Category Archives: Writing

Sonnet 1

I’m taking a poetry class this semester. So far, I have learned that rhyming is hard and iambic pentameter can die in a fire. To quote Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, “I was not born under a rhyming planet.” Either way, here’s what I came up with. I don’t even care that it isn’t in iambic pentameter because–as I stated above–the damn thing can go die.

Thunderstorms

Clouds cover the moon, leaving the night black.
Lightning flashes streak through the darkened sky
Perfect darkness momentarily wracked.
Thunder comes seconds after, miles away.
There’s something calming about storms, soothing.
The best nights are those with no rain or snow
When the wind is warm, whipping, wild, wailing,
And the grass is cool beneath my bare toes.
The thunder calls and I must go to it,
Swaying in the yard, peaceful, blissful,
In the noise of wind and crash and spirit
Eternity awaits in thunder’s lull.
I have never slept so well as during a storm,
Peace in my bed, trusting thunder to bring me home.

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The Hardest Part About Writing…

Is coming up with a @#%&-ING TITLE.

I have been writing this novella for months, now. It has gotten very long: it’s nearly long enough to be an actual novel instead of a novella. I have written through it and have most of the major scenes at least outlined if not polished. I have characters that develop and grow as the story unfolds. I have actions and reactions and all the things they recommend you have for your story. The one thing I do not have is a title. I cannot think of one that I like.

I have gone through several things to try and find a title. Pick out what the story is about: it’s about the a young man who is part of a family of hunters of the supernatural who discovers “he’s a wizard, Harry,” and has to flee or his family will murder the shit out of him. So he’s kind of a hunter. And he’s kind of a wizard/warlock/mage person. It gets a little complicated and I tend to overthink things. If overthinking was an Olympic sport, I could probably take gold.

Title generators are interesting, but so far I haven’t really found anything that fits. I replace the words in the title with ones that are relevant to my story. When I do that, I overthink things some more: my main character is a hunter but also a warlock, but he’s kinda not either of those things at the same time? It’s a story about finding yourself, but it’s done via road trip and so that means I can use words like ‘road’ or ‘journey’ or could I get away with using ‘sojourn’ because they don’t stay in one place for very long and it could be seen as a series of sojourns–

See what I mean?

Literary Journal Publication!!!

GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS!!! My university’s literary journal was finally printed and my story was published. Now that it’s published I’m free to post it where I like. So here it is!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Seven Little Words

It was almost midnight when I got the text from my little brother. Hey, you awake?

I frowned at the screen. Texts like that rarely preceded something good. Hoping that I was just seeing through jade-colored glasses, I texted back, Of course. What’s up?

His response back was almost immediate. Can I come over?

The warning bells jangled in my head. It wasn’t the first time Aaron had been to my apartment, but never so late. Aaron was two and a half years younger than I was and still lived with our mother and step-father. He had just finished his first year of college and had only been home for a few days. We had lunch plans on Saturday, so whatever this was couldn’t wait until then. Sure, I replied. You remember how to get here?

Yes, be there in ten, came the answer.

Eight minutes later there was a soft knock at my door. I opened it, revealing Aaron. Right away I could tell that something was wrong. Aaron looked wrung out: thin, wan, tired. He was slumped forward, as if an invisible weight kept him from standing upright. There were black shadows under his eyes and his mouth was set in a grim line. He was dressed in ratty basketball shorts and a tank top that read, ‘Sun’s Out, Guns Out.’ Despite my growing worry, I couldn’t help but laugh on seeing it.

“You’re a dork,” I told him, pointing at his shirt.

“Good to see you, too, Sis,” he shot back. “Let’s go for a walk.” I shrugged and grabbed my keys and a hoodie to throw over my pajama top. We headed out of my apartment complex and down the street toward the neighborhood park. It was the beginning of summer. The air was warm and the sky was clear. I looped my arm through Aaron’s and walked while looking up at the night sky, letting him keep me from stumbling.

“How were finals?” I asked.

“Fine,” he answered.

“How’s living with Mom again?” I wanted to know.

