Teachers Write 6/7 – Thursday Quick-Write

First of all today, a HUGE thank you to the authors who popped in to answer questions for our Wednesday Q&A day. There is some mighty useful information in the comments here, so you may want to bookmark it for later, too. And teacher/librarian friends, please do me a favor?  Take a few minutes to look up all those authors who made time to answer your questions yesterday – their responses will mean more if you learn about their books. And if those books sound like something your readers would enjoy, please consider adding them to your IndieBound wish-lists or GoodReads to-read lists.

Okay…ready to write? Today’s Thursday Quick-Write is courtesy of guest-author Margo Sorenson!

A student walks into the library/media center at lunchtime.  What is she/he thinking?  Worried about?  Dreading?  Hoping or wishing for? What are the risks/stakes for him/her? Show us in a paragraph or two.

Note from Kate:Some possible formats for this quick-write:

  • A journal entry from that character, written later on
  • A letter from that character to his or her best friend
  • A letter from that character to his or her worst enemy
  • A poem in the character’s voice
  • A monologue in the character’s voice
  • A conversation in dialogue between the character and a friend/the librarian/an enemy

For those of you in the middle of a work-in-progress, try this with your main character, or better yet, a secondary character you want to develop more fully.  Imagine him or her walking into a room and feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Why? You can write this from a third person perspective, from the focus character’s point of view, or for a twist, try writing from the point of view of a disinterested observer in the room — someone who has no idea who the person is or what’s going on. What would he or she observe in terms of mannerisms and body language?

Feel free to share a paragraph from your Thursday Quick-Write in the comments later on if you’d like!


238 Replies on “Teachers Write 6/7 – Thursday Quick-Write

  1. We knew as we watched him get off the bus that his day was already on that slippery downhill slope; his body was in constant motion, feet moonwalking, arms gyrating, lips moving as he belted out the words to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Mania had a firm grip on his shirt collar and we were all in for a good shaking that day.

    In my developmental classroom Fridays are meant to be that day that we unwind from the rigors of the week. We spend the first hour of the day wrapping up the business of the week — quick assessments of progress towards meeting IEP goals. This particular morning the students were expected to complete independent work at their workstations while awaiting their turn for spelling and dictation assessments at the computer. He balanced his chair on two legs, occasionally 1, complaining loudly, “Mrs. W, why do I have to do this stupid work?” When it was his turn to work with me at the computer, he came bouncing over, sat down a moment then jumped up and spat something into a nearby wastebasket. I’d remember that event several hours later. Of the 4 students taking spelling tests that morning, he was the only one to spell each of his words correctly (hurray!) and the only one to type his dictation sentences with all the words run together iamafraidofthedark, iputmytoysaway, mydadsaidno, icancatchtheball, westandforthepledge, ialwaystrytodomybest, didyouaskforacookie, iateallmydinnerlastnight — his mind was racing as fast as his body. I went to his desk to check the status of his independent work and it was there I discovered THE PENCIL, gnawed into 2 pieces with the pink eraser scattered in crumbs across the floor. Aha, I thought; he was chewing a bit of eraser and spit it out, knowing that he would be in trouble. Destruction of work materials is one of the behaviors which earns him a pass to the PASS room (a very structured, more restrictive environment than my developmental classroom; so, off he went.

    It was about 2 hours later, as we sat in the cafeteria eating lunch, that a scary thought crossed my mind — where was the silvery band that cupped the pink eraser to the end of the yellow pencil? I returned to the classroom and began to sift through the several wastebaskets scattered around the room. No, not in the basket by his desk, but YES, nestled in the wads of discarded tissue in the wastebasket near the computer was a small piece of crushed metal, molar stamped and crumbling. It was the band of metal that held that pink eraser to the yellow pencil. I carried the evidence to the PASS teacher and discussed with him my concerns that perhaps he had cut his mouth or swallowed some of the metal that would later irritate his intestines. The nurse came and examined his mouth and tongue; she collected the remnants of the chewed pencil and metal band and placed them in a small plastic bag and left to call his mother. In the midst of singing, “So, you’ve had a bad day,” he stopped. A look of panic crossed his face and he whispered, “Can I go to the nurse? I have to know, did I break my testicles?”

    1. I love your opening paragraph! It drew me in and painted a picture of a time and place.

    2. Very vivid … As teachers, you brought us back into a moment we have had like your story…

    3. Wow!

      I just meant to browse a few of the comments and this was just a piece of writing I could not stop reading. And yes, I laughed out loud at your ending.

      Feeling very intimidated as I think about what to write today!!

    4. This is funny! It reminds me of a 5th grade boy and his wenis story…if you don’t yet know, the wenis is the skin on your elbow…

    5. Just hilarious! The first paragraph was so vivid and made me want to meet this child. It also reminded me of several I have known.

  2. Is there a way we could get a list of the books each of the contributing authors has written? I’d like to read them this summer and post the list and reviews on my blog.

    1. Kimberley, I’d love to do this…but the list would be ginormous, as we have dozens of guest authors and some have written, quite literally, more than a hundred books. Here’s the (growing) list of authors:


      So that you can check it out and add their books to your to-read list as you have time. I’ll try to keep updating it because I’m having new people volunteer every day. Hope this helps!

      1. Kate, thank you so much for doing all of this for us, the entire writing community of teachers, librarians, and guest authors! Thank you, also, for your notes on the writing prompt for today –you think of everything! (Have you ever thought of writing a book?) 😉

  3. (This is one paragraph from the point of view of a secondary character from the novel I hope to finish… Great topic, by the way, and I’m not saying that just because I spent a lot of lunchtimes in the library in high school!)

    The air smelled of old paper, a pleasant but somewhat creaky odor, and looking around I wondered how long it had been since some of these books had even been opened. Rhodesia: Breadbasket of Africa. There was a book that was clearly past its prime. Had it been used? Once upon a time, the book was new, full of potential, fresh, its white paper gleaming, the knowledge within waiting to be spread. So much could have happened to it then, the future wide ahead of it.

    And now, it sat forlorn, old, not useful. It had missed a time to shine and was now relegated to a second-tier status, soon to be recycled or given to a school with even fewer resources than ours. Its potential was gone and could not be recaptured.

      1. I love sniffing books.Thats how I found my favorite place. I was sniffing a book at the library….

    1. I love the sensory details …. It is a skill I seek to use more or well within my writing.

  4. Here’s my go at today’s quick write-which was really fun!
    As I sleepily hunched over the mound of books I had on the table in front of me, I couldn’t focus…I drifted from paragraph to paragraph on this latest chapter from the Holt Literature book. I stopped reading and thought to myself, “I just read 10-
    Suddenly, this rambunctious looking boy slammed through the “in” door of the media center with the latest robo-cop pushing him from behind! The disheveled boy looked ashen gray and was covered with dust from head to toe. For some reason, he moved forward and decided on docking at my table. I gave hime the pseudo name, Dusty. He looked sleepy yet alert…

    After the quiet settled like the dust around him, I started in on the conversation.
    “Dude, where have you been hanging out?” I whispered (low enough so Mrs. Liber couldn’t hear us).
    “Shut up chic! I don’t want to talk about it.”
    “But why are you all dusty like that?”
    “Look-I don’t know you, you don’t know me, let’s just keep it that way.”
    “But, I’ve never seen you around here before,”
    “Listen, just be quiet before Mrs. Liber comes over here and I get detention from her too!”
    Our conversation ended, I toggled back and forth, staring at the page and at Dusty-fixated on why he was so dusty. As the bell toned for us to move on to our next destination, I decided to spy on him during the lunch period. My curiosity was piqued! Where had he been hanging out? I had to know!

  5. Mrs. Kawolsky handed out the summer reading sheet yesterday, and I raised an eyebrow to the piece of paper that outlined all the reasons why I should read 6 books over the next couple of months: it raises my test scores; it keeps me smart; it’ll make 8th grade easier for me. I get it. That’s teacher code talk–make your kids read because it’s good for them–they’re telling the parents. I want to laugh because my parents will never read this. Nowhere on the paper do I see anything about how you should be reading this summer because once you’ve entered into a world of wizards and dragons you forget the world where your mother won’t get out of bed or your father drinks another beer. Nowhere does it say if you spend 4 hours reading a day, that’s 4 hours less of walking around your grassless yard wondering what else you could be doing.

    Amy, next to me, leans back in her chair and sighs. “Seriously?” She rolls her eyes. Don’t I even get a break this summer? I mean, we’re going to be out on the boat ALL the time. I’m going to camp. Like, some of us have lives, Mrs. Kawolsky.” Murmers of agreement rumble through the room. Feet shuffle. Mrs. K seems to have dismissed the comment by dismissing the class. Thank god. Because I wanted to just lean over and punch Amy Lewis in the face just then. Not all of us have lives, you dimwit.

    So I head down to the library. Our library is right in the middle of the school–dead center. You can’t get anywhere without walking past it, which is convenient when you’re somebody like me–a kid shuffling his Converse down the hall, looking cooler than he is. I can just slide in to the door on one side, grab a book, sign it out, and slip out the door on the other side. What I can’t explain is how I feel when I walk in there. I think it’s the smell–the library smells different than the rest of the school. Or maybe it’s Miss Flynn–she talks to me differently than the rest of the teachers. Or it could just be that every time I slip in there unnoticed, I know that I’m leaving with a secret world stuffed in my backpack.

    So imagine this then. I slip in today, and the lights are off. Miss Flynn must be at lunch, but she usually lets me take something out anyway. Except there’s nothing to take out. The shelves are covered with paper. The tops of the shelves are empty. Nothing’s on display. Nothing. And it smells different today–kind of like cleaning spray. Not pages.

    “Oh, Ray, hi!” I hear over my shoulder. Miss Flynn walks in and switches the lights on. She carries a lunch tray. “Hey buddy, nobody’s allowed to sign books out this week–we’re wrapping it up for the summer.” I look around at the bare walls. Nothing familiar really stands out anymore. I feel like I’m walking on the moon. Heading for the door on the other, I hear her say, “You alright then?”

    But I don’t answer. Because I know she will go home this summer to a home full of books. She’s told me so. She has stacks of books on her nightstand. She probably has grass in her yard, too. She doesn’t know that the town library is a 10 minute drive from my house in the opposite direction from everything else, and I’ve never set foot in there. I don’t even think my parents know we have a town library. She doesn’t know that the only book I have in my house is a Dummy’s Guide to Raising Rodents that my father picked up at the dump, and I’m not really sure why. We don’t own rodents. She doesn’t know that food stamps don’t buy books. And that the kind of money our family has pays for this trailer and for beer. So I just keep shuffling my feet out of there. Because she’ll never understand that I’m gonna get a 0 on my summer reading.

    1. More than a paragraph…and now I’m going to be late for school…but I got carried away. Thinking of summer reading and access a lot lately!

      1. “More than a paragraph…and now I’m going to be late for school…but I got carried away.” – I love that feeling when I get caught up in writing or reading and time flies by. Usually for me it happens in the evening. I begin writing at 8:30 and the next thing I know it is 11:00.

        I enjoyed your quick write and your blog. In order to teach, parent, and write, I need to run (and bike and swim). It keeps me healthy and is usually when I do my best thinking. Happy running and writing!

      2. I love the comment about the grassless yard, as well. I also love the way that you wrote Ray’s response: Heading for the door on the other, I hear her say, “You alright then?” But I don’t answer.

        …It describes his desperation. It also left me wondering what Miss Flynn’s reaction was. Sometimes, as teachers, it takes a reaction like that from a student to make us stop and look deeper into what he or she may be feeling. I would love to read more to see what happens next – Where does Ray go next, now that he feels his place is less welcoming? What does Miss Flynn do? What are his parents like? What is his father’s dynamic. I love that I already have so many questions about the characters you’ve created.

    2. That detail about the grassless yard– it haunts me, especially when it comes up again at the end with Miss Flynn having grass in her yard.

