Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday - Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza is a funny sounding word that means: one that is extraordinarily impressive; also: an outstanding example

For instance: a huge birthday bash that promises to be a lollapalooza of a party


Write a story about a person, place or thing that is a real lollapalooza.

What does he or she do that is special?
Where is this place and what happens there? Is it fun, scary, weird? Why? Who likes ot go there?
 What happens when you look at or touch this thing? Who uses it? Where did it come from? Do you want one?

Synonyms
beaut, beauty, bee's knees, cat's meow, corker, crackerjack (also crackajack), daisy, dandy, dilly, doozy (or doozie also doozer), dream, honey, hot stuff, humdinger, hummer, knockout, jim–dandy, lulu [slang], nifty, peach, pip, pippin, ripper, ripsnorter, snorter, sockdolager (or sockdologer), standout, sweetheart


For more fun words go to:
http://dynamo.dictionary.com/202083/diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-vocabulary#

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Get Your Characters Up a Tree

Get your characters up a tree.

                 Put tigers under the tree.


                            Get your characters out of the tree.


Write s story where your characters face great danger and then escape.
Where are they? Who are they? What will happen if they don't figure out how to get away?
What kind of danger is it? Who will help them? Who will make things hard for them?




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday? Imply - Infer

IMPLY
Verb

Strongly suggest the truth or existence of (something not expressly stated): "the report implies that two million jobs might be lost".

Synonyms: mean - hint -  suggest

INFER
Verb

Deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

Synonyms: conclude - deduce

Sometimes we use the word imply when we mean infer. Write a story where one of your characters either imply or infer information.

For example:

Story can infer that Critique is hungry when she sees her sniffing her empty dish.


When Mrs. Wryter mentions how messy Storee's room is, she is implying that Storee  should put her things away.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Tips! - Test Your Opening Lines.


Test Your Story Opening.
If you were browsing in a book store and picked up your book read the first few paragraphs of your story, would you buy it?

Always grab the reader right from the beginning. Start with action and keep building on it as your story progresses.

Read the first few paragraphs of your favorite books. What draws you in and makes you want to continue reading?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Emerging Young Writer - Jamie Agee


Jamie Agee
Words Worth Fighting For

     From as early as I can remember, I have always loved to read. I found within books the ability to relate to someone…or something far above my own understanding. I had joined a new world in which I could be friends with so many unique characters who would not judge my “crazy imagination,” but embrace it and encourage me to dream on. Yet, at seven years of age, I began desiring something more. My favorite works were now coming to an end and I now wanted to capture my own inspired quests by attempting to write. I use the word “attempting” due to the fact that every time I was faced with an empty page I could not get my thoughts down on paper. This was not for lack of ideas or inspiration, but because I approached it with the misconception that great writers simply place their pen on a blank page only to have an entire sea of magical words automatically surge forth. When this did not happen for me, I became extremely intimidated.

     It was not until I experienced a rigorous day of being bullied for my use of a big vocabulary that I finally understood how to begin my writing journey. I had become so increasingly upset in regards to how I had been treated that I suddenly began writing and writing, anything and everything, without thought or care of being perfect. The more I wrote the more liberated I felt and became. There had been an immense amount of emotion locked away inside me which was now bursting forth from its haven in my heart to be set free. Then, I suddenly realized…those same bullies, who had exerted every effort in halting my voice through their own intimidations, had given me a new manner of speaking—writing!

     In reading over what I had written, I also began to recognize why I had been unable to write before.  It was not about my plot, for I clearly knew what I wanted to write. It was that I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. As long as I sought after perfection, the words evaded me, but in writing freely, the words could come easily. I realized that though “what” I wrote was important, “how” I approached it was just as vital.

     As I have gotten older, this lesson continues to shape my perspective in regards to my writing. Though I now realize that writing uninhibited is a special tool which allows one to harness a wide variety of great thoughts which you might ordinarily dismiss, I also understand that critique is important as well. Appreciation of criticism (if given from one who wants to help you succeed) is very powerful for it helps you face both the positive and negative realities about your work. It is not only the foundation for improvement to be made, but the provider of an expanded insight into your writings. This understanding provides one with the freedom to reach past a page full of words and grasp the stars.

