Stories, Poems, and Pictures by People 7 to 15  

Everyone who has read Blow Out the Moon knows that I started writing stories when I was a child. A reader said I should put up some stories I had written as a child up here, "so people could see how much you improved."

So I did, scanned in exactly as I wrote them. I wrote the first one when I was 7, the last when I was 9 (almost 10). Please scroll to see them and these stories and poems by readers:

"I Only Wish" (Happy Anniversary Mommy and Daddy) by Kylee S.

"Emily Dickinson" (poem) by Margaret Hanson

"Those Like Me" (poem) by Margaret Hanson

"My Friend Inside of Me" (poem) by Taylor (written when she was in 4th grade)

"How Hermes Brought Darkness to Day" (myth) by Alexander (6th grade)

Untitled by Anonymous

"Orphan Girl" (story) by Laina (written when she was 12)

And to start with something beautiful, cheerful, and unusual: Here is a butterfly photographed by a girl who read my book. Her name is Alanna.

I I love this photograph and think it's amazing that she got so close and that the butterfly is so big.

I would like to include your artwork here, too. If you send them to me and tell me what you would like your pen name to be, I will. We will have to use a pen name, or just your first name, because it's illegal to put minors' real names on the Web. (That's true though not many people know about the law.)




There are lots of other stories about the Silly Witch, but I think one is enough to give you the
idea. Email me if you would like me to put up
The last line on page 2(in case you can't read it) is "ah-oh" which was how I spelled "uh-oh, where can I put the knife?" which is what "the good cook" said. to himself. I think I meant that he was a good person (nice), not good at cooking.
This is a letter I wrote when I was eight.

This is the first page of a
30 page story called "The Richardons." I was
almost 10 when I finished


THe last part on the page, in case you can't read it, is:

"Elizabeth. you may go and get Ellen and bring her here. Then I will load her." (Ellen was a sturdy little Shetland pony.) "You must bring her saddle and bridle."


I'm going to skip to Page 8 from the same story: what happens inbetween is that the family gets settled in. The children all work really hard getting food, making furniture etc. It's not really that interesting, which is one
reason I'm not putting up the whole thing.



The other reason for not posting the whole story
s that it takes a long time to put up these pages! If anyone would like to read more, though, I'll put up the pages inbetween.



If you haven't read Blow Out the Moon: please don't judge my writing by these stories!

Remember, the wholepoint of putting them up here was to show how I've improved between them and Blow Out the Moon - the paperback is in stores and online now! Which cover do you like better? This is the paperback:

If your library doesn't have the book, they can probably order it.

Or you can get it in bookstores or order it online from amazon

If you see it in a bookstore with only its spine showing, please turn it face out so people can see the cover.

Go back to the list of chapters and stories


Poems and Stories from Blow Out the Moon Readers

I only wish
That when I’m grown,
I’ll be half as happy as
These people I’ve known
When I’m married
Grown up and wise
When I’ve found love
For those I despise.
They laugh, they cry
Together and apart.
But the love they give
Comes right from the heart.

Happy Anniversary Mommy and Daddy

--Kylee S.

Emily Dickinson*
by Margaret Hanson

Talent, ideas,
Long white dress
Quietly waiting
Hiding her best
Emily, Emily, flow from your pen
Emily, Emily, let people in.

Few poems were published
While she did live
Simple and meaningful
Haunting us still
Emily, Emily, bird on the sill
Emily, Emily, go free at will.

Words from her hand
Found from the lost
After she'd died
Her pen laid to rest
Emily, Emily, writer of dreams
Emily, Emily, fly far and free.

*This poem just won a prize in a poetry contest. I am proud of Margaret.--LK

Those Like Me
by Margaret A. Hanson

There is a place I know so well
that lies within my inner mind
and all the dreams I have come true
a place that those like me can find

the avenues are paved with love
the leading hand is fairness
the houses made of sturdy strength
and no one there is careless

the libraries are filled with books
on how to teach and how to trust
and books on truth and of good will
and happiness for all of us

the people never war or fight
they always lend a helping hand
they listen to each other's thoughts
hope plentiful as grains of sand

this place will have a special home
forever in my thoughts and dreams
and someday it will be for real
if those like me believe...


