New! Teen Short Story Contest!

 photo by anne mazer


For ages 13 - 16 

Rules: Your story can be any length, but no longer than 1,000 words. You must be 13-16 years old to enter and live in the US or Canada. Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter will read and judge all entries. One story per person only, please. 


1st Prize $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble

2nd Prize $15 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble

3rd Prize $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble

All winning stories will be published on the Spilling Ink Creativity Blog. Honorable Mentions will be published, as well.

Deadline: March 9, 2015

How to Enter: Paste your story into the email message section of the contact page. http://www.spillinginkthebook.com/contact/ Write "Story Contest" in the subject line. Remember to include your name, age, and story title, and a working email address.  

Send us your best stories! We can't wait to read them! -- Anne and Ellen


What's Behind That Door? Honorable Mentions

courtesy of Morguefile.com

So what was behind those doors that hadn’t been opened in a hundred years? Let’s take a peek into the fertile imaginations of our contestants.



An excerpt from The Room At the End of the Hall by Leslie H, age 11

July 12,1943

Today is the day, I will find out what is behind the mystery door! The only problem is I have to sneak at night because my parents think the dumbwaiter is empty and I will “certainly fall to my death!”  I am kind of scared because the fourth floor has no windows and only one dingy room that used to be a study.  Mona Lisa hangs on the wall in the study just watching you work, no matter where you are so, I will have to stick to the hallway with my candle and more dusty pictures, but since they don’t watch your every move, I should be safe. Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

July 13, 1943

 I just found out what was behind that door!  A tiny room with old furniture, antiques, and rocking chair - that was rocking!  The tiny room was really dusty. Some of that dust was even black!  The room smells funny too, like a mixture of honey and tacos. Not a good smelling combination.

July 15, 1943

I think I figured out what that the black dust was!  The black dust is from an Ancient Greek warrior who plans to take over the world! I am really mad at myself because I let my curiosity get the best of me. What I need to do though is trap him behind the door again, and I know just how to do it.



An excerpt from an untitled story by Tehila L.


 Excitedly, I crept into the room. My flashlight flooded the small room with light, and I glanced around , curious to see what was hidden there. All that I saw was a wide drape hanging on the wall. It was hard to see, because it blended in with the walls. Cautiously, I removed the drape, and revealed a beautiful painting of a landscape, with tall trees that ran alongside the winding road. In the distance, you were able to see a small village, with tiny figures walking about. I squinted at the name scribbled in the left-hand corner. Vincent Van Gogh. I gasped. He was from the 1800s! Perfect! I had my entire report laid out!

Just.... why in the world would someone want to hide such a gorgeous painting? I mean, who would go out and buy a magnificent painting, then hide it behind a drape in a room hidden by a bookcase in another hidden room??



An excerpt from The Orphanage’s Hidden Door by Alison M, age 11


My hand reached for the door. I intended on opening the doorknob, but my hand knocked twice. The door was cold and it made bruises on my knuckles. Slowly, it opened.

 A closet. It was a closet.

Some interesting things about closets:

They hold things, they are small,

And some of them take you back in time.

That is this closet.

 It held one old boot. A shelf was on the top with a coat rack hanging below that. I stepped in, wanting a better look at the boot. Instead, When I got in the door shut and the closet was black as night.

It started to spin and shake. It was like riding a rollercoaster in the dark. I felt nauseous and uneasy. Finally, it stopped.




An excerpt from The Gold Locket by Megan, age 10

I got out of the car and my mom stood there and opened a velvet box. It held a beautiful, gold, heart locket with a silver chain. Inside was a picture of both of us. I walked to iron gate and looked back, my mom was gone. I put the locket in my pocket and opened the gate; I knocked on the blue, wooden door. A stubby, short old lady answered the door. She pulled me into the building. I fell and a sharp agonizing pain pierced my skin. A rusty old nail was stuck in my knee. I felt like an abused animal. “Get up,” she shouted. I got up and ran. Up the stairs, around corners, down hallways. I finally came to a door. It was the only wooden door in the hallway. It had a brass handle, and a brass knocker with a monster on it. I gave the door three solitary knocks. The fact I had to grab the handle that was in the monster’s mouth gave me chills. I heard heavy footsteps coming nearer, and nearer. I studied the door, like a pirate studying a map. I twisted the handle and opened the door. A bright light shone in the doorway, I stepped through the door. I studied my surroundings. I was in a winter wonderland. The mountains seemed to sweep commandingly into the heavens.




An excerpt from Behind the Door by Miah S, age 12


   I stepped inside the closet, and as I did I felt the floor beneath my feet give way just a little. A pressure pad, I realized. I whirled around to leave - who knew what sort of traps an old house like this one could have - just as the door slammed in my face and the closet was plunged into darkness. I felt for the doorknob, but before I found it the floor dropped out from under me, into a chute of some sort heading steeply down.