Writing Prompt:

     When being faced with a difficult situation, have you ever wanted to escape? My challenge to you is to use your writing as an outlet to do so. Think about “why” you are writing. Are you afraid, angry, or simply overcome with sadness? Rise above these circumstances, be uninhibited, and allow yourself to become empowered by conveying these emotions through your writing. What you write does not have to be a journal account of the situation you are going through. It can be an entirely fictional story, but allow those same emotions that you have when dealing with your hardship to come through in your writing. You can be exploring the tomb of an ancient Pharaoh, traveling to the Amazon jungle in search of some exotic species unknown to man, or be becoming the greatest detective of all time. Just use your own emotions to emphasize how your characters would feel when presented with certain situations. Dare to be inspired...

Note: I have stories in which I have created my own fictional characters, but have attached a small sample of my writing in which I have attempted to shadow and show tribute to one of my favorite authors, Sir Conan Doyle
Jamie Agee
THE PROBLEMATIC AFFAIR OF THE MANOR HOUSE PHANTOM
Jamie Agee
     The lean, eager face of Sherlock Holmes gazed at me from his stance behind his chemical table, his air once again concealing his preoccupation with another case. “Watson, would you care to divulge your opinions regarding supernaturalism?”
     “I beg your pardon?” As usual I stood somewhat puzzled by the odd question posed to me and could not help but blankly return his gaze.
     Nervous excitement and agitation shone over the features of my friend. “Ghosts, Watson, or would you prefer the term ‘spooks’?”
     “Really, Holmes!” I exclaimed.
     Holmes’ eyes sparkled in fervent anticipation and enthusiasm, “What do you make of them?”
     “What do I make of them?”
     “For pity’s sake, man, what do you make of them? Do you believe such things to exist or not?”
      I realized I had never given the issue much thought now that I had been forced to answer such a question, but as it was more than apparent by my friend’s actions the problem’s significance I tried to render an answer. “No, I don’t believe I do. What are your thoughts on the matter?”
     “Being that I have not myself experienced anything of that nature, I could not entirely produce an explanation as to supposed ‘ghostly’ occurrences myself, so it would be difficult to provide an answer.”
     “Then you believe in them?” I was shocked by his remark.
     “No, quite the contrary, I am merely pointing out the fact that I have not been exposed to anything on that level. Being there is no physical proof as to the existence of such phenomena; one can only hope to elucidate the matter with the aid of science.” Holmes extended a cablegram to me with the following words, “your assistance is requested concerning a delicate matter of the supernatural.” “So, Watson, it appears a matter of the most intricate situation has presented itself.”
     “Intricate indeed,” I mumbled. I could not help feel a slight glimmer of sarcasm at Holmes’ innate ability to decide in advance whether a case would prove to be worthy of his attention or a useless waste of time. If our places had been switched I would surely have dismissed the case with a laugh and kept about what I would consider more “important” business. Perhaps, my disdain was not directed at my friend, but more at myself for my lack of perception. For this reason, I suppose I am more at home and shall I say more qualified among bandages and syringes than I would be placed behind a magnifying glass.
#
     “Ah, there is our visitor now! Watson, would you be good enough to sacrifice the comfort of your chair?”
     Holmes in his research had cluttered all means of relaxation with his study material and so I had no choice but to give up my seat. However, there was no time to remonstrate as the door opened to reveal the figure of a medium sized, middle aged man with cynical features. “Mr. Holmes, I presume?”
     “Good morning, Mr. Elam Pinkerton, or rather good evening. I received your cablegram. Dr. Watson has been good enough to surrender unto you his seating rights so if you would care to sit down.”
     “Thank you, Mr. Holmes. I hope I have come at the proper time,” the man’s face twitched severely as he spoke. He paid no heed to my companion’s beckoning him to be seated, but rather stood, his dark brown eyes casting darts of suspicion in my direction. His eyes eventually shifted from their gaze of repugnance on me to that of Holmes’ clutter which he then observed with disgust. Moving ever so slowly, he seated himself.
     Tension was apparent from every view of the man. The jerking of his features persisted, yet despite this apparent nervous strain he was able to articulate his words with tremendous calm which set him apart as a man of great intelligence and social bearing. “Mr. Holmes, It would sufficient to say that this stands to be a matter of somewhat ignominious contents and the utmost discretion is in dire need,” his face contorted into the most hideous scowl as he made eye contact with me once more.
     Holmes chuckled under his breath, “Could it be, Watson, that there is one soul in the world who has not read your journalistic accounts? Mr. Pinkerton, I have become accustomed to Dr. Watson’s assistance as you would have known had you read his work. You insist he leave. So if you would permit me, sir, to say your case must be of little importance to you and me if you should choose to force his departure.”
     Our visitor hurriedly switched his gaze elsewhere. “So, it must be. However, Dr. Watson, I do not grant permission for you to tarnish my family’s name with your ‘accounts’.”
     As could be expected I had grown quite agitated at our guest’s rudeness  and dearly wished I could escort him to the door as I was growing quite irritable myself, but a sharp look from my friend shattered all hopes to do so.
     Mr. Pinkerton’s thick, claw like fingers clutched at his cane until his nails shone white. “Mr. Holmes, I left no name on the cablegram, would you be kind enough as to divulge how you knew my identity? I have never met you before in my life.”
CONTINUED…

