About Me

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Hi! My name is Connie. I love to write short stories, poems, novel drafts, blurbs, pretty much anything (even research papers). I've written my first novel titled "Me & Eryn Carlo" and editing is in the works! While the book is being groomed and tweaked I hope you enjoy the short stories I've posted here on My Writer's Block. Some are fun - some are quirky - some are just plain strange. Constructive criticism is highly valued. Thanks for stopping by. Your views mean so much to me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Legend of the Golden Lobster

First part and still a rough draft. Suggestions are welcome. Thanks 4 reading!

The Legend of the Golden Lobster
My name was Brian. I was 22 years old when I died. I was a born athlete and a dearest friend of risk and adrenaline. Not to brag but I was a real charmer too; an attractive gentleman with brown hair, mysterious hazel eyes, and abs that made the ladies weak. It’s true.
It was May 13th – Friday the 13th to be exact - my best friend Todd and I took our boat out for a ride in the Atlantic. I couldn’t wait to feel the ocean around me, to smell it, to taste the salt.
The day was tranquil and picture-perfect. Without the wind to discourage it the boat skimmed over the gleaming glass-like water.
Not one to be superstitious about holidays like Friday the 13th (the movies were great by the way) I jumped off the boat into the clear blue water and released the air from my lungs sinking down
Down 
                        Down
                                    Down
into the ocean’s erratic and natural currents. I instantly became one with the underwater world. For reasons I couldn’t comprehend it felt like I was adopting a water-being’s capacity for breathing without oxygen.  It was hard to explain. Yes the water was pulling me in its demanding directions – no doubt it surrounded every part of me. But what I felt was more … ordinary. The ocean wasn’t a threat to me. I didn’t feel the normal pressure on my lungs like a normal person would feel in these waters.  The sea felt like liquid gold, like energy feeding each cell of my body. At that moment it was my life source. Maybe I was just an expert swimmer and felt … I don’t know … fishy.
Just then an abrupt coiling current washed through me and I felt normal again recognizing the need for air. I was just about to swim to the surface but a lustrous light halted my ascension. It shined in my peripheral vision and harassed the corner of my left eye.  The gleaming light burned when I tried to look at it but I could have sworn that I saw something floating in it or around it or maybe even behind it. The sun beams from the sky joined with the blinding rays and reflected off of the illuminated object. Instead of swimming up towards the surface I was drawn in the light’s direction. I was an expert swimmer after all – I could last a bit longer if I really wanted to. No problem. Besides, I was curious and couldn’t forego this chance to find something extraordinary.
The radiance was arresting but I reached out my hand and uncertainly stretched and stretched my arm as far as I could while maintaining little distance from the mysterious glow. Finally a solid entity contacted my wet, cold, goose-bump covered skin. A shudder went through me and I almost released the article of luminescence. In fact I wanted to let go. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t let me. 
I began to feel faint. Air. Oxygen. The actual fuel of my life. I held the weighty object as I would a football and swam
up
up
up.
Eager to feel the relief of air from the world above, I broke through the surface inhaling as quickly as possible. I swam back to the boat where Todd, my best friend since pre-school, impatiently waited. He was frightened. I could tell by the way he paced back and forth on the boat. He refused to comment, however, because he knew how it annoyed me when people worried.
            Woah! What is that?!” Todd asked immediately hypnotized by the entity in my hand.
            I looked down and saw it for the first time.  The floating item that I had captured from the beckoning shine: a golden lobster. The golden lobster.
There was an ancient tale that told of the notorious lobster – if this was indeed that lobster - that if found, offered ruby jeweled eyes and other valuable stones enclosed in its mid-section. It contained riches that could solve all problems.
True to its name it was made of brilliant solid gold. Its claws were large, dominating claws and its body thick; both supported long, glittering, diamond encrusted antennae as well as a belly shielded by priceless emeralds.
It was said that many years ago there was a Spanish sailor that inherited many riches.  Jealous were those that knew him for he had every material they had ever dreamed of and at the end of each day the Spanish sailor would sleep peacefully in want of nothing.
It gave obsessive hope to the city and motivated local lobster seekers to make the golden find. The one people had spent years talking about or fixating over.
There was a downside though to this legend as there always is. The prize of the golden lobster was said to also carry an inevitable curse of burden, a curse of darkness.
Oh it had been caught before by that fortunate Spanish sailor and in the beginning it had brought wealth and affluence but soon that fortune was followed by destruction, deathly occurrences, and gloom.
The Spanish sailor’s first mate, after witnessing the wrath of the golden lobster, obtained it at last and handed it over to a nearby museum so it can be stored for eternity away from the touch of a human hand. The museum board agreed and securely hid it from the world. But not for long. The museum met with near fatal accidents that pushed them to cast the golden lobster back to its home in the deep and protective sea.
Even though the ancient legend says that the golden lobster does not have a true owner that may benefit from its gifts of fortune the people continued to speculate that there must be one person that can avoid the devastation brought forth. The One.
Finding the golden lobster
You will gain all the riches in the world
But beware of its power
Within you destruction will curl.
Its jewels you seek
To gain fortunate and wealth
But trading the jewels
Will draw cursing spells.
                        For the golden lobster cannot be tamed
                        But only by The One.
The One the golden does not ruin,
The soul beneath the sun.
     Todd stared, worry spread across his face. He fidgeted nervously on the boat. “I think you should throw it back. Now.”
            “What? The golden lobster?! Are you insane?”
            “Brian. You know what the legend says … I mean …”
     “I know what it says. But maybe there’s a reason why I found the golden lobster.” I paused. “It felt … it felt as if it was summoning me.”
To be continued…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Short Story Coming Soon!

