To the Heart

“Do I know you?”

“No, sorry.” Go away.

He smiled and sat next to me. “You’re waiting for someone?”

Keeping a relaxed smile on my face, I scan the park. A rosy light from the setting sun brightens the golden leaves. “A friend. We were going for a run.”

My perfect cover story, and I had the tennis shoes and running pants to match. I was prepared.

I couldn’t tell him my real reasons for being here. The knife in my boot, the cold steal of a gun tucked into my pants belt under my shirt in the back, silencer and poison darts in my pack—oh yeah, I couldn’t spill my secrets.

He pulled a book from his pack. “Have you read this one?”

“I’m not much of a reader.” And he even had one of my favorite authors. I read that book five times.

“Then you haven’t found the right books.” He grinned, flashing me a dimple. I liked that smile.

If I could be anybody else, if this could be any other day, I would love to find out what makes him laugh.

Couldn’t this guy just go away? I smiled. “I doubt it. I’m more of an action person.”

“Action movies? Or action life?”

“Business. I’m an entrepreneur.”

“You’re sixteen. Like me.”

“Um, I babysit.” I never messed my cover story before. This guy was really getting under my skin.

A flash of color out of the corner of my eye. A red hoodie, a blue baseball cap—I knew what my target would wear. Leaping up, I followed the figure toward the growing shadows. A brisk autumn chill nipped at my heels as I hurried after.

“Maybe I’ll see you next time,” he called.

“Sure. Bye.” My gaze trailed the target. He was a drug dealer and had hurt children; he needed to pay for his crimes. He headed out of the park, weaved through the traffic on the New York streets, and disappeared down a dark alley. I followed, shadows snatching at my skin.

A pain shot through my leg, and I stumbled to the ground. A shape towered over me, gun in hand. I recognized a glock and silencer. He pointed it to my head.

“You should have talked about the book. I knew it was your favorite.”

Feather's First Change

“I’m home.” I listen for her familiar greeting.

Welcome home, Feather. How was your day? But the silence pulses through our small cabin.

“Grandma?” I toss my bookbag on the chair—homework can wait—and walk into the kitchen.

The smell of something burning and the sound of the oven buzzer greet me. Opening the oven door, I find black cookies. They must have baked for an hour.


No answer.

A thump in the backyard, and then heavy footsteps traipse across the porch. My feet freeze to the floor. The door slams open and a man stoops and squeezes himself into our tiny kitchen. A crossbow in his hand.

“What did you do to my grandmother?”

Snarling, he points the bow at me.

Something breaks inside me, and I race to the front door and out into our front yard.

A bolt flies past me. Why is this guy trying to kill me?

I hear his feet pounding behind me, closer and closer, but I don’t dare look. He grabs the back of my shirt. I scream.

He yanks me back, and I feel my limbs tearing, bones crunching. A rush of cold followed by a wave of heat—everything fades. Needles of pain prick my skin, and my lungs burn. What’s happening to me?

Screaming, clawing, kicking, squirming, I stretch my arms, trying to break away from him, but my clothes trap me. I crawl my way out and wiggle out of his clasp. His hands close over my body, but I claw his face.

Spreading my wings, I climb into the sky. I am free, wild, alive.

I am a hawk.

Peach Ice Cream

Peach Ice Cream
by Makani D. Webb & Rita J. Webb

I am the sun sleeping behind the storm clouds.

I am the clouds blanketing the sun, kissing the sun while it sleeps.

I am the rain splattering the ground, the plants, the houses. I pitter patter against your windows with my sleepy voice.

I am the tree who ate the rain so I can grow.

I am the flower next to the tree, waving in the wind. "Wake up, sun," my leaves call.

I am the peach growing fat on the tree that ate the rain.

I am the girl who picks the peach on the tree that ate the rain.

I am the mother who freezes the peach and makes the ice cream.

We are the family who eats the ice cream made from peaches.

Who are you?

Never Have a Picnic in Texas

Not until I visited my cousins in Wisconsin during the summer did I realize not all ants bite, nor did I know that grass should be green and that cricks (translation: creeks) should have water in them. And oh yeah, tulips shouldn't grow in January.

When I was 9 or 10, I stepped in an ant bed while wearing flipflops on my feet and got close to 50 bites from the swarm. Having 10 or 20 bites on my body at any given time was normal, but 50 at once had my running home screaming. I was dumped in the bathtub, and only while cold water was touching my skin did the pain stop.

So you would think I would know better than to take the kid I was babysitting on a picnic.

Yep, we got attacked. Yep, I never did that again. That poor kid cried so hard, and I felt terrible for him.

I'd like to say that was the stupidest thing I've ever done, but I'm sure I've done worse. Thankfully, nothing comes to mind.

What about you? Have anything foolish you've done that you'd like to share?

An excerpt from Tears

I'm heavy into editing the novel I wrote last year. Some parts of this book were written rather early in my writing career, and where I thought I had beautiful prose, there's telling and junky writing.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a scene I edited earlier this week:

Before me stands a field of flowers, rolling on the hills like the waves of an open sea. The sun beams down on thousands of purple faces, soaking up the life raining down on them. I stumble to my knees and turn my face to the sun. My heart is bruised.

Oh flowers! As I knew there would be. In my dreams, I lived this day many times—my day of freedom, when my father can no longer track me—but the flowers smell sweeter in real life.

Yet I hurt down in the deepest part of my being, in my roots digging deep into the earth seeking water and nutrients. Oh Dragon, grant me forgiveness.

I owe them my life. I killed them.

“What are you doing?”

I look up to see Aren staring down at me. “I’m growing like a flower. You could try it. You’ll like it.”

“No thank you.”

“Then help me up.” Offering my hand.

He grasps my wrist, and I yank him down beside me. Landing with a thud and a grunt, he rolls to look at me. His eyes are stormy but curious. He doesn’t look scared of me. What does he see when he looks at me?

“What did you do that for?”

“Someone needs to teach you how to smile.”

His lip quirks in an almost smile.

The sun has dried my tears. I smile back.