Prom: When Harrowing History Turns Happiness Into Horror

After their Prom, two couples (Meg and Drake, Tracy and Shawn) hopped in a car and headed for the shores of Cape Cod.  It was 2 am by the time they arrived, and the beach was technically closed, but they … Continue reading

The Not-So-Snappy Turtle

Genetically, Tim Turtle was designed to “snap.” His mother told him from an early age that this might “cause him to alienate other creatures.” At the time, Tim was too young to know what “snapping” meant, but he assumed it was something peaceful, because peaceful was the word that described him best.

Throughout elementary school, Tim had no trouble making friends, because he was very outgoing and treated everyone with respect and kindness. Then Tim graduated to middle school, and life became more complicated. Tim made plans with Sam Salamander, but then Sam cancelled on him at the last minute. Then another time, Tim made plans with Bella Bullfrog, and she showed up an hour late to his house. This behavior confused and angered Tim, because he never would have cancelled or shown up late on them. He respected his friends, but, for the first time, he doubted whether they respected him back. So, Tim asked his mother for her opinion.

“You should snap at them,” his mother said,”and yell as loudly as you can.” Tim thought this advice over for a while, and then came to the conclusion that his mother might be right. So, the next day at school, Tim took Sam aside and started yelling.

“How could you ditch me?” Tim snapped. “Friends don’t cancel plans at the last minute.”

“Susie asked me out on a date, and I’d never been on a date before,” Sam said defensively, “I thought you would understand.” And, of course, Tim did understand, but he was still upset.

“You should have told me,” said Tim, “It’s great that you had a date, but I was looking forward to hanging out.”

“I will be better next time,” said Sam, and this made Tim happy, because this was all he wanted to hear. Later that day, Tim found Bella in the hallway.

“Why did you show up late last week?” Tim yelled. “I felt silly, and I kept looking at the clock.”

“I had to write a paper,” Bella said sadly. “I wanted to be there earlier, but I had to work extra hard. I didn’t do so well on my last paper.” Tim nodded. Again, he understood his friend. He wanted her to do well on her paper.

“You should have called me,” said Tim, “It  just would have been nice to know you were running late. ”

“I will be better next time,” said Bella, and that was all Tim wanted to hear. Never again would Tim snap at his friends. If he was angry with them, he would talk to them kindly, and give them  a chance to explain. Occasionally there would be a friend who had no reason for being impolite, and to those friends Tim would simply reply, “I have no time for disrespectful friends,” and move on.

Written and Owned by Alex Schattner

The Great Corvallis Bean Miracle

Mr. and Mrs. Morris owned Emerald Meadows, a 200-acre farm in Corvallis, Oregon.  When they originally bought the property, they had intended to grow hearty vegetables, but their neighbors warned that it was a fool’s mission. “The only thing that will grow here is grass seed,” they said, and the Morris’s were inclined to believe them. There wasn’t much choice. They needed the land to start making money as soon as possible.

Even so, the Morris’s learned to love their farm, and the little Victorian house in which they resided. The calm that came with the farming lifestyle suited them fine, and they required no one but each other for company. Their only concern was what would happen to the farm in the future when they were too old to work it. They had no children, and the generation behind seemed to prefer the bustle of cities.

Decades past, and the Morris’s indeed grew older. Their back problems worsened, and they found that it took twice as long to complete half as much work. As a new planting time came upon them they realized that they required help. So, they wrote an ad, “Seeking Two Capable Farmhands,” and paid a neighborhood boy to post it online. That night they received a call at eight o’clock sharp.

“We’re on our way,” said a spirited young woman’s voice.

“Who are you?” asked Mr. Morris, but the woman had already hung up. At dawn, the Morris’s were awoken by the sound of a car coming up their gravel driveway. They peered out there window in time to see a young couple step out of their Prius. The young man wore skinny jeans and military jacket. The young woman had short brown hair, big blue eyes, and wore a floral sundress.

