The coffee shop feels hot yet cool. This day is a strange limbo between winter and spring, where a coat is still needed but not necessary. The air is aromatic and full of old, damp grinds that catch in the light like dark snowflakes. The dull hubbub of conversation makes your eyes lose focus as your mind melts into an old, safe memory. To a place that is not this day with these problems. So you forget the revving cars and noise outside to take this moment and think of nothing but this place. And these dull sounds. And this gloriously simple coffee.
Tag: fiction (page 2 of 2)
|Image credit Tony Guyton|
Welcome back! This is the third installment of “Atop Mt. Lonely” – we’ve just left our heroines (Carlee and Marlee) at the base of the mysterious Mt. Lonely. To catch up on the story so far, check out part one and part two posted over the last two weeks.
Atop Mt. Lonely (part three)
After the two girls finishing fastening their harnesses, they began the climb up Mt. Lonely. They started by attempting to scale the steep rock mountain. When this proved to be extremely strenuous, the twins switched to using their pitons.
With a grunt, Marlee heaved herself on top of a rock overhang. She took deep breaths, watching her sister struggle to join her on the overhang. Once she was over the edge, Carlee let out a sigh and leaned against the rock mountain. The earth swirled below them and the parking lot already looked extremely far away.
The winds grew stronger and faster as they climbed Mt. Lonely, but the girls continued on. They were thrilled to learn that they were already half way up the mountain just a few hours into their climb.
Carlee clicked open a jug of water from her back pack. Marlee munched on a tuna sandwich thoughtfully, studying the other half of the mountain the girls still had in front of them.
“It looks like if we moved over there…the wind would be to our backs. Otherwise we keep fighting this wind,” Marlee announced, motioning across the mountain cliff.
Carlee shook her head. “Let’s just keep the way we’ve been going. We’ll waste time getting all the way over to there, just to have the winds to our backs. Plus, it’ll be more of a challenge this way,” she insisted with a grin.
Marlee frowned. “It’s safer my way.”
“But its more practical my way,” Carlee argued.
The girls sat in silence as they finished their lunch. Suddenly a thought struck Marlee.
“It’s my turn to decide because you got your way down at the foot at the mountain,” she declared.
Carlee paused thoughtfully. “That doesn’t count. Let’s just flip the coin again, and let fate decide,” she suggested.
Marlee nodded in agreement. She yanked out her coin and flung it into the air. The strong winds grasped the puny coin and swirled it in its course around the mountain. The penny finally went toppling down the side of the mountain. Marlee groaned.
“Well, now we know what to do!” Carlee announced, standing up.
“What do you mean? I lost my coin, we never saw whether it was heads or tails,” Marlee snapped.
“Yes, but did you see what side of the mountain it fell down?”
“Yes. Your point?”
“Obviously we’re meant to continue our climb on my side of the mountain.”
“Unbelievable,” Marlee muttered, standing up and brushing herself off. “But we’ve already wasted enough time on this. We’ll go your way.”
“Excellent choice!” Carlee laughed as she thrust her piton into the rock and the twins once again began their climb.
The girls continued their climb up Mt. Lonely. The winds became more and more aggressive as they ascended higher and higher. The temperatures began to drop and the girls had to stop frequently to add more layers. As they climbed higher, the rocks also became more brittle.
Carlee gripped the stone mountain. Rocks slid from beneath her feet, brushing against Marlee, who was only feet below her.
“How’s it going?” Carlee called to Marlee, struggling to make herself heard above the whipping wind.
Marlee rolled her eyes and yelled back, “Fine, but we should have gone my way!”
Carlee laughed. She paused and leaned forward against the mountain, looking down at the world swirling below Mt. Lonely. She could see the small town of Carson City in the far, far distance. White clouds hung in the air against the blue sky.
She looked down at her sister, who seemed to be struggling. She was just about to yell down to Marlee to go more slowly, when the ground beneath her sister’s feet disappeared. With a small scream, Marlee scratched for a grip but went flying into the air.
