At the Intersection of Hopes and Dreams

This story was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  It took me a while to figure out what to do with it, but… when I wrote the title, I knew exactly what to write.


Natalia looked at the newspaper with wide eyes.  She could hardly believe what she was seeing.  She’d known the day would come.  After all, that had been the entire point of starting a class newspaper.  Hadn’t it?

At the same time, seeing the words written on the page was thrilling somehow.  It wasn’t even just that she had an article.  She had expected that.  Her excitement and joy came from the fact that Peter, Lily and Ellie hadn’t made it simply an article.

“I have my own column,” she breathed, as she looked across the table at Gretchen.  She could tell from the look on Gretchen’s face that her friend didn’t understand what was so special about that.  She needed to have it terms she was familiar with.  “It’s like… if the teacher told you it was your job to give morning announcements each day,” she said.

That did it.  Gretchen’s face lit up.  “Natalia,” she squealed.  “I am so happy for you!”

Erik hurried over to them as Gretchen hugged her.  “Congratulations, Natalia,” he said, waving his copy of the newspaper at her.  “Your own regular column!  It’ll be a lot of work, but I’m sure you’ll do just great!”

“Thanks, Erik,” Natalia said, grinning.  She looked down at the newspaper again.  She gave into the temptation to run her fingers over the words.  “Reviews by Natalia,” it read.  In smaller print, underneath, was her name: Natalia Dziedzic.  “They even spelled it correctly,” she said, her voice soft.

Sing Me to Sleep – 2

This is another part of “Sing Me to Sleep”, which answers another WriYe DreamWidth Prompt, but there’s a gap between this section and the previous one.  The prompt answered was the word, Jewel.


Gilbert stopped and picked up a large white stone that was carved in the shape of a bear.  He held it out to Taurys.  “This is a bit harder than the stones we were using last time,” he said.  “It should be harder to crush.”

“That’s… a symbol of the Snow Father, Gilbert,” Taurys said, hesitant to take the stone bear from him.  He didn’t want to break a religious symbol.  That was so much worse than crushing simple garden stones.

A faint smile touched Gilbert’s lips.  “Think of it as added incentive,” he said, shrugging.  He nodded when Taurys held out his hand, palm up.  He set the stone bear in Taurys’s hand.

At first, Taurys simply let the bear rest on his palm.  Then, after a bit of coaxing from Gilbert, he began turning it over in his hand.  He blinked as he managed to hold it with just enough force to keep from dropping it, without breaking it.  “I’m doing it,” he breathed, tears welling in his eyes.

“How are you feeling right now?” Gilbert asked, his voice soft.

Taurys blinked and wiped away a tear from his eye.  “Happy,” he said, shrugging.  “Surprised.  Why?”

“Part of getting a handle on your emotions is identifying them,” Gilbert said.  He leaned down to look into Taurys’s eyes.  “Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  It’s all right to be happy and surprised, but… you don’t want to cry about it.  Right?”

“Right,” Taurys said.  He took a few deep breaths and, after a few moments, he felt calmer.  He was still happy that he could hold the stone bear without crushing it.  He didn’t feel the pricking of tears at his eyelids anymore.

Gilbert smiled at him.  “If you start to feel your emotions overwhelm you, take a moment to think about why you’re feeling that way,” he said.  “Take a breath and try to relax.  It’ll take time, but you’ll get there.”

“Thank you,” Taurys said.  He set the stone bear back in its place in the garden.  Then, he brushed off his hands.  “Do you have any more of those stones with words on them?”

“I’ve got little ornamental jewels inside,” Gilbert said.  As they headed back inside, he said, “While you practice picking them up and holding them – roll them over in your hands, switch them from one hand to the other – I’ll boil some eggs for our lunch.”

“Hard boiled eggs should be easier than raw ones,” Taurys said, nodding.  He grimaced.  “I need to stop at the market on the way home to get more eggs.  I had a disaster preparing breakfast.”

Gilbert chuckled softly.  “When we’re making lunch, the trick will be to break the eggs without crushing them,” he said, nodding.

Taurys sat down at the dining room table.  As he began playing with the jewels that were in the bowl, making up the centerpiece, Gilbert headed into the kitchen to boil some eggs.  “Why did you make this body so strong?” he asked.