--Margaret A. Hanson
January, 2006


My Friend Inside of Me

I have a friend inside of me,
I take her whereever I go,
She lives within my inner self, and in my heart and soul.
We get into fights, just like real friends do.
We have a real good friendship,
Just like me and you.


--Taylor (in 4th grade when she wrote this)

How Hermes Brought Darkness To Day

Written and Illustrated by Alexander

Long ago in days of old, there was no cool place on the surface of Mother Earth where a man or beast could rest during the hot day, or where moss could grow. There was no shadow that fell and followed behind the things that stood and moved on Mother Earth, nor behind the gods and high on Mount Olympus. The suns light shone everywhere on Earths surface, regardless of his position in the sky.

Kind Hermes saw this and felt pity for the men and beasts, especially the weary travelers, merchants, and shepherds. He had to help them. He flew like the wind to the suns evening palace in the far West on his winged sandals. When Hermes arrived, he asked Helios,
Could you let there be some darkness on various small places of Mother Earth, so weary men and beasts could rest during the day? "
The sun considered the gods request but answered,
Don't men and beasts rest during the night? Besides, I like my radiance to be all over the earth. No, I do not accept your request."

Hermes was disappointed but still hopeful. He decided to ask Apollo, his friend and the god of light and music, to help him. He flew away to his home on Mount Olympus and soon found Apollo playing on his lyre in the courtyard of the palace of the gods. When he finished his tune, Hermes asked for help in his kind cause.
Apollo answered,
" I would certainly help you, for you are my dear friend and I would help men and beasts, but Helios is also my friend and it would be a shame if I broke my friendship with him. I advise you to use your cleverness and wit, but find out what Zeus thinks first."

Hermes went to the glorious throne room of the gods, and mighty Zeus sat on his golden throne among all the Olympian gods. In private, he asked Zeus for help and advice. The magnificent king of the gods said,
" I do support your cause. However, I can't have a fight between the gods. That would have terrible results. Maybe though, you could use that clever head of yours. I bet you'll think of something."

So Hermes took the advice of Zeus and Apollo and thought quietly sitting against one of the huge pillars. Soon an idea came to him. He leapt into the air and flew far to the West and soon came to the entrance of the dark underworld. He knew this way very well since countless times he had led dead spirits there. He went down through the gate and Hades three-headed watchdogs let him pass. Then, he crept down through the underworld to Hades throne room where many jewels glittered in the dark. Hermes acted as though he was leading a soul to the underworld to be judged.

This was so usual that Hades absentmindedly told Hermes,
" Please put the person in the waiting area. He, or she, will be judged with the others later."

He had failed to notice that there was no soul behind Hermes at all. After he led the soul into the waiting area, Hermes crept back to the throne room, and when Hades wasnt looking, caught some darkness in his cape. He said goodbye to Hades and in a flash, flew out of the throne room, past the watchdogs and past the gate of the underworld.

Hermes flew into the east and soared higher and higher until he was at the top and center of the sky. Then he opened his cape. The darkness flew all over Earth like ink, which annoyed her. As soon as he realized what was happening, Helios, in fury and to help Mother Earth, shone brighter than he ever had before. But he still could not drown out all the darkness. Exhausted, he gave up.

Helios did not shine everywhere anymore. There was a small amount of darkness, or shadow on the side of everything from a mountain to a bug. Now beasts and men, especially travelers, merchants, and shepherds, could rest in the cool shade of a tree when they were tired. Moss could grow on the surface of Earth more easily, too. The shadows followed behind all that moved and took the shape of whatever they were following. There were even shadows on high Mount Olympus, and the gods liked and appreciated them. Both Helios and Mother Earth got used to the shadows. They were happy that living things enjoyed them. Hermes was very glad his plan worked and that everyone enjoyed the shadows. They are here to this day.



