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Friendship Middle School Contemporary

They followed Agatha into the woods, with the last light of summer warding them from the threat of September. Nina endlessly ran her tongue along her new braces, still unable to get used to their feel. Rick huffed as he shambled, balancing the awkward one-legged wooden table under one arm, and the big brass bowl under the other. Dennis frowned and kept glancing over his shoulder, certain he had heard rustling in the foliage. Katie hugged herself and shivered, even though it was still warm enough to be called a warm day.

And Agatha marched with secret purpose. She had a plan. For all of them.

Katie was first to stop, in a small clearing surrounded by birches. “Where are we going?” This stupid game had gone on too long. They were supposed to have gone for ice cream, not this bush tromping.

“Yeah, Gathy,” said Dennis, never more than a handhold’s length from Katie. “Where are we going? This is stupid.”

Agatha turned around, slowly. Gathy. How she despised that nickname. Her two Wednesday Addams braids swayed like the ropes of a gallows, and her oversized Judas Priest hoodie shaded her pale face. Her hoodie now, though this morning it had belonged to her older brother Kent.

Her backpack sagged when she slid it off and set it on the well-trodden path, and the first fallen leaves crunched under its weight.

“We’re in Centennial Park.”

“Yeah, duh,” said Dennis. “We know that. But where are we going?

“Yeah, Agie,” said Nina. “You said you had something awesome to show us. Is it a dead body?”

“Oh my gosh!” said Katie, covering her mouth.

Agatha couldn’t resist the slightest of smiles. “No. It’s better.”

“Well, tell us,” said Dennis. “And stop scaring Katie.”

“I’m not scared.”

Agatha remained silent, just staring at each of her friends in turn, until they looked away and quieted down. Then she said, “Very well. The Coven has a right to know.”

“Oh cool!” said Nina. “I didn’t know we were still doing that.”

“We’re not,” said Dennis. “There’s no covens in high school.”

“Um,” said Rick, setting down the table since everyone stopped walking and apparently they were all taking a break. “We’re not in high school yet.”

“Yeah,” said Nina. “Stop being lame, Dennis.”

“Whatever.” Dennis shook his head. “Where are we going?”

“We’re going to a secret place in these woods.” Agatha paused for dramatic effect. “A place of great power, where the ley lines cross and double back. A place where time stands still.” She drew it out even more. Katie’s eyes kept widening and Dennis rolled his, but Nina and Rick were grinning.

“Satan’s Door.”

“Gosh!” Katie quivered, again covering her mouth with both hands. “There’s no such thing!” she whispered. Then she turned to Dennis and tugged at his tee-shirt. “Is there?”

“No, there isn’t, Katie. Don’t worry. Gathy’s just lying.”

Agatha scowled at him. “It’s true.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Dennis. “And anyway, what would we do there? You said you were going to show us something cool.”

“I am. We’re going to cast a spell.”

“Cool!” said Nina, at the same time Katie gasped yet again.

“There’s no such thing as spells,” said Dennis, “and you’re not a real witch. And this isn’t a real coven.”

Agatha smiled cruelly. “Oh ye of little faith.”

“Magic isn’t real. People can’t really cast spells.”

“Why do we need to go to… um…” Rick began, and then whispered the last bit, afraid that by voicing it he might give it life, “Satan’s Door?

Agatha took a moment to ponder it. She needed the Coven there, but she could see she was losing them. Katie had always been the weak link, ever afraid of her own shadow, and now Dennis followed her around everywhere like a whole bag of gross. They might not come along if she didn’t give them something, but everyone knew magic lost its power if you had to explain it.

Maybe just a taste, then.

“Dennis is right,” she said, and when Dennis arched an eyebrow, she added, “Kinda.” She started pacing around her backpack, mentally counting the steps. Expanding her circle, timing it, so it would be exactly thirteen steps. “Humans can’t just cast magic spells. That’s true. If it weren’t, more people would do it. The fact is we need help, and I know someone who can help us.”

“Who?” asked Dennis. Katie just clamped her hands over her mouth even tighter.