    3. I got teary eyed! I want to think that Ray is a made up character, but sadly I know he’s all too real.

    4. Oh, man. This was like a gauntlet punch in the gut. I’ll never forget the day a student looked at me with wide eyes after reading the first book that ever really *got* to her and said, “Miss K, how do I own a book?” Not “How do I find this book in the library?” or “How much does this book cost?”, but “How do I own a book?” I immediately gave her Laurie Halse Anderson’s _Wintergirl_.

      So many of my former students had zero books at home. Many of them were responsible for taking care of younger siblings. Even if they could afford to buy books or to buy gas to get to the library, they might not have had the opportunity to sink into a good book. Thank you for bringing their plight out of the darkness.

  6. I hid out in the library at lunch because I had no one to eat with. Being shy, it was terrifying to walk up to a table of people and ask to sit down. It also was painful to sit alone and I felt like such a loser. Even though hunger gnawed at my insides, I went to my refuge to find comfort. I always felt at home among books and soon my anxiety began to fade away. I searched for the latest Madeleine L’Engle book and found Meet the Austins. I opened it and was pulled into the story immediately…awkward teenaged girl, can relate to that… I settled into a weathered leather chair by the window overlooking the courtyard garden. My hunger pangs subsided as I was pulled into the story. When the bell sounded I gathered my things together ready to face the world again.

  7. I knew it. I knew she would say no. Why did I even try? Trev stuffed his hands into his jeans. He walked aimlessly seeing only the color of the bindings. A mix a self loathing and heartache constricted his chest. What was wrong with him? Why didn’t any girls like him. His right hand escaped his pocket to run over his bald head.

    Mrs. Turner watched Trev walking through the rows of books. He was such a good kid. Always in the book clubs she had on Thursdays. Mrs. Turner started to get up to talk to Trev, but she sat back down. She didn’t know what to say to him. She thought it was a shame that a sixteen year-old would have to battle cancer. It must be all he thinks about, she thought.

    1. The wrong assumption Mrs. Turner makes about Trev’s thoughts, makes me connect to him even more — there’s way more to Trev than what people think. Very cool that you can make me realize this in just a couple of paragraphs.

    2. Thank you for reading Ruth and Margo. Just a side note, this project is connecting me to so many fellow writers / teachers. Visiting their sites, reading their work. Really cool. Thanks again for spending time with me.

  8. My head rattles like a plastic case full of lead-less pencils. Gossip shouted through the halls, uncontrolled laughter, insults whispered in passing, stern commands, even offkey singing — so much useless noise. When the library door closes behind me, the clatter stays on the other side, and silence wraps me up. My face relaxes into a smile.

    1. I love the line, “When the library door closes behind me, the clatter stays on the other side, and silence wraps me up.” Peaceful.

  9. I think my crazy middle-school guy character has found his own name at last; this should make writing about & with him a lot easier (thank you, yesterday’s advising authors!):
    “How could Coach do this to me?” Jamie moaned. “Delaying tryouts for two days? This will throw me off my game for sure.”

    “Two extra days of practice should help, J,” observed Sam. “It’s not like Coach Weitz moved tryouts earlier or something.”

    Jamie leaned wearily against the library wall. “But don’t you see? Now seventh-grade basketball tryouts are the day after report cards, not the day before! And you know what my parents say about grades…”

    “School is your full-time job – As and Bs or else!” the two friends chorused.

    The librarian looked over with a grin. “Surely you’re not worried about your grades, Mr. Webster! You’ve always been a good student.”

    “But Mrs. White, our whole English grade is a poetry unit! What do I know about poetry? And we’ll have to write our own poetry! Ms. Baker is just trying to torture us.”

    1. What an engaging dialogue. I smiled with the two friends chorusing and I liked how the librarian looked over with a grin rather than scolding them. Enjoy the process of getting to know your characters along the way.

  10. This got long on me! What a great topic!! 🙂

    “Library’s closed!” barked the media specialist from inside her dimly lit office.

    “B.b…but my teacher said I have to pick out a book,” he hoped to garner a little sympathy. After all his teacher had been hounding him every stinkin’ day to find out what he was reading. The media specialist half-heard him and waved him on by, anxious to get back to her phone call.

    Truth is he wasn’t reading anything. Sure, he carried around a couple different Goosebumps books, but those were just so Teacher would see that he was reading. He’d dutifully open up to a place a little farther into the book every day and then spend the next 30 minutes daydreaming about whatever….sports mostly…and sometimes girls.

    But then his act was revealed. That Teacher carried around her notebook in class and would talk to kids, asking them what they were reading and what page they were on and what they thought about what they were reading. Whatever. So now he had to find a book besides the well-worn, unread Goosebumps books that had been his daydream companions.

    He slunk on into the library despite the warning from the media specialist. She was such a dog. All those times the class had visited and he’d only laid eyes on her a couple times and that was to fix the scanner thingy that some kid had accidentally knocked over while trying to check in books.

    He got the impression that Teacher was not happy with the barky media specialist either. He’d seen her roll her eyes when the media specialist screeched about using shelf markers or checking out too many books in one week.

    And yet, here he was…alone in the library. How was he supposed to find a stupid book in here? He’d thought there was a system or something he’d heard Teacher mention about finding stuff. She would wander around the library with the students and pick up books here and there to hand to kids. Those nerdy girls were always at her elbow asking nerdy girl questions. It was easy to avoid Teacher in the library.

    Teacher talked about lots of books in class. Sometimes she’d show us the covers and go on and on about how a book was so amazing. She always said, “Read what you LOVE.” There was one she talked about a week or so ago that she’d just read. It was about a dog or some dogs in Alaska. The memory was fuzzy, but he tried to recall the details. Seems like the book was about a dog, but the title had another animal in it…wolf? Fox? Yeah…that was it…Something Fox. He’d search for that. It was a thin book which he liked and it was about dogs. Could be worse.

    Now, where would Something Fox be in this library? It wasn’t a huge library, but it was big enough that he could search unnoticed by Barky in her office. If only she’d actually help him. He knew she’d know. Shoot, maybe she wouldn’t. He wasn’t sure if she actually read any of those books she protected so fiercely. He’d never heard HER talk about books like she loved them.

    1. I always love when I can notice familiar aspects of the schooling experience and then read them through the lens of students. Through your writing I was able to get a clear sense of who your character is. It made me want to keep reading more to see when (or whether) he will get connected with a great book. I wonder if he will reach out to his teacher and how he might change over time.

    2. Love the way you referred to Teacher. Love your character to – reminds me of many of my students, past and present.

    1. This was lovely, Mrs. V. Musing on our writing processes is a wonderful exercise, and you’re so welcome. It’s all of our pleasures to be part of this community!

  11. Dear Diary,

    Melvin’s driving me crazy. I’ve been chasing him for a week, but he won’t talk to me. You’d think he’d be thrilled that I want to talk to him, no one else will even be seen in the same room with him. All I was trying to do was help, but as usual, he’s clueless. Ok, I was saying some mean stuff about his cat, but how did I know Raymond was a cat? I mean, every time Melvin cries, which is almost every minute, it’s because he’s being picked on for being such a nerd. So it stands to reason being one of the half-way nice kids in school that I’d try to help when I saw him bawling his eyes out. He just kept saying, “Raymond, Raymond!” about 50 times. I figured Raymond must be some big, bad fifth grader who tripped Melvin in the cafeteria or did something horrible on the playground. I was just trying to show him some of my better karate moves so he wouldn’t be so helpless. When he finally blurted out that Raymond was his cat and that he’d been kidnapped, I almost died. That had to be the same cat I saw yesterday, the one that creepy guy shoved in the back of his van. I kept trying to tell Melvin that, but he was so upset, he couldn’t hear me. I’ve got to figure out a way to talk to him before school lets out for summer.

  12. In fact, the last time she had stepped foot in the school’s library was on her tour of the campus three years earlier. She was an eighth grader then. She had visited the boarding school campus in January, a snow day for her public school. She had been impressed by what appeared to her eighth-grade-self to be pretty serious students traipsing from building to building in book bags, North Face shells and Uggs. The library too had been impressive, a mansion set on the edge of campus overlooking the river running through the tiny town below. This is me, she had thought then.

    Yeah, well, that was three years ago. Things change. People change. But as she reached the top step of the library’s wrap-around porch, she doubted the school had changed all that much in her three years. It had fooled her. Like Polonius, she thought, and she smirked. Wouldn’t her AP Lit teacher be proud? She had made a connection to Hamlet. Yeah, well she knew it didn’t take much to impress Mr. Flaherty. A short skirt, a low-cut blouse and smile. “God,” she thought. “This place makes me sick.”

    It was noon, and she knew the librarian, Ms. Rand, would soon be nibbling carrots, lettuce and cucumber slices from the salad bar in the School’s dining hall. She had watched her for a week. Same routine: arrive in the dining room at 11:55 a.m., fill one of those pathetically small dining hall drinking glasses with water, move to the salad bar and pick carefully over the veggies, sit at a corner table, pull out her Kindle, graze and read until 12:25. The other girls in the dorm called Ms. Rand “the literate gerbil.”

    With the gerbil feeding, nobody else would be in the library, so she could easily slip in, make the call from the circulation desk phone, and slip out. She knew this was her only shot to get things started. “By indirection, find direction out,” she thought to herself, and again she smirked. Earlier that week, Mr. Flaherty had made a big deal about that line. “You’ll see it again,” he warned. “Christ, I’m becoming a regular Shakespearean scholar,” she thought as she walked around the circulation desk to pick up the phone. “Let’s be indirect.”

    She dialed 9 to get an outside line, and then 9-1-1.

  13. She hides in the library because here she can breathe.
    Inhale. Exhale.
    No guys checking her out
    or lists of “Best …” or “Worst…”
    or bursts of ugly laughter.
    No glaring, gossiping, green-eyed girls.
    Just Jane and Emily and Louisa.
    Just Jack and John and J.D.
    These are her soul mates, her confidantes.
    Her friends.
    Here she can hide and heal.
    Inhale. Exhale.
    Now, she can breathe.

    1. This is beautiful!

      I love how you framed the poem, and the way she casually ‘name drops’. I’d love to know more about this character.

  14. (I decided to think of something that can be used in a future chapter in a novel that I am working on called The Cover Up Artists (still working on the title).

    “Mrs. White, may I please get a pass to the library,” I say just above a whisper.
    “You’re not going to lunch?” she questioned.
    Looking straight into her eyes to elude her away from my broken heart. I confidently say, “I have some overdue books that I want to check in.’
    “I don’t see any books in your hand.”
    “They are in my locker … May I go to my locker to get them?”
    “Okay, Monica,” she then scribbles out a library pass, which is also the ticket to my sanity.
    As I take the scenic route to the library, I wish my mother was at easy to fool. There are books in my locker, but there are not overdue. She, my mother AKA SHERLOCK HOMEGIRL, can see through a lie like the saran wrap on a chunk of ham in the fridge. Contemplating faking sick wasn’t an option. I wanted to say my period is on, but she marks my days of calendar so she would know better.
    “Mom, why can’t I just stay home today,” I whined from underneath the covers.
    “The same people you are trying to run from will still be there even if I was to allow you to stay home. You can’t let these people run you away.”
    “Mom, you just don’t understand. You know how many girls will be laughing in my face because D’ is moving away?”
    “Do you know you are not the first girl to have her heart broken? To be embarrassed?”
    A blank stare that is followed by tears. I was more hurt that Donovan, who has been my best friend for almost 14 years and who I thought was the love of my life, couldn’t be honest with me. I had to find out in front of fellow athletes, coaches, and parents that my boo is moving to Atlanta, GA. Talk about humiliation! So she wouldn’t let stay home from school. (Daddy doesn’t get a vote.) And I couldn’t skip class, which wasn’t bad because I was under the protection of Nicole and my teachers. No one dared to make a smart remark. With the school year near an end and the track season over, nothing was going to hold Nicole back from opening a can of beat down.
    Nevertheless, I was tired of being under the watchful care of others and I just needed to get away. Hunger left me when D’ dropped the bomb that shattered my hopes of love. I told Nicole that I didn’t need to fall for D because now our friendship is ruined. Fourteen years have down the drain.
    What I love about our library is how you can hide in a corner and no one is here to bother you. I can see why the nerds who are tired of being bullied find refuge in here. I wasn’t trying to be a target during lunch and recess wasn’t going to be any better. As a result, I figured that I would just camp out there for the next 45 minutes or so.

