Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Urchin's Chance: Contest Entry

*  *  *

Every year for the past three years, My Faith Radio has held a writing contest, open to anyone.  This year, writers were asked to write a story either non-fiction or fiction, exploring the concept of Grace.  The story was to be at least 700 words, but no more than 1000.  
This is the first year I entered the contest, with a short fictional story called Urchin's Chance.  Unfortunately, though I submitted it on time and according to the rules, it somehow did not make it to the voting page.  I'm really not sure what happened, but whatever the case, my story is not up for readers to vote on.  
Oh well!  I thought since it didn't make the contest, I might as well post it here. And, since this is no longer bound by the contest rules, I'm giving you the long version- just over 1000 words. Tell me what you think- did it have a chance at winning?  Let me know in the comments below.  Enjoy!

  *  *  *


* * *

Image result for orphans on a winter street public domain

A bitter wind bites my cheeks and sends a shudder through my chest. I feel the cold deep within my bones. My nose starts to run, but my skin is so chapped that the rough wool of my gloves will only hurt more.
Jerome stares out at the people passing by, snowflakes landing lightly on his black hair. He doesn't seem cold. But he's a year or two older than me, and he's been on the streets since he was ten, so he's used to it by now.
Without glancing my way, he nods slightly. “Do you see that, Tim?”
I look, trying to quell my shivers. Across the street, I can see a street vendor setting up his stand. Even from here I can smell the scent of roasted corn. My mouth waters.
“We'll have to be careful- I can see Bruiser on the corner.”
I see him too. Bruiser is a bobby- but he's got a savage streak. I've seen him beat a boy almost a year younger than me for pick-pocketing. He's less interested in upholding the law than he is in showing off his power.
“Let's go,” says Jerome. Without a word, I follow.
We weave through the crowds. People aren't paying much attention to us. We keep our heads up, but our eyes down. If you don't make eye contact, people don't remember you.
I'm nearing the vendor now. The smell lights me up, makes me warm inside. I'm so close- in just a few minutes, my stomach won't be growling any more.
I meet Jerome's eyes, and he nods. I move toward the stand, bumping into a man in front of me. He stumbles forward, upsetting the stacks of corn and knocking several cobs onto the cobblestones. In the blink of an eye, I gather them up and shove them down my coat. I toss two more to Jerome before propelling myself to a run.
It's a moment or two before anybody realizes we've stolen food. I hear someone yell, but it's too late- we're well on our way. No one will pursue us for something as little as corn cobs.

Breathlessly, I lean up against a wall and share a smile with Jerome. He chuckles.
“Can we eat now?” I ask.
“Go ahead, enjoy your spoils,” he says with a smile. “It won't be your last- that's not the only gold we've nicked today.”
I look at him quizzically. From his pocket, Jerome pulls a shining chain. It's a watch, glistening in the white winter glow. My eyes widen.
“I got it off a gentleman back there, in the confusion.”
“Wow, Jer'...” I gape at it. He smiles proudly.
“I think it's safe to say we won't be hungry for a long time.”
I open my mouth to congratulate him, but at that moment, a shout makes me start. I turn, scrambling to my feet. Men are running towards us, and Bruiser is a the front.
I hardly have time to think. I try to follow Jerome as he runs, but he's going too fast. I trip over an empty crate and crash to the ground. Corn cobs roll around me, soiled in the filthy snow. The watch is lying in front of me.
“Oi, stop, you nasty little thief!” a rough hand seizes of my shoulder and I cry out. A moment later, I feel Bruiser's bobby stick come crashing down on my skull, making me dizzy with pain. I am thrown to the ground. My breath leaves me, and I throw my arms up to cover my face from his next blow.
It never comes. I gasp for breath, trying to fill my lungs with much needed air. My head spins, and my vision is blurry. I dimly see the shape of a man struggling with Bruiser. I don't care... my eyelids droop, and my head falls back on the pavement. I know no more.

I sit in a cold cell. My head pounds, and my hands feel shaky. The rough wooden cot puts slivers through my breeches, but I'm not thinking about it. I'm thinking about what's going to happen to me, now that I'm behind bars.
I don't know what they do to thieves when they're caught. Maybe they'll beat me and put me back on the streets. Maybe I'll be sent to a workhouse, or to an orphanage. Whatever it is, I dread it.

