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<div style="text-align:center;font-weight:bold;">Writer</div>The Yobanashi Girouette<div style="text-align:center;font-weight:bold;">Beta Reader</div>Cheeto<div style="text-align:center;font-weight:bold;">Beta Reader</div>Nor

Just where lies the boundary between fantasy and reality? When a bored teenager's attempt to hack into a virtual reality called BRYZ backfires, he must embark on nothing short of a modern-day adventure to undo the damage he has caused.

On his travels, he is fated to meet other players, both friends and enemies, experience many different and conflicting views of life, maybe even finding his own place in the world along the way. However, how much of it all is really just an game? Can anything in a virtual world truly be considered "real"? In fact, just what defines our "reality"?

Experience the journey of an eccentric teen, the world's most unlikely hero, as he and his friends work to save maybe not only the virtual world, but the real one as well.

PG-13 Completed
Young Adult
Short Story
crazy story


Genre: Fiction,teens, young adult,Drama

Chapter 1: Even years after her shocking passing, Carmen frequently invades my thoughts. Sometimes, life is strange like that. How sometimes the most significant influences in life come from those who weren't necessarily in the spotlight.

I imagine Carmen as the mother I want to be when I'm an adult. Even though I will never be as carefree and joyful as she was, she is the mother I strive to be. Carmen raised her children with wildness and wonder; I did it with law and order. But when we were kids, Carmen was the mother we all wanted we had. It was the norm for teenage girls back then, and it still is today, that your mother would never truly comprehend you.Your own mother was never trendy.

However, Carmen was genuinely cool with both her own kids and us. The other mothers wore "mom jeans," which have dreadfully returned to fashion, and had classic 1980s hair that was poofy. Their Mary Kay-painted faces had pinched expressions. Not Carmen though. Her bell bottom pants were a throwback to the previous decade, and she wore her dark hair long and parted in the middle in hippy fashion. When she walked, it appeared as though the ground beneath her bare feet had been replaced by clouds. Her skin was always radiant and free of makeup. She possessed a strong presence. You felt enveloped in her beauty and joy the moment she entered a room. You instantly felt lighter.

Carmen did not bake cookies or fold laundry, and she had no rules. Instead, she allowed us to roller skate without knee protection in the basement, and she made pizza every week for dinner because all of her daughters enjoyed it. With chips, cookies, and every sugary cereal imaginable—as long as you preferred it dry, since there was no guarantee that milk was in the refrigerator—her cupboard was fully stocked, it was a child's paradise. It was amazing that none of them were obese, but Carmen's life philosophy included treating yourself to the foods you enjoy.

When we were old enough to be dropped off and at a time when we should have been ashamed to have a mother with us, she would pack us all into her Volvo station waggon and bring us to the pool during the summer of my twelfth year. I had evolved to the point where it would have been socially unacceptable for my mother to be lying next to me on a towel, let alone in a bathing suit.

But Carmen never made us feel bad. Even if her appearance played a role in some of it, it wasn't the only reason. The other mothers were older than her. Tally, the oldest, informed us that Carmen was just sixteen when she gave birth. There was no doubt that Carmen's life lacked men, at least not reliable guys. She frequently went on dates, dropping Tally and her sisters down at whoever's home while giving the parents a wink and saying, "Thanks very much, who knows what hour I might get home." Because she was too little to even understand judgement, Carmen didn't seem to notice the tight smiles or the critical eyes that we all observed.

Tally and her sisters had different fathers, which was obvious. They all resembled Carmen because of their short, tight bodies and long, dark hair, but other from Tally, none of them had the same striking, thickly lash brown-gold eyes. Despite the fact that divorce was becoming more common at the time and more of us had broken homes than not, having a child outside of marriage was still frowned upon. Three was unexpected.