“A demon that lives here. His name is Mr. Crowley. He waits on Satan’s Door. And,” she paused again, drawing it out, “he can speak with the dead.”

Katie let out a muffled mewl, a fear run so ragged it was coming apart at the seams.

“You’re lying,” said Dennis. “There’s no such thing as demons.”

“He owes me a favour,” said Agatha.

“No, he doesn’t, because he’s not real.”

“He’s going to help us cast a spell.” She stopped, unzipped her backpack with a deliberate tug. “He’s going to help us brew a potion.” The zipper parted like skin splitting on an overripe fruit.

“No, he isn’t,” Dennis insisted, though his voice was a little airy. “What is that? What’s in there?”

“Ingredients.” She took a four litre-milk jug out of her backpack, only whatever dark liquid hid within its frosted plastic carapace certainly was no milk.

“What is that?” Dennis repeated at a whisper.

She held the jug up for all to see. It was heavy enough for both hands, and it sloshed lethargically with her every movement. “Blood,” she said. “It’s blood.”

Katie was melting down, her red eyes tearing up. Dennis tried to push through her blubbering to calm her.

“Oh my gosh,” said Nina. “Is that really blood?”

Agatha nodded severely. “It’s werewolf blood.”

“Werewolf?” said Rick.

“Yes,” said Agatha. The cat was out of the bag, but so be it. They were a Coven. They were in this together. “It’s for the spell. Mr. Crowley is going to help us brew a magical potion that will turn us into werewolves. Then we’ll be together forever in” – she frowned, trying to remember the lyrics from her older brother Ian’s CD – “nocturnal rapport.”

“There’s no such thing!” Katie wailed, pointing a shaky finger at Agatha and wiping her snotty face with the other hand. “You’re a liar, Agatha! You’re a bully!”

Agatha rolled her eyes. Why, she wondered not for the first time, do we hang out with her? Katie had been cool once, but she changed – just like everyone and everything else. Deep within her, the memories of the past slammed into the reality of the now and a bitter spark shot out. It fell on a pile of desiccated frustration, where it gave birth to a cruel flame. Katie was afraid of everything, and fear was for the weak. Fear was weakness.

Agatha rummaged in her backpack again. She pulled something out, ignoring Katie’s wailing and Dennis’s pontificating, and then with a deft movement, she drew her kris from its sheath.

A sudden hush fell on everyone else, and their eyes were drawn to the wavy knife in her hand – the blade catching the sun. Agatha marvelled at it too. The steel, polished to a mirror sheen; the handle, wrapped with leather that perfectly fit her hand; the handguard, a pair of intricately grotesque harpies holding the blade between them. Her kris was a thing of wonder. Her kris, though yesterday it had been her older brother Dylan’s. He wasted it on stupid things like LARPing – and anyway, it wasn’t really stealing. Her brothers had taught her long ago that if you didn’t lock something up and hide it, it was fair game.

She raised the kris high and their eyes followed it. “Mr. Crowley requires a sacrifice.” With deft flicks of her hand, she lowered the blade and then pointed it directly at Katie.

Katie’s eyes widened until they couldn’t widen any more. Then she gasped, turned, and sprinted away, wailing the whole time.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Dennis said, and then he sprinted after Katie, calling her name.

The cruel fire was snuffed out by a sudden downpour of remorse. “It was a joke!” Agatha called, but either Dennis and Katie didn’t hear her, or they didn’t care.

“Aw man,” said Nina. “I like playing witches, but you really went too far this time, Agie.” She shook her head.

“Nina!”

“You gotta grow up,” Nina said. Then she started marching after the other two.

“Nina!”

Nina just marched faster.

Agatha growled and shivered with anger. She sheathed the kris and then tossed it on the ground, and then stalked to the other end of the clearing where she kicked a stone.

She hugged herself until her rage-fueled trembling abated. Everything was ruined. She had screwed it all up again. Just couldn’t get anything right lately.

“Shit,” she hissed, and then knuckled a tear. Summer was almost over and the Coven was broken. Everything was broken. Nothing would ever be good again.