Jamie sat up in her old, rotten bed, reading Jacob Have I Loved. It was her favorite book ever. But, it was the only book she had ever read. Jamie lived with her mom in a two roomed shack. One was the bedroom, and the other was a sitting room which she read to her mom in. Wendy, Jamie’s mother, grew up in poverty. She did not know how to read since her mom and dad abandoned her at her old apartment. Wendy would sit up in her parents bed waiting for them to come home from the grocery store. About two weeks after Jane and Don had left ( Wendy’s parents), someone had called the cops because of a loud ruckus. Wendy was playing Debbie Gibson, her mom’s favorite singer. When the cops came by, Wendy was lying on her back with her head up as she laid on her mom and dad’s bed. The police came in and found her there. They brought her to a homeless shelter. She didn’t know any one there and was absolutely scared. She was only eight at the time, and was to shy to even talk to the men who brought her to the shelter.
Wendy got used to living at the shelter. It was warm and cozy, and the food was good, too. She made one friend, named John. He was nice and friendly. He even proposed to her, which she said yes to. A month after they were married, John signed up to defend their freedom. John left for war, and never came back. Wendy was mortified after his six months was over and didn’t come back to the shelter. She wasn’t only scared for her husband, but scared for the baby they were supposed to have, too. If her child grew up without a father, that would be absolutely difficult, considering she would have to find a home and feed the poor child if there would be a reason she had to leave. Being fatherless from the beginning of childhood would be horrifying also. But Wendy was thankful that her baby would have a home. But that all changed.
Wendy was three days away from her due date when a horrifying fire was started next door in a public library. The fire spread to the shelter and burned everything down, killing fifty people. Wendy had escaped the deadly fire and started going into labor early. Wendy was lucky enough to have a man nearby just happened to be a doctor. Wendy gave birth to Jamie John Clyde, giving her baby girls middle name her fathers name. As unlucky as she seemed to get, the doctor was kind enough to give her a shack about a mile away from his home which he owned. But the doctor died of an aneurism a year after Wendy and her daughter moved into the shack. So the shack was left to his mean old wife, who took the shack away from them and kicked them out on the streets again.
All Wendy wanted was a home for her and her daughter. In the cold, Wendy looked every where for a home. After two exhausting hours, she came across another shack that had the name, JOHNATHAN JAMES CLYDE II, written on it. Johnathan James Clyde II just happened to be Jamie’s grandfather. So the shack belonged to her, because in the mail box, there was a note that read:
To whom it may concern,
If you are reading this, I’ have probably past my soul to the lord by
now. This shack is to be passed down only to either Vivian Lane Clyde,
George Donald Clyde, or Johnathan James Clyde the third. Any of their children, or children’s children, rightfully onus this shack.
Jonathan James Clyde II
Although his hand writing was uneven, they still were thankful it was in there.
( A nearby man read it for them since none of them could read at the time.) So it was the beginning of a new life.
chapter 2
Ten years later, the lucky baby girl Jamie John Clyde, sat up on her bed reading Jacob Have I Loved, with her eyes glued to page fifteen. Jamie had taught herself how to read since she couldn’t afford to go to school. Jamie had found two soggy writing books on the front porch and she had no idea where they had come from. She read them and practiced the sounds of what the letters had said. Wendy didn’t have enough money when she was a girl to go to school either, so she couldn’t teach her own daughter how to read or write. But now Jamie was teaching her mom how to read by reading to her everyday in the sitting room.
“ That letter makes an ‘eeeeeeeee’ sound, mommy. And that letter makes an ‘uuuuuu’ sound. Say that mommy, say that.” Ever day Wendy heard something to that effect. Jamie stood up in front of the dusty mirror that daddy had left behind for her. “I’m never going to see my full reflection,” Jamie said to herself. She walked into the sitting room where her mom was looking over the writing books Jamie had found on the porch. “Momma, are you ready to start reading?”, Jamie asked her mother in a gentle voice as light as a bird’s feather. Wendy looked up from her book and smiled with a look of confidence on her face. “Just one minute, honey. I’m almost done reviewing this book”, Wendy said and looked back down at the book. “Mondayoo,” Wendy struggled out of her mouth. “Is that right, sweetie? Mondayoo?”, Jamie’s mother asked. “It’s actually Mondaya, not yoo, a,” Jamie corrected. “Oh, Mondaya”, Wendy said. She looked back down at the book and studied a little bit longer. “O.k., honey. I’m ready.” Jamie sat beside her mom and held the one side of the book while her mom held the other. “The c-cat sat on th-the m-mat az ita loo-looked at th-the mo---”, Wendy hesitated for a moment.
“- mowase.” Wendy looked up with a big grin on her face. “ I did it, baby, I did it!”, Wendy exclaimed with a satisfying smile. “Oh, I’m so glad you found those books on our porch,” she said hugging her.
chapter 3
A week after Wendy learned to read, she started to become weak and ill. “Momma, do you want to lie down?”, Jamie would ask every five minutes. “No, baby”, would always be the answer. Wendy started to turn pale and grew weaker by the second. On a gloomy Thursday in October, Wendy looked at Jamie and said, “Baby, get me some water. I have dry bread in the left cabinet. Or maybe it’s the right. I don’t know. Which one points to the back door?”, Wendy asked. “The left, momma.” “Then it’s in the left cabinet.”
Jamie followed her mother’s orders, and came back with a glass of water and two pieces of dry bread. “ Thank you, baby. Get yourself some dinner and come sing Debbie Gibson to me.” Jamie got up and took a half piece of bread from the cabinet, saving some for her mom. Stroking her head, she began to sing. Wendy closed her eyes and sighed. When Jamie was finished, she said, “That was lovely baby, thank you.” Jamie pulled her mom off the beat up, old sofa and pulled her to the bedroom. She helped Wendy into bed and tucked both of them in. Jamie then fell into a peaceful sleep.
chapter 4