Hearing footsteps as they approach, I look up. I gulp as I see the warden with his keys jangling. A gentleman stands behind him. There is blood running down the gentleman's forehead from a fresh gash, but he pays it no mind.
The warden unlocks the door and scowls at me. He jerks his head, motioning me to come forward.
“Come here, boy,” he growls.
Trembling, I stand and approach. At a sign from the warden, I walk through the cell door. I look up at him, confused.
“Excuse me....” I say, my voice quavering, “but, aren't I-”
“Shut your trap, young 'un. This gentleman here's just paid a pretty sum to get you out. You're his concern now.”
The warden gives me a withering look and turns his shoulder. Snorting, he trudges down the dark hallway, leaving me with the gentleman.
Swallowing, I turn to look up at him. He sees the question in my eyes and gives me a kind smile.
“Yes, it's true,” he says. “I've paid your fine.”
I stare at him, my mouth open. I try to think of something to say, and my eyes focus on the gash on his forehead.
“You're bleeding,” I say dumbly.
“Yes. It was a blow meant for you, in fact.”
My eyes widen as I realize who he is. He was the man who was struggling between Bruiser and I. He stopped the blow before it came.
The gentleman puts a hand on my shoulder. “Listen, son- you're free to go now, but if you keep stealing, it's going to catch up with you. You won't evade the law forever. So you have two choices: you can either go back to your life and continue as you have been, or you can follow me and never have to fear again.”
I balk, not sure if I understand.
“So which is it?” the gentleman asks.
“I- I just- I don't know,” I fumble.
“Will you come with me, or won't you?”
The gentleman holds out his hand and gives me an encouraging smile.
I consider my life on the streets. He's right- I won't evade the law forever. Eventually, my wrongs will catch up with me. “I- I'll come with you,” I manage to say.
The gentleman smiles. “Good.” He beckons as he turns to leave.
“Pardon me for asking sir, but why are you doing this?” I ask, hurrying after him.
He turns and looks at me, right in the eyes. “Grace.”

* * *

-Emmarayn Redding

Monday, May 25, 2015

Reversal of the Heart- A Beautiful Fairy Tale

*  *  *

Hello, my readers!
I recently came across this lovely short film by Fiddle Griff Animation, and was immediately drawn in by the story.  It is sad, sweet, enchanting, exciting, and romantic all at once.  I loved it so much I just wanted to share it with you here.

To the artists behind this work of art:  I applaud you!  This is absolutely lovely, perfect as it is.  I think it even has potential to be a full length movie, or even a novel.  You've done a wonderful job, and I hope you keep going with your career.

*  *  *

(Just a Warning:  There is some blood shown in this animation. Nothing terribly gory- and it is very brief.  Also the events that set the story in motion are sad, and may be upsetting to young children.)

*  *  *

I hope you enjoyed this film.  Let me know what you think in the comments, and maybe we can hype about it together!  :)

-Emmarayn Redding

Monday, May 18, 2015

Enola Holmes - Sherlock Fanfiction: The Disappearance

*  *  *

Hello, Readers!  
It's been a long time since I've written a fanficiton-  I've been entirely too busy with my own work to play with someone else's.  But I know that I promised another Enola-Sherlock fanfic, and never let it be said that I am not a woman of my word.

I am currently working on a rather long (hopefully) novel-length fanfic that will combine at least three Enola Holmes books into one, while mixing in elements of Sherlock.  But that's a tough project, and I haven't even finished writing the plot.  So for now, I figured I'd stick to one-shots.   Thus I bring you The Disappearance, an origin story.  

I'll get back to the current timeline in my next one-shot fic, The Problem.

*  *  *
Image result for dark-haired girl crying public domainA knock sounded on my door.  Tensing, I tried to quell my sniffling.  I hurriedly wiped the tears from my eyes and kept my back to the door.
"Who is it?"  my voice was steady.  I'd been practicing keeping my tone level, but even I was surprised at my success.  Suppressing emotion was a Holmes family trait, and it looked as though I was well on the way to mastering it.
But I didn't feel in control at all.
"Miss Enola, it's me,"  a man's voice replied.  It was our butler, Lane.  
I grabbed a tissue and wiped my nose.  "Just a moment". 
Rising up, I crossed the room and opened the door slowly.  I met Lane's eyes and kept my face still, and unreadable.  His eyes softened when he saw my red-rimmed eyes and tear-stained cheeks, but he was kind enough to make no remark
"I just came to tell you that Mrs. Lane has supper ready,"  he said softly.
I nodded.  "Alright."
I stood quietly for a moment, staring blankly into space.  Lane waited looking at me with expectant eyes.  After a few seconds, I woke myself from my reverie.  "Oh!  I'm sorry,"  I said, my voice wobbling a little.  "I should say... I'm just not very hungry, you see."
Lane swallowed and frowned.  "Miss Enola, you did not eat lunch this afternoon, and to my knowledge you had no breakfast either.  And Mrs. Lane tells me that you barely at anything for supper either.  Now I know that you're sixteen and quite old enough to decide when you want to eat, I must insist that you come down at once and have some supper.  I'll not have you becoming-"
"-Like my brothers?"  I finished, a little more sharply than I meant.
Lane blinked, deflating a bit.  "A waif.  I was gong to say a waif... from not eating, you see."
I shake my head, whatever ire I had felt quickly dying.  "Oh."  I sighed, and ran a hand through my hair. 
"Very well, Lane, I'll come down.  Just give me a moment."
"Good."  Lane smiled and turned away, heading slowly down the stairs.  
"Lane-"  I called after him suddenly.  "Has there been  any word from mother?"
Lane hesitated, then shook his head sadly.  "No, I'm sorry."
I swallowed back my disappointment.  "Oh.  Alright, then."

