July 31, 2012

Chapter 2 of The Fairy Tale Twist (Draft 2)

Chapter 2

Pacing is for drama queens. People only pace when they want the world to know they’re nervous. At least that’s what I used to think. But it’s something to do while I think. Because I have to do something and I have no idea what that something is.

My fluffy carpet cushions my feet. My old stuffed animals smile at me from the far corner. Sit down, they say. Rest. Be comfortable. But there’s no being comfortable right now. My hands shake if I unfold them and my stomach turns sour like I drank old milk. What do I do?

There has to be something I can do to protect my brother. But I know there isn’t. He can’t have an emotional attachment to anything. He can’t cling to anything. But that’s what kids do. Kids have binkies and blankies and favorite toys. The whole house is going to be full of things that can invite a pixie to come in and take him away. And I wouldn’t put it past that little winged bag of crap to take a baby.

I try to imagine the thin, red mouth and squinty, sparkly eyes. Yeah, he’d do it. Even if all he wanted to do was mess with me, that pixie wouldn’t hesitate to grab my baby brother from his crib and toss him in front of a hungry dragon.

My knees wobble and I plop onto my mattress. The springs creak happily beneath me. I hate them. I hate my bed for being so normal, for being comfortable and for making me happy every time I got the chance to take a nap. How could I have let my guard down? How could I have missed this possibility? It should have been obvious. If the pixie can’t get to me, he’ll get to someone else, someone I care about.

Maybe I can go in his place? But it’s not like the pixie plays fair. He’s kidnap me every other week and if I refused, bang! My brother would be gone. Or he might just take both of us.

Unless I make him promise. Pixies can’t lie. At least, I don’t think they can.

The idea grabs onto my brain and pushes out every other crappy idea I’ve had. It’s my only chance. And like that, I’ve made up my mind. I’ll do it. I’ll take my brother’s place and make the pixie promise to leave him alone. I inhale deeply and feel some relief. I have a plan.

But as more questions creep up, the relief doesn’t last long. What if I contact the pixie and he uses the opportunity to snatch the baby before I can stop him? I picture the creepy imp hovering over the crib, smiling down at the sleeping infant. I won’t let that happen. I’ll end this. Before the baby is even born. The pixie won’t get the chance.

I kneel in front of my dresser and open the bottom drawer. One of the knobs came off during one of our moves. I don’t use it much any more. But as I wiggle it open, using the remaining knob, the gold handle of the magic mirror reflects the light from my ceiling fan. Fortunately, Dad left the mirror behind. He said he forgot to take it with him when he went overseas, but I have a feeling he wanted me to have it while he was gone. He kind of gave himself away when I offered to ship it to him. He wouldn’t let me, no matter how much bubble wrap I promised to send with it. Dad never refuses bubble wrap.

I grasp the handle and slide the mirror out of the half-open drawer. The cool metal behind the glass rests in my palm. I inhale slowly, then bring the glass close to my face. I breathe hot air until my reflection clouds up. “Show me the pixie.”

The fog thickens to a solid white, but doesn’t clear away. The mirror’s glass fills with white static, like it’s looking out into the middle of a blizzard. I’d forgotten the mirror doesn’t work on my pixie or the white lady I met in the forest. Is there any way to find that little punk?

It was easy to get him to come to me, when I was in Fairy Tale Land. He kind of just popped in to taunt me whenever he felt like it. But in the real world, there are rules. I’m just not sure what those rules are.
Except one. There’s one rule I know for sure, and I’ve used it. Boy, have I used it.

The photo album seems to stick out from my bookshelf a little more than the rest of my books. Its pink spine practically glows next to the brown and navy textbooks I never use.

My feet drag against the carpet. In the corner of my brain, a tiny voice screams at me, begging me to reach for a different book. But then I think of that belly poking through Mom’s shirt, about the little somebody living inside. I think about the nursery and how I can help Mom paint it blue, of little hats and tiny shoes and about how happy everyone’s going to be. And about how devastated they’ll be if the baby disappears one night.

I pull the photo album from the shelf and take it to my bed. My fingers find the picture without any trouble. The picture. The one of Dad after his race. I focus on the bib number: 2504.

And there’s a small chuckle behind me.

July 24, 2012

Chapter 1 of The Fairy Tale Twist (Draft 2)

To celebrate the home stretch of this pregnancy, I'm going to post some free content! You guys are absolutely wonderful for sticking with me through these brain-dead times, and I want to say thanks. Now, it's not final draft material yet, but every Tuesday (until the baby comes), I'll post a new chapter from The Fairy Tale Twist, Ivy's upcoming sequel to The Fairy Tale Trap.

Feedback and comments are welcome. I'd love to be able to give you all a book that you love.