Shrugging, Gilbert said, “I was ordered to – so that they could use you as a field agent.”  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  “People keep saying they want peace, but… that’s not going to happen until we stop thinking in terms of making better weapons than our enemies.”

“So, that’s all I am to them?” Taurys said, frowning.  “A weapon?”  He felt the jewel in his hand crack and took a steadying breath.  As he released the frustration that had been growing, it was easier to grip the jewel without breaking it further.

Gilbert shrugged.  “To them, maybe,” he said.  Then, he gave Taurys a weak smile.  “To me, you’re a person and a friend.  You’re a father to Milda and a husband to Daina.  You are so much more than just a weapon, Taurys.  Keep that in mind.”

Sighing, Taurys nodded.  “I will,” he said.  By the time lunch was ready, Taurys could manage to hold the jewels without crushing them.  Gilbert had been exactly right when he said it would be tricky to break the eggs without crushing them.

He made a mess of the first two eggs he tried to peal.  By the third, he’d figured out how much force it took to break the shell without ruining the egg inside.  When the girls came inside, he was happily breaking the shells off the eggs, while Gilbert mixed them into a salad.

“Do you want help, Papa?” Gretchen asked, as she went to the sink to wash her hands.

Gilbert smiled faintly.  “Why don’t you make some toast and then set the table?” he asked.  “This is part of Taurys’s therapy.”

“Therapy?” Milda repeated.

Nodding, Gilbert said, “That’s what they call it when someone has to re-learn different life skills, Milda.  Your father is learning how to break eggshells without destroying the egg.”

“That makes sense,” Milda said, then, she washed her own hands and began helping Gretchen with the bread.

A Restful Pastime

I wrote this story yesterday, but it was late enough that I couldn’t get online to post it.  This was another tough one… I stared at this picture and struggled to figure out what to write about it.

Prompt 42

Gretchen was busily knitting while her brother spent time with his friend, Henryk.  The two boys spent a great deal of time together, especially now that they were all in the same class.  She heard them chuckling and laughing and looked up from her work.

They were kneeling on the floor with an open box of crayons and a large piece of cardboard.  She watched as Erik and Henryk piled the crayons carefully, like they were building one of those cabins out of the log toys.  The thing was, they were using plain old, regular crayons.  Somehow, though, they were getting them to stay together.  Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore.

“How are you doing that?” she asked, waving at the tower of crayons.

The two boys blinked at her and then Erik began chuckling.  “We put glue on them, Greta,” he said, showing her the side of the crayon.  Now that he’d said it, she could see the dish with a pool of glue that was sitting between them.

“Why are you building a log cabin out of crayons?” she asked, shaking her head.  “I mean… you won’t be able to use those crayons for anything else, you know?”

Henryk shrugged.  “It’s for a school project,” he said.  Then, he began dipping the flat ends of the crayons into the glue and standing them up in rows going away from the cabin.  “We’re building a model as part of a project in history class.”

Erik nodded.  “We were going to use the log blocks, but then… Henryk said there were more crayons in the box than block in the package,” he said.  He smiled.  “It’s also pretty cool, because the crayons are smaller.  It changes the scale of the model.”

“We’re going to paint them when we’re done,” Henryk added, as he continued standing crayons on end.  “This is the forest, in case you were going to ask.”

“I knew that,” Gretchen said, as she turned her attention back to her knitting.  She shook her head slightly and then frowned at her brother.  “Whose crayons are those, Erik?” she asked.

Erik blinked at her and then smiled.  “We bought them for the project, Sister,” he said, his tone sweet.  Then, he chuckled softly.  “You didn’t think we’d use your crayons, did you?  We wouldn’t do that without asking your permission.”

“Right,” she said.  Then she shook her head and looked back at her knitting.  For some reason, it was very hard to focus on her knitting.  Why did her brother have to be working in the living room with his friend?  Couldn’t they go in the kitchen?  When they began painting – laughing the entire time to each other – she took her knitting and stomped out of the room.


Gretchen frowned at her father.  “Of Erik?” she said, frowning.  “Why should I be jealous of him?”

“I didn’t say you were jealous of your brother, Greta,” Papa said.  He crouched down slightly and leaned in close to meet her eyes.  “I figured that it was Henryk you were jealous of.  Until this year, Erik has always partnered with you, right?”

Gretchen opened her mouth to protest and then stopped.  She blinked and flushed as she realized the truth.  As much as it annoyed her that Erik always came to her for these things, it had made her feel… important.  Now, she felt like he didn’t need her anymore.  He had Henryk.