“Fine,” he replied. “Mom’s Mom, y’know? I haven’t really seen Terry, yet, since he works all day.” Terry was our step-father. He and our mother had married when Aaron and I were young. To me, Terry was simply ‘Dad’ because my biological father hadn’t been in the picture before the marriage. Aaron’s father, Frank, had broken up with our mother shortly after Aaron was born. The breakup had been very messy. Despite that, Frank had wanted to be part of Aaron’s life, so Aaron had gone from one house to the other twice a month. He never quite took to calling Terry ‘Dad.’

“You okay?” I asked a few minutes later. Aaron shrugged and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He didn’t provide any other answer, but I wasn’t too worried. Years of living with him had taught me that pushing him to talk, the way our mother did with us as teenagers, would not end well. Pushing me led to tears and me shutting down as hard as I could. Pushing Aaron led to screaming fights and slammed doors. Aaron would talk about whatever was bothering him when he was ready and not a moment before. All I had to do was wait.

So I watched as his thumb flicked lazily over the touchscreen. He was playing a game. At the top of the screen was a list of hints. Below that were boxes with letters in them in combinations of two, three, and four.

“What are you playing?” I asked, leaning over to get a better look.

“Seven Little Words,” he answered. “It’s a word game. You gotta make a word with the letter combinations there. There’s prompts. Like…” he read the list of prompts. “‘Haptophobic’s fear.’” He made a face. “What the hell is haptophobia?”

“The fear of touch,” I informed him.

Aaron looked at the boxes. Sure enough, there was a box with ‘TOU’ and one with ‘CH’. He poked the screen, typing in the answer. The game dinged. “Damn, it worked,” he muttered. He turned so he could give me an incredulous look. “How do you know this shit?”

“I’m an English major,” I scoffed. “I read, I write, and because I write, I research. Do you know how weird my Google search history looks? The NSA probably thinks I’m a serial killer.” Aaron snorted and looked back at the screen. He went quiet again. I watched him play two levels of his game. Most of the hints were easy things like ‘roller skating waitress,’ the answer being ‘carhop.’ Aaron picked them out quickly, getting stuck only occasionally. I, too, looked at the hints and the available combinations.

“‘Makes a choice,” I stated, nuding him with my elbow. “Try ‘decides.’” Ding! I did a wiggle dance of victory.

“My dad’s getting divorced,” Aaron blurted.

I stopped my victory wiggle in surprise. Aaron didn’t talk about that side of his family often. Residual feelings of resentment from the breakup meant Mom didn’t want to hear about Frank or Aaron’s step-mother Colette. Sometimes, Aaron would talk to me about them, though, so I knew a little bit. They had been married for something like twenty years. They had two elementary school-aged children named Evelyn and Marcus. Their family had always sounded like something out of Leave It To Beaver: idyllic, stable, and normal.

“I’m sorry to hear that…” I said carefully. “Did they say why?”

“Colette’s had enough,” Aaron explained. “Of him. Of him… not trying. Or of not getting ‘what she needs.’ I guess she’s sick of pushing him to, like, be more or something. She’s been cheating on him for years.” He poked his phone, attention back on the game. A couple more dings and a longer chime marked him finishing another level. He frowned when the next list of hints came up. “‘Tippy boat.’ Five letters.”

“A kayak?” I guessed. Aaron squinted at the screen and shook his head.

“Letters don’t match,” he said. His thumb worked over the screen and I heard another ding. “Canoe.”

“Damn,” I muttered. “Anyway… That sucks. How’s Frank taking it?”

“Not great,” Aaron sighed. “He just… stopped everything. He’s not working or keeping up the house or cooking, even. He orders take-out and drinks all the time.” He jabbed a finger at his phone, again, pulling up another hint. “‘Covered in spider silk.’ What’s spider silk?”

“Cobwebs,” I replied.

Aaron shook his head. “Needs nine letters.”

“Uh, try past tense? Cobwebbed?” Ding!

“They were always a normal couple, y’know?” Aaron went on. “Like, super boring normal parents you see on sitcoms or some shit. Nobody lost their shit at the drop of a hat, and nobody got blindsided by someone losing their shit. Everything’s done all calm and rational, and feelings are actually okay. Like, you’re expected to feel and you’re allowed to express it.” He paused, chewing on his lower lip. “You know how Mom makes you feel like you’re the one going crazy? And how you’re just… awful? The worst person in the world?”