The next morning, Jamie woke up with her mother sitting on the bed reading out of her books. “Good morning, Jamie. I got up early to look for some cold meat in the richer peoples cooler. They are letting us take some now. I made a fire in the back yard to cook it for you! Isn’t it great!? We get to have meat now!” Wendy was very exited about having new meat to eat without having to kill it or steal it on their own. Jamie and Wendy got up and went outside. The both took a leg of chicken from a stick over the fire ( Wendy wanted to be creative) and started chowing down on the fresh meat the neighbors let them have.
After they were done eating, Wendy and Jamie read out of Jacob Have I Loved for a little while. Jamie got up and went outside. She played around with some sticks for a little while. She then heard her mom calling out her name. She got up and went inside.
“Honey, we need to talk,” Wendy said as Jamie came in. “Yes, momma?” Jamie asked, sitting down. “I need to go into town to find a job. Now that I know how to read, I can fill out a job application.” Wendy looked half pleased, half sad. “Now I need you to stay here a while as I’m in town o.k.?” Wendy asked. Jamie didn’t look to happy. “Are you going to abandon me?”, she asked with an uncertain expression on her face. “Of course not, baby!”, Wendy said. “First of all, I love you more than anything in the world! Second, I know what it fees like being abandoned, and I don’t like it. Neither would you.” Jamie didn’t look satisfied enough. “Look, baby. It may take me a few days to get there and back on foot. I’m ill and I could actually run ten years ago, but I can’t put a lot of effort into it anymore. So don’t think I’ve abandoned you if I’m not back in ten minutes, o.k.?” Jamie looked at her like she was still going to abandon her even after she had just said all those nice things. “Promise on all of our new cold meat and dry bread and water out of the well.?”, Jamie said. “And reading lessons,” Jamie said quickly before Wendy could make an exception. “So you promise, momma? Promise with all your heart and hope?”, Jamie asked. “I promise with even more, baby girl. Even more.” She gave Jamie a big wet kiss on the cheek. Jamie grabbed some chicken and water. She put it in a piece of cloth and tied it up. She gave it to Wendy as she walked out of the door. “Bye, Mommy. I love you. Be safe, o.k.?”, yelled out Jamie. “O.k. honey. I love you, too. Bye sweetie.” Wendy left with a wave and started down the rocky road in Wisconsin. Jamie waved a went back inside.
chapter 5
Jamie walked inside and picked up Jacob Have I Loved. She sat on the beat up blue coach her grand daddy left behind for her. As Jamie was reading, she started thinking of all the bad things that could happen to her mommy. ‘What if she gets hit by a car?’ she thought to herself. ‘ What if she decides to hitchhike and the driver is drunk and runs off the road, swerving their heads around and around, breaking bones and spraining ankles. Then how will mommy get back to me? What if the driver doesn’t have a phone for her to call the police station and ends up dieing? Then I would be an orphan with no food or anything. Or what if she breaks her promise and does abandon me? And never comes back? But, but…’ She decided not to think about the bad things that might happen to her mom, it was giving her a headache.
Jamie went outside to get some meat for her supper. She came back inside with the sloppy meat in one hand, a glass of water in the other. She walked to the sofa and began to eat. After she was done, she walked back into her room and began to read. Life was hard enough for her, so why did she have to stay home alone for a few days, waiting for her mom who probably abandoned her by now, leaving nothing but hard memories? This is what she was thinking of. She didn’t want to be alone. Alone. All alone. By herself. Probably forever. She couldn’t help but think about the terrible life ahead of her. The cops probably were going to take her to a homeless shelter. She would meet her new husband who would probably die in war. Leaving her and the baby looking for a place to stay after the shelter burns down. Finding a doctors shack until he dies of an aneurism and his evil wife kicks them out. Then they find an old shack that coincidently was left behind for her baby. Living her mother’s life. Then Jamie started feeling bad for Wendy. She’s been through so much, why would she want to start her life off like the life her own mother and father started off for her? Jamie started to cry in the blanket that she and her mom used as a pillow. Suddenly, a knock came from the door. That was strange, because they never got visitors. ’Maybe momma came home,’ Jamie thought. She ran to the door and swung it open. And there in the doorway stood a soldier holding two sets of flowers in his hands. And on his name tag, it said,
chapter 6
“Is Wendy Clyde here?”, the soldier asked Jamie. “No, she walked into town to find a job. Just out of curiosity, are you Johnathan Clyde?”, Jamie asked as politely and subtle as she could. “As a matter of fact, I am. How did you know my name?”, the man asked. “Well sir, my momma used to tell me stories of a brave soldier who went off to war, leaving his homeless shelter and pregnant wife behind, so he can protect them, and come home to smiling, warm faces. I thought that man might be you, dad.”, Jamie said with a smile. “Are you -”, he started with a stutter. Jamie embraced her father with a warm, welcoming smile and hug. She sat him down on the sofa so quickly, she almost dragged him over.
“I’m Jamie Johnathan Clyde. Daughter of Wendy Elizabeth Clyde and Johnathan James Clyde. Grew up in this house. And is now talking to her long lost daddy. Now it’s your turn.”, Jamie said so quickly it almost sounded like, ‘IJaieJoClieDoterOvWeyEibetClieAnJonanJamClieGrUInThiHouAnIzNowTainToHrLonLOsDaee.’ He had to take in a lot of information. He finally said, “ Hello, my name is Johnathan James Clyde III, son of Johnathan James Clyde II and Fiona Lace Clyde. I grew up in Massachutes ,and is now talking to my long lost daughter that I never knew existed up until now”. They played this game for about thirty minutes, giggling and being as happy as sunshine gleaming around Jesus’s face.
chapter 7
Wendy came home earlier than they had expected. She had pranced in the house with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. “I got the job!”, she yelled. “Mommy, look what I found!”, Jamie yelled back. Wendy looked at the two of them sitting on the coach together and saw the man she still loved with her heart as pure as gold. “John!”, she yelled. They all hugged and cried. Laughed and smiled. They were a family now for the first time in ten years. If you want to know, Jamie, Wendy and John all moved into a bigger house. They renewed their vows to each other and had another baby, Christian Elizabeth Clyde. Life was much easier for the family. And as you know, they lived happily ever after. -- ANONYMOUS

