short fiction

Meet Kevin: A Short Story

Tamara looked under her bed. She noticed her old book on Ancient Egypt and a coloring book with sea creatures. Gee—so many years. Tamara was fifteen years old. And yet, she had not noticed some of those items. That coloring book must’ve rested under her bed for five years, since she’d lost interest in it at age ten.

But she also found a note. She picked it up. It’d come from her dad. He’d died when Tamara was six years old.

Tamara’s eyes watered as she read the note.

 

Dear Madelyn and Tamara,

 

            I might not make it within a week. The doctors are unsure if I’ll survive. But I love you both with all my heart. I hope you’ll always love me back.

 

            Sincerely,

            Daddy

 

Tamara pushed tears back, forcing herself not to cry. Madelyn, Tamara’s older sister, had gone off to college this year. She studied on the other side of the country in California. And anything could happen, especially in Los Angeles.

There was a knock on the door. It was Tamara’s mom. “Hey, Honey.”

“Hey, Mom,” said Tamara.

“Are you all right?” the mom walked into Tamara’s room.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I found a note from dad before he died.” She handed it to her mom.

“I gave this to you right after. Where was it?”

“Under my bed.”

The mother frowned.

“I was only six years old then.”

“Your father suffered from Pancreatic Cancer so much. I’m surprised you didn’t do something with it earlier.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I’m going out with a new guy tonight.”

“Wait, when were you going to tell me this?”

“Tamara, this man and I were trying to work out our date for the past couple days.”

“What’s he like?”

“I don’t know. Now may I have the note, please”

Tamara lowered her jaw.

“I don’t want it under your bed anymore.”

“Mom, I can keep it somewhere safe. I’m fifteen years old. I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“Tamara, do as I say.”

Sighing, Tamara gave her mom the note from her dead father. The mother left.

Whoever mom’s dating better be nice, Tamara thought.

She looked out her window. Her mom went into the car and drove away.

 

A few hours had passed. Tamara heard a strange male voice talking to her mother. It had to be the man the mom dated.

There was a knock on Tamara’s door again. The mother and the guy showed themselves.

“Tamara, I would like you to meet my boyfriend, Kevin.”

“Hello, Tamara.” Kevin yawned.

Tamara gazed at him. He had sleeked back gray hair and was a bit overweight.

“Your mom and I going to talk for a bit,” Kevin said.

“Okay.” Tamara closed the door.

Her mom spoke to Kevin. Tamara heard the words date and note. But the mother couldn’t mention the note from Tamara’s dad.

“Oh, sorry to hear about your husband,” said Kevin. “I divorced my old wife years ago.”

Tamara cracked her door open.

“She used to drive me crazy, with all her cats. I’m really allergic to cats.”

“So am I,” the mom said.

“You know what?” Kevin asked. “How about we get a lizard? I like reptiles.”

“No thanks,” the mother said. “I’m happy having no pets.”

“Aw, come on,” Kevin said. “Pets rock.”

“It’s too much work,” the mother said.

“Fine, then I’ll just get a lizard for myself.” Kevin left the mom’s bedroom and went downstairs.

 

****

 

The next day, Tamara went downstairs for breakfast. But she discovered a tank with a lizard in it.

The mom joined.

“Mom, did Kevin actually get us a lizard?” Tamara asked.

“He’s taking it home with him.”

“Then why did he leave it here?”

The doorbell rang. The mom answered the Kevin.

“I wanted you to meet my lizard before I go,” said Kevin.

“Why?” the mom asked.

“Well, I was thinking… maybe we could share the lizard.”

Tamara opened her mouth.

“Kevin,” the mother said. “I… I can’t… I mean…”

“I thought we were preparing to get married,” Kevin said.

There was a pause.

“Kevin, are you kidding me?” asked the mom. “We’ve have one freaking date.”

Kevin remained mute.

“You know what? Take the lizard and get out of my house,” the mother said.

“You’re joking, aren’t you?” Kevin crossed his arms.

“No, I’m serious,” the mother said.

“Fine, have it your way.” Kevin took the lizard tank and supplies. He ran out of the house in tears.

Tamara and her mom stared at Kevin.

“Tamara, I think you should have the note back,” her mom said.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

The two went upstairs. Tamara’s mom returned the note. “You should keep it somewhere safe.”

“Yes, mom.” Tamara kissed her mother. She returned the note to her room and hung it up. She stared at it. I’ll never forget you, Dad.

