Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Spiral Bookcase at The Stoogeum!

Did you know that there was a museum dedicated to The Three Stooges?! Well, it’s right around the corner from our shop in Ambler, PA – The Stoogeum.   I was over the moon when the shop was invited to The Stoogeum for the annual Fan Club Meeting on Saturday, April 28th.

The annual Fan Club Meeting is a three day event of lectures, films, displays, Q&A sessions, actions, banquets, dealer rooms, and more. David J. Hogan will be autographing copies of his new book Three Stooges FAQ and we will sell the copies.   You must be a fan club member to attend, but I will be bringing back signed copies to sell in the shop!  (If you would like one, be sure to let me know before Sat!)

I am a huge fan of The Three Stooges.  I remember watching episodes at home on lazy Sundays, soaking up the crazy antics.   I still can’t really choose a favorite Stooge, but I suppose I was a bit partial to Curly and Shemp.  I adored the episodes Cookoo Cavaliers, where they open a beauty saloon in Mexico and Who Done It?, where they are defective detectives but ultimately get the baddies.   I still get that comfy, childhood feeling when I turn on an episode and think about how they warmed my heart on the rainiest of days.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the book and add to your collection of memories and great laughs, I know one will be at home in my personal library.

Enjoy Part I of the Cookoo Cavaliers!

First Friday in Manayunk, May 4th: Five Hour Energy Drink

Winning Entries from the Young Authors Creative Writing Contest!

I am happy to present the winning entries from our Inaugural Teen Writing Contest.  This writing contest was a collaboration between Beth Kephart and The Spiral Bookcase.

The inspiration:  You wake up one morning and it’s there—something new, something that could change your life.  Maybe it’s an idea.  Maybe it’s a creature.  Maybe it’s a song playing on the radio.  But something big is happening.  Write about this as imaginatively and persuasively as you can.  Your entry can be a poem, a short story, or an essay—whatever gives you greatest range and possibility.

Several area middle schools and high schools participated in this opportunity.  The semi-finalists were able to attend a special workshop, led by Beth Kephart and Elizabeth Mosier.   The winners, chosen by Beth and Elizabeth, presented their entries at Young Writers Take the Park!, and will be published in the upcoming Philadelphia Stories, Jr.

The authors and their works are astounding.  Click on the links to view.  This material should not be re-published or distributed without the permission of each author.  Please respect their creativity.

Entry by Celeste Flahaven, Villa Maria Academy

Prodigy by Maria Dulin, Villa Maria Academy

Goodby by Olivia McCloskey, Villa Maria Academy

Confessions of a Not-So-Only Child by Lauren Harris, T/E Middle School 

Reflection by Dennis O’Leary, T/E Middle School

Nightbird by Calamity Rose Jung-Allen, Penn Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

Nightbird by Calamity Rose Jung-Allen, Penn Alexander

Calamity Rose Jung-Allen, Penn Alexander

Nightbird

For two minutes and forty four seconds,

I watch the night, in its luminescence.

Heavy clouds twist, like so many dark ribbons,

Dark velvet punctured only by stars, clouds overridden.

 

Pudgy cats yowl in alleyways deserted,

Shadows confuse them, their pouncing thus thwarted.

A beer bottle crashes, from nowhere, it seems.

The echo dies out like a soft, faded dream.

 

I wish it was warmer, or that the wind held better.

The breeze whistled through my threadbare yarn sweater.

Shadows were approaching, completely unencumbered,

Fright started slightly in a pit in my stomach.

 

The time seems but ripe, almost tangible to pick it.

Ripe for all creatures to emerge from the thicket.

For ravens, wings glossy, and rabbits, fur soft.

For stray cats and dogs, their heads held aloft.

 

Though I feel alone in this fantasy now,

I see a strange animal along the ground.

Feathers of speckled grey, black and white.

It cocks and bobs its head, into the light.

 

It take careful steps, it’s orange eyes are wide.

A pigeon steps into the quiet moonlight.

And as I approach it, one finger extended,

It climbs on with pink claws, and upwards we ascended.

