From "Avila and The Snowwoman" Rainbow Rumpus She reached inside her pockets for the buttons and carrot. She stuck all of the buttons on the snowman’s face—two buttons for eyes and four for its smiling mouth. Avila planted the carrot, with its orange tip sticking out, in the middle of the snowman’s face. She picked up two branches and stuck them into both sides of the snowman for his arms.
Then, she heard crunch-crunch-crunch and turned around. Her mothers were walking across the snowy yard. Mama held a bright red scarf and Mom held a top hat.
Mama said, “We thought these might work for your snowman.”
Avila wrapped the scarf around the snowman's neck. Then, she had an idea. “Does this have to be a snowman?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Mom asked.
“Aren’t there any snowwomen in the world?” Avila wondered aloud.
“There must be snowwomen somewhere,” Mom said.
“Maybe this could be a snowwoman,” Avila said.
From short story, "The Upworlders," a middle grade fantasy
As if I needed a reality check, a guard with a feathered mustache flung open my cell door.
I flinched and worry tugged at my brain. Are they starting to get to me?
He wrinkled his nose as if he knew my name, but couldn’t be bothered to utter it. But I would never reveal my name! Names for any Underdog were sacred. “It’s time to greet the Overlord,” he barked.
He bound my wrists with shackles and prodded me into the corridor. We wound our way down the twisty steps.
The not-so-lordly Overlord poked my scalp and flapped his arms like a pudgy bird. I fixed my gaze on the cracked floor and sighed. Each day the UWs summoned me, and then they tied me to the same high-backed chair. Each day I strained against the straps to stare at the same zigzag crack. It was a crack my father could wedge his iron jimmy-rod in to break me free. I clamped my eyes shut and wished away the dreamy notion. Kindling my hopes with wild imaginings couldn’t be a useful thing.
The guard faced the glassy square they called “window.” I lifted my gaze toward the strange blue exterior. Fluffy white stuff floated across a circle of bright yellow that made me squint.
"Hah!” The Overlord laughed, a snorting guffaw.
Not much of a laugh at all.
“This kid has never seen the sky before.” He and the guard burst into snorting laughter. I shot them a hard glare and dropped my head. Then and there I vowed, the ground was where I’d keep my eyes. Homeward looking.
How could I stomach these UWs? They had captured Underdogs, like me, who hadn’t escaped into the belly of the earth. Then they split us up and locked us inside their grungy towers. Still, they failed to unearth the fuel we called wigyort. All I knew was that the fuel was hidden in wells below a maze of labyrinths of our undercaves.
The Overlord paced and ranted. “You will tell us the way!”
He poked my shoulder and, if not for the straps biting my forearms, I would have toppled off the chair. I dropped my head in silence—and in hope. An army of my people might erupt to wreak unholy havoc on their Upworld realm!
Published August 2014 in FrostFire Worlds
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