“Agatha?” Rick asked.

She startled, quickly wiped the rest of her tears away. “You’re still here?” She sniffed a final time, took a steadying breath. “Why? Why didn’t you leave with the others?”

Rick didn’t answer, just looked at the table he’d been lugging around. The table Agatha made him lug around, because it was too heavy for her.

“Katie ruins everything,” she muttered. “She’s such a wet blanket.”

“Come on,” he said. “You guys are friends.”

“Were. She didn’t even invite me to her birthday this year.”

Rick cocked his head. “You were at camp.”

“Whatever. That’s not the point. She’s changed. Everyone’s changed.”

Rick set the brass bowl down on the table, realizing now with a shiver that it was probably meant for the blood.

“Why do you want to be a werewolf?”

Agatha crossed her arms, jut out her chin.

“Agatha?”

“Because,” she said, then she bit her lip. “Because I don’t want to be me.”

Rick frowned. “Why not?”

“Because!” She started pacing around the clearing again. “Because everyone is changing! Because we’re going to high school next week! Because we have to date and get driving licences and go to parties and I don’t know if I’ll get invited to any! Because I don’t know if I’ll stand out or fit in or which one is better or which one I even want! Because college is right around the corner and there’s entrance exams and I have to choose what I want to do with the whole rest of my life and I have no idea what I want!”

She stopped to take a shuddering breath. “Things are so complicated now! I want things to stay how they were. I just wanted us all to become werewolves, and that way… that way at least we could all remain together.” She lowered her hood and ran her hands over her face. “I’m afraid. Of the future. Of… everything. It’s like anything I knew is gone and I’ve lost all control.”

“Well, sure,” said Rick. “Things are changing, and the future’s scary. But it’s also a little exciting, isn’t it? And, come on, it’s not like you’re alone, Agatha. We’re all still friends.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “For now. But it’s a new school, filled with new people. What if that changes? Did you know that Dennis and Katie kissed?

He nodded. “New people aren’t a bad thing. We didn’t know each other four years ago.”

“I guess so.” She scrunched up her nose. “Thanks, Rick. I guess I maybe overreacted a bit.”

“You said we were going to sacrifice Katie to a demon.”

“I only implied it.” They chuckled and Agatha shook her head. “Oh wow, I really need to apologize to her, don’t I?”

Rick nodded, and then he looked at the milk jug. “Is that really blood?”

“Cherry cola. I let it get flat. I figured we’d celebrate the last weekend. Oh!” She rushed to her bag. “Dylan lent us something for the occasion,” she said, and Rick felt a chill because he knew Agatha's eldest brother wasn't the lending sort. She pulled a can of beer out of the backpack – her beer now – and held it triumphantly aloft.

“Holy crap,” said Rick.

Agatha grinned, but then the grin faded. “Guess I ruined it though.”

“Shouldn’t have any trouble getting into parties at least.”

They both laughed, and the last tension of the previous moments dissipated.

Then they heard a thud, a pop, and a hiss, and the air was suddenly filled with yellow smoke. A shadow loomed within it and then a tall figure emerged from the billowing sulphur. His skin was sanguine red, his eyes jaundiced yellow, and he had two glistening black ram’s horns on his head. His splayed fingers ended in wicked talons and he lunged at the two of them with a growl.

“Mr. Crowley!” Agatha shrieked. “He is real!”

Rick jumped between her and the demon. “Run! RUN!”

She bolted and he stumbled after her, and both of them sprinted away screaming and never once looked back.

Dylan waved the smoke away and took off his customized Darth Maul mask. “Un-believable,” he muttered, picking up his knife and his beer. “Thieving little shit. Can’t leave anything unattended in the madhouse.” Then he rolled his eyes and called out, “And it’s Satan’s call, not door. Get an ear, ya dummy.”

He squinted after them but could no longer see either. Had half a mind to find that Rick kid and give him a proper kicking, because he knew what was up and nobody but nobody was going to go around sniffing after his kid sister. But then again, Rick had put himself between her and harm’s way, so maybe he wasn’t too bad. Maybe the ass-kicking could wait.