Orphan Girl
By Laina

The two biggest changes of my life; that’s what this story is about. My name is

Masha Lokena. I’m twelve years old, but when the story is taking place, I’m still


It started in January, when an incurable disease had been

spreading rapidly throughout Russia. It was a really, I mean really

cold afternoon, and I was lying draped over my bed, watching

television, and eating some pickles dipped in buttermilk, which is my

favorite snack.

When I had been laying there and stuffing my face with my sour

snack for over an hour, I decided it was probably time to get up.

After turning off the TV, I found that our big house was dead silent,

with the exception of a pair of slow, heavy footsteps, unlike those of

my parents. I got up cautiously, rubbing my left shoulder; something

I’ve always done when I’m nervous. I padded quietly out of my

bedroom to see who this mysterious person was, and since my

bedroom was on the second story of our house, I peered over the

railing by the stairs, and discovered our family doctor pacing below


“Masha,” he said in a sad tone as he looked up at me,

“There you are. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but, well, come

down here for a minute.” I stamped down the stairs, anxious for any

news the doctor had for me, even if it was bad. “I’m sorry Masha,

but both of your parents have come down with a disease I know

nothing about, as I said, I hate to tell you this, I know that it

can’t be cured, and they’re dying unbelievably quickly.”

“How come no one informed me sooner?” I asked bitterly as

tears of devastation filled my brown eyes, “I’ve been here all day.”