I could see why Tally and her sisters didn't appear upset by it. Despite the fact that I had a wonderful father, Carmen's family seemed to lack nothing because it was so abundant and filled to the brim with love. Carmen had eliminated the necessity for my parents to maintain a good cop/bad cop parenting style balance. She simply and passionately loved. She showed us that she was our mother by listening to us and by encouraging us to do things that we would have normally rolled our prepubescent eyes at, like smell the flowers, lie down in the meadow next to her house, and stare up at the stars.

Under a full moon, we should jot down our dreams and burn them in a fire. She had some infectious quality about her.

We were all unaware of Carmen's occupation because she never seemed to be at work. I don't know what she did during the academic year, but over the summer, she spent almost all of her days with kids, whether it was at their house, the pool, or a campfire. She appeared to be as financially secure as any of our parents. She had a modest but lovely home with a swimming pool and a nearby acre of undeveloped land.

Like everyone else, Volvo went shopping at The Gap with her daughters. However, there were hints that she was wealthier than she appeared to be. The cleaning lady who came on Tuesdays, the dark green Jaguar parked in her garage.

I reasoned that she was unique and that there were plenty of possibilities in the rumour mill. Because the other parents just couldn't understand that we all wanted to be around her all the time because we liked her. They found it impossible to believe that a woman could become independently wealthy through moral means. Neither a family legacy nor wise investments could account for it. No,

She was probably a prostitute, they assumed. She kept her sugar daddy a secret. She had wed the father of one of her kids before divorcing him in exchange for a sizeable alimony.

None of that ever made any sense to me. I didn't care how or why Carmen had money because I was a young child.

Obviously, jealousy was the root of the rumours. Carmen shone out like a beacon in our sleepy village. She relaxed by the water in a red string bikini, her body showing no indications of Chapter 2: childbirth because youth had brought her back into form. She would clumsily pile her hair on top of her head, and the tangles that fell out would be left behind.

down gave her a very sexy expression. Every middle-aged dad and teenage boy's head would curve towards her as she strolled up to the snack counter with a ten-dollar bill. She would drop the cash and order the young person serving us to let us get whatever we wanted off the counter.

I saw less of Carmen as we grew older. The other girls were younger than I was, and Tally was more of my sister's buddy. When I was in high school, I was no longer in need of transportation to the pool or to school, but I continued to hunt for Carmen whenever I might have run into her. Her presence had a delightful quality. The way she would run and break into a sincere smile

over to you with her arms open wide, giving you kisses and hugs while sniffing your hair as if she were holding a young child. You would feel her aura flow into you like a serotonin boost.

I occasionally attempt to recall the last time I saw Carmen, but memory is a funny thing and tends to combine numerous occurrences into one sizable haze. I've decided that I'll meet her at Tally and my sister's high school graduation, which will be held a year after mine. I saw her with Tally and the girls among the throng of people wearing red and blue dresses and posing for photos on the football field. We hurried to Carmen's and left our own family behind after I took my sister's hand.

The atmosphere was festive and tumultuous, and when Carmen opened her arms to greet us, it felt regal and comfortable. We collided with her, a little too forcefully, yelling and forming an awkward group hug that strangely felt just right.

She exclaimed, "My girls!" as she cupped my sister's and then my face. She focused on us, and we shone with smiles on our faces. When I think of her, I picture her wearing a long red and white sundress, her dark hair glistening in the field lights, and her loving eyes with their gold flecks. She radiated delight.

I would not see Carmen again after that.

A few years later, my sister informed me via email that, of all things, Tally had phoned her to inform her that Carmen had cancer. Melanoma. Being just in our twenties, it seemed odd. We hadn't nearly reached the point where parents were passing away. And who was Carmen? Sixteen or seventeen?

My sister wrote that Tally claimed it could be treated surgically. Thus, hopefully nothing major.

I accepted the information with some, but not excessive, concern. I was just getting started in life, working my first job at an ad firm, and dating a handsome guy who would eventually become my husband. Carmen was always on my mind, but the news of her cancer

wasn't a large-space consuming item. Surely no one ever perished from melanoma? Wasn't that the one where they simply removed the problematic mole or flaw?