    I was too shocked to scream, so I silently whizzed down the chute for what seemed like miles, picking up more and more momentum the farther I went. Just as I was thinking that this would never end, the chute spit me out onto a pile of cushions caked with dust. Maybe the landing would have been pleasant 100 years ago, but right now it was disgusting. Not only were the pillows so dusty I couldn’t tell what color they were, but they bore signs of animals living in them. Animals like spiders and mice and earwigs. I shuddered and hurried to stand up. When I did I very nearly fell back down again.

 I was standing in the most enormous library I had ever seen.

 The walls were covered with floor to ceiling bookcases, their wood matching that in the house. Despite being underground the library had an airy feel and a high, arching ceiling.

 I slowly walked to the nearest bookshelf and reverently brushed my fingers along the spines of the books.



And the Winners Are....

Dear young writers who entered this contest,

Why did you have to write such good stories? It really isn't fair! You made our job very hard. We agonized over the winners. Please stop writing so well... we want to have an easier time judging for the next contest.

So here they are, our top three, chosen from a crowded field of outstanding entries. We hope you adore these stories as much as we do. Give these talented writers some love in the comments!  

And don't forget look for our next post, in which we will honor the creativity and imagination of some of the many other excellent entries we received.

Love, Anne and Ellen

 courtesy of Morguefile.com




The Hidden Paradise

by Min Su, age 12


It was an old Victorian house in a rural area that my mother fell in love with. Looming over the smaller, more modern houses of my tiny new neighborhood, it cast deep shadows on the already dark street. The floorboards creaked of age, sounding like the terrified voices of agony as my parents moved to and fro from the house. To keep me busy, my mom had whispered to me to find my room. Well, at least what I wished were my room.

 So here I am. Wandering aimlessly around the 5,000-square-feet Victorian, avoiding the splinters my feet are sure to get  . . . until I find myself lost. A hallway stands massively in front of me, seeming to never end.

After what seems like a century, I find a dusty curtain at the end of the hall. It is thrown hastily across the entrance of something. The smell of mothballs and thick dust swirl into my nostrils, causing me to cough loudly. My eyes water from the dust circling me, and I squint at the door behind the ancient curtain. It’s nothing special, a low door made of auburn wood. Small, intricate designs line the perimeter of the door, but the rest is just plain, solid wood.

I cautiously knock on the door, hearing a loud thud from the other side. Wasn't this a single-family house? I couldn't recall my mom ever mentioning that another family would live with us.

The door screeches open, inching inch by inch, dragging me from my thoughts. Small flakes of rust join with the dust, causing an even smokier smell to erupt. A loud, piercing sound rings through the 1700’s Victorian, and I wince, covering my ears in vain.

When my eyes flutter open, I see yet another door. Nothing stands between the tiny gap between the doors, so who could have opened the door? Not even bothering to knock this time, I crash through the second door . . .

To find myself in a paradise. Lush green surrounds me from all sides, and tiny colorful flowers dot the hills. Butterflies . . . no . . . fairies fly busily around, always in seek of something. Rosy-cheeked children dance in a circle, their light feet bouncing on a particularly soft piece of the meadow. Golden hair flying, feet flying faster, they never seem to tire out. I am tempted to go join them; laugh with them, dance with them. Yet a small part of my mind yells at me to be cautious.

My feet drag in the direction of the children, but my brain reels back. The angel and devil bicker on my shoulder:

“They look like they’re having a fun time.”

“They’re complete strangers!” 

Rallying back and forth, I feel like my world is split in half. Which side should I take?!

While I stand there, mouth agape, a child runs up to me and tugs on my arm. That does it. I take the devil’s side. The angel and my conscious mind wilt, leaving my feet to start dancing. And dancing. And dancing. 

Centuries, millenniums pass. The glamour of the meadow slides away, like a mask being peeled off. I finally understand that it is not a fantasy I have stepped into a complete nightmare. 

The children that I once thought were rosy cheeked and lively, are skeletons with deep bags under hollow eye sockets. The lush field is full of bugs and scattered with various bones of plants. The fairies I once saw as beautiful are complete misery. They nip at your body and yap in your ears. Worse than that, however, are the legs of us—the skeletons. Our legs are enchanted, bound to the nightmare’s lull, and will not stop. On top of this nightmare is a soft coat of glamour, and if only I’d looked closely, taken the angel’s side, maybe I’d be back home, dancing of my own free will. 

I only hope that that door down the hallway is tightly shut and the house knocked down before anyone else enters this world of terror, and suffers the same insatiable life as me. 






The Reading Room

By Sophia H., age 12 


“Seriously Rebecca?” 