“I want him to have friends,” she said, scowling.

Papa nodded and patted her shoulder lightly.  “You will always be his sister, Gretchen,” he said, his voice gentle.  “Always remember that.”

Only in Daydreams

I had such fun answering this prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I’ve gotten away from the dark stuff I’ve been writing the last few days.

Prompt: Strangers

“My goodness,” Mama said, her voice soft. “Don’t you look like the fine young gentleman?”

Erik heaved a sigh and pushed a lock of hair behind his ear. “Are you going to take pictures of us before we head out?” he asked. She always had. He didn’t know why this year would be any different, except that it was in so many other ways. They would be starting secondary school – a new school, with kids they didn’t know – and Papa was home.

“Of course,” Mama said. She waved him towards Gretchen and said, “Stand with your sister.”

Gretchen was wearing one of her new skirts and Papa had a look on his face that made Erik wonder if she’d make it out the door. However, Papa surprised him by finally sighing and kissing her on her brow.

“Papa,” she said, barely stopping herself from rolling her eyes. “We’ll be back not too long after you get home. We’re just day students.”

“I know,” he said. He smiled and then looked over at Erik. “I’m just… you both look so grown up!” He stepped back, so that Mama could take several pictures of them from different angles.

Then, Gretchen was hurrying out the door. She paused on the front steps just long enough to put her skates on. Then, she was leaving Erik behind. He didn’t bother yelling after her. She wouldn’t have listened anyway.

“Worried?” Papa said, his voice soft.

Erik heaved a sigh and shrugged. “I won’t know anyone,” he said. He bit his lip and dropped his gaze to his shoes. Gretchen would make friends within moments of entering the school. It wasn’t so easy for him. He was too shy of strangers to talk to them.

“Henryk will be there,” Papa said.

That was unexpected. Erik looked up at him sharply and smiled. “Really?” he said, his voice faint. When Papa nodded, he laughed softly. “I better get going or I’ll be late.”

“Try and have fun, Erik ,” Papa said, waving to him. As Erik hurried out the door, he said, “Before you know it, you’ll be graduating. These days go by quicker than you think.”

Erik blinked at his father’s words. Then, he nodded. “I’ll remember that, Papa,” he said, his voice soft. He put on his own skates and then he hurried off towards the school. He would do his best not to let his shyness get the better of him. In seven years, he would be graduating.

Papa had been gone for seven years and Erik had heard his father say, more than once, that he hadn’t realized how much he’d missed. “I’m not going to miss a moment,” Erik breathed. He’d take each person as they came. A stranger was just a friend he hadn’t made yet.

Sunshine Daydreams

I had a lot of fun with this prompt.  Just imagining the situation my character finds himself in was fun.  At the same time, I could totally see it happening.

Prompt: Sparkle


Marian looked up from his newspaper and hid a smile.  Camelia was wearing one of her party dresses.  It made sense.  After all, she was having a party.  However, it still caught him a bit off guard.  “Yes, Camelia,” he said, his voice soft.

When she hesitated, he folded the newspaper and set it aside.  “Is there something wrong?” he asked.  He glanced at the clock.  Her friends would probably be arriving in about thirty minutes.  He frowned at her.  “You’re not worried because they’re not here yet, are you?”

“No,” she said, flushing.  She gave him a weak smile.  “It’s early yet, but… I wondered if you might… like to join us.”

For a moment, Marian just stared at her.  The last couple months hadn’t been easy for either of them.  Marian knew that he wasn’t the ideal father figure.  He could be scary at times, especially to a little girl.  He also tended to be horribly overprotective.

He was trained to protect people.  That didn’t always mean that whoever he had been assigned to protect got to do what they wanted.  In fact, it was often quite the opposite.  When his niece wanted to do things, he treated her the way he did people he had protected in the past.  He assessed the situation and, too often deemed it too dangerous.

It had led to arguments.  Why couldn’t she go to the soda fountain with her friends?  Why did she need to stay close by him when they were in public?  Worse, too often, he couldn’t find a reason beyond, “because I said so”.

So, when Camelia asked him if she could have the other girls in her class over for a tea party, he couldn’t say no.  She would be in their backyard.  He could watch her from the kitchen window.  What could be safer?