But my sister contacted me in tears barely six months later. According to Tally's report, the disease was in Stage V and had spread ruthlessly and mercilessly. Tally had urged that if she had ever been your friend, now is the time to come visit her, my sister choked out. Tally informed her that this was the last time. I had a hard time believing this was actually happening because it seemed like my sister was talking about a stranger we hardly know. or as though it were merely a difficult time, and Tally was exaggerating. Carmen would survive. I was young and naive, so I didn't fully comprehend that having several Stage V cancers didn't guarantee your survival. your demise

I skipped the goodbye trip.

I now realise that I wasn't prepared to believe that a woman who was so full of life could suddenly pass away. I found everything to be completely illogical. The most vibrant person I know was Carmen. I was not prepared to believe that someone had passed away because I had never even lost a grandparent.

even without Carmen. Not Carmen, who shaved our legs after midnight, let sleepovers be true sleepovers where we talked till morning, and danced to music. She radiated life.

I froze on the peaceful morning in August when I sat in my office and noticed that I had a new email from my sister with the subject Carmen. I didn't want to open it because I didn't want to read the news or deal with the guilt I had been avoiding because I hadn't done what was necessary.

travel back home to see her. I kept adding yet, as if I was about to go at any moment. The time has come for you to see her if you are a friend of hers. She had been much more than just my buddy, and I hadn't left.

A week after the funeral, I recall virtually little of it. Many of us kids, the people she had impacted during the most formative years of our lives, were lost in a haze of black. Tally and her sisters were seated in the front row, and I can still clearly picture myself staring at the backs of their heads as they all had long, dark waves on their heads that made me think of Carmen. I don't

Only the way their hair reminded me of being in the backseat of the Volvo, the wind blowing Carmen's long locks while music screamed from the speakers, are the words that anyone spoke that I can recall.

Tally was outside when I got back from the service. She was smoking a cigarette outside the church and appeared as glamorous as a girl could on the day of her mother's funeral. Tally, who Chapter 3: was dressed in a black suit and an absurdly short skirt, opened her free arm in the same welcoming manner as her mother when she spotted me.

She said, "Hey, girl." Her eyes were dry yet puffed up. We briefly discussed uninteresting topics, the kind of discussions you have when you're stumped for words. I wanted to explain why I hadn't come, but I was at a loss for words. Instead, I made a remark about the crowd.

It appears as though she raised a village, huh? When the signal to start the procession to the cemetery came, I said, nodding my head in the direction of the young adults swarming the church's exterior.

Tally coughed. Well, we can't really expect the elderly to attend the town escort's burial, can we?

I gave a headshake. I remarked, "I've never understood that. Why do individuals have to invent stories only to satisfy their jealousy?

Tally grinned wryly and gave me the side-eye. "Go ahead. You are aware that it was true. Wasn't that common knowledge?

I just kept staring at her. My words failed me.

Tally made a shrug. "I suppose we didn't really discuss it, but I thought we were all aware of it. What do you mean, all those dates, and no boyfriend? She let out a little laugh. She was employed.

I swallowed deeply and mumbled, "I didn't know," trying not to display any signs of astonishment or the evaluation that my mind was trying to form. The Carmen of my childhood did not resemble the Carmen who slept with guys for money.

Tally retorted, "She wasn't a hooker. She served as an escort. She usually served as companionship for wealthy older men looking for casual dates. Not that it matters, but she hardly shared a bed with any of them.

I just kept looking at her. I was unsure of how to handle this brand-new piece of information about Carmen, which had presumably always existed.

Tally exhaled a puff of smoke as she shook her head. Not that it matters, she said once again. You know, it's never happened. She had to do that. It didn't reflect who she was. Tally turned to face me after dropping the cigarette and stepping on it with her toe.

