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.
2018 – Tales of the Normal – Twilight Zone-style surreal stories.
2019 – Crime du Jour – Short crime stories.
2023 – Turning Leaves – Middle-grade horror.
Turning Leaves (Working Title): October 27 - The Battles You Can't Fight
October 27 – Lola’s Journal
Last night I fell asleep in Stepdad Dave’s back kitchen. I plugged my phone charger into the outlet under the breakfast table and worked on my Miraculous LadyVamp fanfic for the first time in a while. I was starting to get a lot of COMMENTS from people waiting for the next chapter.
It was all written, I just had ZERO time to edit it. I feel like time jumped forward from the beginning of October to now. But with my mom and dad (and maybe sister) gone and Jayla and her mom gone, and Stepdad Dave gone, and Ghost Cat walking around the table and meowing and meowing, I needed something to do.
I didn’t have enough homework to stay busy all the time. I didn’t want to go downstairs and watch a movie. I really didn’t want to go home.
Working on my fanfic both helped and didn’t help. It took me a long time to think of why.
Writing fanfic helps because I know how to do it. I know Mirculous Ladybug and I know Dracula. Thinking about ways to combine them makes me feel smart and funny and bratty but in a good way. I know some people will like what I write and ask for more. They will feel good reading it.
I like that.
Writing fanfic doesn’t help because it does not help. It doesn’t bring my parents back. It doesn’t help me find Jayla. It doesn’t help me answer the question of whether I really have a little sister or not.
It doesn’t help me understand what it means to be a strong witch. What can I do? How strong am I? What can I change? I try to reach myself around the house the way I can reach around the dragon of my magic, and I can’t.
I feel the rest of the house screaming like it is HURT.
HURT HURT HURT HURT
But when I try to reach out to it,
H O W – D A R E – Y O U – T O U C H – M E ?
is the only answer I get.
You’re a fool.
You couldn’t possibly understand.
What good is being a powerful witch? What good is worrying that I’m going to make things worse than if I never did anything, if I can’t even do anything?
My heart hurts because I can’t do anything. I just have to believe in Jayla, in case she can’t believe in herself right now. I have to think, “Even if your Mom tries to believe in a world where you don’t exist, I still do.” I don’t know what is happening. I feel like I am wasting my time, like Jayla doesn’t need my help, and even if she does what I’m doing isn’t what she needs.
But what if it does?
I cooked frozen pepperoni pizza in the oven and gave Ghost Cat a slice. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. I didn’t really even need to sleep.
In the morning I went to school but Jayla wasn’t there.
After English class, Miss Emma called me to the library. I went inside but my dragon wasn’t there, just the library, with light shining through the windows (it was gray light and not very encouraging) and bookshelves everywhere, full of books.
I sat in a bean bag and cried. Miss Emma brought me a tissue and a cookie, and then we talked. Actually, “we” didn’t talk. I talked and she just listened.
She doesn’t know what to do, either.
I don’t trust her, not exactly.
But I felt better after I talked to her. I blew my nose. I don’t remember eating the cookie at all, but it was gone and my mouth tasted like vanilla cookie crumbs.
I am back at Jayla’s house now. I went home to see if anyone was there. There wasn’t. There’s nobody at Jayla’s house, either. I walked back to Jayla’s house from my house using the weird passageway full of boxes.
I looked in some of the boxes, to see if there were any people inside, real or fake.
I touched one and it collapsed into weird crackly dust. After that I stopped opening the boxes.
What if I opened one and it was my mom or dad or sister inside and I broke them?
It seems pointless to do anything but wait. I came back here to Jayla’s house because Ghost Cat was there, I guess. He was still meowing at the table in the breakfast nook.
I brought out a small version of my dragon and played with her. She and Ghost Cat hissed at each other but it didn’t seem serious. She’s curled up around my neck now, pretending to sleep and flicking her tongue at Ghost Cat every time he walks too close.
My homework is done now. I put my hand on the table with the palm up a few seconds ago and I felt someone holding my hand. As soon as I felt that, Ghost Cat stopped walking in circles. He jumped on top of the table and tried to headbutt the air. Now he’s lying over my arm and purring, still trying to rub his cheek against nothing.
I am going to stop writing now.
Wherever you are, Jayla, Ghost Cat and my pink dragon (no name yet) and I are here waiting for you.