He stomped out his homemade smoke bomb before it started a forest fire. His stolen loot recovered and his mission accomplished, Dylan had nothing left to do but go home. He picked up Aunt Melissa’s antique one-legged table and brass bowl with one arm, because they were important to her and probably worth money or filled with memories or whatever. With his other arm, he picked up Agatha’s backpack, because she’d probably learned her lesson and he didn’t want to stress her out too much. And also, it was leverage.

December 12, 2022 23:14

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50 comments

23:56 Dec 14, 2022

What an ear for dialogue! Spot on with the snarky/neurotic middle schoolers. Great name choices... Agatha possibly for Abigail Williams in "The Crucible"? (Maybe a stretch. But I was getting Arthur Miller vibes.) I totally had to look up LARPing and "kris" -- Kris was especially clever as it means both a twisted dagger and "follower of Christ." Huh. Minor suggestion: This bit of dialogue seemed off. “My good older brother Dylan lent us something for the occasion too.” Maybe something like.... "Dylan lent us something for the occasion," s...

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Michał Przywara
02:11 Dec 15, 2022

Thanks for the suggestion! I think it's a good one, and I've adjusted the dialogue. Initially I had a bit of a sarcastic tone in mind for her, but it doesn’t actually read that well, and they both know Dylan's her brother so it's not worth repeating in speech. I don't know what it is with wavey knives and role playing, but they seem to go together hand in hand. Maybe it's all the sacrificial rituals in fantasy. I suppose a ceremonial knife having layers of meaning isn't a bad thing, though I expect Dylan bought it because it looked cool :) ...

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Cindy Strube
19:01 Dec 15, 2022

“The Crucible” is one of few required high school readings that I really enjoyed. Fascinating. We read the parts aloud in class. Probably isn’t in curriculum nowadays. (I did just check to see if our tiny local theater has done that one. Looks like not, but they do a lot of classic performances.)

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Dec 15, 2022

We had Death of a Salesman, which was enjoyable. I recall doing Willy's lines. Maybe it's time to check out the Crucible :)

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Aeris Walker
13:24 Dec 19, 2022

You write middle school drama so well! If someone were to “chart” the rise and fall of tension and action in this story, it would be a very nice steady slope that peaks and descends at just the right “height” (I’ve forgotten all my high school graphing terminology). Hope that makes sense, but I guess I mean that the story is very well paced and I feel like you give us time to connect to the characters before Agatha’s plan falls apart and they part ways. And then you give time for that “pressure release” at the end too when Dylan comes and g...

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Michał Przywara
23:19 Dec 19, 2022

I am thrilled to hear the tension works :) I was hoping for it, much like Agatha was hoping to be dark and mysterious. It's not a great thing to do to friends though, is it? A little stressful, a little manipulative. But I suppose she was stressed out too, and these things have a way of propagating. Thanks for the feedback, Aeris!

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Zack Powell
04:00 Dec 19, 2022

Apologies in advance, Michał, if this comment isn't my usual quality. I'm waaay rusty, but I've finally got some time to tackle my (very, very extensive) Reedsy TBR list, and your story is the first that I'm starting with, because I loved the title so much that I had to jump right into this. And it didn't disappoint. I've mentioned before on another one of your stories the "character soup" thing that can come up in short fiction, where there can be too many (named) characters for one small piece and how that can be confusing for the readers...

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Michał Przywara
22:27 Dec 19, 2022

Thanks, Zack! Great to hear from you :) "character soup" - yes, this was in my mind as I wrote. "Is this too many? It seems like too many. Let's see if we can make it work." I had the idea for the story for a while, in some form, and there was always a group of them. I'm glad it worked out, and that the voices were distinct. (There's even a third brother Ian, whose music she learned about "Mr. Crowley" from - but that's a minor detail). Anyway. I'm glad it was enjoyable, and that Agatha was an interesting character. I had a vague feeling...