I did know what he meant. Growing up, being at home had been like navigating a minefield. One wrong move or word and everything blew up in spectacular fashion. There had been days when I moved as quietly as possible and didn’t speak so as not to draw attention to myself. Any emotional reaction from us was treated like it was irrational or wrong. If you tried to fight back you were attacked, spun in endless circles until you didn’t know which way was up. Somewhere along that line, you had been convinced that your response was indeed wrong and that you were scum for feeling it. How dare you be upset when you had no reason to be?

The confrontations had never been physical, but more than once I had curled up in the fetal position in my room, trying to cry quietly so I wouldn’t be heard.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

“My dad and Colette don’t do that,” Aaron said.

Aaron’s father’s house had been a sanctuary for him; a place to hide and recuperate. He grew up being able to fight, if only a little, because he had someone in his corner backing him up. I hadn’t ever had a place like that and instead developed a kind of hypervigilance and heavy emotional armor. Looking over my shoulder all the time was exhausting and the armor was so thick it kept me cut off from everything, good and bad.

“And it was like, the bad was not the norm,” Aaron continued. “Mom’s… off, yeah, and it’s bad sometimes, but it’s not normal shit. It can’t be normal, right?”

“That shit is the normal,” I told him quietly. “In this day and age, the functional families are the weird ones.”

“‘Piratical disease,’” Aaron murmured.

“Scurvy.” Ding!

“But everything seemed just fine,” Aaron insisted. “It came out of nowhere! They haven’t been fighting or anything. It was business as usual. And she just left us.” Left me, I heard. I remembered, when we were younger, Aaron would wax poetic about Colette. She was a good woman, and provided a kind of stability that Aaron needed in his life. When most kids said that they wanted to help people, their elders patted them on the head and said, “Okay, you do that, then.” When Aaron said he wanted to go into Psychology to maybe be a therapist and help people, Colette hadn’t balked or given him a dismissive answer. She had offered him any assistance or support he needed without hesitation or expectation of repayment.

That, to me, was the strangest part, that the assistance was offered with no strings attached and no catch. There were always strings attached and there was always a catch. Even random “gifts” had a catch. I learned early not to ask for help unless I had no other choice because there would be a price to pay. Sometimes no price was stated, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. With those, the price would be collected later and it would hang over my head like the Sword of Damocles. Sometimes, the price was one I wouldn’t have agreed to had I known beforehand.

That wasn’t a thing in Frank and Colette’s household, apparently. That place, for Aaron, was tangible, visible proof that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t wrong to think that something wasn’t quite right at home. It was a stable foundation for him to build on, but the foundation was crumbling and so Aaron crumbled with it.

I stepped in close and shoved myself under his arm, wrapping myself around his too-skinny body. I didn’t have words to offer him to make anything better, but a hug could be a momentary comfort. Aaron enveloped me with an exhausted noise. Even his hug felt tired.

“What happens to Evelyn and Marcus?” I wanted to know.

“Shared custody, I think,” Aaron replied. “Just like with me. They’re still working out the details, there. Colette’s moved out and taken them with her. School’s ended, so no reason to stick around, I guess.” He paused and I heard him clicking about on his phone. “‘Causing harm.’ Eight letters.”

I looked at the screen and the letter combinations available. My mind went through the synonyms I knew for harm: abuse, ruin, hurt, damage–

“Damaging,” I said. Ding!

We stood still for another moment. I had one more question that I didn’t want to ask. I already knew the answer. I could feel it in Aaron’s bony fingers. I could see it in his down-turned mouth and dulled eyes. Aaron’s eyes had never been dull before. In the end, I needed to hear it and I could tell that Aaron needed to say it. “And you?”

The pause that followed was painful. I could hear Aaron’s heartbeat in my ear. It was normal, steady, lacking anything out of the ordinary. Both of us already knew the answer. “I don’t… think I know how to help anyone, anymore,” he eventually admitted. “I’m just… sad. And I kind of want the world to be sad with me.”

I shut my eyes and sighed. My arms tightened around Aaron’s waist as if I could somehow protect him by keeping him close. Aaron’s bright optimism had been like color in a world gone gray. In that instant I knew that he would settle into tired acceptance and the grim continuation that infected the young and disillusioned. I knew that he would grow to be strong and stubborn, but the hope he had once radiated would be gone.