The rope secured around each other’s waist tightened around Carlee. She used all the strength she had left to slam herself against the mountain. She scraped at Mt. Lonely with her hands, desperately trying to find something to grab. She looked over at her pitons and prayed they would hold.
Finally, she found a hold and gathered the courage to look down at her sister. Thoughts of her sister tumbling down the mountain, or slamming unconscious against the hard rock, or even the rope somehow wrapping around her neck, flooded her mind. Instead, Marlee was still there, the rope still secured around her waist. She swung herself over to the rock wall, and the pressure was taken off Carlee’s waist.
Marlee gave a thumbs up with a shake of her head. Carlee sighed in relief. This mountain was proving to be more than she bargained for, after all.
|Image credit Tony Guyton|
Welcome to Middle Grade Wednesday!
Last week’s introductory post of Middle Grade Wednesday was a big success! Here’s the next installment of “Atop Mt. Lonely” – if you need a refresher, see link below to read part one! Happy reading!
Atop Mt. Lonely (part two)
Carlee slung a loaded backpack into the trunk of her family’s van the next morning. It landed with a bang as she slammed shut the trunk. Marlee rushed out of the Ramus’ large house, carefully positioning her sunglasses. She wasn’t exactly a morning person. Mrs. Ramus handed out breakfast bars as Mr. Ramus started the van and the family took off.
The van drove through the early morning streets of their hometown of Carson City, Nevada. Although Carson City was the capital of Nevada, it was one of the smallest capitals in the United States. Desert surrounded the city limits and large mountains stood in the far off distance.
Marlee remembered many of the mountains as they passed them. She remembered the dangerous climb the twins had made on Mt. Pensly where they ran out of water. In the far distance, a tall, thin mountain stood in the middle of the warm desert. There was no visible vegetation, just a mountain of jagged rock.
Carlee’s jaw dropped every time she saw that mountain. It looked mysterious, just waiting to be explored. Actually, only few mountaineers had dared to climb Mt. Lonely. It had earned this name because of the legend surrounding it. The legend spoke of a man who climbed Mt. Lonely long ago but lost his memory when he reached the top of the mountain and could not remember the way back home. Because of this, the rock mountain was named Mt. Lonely.
Carlee believed the legend but Marlee thought it was ridiculous, naming off various explanations as to why he would have been rescued. Mt. Lonely’s tale scared off many superstitious mountaineers. Some believed the man was still living there, trapped and waiting for another companion.
The Ramus’s van pulled to a stop at the foot of Mt. Lonely. The parking lot at the base of the mountain was empty, sand scattered across the pavement. Carlee jumped out of the van followed by Marlee. The heavy air smacked the twins in the face, it was starting to warm up already. Mr. Ramus handed the girls their backpacks. They snatched their ropes and pitons along with other important equipment.
“You girls remember what I said, don’t you? If there’s an unexpected storm or the winds get too high, come right back down and call us,” Mrs. Ramus said sternly.
“Remember to eat, drink and take lots of breaks. Very important,” Mr. Ramus added.
They gave their girls a farewell hug then drove off. Carlee and Marlee waved back, watching the van disappear into the distance, leaving them alone in the empty desert. Carlee let out a hard sigh and walked towards the mountain base. A tattered sign swung in the wind.
Marlee squinted her eyes and read aloud the words written on the wood plaque:
One mile, 30 feet high
Strong winds ahead
Experienced climbers only!
“Good grief! Dramatic, much?” Carlee snorted.
“I hope we’re not in over our heads here…” Marlee said, crossing her arms.
“No way! I’m going to climb this mountain even if the entire state of Nevada disagrees!” Carlee huffed.
Marlee shook her head in exasperation. Sometimes there was only one way to reason with her sister.
“Flip a coin? We still have time to call Mom and Dad back,” Marlee suggested.
Carlee nodded. Marlee looked at her sister expectantly.
“Don’t look at me, I don’t have a coin,” Carlee admitted.
Marlee sighed and dug her hands down into her deep backpack. She pulled out a shiny quarter and flipped the coin into the air. It landed in her hand and she covered it, asking, “Heads or tails?”