This, however, was something he hadn’t anticipated.  He was torn from his reverie when Camelia flushed and shook her head.  “You don’t have to,” she said, a bit too quickly.  “I just figured that – that it…”

“I’d love to come,” he said, smiling.  Her eyes widened and, for the first time in quite a while, she smiled at him.  He gave a nervous chuckle and stood.  “Let me get changed,” he said.

By the time her friends were arriving, he was ready to join them.  He couldn’t help but chuckle at the girls – none of them older than twelve – arriving at his home dressed in their Sunday best, which hats and gloves and jewelry.  “They look so grown up,” he murmured at Gilbert.

Chuckling softly, Gilbert nodded.  He waved at Gretchen and said, “Have fun, sweetie.”  As she nodded and scampered out to the garden with Camelia, he turned to Marian.  “What are you going to do?”

“Camelia invited me to join them,” he said, shrugging.

Gilbert grinned and nodded.  “Have fun with that,” he said.  “I’m taking the boys out for ice cream, in the meantime.”

Felicja arrived at that moment with Zofia, also dressed in a lovely party dress.  “Henryk’s looking forward to that nearly as much as she’s been looking forward to their tea party,” she said.  Giving Marian a playful wink, she said, “Have fun, Marian.”

Marian nodded and offered Zofia his arm.  “The other girls are in the garden,” he said.  When she blushed, he added, “I’ll show you the way.”

“All right,” she said, taking his arm.  She waved absently at her mother as she and Gilbert left with the boys.

Outside, Marian was confronted with the reality of attending a tea party with four pre-teen girls.  They had their dolls in their laps.  Their gowns and jewelry seemed to twinkle in the sunlit garden.  There were sugar sprinkles on their cupcakes.  Even the teapot seemed to shine.  He’d never seen anything so sparkly in his life, but there was no escaping now.

He straightened and then poured tea for each of the girls.  Then, he took a seat between Camelia and Milda.  He was uncertain at first.  However, soon, he was chatting with the girls and, occasionally, their dolls as if he were at any afternoon tea.

When the time came for the girls to leave, he saw them out with Camelia by his side.  Then, he turned to her and smiled.  “Did you have a good time?” he asked, his voice soft.

Camelia nodded.  “Next weekend, can we do it again at Zofia’s house?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Marian said, nodding.

Laughing, Camelia hugged him.  Then, she scampered off to change into her play clothes.  As she reached the upper landing, she said, “And, of course, you’ll come too.  It won’t be the same without you.”

“Of course?” Marian said, blinking.  He was certain, somehow, that he would be going above and beyond the call to attend another tea party.  After all, none of the other parents had stayed for this one.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  He knew that he’d been trapped, now.  He’d be attending tea parties with Camelia for the rest of the season.  “God, save me from little girls.”

Dreamers – part 9

Today, I had a bit of a challenge in using the prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth in the story.  However, I remembered a throwaway line in an earlier section and that cleared things up nicely.

Prompt: Ballgown

By the time Gilbert and Madeline were able to come together once again, it was the day of the annual awards ceremony for the IIA.  Gilbert fussed with the collar of his dress shirt.  He knew how Erik felt about having to dress up for these things.  He felt the same way, in fact.  However, it was part of the job.  He heaved a sigh as his fingers tangled in the bow tie once again.  “Maddie?” he called.

There was a rustle of fabric and then she was at his side.  After she got his fingers untangled from the fabric, it was a simple matter for her to tie it herself.  Then, she kissed his cheek.  “Charmingly awkward,” she said.

As she stepped back, Gilbert got a good look at her gown.  The soft peach color accented her fair complexion perfectly.  It was sleeveless, but she had long gloves that covered most of her arms.  “Well,” he said, blinking.

Madeline stifled a laugh and said, “I’ve got to finish helping Gretchen get ready.  Can you handle Erik’s tie?”

“I can help him with his,” Gilbert said, grinning.  “It’s my own that I have trouble with.”  He heaved a sigh as she headed for the door once again.  “We need to talk about that thing still.”

“Felicja and Taurys will be at the ceremony,” Madeline said, heading out the door.  “We’ll talk there.”

“Yes, dear,” Gilbert replied.  She was avoiding the subject.  He shook his head and headed off to help his son get finished dressing for the ceremony.  Normally, they wouldn’t bring the children to events like this.  However, Director Williams had insisted that they be there.  After all, their parents were among those being honored.