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Marty B
05:47 Dec 18, 2022

Oh good story! Middle school hormones are a violent brew of madness- I was expecting a demon to pop out just based on that combustion alone! 'a bitter spark shot out. It fell on a pile of desiccated frustration, where it gave birth to a cruel flame.' Nice and the follow up 'The cruel fire was snuffed out by a sudden downpour of remorse.' I liked this line- it created the image of the her wanting to be goth and dark. 'Her two Wednesday Addams braids swayed like the ropes of a gallows, and her oversized Judas Priest hoodie shaded her pal...

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Michał Przywara
22:29 Dec 19, 2022

"Goth" and "dark" is better than "high school" and "next week" :) This story's already been approved, but I'll keep that in mind about "foliage" - you may be right about it. Thanks for the feedback, Marty!

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Delbert Griffith
13:57 Dec 17, 2022

The ending was stellar, as was Agatha's motivations for reinvigorating the coven. My favorite phrase: "It fell on a pile of desiccated frustration..." Desiccated frustration - could be the name of a band. What a great story, and with so many layers. The middle-schoolers' back-and-forth comments were quite realistic. I think you spoke volumes about teen angst in one little story. Nicely done, Michal. Nicely done indeed.

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Michał Przywara
22:35 Dec 19, 2022

Heh, that would be a good band name :) Definitely glad the dialogue was believable - it's been a while since middle school. It's teen angst, like you say, but the general issue seems to repeat periodically throughout life - whether this, or midlife crises, or some kind of bucket list panic. Deathbed dread? Seems like there's something upsetting about questioning existence, and our place in it. I appreciate the feedback!

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AnneMarie Miles
00:20 Dec 17, 2022

Hey Michal, this was a fun one! The idea that junior high kids would go out together for a little magical excursion is so spot-on and familiar. I remember totally wanting to be some sort of powerful, fantastical being as a tween, and really believing in the magic with my friends. This was actually a bit nostalgic in that way, so thanks for that :) I really liked how Agatha projected her feelings onto Katie. At first she seems annoyed by her fears, but then admits to Rick how fearful she really is about high school and everything changing. A...

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Michał Przywara
00:31 Dec 19, 2022

I'm glad this was a bit nostalgic :) I too remember being swept away by imagination -- well, fair, still do occasionally, just now I write it down. Maybe writing's Agatha's fate too. Thanks for pointing out the ending confusion. I might have reached for more story than I could fit into 3k. My idea was, she had grown up with three older brothers, and so naturally learned to do things their way - forgiveness is easier than permission, and not getting caught is easier than forgiveness. Perhaps why she pushes Katie, in some misguided effort to ...

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AnneMarie Miles
01:24 Dec 19, 2022

You know, I used to think 3k words was too much, but now I'm realizing it's just not enough sometimes. Especially when we invest our imagination into the backstory. Maybe Agatha needs her own series, or novella, or full-on novel! Bet she's going to have plenty more adventures in high school, especially with three older brothers!

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Lily Finch
19:58 Dec 16, 2022

Michał, what does the word gross mean in this sentence. Forgive my ignorance please. Katie had always been the weak link, ever afraid of her own shadow, and now Dennis followed her around everywhere like a whole bag of gross.

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Dec 16, 2022

This use of gross means disgusting. As per Merriam Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gross, it's definition 2 c. They list it as informal, so perhaps it's regional. Certainly when I was growing up, lots of things were gross, like broccoli or pineapple on pizza, or depending on the age, movies with kissing, etc. The way Agatha uses it, it's a bit of a slangy stand-in. Katie and Dennis appear to be a couple, and Agatha finds this distasteful - maybe because it's one more change, or because it's people she knows, or maybe ev...

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Lily Finch
21:46 Dec 16, 2022

Thank you. I get it now. It was bothering me. :) LF6

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Lily Finch
19:53 Dec 16, 2022

“Yeah, Gathy,” said Dennis, never more than a handhold’s length from Katie. “Where are we going? This is stupid.” Agatha turned around, slowly. Gathy. How she despised that nickname. Her two Wednesday Addams braids swayed like the ropes of a gallows, and her oversized Judas Priest hoodie shaded her pale face. Her hoodie now, though this morning it had belonged to her older brother Kent. - Ominous foreshadowing of something deadly or evil because of the Wednesday Addams reference and the gallows reference. “Yeah, Agie,” said Nina. “You s...