 

Shadows less menacing, moonlight less dim.

As on it clambered, tail fluffed, neck prim,

My cheeks were glowing with happiness.

A pigeon was exactly what I needed, no more or less.

Reflection by Dennis O’Leary, T/E Middle School

Dennis O’Leary, T/E Middle School

Reflection

Eyes crusted with the dust of restless sleep

Mind still wandering in midnight’s sweet dreams

Body wanting the peace of bed to keep

But alarm demands wake by any noisy means

World comes to be, with the return of sight

Taking in the world and the shock that will follow

The shock of a mirror that will shed some light

A mirror in which your true self will finally show

My pupils rest on the flat and untarnished glass

Conscience waits on judgment the surface will make

Worried it will change my future and hurt my past

Lies we live on, but the truth none of us can take

Images start to form, and pictures take shape

Face of my own, but expression of another

Greed was being disguised by a dark black cape

Not used as a coat, but self it would cover

Clothes of conformity slithered down my chest

Soul being devoured by objects of earthly worth

Decency is loss and even mercy there is less

Eyes focused on the ground and how to gain the earth

This was not me I thought, not who I really was

Knowing myself is a quality I always pride in

Voices wore in my ear and one had the loudest buzz

Thinking I am better than this, and that this was a con

Trying to shatter the surface that broke my soul

Though the seal of other successful usage kept it strong

Shoving the mirror in my closet, cramming it full

Heart had been closed, saying the reflection was wrong

Walking away from this horrible, eye opening day

Moving on with my life trying to erase the image with success

Not knowing that only actions can change what the mirror says

Life going on, and it seemed with succeeding I was obsessed

World was horrible from that point and so forth

Mind was full of successful and hopeless dreams

Only wishing I had gone south instead of north

Wishing that I had listened to the mirror by any means

Confessions of a Not-So-Only Child by Lauren Harris, T/E Middle School

Lauren Harris, T/E Middle School

Confessions of a Not-So-Only Child

            Let the record show that I, Ivy Lee Miller, loved being an only child. I cherished my perfect family, with just my mom, dad, and me. I was happy about not having to share my room, my toys, and especially my parents’ love. Now, however, I am not content with these feelings as they no longer describe how I currently feel. This is the truth, the confessions of a not-so-only child.

It was a clear March morning in my peppy suburban home.  My lawn was its normal olive green, the sky was a lazy shade of blue, and the granite kitchen countertops had a spotless black shine. That’s what made that piece of paper so apparent. I hated to pry, but something so flagrantly out of place was too irresistible for me not to take a look.

The thing that was about to turn my perfect world on its head was an adoption confirmation letter. My parents had adopted a kid. I was too dizzy to keep reading. I sat myself at the breakfast bar, trying to think the situation through. “They’re replacing me,” immediately popped into my head. “They don’t care for my opinion. They’ll probably value this new kid’s ideas, though.”

My thoughts spiraled into a cycle of rejection and despair. Wasn’t I cute enough anymore? Didn’t my parents love me? Why didn’t they tell me? Did they think I wouldn’t notice? I looked at the letter. It seemed so innocent, so ignorant. It was like that blindingly bright piece of paper had no idea how much it could ruin my life.

Yet my conscience told me my parents meant to do the right thing. They wanted to do this, not just for them, but for me as well. What parent wants their child to be lonely? While my heart was warming up to the idea of not being alone, the voice in my head was preoccupied with this newcomer’s practical implications.

“Saturday mornings.” It said simply.

“What?” I replied.

“The junior soccer league has practices very early on Saturday mornings. Not to mention, you’ll have to cheer him on in the freezing cold every week for an hour. And he’ll use your bathroom to get clean afterwards. And he’ll want to watch his shows on the TV, and he’ll want to play with your old toys, and he’ll have everybody telling him how adorable he is. Did anyone say that to you when you were seven?”

At that point, I’d had enough. I set the letter on the table and waited for my parents to come down. The Lucky Charms I planned on eating for breakfast could wait.