I turned to see my brother looking at me, eyebrow raised. He was right. What was I thinking? That I’d open the door and it would lead me into this alternate world? Still, I couldn’t help looking around me for some sort of . . . I don’t know, secret passage. But the harder I tried to see something that might indicate something magical, the more I knew that it was just a regular old closet, boring and ordinary. 

“Well, you never know,” I replied, determined not to let him be right. I closed the door, its hinges squeaking in protest, and turned around. My brother rolled his eyes. 

“You and your ‘magic’,” he said, but I could tell that was the end of it. Flynn was not one to tease, and I was thankful for that. We walked down the long hallway, and then, nearing the end, Flynn ran ahead and barged into his room, slamming the door behind him. He did not do it because he was upset or irritated. That was just his way. I was the opposite, described as quiet, studious, and calm. 

I soon entered the living room, a fire blazing on the hearth, casting eerie shadows all around me.  Mom sat in an armchair, reading a book and sipping her chamomile tea. Upon hearing my foot upon a creaky wooden floorboard she looked up at me and smiled. 

“Well, did you find anything magical in that closet of yours?” she asked cheerfully. 

I pulled out my ponytail and began to redo it. “Nope,” I replied, twisting the hairband around one more time and pulling it tight. 

She tilted her head, and gazed at me. 

“You know, you’re just like I was when I was your age.” 

“Really?” I said. 

“Oh yes. I was a bookworm, just as you are now, and I loved anything magical. I used to build fairy houses out in the backyard, and then sit, hidden in the forest, watching patiently and hoping that someday I’d see a fairy.” She sighed. “And you know what? I never did.” 

I knelt beside her on the floor, and she stroked my hair. 

“Rebecca?” she asked, and then paused. 

“Yes?” I said, prompting.

“Do you like it here?” 

I thought for a moment. Did I? Of course I missed my friends, well, the friends that I had. I didn’t think I missed school, except occasionally, because I liked homeschooling a lot better. Mom wasn’t exactly a perfect teacher, but she was learning, as was I. 

When we first moved here, I missed the city a lot, but now I’ve grown to like it here. Living in this log-cabin-like house, in the middle of the woods of New Hampshire was actually turning out to be better than I thought it would be. So, I honestly replied, “I think I do.” 

“Oh good. I thought you would.” My mom stretched, and stood up, closing her book after marking her place carefully with a beaded bookmark. “I’m going to go make dinner, and you need to find something to do.” 

I groaned. “Fine.” 

I plodded in the direction of my room, and then collapsed on my bed.  I still couldn’t stop thinking about that closet. What if there was something I had overlooked? 

I decided to go and check again. Maybe I would discover something I had missed the first time I looked it over. I reached the closet, and placed my hand on the cool brass knob, which had been worn to a dull bronze over the years.  Turning the knob, I slowly opened the door. 

Worn wood, dusty cobwebs, and a rickety shelf greeted me unmercifully. There was obviously no magic here! I stood there, gazing thoughtfully at it for a moment, and then shut the door carefully and retreated back to my room. 

Sitting down in my in my comfy chair, I began to think, turning an idea over and over in my head. The closet wasn’t magical, that was for sure, but maybe I could enchant it with my own kind of magic! 

After thinking for a minute or two I decided what to do. I went into the kitchen where I found Mom fixing supper, humming to herself. 

“Mom?” I asked. 

She paused her humming and turned to look at me. “Yes?” 

“I know that earlier you said I could use the closet for whatever I wanted. Is that offer still standing?” 

“Of course,” she replied. 

“Okay then, two things. Where did you put the big sponge? And do you know where a hammer might be?” 

“Is my Becca up to something?” 


“Alright I’ll leave you alone. Just promise me I can see it when you’re done.” 

“Of course,” I said, smiling to myself. 

“Well then, the sponge is by the fireplace along with the bucket, and the hammer is in the basement on the shelf.” 

“Thanks!” I called, already running towards the living room. 

After locating the sponge and hammer as well as a bucket of nails, I headed off to the closet with a big pail of soapy water on my arm. 

I worked for an hour, maybe a little longer, and then finally, exhausted, retreated back out into the hallway to survey my work. What I saw was nowhere near what the closet had looked like when I had started. The walls were clean, cobwebs removed, dust free. Glancing down, I saw my green disc chair resting on a rope rug, both of which I had taken from my room. I had also replaced the dim bulb that lit the large closet, and it gleamed its fullest.  All this was nothing however, compared to the treasures that lay upon the shelf. My favorite books sat there, just willing me to read them. For I had, in fact, used some of my ‘magic,' and created my own personal reading room. 







By Madeleine L., age 11


I just need a break. I just need to run. But when I run, my troubles follow me. I can’t escape them. They’ve already intertwined themselves around me, enclosed me, like a net. I can run but I can’t hide. I’ll never be able to hide.