I'm working on a goodie! "The Legend of the Golden Lobster" - Intrigued? :) Say yes! :o)

Post Date is TBD but I hope to finish it this weekend.

Happy pre-hump-day!

[Connie]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Employee's Rage Delight

Tick …… tick …… tick ……
Tock ……………….. tock ……………….. tock ………………..
I watched the time on my monitor slowly move forward. Seconds were squandered; seconds in which I had relinquished control to this working world to live and survive.
Tap tap tap. My pen harassed the miniscule desk, a product of my boredom and frustration.
This call center atmosphere was asphyxiating and slowly strangled the life out of its victims … or employees.
Enough
Was
Enough.
I couldn’t listen to my coworkers and all of my stiff-minded bosses any longer!
I stood up from my uncomfortable and squeaky chair and undocked the laptop from its boiling docking station whose purpose was to elevate the unit and keep it cool.
I grabbed every file and paper and tossed it into the large, ill-scented trash can that I had noisily dragged in from the breakroom. My office-mates gawked, their jaws dropped open. I’m sure they sensed my aura of lost control and the dispersed particles of my energy finally reaching the breaking point that threatened me throughout every eight hour shift delivered to this ridiculous, low-paying job.
I held everything I wanted to take with me – my handbag.
I said goodbye to my acquaintances and declined responding to their interrogations. Where are you going? What happened? Are you okay? My mind had left years ago and my body was now ready to catch up.
Thanking my lucky stars that my bosses were in an off-site seminar, I left a post-it on my supervisor’s door saying … well it isn’t appropriate to write but I am positive that my sentiments were dictated very clearly in the string of blasphemy fit tidily into the boundaries of the small square of sticky paper.
As a courtesy (and I was feeling refreshingly considerate at that moment) I dropped by the HR department to tell them I quit and that I feel sorry for my predecessor already.
I walked out of the building feeling freer that I had ever felt before. I glanced down and realized I was still holding the company laptop.
Just then Thomas Edison’s fantastic light bulb invention appeared above my head and, seizing the intelligent light, I knew just what to do.
Once I arrived at my car, I gently, oh so softly, placed the rectangle of scrap technology underneath the rear left tire of my car. The key sparked the ignition and I revved the 4-cylinder engine revealing its meek but powerful roar.
Reverse.
Drive.
Reverse.
Drive.
Crunch.
Crunch.
Crunch.
I sighed. An impeccable “how to successfully escape your contemptible job” recipe.
Final recipe instructions? Repeat above steps until crunch is no longer audible.
The following day my poor decision (alright poor decisions) haunted me like unremitting buyer’s remorse.
What … was I … thinking?!
Something told me that the previously intact bridges were incinerated to a crisp and that my previous employer would not offer an encouraging reference.
I sat on my balcony and watched the rain fall faithfully in front of me. It flowed over everything and delivered hydration. That was its job…it was its purpose.
What was my purpose?  My cell phone rang persistently but I answered for no one.
For days I locked myself in my apartment and deliberated what I would do with my life.
                Once I had enough sulking I decided to withdraw my savings of approximately three thousand dollars. I purchased four lottery tickets, one for each of my family members, and one ticket for myself – a mysterious quick pick.
                Then I booked a three day cruise to the Bahamas. I’d never been so why not? I didn’t exactly have pressing career matters to call on.
                After the cruise I felt like a revived, purified version of myself. My purpose was clear and it now lies deep inside my soul. It was to live. An easy objective it may appear to be but it proves to be unattainable for so many.
                Next trip? New York! I experienced the distracting streets and tasted the celebrated New York pizza. I walked and walked and my body felt refreshed.
                When I arrived back at home I got around to checking those lottery tickets.
                Losing ticket…
                Losing ticket…
                Losing ticket…
                Losing ticket…
                Lo … Wi … Win … Winning ticket! Winning ticket! I screamed. I checked the numbers again. Then I cried hysterically and ran around my apartment like a mad woman.
                Oh finally! I could do everything I’ve ever wanted to do!  I would now have more ammunition as an aid in fulfilling my newfound purpose! Thoughts of Spain, Italy, and Paris blanketed me. Once I informed my family of this fortunate news they were at my apartment in minutes. Together they lifted me up and chanted my name!
The feeling was heavenly!
Piper! Piper! Piper! They shouted with happiness while throwing streamers and confetti and glitter!
But the glitz, the streamers, and the glam of the spontaneous celebration began to lessen. Wait! I cried. The haze faded from my view and cleared quickly the way dish soap overtakes greasy water.
“Piper?”
I snapped back to the present and realized I had fallen into an elaborate daydream of hopes.
I smiled at all of the bewildered faces glowering at me in this team meeting.  “Yes, sir.”
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Uh no sir I’m sorry – I was…”
“Pay attention!  I don’t prefer to repeat myself.”
“I’m sorry – I was … captivated by the fantastic PowerPoint slideshow you assembled. This is the best presentation I’ve ever seen.”
Easily overcome by flattery my boss’s anger vanished instantaneously. He continued his sleep-inducing, self-important discussion.
I smiled to myself. Was my job really that bad? No, not really.  With every job there are good days and bad days and when I again encounter a bad day I’ll allow my mind to wander off and enjoy my employee’s rage delight once more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coming Soon!

