Once Upon a Witch's Moon Part 1 - Ch 1

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Chapter One

"I hate school," Twist Rhodes said, as she sat at her computer, trying to finish the final summer assignment that was still left undone. Mr. Groat's assignment memo had been almost cheery, as if he rejected the notion that homework over summer break was a specialized form of torture and was instead an incomparable joy. "Please fictionalize a seminal moment in your life into a short story of no less than 5,000 words. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling count. Enjoy your summer!"

Twist had indeed enjoyed her Maine summer days unbound from school, free to roam the small, isolated rocky jut of land she called home. She hadn't even minded the long list of books on her summer reading list, or the SAT test prep book she had worked her way through. But this story that Mr. Groat had so breezily assigned had eluded her. Her entire life was already fiction. Fictionalizing fiction turned it into what? Absurdist fantasy?

She closed her eyes, trying to think of one normal moment in her life that she could turn into believable fiction. As she stared at the blank screen, it eluded her still.

She grabbed her journal. Maybe scribbling some random thoughts in there would jumpstart her inner storyteller. Her junior year in high school would begin tomorrow and she dreaded it. Every dawn of a new school year she told herself this year would be different. This year she would hide her weirdness well enough that her classmates would stop thinking of her as the girl with the odd-colored eyes, who didn't like to touch things. The girl who knew things she shouldn't know.

"This year is going to be different," she whispered to herself as she wrote in her journal, just like she did every new school year. "This year I'm going to get rid of the nightmare, make friends, and look normal."

Twist hadn't ever written that vow down in the journal, though. Her mom had always been respectful of Twist's privacy. As far as Twist knew, her mom had never peeked in her journal. But Twist knew better than anyone, except her mom, how tempted Sylvia Rhodes had been to peek.

If her mom did succumb to temptation and peek into Twist's journal, though, the most alarming things she would see would be random sketches of skeletal hands reaching out, and tornados, that Twist tried to remember to burn in the wood stove when Sylvia wouldn't notice. Mostly, though she wrote random poetry and sketched flowers, plants, crows, chickens, squirrels and Bossy II.

The only other thing she had written in the notebook was a list of nightmare remedies. She looked at the list, half crossed off.

For a moment she considered turning the nightmare that had plagued her since she landed in Bob and Sylvia Rhodes' Kansas corn field almost eight years ago into a story. Her classmates loved horror movies and dark twisted tales. She knew that all too well. But few of them had to live with their own nightly horror show, wondering if they'd wake up in the morning or be blown into someone else's field without clothing or memories.

No. Some instinct deep inside told her that that she would be able to pretend to be normal if she could just get rid of the stupid nightmare. Writing about the nightmare would make it real.

The nightmare preventive du jour was a relaxation technique she had copied off the internet. The blogger she'd copied it from called it Total Relaxation Therapy. She was ready to try it, if she could just get the stupid story written. In desperation, she decided to build a story around the first time she had gathered eggs from the hens in the henhouse. Not exactly a seminal moment, but it was a first.

She forced herself to write two thousand words, padding descriptions with adverbs and adjectives and taking advantage of redundancy to say the same things twice, but differently. At last, needing three thousand more words, she gave in to the absurdist urge and made the chickens able to talk about their life, ala George Orwell's Animal Farm. That should give her points with Mr. Groat.

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