“I searched for you, but I just discovered their illness not half

an hour ago.”

“Can I even see them?” I sobbed, my tears openly flowing

now, “Can I even say goodbye?”

“I don’t have words to tell you how sorry I am, but no,” the

doctor explained, and I could see by the expression on his face that he

was almost as sad as I was. He had known our family for a long time.

“I have equipment that can protect me from illnesses, but for you the

effects would be fatal.”

“No!” I screamed desperately, “It’s a lie, and I won’t believe

it!” Instantly after saying what I did I was sorry I said it. It must

have sounded rude. If it was, the doctor didn’t say so. But I still

couldn’t believe it.

“I’m so sorry Masha,” he informed me for the third time. “I

tried. I really tried to save them.” It was then that I realized the

truth. My parents, my best friends, my only living relations in the

world were dying. It was then that I realized where I would be forced

to go. As you probably knew already orphans are children with no

parents, and also probably knew that orphans usually live in a cold,

damp, inhospitable place called an orphanage.

Suddenly I felt a wild urge to run. My tears instantly stopped,

I turned on my heels and pounded up the stairs as if I were running

away from my troubles, away from an orphanage, and away from

death. When I reached my room I slammed the door behind me and

threw myself on the chair by my desk. I sat there for hours, staring

blankly out the frosty window in stony silence, thinking about stories I

had read when I was much younger. They were stories in which

everyone was happy, and nothing ever went wrong. That was the way

my life had seemed before the terrible day when my parents deceased

and I became Masha Lokena, orphan girl.

The very next day after my parents left the Earth I was taken

to live in one of the poorest orphanages in Russia. I was rubbing my

left shoulder so furiously that anyone who saw me would have thought I

was crazy. I sat stiffly in the backseat of the doctors’

fancy black car, and finally the terrible moment arrived when it pulled sedately

into the driveway of the dismal orphanage where I would be living in misery

until I was 15 years old, then I would be on my own, outcast with

nothing, into the dark world all alone.

The doctor tapped lightly on the metal door, and I was

surprised that such a timid knock could echo so long or loud as that

one did. Only a few seconds later the heavy metal door swung open,

revealing a tall, pinched looking woman with a very fake smile pasted

on her face. This can’t be good, I thought, disappointed, as I stared

up at her with a grin just as unrealistic and glued on as hers was.

“Hello Masha,” the strange woman sneered in a voice

equally fake to her smile. She sounded a though she was just learning

to speak our native language, which was of course, Russian.

“Welcome to Orphanage Vladimir. I am Ms. Roska, the overseer.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” I informed her out of politeness,

as I would rather have said “It’s very awful to meet you, and I’d

rather live anywhere but here.” At the same time I thought

Overseer? Why would an orphanage have an overseer?

“Yes, yes, very well, bring your possessions in here,” she

instructed briskly, as the doctor hurried to his precious car without

so much as saying goodbye. I glanced back at him one last time,

wishing with all my heart I could escape from Ms. Roska as he had.

I was forced in the large door, and as soon as it was shut, she

snatched my elaborate suitcase from my thin pale hands. She took

one greedy look at it, and began to cackle nastily, rocking back and

forth on the heels of the hideous black shoes as she did so. “Your

fortune is mine! Another rich orphan brats’ fortune all mine!” More

evil tittering was heard at this point.

“What are you talking about?” I felt more comfortable

screaming at Ms. Roska now that she was threatening me. “My

parents didn’t leave a fortune, so I don’t get a cent of it and neither do


“That’s what you think, you wretched orphan girl,” the

overseer glared down at me in a way that terrified me out of my wits.

“I know your tricks. You will stay here until I get your fortune, if it’s

the last thing I do, you liar!”

I again found my senses and was about to prepare

myself to throw a distressing fit when another woman, raging with

fury, entered the dark, metal, room. Fortunately for me,

this woman was angry for another reason.

“Overseer, what do you think your doing?!” the woman

screamed, her eyes flaming. “You are employed here to help the

children learn their lessons and do the chores!”

Ms. Roska turned pale and muttered something in German as

she back out of the room sheepishly. The other woman turned on me

with a look of deep pity, and she changed from being full of anger and

rage to completely harmless and gentle. “Oh, you must be Masha

Lokena,” she laid her cold hand on my shoulder, which was shivering

rapidly from my encounter with Ms. Roska. “I’m sorry about her,

and I wish I could have her out of my employ, but…”

“Who are you?” I interrupted rudely, not wanting to waste

time on details, then realizing what she had to say might be important.