“Heads, of course.”
Marlee flipped over the coin. “Heads,” she sighed.
“Good, lets go!” Carlee ordered, stomping towards the howling mountain.
Welcome to Middle Grade Wednesday!
For those of you that may not know, “Middle Grade” is a term used in the publishing industry for books that are aimed towards a younger audience, usually between 8-12. That’s not to say other age groups could not enjoy the story (um, Harry Potter, anyone?) but this helps distinguish a book in the marketplace.
That being explained, I’ve decided to start a feature on my blog that showcases excerpts from the various Middle Grade stories I have finished. Some are simply just not long enough to turn into book form, so hence, I will share them here!
Our first story in this series will be “Atop Mt. Lonely.” It’s the story of two twin girls (Carlee and Marlee) who love mountain climbing – and their next adventure will take them to the cliffs of Mt. Lonely. The mountain is shrouded in mystery; other climbers tell the legend of a man that haunts the top of the mountain. But the two sisters can’t resist the call of adventure and tackle the mountain together – what they find might surprise you…
|Image credit Tony Guyton|
Atop Mt. Lonely (part one)
Thirteen year old Carlee Ramus snatched several rock climber’s pitons, used to to help the mountain climber ascend. She threw two of the pitons to her twin sister, Marlee, who caught them, surprised. She rubbed her head in thought, looking around their bedroom for any other supplies they might need on their trip.
Carlee dug wildly through her closet, throwing junk to the floor. She sighed in satisfaction as she grasped one of her many pairs of binoculars and dropped them in her backpack sloppily. Marlee carefully dropped a set of gloves into her backpack.
Although Carlee and Marlee were identical twins, their attitudes were very opposite. Carlee liked to do things fast; make split second decisions, whether they worked out or not. She dressed sloppily, not really caring if the clothes matched. Marlee liked to do things slowly; figuring out the situation carefully before making a move. She had beat Carlee at chess more times than she could count. Marlee’s clothes always matched, her hair always in place. She was not vain, exactly, but felt that everything had to be perfect.
The one thing the girls did have in common was their love for mountain climbing. Often called the “Climbing Ramus Twins,” Carlee and Marlee climbed challenging rock mountains every month. It was the middle of July, and the monthly trip had been arranged. The girls liked to camp out on every mountain all alone – they considered it a test of their strength.
“Carlee,” Marlee coughed from under her sister’s dusty bed. “Where did you put your boots? They’re not under here.”
Carlee stuck her head out from the deep depths of her closet. “Oh, they’re in the garage refrigerator. I couldn’t find any room in my side of the closet and the fridge was empty.”
Marlee scratched her head in wonder at her sister’s uncleanliness then set off for the garage refrigerator.
Fred Ramus, the father of the two girls, stepped into the messy room. Maps clung to the walls, while clothes were strung across the floor.
“Carlee?” he called, wondering if he could find his daughter in the disaster area.
“Yeah?” Carlee called back, her voice muffled from the depths of her closet.
“I’ve already told Marlee, but I’ve checked the weather report. The skies are going to be calm for you on your trip,” Mr. Ramus announced.
“Great! Can we stay an extra day on the mountain, then?” Carlee exclaimed.
Mr. Ramus laughed, ” No, I’m afraid not. We’ll stick to the original schedule – we leave tomorrow and your mother and I will pick you girls up in four days.”
Marlee burst into her room, accidentally bumping into her father. She held Carlee’s mud covered mountaineering boots.
“Carlee!” she sighed loudly. “Look at your boots! You can’t go climbing in these.”
Carlee grunted and climbed out of her closet. She yanked a scarf off her head and frowned.
“Of course I can! They’re just…broken in. I got them wet last week when I was saving my bike from the rain. And, well…you know what our yard is like after it rains…” Carlee explained.
Marlee shook her head. She grabbed a bag and carefully stuck the boots in it. Their mother, Susan, called them to dinner from the kitchen. Carlee jumped out of the closet and raced downstairs. Marlee followed quickly, Mr. Ramus close behind.