The sound of two pairs of feet emanated from the stair case, a light rumble on the bare wood. Their faces were as bright as the kitchen’s stainless steel appliances until they saw me and the letter glaring at them.

“When did you plan on telling me?” I demanded.

“We were going to tell you over breakfast, sweetheart,” dad said. I could tell he wanted to smile at me, but held back. There wasn’t anything to smile about.

“I didn’t want to know the week before he arrived, dad. I wanted to know the minute you two decided to adopt another kid. When was that? A year ago? A month ago? Why wouldn’t you ask me if I was okay with another kid here?” I looked at them with hurt, wide-open eyes, trying to channel the pain and humiliation of not being good enough. Maybe if I opened my eyes wider, all the negativity clouding the present would leave, but it just wouldn’t.

“Sweetie,” my mother sighed, “we just wanted you to be happy. We thought you’d be excited to have someone to spend your time with.” Unlike my dad, my mom smiled.

“I’m perfectly fine with the idea of having a brother. I’m not, however, fine with you not telling me he’s coming in a week.”

After that, the next seven days were a blur of mismatched words, events, and emotions. I remember having a math test. The gravity of the events surrounding me made factoring seem trivial. I clawed my way out with a B, to the dismay of my A+ average. I discovered I didn’t really care that much, and I could see my perfect life at home start to crumble, too.

My parents’ marriage was fine. It was like a honey badger. Whether it was attacked by angry honey bees or bitten by bellicose cobras, my mom and dad’s marriage had a dose of magical honey badger anti-venom that kept them going. No, something much worse crumbled—my spare bedroom. It all started with that coat of midnight blue paint I saw when I got home from school. Then it was the weird boys’ furniture crowded around my room.  Although I was shocked, I didn’t say anything. Mom and dad probably mentioned they were going to take over my inner sanctum while I wasn’t listening.

With three days left until the big arrival, dinners weren’t as silent as one might expect. We talked about the normal things, like my school’s undefeated soccer season, grades, and TV, but with that fourth seat being filled in a few days, I went ahead and acknowledged the huge adopted elephant in the room.

“So what’s his name?” I asked.

They got the hint that it was okay to discuss the adoption, and my mom, delighted by my begrudging resignation, gushed, “It’s James. And guess what? He’s seven—just like Maddie’s little brother!”

At that point I fell silent. Maddie was my best friend, and I hadn’t told her yet. I couldn’t tell her now; she’d be more angry than if I didn’t bother to tell her at all.

Mom obviously sensed something was amiss, and decided to change the subject. “How was that math test you took last Tuesday?”

Great.

The next day on my way to English, I couldn’t tell Maddie. What was I going to say? “Hey Maddie, guess what? My parents adopted a kid named James and he’s coming today! I’m sorry I didn’t tell you; I just conveniently forgot until five seconds ago! Good luck in your science test next period!”

So we discussed the usual things—teachers, tests, homework, soccer, and the class trip to the Natural History Museum next month. Then, the awfulness of my predicament hit me. I had to tell her, or I never would.

I lost my chance. Maddie went home sick, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her via text. I kept my silence until our small four-seater car pulled up to the adoption agency. It looked awfully like a nursery school—with painted handprints covering the windows like tiles in a mosaic. When we walked inside, the main lobby looked sunny and cheerful and bright, nothing like how my life had been for the past week.

The real surprise came when a small freckled boy with hair as red as a ragdoll’s cheeks ran up to me and hugged me tightly around my knees. Mom and dad let out a noise halfway between a laugh and an “Awww…” I put on a happy façade while maintaining my pouty teenage interior. I still wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of him having my spare room.

There was paperwork to sign, but I managed to entertain James at a small table with tons of Lego pieces. He taught me how to build a helicopter while asking me almost every single question that could be asked.

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Do you have a dog?”

“Why does everyone call you Ivy when your name’s Samantha?” (Yes, that is my real name.)

“If you could be an animal, what would you be?”

“Do you like soccer? I do. I LOOOOOOVE soccer. But I like ice cream more.”