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday! Incidents - Incidence


in·ci·dence

 [in-si-duh ns]

noun

1. The rate or range of occurrence or influence of something, especially of something unwanted: the high incidence of heart disease in men over 40.

2. A falling upon, affecting, or befalling; occurrence: The incidence of murder that Sunday afternoon shocked the sleepy village.


in·ci·dent

 [in-si-duh nt]

noun

1.
an individual occurrence or event
An occurrence or event that interrupts normal procedure or precipitates a crisis: an international incident.

Write a story about an international incident or an incidence that shocked a sleepy village.
NOTE: Write about something other than murder. What else can be shocking?


Storee Wryter is working on a mystery. What are you working on?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Tips - What Counts When Writing?


Editors read all day and half the night. Teachers do too.
 
Neatness counts.
 
Format counts.
 
Spelling counts.
 
Grammar counts.
 
Punctuation counts.
 
Diction counts.
 
Syntax counts.
 
Everything counts.
 
Write a story, set it aside for two days and then check it for any errors. Have someone you trust to know the rules proof read it after that. It's very hard to find our own mistakes.
Post it on Storee's blog.
 
TEACHERS: TO RECEIVE  A FREE COPY OF
STOREE WRYTER GETS A DOG ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SEND AN EMAIL REQUEST TO
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday? PLAY!

Children play at the playground.
 

$11.95 plus Tax & Shipping

 

This exceptional early reader was written for children and adults who love to play and encourage others to play. The words will inspire you and the photographs will have you moving right away.

 

Visit www.letsplayamerica.org to see photographs, endorsements and more.

 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday - Block



 
The word "block" has many meanings.
Three of them are depicted above.

Write a story about a block.
 
 
Storee often takes Addie for a walk around the block.

When her baby cousin comes to visit she brings out her old blocks for him to play with.
 
Mr. Wryter is teaching her how to block a football pass.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Welcome Guest Blogger- Laurie J. Edwards


As you can tell from this picture, I loved reading from a very early age. After I learned to read, I usually read 20 or 30 books a week. I never watched TV, and still don’t. I’d much rather curl up with a book. I often got in trouble in school for hiding books in my desk and reading while the teachers talked. In sixth grade, I had a wonderful teacher who said that I could read as much as I wanted during class. I got straight A’s that year even though I read all day long.

My reading slowed down when I started writing books of my own. Now my reading time has become my writing time. But I strongly believe that if you want to be a good writer, read as many books you can. Read for fun, but also look for classics so you can learn from the best authors.

When I first started, I wrote magazine articles. They taught me how to tell a good story in a small amount of space. If you like to write, try short stories. If they have similar theme—say, family stories or animal stories—they can be collected into a book.

