Words, Collection Two

Sometimes I hang out with people who say really funny things. I’m sorry, people. If you don’t want to be written about then you probably shouldn’t hang out with me. 
These two have been sitting in my draft email on my tablet for a while. See, I can edit a draft email on my tablet even if I don’t have an internet connection – while we’re driving down deer infested roads at nine o’clock at night, for example. Although usually I’m too busy watching out for deer to be writing. But anyway. I have a draft email that is now at least several hundred words long, full of random lines and thoughts and such like the two below.

I’m very busy working on my Camp Nano project so this is a short blog post, sorry. I’m almost at my word count goal and I would really like to finish by the end of the month so I can win. It is very satisfying.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

An Unwanted Gift





Sometimes I really don’t know if I like Pinterest after all.





Because sometimes I get pictures like these.

And every so often one comes around that just shatters something inside. 

The above was one of those pictures. Even without reading the caption. I just stared at it for a while and then started typing. I don’t remember how long I typed before coming up with the following poem:


An Unwanted Gift
Annie Louise Twitchell

You said I could have your bicycle

when you didn’t need it anymore.
Well, they called you to go away
and you left it chained to the tree,
the one we built a wobbly house in.
I couldn’t find the key to unlock it.
Mum said I’d have to wait until you
came home, so I waited.
I waited for so long.
All that came home was a letter that
made Mum scream,
made Dad cry.


Afterwards, they said I could cut

the chain and have the bicycle.
But I didn’t want it anymore.
I just wanted my big brother to
stop playing games and come home,
come back up the driveway and —
and you never came home.


Your bicycle is still there.
The tree has grown around it and
sometimes I wonder if those two wheels
could lift the tree, the house, and me
and carry us all away to wherever
that war took you. And maybe
I could say I miss you,
and I love you,
and why couldn’t you come home?




I just remember stopping after some time and reading over what I had written and feeling completely devastated. And the funny thing was that I almost didn’t mind. 


I have spent more time crying over that poem. I started practicing reading it out loud to my cat. The first couple (dozen) times I couldn’t even read the whole thing without crying. 

Finally I got a bit disgusted – I’m an easily emotional person and I was afraid I was overreacting or something. So I printed out a copy and gave it to my mom. (This time I did remember to tell her it was a sad poem.) 

Apparently I wasn’t really overreacting…

I mailed it in to Webster Library’s Annual Poetry Contest and kept practicing. I wanted to be able to read it out loud if I got the chance, without completely losing it. Finally I got so I could read it through several times in a row without breaking down into tears.

Then was the tricky part. If I made my mother, who is not an easy person to make cry, cry when she read my poem, how on earth I was going to survive reading to an audience? I start crying when I see other people crying!

Well, luckily for me, my oldest brother and my sister in law were up for dinner and so I just kind of decided to read it out loud to the whole family. I managed it alright, caught almost all of the right twists I wanted to, didn’t start bawling, and I didn’t get stage fright. deep breath

And then last week I got sick and didn’t do much with any of my writing for a couple days. I finished making lunch or something like that and wobbled back into the living room to take a nap on the couch, and picked up my tablet to see if I had gotten a reply about a silly question (not the knife question, a different one) from my friend, and found the notification that

I won

second place Adult Category

with my poem.

It was a couple more hours before I was able to take my nap because I got so excited at the news, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even lie quietly very well. I would like to formally apologize to anyone who got overwhelmed by me messaging them in a feverish excitement because I won.


I did make it down to the library with my dad to read my poem. For a while I wasn’t sure I would be well enough to go, which I was really upset about because I’d put so much blood and sweat and tears into that poem. I didn’t do as well as I expected I would, although apparently the video camera didn’t pick up my shaky hands, and I guess my reading worked alright. 



And a shout out to the fabulous Connie Jean for making me the sketch at the top. I’d tried several different things for a cover image and that is my favourite.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

‘Unwanted Gift Sketch’ by Connie Jean

Stories for Elli, Part Two

This was another 300 word prompt. I have fun with them, although it’s kind of hard to take one idea and have it stay small. It’s a good writing exercise. 