This went on for about an hour or so, and I was warming up to him. That was until I realized he would be in the same class as Harry, Maddie’s seven-year-old brother. I couldn’t keep up the charade for long; she’d find out sooner or later. On the ride back home, James wouldn’t stop talking. He couldn’t wait to start school, to have a sister, a mommy, and a daddy, and to get his own room and a billion other things.

My friends and I used to talk about siblings. I always told them I wanted a little brother or sister as being an only child is a lonely existence. They always pummeled me with complaints of my lunacy. A brother? A little monster that draws on the walls and steals your stuff? You want one of those? Or a sister? The little princess who manages to exceed you in every area of measurable human performance, including dance, sport, school, and cuteness? You’re kidding, right? I always thought they were exaggerating. Sure, maybe siblings could be a bit taxing, but they couldn’t be that bad, could they? I was dead wrong.

My fantasy of having both a playmate and personal confidante was blown to pieces by this little loud-mouth. Of course my guyfriends loved him. They only had to spend an hour playing videogames with him. They didn’t have to watch movies with him about little animated characters and their escapades. They didn’t have to help him with the math they haven’t done in six years. They didn’t have to teach him how to draw, despite the fact he was hopeless at it.

Every single one of my girlfriends thought he was sooo cute. Easy to say when he doesn’t take your DS or play with your brand-new soccer ball, getting it all muddy. Maddie didn’t even care that I didn’t tell her. “He’s SO CUTE!” she squealed when I introduced him. That hypocrite.

The middle school I went to let us out half an hour earlier than the elementary school that James attended, so I could walk home with him. Our house was (and still is) twenty minutes away from his school, so I was always able to talk to him about his day. That day, however, as soon as we were about five minutes into our walk, James burst into tears.

“THEY HATE ME!” he wailed, sobbing into his paint-stained long sleeve shirt. I didn’t have much experience with calming down distraught seven-year-olds, but I managed to give it my best shot.

“What makes you say that?” I asked, scooping him up into my arms as I carried him down the winding road to our house.

“I-CAN’T-RIDE-A-A-BIIIKE!!!” he sobbed into my shoulder.

“Neither can the kids in your class.” I told him, trying to wipe away the salty tears flooding from his eyes.

“Yes they can! Mrs. Johnson asked who could, and they all raised their hands, except me.”

It was good to see he was calming down; at least I could understand him. “You can’t hate someone for not being able to ride a bike, James.” I tried to explain, but James wasn’t satisfied.

“I’m adopted, too! My parents didn’t want me and now I can’t ride a bike, either.”  He was upset, but at least he wasn’t crying as much.  I knew what I had to do.

“Don’t say that, James! You might not get it now, but they only wanted what was best for you! I’ll teach you how to ride your bike. How does that sound?” He smiled weakly and nodded at me, and I carried him all the way home.

After I’d helped him with his homework, we went outside and I lifted him onto his new, blue bike. His eyes lit up as I showed him how to strap on his helmet. I pushed him up and down the driveway, and eventually managed to raise the training wheels. He began to pedal on his own, and despite some close calls, he never fell off. After dinner, he wanted to ride to me in a straight line. Then he’d “officially” know how to ride a bike. I was getting tired of teaching him how to pedal and brake, but I agreed.

He hopped on his bike with his helmet and safety pads, mentally preparing himself for the greatest achievement in his life since he learned how to zip up his coat.  Pedaling with all his might, the most determined seven-year-old I’ve ever seen came straight toward me. Sure, he wobbled a bit, but you couldn’t tell if you were watching the grin on his face.

As he braked like a pro, I rushed over and gave him a hug. He grabbed me around my knees like the first time I met him, and said to me, “I love you Ivy!”

“I love you too James,” I whispered, as I took him to his room. “Goodnight!”

Before he closed his door, James said, “I love having a sister.”

That was when I realized that I loved having a brother.

Goodby by Olivia McCloskey, Villa Maria Academy

Olivia McCloskey, Villa Maria Academy

Goodby

“William, you’re running late!” his mother yelled up the stairs.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” Will said, opening his eyes and peeling himself off his bed. He still hadn’t packed; he’d just put off the inevitable.