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Michał Przywara
21:45 Dec 16, 2022

Thanks, Lily! Yeah, I think you got it. Change can be frightening, especially at that age, and it kind of mixed up with her hobbies and interest in magical things - and it seems, Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" :) Nobody likes to feel powerless, and fantasy at least gives us the illusion of control. Though, I guess in this case, friendship was more important. I recall we had a Bloody Mary thing too at some point, but it was more along the lines of "if you stand in front of a mirror and say her name 3 times, she'll appear behind you and kil...

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Lily Finch
21:48 Dec 16, 2022

That's funny!

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:49 Dec 16, 2022

Wow, this was incredible!! I love the way you write with such vivid imagery. The dialogue was really smooth and brought the story to life. One of my favorite lines was: "Things are changing, and the future’s scary..." - This is really true to our real lives and yet, we keep moving forward. I loved this story! Great job as always and I hope you have a great Christmas! :)

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Michał Przywara
21:46 Dec 16, 2022

Thanks! To you and yours as well :) Yeah, that seems to be the way of life. We putter around, get used to things, and then the world gets bigger. Start getting acquainted to the new way of things, and repeat the cycle in a few years. Best to learn to cope, and enjoy the ride :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Rebecca Miles
15:05 Dec 16, 2022

Whoah the tension cranks up and diffuses, cranks up and diffuses faster than you cab say abracadabra! I fell for all the sinister mood, thought completely Agatha was a conniving Abigail ready to ditch her friends completely in the dark and dirty stuff, didn't expect any of the twists, found them all very satisfying, so I think that means you've pulled something rather wonderful out of your conjuror's hat!

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Michał Przywara
21:47 Dec 16, 2022

"tension cranks up and diffuses" I'm thrilled to hear that :) I think at the end of the day, Agatha just wanted to do something cool and mysterious, something memorable – but if you're with people, you have to account for what they want too. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Cindy Strube
18:51 Dec 15, 2022

Great suspenseful, ominous-feeling lead up to the real crux of the matter. Even September is a threat. It really is fear, and uncertainty, that make people act this way, isn’t it? Here it’s clearly the fear of growing out of childhood, and the way Agatha tries to deal with it is to be edgy and in control. But she’s still play-acting, still a little girl. This has a much brighter, kind of comforting ending - but it did make me think of those 12-year-old girls in the Slender Man case. Brrr! Things can go really wrong… Lots of linguistic tur...

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Dec 15, 2022

I'm very glad the dread came through :) And yeah, you got a good read on Agatha. We don't always have control, but we can certainly pretend to. It sometimes seems like for most people, youth is a series of close calls, and then we look back on it and wonder how anyone survived. Thanks for the feedback!

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Suma Jayachandar
08:09 Dec 14, 2022

Michal, This one has got the essence of the middle school life pat- clumsy, afraid of jumping onto that boat leaving the shore of childhood, and yet believing a little bit of magic could smooth things over. In the beginning, I found the characters to be a bit high in number, But then, you managed to give them distinct traits, so it was easy to follow. A couple of lines I liked, 1. everyone knew magic lost its power if you had to explain it. 2. the memories of the past slammed into the reality of the now and a bitter spark shot out. It fell o...

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Michał Przywara
22:37 Dec 14, 2022

Good catch! Looks like you're right about well-trodden. Trod is also a past form but I can't find any uses of it like this. Confusingly, treaded also appears to be an accepted past form. Well, I learned some English today :) Glad to hear the characters turned out distinct - this is an admittedly large number for a small scene. "I noticed this was a distinct departure from your style, and found it cool" :) Yeah, certainly a departure. Normally I mindfully stick to simpler utilitarian prose, as a cure for overwritten thesaurus-writing, b...