Employee's Rage Delight


A short story of only 1,000 words will cover Piper's relationship with her job.


Will post soon! Just adding some finishing touches!


Thanks for reading!


[Connie]

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Two Troubles (Condensed Version of the Short Story)

Hi! I'm submitting this story to a different short story contest tomorrow. I had to shorten the original to under 3,500 words. I hope it's still enjoyable. Thanks for reading <3


 “Ewww! Eggs and bacon again?!” Emarilda, or Emmie, a petulant child with springy red curls and freckles galore, threw down her fork and refused to eat this plain breakfast again. It was the same breakfast every weekend.
She knew how it must look. It looked as if she was unappreciative of her mother’s efforts. But Emmie just couldn’t understand. How hard is it to do something better like chocolate chip pancakes? Hellooo.
“You know what other kids get to eat for breakfast?” Emmie paused for effect…nothing. She continued goading. “They get waffles with strawberries, whip cream, and tons of syrup. And big pieces of French toast with sugar powder too!”
Emarilda’s mother didn’t feed her tantrum and responded, “Well you’re not ‘other kids’ and when you grow up you can eat whatever you want.” She smiled to keep the peace. After all, the day had only just begun.
“That’s right because all of you won’t be there to stop me.”
Her younger brother, Sam, chimed in with a mouthful of food, “I’ll be right there with you, sis!”
Their father and oldest brother, Jack, snorted simultaneously. Emmie concentrated on devouring her uninspired breakfast. It was nearly cold now, its warmth released during her fit of temper.
Fine, she thought, not much longer till I’m out on my own and I can have fun all the time and eat what I want whenever I want.
Emmie and her mother used to get along famously – the whole family did – until they moved to Boca Raton in South Florida. Almost immediately Emmie realized all of the cool things they lacked!  She was hypnotized by the latest and most advanced gadgets the kids possessed. And the clothes? Only the trendiest, popular clothes filled their closets! These same kids even received allowances without doing chores! It just wasn’t fair that Boca kids got everything they wanted and Emarilda didn’t.
She had noticed that her parents have been working more than normal. Something about the economy hurting – all she absorbed from that was the hint that she won’t be getting as many Christmas presents this year. Emmie had to have that new Burberry backpack. It only made sense. She had to fit in with the girls in her class.
Needless to say, Emmie’s parents have frustrated and confused her more each day. What was the point of them working so hard if they can’t give their kids what they want?
Emmie demolished everything on her plate and hurriedly dropped it in the sink. Her dad yelled after her to rinse her dish but she pretended not to hear him. What did parents know anyways?
Snatching up her purple notebook and pen and her favorite plaid (Burberry knockoff) blanket Emmie scurried out to the backyard and nearly ran over Sam.
“Hey where you going, Emmie?”
“I have plans to make for when I move outta here. I wanna write down all the fun things I’m going to do.”
“When you move out? But you’re only 14, Emmie.”
“You sound like Mom and Dad. You coming with me or not?”
“Okay.” Sam obeyed.
Once brother and sister settled outside Emmie suggested they create a list of all the fun things they’ll do when family isn’t around to oppose. It was a perfect day; the warm air refreshed the body and soul and also fueled Emarilda’s retaliation against the crutch of boredom.
They developed a list of activities that would fit perfectly in their world of fantasy. The entertainment ranged from water sports to rock climbing to advanced computer technology to an endless supply of delicious cuisines.
The day flew by while imagination was cultivated. Since it was Saturday, it was movie night and that meant cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, and popcorn.  The movie choice was The Spy Next Door. Emmie thought to herself. A Family movie. Great. Family movies were so corny.
Unexpectedly, Emmie found the movie to be bearable. It was surprisingly funny and it reinforced her idea that adventure is vital within families. It keeps them going strong. When the movie ended it was bedtime. Emmie trudged slowly to her room contemplating what boring things lay in store for tomorrow.