Running through the forest on my way home, I found a pair of dragons engaged in battle. Beasts of legend, we had always been taught that light ones were good and black ones were evil. I had no reason to mistrust this teaching, until the light dragon sought to seize me and use me as weaponry against the black dragon. The black dragon and his rider strengthened their attack and soon beat the light dragon and her rider back into the forest.
I started to run in the opposite direction, but the black dragon caught me and folded me up in gentle wings. His rider dismounted and came to fuss over me. I cowered away from the man’s figure, covered in black robes, and he laughed softly. His laugh was the gentlest, kindest sound I had ever heard and I stopped struggling in order to listen. He put a hand on my forehead.
“Do not be afraid of the night, child. Many good things are concealed under her mantle. Evil is not bound to light or darkness, but passes freely between the lines and masquerades as any number of good things. Learn to sense the evil for itself, and trust the darkness.”

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Words





Words
Annie Louise Twitchell
Thin sheets of paper,
just
wood fibers
pasted together.
Black lines,
fine as baby’s hair
curious shapes
symbols
marks.
The marks
mean something,
a word,
an idea.
Captured
in trees,
my ideas
go on
longer than me.
Stories,
but told
wordlessly,
without speaking.
Held imprisoned
on the leaves
made from
long dead trees.
Aching to be released,
let fly
above the inked
papers
and sing aloud
to the sun
the stories they were
made to tell.
Tied down
on the white sheets
so I can read them
and let them
fly in my mind.
I don’t remember what prompted this poem. I think I had a headache/migraine and was, as I often do when there is an angry troll pounding on the inside of my skull, pondering impossiblities. Words are seriously weird things. Like, I’m sitting here typing the thoughts in my head, and you’re sitting there reading and (hopefully, although this is Annie we’re talking about) understanding them. It’s just… weird. Really, really weird.
Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Maine Maple Sunday, Mud Season, and Poetry Contests

I am late.

I am not a wizard, therefore it is not surprising.

I meant to do a new blog post on Sunday. Sunday was Easter. I was baking a ham and helping drain the flooded basement.

I meant to do one on Monday. Monday didn’t happen this week, not entirely sure why. I think maybe someone stole it or something.

I meant to do one on Tuesday. Tuesday was crazy, as usual.

I meant to do one on Wednesday. I didn’t do much of anything on Wednesday, until after 9pm, at which point I went for a run.

It is now Thursday and I am finally making a new blog post.

Anyway.

I mailed in my poems for the National Poetry Month contests I’m doing this year. We shall see. *cue first photo*

I spent time with my cat. Actually, my cat spent time with me. *cue second photo*
Some of my family and I went to Maine Maple Sunday, on Saturday. I love maple season. I love it when I drink so much maple sap that I start talking Old Entish. I love it when we make our own syrup and get to climb on the woodshed roof and roast hot dogs over the smokestack. And smores with cinnamon graham crackers and Reese’s peanut butter cups are amazing. But we didn’t make syrup this year, so I settled for inhaling as much hot sticky steam as I could at the two farms we visited. It was a lovely day, as the chickens were discussing while they lounged in a sunbeam. *cue third photo*
I am doing Camp NaNo this year, which starts tomorrow, so we shall see how that goes.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Mister President, Sir

I don’t remember what I was doing when I thought of this. Probably making grilled cheese. Grilled cheese is good for ideas sometimes. So is chicken soup. Or cheesecake. Now I’m hungry.


Dear Mister President Sir,

My name is Jacob and I am 7 years old. I am writing to you because my best friend Wallace says that you’re not a real person like my daddy, you’re a superhero like Superman or Batman. I say that you’re a real person like my daddy so I’m writing this letter to ask you who is right. I hope I am right because if I’m not than I have to get Wallace an ice cream and I would rather eat the ice cream myself.

Also, Mister President Sir, I’m sorry if I didn’t get enough Sirs after your name. I wasn’t sure how many I needed because I’ve never written to a President before, except the President of my sister’s drama club because he says that she isn’t good enough to be in his play and I know he’s wrong because she does plays for me at home and they’re almost as good as a movie. Is it true that there’s a movie theater inside the White House? If there is you should turn off the TV and have my sister put on a play for you. I think you’d like it almost as much as a movie, and then maybe her drama club President would let her be in his play.

Please ignore the drool on the paper, my dog Nick drools over everything I do.