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Laurel Hanson
21:33 Dec 13, 2022

Nice handle on the middle school reader. A pretty difficult sweet spot to hit between establishing believable behavior, maintaining appropriateness of language and content while being engaging, and providing them with some lovely writing. Passages like this: "Deep within her, the memories of the past slammed into the reality of the now and a bitter spark shot out. It fell on a pile of desiccated frustration, where it gave birth to a cruel flame." - strike true and elevate the language. Nice.

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Michał Przywara
01:10 Dec 14, 2022

Thanks, Laurel! Yeah, it's a bit of a balancing act. While writing this I had the ugly realization that uh-oh, it's really been a while :) I don't know what's cool anymore, or if cool is still even a thing. I'm glad that passage worked out. I liked the idea of it, but I was also worried about it fitting. Something about uncontrolled fires and woods appealed to me.

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Wendy Kaminski
03:22 Dec 13, 2022

You are magical. :)

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Michał Przywara
21:46 Dec 13, 2022

Thanks, Wendy :)

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Elizabeth D.
14:49 Sep 15, 2023

I love this story so much!

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Michał Przywara
22:07 Sep 16, 2023

Thanks, Elizabeth! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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David Drake
21:03 Dec 23, 2022

Really liked the dialogue in this! Setting was very good too!

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Michał Przywara
19:03 Dec 24, 2022

Thanks, David! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Lindsay Flo
13:49 Dec 23, 2022

This was such a good take on middle-school/adolescent angst and drama and the complexities of wanting to grow up and wanting to stay a kid...I particularly liked the paragraph where Agatha sputters out all the the things she's stressing about in one long sentence. As a parent of teens and preteens right now, whewwww. They are a mixed bag of wild emotion and uncertainty. I think this story was an excellent example as well as a great, creative take on the prompt. The dialogue also kept the pace moving along nicely. Great read :)

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Michał Przywara
21:44 Dec 23, 2022

Thanks, Lindsay! I'm glad it was believable. This story's been on my mind for a while - trying to control through fantasy or imagination, what otherwise cannot be controlled. That age seems to be one of those universal turning points where things start changing, though it's hardly the last one. "are a mixed bag of wild emotion and uncertainty" I like that :) That's a pretty good description for humanity in general. I appreciate the feedback!

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Susan Catucci
20:47 Dec 22, 2022

This is so great, Michal - I really enjoyed every word! My favorite paragraph was the one that housed the gorgeous phrase "memories of the past slammed into reality of the now and a bitter spark shot out," etc. I read it three times just to really take it in. The angst behind Gathy's mission was beautifully expressed and relatable. The contribution of Dylan's appearance was hysterical. Loved it. There's a good reason the comments on this wonderful work are longer than the story itself. Great job!

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Dec 23, 2022

Thanks, Susan! That passage was a little experimental, but it sounds like it paid off as a lot of people highlighted it. I'm glad it appealed to you too :) I appreciate the feedback!

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Karin Cavanagh
03:40 Dec 22, 2022

What a wonderful story. You certainly have a knack for dialogue. It sounded realistic and as I read, I could see the four of them bantering. The setting was perfect; four kids in the park, but your story took me some place darker, a lot further away, scarce undergrowth with a little mist to add to the mystery. I loved your description "dessicated frustration." I hadn't heard that before and it suited perfectly. And the twist at the end... her brother Dylan reclaiming his stolen possessions, what a wonderful way to finish! I can't wait ...

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Michał Przywara
22:58 Dec 22, 2022

Thanks, Karin! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and that the dialogue was believable :) It was a fun one to write. And "park, but darker" is a great way of putting it. There's something about quiet wooded areas that lends itself to mystery and imagination. I appreciate the feedback!

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Katy B
03:49 Dec 21, 2022

Oh I DO enjoy reading stories about middle schoolers :) A fun, spooky-but-non-spooky coming of age story is right up my alley! Thank you for sharing.

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Michał Przywara
21:53 Dec 21, 2022

Thanks, Katy! It was fun to write :) I've had this one in mind for a while, and then this prompt came up and it seemed like a good fit.

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