 

 

short fiction

She Will Survive: A Flash Fiction Piece

Once, up on a mountain, Lucy had lost her sense of direction. She’d come across a lady—only to discover that she’d been a witch in disguise. She’d trapped Lucy inside her home and had made her forget the moments she’d struggled in the wilderness.

            But that had happened two years ago. It was December, and Lucy neared the end of her first semester at college. She sat in her dorm and studied for her finals.

            Her roommate, Claire, burst inside. Her face turned red and she sucked in her breathed.

            “Claire, are you all right?” asked Lucy.

            “My grandma got lost in the dessert.”

            Lucy lowered her jaw. “No way.”

            “I… I could lose her, just like I lost my father in a motorcycle accident,” said Claire. “Can you help me find her?”

            Lucy said nothing. Arizona had a lot of dessert. So Lucy and Claire could get lost.

            “Please, Lucy.”

            “Okay, yes.” Lucy stood up.

            The two walked out of the dorm and away from the campus.

            “Claire, do you know where your grandma is?” Lucy asked.

            “W-well… I suppose…” Claire paused. “Wait a minute, didn’t you get lost in the wilderness two years ago?”

            “Yes, but some witch wiped my memories and told me that she made me forget all that.”

            Claire bent her eyebrows and tilted her head. “We’re eighteen. You sound like you’re five saying that.”

            “Oh, shut up,” Lucy said. “I wouldn’t lie about that.”

            “Lucy, stop it! We don’t have a lot of time!”

            “But why do we have to find your grandma? Isn’t there a—”

            “I can help,” said a woman.

            Lucy and Claire stopped. The woman resembled the witch from two years ago. She had pale-blonde waves falling past her shoulders and wore dark lipstick.

            “You… you’re not that woman I met in the mountains, are you?” asked Lucy.

            “No,” the lady said.

            “You look a lot like her,” said Lucy.

            “Perhaps, I’m just a doppelgänger,” the woman said. “Anyway, my name is Miss. Christie.”

            Claire turned to Lucy and said, “Lucy, I don’t think we should trust her.”

            “I can help save your granny tonight,” Miss. Christie said.

            “Are you sure?” asked Claire.

            “Positive,” said Miss. Christie.

            Miss. Christie texted on her phone.

            “Lucy, we need to go.” Claire grabbed Lucy’s arm.

            Lucy turned to Miss. Christie. Miss. Christie held her palm up. Light glowed inside it. Lucy gasped. “Miss. Christie, you lied to us.”

            Miss. Christie glared at Lucy.

            “You’re not Miss. Christie. You’re Miss. Blackburn, the same person who wiped my memories.”

            “Lucy, how could you!” Miss. Blackburn held her hand up. “I wiped your memories once. I can do it again.”

            Lucy and Claire screamed.

            “Leave them alone!” an old woman grasped Miss. Blackburn’s shoulders and knocked her down.

            “Grandma?” Claire asked.

            “Take that, and that.” The elder lady hit Miss. Blackburn with her purse.

            A bunch of cops nearby grabbed Miss. Blackburn and arrested her.

            “Grandma.” Claire hugged the old lady. “I thought I’d never see you again. Are you okay?”

            “Of course, Claire. What made you think I was—”

            “I got a text saying that you were lost in the dessert.”

            “Oh no, I wasn’t.”

            The two let go of each other.

            “What are you doing here?” asked Claire.

            “I was going to visit you,” the grandma said.

            “Where’s mom?” Claire asked.

            “She’s coming,” the grandmother said.

            Lucy introduced herself to Claire’s grandma. The three went back to the campus.

movie

I Will Analyze… I Can Go the Distance with Disney’s “Hercules” (1997)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

Seeing “Hercules” in the movie theater is one of my very earliest (and very faint) memories. I was 3 years old at the time. Then I saw it in 4th grade, during an indoor recess. I watched it again more recently—in March of this year.

In Ancient Greece, the muses start with an opening song. Then it goes to Mount Olympus, where Zeus, Hera, and the other gods are adoring the infant, Hercules. Hades, the god of the underworld, has a plan to harm Hercules. His assistants, Pain and Panic, kidnap Baby Hercules from Mount Olympus and feed him a potion that makes him mortal. They stop when a couple finds Hercules. There is one remaining drop. And Hercules still has his strength. However, since he has become mortal, he cannot return to Mount Olympus. The human couple takes Hercules and raises him.

