. She looked at me confused but nodded. “Come on, let’s go to the bathroom and get you cleaned up.” I could feel the stares of everyone as we walked away. But I didn’t turn around. Knowing it was happening was enough. I heard Lexy sigh as she picked the noodles out of my hair. Only a real best friend would spend time picking noodles out of my hair rather than eating the ones on her tray, which had disappeared into the trash before I could even stop her. “How bad is the damage?” I asked. She gave me a smile that made me almost instantly feel better. “I think you’ll recover.” She answered, taking a wet paper towel to wipe the sauce off my face. “Your shirt on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. But lucky for you, your best friend has a fear of not being prepared enough and has one right here for you. I know it’s not your style, but it will have to do.” I smiled too, as she reached into her backpack, pulling out a t-shirt with some sports logo on it. “Thank you, you’re the best.” I responded taking the shirt gratefully. “I know,” She replied, laughing, adding a hair toss in there. She wasn’t a cocky person, but she liked to pretend she was sometimes. Like she was out of this world or something. And maybe, in a way, she really was. I mean, I didn’t know, even back then, many other people who had her patience or kindness. It was sometimes a dreary world out there, and if you didn’t think your best friend wasn’t something else, they weren’t your best friend at all.

  • Song of the Month: August

    I don't know about you guys, but I tend to obsess about a single song for about a month, sometimes longer. This month, the song is Like the Movies by Taylor Acorn. I'm sure you're all thinking the same question: Why this song? Am I going through a break-up? Did someone die? Were you left? And the answer to that is simply, no, no, and no. The truth is, there's a single line in there that seemed to fit my entire life at the moment. As I have been sick for the better part of a month, and am in the process of moving to my parents house, this one line makes me repeat the song, over and over and over again. "The world, it just keeps going on while your going through hell". That's the line. And that's how life feels right now. An artist who I found via TikTok got my whole life into one line there. Currently, it just feels like everything is going a million miles an hour. Currently, I feel like trash, but am sitting at my one job, writing this post. Currently, my mental health is pretty much non existent. But yet, I still have to go to work. I still have to get my life together for a move. I still have bills and responsibilities that I have committed to despite the fact that right now, I am going through hell. And everyone could say that, it's all about perspective and keeping an open mind and blah blah blah. When you can barely get through the day, for one reason or another, that's not helpful. That's not something I want to hear because it makes me feel worse because I know the world doesn't revolve around me. And I know that the Universe doesn't owe me shit. And I know that I am lucky. However, when your going through hell, and it's hard to even breathe, that's not helpful. The world doesn't stop for anybody or anything. It simply spins regardless. And I think everybody knows this feeling of being almost left behind. Like no matter how hard your trying, you're not keeping up. You're not being seen. You're just falling helplessly, further and further into those depths of hell. And all anybody in those moments want is to pause, and be seen. The rest of the song is honestly quite relatable as well, but to me nothing hits home quite like that single line. But give it a listen, and let me know what you think about it. Does it hit home for you too? Till next time CC

  • Can't Catch a Break

    It started out about 2 months ago in the beginning of June. I honestly don't even remember the first piece of bad luck, but I do remember almost everything since June. At the time, I was working at a daycare, and I had been in a class I really liked, and when June hit, I was suddenly moved from that class. It's a daycare, and as assistant teachers tend to be in daycares, I was bounced around. I was not a fan. Then, 2 weeks before I'm supposed to go on a 2 week vacation to the beach with my family, my mom falls and dislocates and breaks her wrist. She needs surgery and our vacation gets majorly shortened. And I work 2 jobs that I don't get paid vacation for and I am already scheduled off, so this is financially a problem. A few days before my trip, my sinuses start to get bad. I have a sinus infection. The last thing you want right before a trip where you're supposed to drink all week. I get medicine to help, it's manageable for the trip, and me and my youngest sister leave to go to the Outer Banks. My sister and I were not even an hour into our drive when our tire light came on. Yikes, right? Soooo we pull over and check. We're not driving either of our cars, we're driving my mom's, so we're just like uh does the light always come on or what? We pull over, we check it, it ends up being fine. About halfway, our oil light comes on. Great, another thing to the list. So, when we get to Williamsburg, where we were staying the night, we get an oil change because we weren't sure if there was a place to get one on the island. We are now officially on vacation, so everything is fine now, right? Wrong. We managed to get lost a bit on our way to get wrist bands and other things we needed for the neighborhood we were spending a couple nights in. We had one embarrassing moment at one of those lift gates, where we didn't pull up far enough and we just sat there like idiots. lol. But the worst part of the vacation was about half way through, when in a house of 26 people, the stomach bug went through. About half of us all got it. So for the 2nd half of my vacation, and the whole week after, I was sick, and it was MISERABLE. So, finally, I was back at work, working a job I hated, when just a couple measly weeks later, I catch what's going around at the daycare - hand foot mouth. Yes, normally, only kids get it. However, I am the exception to all rules medically. I get it, and it turns into bronchitis. Then within a week, I am also fighting a sinus infection, all during the time that my mom is having another surgery. Talk about a rough couple months, right? So, the last 2 and a half months have not been my friend, however I am extremely grateful for my support system as I try to navigate this crazy thing called life. That's all for now, see you all really soon. -CC

  • Moving back in with my PARENTS

    At 24, this is something that I really had no intention of ever doing... Unless someone was sick or dying, it wasn't something I ever wanted to do. I love my parents, however, our relationship is much better now that I don't live with them. However, I was bound to fail. Living on my own has been great. I absolutely love it. But the world isn't built to be lived in as a single person with a fairly low income. I love my job, however, I got myself into a financial situation that I just can't seem to get out of. So, now I have to move back in with my parents, even though I have been living on my own for nearly 2 years now. Me, my bunny and my cat, And I know I am really lucky to have a fall back plan. I know so many people just don't have that option. However, there are so many feelings involved in simply just moving back. I mean, you leave your parents for a reason, right? The feeling of being a "failure" is unbelievably strong, and the past lingers not far from my thoughts. Will this time be different? Will I struggle the same as I did before or did they grow? Did I grow? Is this worth it? Will my mental health deteriorate again? Will I still be loved or will they hate me? Will I be used as I was before? The scapegoat? The worst child? As unreasonable as some of these questions are, they run through my mind, the more I mull things over in my head. Simply the thought of moving back in brings anxiety. However, it is now a reality. And I have to face it head on. As I start to pack my things, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a place to go. And I remind myself that many people have done the same as I have including some of my family members. As I attempt to look at this as a glass half full situation, I have decided to take you all on my journey. Going forward, we will delve into my past, my present, likes, dislikes, future and more. I am the main character of my story, and this is me writing it.

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