    1. ” ‘Okay, Monica,’ she then scribbles out a library pass, which is also the ticket to my sanity.”

      This one line of dialogue and the action that goes with it says more about Mrs. White than lines and lines of description could. Well done!

  15. (I decided to think of something that can be used in a future chapter in a novel that I am working on called The Cover Up Artists (still working on the title).

    “Mrs. White, may I please get a pass to the library,” I say just above a whisper.

    “You’re not going to lunch?” she questioned.

    Looking straight into her eyes to elude her away from my broken heart. I confidently say, “I have some overdue books that I want to check in.’

    “I don’t see any books in your hand.”

    “They are in my locker … May I go to my locker to get them?”

    “Okay, Monica,” she then scribbles out a library pass, which is also the ticket to my sanity.
    As I take the scenic route to the library, I wish my mother was at easy to fool. There are books in my locker, but there are not overdue. She, my mother AKA SHERLOCK HOMEGIRL, can see through a lie like the saran wrap on a chunk of ham in the fridge. Contemplating faking sick wasn’t an option. I wanted to say my period is on, but she marks my days of calendar so she would know better.

    “Mom, why can’t I just stay home today,” I whined from underneath the covers.

    “The same people you are trying to run from will still be there even if I was to allow you to stay home. You can’t let these people run you away.”

    “Mom, you just don’t understand. You know how many girls will be laughing in my face because D’ is moving away?”

    “Do you know you are not the first girl to have her heart broken? To be embarrassed?”

    A blank stare that is followed by tears. I was more hurt that Donovan, who has been my best friend for almost 14 years and who I thought was the love of my life, couldn’t be honest with me. I had to find out in front of fellow athletes, coaches, and parents that my boo is moving to Atlanta, GA. Talk about humiliation! So she wouldn’t let stay home from school. (Daddy doesn’t get a vote.) And I couldn’t skip class, which wasn’t bad because I was under the protection of Nicole and my teachers. No one dared to make a smart remark. With the school year near an end and the track season over, nothing was going to hold Nicole back from opening a can of beat down.

    Nevertheless, I was tired of being under the watchful care of others and I just needed to get away. Hunger left me when D’ dropped the bomb that shattered my hopes of love. I told Nicole that I didn’t need to fall for D because now our friendship is ruined. Fourteen years have down the drain.

    What I love about our library is how you can hide in a corner and no one is here to bother you. I can see why the nerds who are tired of being bullied find refuge in here. I wasn’t trying to be a target during lunch and recess wasn’t going to be any better. As a result, I figured that I would just camp out there for the next 45 minutes or so.

    1. I love this. Your character is very relatable and I love how you wrote, “can see through a lie like the saran wrap on a chunk of ham in the fridge.” I want to read more !

  16. Jaynie slipped quietly through the door and sat down on the worn gray couch. She had to escape, and the media center was empty. The voices of the other 7th graders could be heard, albeit muffled, through the glass wall that separated the courtyard where students relaxed and ate their lunches from the rows of books and computers inside. She knew she shouldn’t have said what she did, but she felt just a little bit emboldened at the same time. After all, it had been months since Alexia had begun taunting her, first with comments under her breath, and more recently with an all out campaign against her. Jaynie wondered what would happen when the bell rang- she had just 40 minutes to figure out her next move.

    1. Love the ear buds crammed into his ears — and how he doesn’t want anyone to know the librarian knows his name (what a touch!) –and the crash into the Perfect Girl just as he’s ready to make his escape.

  17. Here’s my quickwrite. I have this idea of writing intertwined YA short stories that will fit together into a longer arc… I think this would be a fun way to get to know each character individually.

    It’s only the fifth day of ninth grade and I’m already hiding in the library.

    I just couldn’t handle lunch: choosing a crowded table, in the corner out of sight; watching Monica’s face as she scanned the cafeteria, her eyes growing progressively more worried, hoping she wouldn’t spot me. About thirty seconds in, the worst would happen and I would cave. An upperclassmen would walk past, comment on her thick glasses or striped socks or ratty Goodwill t-shirt, and my usually confident best(?) friend would look down at the tile instead of giving a sassy reply. That’s when I would stand and wave and hope to God that no one powerful would sit nearby.

    I know it’s a jerky thing to do, but I just can’t face it today.

    1. Great voice! Sassy and confident, with a touch of the insecurity seeping through that we all remember (yes, we’re all veterans of high school, right?).

    2. I commented on the document, too, but I just wanted to say that I’m looking forward to more! The simplicity and power of that last line gets me, too–I feel like you really know this character!

  18. Diary Entry

    December 2, 2011

    Why did he do that? There is nothing worse than what he has done to me. I wish I could curl up in a ball and die. Everyone was staring. I could feel their eyes digging into my skin like piercing needles, as if staring at me would give them more information. I was not at that party last night, and I would have never done those things with any one, let alone Jimmy. No one would ever do anything with Jimmy, he is just gross. If Tyler wants to get back at me for calling it off with him than he is asking for a war. I am not going down without a fight; my reputation is at stake. I am going to sit in this library until I come up with a plan. In this silence I can feel revenge brewing. At least Ms. Simpson doesn’t know yet. As soon as she catches wind of this nasty rumor her eyes will glaze over with disappointment each time I check out a new book. No one questions Tyler, no one will ever believe me now if I say he was the one that got caught cheating. In a way this is brilliant on his part, Tyler’s reputation is still in tact and he has every girl on this campus feeling sorry for him, even though everyone already loves him. Why is the girl always the scapegoat? I did not do anything to deserve this. Or maybe I did? Whatever the answer is to that just doesn’t matter now. But he will pay.

    1. Love this line: “In this silence I can feel revenge brewing.” Makes me think about the witches in “Macbeth” and the t.v. show “Revenge.” You also gave me an idea for what I’m working on. Thank you.

    2. Wow! The emotions in this see-saw the reader back and forth! I agree with Glenda on the “revenge brewing” — and the eyes glazing over with disappointment — a refreshing new image. I want to know how he will pay!

  19. The Library
    The library had always been her haven. The place she could escape when life got overwhelming. She could return to a simpler time in her life by picking up Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew. She desperately needed that distraction now. Her mother had just about destroyed her life by getting sick. Carol Ann knew that she had been ill for a while, but she tried to ignore it. But now it couldn’t be ignored! She was headed to the hospital in Rochester and Carol Ann was expected to stay there in Spicer with her grandparents and help with her much younger brother and sister. “It’s not fair,” she had whined, “I didn’t want to have a brother and sister. Why should I have to take care of them?” Her mother, in her tired way, had replied, “Well I didn’t ask to be sick, I would much rather be able to take care of you all, but I can’t, so I am depending on you to help!” This is what had driven Carol Ann to the library.
    Carol Ann had this ability to block out bad things, not to think about them in terms of day to day life, but to move them into more of a memory of something that happened or was happening to someone else. She could disassociate her feelings from herself. Unfortunately, with having to be responsible for her brother and sister, she could no longer disassociate the feelings she had regarding her mother.
    How could she have fear, anger, love, worry, and angst all in one feeling? What if her mom didn’t survive the procedure? What if she did? What would life be like having a mother who would not be able to do what her friends’ mothers do? How could she be responsible for her brother and sister but also her mother? All these questions circled around in Carol Ann’s head as she headed to the juvenile fiction section of the Library.
    She was going to reread “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was just what she needed. Maybe, the struggle that Laura and her family had to endure during that horrible winter would put all her struggles and worries into perspective. Coping with adversity by reading and relating with the characters was a way that Carol Ann could transfer her feelings onto the character in the book. When the story ended happily she could be happy too, until life intruded again.

  20. I prettied it up quite a bit, but this is a true story from a time in the library during college.

    I could feel the tickling tension pinching me in the knees as soon as my foot hit the sterile, too-clean black library steps. Yes, fight-or-flight response, that was the proper name for the tickles. As I conquered the eighth step, I glumly gazed backwards at the adorable little pink plant sitting haphazardly on main service desk, almost tripping over the ninth step in the process. The fight-or-flight was spreading. My knees, once the epicenter of the tickles, were now a remote memory of my strength of will from four minutes in the past. Now my legs shook, my toes hurt, and my arms made jerky little movements of their own accord. I momentarily turned introspective. Ironic, I philosophized with myself, that I steel my mind only to lose control over my body. Maybe it was like a Yin-Yang thing. Twenty steps. I had reached the second floor. The anxiety had completely taken over. I still had my mind, but my body was a tempest of hot and cold, shivers and shakes, little tremors and beads of sweat. Crap. I was breathing heavily. I was flushed. I was not ready. I had to go. Flight was taking over. I had to go. I had made up my mind. I made an abrupt turn in the second-floor lobby and made to put my foot back on the nineteenth step.
    Silly me for only listening to my flight response and forgetting that I still had some control over my eyes, if not my feet or arms or fight response. My foot never reached the nineteenth step. My foot landed squarely on the shin of the source of my anxiety. It was like my fight response was back already, alive and kicking. My anxiety gave an embarrassingly loud yell of pain. I took a few sweet seconds to cocoon myself in my own thoughts. Look at him. There’s a lot of weight on him, almost three hundred pounds, I’d bet. A round face and dark, curly hair. Stubble on his face. Probably too busy writing source code and posting on forums to shave. Look at him. He looks like a big teddy bear. He’s big all over. Body so big he looks as sweaty as me after one flight of stairs, head so big his hat doesn’t fit, heart so big that I couldn’t help but fall in love with a guy who I could barely understand through that terrible stutter. And I loved him so. Why couldn’t I just tell him that? Oh well. He needed me now, or maybe he didn’t. I did just kick him down the library stairs. And people were staring. And he was definitely yelling at me. Look at him. I didn’t have to tell him that I loved him, yet. Especially not right now.
    I jerked myself out of my thoughts. My anxiety was gone and my legs and arms were back. I offered a strong hand to pull him up.

    And yes, I did end up marrying my anxiety. 🙂

  21. Dear Sara,
    Looks like I beat you to the library! I wanted to meet here because I knew we would be safe.

    As you know, we walk to main street everyday after school. Then I go left and you go right and head for home.

    Yesterday, three older Jr High boys joined me when I was about half way home. One of the boys was Tony, the one I told you I was hoping to go to the fall dance with. The other two boys I’ve seen at school but don’t know.

    At first the boys were clowning around and we all were laughing. Then one of the two boys I don’t know, started talking rude and the biggest boy got down right nasty.

    I told them to scram! They laughed and said they’d leave, but they would see me another day.

    Since we just started Jr High, I don’t want to make any enemies. Really though, I was shaking like a leaf when I got home. Sara, what am I going to do?

    Your BFF,

  22. Charlie in the Library is posted at http://www.teachingrace.wordpress.org and here:

    We’re going to the library? She can’t be serious. It’s summer vacation. I have been free for a total of 18 minutes and she is already making me go to the library. Isn’t there some law that says they have to give you the weekend off from any kind of learning. I know she wants me to read this summer. It’s all she’s been talking about, but really this is too much.

    I mean a kid needs a break. Especially because I’m not into books. I’ve got lots of other things to think about. Like the reminder on my iPod going off. Guess it’s time to feed my cyber dragons.
    I wonder if that’s a good enough reason to stay in the car. It’s probably not; especially if Jo and Amy are going in. This is just the sort of thing they love. Ugh! They bug me.