While Emmie got comfortable in her plush bed her parents entered. Her mother asked, “Did you enjoy the movie honey?”
“Yeah it was okay.”
“I thought it was pretty comical.” Her mother tried. “Maybe we can do something fun tomorrow.”
“Let’s talk over breakfast in the morning. I think we’re all overdue for a family outing.” Emmie’s dad agreed.
“Like it’ll actually happen.” Emarilda answered cynically.
“Well…we’ll see tomorrow. Goodnight lovebug.” Her parents kissed her goodnight and shut the door quietly.
Emma once heard that if you wished upon a star at a time in which all digits in the time, date, and year are identical then your wish was sure to come true. Lucky for Emmie it was October 10th, 2010 and it was nearly 10:10pm! Think Emmie – quick! This was her chance to wish for the world of fun her and Sam had concocted!
“I wish that Sam and I lived in a world where there was nothing but amusement! No parents!”
The clock switched over to 10:11pm. Hopefully I made it on time. Emmie sighed. Pointless, she thought. Wishing on stars.
Emmie snuck down to Sam’s basement room and told him about the wish.
“That would be awesome, Emmie. But when you tell someone your wish doesn’t it stop the wish from coming true?”
“I don’t know.” She whispered, “It’s not like it would happen anyways.”
Emmie decided to sleep on the idea. She fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Around midnight, though, a peculiar noise disrupted her sleep. It was a heavy wind blowing noise paired with light flashes that occurred in uneven intervals outside her window. Frightened but curious she slipped out of her safe bed and peeked around the edge of the window curtain.
Swoooosh.
Silence.
Swooooooooosh.
Silence.
Emmie opened the curtain all the way, risking being seen, and gasped.
Two hot air balloons in the front yard.
Woah – gotta limit the popcorn and soda before bedtime, Emmie. She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut willing the outside scene to go back to a grassy front lawn with the usual inhabitants.
No such luck. This was certainly a wacky dream. Emmie spun around when she realized Sam was at her doorway, “Emmie! Did you see what’s outside?! What’s going on?”
“Come on, Sam. Let’s go see. What’s the worst that can happen? This has to be a dream!” Emmie laughed nervously and ran outside to the massive unmanned balloons. No one else had heard or seen this bizarre scene.
Sam followed cautiously. They knew they would be embarking on an outlandish journey as soon as they were each in their own balloon. What a story this would be in the morning! The contraptions ascending slowly into the obscure sky.
As the miles above land increased, the once open and airy hot air balloon began to transform! Within seconds it was completely enclosed and the air had changed. Emmie was light-headed and frantic. We’re being abducted by aliens! A window materialized while the gravity rapidly disappeared. Emmie floated uncontrollably throughout the spacious, reformed balloon. She looked out to the dark space and noticed stars and planets and….at least twenty other balloons! Each child peered out into the unknown. Their expressions ranged from euphoric to downright panic. Sam’s balloon was immediately across from Emmie’s. He was all smiles! At eleven he was so carefree.
Abruptly, the balloons gained speed. The balloons moved faster and faster; they became wild. It appeared that outer space had…roads. Instead of pavement, though, there were roads comprised of star clusters and constellations! These energetic stars gave off strong light while spacecraft balloons continued to zip along the star highway. But the faster they went the more the other balloons started to blur.
Emmie noticed an upcoming wall of tightly packed green stars that appeared to signal “go.” It was frightening as the balloons moved closer towards it and the possibility of combusting in star flames entered Emmie’s mind. She braced for impact.
After staying in that position for some time she opened one eye expecting to be doomed and floating in space but no….all balloons had passed safely through the crevices of the wall effortlessly. Next thing Emmie knew stars began surrounding the balloon. It tipped upside down, then to the right, left, forward, faster, faster, down like an elevator dropping 10 floors. She no longer had the luxury of seeing outside.  Suddenly the ride came to a smooth rolling stop. The lights diminished and an exit door magically appeared. Emmie’s inquisitive nature took lead. She stepped out and immediately recognized the familiar gravity.