He strode over to his closet and tried to calm his nerves. Will wrenched open the door, prepared for the usual mountain of junk that came flying out. He winced as his trombone smacked his shins. His mom would be in for a surprise when she came to clean out his stuff. Will pushed the thought aside as he dug through a pile of clothes. Eventually, he found what he was looking for.

He pulled his half-zipped suitcase out from under an old skateboard. God, what was that stench? Will began haphazardly stuffing clothes into his suitcase, not bothering to fold them. He’d lived in Westmouth, South Carolina his entire life. Never once had he left the small town. But now, he was leaving, once and for all. Will couldn’t necessarily say this was how he had expected to leave, and he hadn’t slept a wink the previous night, dreading his departure.

He’d gotten the phone call early one morning.  In fact, it had awakened him from a pleasant dream about an eagle in flight, swooping through the air before him.  At first, he’d had to pinch himself to be sure he wasn’t still dreaming.  The voice on the other end of the phone just didn’t seem real.  Will remembered sliding down onto the floor, his back against the wall, the phone clutched to his ear by his white-knuckled hand.  That was the phone call that had changed his life forever.

Will slammed his suitcase shut and surveyed his room one last time. The walls were painted black, and the ceiling was covered with glow-in-the-dark stars. A few beat-up paperbacks sat on his bookshelf. His Star Wars alarm clock barely illuminated the room with the faint glow it was emitting. At last, Will’s eyes rested on the only photograph in the room. It was a bit battered, but Will didn’t mind.  The picture displayed three grinning faces: his 5-year-old sister, Lily, his 17-year-old brother, Mark, and himself. It had been taken a few weeks ago, before Will knew he would be leaving.

Will gingerly picked up the photo, as if it was in danger of disintegrating in his hand, and pocketed it. His head snapped up when he heard the floor creak outside his door. Mark stood there, hands shoved in his pockets.

“Are you ready? Mom’s having a panic attack,” he said, surveying Will’s nearly empty room.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Will said, avoiding his brother’s gaze.

“Well, come on, then,” Mark muttered, crossing the room in three strides and grabbing Will’s suitcase.

“What do you have in here?” Mark demanded as the two brothers stomped down the stairs. “It feels like two dead bodies and a hand.”

Will felt a lump rising in his throat, prohibiting him from forming words. The lump seemed to double in size when he reached the kitchen, where his mother and Lily were sitting.  He fought to hold back the tears that threatened to spill over as his little sister streaked across the room into his arms. Almost immediately, he felt his shirt grow moist from Lily’s tears.

“Please don’t go, Will,” she pleaded, her red, puffy eyes meeting his.

“I’m sorry,” Will said, disentangling himself from her monkey-like grip and planting a kiss on the top of her head. Taking hold of his bag, Sergeant William Mercier, of the U.S. Air Force, walked through the door for the last time.

Prodigy by Maria Dulin, Villa Maria Academy

Maria Dulin, Villa Maria Academy

Prodigy

Falling. Falling into darkness. It won’t end. There is no end. I keep going. The wind makes my spine crawl. I feel my heart beating. It’s in my throat. I clench my fists. Force a smile on my face. When the bottom comes I want to be…

I jolt. This room, its full of light. I’m back. It was just a dream. But it felt so real. I could feel myself plummeting down.

Why is it so silent? Not a whisper being spoken nor a footstep placed. Mom should be home, its Sunday. Dad doesn’t go to work on Sundays until late. There will probably be a note on the kitchen counter written on thin paper with sharpie so it bled through onto the white granite. Mom always does that.

My room is hot, uncomfortably hot. The heat can’t be on, it’s August. I push open the glass window to let the fresh, windy breeze in. But there is none. Just heat.

On the counter, there’s no note. But there is a piece of paper. Scrawled across the paper are notes. Music notes. They aren’t in any pattern though. They just seem to stretch across the page, blown around and left there. As scattered as possible and still on the staff lines.

In the middle of the page there are five words written, barely legible. I know nobody with that handwriting. It reads: Someday soon you’ll understand.