Staircase after staircase. Hallway after hallway. The wallpaper’s always the same, too. It used to be an elaborate design, but now it’s peeling from the walls, rotting away. It used to be beautiful. But not anymore. Just like me. Because why am I here?

Why am I here? I’m too wrapped up in my grief to even think about why I’m here. It’s my dad. He’s gone. Gone forever. I think about his funeral a month ago. When my dad was lowered into the ground. And tears were running down my cheeks and I was thinking “stupid car crash.” Thinking of all the things I’d never do again. Thinking about how he died too young. Thinking about how I need him. Thinking about how I need not only him, but his love, his hugs, his kisses. And then I think of his welcoming green eyes and his dark hair. And his gleaming white smile. I remember when he had a princess tea party with me when I was five. And when he helped me with my homework when I was ten. It’s just too much, too much. It’s my memories. I’ll never be able to hide from my memories.

 Dad and my grandmother were in a car accident when they both died. This house was my grandmother’s. Well, technically it was my grandmother’s. She owned it, but she lived somewhere else and never went inside. Now I can see why. I can barely stand all the gloom and darkness of World War 3 these days, let alone living in a dark and dreary house.

 My close family has never been rich. We got by, with my dad working and my mom staying home and homeschooling me. But when my dad died, we didn’t have money coming in, so we had to move here. So far, I don’t like it. This house was built in 2014, hundreds of years ago. Built in 2014! So old! I’ll never be able to live here.

And now I’m screaming and crying, tears pouring down my cheeks. I’ll never be able to reach him again. Never, never, never. I’m running through the house, fleeing my mother, who’s pale with sadness as well, but who’s trying to act brave for me. My tears stream down my cheeks as I run helplessly around. Trying to escape.

I’m so blinded by my tears that I almost don’t notice when I run right smack into a door. I stand there, paralyzed, shocked for a few seconds, and then start to stare at the door. I don’t know why, it’s just a door. Seems like there are billions of doors in this house. But this one looks different.

I put my hand on the cold doorknob. It isn’t tarnished like the other doorknobs I’ve seen. In fact, this doorknob looks like it was cleaned just yesterday. But we came here this morning.

The metal looks so familiar. And then it hits me. My grandmother used to wear a gold necklace around her neck. A white gold necklace.

The memories have caught up to me again. “Jessa,” I can almost hear them calling. “Jessa.” I try, but I can’t make them go. So even though I’m hostile towards them, I’m forced to welcome them into my head.

I remember the last night I was with my dad. A bright summer day. We were packing up our picnic and Dad looked me in the eye. The sunset was behind him as he said, “Remember Jessa. If one door closes, another will open for you. All right?” He looked so serious, I couldn’t believe it. He was usually so silly and fun loving. So I just said, “All right.” Then he smiled, as if he had never reminded me of his saying. “All right, Sugar. Let’s go.”

 The “Sugar” nickname came from a princess tea party we had when I was five. I accidentally spilled sugar everywhere, and my dad said, “Whoops, sugar!” I thought he was addressing me, though, as “Sugar.” So it stuck.

I’m plunged back into the coldness of reality. It’s as though I’ve been resting on a hammock on a warm beach, and someone has rolled me into the freezing ocean. I feel my hand slowly turning the doorknob. And inside I find . . .

Art. I used to love art. Not anymore. Dad loved art. It was because of art that he died, too.

I find my legs carrying me around the room, my eyes searching the pieces of art. They are so breathtaking, so beautiful, I have to remind myself that I don’t care much for them anymore. I find famous paintings from the Louvre.

Wait a minute. I believed that these paintings were destroyed when Paris was attacked in World War 3 a few years ago. This war has lasted forever.

Dad taught me about these paintings. All about them. I wish now that he hadn’t. That he had not known about art. Because when he was in the car accident, he was driving to an art museum.

I find it funny that it’s a note that I take interest in. I pick it up. The paper is yellowed and old, like everything here. It reads:

War is red blood, but art is red paint. What do you want red to be?

What do I want red to be? And then it strikes me.

Did Dad die on purpose? Did he know these were here? I don’t know. All I know is that this is what he would want.

And now I finally know why I’m here.

“I need to show the world art,” I whisper. “I need to bring beauty and light back to the world.” 






New! 8 to 12 Year Old Spilling Ink Writing Contest!

image courtesy of morguefile.com 

Sorry that we've been away from this website for so long. But here's a new writing contest to reward you all for your patience with us. We hope you have fun with it -- we can't wait to read your entries! Love, Anne and Ellen


For ages 8 -12

Write a short story from the following prompt: Your family has moved into an old house. As you explore it, you find a door at the end of a hall that no one has entered in 100 years. You knock on the door. It slowly opens and... 