If you like reading true stories, you might want to try writing nonfiction. I worked as a librarian, so I like to research. It’s important to get your facts correct if you’re writing nonfiction. I write a lot of nonfiction, and I learned that I should always find the most reliable sources. And I don’t just believe whatever I read. Sometimes authors get facts wrong. One good rule to follow is to find the same fact in at least three different places.

Be careful of Internet research, though. Anyone can put up a site and make it sound good. That doesn’t mean what they post is accurate. Look for sites that are put up by institutions such as hospitals or colleges. They are usually careful about the facts they publish.

One of my favorite books to research was Pirates Through the Ages, and I also liked writing a biography of Rihanna. I was excited when she friended me. The biggest book project I’ve done so far is the Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. It has five volumes, so it took a lot of work and research.

But research isn’t only for nonfiction books. Even if you’re making up a story, it’s good to check your facts. If you write a story about a fire and you haven’t been in one yourself, talk to a firefighter to see what it’s like. What does it feel like, smell like? What things burn fastest? What’s left in the ashes? How long do firefighters stay at a fire after it’s put out? Details like those can make your story come to life.

Writing Prompt

Think of something you’ve always wished you could do or be. Maybe you’d like to be an NBA star, a ballerina, a spy, or a police officer. Or maybe your dream is totally different. Whatever it is, make up a story about someone who’s living the life you wish you could live. How did they get to be where they are?

Remember, in all stories, the main character needs a problem. What problems do you think this person might have had along the way? How did they overcome them? Give them some difficult obstacles to overcome with many setbacks along the way.

To make your story more realistic, do some research. Talk to someone who’s doing what you’d like to do. See what problems they had. If you’ve written about a sports figure, you might not be able to interview a pro. But perhaps you could talk to someone who plays on the high school team. Or read a biography of a person who’s done what you want to do. See if you can make your story more real and interesting by finding out details that everyone might not know.

You could even make up a story about you becoming that person. What problems would you have to overcome to do what they’re doing now? Or suppose the two of you switched bodies? What would life be like for each of you?

About the Author

A former teacher and children’s librarian, Laurie J. Edwards has more than 2000 magazine and educational articles in print. Her recent books include the 5-vol. UXL Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes (Gale, 2012), Pirates through the Ages (Cengage, 2011), and Rihanna (People in the News) (Lucent, 2009). Laurie also has stories in two anthologies, Summer Lovin’ and A Community of Writers. She is ghostwriting a young adult series set in the Wild West and is working on several books on cyberbullying. Please visit Laurie at her website at http://www.strikingly.com/lauriejedwards. She also has tips for writers at her blogs http://lje1.wordpress.com/ and http://downtownya.blogspot.com/.

 

 
 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's the Word Wednesday? - Impatient



impatient adj.
Definition: 1. not readily accepting interference; intolerant.
2.  restless in desire or expectation; eagerly desirous.
 
Example: I become very impatient when I have to wait for my sister after school.
Synonyms: eager, restless
 
Write a story and include a scene where one of the characters is impatient. Bonus suggestion: Include the words eager and restless too.

Storee sometimed becomes impatient with her dog, ADDIE, when she doesn't come when called.
ADDIE
Read about her in
$7.99 for print book and link to audio book
 


Tuesday Tips - How to Start


Sit down.
Write a sentence.
Write as many sentences as you need until the good stuff comes.
 
Storee wrote and wrote until she finally finished this book.
Click on the image to buy a copy and receive a free picture book donated by
 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Welcome Guest Blogger - Kathleen Chisholm McInerney


 
 
 
Do you remember a favorite English Assignment you did when you were little?  The one paper, poem or story book written from your heart, from an experience you lived.  Some times an expression conveyed in the written word can celebrate heros who have triumphed over evil and “WON!” Other times an author might share a more vulnerable time.  A time when the author has experienced a great loss or a hardship that served to teach them a lesson about themselves and the World around them. Many years ago, when I was a Freshman at the University of Michigan, I wrote a Children’s book for an English Assignment. My little story was inspired by my “REAL LIFE HERO” my boyfriend Timothy John MacLean.
 