Years have gone by and Hercules is now a young man going with his adoptive parents to Athens. He accidentally destroys the architecture with his involuntary strength. Hercules feels that something about him is unusual. His adoptive parents reveal to him that he was found and they still have the metal he wore when they found him. The metal has the symbol of the gods. Hercules goes to the temple of Zeus. In order to return to Mount Olympus as a god, Hercules has to prove himself a true hero. He gets help from the faun, Phil, but also falls in love with a young woman named Megara (Meg). Hercules struggles but pushes himself.

I found Hercules’s struggles to make him very believable. The way he acted toward people was done well. The midpoint, where Hercules becomes super famous and popular was great, even if it didn’t satisfy the Zeus statue.

The humor was not slapstick, but used appropriately, such as when Pain and Panic had those sandals with Hercules on them. Hades got mad and Pain and Panic defended themselves with the excuse of the Hercules being a different entity than the one they knew. There were also a lot of 90’s references, such as Air Hercs (like Air-Jordans), Grecian Express, and more. I grew up in the 2000’s, but I still got the references.

The plot points were also done well, especially the deal Hercules made with Hades. It went back and forth. Hercules lost his strength, gained it back, and acknowledged the deal again.

With Meg, I felt her role was only there for romantic element convenience, because hey— shouldn’t Disney movies with protagonists in their teens or over have romance. Not necessarily! I don’t know about the 90’s, but if you’ve seen 2016’s “Moana” or 2012’s “Brave”, neither main characters fell in love. And they were females.

Anyway, back to this film. Although Meg was just okay, I did appreciate how Hercules gave up his return to Mount Olympus at the end to rejoin Meg. I thought that was so sweet. This is one of those movies where the main character does not achieve his or her goal. Yet, the ending is still satisfying. Which leaves me wondering… what if Hercules never met Meg? Hmmm…

Anyhow, the movie is still a 5-star film for me. It isn’t one of the top Disney classics for me. But I still really enjoyed it.

 

travel

Atlantis, Bahamas, Ooh I Want to Show You (2010 Trip)

During my President’s Week break in my junior year of high school, I went to Atlantis in the Bahamas. It was one of the few trips I suggested myself. My parents didn’t enjoy it too much. However, I loved it a lot.

Atlantis falls

The resort consists of several buildings of accommodations and it resembles the damage of the lost city of Atlantis legend. There is also a tunnel with a tank of fish as well as other marine animals in other parts of the resort, such as turtles and sharks.

Atlantis shark

There are also several swimming pools, restaurants, and shops. But one of the crown jewels is the waterpark. There are two slides that take through a tube where you’re surrounded by the sharks. But you’re inside glass, so the sharks can’t hurt you. The rapid river was fun, although I flipped and got a little cut. But I was okay.

There is a dolphin and sea lion encounter program where you get to touch the creatures, which my family and I didn’t participate in. We did swim with dolphins somewhere else, though. That was Blue Lagoon Island. I read and compared the reviews of the Atlantis one and the Blue Lagoon Island one. The latter had received better reviews. It cost less and had more to offer.

The resort is so big that you can’t really do everything in one day. It’s also costly. However, I had a good time. I would gladly recommend this resort to anyone, whether you’re a childless couple, family, group, etc.

 

travel

Ice… Ice… Iceland – My Trip There in 2017

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Image above from Pixabay

In the summer of 2017, my parents and I took a trip to Iceland. We stayed at nine different hotels during the ten days we visited.

Iceland has caves, waterfalls, hot springs, and lava fields. The bulk of their population is on the coast and especially in their capital, Reykjavik (rake-yah-vik). The inland is pretty much uninhabited.

The population is so small that there is only one prison in the entire country (which I did not see, by the way). The weather drastically varies, even within just 20 minutes on the mainland and not up a mountain. It can be mild in one area and chilly in another, just minutes away.

Iceland specializes in lamb and seafood. They have good lamb soup and stricter food guidelines than in the US. I had a jelly doughnut where the jam tasted really fresh. It was strange, but delicious. I had a chocolate cake where the icing was clearly made with real butter and even tasted buttery.

On the fields, there are sheep, cattle, and small Icelandic horses. In fact, those horses are the only types allowed in Iceland for temperature reasons.

If you go to Iceland in the summer, be aware that the sun is out for about 24 hours. So you should have a sleep mask with you.