He tapped on the door of Erik’s room and then peered inside. Erik was already dressed and, to Gilbert’s surprise, he’d managed to tie the formal bowtie without any help.  “Good job,” he said, smiling.

Erik shrugged.  “It’s not hard,” he said.  Then, he stepped up to Gilbert and tilted his head.  “Why are you getting an award, Papa?”

“Well,” Gilbert said, as he struggled for a moment to find the words.  Finally, he sighed and shrugged.  “My boss feels like what we did was special enough that we need to be congratulated in a special way.”

“Don’t you want to get an award?” a new voice said.

Gilbert turned around to find Madeline and Gretchen coming down the corridor.  He smiled at the gown that Madeline had found for their daughter.  It was blue and white with just enough frills to show that she was still quite young, but there was enough formality to it that Gretchen wouldn’t feel like “a baby”.

Shrugging again, Gilbert said, “I just did my job.”

“Arthur feels we went above and beyond the expectations of our jobs,” Madeline added, her voice soft.  She waved at Erik and said, “Get your sister’s shawl, Erik.”

“Yes, Mama,” Erik said, as he hurried off.

Gretchen looked at each of her parents and frowned.  “Are you two fighting?” she asked, her voice faint.

“No,” Gilbert said.  He gave her a weak smile and then shrugged.  “I need to ask your mama to do something that she doesn’t really want to do.”  He turned to Madeline and, still talking to Gretchen, added, “I know that and I understand why, but I have to ask anyway.”

“If she doesn’t want to do it, then she shouldn’t have to,” Gretchen said, sounding a bit annoyed.

Madeline chuckled.  “We all have to do things that we don’t want to do, sometimes, Greta,” she said.  “Papa didn’t want to be in Veligrad for seven years.  You didn’t want to go to summer camp.”

For a moment, Gretchen frowned.  Finally, she nodded and said, “Papa doesn’t want to get an award.”  Then, she headed down the corridor and took her shawl from Erik.  “Let’s go outside, Erik.”

“All right, Sister,” Erik said, as he followed her through the door.

Gilbert offered Madeline his arm.  As she looped her arm in his, he said, “I wouldn’t be asking this of you if it weren’t important, Maddie.  You know that, right?”

“I do,” Madeline murmured.  She kissed his cheek and then nodded.  “I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any promises.  Their spirits might have moved on or they simply might not want to talk.”

“I just want you to try,” Gilbert murmured.  He sighed as he looked down at their formal attire.  “After the awards ceremony.”

“After the awards ceremony,” Madeline repeated.

Dreamers – Part 7

Here we are with another section of this story.  I used a word prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth for this one.  It’s been a fun challenge to get these to fit with where the story needs to go.


Prompt: Downtown

Madeline was watching Gretchen as she scanned the racks of clothing. She knew her daughter wanted to look at the short skater skirts and tank tops with their plunging necklines that were on the racks not far away. However, she couldn’t help but smile as the girl ground her teeth and perused the floral a-lines and smock blouses that were closer at hand.

Erik was keeping himself amused by playing with a puzzle he’d found in the toy section. If he managed to solve it before they were done, Madeline knew they wouldn’t be buying it. However, she also wasn’t about to make him wait for them to finish shopping without doing anything.

“Mama,” Gretchen said, holding up a pretty skirt that had flowers embroidered at the hem. “Is this one all right?” From her tone, Madeline knew her daughter was frustrated by her limitations, both due to the selection and her parents’ rules.

“You really don’t care much for flowers, do you?” Madeline said. When Gretchen shrugged, Madeline stepped closer to her. Taking the skirt, she looked it over for a moment before holding it up against her daughter’s slender frame. It fell to just above Gretchen’s knee. Her friends wore their skirts much shorter, but Madeline knew Gilbert would prefer something longer. This seemed like a fair compromise.

“No shorter,” she said, as she set the garment in her shopping basket. When Gretchen sighed, she smiled. “You’re twelve, Gretchen. Enjoy being young while you can. Worry about dressing like a grown woman when you are one.”

“Yes, Mama,” Gretchen said, rolling her eyes and turning back to the rack where she’d found the only acceptable skirt so far.

“Mama,” Erik called, holding up the communication device she’d given him to keep an eye on. “It’s vibrating.”