Tim was tragically killed in front of my dorm, hit by a car while crossing the street. Twenty-nine years later, I have taken that assignment and Published as well as Illustrated, Timothy’s Glove, ( Young Voices Foundation Gold Seal Award, Religion / Spiritual) a children’s picture book about a little boy named Timothy who shows up in Heaven on Opening Day as the relief Pitcher for the Saints against the Angels, with God as the Umpire. My book is an example of the power of prayer.  It was written from a place deep in my heart, a place that was broken and over time and with great faith in God healed. In sharing my story my prayer has been to “Open up a window to Heaven” for other kids who have loved and lost.  If I could help them visualize their loved on “playing in Heaven,” then maybe my book could heal.  To me that would be a Miracle!
 
As an Artist with a BFA in Design, I kept Tim’s memory alive in both writings and paintings. My manuscript was boxed and hidden away for decades.  Until my husband Jack found my story in the basement and brought it to my attention. I always prayed to follow God’s will in my life.  I felt a tug in my heart to finish my book with more faith and a full circle theme that all of our loved ones in Heaven have their hands on our shoulders inspiring us from above. With Jack’s love along with the love and support of our three boys, I had a built in cheering section that would not let me fail. They had more confidence in me than I had in myself.  I promise you, you will receive every word you need when you are writhing from that sacred place deep inside, each divine thought flowing freely.
 
Have you dreamed of sharing a story that could help someone else? 
All of you have the ability to use your creative talent to make a difference in the lives of others. I believe in the power of doing small things with great love. Every time you use your writing talent to bless others, you are creating miracles. Try to put your heart into what you do every day  and blessings will come your way.  The next time you pick up a pen for an assignment, I want you to remember, You never know if one day years later, you will Publish your “OWN” book, your own voice making a difference.  Most importantly quiet your head and your heart because that inner voice is God guiding you.  You and your “Young Voices,” have something to say and the World is listening! 
Click on the book cover to go to website

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's the Word Wedneday? Islet -Eyelet

Islet 
A very small island.

Eyelet
 
A small hole, usually round and finished along the
edge, as in cloth or leather for the passage of a lace
or cord
 
 
 
Write a story about an islet or an eyelet. Perhaps your character is stranded on an islet and
has to use the strings and eyelets from his or her shoes to make something.

 
 
 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Young Writers of Note - Bella Finkel

 
Bella Finkel - Age 11
Second Place Winner
Category 2
Young Voices Foundation Tell A Family Story Contest
 
Storee Wryter is happy to introduce you to a talented young writer. Bella Finkel is from New Port News, Virginia. Her short story, Phoenix, took second plase in the Young Voices Foundation Tell a Family Story writing contest earning her a $50.00 cash award. Like Storee, Bella loves writing. 

Bella says:

"I began identifying myself as a writer in the third grade when I became interested in poetry, although I have written for as long as I can remember.

Writing releases a part of me that I can then bring to life on paper. It allows me to take bits of what I’m thinking and create a person or a situation inspired by my thoughts.

By doing so, I learn about myself as a writer and, more broadly, as a person.

 I feel that one of the best things about writing is that it allows you to take pieces of your life and emotions and create someone who you can relate to and understand, even though they are a completely different person from yourself. This requires you to be observant of your own emotions and reactions, as well as the emotions and reactions of those around you. The difficult part is applying those emotions to situations you’ve never experienced, and continuing with accurate descriptions throughout the story.

     Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a book that I would strongly recommend. The quality of the writing is wonderful, and it corresponds perfectly with the setting, characters, and overall message."

 *****

 Writing Prompt: Write a short story about a person who reminds you of a particular animal. What traits do they share?

What would happen if they became that animal? What conflicts could arise because of their transformation?
 