Write a story about what happens next, or what you find on the other side of the door.


Rules: Your story can be any length, but no longer than 1,000 words. You must be 8-12 years old to enter and live in the US or Canada. Classrooms, homeschoolers, all are welcome. Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter will read and judge all entries. Prizes will include publication on the Spilling Ink Creativity blog for all winners and honorable mentions, and a package of signed books for the first prize winner.


Deadline: March 7, 2014


How to Enter: Paste your story into the email message section of the contact page. http://www.spillinginkthebook.com/contact/ Write "Story Contest" in the subject line. Remember to include your name, age, and story title, and a working email address.  



And now... The Honorable Mentions!!

We had so many great entries that we decided to publish the runners-up, whose stories are also wonderful. Here they are, in no particular order. Please give these gifted young writers some love in the comments!  -- Anne and Ellen


Apple Core

by Rachel

"At one point in this journey you’re gonna wish you had gone down the left path. What were you thinking?" said the nagging little voice in my head.

 I had to admit, my voice of reason spoke the truth. It’s dark. It’s cold. I was lost, and I don’t know where my friends’ cottage is. There are seven of them and I was supposed to cook dinner for them, but I haven’t even seen daylight in two hours.

Getting home before supper was going to be virtually impossible. And in an enchanted forest, anything can happen. Fairies could kidnap me. Giants could beat me and take me to their cave.

There was a story in the Gazette a few days ago about a woman getting snatched by a couple of little dwarfs. Considering the fact that dwarfs are only three feet tall, the whole story just scared me.

I quickened my stride and ran blindly ahead, trying to catch a glimpse of something . . . anything . . . that looked familiar. Something that could guide me home.


It all started when I was walking down the path and met that old lady. She was all hunched over like she had some sort of back pain. She only had one eye and her single tooth sparkled in the moonlight. She winked at me and beckoned me closer with one crooked finger. Not thinking, I took a few steps forward and stopped a few yards away.

"What are you doing?" My voice of reason screeched, "Are you insane?"

Ignoring the voice for a moment; I summoned all of my strength and called out,
“What do you want?”

“You seem lost.” The old lady stated, smiling.

“No, not really.” I shrieked, trying to keep cool without success. “I was just trying to get home for dinner. My accomplices can’t cook. They’re waiting for me to get home.”

"Stupid! Why would you tell a complete stranger all of that?!"

“You make dinner? For how many people?”

“Just seven. It seems like a lot, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

“Your name is Snow White, isn’t it?”

My heart stopped. How did she know my name? I’ve said too much. I began to back away towards the pathway that would lead me away from this crazed old lady.

“Don’t go off now: I was just going to offer you a present.” From underneath her cloak, she pulled out a basket. Something red and shiny gleamed in the faint moonlight. I craned my neck to see what it was.

“Aren’t you eager?” Her face broke into a toothy grin, “Don’t get too excited. They’re just apples. Plain and simple apples. Would you like to take these back to your friends? I have enough to share. I just picked them fresh off of the tree this morning.”

“All right . . . thanks.” I stepped forward and snatched the basket from her bony hands.

 She smiled again and said in a throaty voice, “Have a nice journey.”

My blood pounded in my veins and my heart was doing a mile per minute.

“And, since you want to get home by dinner . . .” she trailed off, pointed to the pathway that led towards the right: “I would suggest taking this pathway instead off the left. Gets you home quicker so you can make a pie out of those apples for dinner.”

I nodded feverishly, and swallowed. The old lady smirked. She turned around without another word and disappeared into the dark shrubbery. I blinked once, then turned around and took the right path towards home.


It was now hours later, and the supposed “shortcut” was taking me nowhere. I wished I had gone down the left path. I wished that I hadn’t even listened to that stupid witch in the first place.

I panted and clutched my stomach. It was hours since I had eaten last. There was a gust of wind and I shivered. I sat down on the ground and curled up into a ball to try and conserve whatever body heat I had left.

Several minutes passed in silence. I listened to the birds twitter and the wind push through the branches above me. My voice had been quiet for the past while, but it suddenly piped up and yelled at me angrily: “This is getting ridiculous. Stand up! Don’t be a wimp! You’ve got to keep moving, or at least go back the way you came! Get up you lazy witch!”

I shivered, and tried to sit up. When I did, my stomach pained doubled and I hunched over again, squeezing my eyes shut and waiting for it to stop. I fell back down to the ground again and whimpered softly. The voice clucked in my head and whispered, “You’ll have to get up eventually, you know.”

“Shut up.” I moaned. My head pounded. If only I had something to eat . . .

The apples! I quickly grabbed the basket and picked out one apple. I held it up to the moonlight and squinted. It hovered like an orb in my hand, glistening temptingly.