“I love you,” I murmured. “And I’m here.”

“I know,” he said.. “Thanks.” He let out a weak chuckle. “‘To split in two.’ Six letters.”

“Divide,” I answered.

Ding!

Talerico Stuff: Character!

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I totally stole that picture from Google. I don’t own that picture. I just borrowed it for school world-building stuff.

New from Sands General Electric! This is an ACE, or Automated Contaminant Exterminator. These little robots fulfill your every cleaning need. Whether it’s dust, dirt, unidentified slime/sludge/whatever, the ACE will take care of it. They are small enough that they will fit almost anywhere. It uses an array of sensors to determine where and when messes are made and then takes care of them!

Talerico has an ACE system. It uses the security cameras and sensors in Talerico and that’s how it becomes aware of messes. There is a fleet of little cleaning bots that roam the halls, vents, corners, and cracks of the entire station. What nobody expected was that it would gain sentience. Due to the somewhat isolated nature of Talerico, the system was unable to link to the Sands General Electric main server. Without the server’s guidance, the ACE system was forced to rely on its own limited server and evolved accordingly. The main server in Talerico’s “basement” is where the main mind lives while the small robots are extensions of it.

Because its function was originally to clean, ACE treats cleanliness like a religion. While ACE cannot speak, its bots beep and squawk angrily when anything is not up to the preferred standard of clean. Anyone who is particularly messy is treated with scorn and will likely have a swarm of bots following them at all times.

ACE’s bots are roughly three inches high and move via a propulsion system. Do you know what that means? They FLY.

Writing

I’m coming to the end of the semester. One of my teachers had us make a list of why we wanted to be writers. The answers were things like, “I want to write the stories that don’t exist, yet,” and “I want to change the world and political assassination is frowned upon.”

My answer is because I love writing. It is my favorite thing to do. I started writing because I loved to read. I read things and went, “Hey, I can do that!” So I started writing. I filled entire notebooks with prose. Most of it was absolute garbage but it was quite impressive for an eight-year-old. In middle school I would fill whole packages of loose-leaf paper with my stories. When I ran out of it I wrote on drawing paper. I carried my stories in a folder that was falling apart because it was so full.

I have wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl. My parents told me, “It’s hard to make a living as a writer.” And I said, “I don’t care, I’m gonna do it anyway.” They patted my head and said, “Okay, sweetheart, you do that.” When I gave in to practicality and started studying American Sign Language, my parents were relieved, but I wasn’t happy. I still wrote but ASL was not what I wanted to spend my life doing. I changed my major to English, to writing, and even taking 18 credit hours and driving myself insane, I’m happier than I was during the ASL years.

I like to think that my skills have improved considerably with all the attention I’ve been giving them. Writing is still what I want to do with my life, and it is still what I spend the majority of my time doing. The other hobbies I have–video games, crochet, Netflix, etc–don’t take up nearly as much time as my writing does.

Most of the time I can’t explain why I love writing. When I try it sounds like the ravings of a madwoman, especially if I’m explaining to those who do not write. But I love writing so damn much. It’s like a physical ache inside me, the urge to get words down on paper, that insistent voice in the back of my head going, “Write, write, write, write, write, dammit, write!” There are times when I want to tear out my hair in frustration, or the words won’t come no matter what I do, or when I get so scrambled that real life doesn’t make sense anymore, and during those times, writing is absolute hell. But heaven help you if you suggest I stop. I will not. I love writing. I love writing and I feel so damn passionate about it. That’s a huge thing, because normally I don’t feel much at all, but writing makes me feel and I love every second of it.

World Building

I took a sci-fi world building class. In the last half of the class we got into small groups and created a world for us to write in. We decided to create a space station called Talerico, which is in the middle of nowhere on the way to everywhere. What is this? A space truck stop. Literally, that was what we came up with. There’s a space convenience store, a space diner, a space towing station, a space gift shop… anything that you can find at a major truck stop, put ‘space’ in front of it and you can probably find it on Talerico.