She said, "You know who she was. She had a crushing melancholy on her face that was indicative of an orphan in every sense of the word.

I extended my arm to embrace her as I nodded. I mumbled, "She was everything," feeling waves of guilt for any moment of criticism that had passed across my face. “Everything.”

Carmen died a long time ago, and it's been just as long since I last saw Tally or her sisters. Like everyone else these days, we communicate with one another on social media. I have observed Tally, her sisters, and their close-knit family—which includes their spouses and, most significantly, their daughters—getting married and starting children. Every single one of them has long, black hair, crazy family gatherings, and a similar, head-thrown-back laugh. I recognise Carmen in each and every one of them.

I consider how, in the end, my mother and her friends were correct. Carmen was a woman who occasionally engaged in sexual activity for payment. With a background of being a teenage mother and having kids with several fathers, it seemed as though it was the entirety of her, of her being. As if it weren't just a means of making a respectable life. As if she could only be defined by those things, leaving no room for anything else, including truth, friendship, or love.

But Tally was accurate. I recognised her. She was the kind of mother I knew—one who made our childhood seem magical, who listened to us when we were teenagers, and who brought happiness wherever she went. She was someone I knew to give all to her children, both adopted and biological, as well as the rest of us who fell in love with her. When I had my own kids and started the challenging task of raising females, I had her as a person in the back of my thoughts at all times. I reflected on how simple she made it look, as if giving in, pizza and drink, no bedtimes, and no boundaries were necessary.

I don't generally parent like Carmen. I'm a mother who enforced rigorous bedtimes, sleep-trained newborns, and disciplined a kid for riding her bike without a helmet. I have guidelines, limits, and timetables... But on occasion, I like to imagine that Carmen is invading me, easing my stiff joints, racing heart, and life's anxiety.

She actually showed us how to seize the moment, after all. How to respond positively to my daughters' requests to cook brownies for breakfast. how to listen quietly without making everything into a teaching opportunity. How to be foolish and have fun even when other people find you amusing. How to hug someone such that they will always know how much you care.

The ages of my girls and their friends are very similar to mine during those enchanted years of summers spent by the pool and stargazing. When I drive them and have the music up with the windows down, I feel this want to radiate Carmen. When I see their stunning, unreserved joy on their faces in the rearview mirror, I can feel her presence.

I can picture myself in them from years ago, singing along to Madonna in the backseat of a Volvo with Tally and our sisters. Carmen is driving, her lovely face is in the rearview mirror, and her voice is the loudest and most beautiful of all of us. Her hair is flying around her like a halo.

Claxton (Book 1)

Lost in a world he's not familiar with, a young claxton must navigate his way through college-all while enduring the terrifying truth that he's the most feared magical being in the world.                                                                                                    ***  Eighteen-year-old Tracey Freeburg has a secret: he's a merfairy-a rare being known as a claxton-who grew up on Merlin's Island, far out in the Atlantic Ocean. When Merlin the Great decides that he's too dangerous for his world, he puts Tracey under the care of two humans, Emilee and Jesse Freeburg, with hope they will stop him from becoming who he truly is.  Emilee and Jesse enroll Tracey in the College of Charleston-a campus not far from Merlin's Island-that will teach him how to navigate the Human and Magic Worlds. The young claxton, not thrilled about their decision, isolates himself, fearing that he will drag the students to their doom.  Regardless, Tracey grabs the attention of Luna Cora Anderson, one of his suite mates, who knows there is something up with the mysterious but sexy boy, who could very well become the next bad boy if he's not careful.  In order to succeed, Tracey must find his way around college's hardships: drugs, alcohol, etc. and learn why he is so special. With his tern friend, Gina, by his side and Luna, his story will go down in history as Charleston's K.T. Magic Murderer.                                                                                                    ***

3rd Draft

Genre (s): Dark Fantasy/Young Adult/and a bit of a murder mystery

PG Planning