I take it to the piano. Now that I look at it, it’s pretty simple. Only three notes. B, E, and G. Odd combination though. B, E, G. G, B, E. they slowly get softer. Since I started playing, I’ve known of that soft touch. My teacher told me about that talent when I was three. He called me a prodigy. At the time, I had no idea what he meant. A prodigy. It was an interesting word. I just loved to sit down and play. Just let out myself into the keys. That was about the time I refused to talk.

Now they are too soft. I’m not playing it that way. I pound it. nothing. I glide my finger over the key. Nothing. What is happening. The birds stop singing. I need to hear the music. I need it. It’s my air. It’s what I need to breathe. Is it the piano, or is it me. I’m still playing: Painted Glass, the first song I composed. I was four. Instead of getting that rush, feeling the connection, being one with the piano, I feel nothing.

My sight goes blurry. I’m sobbing. I scream. I need to hear something. Anything. My feet lift me. The faucet in the bathroom is on, but I hear no water. Nothing. I can’t hear the creak of the floorboard, I can’t hear the piano. I can’t hear. Looking up, I see a monster. Red face, blue eyes popping out of a head. Wet streaks down cheeks. Crooked teeth.

The piano calls me back. I pound. No song, just notes. Anything. I try the new piece again. B, E, G. B, E, G. Nothing. I hear nothing.

Music is how I speak. Now, I can’t hear what I say.

B, E, G. Someday soon, you’ll understand. B, E, G. Someday soon, you’ll understand.

I need to beg. That means I need to talk. I can’t beg if I don’t talk. But how will I know what to say? How will I know if I sound right? I need to beg to hear.

Who in their twisted mind would do this to me? Who gave me that music? I’m sobbing so hard I feel my body shake.

Wait. I run through the living room into the kitchen, rip all of the papers out of the drawers. I need that prescription, the one Doctor Clay gave me. This is his handwriting on the music. Its undeniable.

He found something. That test he did. He knew something was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell me. How could he? How could he not tell his own patient that she would lose her hearing? How could he do this to me? Is this really Dr. Clay’s way of getting me to talk? Anything else but this. Take away anything, but you take away my music, my hearing then you may as well take away my life.

Entry from Celeste Flahaven, Villa Maria Academy

Celeste Flahaven, Villa Maria Academy

I wrote my first story sitting under the oak tree as tall as the Empire State Building.

I might have been ten years old, but it’s hard to remember now, three years later. My memory is so fogged, I can’t even remember what the story was about. I have lost so many notebooks over the years, including the one that story was written in. I think it had a kitten on it like most of the school supplies my mom purchased. My handwriting probably was scrawled across the page, erratic. That’s how I was then. Jumping around, running, and playing.

But all that’s beside the point. The point is the oak tree.

For the past three years, I’ve been going to that oak tree almost every day. I discovered her by happenstance once while my family and I were taking a walk after dinner. At that first walk, maybe a few months before I started dropping by, I hated the oak tree. She was in a little clearing where the sun poked at her body, but even that didn’t enhance her figure. I had to squint to look at her, and that didn’t help either. She was too tall and too wide, too shady and too cool, and far, far, far too ugly and too plain. She needed some care, or a good pruning. If only some cared enough.

Some kind soul did care enough. One day in March when the weather began to turn lamb-like, we drove past the oak tree. Most of the dead limbs that had blackened with age and disease were gone, lying in a tied bundle beside the curb. Now the oak tree looked polished. I knew she had been there for years, but now she had a certain charm. Before, she was just scraggly. Now she was almost antique. A vintage tree. What a strange, novel idea.

I made it a point to make the walk up to the oak tree sometime that week. The time didn’t come until the weekend, though, and even then it had to be in the evening because of lack of time. The clouds were the color of orange sherbet and the consistency of cotton that day. They looked almost good enough to eat and shaded the meadow, making it just the right amount of cool. Breeze rippled the tall grass and the flaxen heads of wheat bent to reveal golden undersides. The way the blades moved in unison looked like a wave.