“Hollywood people are invading our house,” said Mrs. Morris, more curious than concerned.

“Well let’s see what they want,” said Mr. Morris, debating whether to take the shotgun from beside the bed. They both walked downstairs, and opened the front door.

“We saw your ad in the paper,” said the young man, “It is just what we have been looking for. I’m Tom and this is my wife Kim.” Kim hugged her “new friends,” before Mr. and Mrs. Morris could say anything to the contrary.

“Have you farmed before?” asked Mrs. Morris.

“We grow beans,” said Tom, “We’ve grown them in Iowa, Kansas, and Wisconsin, and now we’d like to grow them here.”

“The only thing that grows here is grass,” said Mr. Morris.

“If you provide us with a little plot of land, we will prove to you otherwise,” said Tom. “If nothing grows within a month of us planting our beans, you can kick us out. In the meantime, my wife and I will tend to your farm’s needs. All we ask in return is three square meals a day, and a room to sleep.” Mr. Morris looked at his guests suspiciously, but his wife spoke first.

“You’re hired,” said Mrs. Morris, and that was the last word on the subject. Little did they know that this decision would be even greater than they could ever imagine. Tom and Kim plowed all 200 acres in two days, and planted grass seeds on 199 of them. The last acre, the one nearest to the house, they kept for the beans. For a time, everything worked out just as the Morris’s had suspected. The grasslands became green, and the nearest acre remained dead and brown.

“I told you,” Mr. Morris said after a month, “only grass seed grows here.”

“They are not growing, because Kim and I haven’t planted them yet,” Tom said, “The ground must be perfectly warm. Planting them too soon is as bad as not planting them at all. Maybe tomorrow I will plant them.”

“I said I would give you a month,” said Mr. Morris, angered, “And you have done nothing!”

“You agreed to give us a month after the beans were planted,” said Kim. This made Mr. Morris furious, but he realized that Kim was right, and he had to stand by his word.

So, Mr. Morris watched and waited. Every day he would ask, “Have you planted the seeds yet,” and every day Tom would say, “No, maybe tomorrow.” Then, one morning in mid-June, Mr. Morris awoke to the sound of sprinkling water. Tom and Kim were out in the field. He was laying down the seeds, and Kim was watering by hand. The work was tedious, but they didn’t seem to mind. The smiles on their faces were so genuine and optimistic, that even Mr. Morris started to believe the beans would grow.

And grow they did, practically overnight, and Kim continued to water all the plants by hand. Mr. and Mrs. Morris joined in as well, and the beanstalks grew ten feet tall. Their neighbors soon heard of the beans, and came to gawk first-hand.

“How did you do this?” one of neighbors asked, “It’s a miracle.”

“It’s not a miracle,” Tom responded. “Sometimes heartier plants require more patience.” And from then on, the Morris’s grew whatever crops they wished, and Tom and Kim became their family.  News of Emerald Meadows’s success spread across the country, and encouraged other young people to flock to Oregon, and carry on the farming tradition.

This story is written and owned by Alex Schattner

Tuweep

An old man and his wife traveled down the bumpy dirt road to Tuweep. On the map, it was a single dot along the Colorado river. All the windows were open, and the air was hot and dry, just as one would expect for Mid-July. In the back seat their hound was resting beside a small urn. They passed no other cars. The guidebook was right. This area of the Grand Canyon was secluded.

“Is it wrong for me to be so excited,” his wife said.

“I’m not sure,” the old man said.

“It’s just that we’ve been talking about coming back here for fifty-two years.” she said.

“I know,” he said as they hit a pot hole and bounced an inch above their seats. His wife laughed heartily. The old man watched as her eyes almost disappeared behind the broad brilliance of her smile. He wanted to smile back, but he didn’t know how.

“It’s alright to laugh,” she said, but this only induced his tears. Soon the canyon was upon them. The winding orange cliffs looked massive even from a distance.

