Just thought I’d share my newest writing endeavor with you: Dreamweaver. It’s my first middle grade book (usually ages 8 to 12), and it’s been the most fun at writing I’ve ever had! :D Apparently I’m still a kid at heart ;) It’s the very first rough draft, so excuse any errors, it has yet to be edited. So without further ado:
Snow flurries danced outside the window as Gwen held her warm cup of coco. She was waiting to see it, the flash of color deep in the forest, but it was storming outside. Inside it was warm and cozy by the crackling fire while outside was a whirlwind of snowflakes. It looked like it was going to be a perfect Christmas, if only mom could be with them, but she tried not to think about that. Instead, she looked out at white drifts under the moon, at the dark outlines of pine trees further away, and for that mysterious glow. Her nose pressed against the cold glass, fogging it up from her breath, but she didn’t want to look away. If she blinked, she might miss it. This was the third night in a row that the light had appeared. Her eyes began to water from the effort to not blink. Then, just as she thought she couldn’t possibly stare another second, a streak of purple and blue flashed between the black trunks and snowflakes.
“Dad!” she squealed, nearly sloshing her hot chocolate everywhere.
She kicked the blankets away from her fuzzy socked feet, became tangled in them instead, and fell face first out of the bay window in a mess of blankets and pillows. Barfy, their cocker spaniel, started barking like the little tattle-tail he was.
“Barf,” she growled back at him. “Shh! Quiet.”
He wagged his stubby tail and bounced around barking like a lunatic as she tried to stand up. Then she noticed the large, brown chocolate stain on the white rug.
“Oops,” she said, just as dad walked into the living room.
She grabbed his arm before he could say anything, or notice the stain.
“I saw it! I saw the glowing light again!”
“You saw what?” he said as she pulled him over to the large window.
“That light, dad. The one I told you about.” She pointed outside, and he looked at her with a grin. “Not at me. Look outside!”
He turned his gaze to peer out the frosty panes of dark glass. “I don’t see anything,” he said a second later.
Gwen rolled her eyes. Her father annoyed her on purpose. It was his life’s goal. He smiled and raised his eyebrows.
“Rick Johnson, you have to look longer.” She always used her father’s name like that when he either was not listening, which was most of the time, or when he was annoying her, which was also most of the time.
“Guinevere Johnson,” he replied in exactly the same exasperated tone. “I think it’s time you went to bed.”
She was about to use her best argument for why bed was not an option right now, when she saw his gaze take in the scene behind her. As a frown spread across his face, she sheepishly grinned and slowly turned around. The brown coco stain was no longer the least of their worries.
Barfy was valiantly defending them from an army of now de-feathered pillows. Growling ferociously, he shook the last pillow until a flurry of feathers matched the snow flurries outside. Satisfied, he dropped the evil pillow and laid down, happily panting, in a pile of shredded cloth and floating fluff. Gwen slowly turned back to her father who was staring, speechless, at the chaos.
“Well,” she said, cheerily patting his arm. “Guess it’s off to bed, like you said. G’night.”
Before Rick could figure out who was actually in trouble, her or the dog, Gwen skipped out of the living room, down the hall, and into her bedroom.
“Whew,” she said, closing her door.
Not even turning on her light, she strode across the messy clothes-strewn floor, jumped on her big quilt, and looked out the window. If only they had the internet out here so that she could contact her friends, or look up what glowing lights in the woods meant, but no. This was her parent’s vacation cabin in Colorado. A Christmas tradition. To an eleven-year-old girl, however, it was more like frontier times where things like computers and microwaves hadn’t been invented yet. So, basically, boredom-ville. Not tonight, though. Internet or no internet, she was certain now. Something was out there. Her dad didn’t believe her, but that didn’t matter. This time she had almost seen what it was.
It was a long time before sleep finally started to win out over staring into the night. The storm had grown worse and snowflakes draped around the windowpanes. Her forehead and cheek squeaked down the foggy glass, waking her up with a snort.
“Whoa,” she mumbled to herself, wiping drool off her numb cheek.
Just as her eyelids were beginning to droop once more they snapped open, and Gwen pressed her face against the icy glass. She could hardly believe what she was seeing. Near the crest of the hill, a creature surrounded by glowing specks of purple and blue light pushed its way through the deep snow down towards the cabin. She blinked but the creature did not disappear. Was she dreaming? As it struggled through the drifts up to its chest, she saw that it was cat-like. A mountain lion? They were rare in these parts, but no mountain lion would be glittering like the snow and glowing with colorful sparks of light. Just as the creature was almost close enough to see in the complete darkness, it veered off to the right and vanished around the other side of the house.
She scrambled off her bed and bounded across the dark room.
