In Which You Prove You Don’t Hate Children…

…by buying a little story for charity.

A while back, in a place know as Twitterland, I volunteered my story-knitting services to a project for Emily Suess Writer’s Week. It involved starting off and writing the first fourth of a round-robin story to benefit a children’s hospital. The best part was that since I got to start, I also got to decide the theme and tone of the story. I always wanted to write a story about childhood friends that get into trouble, along the lines of Stephen King’s The Body (later filmed as Stand By Me) or Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way ComesSo I got writing and I think I achieved what I set out to do, and threw in a mean dog and what may possibly be a ghost (I don’t know myself, since I don’t know how it turns out).

Now, I will give the first five people who comment below a copy of the story. The rest of you will have to buy your own copy, but there are three very compelling reasons to do so:

1. It’s for charity. 

2. It’s written by some very cool people, so the story is going to be be really good.

3. It’s for charity. More precisely, The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

I have no idea how the story ends (all I’ve read is my par, the first 1/4th) but I’m going to tempt you by posting the first few paragraphs of mine.

10 Mississippi

“Go on. It‘s just a house,” Sebastian said.

“Yeah, right,” Tommy replied. He fixed the worn baseball cap on his head, and kicked a stone on the pavement with scuffed sneakers.

He looked into the yard, full of waist-high grass and dead leaves from years before. The paint on the house had once been some shade of white but was now a dull brownish-gray and peeling in flakes. Curtains the sun had long bleached clean of any color hung unmoving in the windows. A black cat was zig-zagging through the missing boards in the wooden fence, enjoying the lazy afternoon sunshine.

“What’s so special about this house?” Jo asked, and put a stray lock of hair behind an ear.

Tommy opened his mouth to speak but Sebastian beat him to it.

“It’s haunted,” he said, speaking with in serious, hushed tones. “The people who used to live here were killed by a murderer and now no one will buy it so it just sits here and rots.”

“That’s not true,” Tommy said. “Didn’t the dad kill the mom and take the kid away to another state?”

“You don’t know?” Jo asked and looked at each of them in turn.

Jo came into their lives that morning. The teacher introduced her as Josephine Moonbeam and said that the kids should be “extra nice” to her. She had an easy beauty to her that caught the boys’ attention and the girl’s quiet envy. She corrected the teacher, saying her name was just Jo, but the secret was out. By lunchtime, however, one kid had a bloody nose and no one called her anything but Jo for the rest of the day.

“Just walk up to the door and knock, Tommy, how hard can it be?” Sebastian said and winked at Jo, who remained unsmiling and just looked up at the second-floor window. Her eyes were emerald green and Tommy had a hard time looking anywhere else. She looked at him and he looked at his shoes. Sebastian took a bite of the candy bar he was holding, chocolate melting on his fingers which he then licked. Sebastian never let chocolate go to waste.

Tommy took a deep breath. “You can do this,” he thought.
“It‘s just a house. It‘s just a house.”

The grass split as he walked through it and dry autumn leaves crackled underfoot and in between the grass. The front door looked like it survived the ravages of the seasons better then the rest of the house. As he got closer, Tommy noticed small cracks in the wood around the windows and in the steps leading up to the front porch. Something scurried in the grass up against the house and Tommy felt his temperature drop.

“I just have to knock once, right?”

“Knock,” Sebastian said and smiled at Tommy and stole a glance at Jo. “And count to ten.” He then said words dreaded by impatient children everywhere: “Mississippi.”

Remember, the first five people who comment get a copy (I’m buying them personally, from here, not giving away copies I already have).  The rest of you should feel free to buy your own copies. You know, to prove you don’t hate sick kids. Batman sure doesn’t.

So either comment below for a chance to win (a simple “Hi” will do), or head over to Emily Suess’ blog to buy your own copy, for the low low price of $1.39.

3 thoughts on “In Which You Prove You Don’t Hate Children…”

  1. Some nice Boo-Radley-esque suspense there! So, how many Mississippis did they get to? I’m hooked already. Why has no one else snapped this up? Twitter must be broken.


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