The voice suddenly screamed through the silence: “Don’t eat it!!!”

My stomach moaned, beckoning me to eat the only food for miles. I held the apple to my lips; took a deep breath and sunk my teeth into it. My teeth broke the delicate skin and the sweet juice flowed over my tongue. But something was wrong. Something tasted funny. It burned. My tongue burned. It was on fire. I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t see. I was blind. The poison of the apple trickled down my throat and I opened my mouth to scream . . .

But nothing came out.

I flumped to the ground and struggled to keep my eyes open. A long shadow, a shadow of a human . . . loomed over me, blocking everything from view. Then everything went black.

The voice was right all along . . .






The Hat

By Rosalie, age 11

I had been staring at it for quite a while.

It was a hat. A faded, torn fishing hat, probably left by a careless hiker. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a hat.

It was obviously something not worth debating.

“Why are you staring at a hat,” said my brother. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. I hated when he did that.

“I dunno,” I said. “There's something special about it,”

“It’s a hat,”

“I know that,”

“What’s so special about it? I mean, other than it’s a hat.”

It was official: my very own brother was as sentimental as a cactus.

“It’s a special hat, that’s what.” I said.

He laughed at me.

“Alyssa, get over here already!” said the distant voice of my mother, already getting farther and farther away from my position at the trailhead.

“Coming!” I yelled back. I hesitated for a moment, then scooped up the hat and started running to catch up with her.

We kept hiking for a few minutes longer, watching the small trickle of passersby. I turned over the hat in my hands, and stopped when I found the writing on the inside. “If found please return to 208 Cranberry Road.”


I remembered exactly what had happened at 208 Cranberry Road. I was seven years old at the time. It must have been during the holidays, because I had gotten out of bed early that morning to hand out Christmas cookies to people on our block “all by myself,” my mother in tow.

If I had known . . . I never would have gotten out of bed.

Everyone was enchanted with the little girl with bright green eyes and bouncing curls. You can laugh all you want about my ballooning ego, but hey, I was taking it all in.

 And then we got to the house on the corner. 208 Cranberry Road.I remember the door opening. A man opening it. Yelling. A door being slammed in my face.

There were rumors about him. One day, a kid on the block had been kicking around a soccer ball. He kicked it into the man’s lawn, and the next minute, there was the man, yelling at him.

The man at 208 was a kind of a legend. No one went near him, and he didn’t go anywhere near anyone else.

That man was standing in front of me right now. I braced myself for the door slam. I was less scared than I had been four years ago, but getting a door slammed in my face wasn’t my idea of a walk in the park, nor was it a pampering of the ego. I clutched the fishing hat in my hand, the words playing in the back of my head were something like, “idiot.” To think that I would go up to the man who lived on 208 Cranberry Road again was revolting. The fact that I had gone back to return a stupid fishing hat, of all things, was even more revolting.

I tried not to make eye contact with the man in the doorway so that he might not be able to see who I was. I was about to duck out from the doorway and leave without another word, when a little boy, probably about five, came up from behind the man and tugged at his arm.

“She has my favite hat, gwanpa!” he said. For a second, I was confused. The little boy came up, snatched the hat out of my hand and jammed it onto his head. He then reached up to grab the man’s hand.

“I see she does, Felix,”

I was startled with the man’s voice. It wasn’t anything like what I had remembered. It was warm and inviting.

“Thank you for returning this to my grandson,” he said.

I sat there, my mouth hanging wide open. When I finally regained enough sense to close it, the questions started piling up.

“What? Who? How?” I stuttered.

“His name is Felix,” he said. “My grandson. Long lost. Recently found.”

The man reached down and patted the boy’s head.

“Thank you. Good day.” The man closed the door behind him. Through the window, I could see him walking away from the door with his grandson.





Snow White vs. the Seven Dwarfs
by Kate M., age 10

"Queenie the Gypsy: Palms Read, Fortunes Told, NON-Homework-Related Questions Answered. $5 A Session," Cassie read the sign, and thought, "Well, I do have $5 . . . Okay, I'll do it!"

 She entered the shop. Lavish, glittering drapes of red and purple decked the room. Scented candles perfumed the air. Flickering lanterns created an eerie red glow. And seated at the center of the room, there was Queenie herself, with crystal ball in front of her.

"Sit down, SIT DOWN!" the old woman ordered the now-reluctant Cassie. "Money, please. Thank you. Okay, at one point on this journey you’re gonna wish you had taken the left path. Now scat."

Well, obviously Cassie felt as if she did not get her money's worth. To her, one random blurt was NOT worth five bucks. They argued over the fee until the gypsy gave in, promising a full refund, IF Cassie assisted her stepdaughter, who was a counselor. The gypsy woman instructed Cassie to help "Snow" with "seven little brats.”