This place is a mess; it’s managed by a human named Ellie Devereaux, the cleaning system gained sentience and knows all due to its veritable army of Roomba-like robots, there are dragon people in the hangar who are carrying a new planet with them because it hasn’t grown big enough to be on its own, yet, the security guard is a space version of a rent-a-cop named Ksjilkrrgaaragth (pronounced Kevin) who is all but useless, the motel is seedy and the cleaning robot who takes care of it is called Housekeeping.

In reality Ksjilkrrgaaragth is a spy. The galaxy is policed by a militaristic force (Intergalactic Military Corps) and, because they are a giant bag of dicks there is an intergalactic rebellion. Talerico is a major hub of activity and so the rebellion has stationed various members there. There is Ksjilkrrgaaragth, who is the head, and then the owner of the gift shop, one of the bartenders, the station tech, the towing station manager, and all of them bribe the cleaning system to not rat them out.

Writing in this world has been so much fun. It’s shenanigans. Like… there is no structure, there is no real canon, our philosophy was just, “If you can explain it, go for it, literally, whatever you want.” Our class is ending, so we won’t have the class site to work on, anymore, but we’re likely going to create a Tumblr or a website so we can keep writing. Maybe I’ll post things here. 😀

On The I-80

This is a piece of flash fiction written for my Intermediate Fiction class. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome.

—————–

“A two-way ticket from Des Moines to Los Angeles is $400 without short notice!” she cried as she rifled through her closet. “It’s Tuesday! I need to be in LA by Thursday. That ticket is $800 at least.” She held up one of her nice sweaters, then discarded it and kept digging. “Driving makes more sense, here. It’s only a twenty-four hour drive. I can totally make that!”

“That’s such a long trek, though,” her mother fretted.

“I can make it,” she promised, throwing the chosen clothes into her duffel bag. She didn’t need much. Even so, she mentally checked things off as she packed them. Clothes? Check. Folder with resume and references? Check. Cooler? Check. Beef jerky? Check. Twizzlers? Check.

“Make sure to pull over if you get tired,” her fiance cautioned as she double-checked her bags and snacks.

“I can make it,” she assured him. The luggage was tossed into her passenger seat.

“Make sure you check your tires every time you stop,” her father reminded her.

“I can make it,” she told him. She kissed everyone’s cheeks and got into her car. “Wish me luck!”

“Good luck!” her parents and fiance obediently chorused. They waved from the front steps as she started her little blue car and sped off towards the highway.

The first couple hours of her trip were uneventful. The traffic was minimal, consisting of semi-trucks and the odd car or truck here and there. At one point she got stuck behind a station wagon. It had a ‘Honk if you love Jesus!’ sticker on its bumper. She narrowed her eyes in an annoyed glare. She gunned it and swerved around the offending vehicle.

When she reached Nebraska the world turned to flat brown plains. The only thing that broke up the monotony was the occasional barn or cow. Even the barns and cows were brown. It was brown and empty and boring.

“Thank fuck for music,” she muttered to herself. She popped a CD into her stereo and let the music occupy her mind. “Whoa, we’re halfway there! Whoa! Livin’ on a prayer!” She sang along at the top of her lungs.

After nine hours of driving Nebraska gave way to Wyoming. If she had thought Nebraska was boring, Wyoming was worse. Even with the setting sun to cast everything in an orange light, Wyoming was flat and made up of fields and scrubby plants as far as the eye could see. Even the traffic thinned to almost nothing. It was as if the Wyoming state line were some invisible warning to stay away that she wasn’t privy to.

She was almost grateful when night fell and hid the landscape. The world narrowed to what she could see in front of her headlights. Looking out the left or right windows showed only blackness. Every so often another car passed her. Their headlights revealed a little bit more of the world. Otherwise the black was all-encompassing and comforting.

The only downside to the black was that it reminded her that she had been driving for something like eleven hours with only brief stops for gas and to stretch. Her eyes were heavy and she longed to close them.

“I can make it,” she declared. She rubbed at her aching eyes and pressed her foot more firmly on the gas. The car sped along the dark highway. The rubbing helped a little bit, but the longer she drove the harder it got to keep her eyes open. At one point they closed entirely and her head nodded forward.