    You have to understand, It’s so annoying enough to have older siblings, but it’s worse when they’re twins. Jo is the oldest. Mom always has time for him. She takes him running every morning to get ready for her half marathon. He’s going out for the middle school cross country team in the fall. I don’t like running, but they could at least ask me. I might want to go. Well, no I wouldn’t, but it would be cool if she would do something like that with me.

    Don’t even get me started with my big sister Amy. Everyone thinks she’s perfect. They’re always saying stuff like, “Thank you Amy, at least we can count on you to keep your room clean.”

    Seriously, what about taking laundry down a flight of stairs makes her so likable. I don’t get it and it’s just going to worse tonight when they open the report cards. “Oh look Amy straight A’s again! Good for you!”

    I’m going to be sick.
    This place is empty. Nobody else has a mother who makes they go straight to the library on the way home from the last day of school. I can prove it – look around – we could park anywhere.

    “Okay, when we get into the Library I want you guys to be on best behavior; no running around, no swimming in the water fountain, nobody leaves the Kid’s section without me. Amy would you keep an eye on Gretta?”

    “I’ll watch her,” I suggest, thinking that watching my little sister has to be better than what is about to happen.

    “No way, Charlie,” mom answers, “you and I are on a mission. We have eighty four days until school starts again and you have to get reading if you have any chance to survive the 3rd grade.”

    “She’s right,” pipes in Jo, “That third grade teacher is a monster. She terrorizes little kids who don’t like to read.”

    “That’s mean. I like her,” says Miss Perfect. “She makes you read a lot, but it’s great, she has such interesting books and there’s shelves of them all over her room. Third grade was so much fun. Don’t listen to Jo. You’re going to love it.”

    No, really, I’m not I think and before I get a chance to say anything out loud Mom is agreeing. “He’s not going to love it unless he loves books and that’s what we are going to work on. There’s no harm in getting started right away – especially since Charlie is gifted and talented with his ability to get under my radar. Not this time, no Sir, this summer is going to be different…”

    I stop listening. I think I’ve heard most of this speech before. We walk into the main doors and Jo heads straight to the section called YA. Amy takes Gretta to the picture books.

    “Okay, Charlie, let’s do it. Let’s find some books that you are going to love.”

    Books I’m going to love? There’s a word for that – oxymoron or something. Yea moron, that’s what I feel like as I follow my mom past the librarian.

    1. Love the play on words at the end! This whole scene is full of great moments, and you can really see the personalities of the different characters shining through in their dialog. I want to know how the summer goes!

  23. In my heart, I just want a do over of this day. I sat down in the midst of the people that ‘matter’ at our school. These people know me just because of the time I spend in the pool outside of school. They don’t really know me, the part of me that loves God. Yet today I had an opportunity to take a stand for him and I blew it, I really blew it and I’m filled with this ache. Mandy was leading the conversation about a girl who was on scholarship this year at Saint Theresa. Her ebony skin and tall, athletic build was a contrast to the mostly white wealthy population at our all girls academy in Boston.

    “She sleeps around, did you even realize that?” Megan laughed as she spoke to Carrie, the point guard on our all-state basket ball team.

    “I’m not passing that frikin ball to a slut, even if she can shoot. What would you do Em?”

    “Yeah, well…basketball isn’t my game. I gotta go…later,” I said as I grabbed my backpack and cell.

  24. Okay, so this comes from a longer project I’m working on. For some reason, when I sat down to write today, a narrator’s voice came out (I’ve been writing in first person), but that bit is a nice kind of introduction to my project, so I’ll put that part first and then my paragraph or so.

    I wonder what makes up a “typical” family. Is it the perfect kind you see in the TV commercials, or at the end of family movies? Because everwhere else I turn, families are split up, crazy, or hiding something. The Rivers family falls into the third category.

    Now for the paragraph! Jonah, the narrator here, has just discovered his Grandpa’s secret, and nobody else knows….

    Grandpa Jack’s house is full of relatives. Dad’s two sisters both live in the area, and they’re already here—I see my cousin Mikey, age eight, chasing his dog around the side of the house. At least we’re not the first ones here; we’re late, as usual. Dad parks, and Oakley takes the lead, followed by Mom. I hang behind a bit, but Dad claps his hand on my shoulder. “C’mon, son.” How much does he know?
    I almost stop him right there and ask if he ever knew his grandparents, but Oakley’s warning about stupid questions holds me back. Since when was she the one telling me what to do? “Since you stopped being responsible,” a quiet voice in my head responds.
    We don’t bother going through the house, but head straight to the backyard, instead. Someone—Aunt Laura, probably—has hung a sheet on the back fence that reads, “Happy 70th Birthday!” They’ve pulled out some tables and are just starting to set out he food. Cousins play with the dog, wrestle in the grass, and sit quietly in the corner. Oakley and I are the oldest, which means I usually end up either babysitting or talking to the adults, but I’m not so sure I can handle the adults today. Act normal, I tell myself. It’s just a birthday party.
    “How can I help?” I catch Aunt Melinda as she breezes past, hoping that having something to do will keep my mind off of everything else.
    “Buns!” she sings. “Get the buns! Your Uncle George is almost done grilling, but we forgot to bring out the buns!”
    “Sure, be right back.”

  25. As I slipped into the library I watched behind me to make sure Ian didn’t follow. I like him alright, but I just need some time to myself. Ever since he came to our school two weeks ago it seems as if there was some invisible rope that has him tied to me. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he found me here in the library.

    I decide I may as well browse the bookshelves while I am in the library. Who knows, maybe I will find a book to take home. I start to slowly walk among the shelves, picking up books and leafing through them. All of a sudden I get an urge to go to a particular shelf. I begin walking through the stacks, not sure where my legs are taking me. As I keep going this urge seems to get stronger, as if a magnetic force is pulling me in. I end up in front of what seems to be history books. I don’t think I have even visited the history section of the library. I notice a book wedged among other books. It actually appears to be glowing a little. The book looks really out of place on the shelf. It is old, dusty and the spine is mostly missing, unlike the other books which seem to be well-kept. I think Mrs. Davis, our librarian, must dust on a regular basis. Looking around there doesn’t seem to be any dust on or around the books. So why is this book so dusty? I want to take it off the shelf and look at it, but I am also kind of scared to because of the way I was drawn to it. I can’t quite make out the title because of the ratty spine. Should I let my curiosity get the better of me?

    1. As a book person… totally loved the “glowing” line… I swear that happens at times.

      Interesting start to a longer story(?). Reminds me of The Neverending Story.

  26. I’m just home from my last teacher work-day of the year (yay) so just sitting down to this. My immediate reaction was to write this as the initial prompt suggests — imagining a student walking in to the library. But Kate’s additional comments anchored me back in my ongoing work in progress, which is adult lit — and I am immediately responding to the prompt to imagine him walking into a room and feeling uncomfortable. Perfect contradictory emotion for this relatively macho character, so my ideas are off and running…

    Happy writing day, all — and thanks to so many of you I’ve been able to connect with!

    1. Oh good – I’m glad you’re feeling free to modify the prompt of the day to fit your needs. It’s only here, after all, to get you started writing.

  27. I practically skipped up the stone walkway, my face one giant smile. Tracy and Susan trailed behind me, gossiping about something, but I wasn’t interested in their conversation. My heart was doing somersaults. I couldn’t wait to see him. Wes had already been away at college for a month, and I missed him. The fresh-from-the-dryer smell of the sweatshirt he always let me wear. The taste and feel of his soft lips. And most of all, his smile, the one that I still couldn’t believe was meant for me. He was home this weekend, just for this end-of-summer party at Kyle’s house. I couldn’t get to the front door fast enough.

    Some stoner kid who had graduated years ago stamped our hands, and we walked inside. Immediately, Tracy informed me that Wes was probably upstairs in the game room. At the time I just thought she shared in my excitement, but looking back on it, it’s strange that she knew exactly where he was and wanted me to know right away. It’s as if she wanted me to see. I hugged her and smiled while my heart did a few more jumps. As I headed up the white carpet stairs, I smoothed out my denim skirt and tucked a curl behind my ear. All the way up, my nervous hand when from my hair to the oak banister to my skirt and back to my hair. Wes didn’t know I’d be here. I’d persuaded my mom to excuse me from a cousin’s birthday party, and I decided to surprise him.

    After finding a bathroom and several locked bedrooms, I heard music drifting out of a room at the end of the hallway. That must be it. My giddy heart led me down the hall; I’d be in his arms in seconds. One more fluff of my hair, and I burst into the room.

    Then everything went dark.

  28. It’s 1:30. Only two hours left. Read my enovel? Hmmm, another coffee to go? Try to relax and calm down. 1.40. My watch is broken? I’m going into hysterics. 1.45. Very annoying noises of a pen beating on a table. 1.50. My watch must be broken. How can I manage the wait? 1.55. My watch is broken. I’m going to get it fixed.

  29. [In Tattoo, my YA WIP, everyone has awakened with their sins tattooed in various locations on their bodies—some easily visible, some hidden. My antagonist, Billy, tries hard to discover the other characters’ secret sins. Oh, and I usually write micro-fiction, so this is VERY short.]

    Billy walked to the library, feeling satisfied. It had been a good day—he had discovered wife beater tattooed on Mr. Prescott’s calf. He’d turned red and tugged his trouser leg down when he saw Billy staring.

    Mrs. Brody was behind the check-out desk, wearing long sleeves, slacks, boots. Covering up a good one, for sure. Billy grabbed a book and sat near the desk, waiting.

    Hours passed. The afternoon was hot. Finally, Mrs. Brody ran her fingers through damp and heavy bangs, and he saw it. He snorted; she looked up, startled, and clapped a hand to her forehead.

    1. Two things… First, this whole premise absolutely rocks. Second, I am dying to know the librarian’s secret sin. The whole idea behind this novel sets up such great tension – love it!

  30. “Good afternoon, Mrs. D. You look particularly sharp today. That sweater really brings out your eyes.” It does, actually. But it also brings out, well, the rest of your face. And it also, unfortunately, brings out the rest of the sweater. And by “sweater” I should more precisely say “caftan.” What? I know some words.

    “I know we are supposed to do this before first bell, but is there any chance I could get a library pass for study hall seventh period?” I was busy before first bell. Busy not being at school.

    “No, no, I agree—young people these days are irresponsible. I was, uhm, tutoring a classmate in the commons and lost track of time.” And by “tutoring” I mean “making out with.” And by “commons” I mean “my car.” The classmate part? Completely accurate.

    “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even ask. I realize it is unfair to ask you to make an exception. It’s just that I have a paper to finish for my eighth period class, and I had to stay late last night working. I was so tired I almost fell asleep. ” I spent three hours playing Kingdom Rush on my iPad. In fact, I fell asleep playing, and in my sleep bounced the iPad off my bed and onto my floor. My hardwood floor. Screen side down.

    “Thank you, Mrs. D. You’re the best. Now I can get that paper done.” I already wrote/purchased that paper. I do, however, need to meet my classmate for some more tutoring. I am full of knowledge this afternoon.

  31. Daddy’s girl Hey jen

    Wuz up? JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl 0

    U in scool? JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl Yep

    Study hall? JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl detention

    OK – no cutting I hope JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl No not since I got hauled into a
    mtng with mom, Eric, Mr. Tougas,
    Mrs. Jensen and this new counselor
    I have 2 see

    That must have been a scene JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl No joking – Eric went ballistic


    Daddy’s girl No He was ready 2 but mom stopped him

    I’m serious Jess, if he lays a hand on u, call me. JenUVT
    I don’t care what I’ll come down and get u

    Daddy’s girl U can’t leave college

    Jess, we’re sisters. U’re all I got. I’ll come JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl He’s ben bettr – hasn’t been drinking as much

    Yeah but anything makes him snap. Last time JenUVT
    it was cuz u came home 15 min. late.