Iceland was an interesting place to visit. In the winter, I hear it’s brutal, and the northern lights aren’t guaranteed. In the summer, it’s a nice place to hike and sight-see.

movie

What Review is This? It’s “The Aristocats” (1970)

It’s 1910 in Paris. A retired opera singer named Madame Adelaide Bonfamille and her butler, Edgar, return home. Duchess the mother cat, and her three children, Berlioz, Marie, and Toulouse play around. Meanwhile, Edgar brews some milk to put the cats to sleep. The cats drink the milk and get taken away in a basket. The four cats end up frightened until they meet the alley cat, Thomas O’Malley. From there, they journey back to Paris.

This movie was amazing with its characters (with the exception of a few stereotypes), retro 2D animation style, French culture, and music. My favorite song from this film is “Everybody Wants to be a Cat”.

Duchess was very motherly and gentle with the kittens. Marie was a bit of a snob. And should she really have made goo-goo eyes at Thomas O’Malley? Speaking of which, Thomas O’Malley was voiced by the same actor who played Baloo in 1967’s “The Jungle Book”.

The hounds were great, too. I loved how the lead dog, Napoleon, claimed that he was the leader. Abigail and Amelia, the British geese, were hilarious. Uncle Waldo was okay, although he was not very developed except for his drunk-like attitude. I don’t think Disney or any movie geared toward families and children would get away with that today.

The songs were good, although there were only a few. While the movie was a good watch, to be honest, it wasn’t super-engaging. I don’t know why.

Nevertheless, I would rate “The Aristocats” 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would gladly recommend it today. It didn’t do as poorly as some Disney films (i.e. “The Black Cauldron”), but I was surprised to hear how many people don’t pay as much attention to “The Aristocats” as to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. However, the movie did do pretty well when it came out.

cooking

My Life with Making Steak

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Image above from Pixabay

Cooking steak is no piece of cake. I’ve been cooking since I was 12 and it wasn’t until recent years that I made full steaks by myself. Before, I would ask my dad or I would cut them up into strips.

If you like steak, you probably know that steaks are cooked rare, bloody, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, or well-done. I like mine medium-rare.

That can be challenging in order to avoid salmonella-poisoning. One trick I learned is to press lightly on a cooking-steak. If it bounces back immediately, it’s cooked and safe to eat. You don’t necessarily have to stick a knife into the steak and check the inside. You can, though, especially if you’re new to culinary arts. Another thing to know is that steak should sit a few minutes to let the juices out before you serve or eat it.

As soon as I knew how to cook a full steak, my method is patting it dry, seasoning it with salt and pepper, cooking on the stove in butter, and putting it in the preheated oven for as long as necessary. Recently, I’ve learned that meat cooks best if you let it sit to room-temperature. It really does make a difference by becoming more tender and cooked.

I would like to marinade my steaks, too. However, that requires a lot of time. My problem is that I decide to cook things last minute. I want to change that habit, though.

TV show

Hookin’ Up My Analysis of “My Life as a Teenage Robot”

The show, “My Life as a Teenage Robot”, was one of my favorites as a child. It focused on a teenage girl robot named Jenny Wakeman (or XJ9, as her mom often called her) who had to balance her normal teenage life with fighting crime and danger. Sound similar to “Kim Possible”, except that the protagonist is a robot?

The characters were great, such as Jenny, Brad, Tuck, and many more. The theme song also rocks. And the style of the art was very well-executed.

One of the most memorable episodes was when Brad found out that Jenny was built 5 years before the setting of the show. So she was technically 5 years old. Authorities took Jenny away from the high school and put her in kindergarten. She showed off as smarter than the little kids and acted like a jerk. When she was forced to go back to go back to high school, she whined, “I’m only 5 years old.”

Another interesting moment was when Jenny was solving a problem in Japan and something got altered in her system. Jenny lost her ability to speak English and could only speak Japanese. That was very unique.

Now what I wonder is if Jenny will ever reach adulthood. In that kindergarten episode, Jenny’s mom revealed that she was built as a teenager. So will Jenny ever go to college, get a job… retire even?

Yes, cartoon characters usually stay the same age for several seasons throughout the entire show duration or maybe age by one or two years. But I wonder how would Jenny feel when all her peers got jobs, married, started families, and so forth while she was still a teenager. Would she ever mature emotionally?

Oh, well. The show isn’t on anymore. I don’t think we’ll ever get to see more episodes of “My Life as a Teenage Robot” or learn more about Jenny herself. As of now, there probably isn’t going to be a reboot.