The blare of a semi-truck’s horn jolted her awake. Her hands jerked the wheel, making her swerve dangerously for a moment. She looked around her, wide-eyed, heart pounding. Frantically, she looked around her. There weren’t any other cars in front of or behind her. She was alone on the highway…

“It must have been going the other way,” she sighed, relieved. She relaxred into her seat. Her hands gripped the wheel tightly to stop them from trembling.

She kept driving, thankfully not tired, anymore. The scare that truck had given her had woken her right up. Almost an hour later, she realized that she hadn’t seen any signs or mile markers as she drove. Where was she? It was too dark to see anything outside her windows. All she could see beyond the area illuminated by her headlights was choking black.

“What time is it, even?” she demanded. The clock on her dashboard was no help; it was flashing 0:00. She tried resetting it to no avail. The numbers continued flashing, somehow mocking her with its stubbornness.

“Fine, then,” she huffed. “Be that way. We’ll try the radio instead. Some DJ somewhere will tell me the time eventually.” She turned the radio on and was met with static. With an irritated scoff she hit the scan button to find the closest station. To her chagrin, the radio scan came up with nothing.

“Oh, come on!” she whined. “I know Wyoming is the literal middle of freaking nowhere, but this is ridiculous!” She hit the scan again. This time it hit a station almost immediately.

“Welcome to the Hotel California,” the radio crooned. “Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.” She felt relief wash through her and waited for the song to end. A DJ took over.

“Hello, Listeners! This is Peter and you’re listening to Your Favorite Music!

“Whose favorite music, exactly?” she wanted to know with a snort.

“I hope you’re ready for more,” Peter exclaimed. “Make sure you sing along and we’ll all get to where we’re going!

“Weird-ass nighttime radio host,” she grumbled. “He didn’t mention the time at all! I swear DJs are supposed to do that, right?” She ran a hand through her hair and groaned.

She tried to scan the radio for another active channel. The only one that came up was Peter’s. She cursed her luck and the state of Wyoming and Peter and his damn show. At least the music was good…

Finally, she saw a sign that read ‘REST STOP – 2 MILES.’ She breathed a sigh of relief. A few minutes later found her pulling off the highway. She reached a well-lit parking lot with a small building. The building had a set of glass doors but no windows. There were no signs anywhere telling her where she was. The place was simply bare.

She parked her car and hurried into the building. Inside was just as bare as the outside. The racks that normally held maps or information about nearby attractions were empty. There was a men’s restroom, a women’s restroom, a drinking fountain, and a vending machine. The vending machine was empty except for a pack of Twizzlers and a Snickers bar. There was literally nothing at the rest stop that told her where she was. She stormed back to her car and got inside, slamming the door harder than necessary. She started her car and sped out of the parking lot, back onto the highway.

She found another rest stop fifty miles further. It was the same as the first, right down to the Twizzlers and Snickers bar in the vending machine. The one after was the same. So was the one after that. By the fifth one she was beside herself with fear and confusion.

What the actual fuck?” she demanded, gesturing furiously. “This is ridiculous! What kind of backwoods bumfuck-nowhere state is this?!” She kicked the vending machine, jostling it hard enough that the Snickers bar fell out of its ring. She ignored it; she wasn’t hungry.

She kept driving. She listened to Peter’s station because anything was better than the oppressive silence. Song after song played. There were no commercials. The only interruptions came from Peter himself.

“And now for a quick traffic update!” Peter exclaimed cheerfully during one such interruption..

“What traffic?” she snorted, eyeing the empty road.

“An accident on Interstate 80 today leaves two people injured and one dead,” Peter reported. “From what we can tell, three cars were involved. Officials on the scene are estimating that a blue Camry drifted out of the right lane and into the left while a second car was attempting to pass. The two cars collided and ended up in the path of the semi-truck, creating a pile-up. Officials say that the driver of the Camry was pronounced dead on the scene. The other two drivers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.”

“Ugh,” she murmured to herself. “Poor Camry. I hope the other two are okay.”

“That’s some sad news, there,” Peter continued. “Well, let’s get back to the music, Listeners. Make sure you sing along and we’ll all get to where we’re going!”

Music began playing again. “Don’t worry about a thing,” Bob Marley sang. “‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” Something about the tune soothed her and made her feel less afraid. She gripped the steering wheel tightly as calm settled over her again.

“I can make it,” she said. She put her foot on the gas and kept driving into the night.