    Daddy’s girl Don’t want 2 relive that night.

    I hate that I can’t be there 4 u. I worry JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl Luv U sis

    And mom just lets it happen JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl This time she stopped him

    Yeah, but that’s only one time – She’s 2 afraid. JenUVT
    She ought to get u both out of there

    Daddy’s girl And go where

    IDK – there’s got to be somewhere JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl He’d find us and then it’d be worse

    Jess, promise me JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl What

    if he ever comes near you again JenUVT
    you call 911 and then me.

    Daddy’s girl Jen– it’s not that easy

    Jess– seriously – that guys not worth it.. JenUVT
    Mom can find some1 betr. Damn.

    Daddy’s girl I wish Dad were still alive.

    Me 2 Jess. JenUVT

    Daddy’s girl Life sucks w/o him.

    1. I tried to format this like an IPHONE screen, showing the two sides of the conversation, but it didn’t copy here that way. Hope you can understand it.

      1. Yes, I got it. 🙂 The tension in this is palpable. The texting format definitely forces the reader to imagine the strong feelings that lie behind the curt and terse phrases. You’ve got a good story to tell….

  32. The library at my old middle school was so inviting. It had wooden chairs and large, heavy wooden tables that were perfect for spreading out books while researching or for looking at a large non-fiction book about World War II. Surrounded by the tables were old couches with wooden frames and worn-out, beige cushions. This is the perfect place to get comfortable and read a great mystery, fantasy, or realistic fiction book. I could get lost in a book for the entire study hall period, and sometimes even forget that I was in school. Will my new school’s middle school library even come close to feeling as much like home as my former school’s library?
    My palms are sweaty and the butterflies in my stomach feel like they are going to carry me away. Patrick, my first day of school buddy that is showing me around the new middle school, is leading me to my most favorite part of the school, the library. In my mind, the library is the hub of the school. We turn the corner and follow the pink arrow pointing to the library entrance. I am almost dizzy with anticipation, and as we walk through the door my anticipation fades away almost instantly.
    The most enthusiastic librarian that I have ever met meets me at the door and greets me by name. This library is like no other library that I have ever been in. There are couches that are surrounded by books. There are workstations in the front and back of the library, both surrounded by books. There are smiling library assistants showing other new students around the library, and the best part, there is a small poster at the reference desk that is advertising that the library is looking for student helpers. Did I read the poster right? Can I volunteer to help in the library?
    As I take a flyer about helping from the desk, Patrick asks, “How was the library at your old school?”
    I almost feel like a traitor, but I have never been in a library that is more inviting, so I answer, “Nothing like this.”
    And then I turn to the librarian and ask, “When can I start helping in the library?”
    I think that I’m going to like this new school.

    Note: I wrote this in honor of a library that I got to go visit this afternoon. Our middle school’s librarian, assistant, two teachers, and I got to visit a neighboring district’s library and it was VERY impressive. Thank you to Susan Kowalski and the staff at Pine Grove Middle School for being great hosts. Also, congratulations on being named the 2011 National School Library Program of the Year (from what I saw today, this is very much deserved award).
    See article: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/pine-grove-middle-school-named-national-school-library-program-year

  33. Doors

    As soon as I opened the heavy door of the library, the silence and stillness swept over me like a breath of fresh air, crisp and pure. How could there be a place like this – peaceful and serene – in the midst of such teenage turmoil?

    I had reached for the door handle, my movements quick and urgent, deeply feeling the need to escape. Immediately, my mind flooded with insecurities buzzing like gnats. They bounced around like a broken recorded, the same what ifs that I’d run through time and time again. What if they knew how I really felt? What if he knew I was choosing something over him, finally saying no the way I’d wanted to for so long? What if they knew I didn’t see the world with the same eyes that I used to? What if…

    Just as quickly as the “what ifs” rattled in my mind, I was surprised by the sudden realization that I didn’t care what anyone thought. Not anymore. It was like the voice of self doubt and insecurity was just an automatic reflex, the result of years of superficial conditioning. Suddenly, the rhythm had changed. Those preconditioned notions no longer mattered. Something had clicked. It’s as if the act of opening the library doors and walking in, rather than following the crowd to the parking lot, was a turning point.

    My resolution to no longer allow their judgement to dictate my life was in fact a switch, the way the sudden flick of a light switch darkens a room full of people and signals that some thing is about to happen. In walking through those doors, I had found my freedom, and I knew right then and there, that I’d never be the same.

  34. Here’s my quick write. I decided instead to flip the perspective to voice of the antagonist:

    Of course she is in the library at lunchtime. I’m sure Miss I-Am-So-Smart-And-Perfect is thinking that she can get another shiny “A+” to add to her perfect GPA by spending her time trolling around with the librarian instead of ruining her perfect figure eating in the cafeteria.
    What is wrong with her? She sits in front of me in Lit class, and has yet to say a word to anyone but Mr. Sykes. I study her glossy honey locks, held in place by a gold clip every day. So does David, sitting in the seat next to mine. I see him watching her, waiting for an awkward opportunity to catch her eye that never comes, because she never turns around. Miss Stiff-Neck.
    Who does she think she is? She thinks that she can just ignore the rest of us, raising her hand, always getting a, “Very insightful!” or a, “Nice analogy!” from the teacher. Miss Gifted-Dream-Student would never think of associating with the rest of us peons occupying her air.
    There she goes, her aura floating into the Non-Fiction section. Blah. Blah. Blah.
    I wonder what Miss Look-At-My-Expensive-Monogrammed-Backpack will do when she discovers her precious bag has disappeared and vomited its contents all over the courtyard?
    Let me know. I’ll be eating lunch.

  35. Fish slipped in to the library through the four inches of open door between the computer lab and the library. The silence in the hall chased her through the door more quickly than she would have liked. A white heat spread through her face as she scanned across the round tables and stacks. Empty. She took a deep breath and held it. Then she let it out slowly. The relief spread through her body and relaxed her muscles. She had maybe 20 minutes before they would notice her absence in the lunchroom. Fish pushed her brown hair out of her eyes, skooched under Mrs. Rash’s enormous wooden desk and pulled the chair back into place. Finally she sucked in her stomach and slid the book out of the front of her purple corduroys.

    1. “Fish pushed her brown hair out of her eyes, skooched under Mrs. Rash’s enormous wooden desk and pulled the chair back into place. Finally she sucked in her stomach and slid the book out of the front of her purple corduroys.” – Wow! I love it!
      I am cheering for Fish and her love of books. Thank you for sharing.

      1. This brings me great joy. Thank you so much Andy. I have wanted to write about Fish Gorelik for 4 years, but never could get started. I have always thought Fish was a boy. it wasn’t until this assignment that I decided to use Fish as a way to learn more about her character and as I wrote it was so obvious that she was a girl. She sort of wrote herself. That’s never really happened to me.

    2. I love this! Your sentence structure and word choice here is perfect: A white heat spread through her face as she scanned across the round tables and stacks. Empty. She took a deep breath and held it. Then she let it out slowly. The relief spread through her body and relaxed her muscles.

      I hope you’ll keep writing about Fish! I want to know her more.

  36. I cheated and made it a bookmobile. 😉

    It was Bookmobile day! Madeline got so excited on Bookmobile day. Every other Monday the bus-like contraption pulled up to the elementary school entrance, full of promise. Madeline eagerly lined up with the rest of her class. It was their turn to go first! She practically trembled with anticipation, but she tried to appear calm and easygoing. She would get teased if she appeared overly anxious. However, she did have some reading cohorts. Lisa was buzzing beside her, ready to beat her to the Walter Farley shelf. They’d both been reading The Black Stallion books and were equally dreading the day when they read the last one.
    “Girls and boys, quiet down,” Mrs. Parshall reminded the chattering class. Remember the rules once we get inside the Bookmobile. No running, pushing, or being loud. Wait patiently to check out your book. ”
    Can we just go? Maddie thought to herself, beginning to bounce slightly with quick kneebends, hands clasping The Black Stallion and Flame in front of her, trying hard to do what Mrs. Parshall said. The class followed their teacher out the door.
    It was a cloudy, chilly day. The three stairs leading up to the bookmobile creaked, and finally she entered paradise. “Hi there, Maddie.” Mr. Lockard grinned down at her curly head, his eyes, sparkling, crinkling at the corners. His deep voice calmed her. She smiled back.
    “Hi, Mr. Lockard! I’m going to check out Man O’ War!” she chirped. She returned the finished book to him.
    “Looks like you better beat your friend to it, honey,” he chuckled, tilting his gray, whiskered chin amusedly in Lisa’s direction, who skirted past them both to the coveted shelf.

  37. The thin glass doors of the library swooshed open as Cam swiveled her messenger bag around to the front of her hip. She reached in and unfurled the scrap of paper Jaxson had passed her in the hallway. She smiled at the sight of his less-than-legible invitation to help her during lunch. In five short days, Cam would be tasked with entertaining Queen Trythia. It hardly seemed fitting that on the day Cam should be celebrating her 16th birthday, she would be in a fight for her life. Jaxson’s offer was welcomed but dangerous. If anyone found out Cam hadn’t created a performance entirely on her own, it wouldn’t matter if Queen Trythia was amused.

    The image of the red trap door she’d seen many times on the kingdom’s only television channel caused Cam to shiver. No one knew what lay below that door, only that performers who failed to keep the Queen entertained never returned to share that secret. Cam rubbed her eyes, determined to maintain her focus on a plan that would keep her from plunging into the unknown.

    1. Wow – I’m intrigued. At first, I thought this was a pretty typical realistic world, so I love the way you changed gears.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it – and remember that it doesn’t have to “go anywhere.” Writing for the joy of writing is one of the ways we all grow.

  38. Thought I would try a short piece I can use as a sample with my fourth and fifth graders next year. I wanted to keep it simple and model how you might connect to books or authors you like.

    Friday, we have made it through one more week and it is media day. Finally! All of 15 minutes to go through the stacks and find that perfect book to read for the next week. It is a tortuous 15 minutes of everyone running around grabbing books they aren’t going to read, pulling books and leaving them on the floor. They are just grabbing book to look cool, to impress Ms. Anderson as if they are really reading. I know better – couldn’t they all just go away so I can find what I really want.

    Why can’t the library just be mine for a while, the dream of a lifetime to live in the library? I could make it happen. I have read the Mixed Up Files. Museums- Librarys it works out to be the same. This is easy. I know how to hide just for a short while – I only want to read and choose books in quiet. How much trouble could I get into if I just slip away from the class and slide under the computer desk in the back. I only need a short while and then the class will go off to music and the books are mine. All mine! I will join music class late. Just say I was in the bathroom. It works every time.

    The spot is smaller than I thought but now that I am curled up it isn’t bad. It is quiet over here and I can just dream about the books I want to read. Just a few more minutes and the books are mine.

    Great book time! This library is mine– wonder if Fever Crumb is still on the shelf or maybe Hunger Games has been checked back in. Alexis had it last week and wouldn’t give it up. It is awful quiet in the library. I should at least hear the teachers and the computers whizzing around but nothing. Where is everyone?

    The library is dark, it is dark outside! What time is it? This was not just a short time but it must have been a bit to long. Did I go to sleep?

    Yikes – the lights are on in the office. There stands Mom in tears, Mrs. Anderson, looking scared and upset, Mrs. Wharton Beck, the Principal, the police. The POLICE and even Dad is in there. O what have I done!

    How much trouble can I get into over wanting to read a good book?

      1. Thanks for the quick comment! It is great to have this opportunity to read and write with so many teachers, and authors.