“Why does Ms. Roska have to work here?”

“I’m the headmistress, and my name you don’t need to know;

none of the children do. The overseer, Ms. Roska has

threatened to rob me if I don’t keep her under the roof of my

orphanage.” Here the headmistress sighed deeply, “Come on, I’ll

show you to the girls’ dormitory.”

I followed her silently up the cold hollow stairs to a narrow

hallway, with a door at both ends, the headmistress babbling the

whole way, and I would explain to you what she said, but she was

trying to cram so much information into my head, that I’d forgotten

everything she told me by the time we reached the top. I looked at the

two doors curiously, both exactly the same, wondering which would

be the one I would be living behind for the next four years.

The headmistress led me to the door on the right, and swung it

open, revealing a room with whitewashed walls, only one small

window in the corner, and six long rows of hard looking cots all

perfectly lined up with one thin faded blanket folded neatly at the end.

I stared at the dormitory in silence for a few minutes with the

headmistress staring at me out of the corner of her eye the entire

time, seeing how shocked I was at the living quarters of Orphanage


“You’ll need to unpack your things now, then come downstairs

for school,” the headmistress instructed, “You can keep anything

valuable to you under your cot.”

This puzzled me completely. “What about my clothes? I don’t

see anywhere to put them.”

“There’s a pile of clothing in the corner with the window,

you’ll put your things there and find something to wear tomorrow.”

“But there are already clothes in that pile,” I said, feeling a bit

nervous at the concept of sharing my clothes and not having any of my

own. I began rubbing my left shoulder again. “That means I won’t

have any clothes anymore.”

“You’ll just have to make do with it,” the headmistress said

coldly, as she clomped away on her high-heeled boots.

I sighed dismally and began to unpack my things, taking a minute

to remember each of my clothes, all of them purchased by my

parents. I didn’t know why I was feeling attached to them, but maybe

it was just the memory of my house, my parents, and my life before they died,

very different from my life after.

As I entered the schoolroom, I was mortified to see who the

teacher was. A tall pinched looking woman, with a fake smile on her

face, by the name of Ms. Roska, was sitting stiffly behind the crude

desk made for a teacher.

She glared at me from behind what she called her desk, though

for all I knew it was hers, and she didn’t look away or blink until I had

taken a desk in the back of the dingy room and cautiously let my arms

close around the books inside it, the start of a horrible month at

Orphanage Vladimir.

I hardly have words to describe how terrible the orphanage

was, even though I tried to be grateful. I wasn’t used to the treatment

I received there. What we got for our meal, only one a day, was cold

oatmeal, and let me tell you, more than once I tried to throw it away;

it was better to have nothing at all. I didn’t make any friends, as we

weren’t allowed to talk to anyone but Ms. Roska and the

headmistress, who stalked the halls of the orphans’ school all day and

into the late night, flashing her shiny eyes, continuously searching for someone

to do even the slightest thing out of the ordinary, just so she could punish

them. I was very wrong to think she was a kind and compassionate person

when I first met her. My clothes grew worn and tattered from so

much wear by the other girls and myself. The worst part of all was in

the dark night, all the children were laying woodenly on their cots,

tossing and turning, sleepless, weeping quietly, longing for their

parents, brothers, and sisters with all their hearts. I can include

myself in this, yes, I wept with them, freezing under my small blanket,

no girls slept more than a few hours any night, and we all looked

ready to faint in the morning. I felt horrible for the other orphans, the boys also.

I knew they didn’t get much sleep either. We were punished severely

for trudging down the dismal halls too slowly.

One morning I was feeling especially discouraged with myself.

I had always been a straight A student before I came to live in

Orphanage Vladimir, but now I was so exhausted I could barely hold

my head up, let alone get good grades in my new school. I shuffled

down the stony halls to the schoolroom as quickly as I could to avoid

being punished. I pushed open the rusty door to find chaos within. I

was shocked to hear everyone talking at once, and Ms. Roska

nowhere to be seen. I walked up to the group nearest me and asked

what everyone was so excited.