*****
Here is Bella's Prize Winning Story
“Phoenix”
 Shimmering moonlight filtered through the open window, mingling with the moist heat generated by the Maryland sun on the third of July. I was sitting on my bed, letting my mind wander out with the stray dogs and barbeques that were occupying the world that was oblivious to my thoughts. Just as my mind floated back to my bedroom a cry of anger shot from the hallway.
 “Eric! Stop flushing my hair ties!”
The voice was unmistakable, and so was the raspberry that followed. As I got out of bed and peered into the hallway I was unsurprised to see my older sister Karen glaring down at five year old Eric, who was clutching a handful of dark brown hair ties.
 "They isn’t yours.” He said defiantly. “They’re Erin’s.
 “Oh you little snot.” I muttered, entering the bathroom.
 “You said it, Erin. “
 “Geez Eric, where do you get these ideas, flushing hair ties, seriously?”
 “I was bored.” He replied, and at that he blew another raspberry and ran off towards the kitchen.
Feeling as though I had just lost a difficult battle, I slumped to the floor and began collecting the contents of Eric’s previously hair tie filled hand. Just as I plucked the last one from the rug, Eric came racing through the hall, clutching an Independence Day sparkler.
 “Look what I got!” he said gleefully, brandishing his starlit metal stick. “
 Eric! Be careful!” I shouted one moment too late.
 A runaway spark hit a corner of the curtains, the sparkler went out, and the curtain burst out in flame. Too stunned to move or speak, I watched Eric dart into his bedroom to escape the dancing wall of flame. Smoke curled around the doorway, forming a dark curtain between us.
 “Eric!” I coughed, fighting my way through the billowing clouds of smoke. “Eric!
 The voice that answered me was small and faraway.
 “Erin, Erin help.”
 I tried to move closer but a pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and pushed me to the ground. I was getting pulled, pulled out of the room, pulled away from Eric.
“No!” I tried to shout, but could only manage a strangled cry. I coughed, trying to rid my lungs of the fire’s vapors. “Eric!” I struggled against the hands that were dragging my suffocating body “Eric!” I heard a door open and felt my legs being dragged down cement. “Eric!” I took a gulp of air, feeling pure oxygen settle in my lungs. My mind emptied, and everything went black. 
 
 I awoke a few moments later to discover myself lying on the grass, surrounded by my family, but they weren’t looking at me , they were looking at the house. The house, the smoke, the fire, everything came flooding back to me in a wave of horror.
 
“Eric.” I murmured, sitting up. Immediately I regretted it. As my spine curled into a sitting positionmy stomach lurched and my head began to spin painfully. I forced my eyes into focus and looked around at my family. My mother and Karen, huddled together, silent tears glistening on their somber faces. My father was standing up, staring at the house, worry sparkling in his sky blue eyes.
“Daddy.” I whispered, hoping he could offer comfort, tell me all of this was just a dream, that I was safe in my bedroom and all I needed to do was turn on the light. Slowly, he bent his knees and arranged himself in a squat.
“Erin.” He said, putting his arms around me. “Oh, Erin.” It seemed that his soft arms and gentle hand that stroked my hair squeezed the tears out of me. I began to sob, softly at first, and then louder, and louder, until even the moan of the fire engines couldn’t be heard over my wails of grief.
 