  39. So I have this Teachers Write strategy where I do my quick writes in a blog post and then post a link in the comments. I figure that I’d be a lot less likely to check out the link, then to read the writing if it was posted in the comments. That way I’m kind of sharing my writing, but at the same time kind of not. I think that strategy worked pretty good for the first quick write. My super stealthy strategy for the second quick write is to post my paragraph in the comments section, but do it late at night. I figure that Kate is about to post the next Teachers Write assignment, so we will all move our focus to that post and leave these comments behind. Pretty clever, huh?

    Sorry to babble (another strategy to turn people away), here it is. My quick write:

    Breslin walks into the library for the 13 day in a row. He wonders if he is the only one that thinks that it is ironic that lunch detention takes place in the room that teachers are always complaining students don’t want to go to to check out books. The drill is simple: take a seat at an empty table, eat your lunch, be quiet. Being quiet is easy for Breslin. Being quiet is not what gets him trouble. In fact, his 20 day lunch detention sentence if a result of him being, quiet.

    Breslin walks by Mr. Anderson reading the newspaper. Mr. Anderson is the only person Breslin has ever seen reading the newspaper, and he has never seen Mr. Anderson not reading the newspaper. As Breslin heads for the back of the library he tries to avoid making eye contact with Hector who, like Breslin, is serving 20 days in lunch detention. However, unlike Breslin, Hector was not quiet. Not quiet at all.

    (This is kind of fun. I have one day of school left, so I’m going to bow out for the evening.)

    1. Oh come on, you can’t leave us here! What comes next? What’s Hector in for? Are they related incidents? So many more questions I feel foolish asking after just two paragraphs. . ..

      Thanks for sharing.

    2. Busted! I haven’t changed gears yet…

      Besides, you should be proud to share this – it’s great stuff. Your tone is straightforward in a way that really underscores the differences between those two guys, and now I really, really want to know both of their stories. Keep writing!

    3. We learned a lot about the character in a very short period of time with “Being quiet is easy for Breslin. Being quiet is not what gets him trouble.” I am intrigued. I want to know what caused these two very different boys to be linked and what role this newspaper reading teacher will play in the story.

    4. Colby,
      I really want to know more..you have created an intrigue about your characters in such a short space. Keep writing..and keep sharing! I’ll often be checking in either early morning or in the evening so I look forward to catching your with your strategy of late posting 🙂 Great work!

    5. Your character’s voice has just the right touch of irony in it — I loved the comment about the library being the detention center. This sentence: “Mr. Anderson is the only person Breslin has ever seen reading the newspaper, and he has never seen Mr. Anderson not reading the newspaper” was one of my favorites. We need to read on to find out why Hector and Breslin are so different besides being quiet…maybe they’re not so different, after all. 🙂

  40. Buh. Seriously? Just like him. He never follows through on anything he says. “Meet me in the library,” he said. “I’ll be there,” he said. “You and I can hang out,” he said. Yet here I am, stomach growling, and all I am is a couple dollars richer, but not a single kiss more well-off. Fan-freaking-tastic.

    I push my way past the reference desk, eyeing a table as Mrs. Schafer eyes me. I can tell she’s not too pleased about me interrupting her lunch time as her brow furrows. I scoot to a seat, pulling out my Geometry homework. I might as well try to get some work done – it is due next hour, after all.

    Where is he? I swear, if I find out he’s with Heather McFakerson, I’ll pop both her implants and shoot the silicone straight into his eyes. His icy blue, piercing eyes. The ones that first saw me a month ago in drama, as they focused through the camera lens. The ones that asked me every question I wanted to be asked in a simple eyebrow raise. The ones that turned my heart into this rubbery liquid currently practicing for the Olympics in my chest.

    Well, shit. Looks like I won’t be slashing his tires today after all.

      1. You must know that I saw your comments trickling down towards this, and my heart seriously started pounding. Kate Messner — KATE MESSNER — was about to read what I had just written. What a world this is!

        Thank you for the quick feedback! I think I’m going to like this summer 🙂

        The character’s not one I’ve thought about or written about before, but apparently she’s in there and might want out. I have other things I want to focus on this summer, but she may have a story to be told.

  41. Her arms tremble under the weight of the faded books she pulls for her English class. She always hates this time of year – her favorite and the students’ dreaded analysis paper.
    “Don’t these kids understand how important it is to read these classics? O’Connor? Hemingway? Conrad? Williams?” she asks herself for the millionth time.
    “What’s happening to our kids? They just don’t want to read or work anymore.” She answers her own question letting the mountain of stale books slide onto the nearest table. Several books continue to slide right to the floor. Bending down to retrieve her precious friends, she notices crumpled pieces of paper underneath the chair.
    “Ugh! Uncaring, disrespectful kids. They even leave their trash for others to pick up.”
    She sets the paper balls on the table and straightens her books thinking about tomorrow’s lesson, imagining the predictable moans and groans the audience will offer up in response to the assignment. Continuing to mentally review her plans, she eyes the bits of writing unfolding from the trash she had set on the table. Eyes darting around the stacks in the library, her fingers peel one paper ball apart. It appears to be a poem. “Probably something crude or inappropriate as usual,” she snarls and proceeds to read.
    A Cry for Help
    I’m dying you know.
    Little by little.
    Piece by piece.
    Until all that
    was recognizable
    is fading away.

    You could help.
    have the power.
    All the power.

    Rekindle the fire.
    Fan the flames
    that are buried
    so deep,
    so deep
    Just an ember
    lost in the ashes
    of my childhood.
    it’s there,
    the light.

    YOU are killing me,
    you know?
    With all the
    white papers
    black lines
    red streaks
    gold stars.
    Row by row,
    robotic discussions,
    same questions,
    generic answers
    day after day,
    year after year.

    Those stars,
    peeled off

    just like me.

    Give me something
    that will stick.
    Uncover the radiance
    that barely glows.
    It’s in here

    In the dark.
    Where I can’t
    see myself
    Where everyone
    is alike.
    In the dark.

    But we aren’t alike
    I’m the one
    who held
    the fire in my eyes.
    My bright eyes
    that glowed
    and now

    I move through
    the motions.
    A puppet on strings.
    A calf led to the

    I’m dying.

    Help me
    to live.
    Fuel the fire
    that burned
    hot and bright.
    Where the flames

    I beg you.
    Don’t let me wilt
    in your professed loving arms.
    Embrace me.
    Nurture me.
    Feed me.
    Tend me.
    And that fire
    will burn

    My child is dying.
    Little by little.
    Ember by ember.
    Flame by flame.

    I’m dying.
    Make me whole

    Her hands fall limp at her sides. She stares into the stacks. She turns. And, without a sound, leaves her precious Hemingway and O’Connor on the table, forgotten. She doesn’t look back. Not even a glance.

    1. Wow! As a teacher reading this, the poem really grabbed me and made me think about how some students may feel very disconnected from the school setting and the way they are being taught. As a reader, I want to know what happens next and how this teacher is going to answer this call to action.

  42. Here is the first paragraph. More on my blog.

    I gotta get an AR book! I need AR points like yesterday. I don’t understand why the heck I have to read anyway. I already do my homework. Reading is so stupid! Ms keeps talking about the characters and what they say and feel. What do I care!!!! I already have enough chat inside my head. Why do I need AR points?? This school is stupid. Oh yeah, Jake said we need to do better on the NWEA. Whatever…Like the NWEA is going to help me to get to college.


    1. Loving your voice here – “I need AR points like yesterday.” (And on a side note, I think this kid completely underscores the trouble with programs like AR that value reading for points instead of reading for joy.)

      1. I am with Brian, Kate Messner just commented on my writing!!!!!!!!

        Looking forward to a great summer!

  43. I like Colby Sharp’s strategy…better late than never! (I, too, am nervous about sharing and awed by the incredible talent of the teachers that have posted above)

    It can’t be right. It just can’t have happened that way. I was just strolling along on my way to pick up some new books and there he was. He really did it. He asked me out. I can’t believe it. Wait, did I just say that I would go to a movie with Justin Hunt? Oh my god! Did I have anything on my face? Where’s a mirror when you need one? I must have looked okay or he would have run in the other direction. Okay, first things first, I must find some advice on first dates. I came in here for books, but this is an emergency that takes precedence over my book lust. Thank goodness for the media part of a library/media center. Okay, calm down. Once I Google first dates and make sure I have the perfect outfit picked out and know what to say I can get down to my library business. Must. Find. Computer. Oh, hello Mr. iMac, how are you? What say you do some magic for me and help me get this research out of the way.

    I sit down at the computer and start searching for advice columns. It takes much longer than I anticipated and soon the lunch bell rings and I realize that I have missed my chance to eat anything as well as my chance to look for books. I quickly grab the scribbles that I have for notes and scramble out of the library, headed for AP American History. I am hardly aware of the crush of bodies as I tunnel my way through groups of friends milling around in the hallway. I can’t stop replaying the scene in my head and a part of me wishes I had spent more time noticing the details of what I am sure will be the “how it all began” story we will tell our grandchildren. I realize as I arrive to class that I am still without a book to read and I will have to visit the library again after school. Somehow this whole situation has made a mess of my brain like that old commercial about drugs, “This is your brain (egg)…this is your brain on drugs (frying egg in pan)” except this is my brain on Justin. I will have to get a grip soon or my whole school day will be lost to me.

    1. Haha… I love “Did I have anything on my face?” and “This is my brain on Justin.” I have a character who says the same things. They would probably be best of friends 🙂

    2. Nice stream-of-consciousness — we get a feeling for her frantic state of mind — and really liked the “brain on Justin” and the “story we’ll tell our grandchildren.” What a fun fantasy that girls indulge in. 🙂

  44. If it hadn’t been for the noise coming from the cafeteria, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to look up. I was deep into my rereading of The Canterbury Tales (the Miller slays me every time!) and truly, why bother when I know the Usual Suspects, as we call ourselves are already here—we’ve said our hellos and are now all tucked into our own little places each doing our own thing. Lunch is much better spent in the library for some of us. Trust me.

    But the loud cacophony was so jarring, I did, in fact, look up. And quickly down again. Big Mike? Really? In the library? I stole another sidelong stealthy peek, hoping my stillness (and long bushy hair) hid me well enough that I remained relatively invisible. Like a stealth library Ninja! Sometimes I really crack myself up—man, the Miller has nothing on me.

    Yes, it was definitely Mike Bradbury. He looked around nervously as he entered quietly, despite the chaos of the cafeteria (what brain trust built this school, I ask you? The cafeteria right next to the library? Utterly ridiculous.) Was he alone? I don’t think I had ever seen Big Mike without his entourage. The Wolf Pack, they call themselves—all football players, all loud and usually obnoxious with their I’m-so-cool attitudes. I’m fairly certain he has never seen me at all. I don’t rate a blip on that group’s radar. As if they knew what a blip was. Or a radar.

    I decide it would be best to keep a bit of a watch here—is there any doubt he is up to no good? I mean, really. He’s probably here on a dare or something. Oh yeah! Out of the corner of my eye I see Mrs. Jenkins, the librarian come out of her office. This will be interesting. Get him Mrs. Jenkins! HA!

    “Hey there, Michael. Great to see you. How’s your day going so far?” Mrs. Jenkins said.

    Huzzah! Throwing him off guard, I’m guessing, by being so nice and friendly—“Good plan, Mrs. Jenkins, good plan,” I silently cheer!

    “Hi, Mrs. Jenkins. Um…” Michael stood there, sort of staring at the floor. What in the world was going on? Had aliens taken over this kid’s body? “Um, you know that last book you gave me…I was just wondering…”

    “You bet, dear. I was just in my office unpacking a box of books—and you came at just the perfect time. I know how much you loved the first two, so I made sure to put this one back for you as soon as I unpacked it. Michael, I think you’re really going to enjoy this one. Be sure to come back and let me know what you think.”

    “Yes, ma’am. Thanks,” he said with a sheepish grin.

    The Great and Powerful Michael Bradbury a secret reader? Who knew? I must admit I’m a bit stunned.