Queenie led her to a back door that opened into a forest and pushed her out.

Cassie walked and walked until she reached a fork in the path. To the left were dark skeletal trees, human screams, and the stench of rotting flesh. To the right were beautiful flowers, joyous music, and the smell of freshly baked cookies.

"That hag is nuts if she thinks I'll ever want to go down THAT horrid path!" Cassie thought. So she moseyed down the right path.

As she trotted along, whistling a tune, her foot stumbled on something wet. The trodden-upon item was a fresh apple core. "This," she deduced, "must be a sign that someone is nearby." She called out into the woods. No answer. She noticed a rocky cave. Since it would be dark soon, Cassie decided to venture inside to see if she could find anyone, and ask for bed and board.

She stepped into the cave and called again. This time, she could see a light coming towards her. As it drew nearer, she could see a person holding a lantern.

That is, if it could be called a "person".

The grotesque figure stood 20 feet tall. He wore a pointy hat and had a beard stained yellow with food, though it must have been white. He wore old-timey clothes that had worn into rags.

But Cassie had no time to contemplate that mutant's appearance, for six more followed him. Two seconds later, she was tearing like heck out of there, with seven mutants in hot pursuit. Screaming all the way back to the fork in the road, Cassie silently apologized to the old gypsy woman for not believing her. Hanging a right, she ran into the dark forest. On and on she ran, until she was sure that she had lost them.

Suddenly, she spotted a miniscule cottage among the trees. Cassie bent over and knocked. An eye peeked through a tiny low window. The eye disappeared and someone said, "All clear!"

The door opened; Cassie stooped and tip-toed inside. The moment she entered, she had the curious feeling of walking into a dollhouse. Everything was miniature, wooden, and home-made; INCLUDING the kitchen sink!

"Ahem!" Cassie spun around to see two people, a man and a woman. The woman, more beautiful than an angel, had hair blacker than night, lips redder than blood, and skin whiter than snow. The man, just as beautiful, had wavy golden locks and abs that made body-builders look like weaklings. Cassie thought that they were glorious. That is, until the man opened his mouth.

"What, no gifts?" he complained, receiving a sharp slap from the woman. 

"Well," Cassie thought. "One out of two.” 

 She asked the people if they knew someone named Snow.

"I am Snow," the woman said, "Snow WHITE, that's me!"

 The man was Charming, Charm for short. They told Cassie how Snow's step-mom had given Snow a poison apple, but seven dwarfs ate it to protect Snow. The apple mutated them into monsters and they were destroying the forest. Charm proclaimed that killing them was "men's work" and ordered the women to stay and clean. Three minutes after he left, the women grabbed swords and followed.

They arrived just in time to see Charm getting eaten by the giant Snow recognized as Dopey.

"Good riddance," mumbled Snow, as the battle began.

Cassie had no idea what to do except to swing her sword around in all directions. Surprisingly, this tactic worked extremely well, because she was the weakest. In an hour, there were six dwarfs down.

 The last dwarf standing was Dopey, and he was NOT in a good mood. Snow lunged at him; he swatted her away like a pesky fly. She hit the ground hard, out cold. He sneered, and advanced on Cassie like a lion to lunch. Cassie fearfully stuck up her sword and braced herself. After two whole minutes of bracing, she opened her eyes. Miraculously, he had tripped and fallen, impaling his heart on a sharp boulder. Snow, who had just now come to, asked Cassie if they should bring Queenie a "hunting trophy".

Queenie looked up from her tarot practice as her step-daughter entered the shop.

 "Oh bother," she thought, turning red. "What could SHE be here for?"

Snow turned as Cassie lurched into the store, carrying a moist paper bag. Snow revealed its contents; 'twas Dopey's head.

 "Uh-oh, 'tis time to skedaddle," Queenie thought. She transformed into a crow and flew out the window, right into a hungry hawk's beak. Bidding Snow farewell, Cassie skipped home, wondering how on earth she could explain to her mother why she was TWENTY FOUR HOURS late!

And Snow lived happily (and Charm-lessly) ever after!




The Tram
by Mehr R., age 11

The rusting black tram kept on coming closer, closer, closer. I knew we would collide this time. I could see the crooked nosed, light haired driver with a determined look in his blue eyes. The tram was an inch from my nose . . .

My eyes flew open. I kept on having that same dream, and the train got closer every time. I grabbed my glasses off the windowsill.

I heard my mother’s voice coming from downstairs. “Amelia! Summer vacation doesn’t mean you can sleep forever! You said you would return my library books!” she called.

 I sighed and looked out the window. The sky was a beautiful light blue, and the grass was green as ever. It wasn’t raining, and I really had no reason not to go. I heaved myself off the bed and slipped into jeans and a t-shirt.