“Ow,” she grumbled as she stepped on something pointy lying on the floor.
Carefully, quietly, she opened her door and tiptoed on fuzzy socks down the chilly wooden hall. It wasn’t her dad she was worried about waking, it was Barfy. He was a furry alarm, but only when she was trying to do something she wasn’t supposed to do, not when strangers or axe-murderers came up to the house. Peering into the living room, she didn’t see the slobber-machine, so she made her way over to the kitchen. The fire was just embers, making it difficult to see, but after walking into a chair, stubbing her toe, and tripping over Barf’s chew toy, she was finally standing in front of the door beside the fridge.
Cupping her hands around her face, she stared wide-eyed at the impossible scene under the moonlight. Only a few paces from the door, glittering like the crystal snow and stars above, its eyes and white fur faintly glowing violet, sat a very large snow leopard. Gwen’s mouth fell open. Not just because snow leopards were supposed to live in Asia, or because it was magically glowing purple, but because it was also holding something in its mouth. For some reason, maybe because it must be a dream, or because the snow leopard was just so beautiful, Gwen wasn’t afraid of it. She watched it through the four panes of glass as it dropped the object, and looked up. Gwen gasped but didn’t look away from those intense turquoise eyes. Then the big spotted cat turned and leapt away back into the deep mounds of snow. Its glow faded into the forest, and Gwen stood there silently gaping. Her hand felt for the knob, and she slowly opened the door to a frozen night. Sitting on a dusting of snow was a little violet pouch with a golden drawstring. She bent down and retrieved it, then stared into the gathering gloom while clouds began to cover the moon once more.
Something pulled at her. She really wanted to rush out into the night and follow the mysterious leopard. Just as she thought about getting her boots and coat, a blast of cold air hit her in the face, and she quickly shut the door. Maybe right now wasn’t the best idea. Without further hesitation, she raced into the living room, threw a log on the dying fire, and dropped down in front of the hearth. Her fingers trembled as she loosened the drawstring on the silky pouch.
“Wow,” she whispered.
A shimmering flower and a little black scroll fell into her hand. The flower was as large as her palm, its sparkling white center fading into light blue, dark blue, then violet at the petal’s tips. It felt heavy but delicate at the same time. Setting it aside, she picked up the black scroll, and saw that its edges rolled neatly into the center. As she was about to unroll them, they suddenly unfurled and Gwen squealed. A large black butterfly sat in her palm, gently beating its velvety wings. Her heart hammering, she watched it for a long time before she realized there was tiny gold lettering on its wings.
In the firelight, the words seemed to dance before her eyes. She read:
Eat the sugar-bloom after nightfall and we will return.
Sugar-bloom? We? Gwen’s face crinkled up in bewilderment. Who were we, and did she really want to find out? While looking down at the frosted flower that did indeed look spun of pure sugar, she didn’t feel the butterfly flutter away from her hand. It was half way across the living room before she noticed it slowly heading down the hall towards her father’s bedroom.
“Come back,” she hissed, jumping up to try and catch it.
All she could see were glints of gold as she chased it down the pitch-black hall. Just as it was about to fly through the doorway into Rick’s room, she caught it between her hands. Yet, when she opened them, it evaporated into black mist.
She squeaked and clapped a hand over her mouth, horrified that she had murdered the poor butterfly. Biting her lip, she shuffled back to the dimly lit living room, and picked up the fragile sugar-bloom. Before she smashed that too, she carefully put it back into the small pouch that she then put on top of the mantle place. The log was burning brightly, and she sat down on the thick carpet in front of its warmth with a big sigh. What a strange and magical night it had been. Thinking of the ethereal snow leopard, and wondering what the golden words meant, she eventually drifted off to sleep by the fire while snowflakes drifted by the window.
She awoke to a face washing from Barfy’s wet tongue.
“Ew,” she groaned, pushing the wriggling fur-ball away. “Gross, Barf.”
He barked and jumped in a circle.
“Yeah, good morning to you too.” She yawned and rubbed her eyes. Groggily, she pushed herself up, and looked out the window to see a golden pink sunrise sparkling off a pristine winter wonderland. “Barf,” she whined, rubbing her eyes again. “It’s super early, you deranged mutt.” Then, with a jolt, she remembered last night. Had it been a dream?
Wide-awake, she jumped to her feet, exciting Barfy into hysterics. His barks became yapping squeaks as he dashed from the living room, down the hall, back up the hall, through the living room, into the kitchen, slid into the door, flopped over like a one-legged fish, and barreled into the living room again. He did this about two more times before dad yelled at him from the bedroom. Completely ignoring her crazy dog and infuriated father, Gwen stared, amazed, at the mantle above the fireplace. It was still there, the purple pouch with the sugar-bloom.