A smiling teenager welcomed her. “Hello Emarilda. I am Zoey, a counselor here at F.U.N!”
Fun?” Emmie asked, donning her most skeptical look.
Zoey chuckled “F – U – N. Fantastic Universal Neuro-galactic-academy.”
“Wouldn’t that be F-U-N-G-A – funga?”
“Nope. Here we abbreviate it as F.U.N. because fun is the number one goal here.  Besides, Neuro-Galactic-Academy is all one word, silly. No parents here my new friend. Just kids that are tired of listening to boring rules. Here at F.U.N. you can play, scream, eat anything, go nuts! Just be a kid.” Zoey kept smiling.
“Okay. This is so weird. Is this a dream? Where’s my brother?”
“Sam is partaking in the fun!”
After walking a short distance Emmie spotted her brother rock climbing. She stopped to take in her surroundings. A tremendous dome shielded them from the dangers of space but also allowed them to admire its beauty. There were rollercoasters, carnival games, food courts, and more. Everything that Sam and I wrote on that list is here!
“Step right up! Enjoy F.U.N.  Everything you’ve ever wanted to do is at your fingertips!” The voice claimed over an intercom. Emmie was still trying to take it all in.
Balloons continued landing onto a grip and rolling up to the dock.  Once new children arrived their looks of uncertainty disappeared. They instantly forgot their mode of transportation. Were they disgruntled children like me? Unhappy at home?
            Emmie ran over to Sam. “Can you come inside with me?”
            He was beaming with excitement. “This place is awesome!”
            Together they walked to the main building that resembled a skyscraper hotel. Upon entering the double doors they gasped. The hotel was as high as the eye could see. Each floor was a different color of the spectrum. Wacky room numbers (numbers that were tilted, angled, patterned, etc.) graced the doors.
            They arrived at what appeared to be the elevators but they weren’t ordinary elevators. There were no doors. You simply stood on a lit circle and….DISAPPEARED!
            Emmie started hyperventilating. “Those kids just vanished Sam! We need to get out of here!”
            “Relax Emmie – it’s a transporter that beams you right to your room!”
            “A transporter? Like in Star Trek?”
            “Uh yeah. Like in Star Trek!”
            Just then Emmie felt a soothing wave of energy wash over her. It was as if a curtain had been allowed to open and the sunlight was rushed in. What am I worried about? It’s time to have some fun for once. We’d worry about getting home later. They set out to accomplish everything on their list.
            Hours went by. Hours turned into days. Days turned into weeks. Emmie and Sam didn’t find that much sleep was necessary. A catnap here and there sufficed. There was just so much to do! Home was an ideal that gradually drifted from their minds. The hospitable counselors always seemed to find new activities for them to enjoy.
            One day while Emmie napped at a picnic table she had an oddly familiar dream.  Cozy family….popcorn….movie. What was that random dream supposed to mean?
            Lost in thought, Emmie sauntered around F.U.N. It was easy to lose track of time as there was so much to entertain. Every kid was constantly going and going – like a posse of Energizer bunnies.
            Speaking of losing track of time, she nursed a nagging feeling that she couldn’t quite put a finger on. It gnawed on her senses when she thought about time. Suddenly her mind jerked back to the present.  The fun. No pressure. No school. No homework. No fighting. No….Mom, Dad, or Jack.
 Emmie began asking around for the date. No one knew! They acted like it was insane to ask for such a thing. Emmie was beyond frustrated, an emotion she hadn’t experienced in what felt like days or maybe a week.
Emmie decided she would attempt to sneak into the room designated “Employees Only.” She devised a plan to distract the F.U.N. employees that stood guard. In seconds, she disheveled her clothing and rubbed dirt on her face. Running inside she screamed hysterically. “Everyone! Zoey needs your help. A big fight broke out over by the rock climbing walls! Hurry!”