 The next remaining hours passed in a haze. A sweaty car and stale turkey sandwich swept vaguely over my consciousness. I dreamt of a strange boy being surrounded by flames, a bald crow soared above the smoke, calling out. “Erin! Erin!”
 I awoke in a cold sweat to a strange room. Daylight had just begun to filter through the curtains, and a woman’s voice echoed through he hallway. “Erin, you up? We’re having pancakes, they’re ready when you are.” I rose and pulled on the loose grey t-shirt  and baggy jeans that had been left at the foot of my bed, after examining myself in the mirror I turned the brass doorknob and followed the smell of pancakes down a long dark hallway. I rounded a corner and glimpsed the kitchen, feeling a lump rise in my throat. Mom and Dad were huddled together over a single cup of coffee, Karen was hiccupping loudly across a glass of orange juice, Eric was nowhere in sight. I felt my legs carry me across the carpet and onto the linoleum, stopping short at the edge of the table. My father’s eyes met mine, then sank back into his coffee. “ Eric’s in the, hospital.” He whispered hoarsely.
     As I sank into a chair a woman stumbled into the kitchen, carrying a tray of overdone pancakes and burnt bacon. “Erin!” she bellowed. “Glad to see you up! Here, have a pancake.” She swiped a spatula under the top layer of the pile and slapped it onto a plate with and unappetizing plop. “Here you go.” She said, scanning me thoughtfully with her chocolate brown eyes. “My you’ve grown, I haven’t seen you since you were, oh, five or six. I don’t suppose you remember me, do you?” she asked before continuing. “No, of course you don’t. I’m your Aunt Mauleen, your father’s sister, and that” she said, gesturing at a tired looking man emerging from the hallway, “is my husband, your Uncle Henry.” At the sound of his name the man gave me a weary smile that quickly turned into a yawn. “Any coffee left Mauly?” he asked, pulling up a chair beside me. “Plenty dear.” She said, planting a kiss at the top of his balding head before hurrying off to the coffee pot. I could feel Henry’s eyes looking curiously at the side of my head, but I couldn’t seem to make myself care.
     I grabbed the fork and knife that lay on either side of my plate and began to attack my flimsy pancake, struggling not to picture Eric, burned and bruised lying in a pale white hospital bed. I forced the image out of my mind and stuffed another bite of pancake into my mouth, noticing as I did so that everyone had left the kitchen except Henry and me. Feeling that this was my cue to go, I left my rubbery pancake and followed my parents’ voices out to the front porch where Mauleen was ushering them into an old white Corolla. “We’re going to the hospital to visit Eric. Mom said in a high-pitched voice that didn’t belong to her. “ They only allow the parents in, but we’ll be back in time for supper.” The doors slammed and the car backed out of the driveway, taking my parents with it.                   
  Suddenly tears welled up in my eyes, Eric was gone, and now my parents were leaving too. I pressed my body against Karen, who put her arm around me. She too had tears glistening on her cheeks. “I love you, Erin.” She said softly, resting her head on top of mine. Her silky red hair flowed down my face, camouflaging itself in mine as it swept away my tears. “I love you.” The afternoon and evening passed in an uneventful episode of checkers and cards.  Dinner was a quiet affair punctuated by my mother’s teary sniffs and Mauleen’s bold attempts at conversation.  Needless to say I was glad when Karen and I were dismissed for bed.  I snuggled onto my cot and quickly settled into a deep, dreamless sleep.
    I awoke in the early morning to a chilly bed and full bladder, cursing myself, I rose and staggered down the hallway to the bathroom, greatly anticipating the moment I could get back in bed and pull the covers up to my chin.  I emptied my bladder and walked in back to my room, burying myself in covers, but as I pulled the blankets over my head, a soft sob echoed from the opposite side of the room where Karen lay.  “Eric.” She murmured, “Eric.” Although her lips quivered and her head tossed from side to side, she remained in a deep slumber.  I rose and walked over to her, placing my hand in hers.  “Karen.” I whispered, stroking her hair.  “It’s okay, it’s okay.” She rolled over and let out another loud sob. “Eric!” I tried to grab her hand but she pulled away at my touch. “Eric! No! Eric!” Her voice cracked into a multitude of tears, I resumed my petting of her hair, and slowly, she quieted. Her eyes began to open, scoping out the room before looking at me. “Oh Erin, I’m sorry, it’s just… Oh Erin, I pulled you out of the fire, I pulled you out of the fire, I pulled you out of the fire just like I did, but Eric…” Her eyes swelled with tears at the mention of his name. “Oh Erin, I left Eric, how could I take you and leave Eric? How could I abandon my little brother? How could I…?” Before she could finish her sentence, her words were overcome by a flow of tears. “Shh” I whispered. “You’re okay, Eric’s okay, everything’s going to be okay.” And I knew it would be.