My legs ached climbing up the big hill to the tree. I had to see her, I had to. I wanted to try to wrap my arms around her solid trunk and itch my belly against the patterned circumference. I wanted to drink in the sweet, dull smell of buds burgeoning on the thick branches. I wanted to lose myself in the tree’s essence. Somehow the oak tree seemed much more appealing up close. She seemed like the only unique tree in the small, lime green, sunlit meadow because of her enormousness, hardiness, and branches that tended towards the ground. They looked like dozens of human arms with dark, peeling skin.

I was armed with a pen tucked in my hair like I’d seen journalists do and a notebook only. I planned to draw something, a landscape. Under a tree in a meadow would be the easiest place, I figured. It was submerged in nature and no one would be around. I could be alone.

At first, the tree loomed high above me like a skyscraper and I was afraid somewhere deep in my heart. When the fear passed, the tree looked like something more. She was not a skyscraper. She looked almost inviting, comfortable. I stayed under her canopy of skeletal branches for as long as I was allowed. I had to be home to do important things like homework, but I promised to visit old Oakey whenever I could. The moments of tranquility I’d experienced with her were an escape. I could go there and not be nagged or bothered by anyone or anything besides the repetitive songs of crickets. It felt good to get away for a little while in a place no one else knew about or could take. The tree was all mine.

When it rained or was too cold to see the tree, I dreamt about her and wrote about her. I dreamt that someday I would climb high into her branches like a sparrow and sit there feeding off of the tree’s energy and spirit. All trees have a spirit, but the oak tree’s was special in some way. She was content to be alive, thriving, and growing. The oak tree was a kindred spirit.

Oakey grew more old and gnarled over the three years I visited her. She was starting to lean over like a giant sunflower and her trunk broke out in knobs. I tried to soothe her but I could tell she was aging with alarming alacrity and soon her spirit would be sapped away and carried along her roots. It worried me more than the math test tomorrow.

Exactly three years to the day I started visiting Oakey, I woke up and felt her crying. It wasn’t the kind of awakening where you roll over and think, I can sleep in five more minutes, no. It was panic. I tore myself out of bed and didn’t bother to get dressed. My fingers fumbled to tie my sneakers in the laundry room. I knew they would get me there the fastest. Oakey’s cries grew louder and more frantic as I started running for her. I cried out and screamed, “Oakey! Hold on, I’m coming.” She didn’t hear me. She was too upset.

I reached the fence that blocked off the clearing from the road and saw several faded orange trucks lined up on the street. A few men were leaning on an enormous machine that looked like a cement turner. They wore reflective neon lime vests, sunglasses, and hardhats. I clambered over the split rail fence and over the hill that was so steep you had to walk on your toes or else your calves would burn like fire. The grass was still slick from dew and I slipped a few times getting to Oakey, but I made it over the hill.

A crew of workmen with chainsaw, pulleys, and masks were taking down my tree. They had already cut a sliver out of her left side to make it fall right. The sight churned a muddy panic in my stomach. I was rooted to the spot, much like a tree. I watched as Oakey was taken down, unable to do anything besides. Here was my only private spot that was all mine being robbed away by mean men in ugly vests. I wanted to scream and protest but my tongue was a worm on dry gravel. The chainsaws growled as the men started them and shrieked like firecrackers when they hit Oakey. I couldn’t hear her crying anymore. She was already dead, murdered. The men lassoed high onto her crown to pull her onto the ground and the last string holding her together snapped.

She fell like a great ship.

Three Young Adult Authors – One Day Only!

Saturday, April 14th, 2pm-330pm

A not-to-be-missed YA event here at the shop!  Three remarkable authors, Elisa Ludwig, KM Walton, and Eve Marie Mont, will be in-store reading excerpts of their latest novel.   Their books are available at The Spiral Bookcase, and the authors will have time to sign your copies.

Book Trailers & Author info below!

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Elisa Ludwig studied writing at Vassar College and Temple University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband Jesse, and works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Philadelphia Inquirer among other publications. PRETTY CROOKED is her first novel. You can visit her online at www.elisaludwig.com.

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