Madeline stepped over to her son and took the device. Keying a button, she said, “Go for Dreamer.”

Gilbert’s voice came through the speaker in response. “Hey, Dreamer,” he said. “Sleeper, here. We’re heading for the Mushroom, but… Can you meet us at the Mall later? We have something we need your help with.”

“I’ll be there around fourteen hundred,” she said, glancing at her watch. “I’m shopping with the kids at the moment.”

“Hey, cool,” Gilbert replied. “The boy needs a suit for that thing at the end of the month – at least a new waistcoat and matching tie, maybe a shirt.”

“Got it,” Madeline said. As she ended the conversation, she smiled at Erik. His expression was like a prisoner who’d just learned it was time for his execution. “It’s not that bad,” she said, shaking her head.

“It’s torture,” he said, looking back down at his puzzle. He sighed as he popped a piece off and the rest of the pieces came apart. “Solved it,” he said, as he put it back together.

“How do you do that?” Gretchen said, as she added two more skirts and three blouses to Madeline’s shopping basket. “You picked that up… like, twenty minutes ago and it has a tag on it that says, ‘hours of play’.”

“It wasn’t that hard,” Erik said, shrugging.

Shaking her head, Gretchen tapped the skirts. “Same design, different embroidery,” she said. “The blouses have… like sweetheart necklines that go to here.” She set her hand at her chest, just below her neck.

“That should be fine,” Madeline said, smiling. She took the puzzle toy from Erik and set it down on a shelf. One of the workers would put it back where it belonged later. “Time for more shopping, Erik.”

“Why doesn’t Papa use our names?” Gretchen said, shaking her head. “I’m always the girl and Erik is the boy.”

“Protocol,” Madeline said, shrugging. “You don’t have codenames, so he uses something else that works to identify you without speaking your name.”

“A codename would be cool,” Erik said. He looked thoughtful and said, “I could be… like, solver or something.”

“I’ll give the suggestion to the Boss,” she said, smiling. Then, she ushered the children towards the shopkeeper, so they could make their purchases. This shop had some boys’ clothing, but there was a better selection of formal wear in the shops downtown.

Dreams of Fireflies

Today’s prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth is another picture prompt.  I couldn’t figure out how to connect it to my other story, so it’s a little vignette set while my kids are at camp (like the octopus picture prompt was).


Gilbert looked over at Erik and Gretchen and frowned slightly.  They were staring out the cabin window, watching something.  After a few moments, some of the other campers joined them.

“What’s going on?” he asked, as he joined the children at the window.

Gretchen looked over her shoulder and pointed out the window.  “There’re lights in the trees, Papa,” she said, her voice filled with wonder.  “Like the ones that were in the cave!”

Smiling faintly, Gilbert nodded.  Madeline had told him about catching fireflies in jars when she was young.  Having grown up in Berlyn, his own children wouldn’t have had that opportunity.  He didn’t doubt that they hadn’t seen such things until that moment.  For a moment, he considered letting the children catch the fireflies.  Then, he had a better idea.

“Science,” he said.  When the children looked at him in surprise, he chuckled.  “Erik and Gretchen’s mama used to catch those flies in jars when she was your age.”

“That wouldn’t be very nice to the flies, Papa,” Erik said, frowning.

“I agree,” Gilbert said, ruffling his hair.  “How would kids like to make firefly jars that don’t entail catching the flies?”

“Yes, please,” Camellia said, bouncing up and down.  The other campers were nearly as eager.

Gilbert chuckled softly and looked over at Tim and Madeline.  “I’ll get the supplies we need and you can get them settled,” he said.  Then, he hurried out of the cabin and headed off to the building where they kept their art supplies.  He found the jars and paints he would need.  Then, he made a quick stop at his vehicle for the most important ingredient.  He was glad that he had some of the powder with him.

When he returned, he set out the supplies and held up the jar he’d gotten from his vehicle.  “Zinc sulfide glow powder,” he said.  “I’m going to mix this with the glue.  Then, you can paint the inside of the jars with the glue – like there are flies inside it.”

“Will they glow forever?” Natalia asked, leaning closer to him.

He chuckled and then shrugged.  “You’ll have to charge them with regular light to activate the phosphorescence, but… yeah, the glow will last for hours and be rechargeable,” he said.  “So, that means they’ll last a really long time.”