     For the next two weeks each day passed just like every other. We got up and ate breakfast, Mom and Dad visited Eric at the hospital, and Karen and I killed time until their return. Dinner was eaten, dishes washed, and Karen and I retired to bed. We followed this schedule until the fateful day that Dad found us an apartment.
     “My darling daughters, I have an announcement to make.” We sat in a circle on the living room rug. Dad stood at the front, talking in a manner that sounded uncannily like our state congressman. He looked around at us and beamed, pausing for dramatic effect. “Eric’s been discharged.” Karen whooped and laughed aloud, I felt tears well up in my eyes. “Eric’s…?” “Discharged, that’s right, and to celebrate, I have rented us an apartment with a two year lease.” A smile spread onto my face and my mind began to race. “When do we move in?” I asked, happiness flooding through me. “Well we see it tomorrow. You and Karen and I will drive there while your mom picks up Eric. After that we’ll unpack what’s left of our stuff, buy a few new things, and start living in our own house again.” We were living in our own house again, we were going home.
      The car bumped along happily, bouncing us higher with every cheerful word we spoke. The conversation bobbed through the air, floating on a cloud of laughter and hope. We pulled up in front of a small apartment complex. Although unimpressive, it was neat and clean, with a row of petunias lining the chalk white sidewalk. “Here we are family, welcome home.” Dad smiled and unlocked the car doors, beckoning us to exit. I climbed out onto the sidewalk and looked around at the building, three blocks of solid red brick, blue lace curtains peeping out of sunny windows. We followed Dad down to the sidewalk to the very last door, entering our house through a large sitting room with bright yellow walls that reflected the sun as it beamed through the window. I looked around in awe at our new home, it seemed amazing that we could live together again after what had happened. That we could still be a family after the fire that tore us apart. The doorbell rang, and my excitement soared, I raced to the door and hurled myself at the handle, revealing the figure that stood at the threshold. “Can senator Harrison count on your vote this upcoming election?” Unaware of my rudeness, I turned around and slammed the door. Disappointment flooding through me, I walked back down the hall and into my bedroom, flopping down on my mattress. I closed my eyes and let myself sink into a deep daydream.
     I dozed until late afternoon when I was awoke to a rustling noise next to my mattress. “Erin, wake up!” My eyelids recognized the voice before my ears did, popping open to look into the face of a smiling Eric. I leapt up and pulled him into a bone-crushing hug, feeling him wince under the pressure of my arms. His left leg was wrapped in bandages and his complexion was pale, but he still wore the sandy brown hair and cheeky smile that always accompanied his boyish face. “Eric!” I cried. “You’re home! You’re wonderful! I love you!” Eric blushed. “I love you too.” I pulled him into another hug, careful not to squeeze him quite so hard this time. “I missed you” I whispered into his hair. “I missed you so much.” He was about to reply when we were interrupted by a knock at the door and Karen strode in, carrying an air of self importance. ‘Stir fry for dinner.” She announced, pulling us each into a one armed hug. “And chocolate ice cream for dessert.”  She smiled and walked out of the room, beckoning for us to come. We followed her into her into the living room and squeezed ourselves into the lawn chairs that served as makeshift furniture. “I spy…” Karen started, but her words were interrupted by Mom’s call of “Supper everyone!”
     We hurried into the kitchen and began devouring our food, and though dinner passed in few words, our ice cream was accompanied by many glad exchanges and plenty of laughter. When it came time to retire to bed, our stomachs were full of good food and happy prospects.
     I laid myself down and zipped up my sleeping bag, falling into slumber almost immediately. Although I slept fast my sleep was not deep, and I awoke late into the night. Moonlight shimmered through my window and mice scampered through the walls, keeping me awake. At around midnight I heard my door creak open and felt a warm little body curl up next to me. “Erin,” It whispered. “Erin, I am scared, I don’t want our house to catch fire again, I don’t want us to burn.” “We’re not going to burn.” I said softly. “And our house isn’t going to burn either.” I placed a hand on top of his head and gave his hair a gentle ruffle. “Don’t worry.” He sighed and snuggled closer to me, his breathing became deep and steady, but just as I became certain that he had drifted off to sleep his voice echoed through the darkness. “Erin, why did I survive?” Suddenly the peace fell away and the air became thin. I paused, looking into his ocean blue eyes, it seemed that there was something beneath their depths, something dancing to some unearthly rhythm, glowing and sparkling like a hot coal. Eric had flames beyond his eyes, flames that had ignited not our house, but our lives into a roaring inferno of love and hope. “Because you are an angel.” I whispered. “Because you are our phoenix of gratitude and wonder and joy.” Eric nodded and smiled, as though to light the flame of our new life together as a family.