I sank back into my room and reached for my robe.  Feeling its weight on my shoulders helped relieve some of the emptiness I felt.
"Where are you?"  I whispered.  I closed my eyes, trying to quiet the whirl of emotions I could feel swelling inside me.  I should not be so upset.  I should be calm and logical.  I am growing up now, and I should not be so easily disturbed.
Yesterday was my sixteenth birthday- the day a girl is supposed to start being a young woman instead of a child.  But that dream day I've heard called "Sweet Sixteen" is a lie:  I feel no different than I did when I was fifteen.  In fact, I feel almost younger.  
My mother was gone when I awoke yesterday morning, out on her usual walk.  I had expected that.  But I had also expected her to be back by tea time, and she was not.  I waited all day, and she still had not returned.  By suppertime I had been dying to open the present she had left for me, but I still waited.  
By nightfall she had not returned.  By midnight, I had become really concerned.  But one cannot file a missing person report and be taken seriously until 24 hours have passed.  So I waited until this morning, and then began to second guess myself.  Suppose she had just taken a spontaneous holiday?  My mother was a free spirit, and sometimes rather scatterbrained.  It wouldn't be unlike her to suddenly decide to take a trip... only, in the past she's at least notified me.
Maybe now that I'm sixteen she thinks I'm old enough to handle myself...
I sigh and shake my head.  No.  I didn't care how odd my mother could be at times... she would never deliberately do anything to cause me distress.  She would have known I would worry, that I wouldn't know what to do.
Swallowing back my worries, I went downstairs and found Lane and his wife in the kitchens.  Ordinarily I would eat with Mother in the dining hall, but tonight I sat in the kitchens with them.  I just couldn't bear to be alone again.
Alone.  Enola.  My name spelled backwards.  I don't know what possessed my mother to give me that name.  Perhaps it was because I was born so many years after my two elder brothers.  I came as a surprise, and as such I was raised alone.   My father, who passed away so long ago I can hardly remember him, was always distant, so perhaps my mother felt alone.  Whatever the case, my strange name has always unsettled me deep within.
When I asked my mother why she named me so, she only laughed and shook her head.  "Because you shall do very well on your own, Enola," she said elusively.
I didn't know what she meant by that then, and I certainly do not know now.  But I know that now, when she is gone, I must somehow do well anyway.
After eating enough to satisfy Mr. and Mrs. Lane, I excused myself back up to my room.  They gave me sympathetic smiles and said goodnight, and then retired to their own quarters.  I could see the worry in their eyes, but it was less now that I had shown them I was still afloat, emotionally.
I knew why they worried.  They had been with our family for years, and were well aware that we had a hereditary predisposition for... how shall I say it, melancholic disorders.  I shudder to say insanity, for that is a word we never dared speak in this house.
Many years ago, when he was in his late teens, my brother Sherlock was institutionalized for a brief time.  Mother never spoke of Sherlock or Mycroft much, I think because they gave her much grief.  As a child I was always very curious about them, for as long as I could remember, they had been out of the house.  Since Mother wouldn't speak of them and Lane was not forthcoming either, I resorted to snooping around for information myself.  I found their medical records- which is how I knew about Sherlock's brief confinement.  Apparently he exhibits sociopathic tendancies, which is possibly why he never came to visit during my childhood.
But since that dark time, I understood that he had become a private consulting detective, and was doing very well for himself.  He had a friend, John Watson, who had been running a blog detailing their adventures for quite some time.  I was a faithful follower- in truth, I found myself admiring my brother more every time I read about him.
As for Mycroft, the oldest of the Holmes children, I knew that he worked somewhere in the government.  He must have been doing well too, for he paid for the upkeep of our estate.
My eyes widened suddenly.  I had been lying on my bed, wallowing in my misery, when a thought came to me.
Both of my brothers were rumored to be the smartest, most brilliant men in England.... perhaps, since mother was missing, they would know what to do.  My poor brain was not sufficient to the task, but they could surely keep their wits about them.
I hesitated for a moment, considering.  But really, what was I to do?  I didn't know where else to turn, and family seemed as good an option as any.