So here it goes. The current first chapter of The Fairy Tale Twist:

Chapter 1

The parking lot fills with normal kids talking about normal stuff. I walk past a group of girls who, if you asked them about me, they’d give you a blank stare with wide eyes and say, “Who’s Ivy Thorn?” They’re playing a game I used to love: “The worst thing that could ever happen”. Basically, it’s a contest to see whose life sucks the most. Sounds like the winner of this round is a girl who had a bad haircut and a bad breakout right before a school dance. I didn’t even know there’d been a school dance.

As I walk around the circle of girls, I hate them for being such idiots. But I also envy them. I could win that game without even trying. I almost died over the summer. I was kidnapped by a pixie, then chased through the woods by a wild animal. All because the pixie got bored. (Of course, if I ever mention any of that at school, I’ll never make any friends.) I walk past a kid throwing potato chips at his girlfriend. Then again, not having friends might not be so bad.

I walk off school campus and ignore the cars full of happy kids. Can I ever be like that again? It seems unnatural to not be worried about what could be around the corner. Just thinking about a normal life feels wrong. I almost wish I could get swept away into another fairy tale, just to make sure I’m not crazy. But I’d have to be crazy to wish for that.

Fortunately, I think I’m safe from another kidnapping for now. I found out how they get you. I’m proud to say I’ve broken all emotional ties with Dad’s photo. I still love him, but the picture is just a picture. It took weeks to train myself, but I think it worked.

Now, when Dad’s overseas and I start to miss him, I write him a letter, stick it in the mail, and forget about it. When he writes back, I make myself throw his letters away after a day or two. I can’t risk getting attached to them. I’ve seen Mom fish them out of the trash, but it doesn’t matter. They’re just pieces of paper to me.

Besides, I can’t blame Mom. She’s way emotional and hormonal these days. She doesn’t know why I throw away Dad’s letters. She wouldn’t understand. I told my parents about everything that happened to me over the summer—why I disappeared, how I got back, and a few details about what happened to me while I was gone. (But I left out the life-threatening parts and stuck to fairies and enchanted forests.) I’m pretty sure Dad believes me. But Mom said, “I believe you believe it’s real.” Which basically means she believes I’m crazy. I love her anyway, but sometimes I look at her and I just want to shake her until she understands. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I could just get some video of the blasted pixie. I’d try to contact him, but I never want to see that little creeper ever again. I’m not insane.

I walk through the front door and drop my bag on the end table, right next to the teddy bear Dad sent to Mom for her birthday. The one holding a pink heart that says, “I wuv you.” Ugh. My parents are dorks.
Mom’s lying on the couch with her feet propped up, even though her belly sticks out a little. Ever since she found out she was pregnant, Mom has been all about the baby and doing whatever pregnant women do. It’s weird.

She’s my mom and she’s old. She shouldn’t be pregnant. But I’m excited. I always wanted a little brother or sister to play with, a friend who would move every time I did. This baby isn’t exactly going to be a playmate, but it’s still someone I can love and take care of. And I can show this kid that not everyone is like our parents. Some of us are actually pretty normal.

Mom has the laptop open, resting just below her belly. She’s looking at a baby names website. Again. “What do you think of the name Christopher?”

I shrug and plop down into the overstuffed chair next to her. “I don’t hate it.”

“What about Devin?”

I lean over to get a look at the screen she’s looking at. There has to be better names than that. “Mom, these are all boy names.”

Mom turns around and grins at me. When I don’t say anything, she lifts her eyebrows. “Yeah. They are.”

It takes me a minute. I think she’s saying what I think she’s saying. The eyebrows mean she’s saying something. “It’s a boy?”

She nods.

“It’s a boy!” I jump up and do a goofy dance. Then I stop. That was the dance I did for the fairies in the enchanted forest. I try to pretend like I’m just done dancing and try to hold onto my smile. But Mom’s giving me the look. The you’re-not-telling-me-something look.

“Does Dad know?”

Mom’s face softens into a smile. “I called him this morning. He said he’ll be home for the birth!”

I give her my best smile. It’ll be good to have him home that long. It seems like every time we get him back, he has to leave again. I should be thrilled. I am thrilled. But at the same time, an ugly thought worms its way through my head. And I suddenly feel like I might be sick. Before Mom can see what I’m thinking, I head for my room. “That’s great. I think I’ll go write to him.”

I force myself to go slow. Running to my room at a dead sprint probably wouldn’t come off as normal. But my heart pumps a gut-wrenching feeling through my whole body. I have to swallow several times to keep from throwing up. Because even though I’ve made sure I’m safe from the pixie…

…my brother won’t be.

July 12, 2012

Quick Update

I'm in the third trimester of my pregnancy. While it's great that I'm getting closer to welcoming my baby into the world, my brain has stopped working.

This means a lot less writing, I'm afraid. I'm still working on The Fairy Tale Twist, but the work is slow-going. In the meantime, I have a small project to work on when I'm not writing. The Fairy Tale Trap should be a paperback by the end of the year. The sooner the better, in my opinion.

I'll keep you posted on the updates, but I'm most active on facebook. Thanks for being patient. You guys are the best!
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