He finished mixing the glue and powder and then sat back while the campers got to work.  Some of them put scattered dots in their jars, as if the fireflies were resting in them.  Others put dots and streaks, as if the fireflies were zooming around in the jars.

When the glue had dried, Madeline sent the campers outside with their jars, so that they could enjoy the glowing inside them. Erik laughed as he compared the light from his jar to the fireflies that were flying around in the trees.  “It looks the same, Papa,” he said, looking over at Gilbert.

“Fireflies use bioluminescence, like the glow worms in the cave,” Gilbert said, his voice soft.  He shrugged.  “The greenish color is what they find most attractive, so that’s the color they make.”  He didn’t get into the details of the females glowing and the males not glowing.  That could wait until the children were older.

Shining Dreams

Today’s prompt is a picture prompt (by the way, these prompts aren’t actually daily.  I’m trying to catch up).  This story is set not long after the picture prompt with the sun shining behind the palm tree.  It just seemed to fit.


Erik woke with a start and looked around as thunder seemed to split the air. He blinked as flowers filled the sky. Then, he realized that the flowers were made of sparkling things. “Sparkle flowers?” he said. He looked over at Mama and blinked. “Sparkle flowers, Mama?”

“Fireworks,” Mama said, smiling. She chuckled when he startled again as more of the flowers bloomed in the air. “Are they pretty, Erik?”

“Pretty,” Erik said, grinning at her. He giggled and then ran to the edge of the water. Gretchen was already standing near the water, watching the flowers bloom. “Pretty sparkle flowers,” he said. Then, he laughed and covered his ears. “Loud.”

Behind him, Alfred said, “They’re not flowers, kid. They’re fireworks.” When Erik looked at him, he said, “Fireworks.”

“Flowers,” Erik said. He nodded and grinned. “Sparkling sky flowers.” Then, he turned around to watch more of them bloom.

Mama laughed and said, “Are you actually arguing with a three year old, Alfred?”

Night Travelers

Today was very productive.  I have a bunch of stories to be posted.  This one is from the DreamWidth Prompts from NaNoWriYe.

Prompt: Thunder

Erik  woke with a start as a terrible sound seemed to shake the room. His heart was pounding in his ears as he looked around. “Papa?” he said, his voice hardly more than a breath. He slipped off the small cot, intending to go to his father’s side. The sleeper car wasn’t very large, so he’d be there in two or three steps.

Light flashed across the walls and then there was the crash of thunder. Erik threw himself across the gap, hugging his father’s sleeping form and startling the man awake. That, of course, woke Mama and Gretchen as well.

“Hanske,” Papa said, hugging him gently. “What’s wrong?” There was another flash of light, followed closely by a deafening crash.

“He’s scared of thunder,” Gretchen said, sleepily. She sighed and then flopped back down against her own cot. “Now, he’s going to keep us all awake.”

“I’m sorry,” Erik said. He was sorry, but he couldn’t help being afraid. He blinked away tears and rubbed his eyes. “It’s so loud. It’s like the sky is ripping itself apart.”

Papa blinked and then nodded. “The lightning is very close and the thunder is the noise the lightning makes,” he said.

“It is?”

Nodding again, Papa said, “The lightning is a release of electricity, like… static. The clouds have a charge and the ground has a charge and, sometimes, that charge is released and that’s the lightning.”

Erik sat up, settling himself between his parents. He cringed when there was another flash of lightning, covering his ears in anticipation of the thunder. “But… static isn’t loud,” he said. Although, now that he’d said that, sometimes he did hear a tiny sound from it. “Because it’s small and lightning is big?”

“That’s right,” Mama said. She kissed Erik’s brow and said, “Now, can a sound hurt you?” When he shook his head, she smiled. “Then, what is there to fear?”

“I wish it were quieter,” Erik said, his tone a bit sulky. However, he kissed each of his parents and then returned to his own cot.

Papa smiled. “If you count between the lightning and the thunder, every five seconds is a mile that the sound traveled to reach you,” he said. “So… if you can count to five, then you know that the lightning was a whole mile away.”

“Thanks, Papa,” Erik said, his voice soft. He settled down against the bedding and between counting the moment lightning flashed across the wall of the sleeper car. Soon, he was drifting back to sleep. Counting seconds was too much like counting sheep for him to stay awake doing it. Perhaps that was why Papa had told him the trick.

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