October 2023 Fiction Project Turning Leaves - Mom on the Back Porch

October 2023 Fiction Project: The Witch House – Oct 22

This year’s October fiction project is a short middle-grade horror novel. The working title is “Turning Leaves,” but that will probably change.

Here are the rules (which I am making up as I go along!):

  • Write every day.
  • Write about a thousand words every day.
  • Write words the same day the characters would be writing them, for the most part (that is, Oct 1 words in the story = Oct 1 words in real life).
  • Don’t plan ahead.
  • Don’t quit.

I don’t have an outline or even a plan.

It’s been a while since I wrote middle-grade fiction. This should be fun.

October Fiction Projects to Date:
2017 – October Nights – General flash fiction short horror-ish stories.

2018 – Tales of the Normal – Twilight Zone-style surreal stories.


2019 – Crime du Jour – Short crime stories.


2023 – Turning Leaves – Middle-grade horror.

Website – And sign up for the newsletter to get updates about the final ebook!

Turning Leaves (Working Title): October 22 - Good vs. Evil, Back Porch

October 22 – Lola’s Journal

Another serious journal entry.


(You don’t dare, do you, Mr. Henderson?)

I have been thinking a lot about the difference between good and evil and have decided that I don’t know what it is. I feel it but I don’t know it.

Example, the movie Pocahontas.

In the movie, Pocahontas was supposed to stay away from the white people, as per her dad. But she broke the rules (like Ariel in The Little Mermaid) and fell in love with Captain John Smith, who was the only settler to try to understand Native culture, blah blah blah.

Was Captain John Smith good or evil?

In the movie, we’re supposed to think he is GOOD.

In real life, we’re supposed to think he was EVIL, a colonizer who took advantage of Pocahontas and attacked her people.

But Captain John Smith is DEAD.

He isn’t really important.

(In my opinion, he was a bossy authoritarian narcissist who wanted to look more important than he really was and I would have h a t e d his guts but was that evil? He was a murdering colonizer but it’s not like he was



or anything.)

What is more important is the stories about him.

The stories SOUND like they are about him, but they’re really about who is telling the story, how much information they know about the whole situation and where they get it from and whether or not they believe everything they read!

The past really happened and it is important.

We have to remember the past and understand it, or we will repeat it.

But everything we know about the past is a story, either one that someone else tells us, or one that we figure out for ourselves.

The story we tell about the past is about the story we are telling ourselves now.

Is the story we are telling ourselves about Pocahontas and Captain John Smith a GOOD story or an EVIL one?

What is the difference?

I don’t know.

I don’t feel like either story is good. I feel like they’re both evil.

One story lies a LOT but tells us that it is good to understand others and that love solves everything. (The movie.)

One story tells more historical “truth” but tells us that narcissists are pretty much okay compared to the monster Christopher Columbus and that nobody is really good anyway because everyone only does things for selfish reasons, whatever LOL. (Everything I can find quickly about history.)

One story = all you need to save the world is to have all the feels.

One story = the world can’t be saved it just keeps going anyway so don’t even try.

I think both stories make it so you feel stupid when you try to do anything real to help the world. Both stories make it hard to know what is good in the world, so good people spend time worrying about whether they’re doing the right thing instead of giving hugs whether people need them or not (although ask first LOLA, as my dad says) and saying I’m wrong and I love you and I’m sorry.

And I think (but I’m not sure?) that stories that keep us from doing those things are evil. Or at least pretty bad.

I don’t know why I think like this. I know it’s weird most people think I am weird.

But they don’t even know how weird I am!


October 22 – Jayla’s Journal (Fake)

Today I’m going to write about my mom.

I am worried about her.

I think she and Stepdad Dave are going to get divorced.

I am not worried about that.

I am worried that we will move far away from my friend Lola, but I am not worried about them getting divorced. I don’t think they are in love and I don’t think they should be married, because I don’t think they even like each other.

I think my mom is a strong person.

I think she loves me.

I think she is scared and upset and still not over Dad’s death.

I don’t think I’m over Dad’s death either.

I should probably talk to someone about him.

I love him, I hate him, I am mad at him, I am sad of him, I miss him, I didn’t know him. He was always gone doing things that were super-important. I talked to Stepdad Dave a little about what Dad’s job was like. Stepdad Dave works for the same company and does the same kind of job. I think it’s the same kind of job.

I still don’t like Stepdad Dave.

I will probably still not like him when he is not Stepdad Dave, but only Dave.

But I want to stop thinking about Dad, and I want to stop thinking about Stepdad Dave. I only want to think about Mom right now.

This weekend she was weird. A new kind of weird.

I am used to the Mom who wraps herself in blankets and lies in bed or on the couch and is quiet and doesn’t take care of herself.

I am used to asking her if she wants anything. I am used to bringing her food and asking her to eat.

I am used to her not talking at all.

I am getting used to the Mom who wears colorful hair bands again, who has a cell phone and who is busy all the time but I don’t know with what.

I am used to having her do nice things for me, but doing them like she’s angry that she can’t do something more important.

I am used to listening to her talk about how things need to change.

I am not used to the Mom who walks and walks around the house, making the floors and stairs creak everywhere she goes. I am not used to the Mom whose footsteps echo. I am not used to the Mom who chews on her fingernails until they are bloody. I am not used to the mom who burns food and makes the smoke detectors go off. I am not used to the mom who opened up the back door of the house and who sits on the cement steps in the back and smokes cigarettes.

I feel like she is waiting for something.

Stepdad Dave said she used to work at the same company, but she quit after Dad died. She was mad at the company and blamed them for Dad’s death.

Stepdad Dave said they paid her a bunch of money to apologize for Dad’s death, but it took a long time for them to do it.

I think he will be relieved when they get divorced.

I think he will be sad when they get divorced.

I think I would be happiest if Mom and I moved to Seattle, where Lola’s mom is. I think Lola’s family is going to move there after Lola’s dad gets done taking care of his family member.

I don’t want to live in this town anymore.

I think Mom will feel better if we move somewhere else.

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