Thank you Mister President Sir,
Jacob age 7

Here’s the link to the story on Fifteen Minutes of Fiction:

Mister President Sir

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Originally posted on Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

Love Song

This is the other poem I mentioned the other day. I won my local library’s poetry contest with this one. I’m really looking forward to writing some more poetry for this year’s contest. Now I’m competing in the adult category, gulp.






Love Song
Annie Louise Twitchell

I could write you a love song
to tell how much I care,
or we could count the stars
strewn across the evening sky.
We could find the constellations,
each one painting a picture,
and wish upon a shooting star.

I could write you a love song
to tell how much I care,
or I could keep you safe
from the demons inside.
I could stay with you
through the hardest times,
if only you will let me.

I could write you a love song
to tell how much I care,
or we could watch the moon
rise serenely into the starry sky.
Then when she sets we could
sleep the night away in peace,
without the fear of being alone.

I could write you a love song
to tell how much I care,
or sit with you during the
sunrise of a brand new day.
We could watch the world
wake up, and resume the
chaos and busyness of life.

I would write you a love song
to tell how much I care,
but I can’t express myself
with any words I’ve found.
I can only show you,
and trust that is enough.
I can only show you, dear one.

Is that enough?


Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Kezar



Kezar
Annie Louise Twitchell

The early morning mist rises
from the surface of the lake.
The dawn light is reflected
on the smooth, glassy waters.
The mountains across the lake
seem to be blazing with fire
as the rays of new sunlight
fall across the high peaks.

A loon calls; another answers.
A light breeze picks up,
the treetops begin rustling.
I push open the door,
go down onto the lawn.
The dew is thick and cold on
my bare feet. On the dock I sit,
my feet dangling in the water.

I hear a low rustle behind me.
Turning slowly around, I search
for the source of the sound.
There! A little chipmunk
is running through the grass,
his cheeks enormous with seeds.
He disappears under the porch.
In the tree above me a squirrel scolds.

A sunfish stops to nibble at my toes.
Squealing, I splash him away.
I go up from the water
along the road for a walk.
Under the whispering boughs of the
woodland trees I find something
precious, something I find each
morning but lose again during the day.

Here in the woods on the edge of water
I find peace, serenity, grace,
more than can ever be found
in places men have built,
but that can be so easily touched
in the cathedral of towering trees.
One feels small here, but it is good.
You do not need to be important,
you just need to be.

I spent a couple summers at New England Frontier Camp on Kezar Lake, which was one of National Geographic’s Top Ten Most Beautiful Lakes… in the world. It’s a boys’ camp and I broke all the rules for girls – I liked spiders and I was fascinated by snakes and frogs are neat and I was the person who removed wasps from the dining hall. Sorry, guys. I’m just kind of good at being different. I was my parents’ fourth child. I was a girl and I had hair. After three bald boys I was definitely different.

How you ever met a Northern Water Snake? I found one, sunning herself on a rock. I stopped reading and watched her instead, so intently that one of the staff members had to come ask what was going on. She got scared by the intrusion and slithered off the rock into the lake, and swam about ten yards to hide in some rocks,

I HAD NO IDEA THAT MAINE HAS SNAKES THAT CAN SWIM.

I really do like snakes, so that was super cool. At another point, the same snake was on the boat ramp and they needed her moved. I offered, if they got me leather gloves, but no one believed me. They figured it out themselves.

Anyway, I wrote the above poem last March for the Rockland Public Library Poetry Contest 2015. I won second place for the teen category. It was one of my first dozen poems, and I wrote it just a few weeks after finishing my poetry class. I was flabbergasted to get the email that said ‘Oh hey, just so you know, you won second prize, wanna come to Rockland and read your poem to us?’

So it was worded more formally than that, but whatever. I went to Rockland with most of my family. I read my poem (while a Monarch swarm of butterflies invaded my stomach) to a fairly large audience. I was told by one of the older poets that she liked my reading best.

Also I got a pretty piece of paper. And about $100 worth of poetry books.

Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Image from New England Frontier Camp Facebook Page

Remembering Apple Blossoms

I wrote this for the Homeshcoolers of Maine Short Story Contest 2015. It was part of my senior year writing project. I won first place for my age range (14-17) and had it published in the e-magazine in October. HOME Digest Fall 2015
It was a bit of a challenge, actually, because the word limit I was working with was 1,500 max. At the time I was not used to writing small pieces and it was an interesting stretch of my writing skills. A review reader told me that she was having a hard time placing the time period – the story was modern but the words I was using to describe it were 19th century. I was reading Jane Austen and other similar authors at the time, but I also use those words in my conversation. It was helpful feedback to add to my files, so now I triple-check my dialogue because some characters just don’t talk in that manner even if I do.
Remembering Apple Blossoms
Annie Louise Twitchell

I’d met Abigail at a women’s tea party. She was a quiet, sweet young woman, a year or so younger than my twenty-two years but with an air of a woman rather older. She was there with her stepsister Lillian, and the two of them seemed inseparable.

I’d gone to visit her a week later and she was lying in the orchard, while the apple blossoms drifted down onto her auburn hair and green dress. A young man was sitting beside her, reading aloud from a worn, blue book. He rested it on his knee as I approached, and looked faintly indignant at the intrusion. Abigail sat up and he reached out a hand to steady her. Her face broke into a cheery smile and she waved me over.

“Hello, Mia. What brings you out here?”

“Your stepfather said you were out here. I came to visit, but you already have company. I’ll come back later?”

She glanced at the young man with an odd twinkle in her eye. “If you can call him company. No, sweetie, stay. We don’t mind, do we, Nathan?”

Nathan smiled faintly. “If you want her, I am perfectly happy to share you with her.” There was sadness in his eyes as he rose and spread out the blanket, to make room for me.

Abigail waved me down next to her and Nathan began to read again. It was from a book of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, which I was familiar with, but I had never met such a good reader as Nathan. After several stories he stopped and laid the book aside. Without a word he gathered Abigail up and carried her towards the house.

I hastily followed, wondering the whole time what the problem was. He kicked open the kitchen door and laid her on a couch that sprawled against one wall in that spacious room. He disappeared through one of four doorways, and I sat on the floor to look at Abigail. Her smile as her eyes met mine was much weaker than the first, and she coughed slightly.

Nathan rushed back into the room, followed closely by Laurel, another stepsister, and Lillian. Nathan beckoned me away and these two girls began fussing over Abigail. Nathan’s hand rested on my shoulder, and each time Abigail coughed it tightened, until I was afraid I would have a bruise.

Finally Lillian stepped back, her shoulders trembling, and wiped sweat from her forehead. Nathan looked at her desperately, and she nodded slightly. He relaxed and patted my shoulder, then went to Abigail’s side and kissed her gently. She smiled up at him and brushed a tear from his cheek, then lay back and closed her eyes.

Laurel took my hand and pulled me into the living room, poured me a glass of water from a pitcher, and sat beside me on the sofa.

“I am sorry about that. It must be rather distressing to you, since you don’t know what’s happening. Would you like me to tell you?”

I nodded, sipping my water.

“Abigail is going to die soon. We found out a month ago, and the doctors said without treatment she’d live for maybe six weeks. If she took treatment than she may live for six months, but she wouldn’t be cured. She decided not to take treatment, as that would make her feel ill and miserable for most of the six months and it wouldn’t save her anyway. She’s not in pain, except for these spells she has every so often, and she decided she would rather be happy and at home for the few weeks she has.”

I nodded again, feeling some of the pain that decision must have made for her family. “Who’s Nathan?”

Laurel shook her head sadly. “He’s Abigail’s husband. The baby’s upstairs.”

I choked. “She’s married? She has a baby? And she still refused treatment? How heartless of her!”

Laurel flared up in a passionate fury. “She’s not heartless! She’s trying her best to make the memories of her last few weeks happy ones for Nathan and Natalie. How would it be if Nathan remembered her last six months as a miserable cycle of hospitals runs and drugs? At least this way he’ll remember her smile, because she’s not drugged up so much that she can’t see him. And the baby will have many pictures of her mama holding her, awake and smiling, instead of lying in bed all the time looking ghastly. You don’t understand. Please, go.”

I rose and left. I turned back to look at the house as I latched the garden gate, and saw Nathan standing on the porch cradling a small form in his arms. Laurel was watching me depart from the window. I shook my head and started home.

*****

Nathan phoned the next day, saying that Abigail wanted to see me. I quickly got out my bike and rode to their house.