Reaching for my mobile, I typed out my message:

Mum's gone missing.  She's been gone since yesterday morning.  I'm not sure what to do... please help.  Please come.
-Your sister,

My heart tightening with anticipation, I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes.  I tried to calm myself and still my thoughts.  I took deep breaths, in and out, in and out.
It must have worked. for it was an hour before two text messages arrived and woke me from my slumber.

Notify the police:  that is proper procedure.  I shall arrive promptly.


I swallowed.  I would meet my brothers, for the first time in my memory, at last.

*  *  *

-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  This is a fanfiction for entertainment purposes only.  I do not own any of the characters mentioned within this post.  I do not own the fictional universe in which this story takes place.  All credit goes to the proper owners.
Images taken from the public domain.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Weekly What If: Star Wars!

*  *  *

Image result for Star Wars

This week's "What If" involves a couple of questions regarding the Star Wars universe.

1.  What if Anakin had told Obi Wan that he and Padme were married?

Image result for Anakin and Obi Wan talkingI think that Obi Wan would have at first been shocked that Anakin would do something to jeopardize his position as a Jedi Knight, but that he would have aided him out of friendship.  He could have helped them escape to a nice place where  they could live in peace and raise their children together.  Either that, or he would have convinced Anakin to go to the council and confess his actions, resulting in his suspension or expulsion from the Order.  Either way, it would have prevented his turn to the Dark Side- or at least delayed it.

2.  What if instead of being sent to live on Tatooine, Luke had been sent to Padme's side of the family and grown up on Naboo?

Image result for star wars nabooFirst of all, he probably would have had a very different personality.  As revealed by the prequels, Padme's family had a high status on Naboo and were involved in politics.  Luke may well have been more like Leia- sophisticated, diplomatic, and politically inclined.  He probably still would have wanted to join the rebellion.  Indeed, he may have met Leia much sooner through involvement with the rebellion.
Of course, Star Wars as we know it would not likely have happened if he had not lived on Tatooine.  

3.  What if Padme had lived?

Naturally she would have become part of the resistance, alongside Bail Organa and Obi Wan.  Perhaps she would even have led the efforts, and raised Luke and Leia away from the action, forever shielding them from knowledge of their father's history.  Of course, her presence could not remain hidden for long... and it would only be a matter of time before Anakin/Vader began suspecting that his beloved wife is not lost after all.

*  *  *

What are your thoughts on these issues?  I'm sure there are hundreds of ways for each of these scenarios to unfold.

*  *  *

-Emmarayn Redding

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Movie Review: Twilight (Gasp!)

*  *  *

Image result for Twilight*Sigh*  Yes, my dear readers, I must confess- after years of telling myself I would never watch Twilight, I broke down and watched it last night.  
Really, it's my mother's fault.  She watched it first just in case myself or any of my siblings ever took an interest in it.  Then we were laughing as she told us how silly it was (no offense to those of you who like it.  I respect your interests. ;)  After that, I thought, "Hey, why not watch it so that I can review it on my blog?"  
So, here I am today, writing a review on the movie I promised myself I would never watch.  Let's do this.  XD

When Bella Swan's mother and stepfather decide to go on the road for a while, Bella packs up to go live with her estranged father in Forks, Washington.  There, though she is unimpressed with the small town atmosphere, she makes many new friends at school.  But there is one boy who is unlike all the others, and his name is Edward Cullen.  He is handsome, solitary, and mysterious- and for some reason, Bella can't shake the feeling that he and his adoptive siblings are something more than what they seem...