    “See ya, man” he whispered, looking straight at me as he walked by, tucking his book into the backpack he carried over one shoulder.

    Huh. So much for flying under the radar.
    A concept he seems to understand after all.

    just really wrote this quickly—but think I could use it to develop something later! Finally got some time in to write today—

    1. Oh, I’d love to read more! Your main character and the Miller who slays him — what a crack up — is vivid, and now I’m wondering why Michael is a secret reader….

  45. I sat expectantly at my computer, one hand poised on the mouse to check my email for the fifth time, eyes peering over the top of the LCD monitor, ears attuned to the myriad of low conversations going on around me, annoyed to see Steve entering the library for the second time today. What would he do this time? Steve did not use the library to discover what was new in young adult fiction or find another source for his report due next week. Instead the library was his alternative- an alternative to getting written up one more time for loudly popping one of the bags of milk provided by the school snack bar. His eyes quickly met mine and I searched them for the mischief I knew lay hidden beneath.

    He stopped hesitantly, standing just beyond the magazine rack, eyes darting to the tables lined up in the middle of the room, backpack slightly unzipped, apparently deciding where to cause the most damage. But he paused longer than normal, his face contorted with indecision.

    “No hats in the library, Steve,” I scolded from a safe distance. He scowled in my direction, reluctantly removing his Kings cap. He paused again, reaching into his sagging pocket, and removing a small slip of paper. His sardonic blue eyes turned again towards me and he sauntered over to my desk. My finger minimized the browser window, and I braced myself for what might be coming next. With two long, lanky strides he reached my desk and deposited the paper, still wadded up, onto the desk.

    “My teacher said this was a good book,” he informed me warily, “and I wondered if you had it here in the library.”

    1. Who wouldn’t like Charlie? “He wasn’t sure where he was, but he was sure he wanted to stay.” We’ve all felt like that in the presence of books.

  46. A bit tired after these last few days of school but I love this prompt, so here goes:

    Dear 4th grade,
    I came in here to get away from you. I came in here so someone might notice me, WANT ME around.. I came to this quiet space to get away from you, my supposed friends who let me down and blame me every time something goes wrong. Last recess, football turned into a shouting match: “ALEX!!!” screamed the chorus of screaching voices, joining in, blaming me for a play gone wrong. I ‘m not the idiot who threw the ball too long.. I just sprang up on my tiptoes to catch it and accidentally crashed into Matt. Then I fell on him.. and the yelling, screaming, shouting, led to my escape..

    In here, I am welcomed with a smile..”How are you today?” sings Mrs. Z in her kind voice..she’s been here forever in this library and seems to have every book imprinted in her brain..
    Here I can play with other kids..make a song on Garageband.. play a video game.. just get a tiny little moment of freedom from the crap out there. Why don’t you like me?

    Mrs. Z…she gets me.. she knows my name.. knows what I like to read. She is the master of the book recommendations. Right now I’m reading Drive and learning all about why people do what they do. I wonder if I will learn why you all hate me..

    Don’t you know that I feel invisible?

  47. What I love about this writing prompt was the huge variety of pieces that came out because of it! How awesome that we are given one prompt and hundreds of different stories and poems, all compelling and beautiful, are written! Only the first week, and I have already learned and read and been a part of so much. I can’t help but smile.

    Here is my quick (maybe not so quick) write for today.

    Only the second week of school, and we already have a report, thought Adrienne, as she paged through one of the books she had pulled from the library shelf. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…what else do we need to know about Columbus? Adrienne pulled a couple more books from the shelf and settled down in the small, stale study cubicle. She set her hand on the desktop and felt something gooey.

    “Great, that’s just great.” she retorted to her study cell as she peeled the sticky gum off her hand. She dropped it in the waste basket on the floor and got back to the task at hand.

    Clang! Adrienne’s head jerked up to see where the sound had come from.

    “Oh, sorry!” came a sort of whispered squeak. It was Molly, the new girl. She had stubbed her toe on the bookshelf corner. Adrienne watched as she squirmed away from the attention her clumsiness had once again drawn and disappeared into the rows of bookshelves. Rough day for you too, Adrienne sympathized. She thought back to what had just happened in the lunch room. Molly had bumped into Carly as she attempted to sit down at the corner table. Carly let her have it, and Molly had left immediately, her face flushed and tearful. Being new was tough on anybody, but being clumsy and shy, as Molly seemed to be, probably didn’t help.

    Tough luck, thought Adrienne, but not my problem. I have my own life to worry about. She went back to her book, trying to stay focused.

  48. No one except Betsy Lourdes, token fat chick, ever went to the library during lunch. That wasn’t the case today. Every head turned, every eye glared, all assuming the worst. Rumors always stem from the truth, don’t they? “Rumor has it, rumor has it, rumor has it”- thanks, Adele, really.

    I felt like a scuba diver gone too deep, the pressure crushing me with every step. I knew what they thought. That I was lazy, that I was the “bad boy”. Well, good, maybe that was a good thing! After all, what did I have left if not my image?

    I was the one who tried things- drugs, skipping school, girls. Grown men cry thinking of their virgin “daddy’s girls” in my arms. Teachers hated me too, and for good reason I guess. They gave up on me the second they called home. I can’t blame them for all my problems. After all, I’d give up on me too if forced into conversation with my bitch mother. Maybe I can blame genetics.

    People knew a lot of things about me. None of it was good. Still they must be curious. Why is Parker Seaton, coolest guy in school , here with us dorks?, they thought, during what is usually my off campus “extended lunch” hour.

    But what they didn’t know could end it all.

    1. I loved the “Grown men cry” line! Ouch! You’ve got some spot-on characterization, here, with your “coolest guy in school.” The end makes me want to know what “they didn’t know”! 🙂

  49. I walk into the library. All of the eyes are staring at me. I look down and say a quiet, “hi” as I feel my cheeks turning red. I go to sit down with the others and stumble over a chair. All of the chairs are filled with other people at the table. I sit on the outside looking in. I am late, so the discussion has already started. I have thoughts to share but I don’t speak up. I know what I want to say but my mouth won’t say the words. I try to find the courage to speak but the words never come. The meeting is over and I am the first one to leave. I walk out of the library with my head hung low and a feeling of disappointment. Why do the words not come out of my mouth?

  50. After yesterday afternoon, I had to understand what would happen to my uncle. I couldn’t get any answers out of my dad; right after the cops pulled away Uncle Mike, my dad called up his buddy, Doug, and they went on one of their weekend “fishing trips,” which my mom had long ago taught me was a nice way of saying my dad was going on a two to three day pill binge. My mother had also always said that a library had an answer to any question you might have, so I thought this would be the best place to start. Yeah, maybe I could just walk in and say, “Hey, Ms. Price! I came to see if there were any books that could tell me what would happen to someone who just got picked up for not paying child support. Oh, and he was already on parole for a drug charge. Can you help me out with that today?”
    I wiped my palms on the front of my jeans, but as I lifted them up to push the doors open, I saw that, in wiping them on my jeans, I had simply smeared grease all over my hands. Great. Now not only would the librarian probably make a huge deal because I came in the library voluntarily, but I would now leave a permanent mark on anything I touched; I would brand the library and everyone would see and know I was there, and then every single one of my friends would make fun of me for life. I might as well let them see me sashaying out of the girls’ bathroom while I was at it. I hesitated outside the door for another minute, deciding if Uncle Mike was even worth the potential humiliation. I sighed, put my head down, and pushed the door open, waiting for Mrs. Price to begin the ticker-tape celebration of one of “those kids” coming into her library without a teacher dragging them there. I kept a covert eye on her as I walked by the big desk where she was working. I kept waiting for her to notice me, jump up and exclaim to the world how glad she was I came to read one of her dusty old books, but she didn’t look up.
    What? How could she not notice me? I am six feet tall and covered in motor oil. Who does she think she is, just sitting there? She should be grateful that I even came in here! She should jump and exclaim to the world that I was there, though … honestly … I really didn’t want that kind of attention. Maybe she just didn’t hear me. Or see me. That had to be it. So, I coughed a little. What? I had a tickle in my throat. Shut up.
    Finally, she looked up and smiled warmly when she saw me, and after all of that expectation and build up and sweaty palms, all she could say to me – no ticker-tape, no exclaiming – was: “Hi, Ethan. What are you looking for this morning?”

    1. Loved the line about “one of ‘those kids’ coming in here without a teacher dragging him”! There’s quite a backstory for this character! 🙂

  51. Here’s my paragraph for this prompt. This is not the kind of writing that I would normally choose to do; it’s definitely a stretch for me and I’m admittedly nervous about sharing it publicly but here it goes. Part of the challenge I’ve set for myself during this writing summer camp.

    The Library

    Mrs. Jones is poised at the top of the stairs. As she takes a look around she spots Joan just as she is coming into the library. Students aren’t allowed in the library at lunch, she thinks to herself. She walks down the steps quickly ready to admonish Joan by reminding her of the rules and sending her outside where she belongs. She takes a deep breath and her lungs fill up with a sense of self-righteousness. She walks down quickly, a woman on a mission. Just as she gets within earshot of Joan, the girl slips into an empty seat at a table and opens up her backpack. She takes out a book and immediately starts to read. Mrs. Jones can’t help but notice that it’s a thick book. This pleases her, of course, but then remembers that Joan is in the library without permission.

    Joan notices Mrs. Jones walking quickly towards her table. She knows what’s coming; everybody knows Mrs. Jones as the “rule enforcer” in the school. She chooses to ignore her and instead starts to read her book. Before she slips into the world of the story she is reading, she smiles and realizes that just last year she would have never dreamed of spending her lunch time reading a book. Her smile fades as she immerses herself in the pages of one of the best stories she has ever read. She hardly notices Mrs. Jones’ slowing down as she approaches her table. No matter. She’s not in the library anymore…

    1. Very nice characterizations on both Joan and Mrs. Jones. “a woman on a mission” — I’ve seen that woman! And how special Joan isn’t in the library any more. 🙂 I’m glad you took the plunge to share this writing with all of this wonderful community!

      1. Hi Margo,
        Thanks for your feedback. Yes, Joan is lost in the pages of her book. I’m wondering where Mrs. Jones went? Maybe that’s the next piece I need to write…Hmmm. Never thought I’d feed this way about something I wrote – I’m not sure what the character is going to do next or what’s going to happen next. It belies what we often tell children about planning their writing. Sometimes that just isn’t possible. The character and/or the situation leads you somewhere you never expected to go. Love that!

  52. “if you do not come to reading workshop with a book of your choice today, I will be happy to choose one for you”. Argh! That’s what my teacher said to me just before lunch, and she said it like she meant it, too. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna read an Arthur chapter book or another one of those baby Magic Tree House books in front of my friends again. They are reading cool stuff like 39 Clues and Eragon – big books, books at our grade level – smart books for smart kids. Why do I have to read anyhow? It’s stupid, school is stupid, my teacher’s stupid!