They immediately followed with shocked looks on their faces. They had obviously never heard of a fight occurring there. Once the employees were off she ran through the forbidden door and immediately zoned in on a calendar.
What had seemed like a week was actually five whole months. Emmie shrieked with panic when she thought of what her family must be going through.
An employee finally discovered her. “Hey! You lost?”
“I want to go home!”
The teenage boy chuckled and walked toward her. “This is home. Why don’t you go back outside and have fun?”
 “Stay back! I want my real home!” Emmie shouted.
“And why would you want to go home anyways? Didn’t you think it was boring?” His tone turned sarcastic.
Emmie quickly outmaneuvered him and sprinted. She began anxiously questioning kids on how to get home.
Just when leaving felt completely impossible she heard a whisper “Hey. You. You want to go home? I know how.”
Emmie turned around and saw a skinny boy sitting on a picnic table in a far corner. “You know how?”
Nervously he began, “I just know. You have to find the Mystic.”
“The Mystic?” She gazed at him skeptically. “If you know about this why don’t you leave?”
“Because…” He twitched uneasily.
Emmie felt bad for the shy boy. “What is your name?” She asked gently.
“Bernard.”
“Hi Bernard. I’m Emmie. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi.”
“So why don’t you want to go home?”
“Because my parents beat me. There’s no reason for me to be there.” Bernard’s eyes filled with tears. “They hate me.”
“I’m sorry. “
“It doesn’t matter now. I’m free from them. So. You have to find the Mystic.”
“Where?”
“A special room. Blue door with an upside down number two. She will tell you how to leave.”
They both stood and Emmie gave Bernard a huge hug. “Thank you!”
“You must have a wonderful family.”
“We do. My brother Sam and I.” She paused. “Would you like to come with us?”
He smiled at that. “Thank you but no. This is my home now.”
“Good luck, Bernard.”
Emmie ran off in search of Sam and found him playing volleyball. “Sam!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the game. “We need to get home. Come on!”
“Home?” He said the word as if it were alien. For her it was almost the same way; home was an idea that had become distant in her mind. But reality was weaving its way back in.
“We have to find the Mystic!” She dragged him despite his protests. They found the room Bernard spoke of. A dirty blue door with a rusty number two upside down.
Emmie opened the door to reveal the Mystic who sat in the middle of the room. On the right side of the room was a wide projector screen and on the left there were two large bathtubs.
The Mystic spoke lightly. “Can I help you?”
“We want to go home.” Emmie was bold.
“Why? You are in the world of fun you both dreamed of. You hated your life.” The Mystic chided. “Here you have all of the food you want and games and rides and just so much fun!”
“How do we get home?! We miss our family!”  Emmie cried. Sam helplessly watched his sister fall to pieces.
“Do you truly mean that Emmie? Sam?” The Mystic questioned.
“Yes. “ Sam chimed in. “We mean it. Please.”
Emmie sobbed. “I didn’t realize how much home was a part of who we are.”
The Mystic handed them each a strange pack. Each package contained a limp canvas balloon.
“Ummm…” Sam began. The situation was so weird that he couldn’t even find words.
Little did Sam and Emmie know – it would only get more peculiar.
“Listen to me carefully.” The Mystic stood. “If you want to go home you have to hold your balloon and sit in the bathtub. The container will fill with water…Th…”
“What?!” Emmie interrupted.
“Do you want to go home my dear?” The Mystic persisted.
“Yes.”
“Let the water cover you and watch the screen. Think of what is waiting for you at home. Your mother. Your father. Your brother.”
 Emmie climbed into the bathtub and focused on home.
The screen began displaying a slideshow of pictures. Familiar pictures. Pictures of their family. Emmie could feel something changing…she felt…different. Sam hesitated. He turned his head toward the door.
Emmie begged. “Focus Sam! Concentrate!”
Emmie felt the canvas hot air balloon start to envelop her. She was moving away from the Mystic, away from Sam.
“Sam please! Remember home!”
And then she was gone….