Abigail was in her bedroom upstairs, looking pale and drawn. Laurel was viciously knitting in a corner, and rocking a cradle with her foot. A large vase of apple blossoms sat on the open window ledge, and the sweet scent wafted through the room.

“Hello, Mia. I’m sorry about yesterday. I wanted you to read to me, if you don’t mind.” She waved at a green paperback sitting on the bedside table.

I cast a look at Laurel as I reached for the book. Abigail followed my gaze. “Laurel forgets sometimes that just because she’s hurting, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is. I’m sorry, although I’m glad you know. That makes it easier.”

I opened it and began reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I read two chapters, then Nathan came in. He sat on the bed beside Abigail and cradled her in his arms. Laurel picked up the baby and brought her to them, then left the room. I rose to leave also, but Nathan shook his head.

“Please don’t go, Mia. Keep reading.”

It never occurred to me to disobey his request, given the way it was. I resumed reading. Four chapters later, Natalie began wailing. I looked up and saw Nathan’s shoulder heaving as he held tightly to Abigail. I hurried to the bed. Abigail’s eyes were closed, and a light smile rested on her face. I could tell there was no breath in her body, even without Nathan’s grief evidencing it.

I lifted Natalie and held her tiny body close to my heart. Lillian entered the room and froze, then fell in a heap on the floor. Laurel followed and sank into a chair.


*****


I laid the spray of apple blossoms on the grave and went back to Nathan. He took Natalie from me and bounced her on one knee, gently, absently. I knew he was thinking of the night a week past.
We sat in deep silence for a long time, until the sun crept down behind the mountains and the gray misty twilight lay in a blanket over the cemetery. Nathan sighed.

“It was like this the first time I met Abbi. She was dancing in the twilight, and she seemed to be wrapped in it. Then I knew, I just knew, that I would marry her. Twilight was always her favorite time of day. It seemed to belong to her and her alone.”

“When was that?”

“I was sixteen, she was twelve. The funny thing about Abigail is she lived her whole life in twilight. She always seemed older than she really was, and she always had a touch of other about her, like she was just here for a visit and if the twilight was right she would drift off to some other world. She always seemed closer to the angels than anyone else, too. She’d talk to them all the time, same as she’d talk to God, or to you and me. She’d tell them how her garden was growing, or about the baby kicking her that day. Later, when she knew, she’d ask all of them to protect me and Nat, after… After she was gone. Sometimes in the twilight I can feel them around the places she used to be. And you probably think I’m completely loony.”

“Not completely, no. If it was anyone I might think so, but not when it was Abigail. Somehow you can believe anything when it was related to Abigail. And you’re right, twilight was Abigail’s time. I think I will keep that picture just for her.”

“What picture?”

“The night she died I went out to the garden. I stood in the garden and I could see a huge, ancient apple tree, away up on a hill, covered in blossoms, all alone in the twilight. Somehow that made me think of Abigail.”

Nathan nodded. “Sometimes you wish that you knew how something was going to work out, how the pieces would fall into place, but I wonder if it would hurt more if we did know.”
~~The End~~

Copyright 2015 by Annie Louise Twitchell
Revised 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell
First Published by HOME

Stories For Elli, Part One

I like to tell Elli stories. She’s a good listener. She likes to be talked to. 
This was a story prompt on one of my writing groups – write a short scene (less than 300 words) about the picture below, dialogue optional. I tried to find a link to the original artist but we’ll have to settle with the vague blurred web address on the bottom right hand corner because searching the image on Google resulted in two story prompt collections and at least eight Pinterest boards. 
I would have blinked in surprise, had I still possessed my human eyes with proper lids to blink with. Instead I stared up through the murky water. I was certain that I had heard someone rowing a boat across the surface of my lake. I rose from my watery bed amongst the grasses at the bottom and drifted to the surface.
There was a boat, drawn up among the reeds. I could see the shadows of two people in it, but when they heard me break the surface of the water, they darted and hid behind it.
Help me! I screamed in my head, but all that came out of my mouth was an unintelligent roar.
No wonder they fled, like everyone else. No wonder there was no rest for me, trapped in foreign flesh, dying for human companionship. I was now as much of a monster on the outside as I had always been on the inside.


Copyright 2016 by Annie Louise Twitchell

Image Credit to Artist