I skipped down the stairs, and chugged a banana milkshake my mom had made for me and set on the table. My mom gave me one of her “you’re so sweet” smiles. I just wanted to go for a walk and think about the dream.

 I looked down at one of the cookbooks I was returning for my mom-“Oh NO! Ravioli AGAIN!” I dropped them into my blue tote bag, and headed for the library.

It was convenient living near the library, as I rather liked books. I pushed up my glasses, and pulled my dark black hair back into a ponytail. I felt an odd breeze, too cold for summer. I reached into my bag, remembering my woolen scarf I left there in the winter.

 After walking the few blocks to reach the library, I pushed open one of its large wooden doors. I knew the librarian Victoria well, and I didn’t have time for a conversation. I rushed over to the returns bin and dumped the books in. On my way out, I saw a news article clipped out and put on the “Interesting Reads” pinboard by the entrance. It was about how sometimes recurring dreams are a sign of something soon to happen. I scoffed to myself.

Just as I was crossing a road, something didn’t seem to see me. A dark tram was coming at full speed towards me, driven by a crooked nosed, light haired driver with a determined look in his light blue eyes.



The Mysterious Forest

by Brian S., age 11

“We really shouldn’t be out here, dude,” said Charles Fertago to his brother, Connor.

The day wasn’t that bad, Connor thought to himself. The clouds were balanced across the sky, the sun was only partially hidden by them, and the wind was muffled by the trees of the enormous forest that lay ahead of them.

“Oh come on, you wimp. I told Mom and Dad we might be out for a while. Besides, it was your idea - you wanted to make your documentary on the ‘mysterious forest,’”

Connor thought that calling him a wimp might get him to cooperate, and he was right.

“Fine, I’ll do it, because I’m not a wimp.”

So the two boys started down the path until there came a fork in the road.

 “Let’s go right,” Connor said

“Why should we go right?” argued Charles.

“Because I’m right handed and I’m the oldest,” answered Connor

“Only by a minute!” said Charles, frustrated.

“So! By how much older I am doesn’t matter, the point is I’m the oldest and we’re going right”

“Whatever,” Charles muttered

“Come on, I want to explore more before it gets dark!”

Connor took off running at top speed with Charles right on his heels, but they'd only gone twenty yards when Connor stopped very suddenly and Charles very nearly knocked him over.

“Hey doofus, why did you stop?” said Charles as he carefully examined his newly bleeding knee.

“Have you ever seen a glowing apple core before, Charles?” asked Connor.

“No, why?” Charles replied.

“Then I’ve got something for your documentary up ahead on the path,” said Connor, his mind working on how in the world an apple could glow.

“What are you talking about . . .Oh.”

 “Hello travelers.”

“I’m sorry, did that apple core just speak?” said Charles, in total disbelief.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure it did,” said Connor, who at the moment was rubbing his eyes. “Who are you,” he said to the apple core.

“I am the spirit Radia inside of an apple core, what does it look like?” Said the apple core.

“I’ve never heard of Radia,” said Charles. “Why are you here,” he asked.

“Well of course you've never heard of me. None of the Greeks or Romans ever cared enough about me to have a story about me in their precious myths, so nobody knows who I am. I am Radia, the Goddess of the future. As for why I’m here, I’ve come to warn you about the path that lies ahead.”

“What lies ahead?” asked Charles.

“Danger. Trust me, at one point on this journey your going to wish you had down the left path,”

“Ha! I told you we should have gone left, I told you!” Charles said triumphantly.

“Now I must be on my way, good luck, and goodbye.”

Then the apple core simply disappeared, and the boys took off down the path.
They ran forever, right up until their knees buckled underneath them and their stomachs had cramps, but strangely, Connor felt the need to keep going. So he got up, but then the weirdest thing happened. The world seemed to drop away. Connor could feel himself start to fall. He reached out for his younger brother, but Charles was nowhere to be found. Connor screamed out one more desperate call of “Charlie!!!” but everything was already black.

Connor woke up covered in a thick layer of sweat, thankfully in his own bed, in his own house. To his surprise, he found Charles sitting by his bed.

“What did you dream about Connor?” asked his little brother.

“I had a nightmare, you were there, we were in an-”

“Enchanted forest?” said Charles.

“Yes,” answered Connor, “How did you know?”

“I think we shared a dream. I had the same thing. It must be a twin thing.”

But then they both saw it at the same time, a faint light coming from an apple core. It was glowing blue.

Charles smiled at his brother and said, “Let’s go left this time”

Connor grinned back at Charles as he realized what had happened. That dream was somewhat real, up until the black hole, he hoped.

 “That,” he said, already moving toward the apple, “is the best idea I’ve heard all night.”