The old man parked the car, and they all got out, including the hound. The old man delicately cradled the urn in both hands as they approached the canyon edge. The Colorado river, copper green, flowed below their feet.

“It’s even more beautiful than I remembered,” said his wife. The old man didn’t move. “It’s like being a part of history. Each layer claims a recorded period of time. When you release the ashes, they will settle a new layer.”

The old man dropped to his knees. His forehead was sweating profusely.

“It is time,” said his wife. “a breeze is coming. Do it now.” The old man felt no breeze, but he did as his wife instructed. The breeze did come, and it carried away her ashes, and her spirit.

days.

 

This story was written by Alex Schattner  (10:39am – 12:39pm, 7/11/12)

The Arrowhead

Ryan Briggs grew up along the Emerald Coast of Florida, Port St. Joe, to be exact. Since the age of five, he helped his father run their diner, The Arrowhead. Ryan learned to man the cash register, wait tables, and wash dishes, but his favorite job was cooking.

He couldn’t get enough of the way a hamburger smelled when it earned that perfect pink center. He didn’t mind all of his clothes smelling like oil after hours of frying fresh-cut potatoes. Him and his father were happy, and so were the customers, for the portions were not only delicious, but the largest you’ve ever seen. A single burger might have ten, fifteen, twenty patties. A single order of fries was always a triple.

“You gotta give the people what they want, and plenty of it. Burgers and Fries!” Ryan’s dad always said. Unfortunately this sounded better in theory, for Mr. Briggs was a very obese man, and Ryan was well on his way to becoming the same.

At twenty-three, Ryan lost his father to diabetes, and Port St. Joe became a much sadder place. Ryan was at a cross-roads. How could he serve people large quantities of food when too much food had killed his father. As the days went by, Ryan made the diners portions smaller and smaller. A customer was lucky if they got half a patty on a bun.

Ned Campbell, the wealthiest man in town, saw this as an opportunity, and decided to open his own diner. Within weeks, the Big n’ Sloppy Diner was opened to much applause, and The Arrowhead was all but forgotten.

Then one night, as Ryan sat at the counter looking over his diner’s books for the last time, there came a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“I’ve come about the employment sign,” said a female voice. Ryan didn’t know he posted a  sign, but he didn’t want to be rude. So, he answered the door. Before him stood a beautiful young woman as skinny as a toothpick, and wearing a green dress that reminded him of broccoli. In her arms she carried a slim cloth bag made of hemp.

“Unfortunately, I’m not hiring at the moment.” Ryan said solemnly.

“Have you hired someone else?” she asked politely.

“No,” Ryan said.

“Has the diner been closed?” she asked. Ryan again responded in the negative.

“Then it seems there is work to be done. Do not worry. I work for food, and I come highly recommended. Is that the kitchen in there?” Without waiting for a response, she headed right into the kitchen and set her bag on the table.

“What are you doing?” Ryan asked.

“You have set a precedent. You cannot make your portions smaller. So, you must make your portions better. You must add more vegetables.”

“But people don’t like vegetables,” Ryan said, “people like meat.”

“This is only because you have not been preparing the vegetables properly. They must be grilled, baked, or steamed in sauces that tempt the senses. Salads must be dressed. Do not worry. I will teach you.” As she spoke, she pulled eggplants, squash, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers, and garlic, in an unending stream from her bag. When the table was full, she commenced dicing, slicing, and chopping. As she worked, she sang, “When your diet is unstable, it can make you feel ill able.”

Ryan watched as his pots and pans sizzled with the colors of the rainbow. Never had he smelled the sweetness of oregano, or the lemony scent of basil.

In one evening, this twig-like young woman had turned Ryan’s life around. She and the vegetables had taken a place in his heart, and it wasn’t long before the smells that filled his kitchen wafted across town to the Big n’ Sloppy. Once that smell lodged in the minds of St. Joe’s residents, the Big n’ Sloppy didn’t stand a chance.

This work was written by Alex Schattner (11:45am – 12:45pm, 7/9/12)