Seconds later Emmie awoke disoriented.
It was light out. Familiarity touched her senses. Sheets, pajamas…something soft and plush…
“My bed! I’m home!” She rolled around with excitement.
Then she stopped. Oh please tell me Sam made it! Emmie jumped out of her bed, ran out of her room, down the hallway, down the stairs. Each heartbeat grew louder in her chest. Her breath was ragged.
“Sam!” She practically knocked down the door to the basement.
The bed was empty! She dropped to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably. Sam was gone. Emmie dragged her feet back towards her bedroom.
“Emmie!”
“Sam!” She screamed. He was standing in the hallway that led to Emmie’s room. They ran to each other and hugged. “I thought you didn’t make it back!  I ran to your room right after I woke up in my bed!”
“Oh. You woke up in your bed?” He asked scratching his head.
“Yeah…you didn’t?”
“Er…I don’t want to talk about it”
Emmie giggled. “You can tell me later – I love you. I don’t want that to ever happen again!”
“I second that. I love you too. I think everyone’s in the kitchen.”
“Let’s go. We have a lot of apologizing to do.”
Their family was quietly enjoying breakfast. Sister and brother stood in the doorway absorbing the panorama they’d previously taken for granted. A family that always cared for them but they were too stubborn to ever notice. They had been trapped in their own little world…
Lesson learned. Be careful what you wish for.
“Good morning” Emmie said weakly.
They mumbled good morning in return.
Sam started “We have a lot of apologizing to do.”
Three shocked faces turned.
“Is this a joke?” Jack snorted “I have to get to work.”
“What day is it?” Emmie asked.
“Sunday.” Jack replied curtly.
“Wait Jack, please. Sam and I want to apologize for how terrible we’ve acted toward you guys. “
“What made you finally realize it?” Their father questioned.
“Let’s just say Sam and I had a rude awakening. It was like a….um…dream we both had. About the life we wanted so badly. But it wasn’t as great as we thought it’d be. It’s not great without family.”
“I say apology accepted. We love you both so much.”  Their mother gave them kisses and they hugged her tightly. “Now”, she said, “you can start redeeming yourselves!”
“I’ll get the dishes!” Emmie yelled.
“I’ll get the trash!” Sam volunteered.
“Uh uh. After you eat some breakfast first.” Their mother rebuked.
Their father and brother glanced at each other. After a thick silence Jack spoke. “Good to have you two back.” He winked. Emmie and Sam grinned.
“How about another movie night? Popcorn. A great flick. As a family.” Their dad suggested happily.
“Sounds great dad!” Sam was eager. “How about Over the Top?”
They all laughed. They had seen that movie one too many times for Sam.
“How about...” Their father contemplated. “I know!” He was thrilled. “How about that new movie that just came out on DVD? Space Kids in Mars! That sounds like a perfect family movie.”
Sam and Emmie looked at each other quickly and screamed in chorus, “Nooooo!” and started laughing so hard they were crying.
Their lives were excellent and they had never known it. Until now. Now they see it clearly and plan to enjoy every moment of it…all together.