“America!” Two small boys named Sergei and Ivan jumped up

and down wildly. I was still confused. The only thing I knew about

America was that it was made up of something called the fifty states,

but I didn’t know why.

“What,” I inquired, frowning thoughtfully, “What about


A twelve-year-old girl named Anastasia explained some of it to

me. “The headmistress says some of us are going to be chosen to go

to America, but I don’t know why.”

“Why are we going?” I asked, turning my attention to Marina,

Julia and Anya, hoping one of them would know.

“I think we’ll be staying with a family in America for a month,”

Marina told me, “You’re chosen, you know it?”

I was very unsure of the idea of going to America until I found

out why. “If our family likes us enough, they can adopt us, then we

won’t be orphans anymore!” A six-year-old named Luda leaped in the

air in her happiness.

Now that I knew why we were going to America I was sure I

wanted to go. The idea of being adopted was new to me, and I didn’t

know if I could love adopted parents as much as my birth ones, but I

was determined. “When do we go?” I was so full of questions I

felt like exploding, but I held myself together and only asked a few.

“Soon,” added Anya,, “The headmistress said to pack our

things together now, instead of having our lessons. She told us right

before you came in.”

I zoomed out the heavy door, following the girls ahead of me

until we reached our dormitory, which I found to be much more

cheerful with the chattering of the girls. I slowly, carefully laid my

possessions in my delicate suitcase as I thought with a new happiness

in my heart that I hadn’t felt in what seemed to be a very long time.

The overwhelming day when we would depart our Russia to

America had finally arrived! I was so nervous and excited my left

shoulder even began to get a bit of a rash on it from rubbing it so

furiously. We all shuffled out of Orphanage Vladimir, maybe seeing it

for the last time, but as far as I know none of the orphans cared much

at all. From our orphanage, we had a total of thirty-seven children,

and thirty-seven children had to fit in a grimy bus already packed with

other orphans in the American program. We were beginning to think

the old bus couldn’t hold any more people than it already had, when

we stopped and many poor waifs silently filed onto the bus, cramming

it as full as it possibly could get.

When the packed bus finally arrived at the airport terminal and it’s door

creaked open busy sights and booming noises flowed inside as every orphan

tried to shove their way out. I stumbled down the rickety steps with everyone

else and watched in utter disgust as the bus wheezed away. So much for leaving

the orphanage. I wandered around for a few minutes, gazing at the swirling

crowds of Russian citizens and foreigners. Wait a minute, where were the

orphans who were with me? I knew the best thing to do when someone was lost

was to stay put, but I also knew that in a big group like mine, I wouldn’t be

missed. I searched frantically for a familiar face, and more than once I skidded

into a passing stranger in my hurry.

After looking unsuccessfully for the other parentless children for hours I

struggled not to panic as I squinted at a far off plane, realizing my mistake. We

were dropped off by the bus driver in the wrong terminal, and I hadn’t been

informed in time. That plane leaving to America was missing someone: me. It

was the last plane leaving that day a Russian holiday was taking place, and the

staff wanted a break for the rest of that terrible afternoon, and for the rest of an

awful night to come. I must have fainted or lost my senses for a moment because

the next thing I knew the airport was dead silent and completely empty.

I was petrified. All alone, in a Russian international airport, my only

chance for a new life in America gone. I fled to a more private corner of the

deserted airport and wept until I had no tears left. I sat on the rough floor

dismally trying to push the thought of staying in Russia for the rest of my life out

of my head. My dark hair hung limply over my brown eyes and clung to my

tear-stained face. I thought of how I must look, if anyone were to see me. A

small, pale girl, with a pointy face streaked with tears of devastation, slumped in

a corner of an airport. I sat there all night, not sleeping, and trying not to feel

jealous of the other waifs, now happily enjoying a new family in America.

I alerted myself to the world at the sound of clanking keys squeaking in a

lock. I glanced around the enormous room. Where would I hide? A fast food

restaurant was nearest, so I zipped under the countertop and ducked to keep

myself hidden until the crowds came streaming in, which was almost

immediately afterward. I rubbed my left shoulder reassuringly while I got ready

to spring from my hiding spot. I had to think fast in order to come up with a

plan in which I could escape successfully without getting crushed by the

stampede of shoes that clicked by.

I leapt from behind the counter at just the right moment to make anyone [she will be sending the rest sooon!]


Go back to the main page -- the page with the list of chapters and stories.