Still, the series was amazing with an imaginative concept and premise. I have no idea what shows Nickelodeon airs now, except “Spongebob Squarepants” and “The Fairly Odd Parents.” I don’t know about “Spongebob”, but “The Fairly Odd Parents” has made a lot of changes compared to when I used to watch it.

“My Life as a Teenage Robot” didn’t last as long. But I still consider it one of my top childhood favorites for Nickelodeon.

movie

He’s the Boss – “The Boss Baby” Review (2017)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I saw the trailer for this film many times. At some point, I was on a plane and decided to give this movie a try. I had no idea what the plot was until I watched it.

The story is narrated by a man named Tim. It focuses on when Tim was 7 years old and living a happy life with his parents. They bring home a baby in a suit. Like many little kids, Tim is resistant to having to accept a new baby in the family. He discovers the baby talking on the phone in an adult voice. When the baby holds a meeting with a few other babies in the house, Tim records their conversation. His parents see him trying to hurt his baby brother. They ground him. The baby takes Tim to Baby Corp and gives him a tour. Tim improves his behavior with the baby and his parents end his punishment. The parents go to Las Vegas and leave Tim and the baby with a nanny. Things are not going to go well. Tim and the baby have to go stop them.

This movie had a lot of interesting and unexpected concepts, such as how babies are made in that world and how babies need a special formula to function like adults or else they function like normal babies. Despite that, it seems unknown and inconsistent why Tim’s parents told him where babies come from (the real way… I’m obviously not going into detail on that).

The scene with Elvis plane and passengers was funny and creative. I liked how they had their own Elvis language. The growth and change Tim goes through was done well. When the boss baby has to leave, Tim is sad. There are even little figures removing all evidence of that baby and wiping the parents’ memories of the baby. It was so sweet how the boss baby was willing to give up his position and rejoin Tim as a normal baby. His name is then Theodore.

I would rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and would gladly recommend it to anyone.

 

 

short fiction

Good Night Gone Wrong: A Flash Fiction Piece

Although there was no judging or awarding of first, second, or third places, I’d received a ton of compliments for my piano-playing and singing-performance of “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen”. People had said to me, “You were really great, Aliana,” despite the pause in the middle of the song. I’d blanked out for a few seconds due to my live-performance anxiety. But everyone experienced them, even the greatest and bravest performers—of anything.

            I sat on my bed and looked at my laptop. People posted pictures of me performing at Spotlight Night. Someone even tagged me.

            I’d thanked my mom for forcing me to practice my piano and voice performance for weeks straight rather than focusing on trying to get my anime comic published. I was only a high school junior after all. My birthday wasn’t for five months. In fact, I’d started attending the public high school in September. Before that, I’d attended private school—the same one since kindergarten.

            A message came up in my Facebook messenger. It was my best friend, Veronica. She said, “Aliana, I just came back from the hospital for a few weeks. I saw that you performed ‘Let it Go’ at Spotlight Night. Well, tell you what? That was my idea. You stole it from me.”

            I replied back. “Veronica, I am sorry you feel this way. However, I wasn’t able to contact you. I’ve visited you a few times and not once have you said that you had that song in mind first. You should’ve said something.”

            Veronica replied. “Maybe we should part our ways.”

            I lowered my jaw. No. She did not just say that. Or she didn’t mean it—she couldn’t have.

            I responded. “Veronica, you don’t have to do this.”

            But she did nothing. I waited a few minutes and surfed other parts of the web instead.

            I returned to Facebook. Veronica had still not answered me. Okay, maybe she had to get offline for something.

            I looked at my digital clock. It was nearly 11 P.M. Tomorrow was Friday. I turned off the computer and got ready for bed.

            I went on my phone to see if Veronica had gotten back to me. Nope. She couldn’t have unfriended me, right.

            I went to the “Who Deleted Me” app on my phone. And guess who was listed… Veronica Button. What? No. She couldn’t have.

            My energy drained. I looked down. My eyes watered. That girl had been my best friend since the first day. And now she was no more.

            I contacted my old friend, Lorenza from my previous school. But she didn’t answer.

            The tears streamed down my cheeks. I sat on my bed. There had to be some way to reciprocate.

            Wait, tomorrow was a gym day. Perhaps, I could talk to Veronica before or after our activity. She should listen. Maybe she’d had a bad day. So she should understand.