    Man, I’d be picking teams for kickball right now if it wasn’t for my stupid teacher. Instead I’m heading for the library like some nerd. Everybody’s gonna think I’m in trouble or somethin. It’s my day to be captain, too. Even if I do get this over with quickly, I’ll be too late to pick teams. I HATE to read anyhow. I don’t know what’s the big deal about reading – what’s wrong with just being smart in math (well, when I try anyways)? “Exercise for your brain…blah, blah, blah…” that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard! My brain is just fine, thank you. Reading isn’t gonna solve anything. It just makes me feel stupid. It was okay when we used to be able to read whatever we wanted. I could fake it out, hold the book and look at pictures and pretend I was reading it. Then they come up with this rule that you “have to have one book at or below your lexile level” to read during reading workshop. And now they are all talkin to one another – the librarian knows this rule too, and she’s been talkin to the reading specialist I see and they are conspiring against me. I thought this was a free country! Not for kids it ain’t!
    I guess I could always get my old standby, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I saw the movie so I get most of it. The Librarian says it’s over 900 lexile. I don’t believe her – it’s got cartoon drawings, it couldn’t be. My friends all think it’s cool too. My teacher says she doesn’t want to see me with any of those books at reading workshop anymore ’cause I’ve read them all like a million times.
    Oh no, the Librarian saw me and she’s heading this way. She is gonna ask me if I need any help. She doesn’t take no for an answer very well, either. She keeps showing me how to look up books in my lexile at the computer, askin me what I am interested in. (I want to tell her video games, but I know she doesn’t have any of those around here!) “HI, what can I help you find today?” she says. “Oh, nothin”, I say, “I gotta get goin.” “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you lately and know that you like the Wimpy Kid books… have you ever thought about reading other graphic novels?” (I told you she doesn’t take no for an answer). “Uh, I don’t know what a graphic novel is, but I probably wouldn’t like them.” Does she stop there? No, of course not! She shows me three other sets of books that are graphic novels, and she already looked them up and knows they are in my lexile range. Actually I din’t know there were other books with cartoons in them (she calls them animated drawings – whatever! I guess if I opened the books when I was lookin at ’em I’d have figured that out. She’s rattlin on about more stuff… “some of your friends have been reading this book.I t’s a mystery adventure and you might like it. The reading teacher and I were talking and agreed, that if you were willing to try it out, I have some books on Mp3 players, and you could listen to the book and read along, see? Here are the earbuds.” The players kind of look like an ipod. Hmm… these look pretty cool. She says, “Why don’t you take a look at the titles we have available in these Mp3’s? See if there is one that you would be willing to try?”
    No way! The whole 39 clues series! I smiled and grabbed it off the shelf. She went to get the book to go with it. “Now, we have to come to an agreement here”, she says. “We all want to make sure this is working for you, so you will need to come down to the library for 10 minutes twice a week and we will talk about how it’s going. We want to make sure this is helping you with fluency and comprehension – two of the goals you have been working on.””Uh, yeah, I stumble the words out of my mouth, that’s cool, I mean, this is pretty cool… Is anybody else using these?” “Well, we save them for people we know will benefit from them. Kids like you who are looking for a ‘just right’ book to improve your reading skills”, she says. “Yeah, that’s me alright!”, I say. “Thanks, thanks a lot! This is cool!” (Oh man, did I just say the library was cool? What’s wrong with me?) “Your welcome”, she says, “And you’re right, this IS cool.”

      1. Thank you! As I reread it, I was wondering if I should add in more details. I kept it somewhat focused and more of the conversation in her head to help build suspense, but I am wondering if I could incorporate more details about the back of the boys head or the other students. Thanks for your feedback!

  53. My paragraph for this prompt turned into quite a bit more: a short story.


    “It’s getting crazy ridiculous, Alina,” I whispered as we found an empty table in the library. Miss Piston shot us a wary glance and began scanning the books we just returned. When she retrieved mine, I made sure to avoid eye contact. Yes, I did finish reading the Twilight series, but no, that does not mean I’m obsessed with vampires. Not even close.

    “I don’t see what the big deal is… you both bought purple Gatorades for lunch, so what? The world’s not coming to an end.” Alina carefully unwrapped a piece of Orbit gum and popped it in her mouth, and then stared at me. Her mocha brown eyes clearly missing the point.

    “Well, obviously, but it’s just that.. it’s like everything in my life, in some way, is connected to him, and I can’t get away from it. Like the blue carpet in here. It makes me instantly think of his eyes…”

    “I thought his eyes were green.”

    “Yeah, they are, but… blue is one of the colors green is made up of, so it’s impossible not to think about his eyes.” I sighed, imagining what it would be like if those green eyes were looking at me, and not just because I had one of my sneeze attacks during Math.

    “Jill. Come on. He’s not even very interesting. I mean, since we’re here in the library and all, do you even know what he reads in his spare time?”

    “Probably something philosophical…like The Trial and Death of Socrates. He seems really deep.”

    “Try astrological. His palm. That’s what he reads in his spare time. When we’re done in Social Studies, and we have time to do homework or read or whatever, he just sits there. Sometimes he’ll cough or blow his nose, but mainly he just sits there doing nothing. Totally lame.” It was difficult to believe. I mean, Logan Winters, green-eyed, purple Gatorade drinker, was anything but lame. In the hallways, he walked with impressive confidence toward his locker (#247), he held his Bic mechanical pencil with gentle strength as he solved complex math equations from the board, and he always respectfully spit out his Big Red gum right before we tuned up in band.

    “Okay, whatever. I’ll just have to find out for myself,” I said casually.

    “Fine. It’s a dare. In fact, holy crap! It’s perfect timing. Look who just walked in and is talking to Miss Piston.” It was him. Logan. Since we last saw him in the cafeteria, he had spiked his dark hair and was wearing an American Eagle hoodie over his white t-shirt. Suddenly, I was thirsty.

    “Okay, look,” I tried rationalizing with Alina,”I think it’d be better if we waited until, like, tomorrow. Now’s just not the best timing. I’ve gotta get a drink.” Just as I stood up, she shoved me back down.

    “Oh, no ya don’t. Not yet. You’ve gotta go over there. Now’s your chance. Just ask to borrow a bookmark or something, and then when the timing’s right, ask if he has any recommendations for a good book.” For a smart person, sometimes she was absolutely insane. I took out my cherry chapstick, reapplied, and sighed. There was no way I was doing this.

    “All right, all right. I’ll go.” This time I stood up a bit slower, so she’d have no doubt about my intentions, and I began walking toward the east hallway entrance. Faster and faster. Right before passing Miss Piston and Logan, though, I felt something jab me in the back, so I turned around. Her stupid, little water bottle. Perfect. Alina was reverting back to her immature, third-grade days of throwing things to get me to go along with her wild schemes. Sorry, but I wasn’t buying in this time.

    “Excuse me, Jillian?” I stood up quickly, grasping the Aqua Fina lid tight between my, now dripping-wet, fingers.

    “Yes, Miss Piston?” The water seemed to be penetrating beyond the back of my shirt and onto my neck because suddenly, I was sweating nervously.

    “Please read Rule #2 of the library.” Logan was now facing me. His eyes poring into mine, but not in the romantic way I had pictured. Instead, he seemed to be annoyed. Great. Thanks a lot, Alina.

    “Well, first of all, I am really sorry. In fact, this water bottle? It isn’t even–”

    “Enough. Just read the rule, Miss Tavington.” I sighed deeply, miraculously hoping that my reading skills might somehow made a deep impression on Logan.

    “Rule #2: No food or drinks in library. Again, I am really, really, truly–”

    “That’ll be enough. Keep in mind, next time, if there indeed is a next time, you’ll have lunch detention. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Miss Piston adjusted her silver, rectangular glasses and tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her left ear, revealing a decent pair of small but dangly earrings. She then turned her attention back to Logan, who was facing her again, and continued.

    “Now, regrettably, we do not allow students to check those out anymore,” she paused and looked over at me again. Apparently, I was still standing there, water dripping off the back of my shirt and onto the blue carpet. Oh, Logan’s eyes.

    “Jillian, may I help you with something else?” Logan whipped around and looked at me, visibly more irritated than before.

    “Well, yes, actually…yeah, sorry, it’s just that I–”

    “She was wondering if you had any extra bookmarks, Miss Piston, and by the way, Logan? Jillian’s doing a survey for the yearbook on students’ top favorite books, so do you mind to tell her yours?”

    Before Miss Piston could respond and before I could intervene with an apology on my moronic friend’s behalf and explain I wasn’t even on the yearbook staff, Logan rolled his eyes, smacked his gum, and grinned.

    “Uh…does Game Informer count?” All of a sudden, the purple Gatorade incident lost epic meaning; I mean, the only other flavor was lime, and who likes lime Gatorade anyway? And the blue carpet of the library? Well, it’s the same blue as our school mascot, which makes complete and total sense. Obviously.

    1. Sara,
      I really love this roller coaster experience with your character, and how it illustrates how fickle and crazy those high school crushes can be. Thanks for sharing.. that scene really manifested in my mind and left me wondering,now what?

      1. Thank you, Joan. I haven’t written like that in awhile, so it felt quite nice to try it out again. I actually have a novel that’s a major work-in-progress (I’ve written 90+ pgs single-spaced), where the two main characters’ friendship is somewhat similar to Jillian’s and Alina’s; unfortunately, it’s on a computer that I haven’t been able to access in a couple years, so I haven’t really done much since…. Thank you so much for reading!!

    2. Changed the last paragraph to….

      “Uh…does Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition count?” All of a sudden, the purple Gatorade incident lost epic meaning; I mean, the only other flavor was lime, and who likes lime Gatorade anyway? And the blue carpet of the library? Well, it’s the same blue as our school mascot, which makes complete and total sense. Obviously.

  54. Christy, I am in awe of you! I wanted to start seriously writing when I was about your age, and managed to let every excuse get in my way… kids, work, aging parents, the list goes on! Other than filling 6 writing notebooks over a 25 year span, I have little to show for my intentions. You go girl! Loved reading about your violin lessons, the inspiration Mindsets has been for you and your response to the writing prompt today. Keep it going! Your a great example of making time to write.

    1. Thank you so much Mary! Your writing is wonderful and I loved reading it! All of those notebooks are a major accomplishment and I appreciate your kind words and support! I loved reading your post to today’s quick write and could so relate to what you were saying in your story! I can’t wait to read more of your great writing!

  55. Better late than never, right? 🙂


    ​Ellie pushed into the dimly-lit media center, quickly glancing around to ensure that it was, as usual, uninhabited.

    Oh thank heavens! Peace!​

    Even the media specialist seemed to be gone. She generally loved a good conversation with Mrs. T, but she needed some time to think about what she’d seen – why were the butterflies dying? What WERE those things attacking them, anyway? And, if she was being honest with herself, she wasn’t even sure she believed that it was all real. It could totally be a dream. A very realistic, very horrific dream. Didn’t feel that way, though. What it felt like was being transported to another world, plain and simple. So very real.

    Ellie snapped out of her reverie and remembered why she was there. Right, information. After a quick check of the online card catalog, she headed over to the shelf with the 500s on it. Butterflies… butterflies… butter… ah! She found a large, detailed book about the creatures and sat cross-legged on the floor right there, not even noticing the cool metal shelves as they dug into her back. Flipping to the index, Ellie ran her finger down the page until she found the listing for predators. As she tried to find the correct page in the book, there was a sudden chill in the air.

    The shadows seemed to be moving around her, and her stomach danced in fear. As shapes moved out of the general darkness, it was as though the butterflies from her stomach were taking shape before her eyes. Calling to her. Singing to her. Dancing her into their spell… Ellie felt a wave of panic wash over her as her eyes drifted closed despite her attempt to fight it…

  56. Uncertainly appears
    waiting in the shadows
    not excluded
    but no real invitation.
    Words with their secret melody
    taunting me
    their world dancing just out of reach desperate to solve the puzzle
    and escape this dreary existence
    reluctantly silent with a simple weak-hearted wish
    and so I remain
    among the hidden
    “You’re late again!”



    “Man…that’s why I HATE this school…ughh!”
    “Out! Go to the office now!”
    Where have the times gone when
    children really wanted to read….(sigh)

  57. As Preston walked into his middle school library, he began to relax. Finally, he had a quiet place to relax and finish his book without interruptions. He managed to read a chapter during his classes this morning, ignoring the conversations around him at the beginning of each class. He just couldn’t put his book down. Now he had 30 minutes to really enjoy the ending and not worry about the other students in the room. If he could only spend all day here in the library, where he is most comfortable, instead of in classes with the rest of the 6th graders. He just doesn’t understand why they care about what kind of shoes they are wearing or why they have to make fun of others. They waste so much time on trivial matters when they could be escaping in a book.