First of all, I did not hate the movie.  It actually wasn't as terrible as people say it was.  On the other hand, it is not nearly so romantic as my friends hyped it up to be.
I've heard the Twilight Series criticized by a lot of people, both secular and Christian.  The concerns voiced by the secular crowd are weak stories and poor acting.  I guess I can't really complain about the acting- I thought the actors did a fine job portraying their characters as they interpreted them.  Not Oscar-Award-winning, but perfectly adequate.   As far as the story goes, I thought that the beginning was pretty good.  The idea of going to a new place and unraveling the mysteries surrounding a mysterious boy is, I'll admit, an exciting concept.  I just think it would have been a lot cooler if he hadn't been a vampire.  (But then, that's probably just me.  Vampires aren't really my thing- and I'll explain why in a minute.)
The concerns the Christians have voiced mostly involve the fact that the story revolves around the existence of vampires and werewolves.  They have much the same problem with Twilight as they do with Harry Potter- that the subject matter opens the door to witchcraft and devil worship.  Personally, I do not think the story did this.  I can't speak for the whole series, but at least in the first movie, vampires and werewolves are just that- nothing more than what they say they are.  There is no higher power in that world.  It's a fantasy setting, completely removed from the real world.  There was nothing dark or icky about the world or story, it just was what it was.  Keep in mind that fairies and mermaids and elves are all along the same lines as vampires and werewolves.  It's just that fairies and elves don't (typically) suck your blood.  ;)


There is some blood shown, and some fight scenes involving what I would call "Fantasy Violence"- i.e flying across the room and smashing through windows, etc.
There wasn't much swearing, but it was there.   Nothing terrible though.
In a flashback scene, when Edward is recounting how he became a vampire, he is shown being bitten in the neck by another vampire, who later becomes his adoptive father, Carlisle.  While Carlisle was merely trying to save his life by making him immortal, some people may find the image a bit frightening or disturbing.  Anybody twelve an up ought to be able to handle it though.
Twilight is.... oh, how to say this.... overly dramatic.  It's basically like High School Musical, only it's not very funny, and the vampires don't dance.  They do, however, play baseball apparently.
Edward has this terrible habit of staring and glowering like a freak.  He just acts very odd, and I personally could never find that attractive.  Now, I know it's because he's extremely tempted by the scent of Bella's blood, and that his resisting the temptation is supposed to be the romantic part of the story.  I suppose that's the draw for young girls:  a character resisting his darker side for love.  (That's the draw of any antihero ever.  Think of Loki, or Anakin Skywalker!)  But for me, I found Edward's spazzy behavior to be a bit off-putting.  He's a nice enough guy... just not for me.  ;)
And while we're talking about romance, I will mention that Bella and Edward are seen kissing, and at one point she is seen in a t-shirt and her underwear.  Nothing indecent is shown, and they pull back before things go where they shouldn't.

Image result for brownies public domainI said a little while ago that I would explain why vampires aren't my thing.  Well, here's why:
humans are a vampire's food.  They almost can't resist the smell of us! So for a vampire fall in love with a human would be like me falling in love with a brownie, the smell of which I can hardly resist.  If a brownie were molded into the shape of a guy, even a handsome one, I would still want to eat it.  I would just cut it into pieces first to I wouldn't have to feel bad for it.  No put that into perspective with Edward and Bella.  She's the brownie!  And that's just weird.  Not horrible... just weird.  But hey, if the guy wants to fall in love with his food, who am I to stop him?


Um....  let's see.  The scenery is beautiful!  I liked the way that Edward's family is so caring, even though most of his brothers and sisters are a bit freakish.  I liked the way that they were so willing to protect Bella, even though they'd just met her.  I did enjoy the beginning, when Bella was solving the mystery of Edward's true identity.  (I just think it would have been cooler if he was an elf, or something. ;)
I thought it was funny that after everything that happened during the movie, Bella's dad is still giving her pepper spray to take with to prom.  Not a bad idea, if you ask me.


In my humble opinion, Twilight is a very silly movie, but not harmful.  There's nothing great about it, but there's also nothing bad about it. If one of my friends asked me to watch it with them, I wouldn't argue too much.  (It's at least funny for me to laugh at Edward's trembling glare!)
Will I watch the rest of the movies?  Probably not.  I just can't take the "I love you-I hate you" drama.
Would I recommend this movie to my readers?  Not really, but I wouldn't discourage you either.  There's nothing wrong with it- it's just not my style.  Not to mention I don't know if the later movies get darker of more violent as they go on.  But since the rest of the series tells the story of a vampire war, I'm going to guess the answer is yes.

If you're set on watching the movie, then I would recommend it for about 13 and up.  Some twelve-year-olds would be able to handle it, but it really depends on the parents' decision.

So there you have it!  My review of Twilight.  I hope this helps some of you who were on the fence about the whole thing.

*  *  *

-Emmarayn Redding