Short Story Sunday 203: Goals

Short Story: "Goals" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

Emma suppressed a groan. She looked all around the auditorium as though she was trying to find a way out, even though she was stuck there for the next hour. What made it even worse was that she was right in the middle. She had too many in front of her, behind her, and on both sides. If she had to go the bathroom, she would have to hold it. There was no way she was getting out of this one.

The silence echoed throughout the room. Mr. Coughlin scanned the entire senior class as though he was waiting for an answer. Emma doubted that anyone was ever paying attention to him. He probably knew that though. Emma was sure he had done so many speeches like this in the past 20 years—or however long he had been teaching—that he probably knew the students didn’t really care.

They had to apply to colleges during their junior year of high school. It was a requirement for each student to apply to at least three colleges even if they didn’t know what they wanted to major in.

Now that they were seniors, college was closer and closer. Some people had already been accepted to a college or two, some have not and were still applying. Still, because they would all be out in the “real world” in a few months, they had to listen to the “Rest of Your Life” assembly speech like all the other senior classes had to listen to before them.

Of course, Emma had no idea how she was supposed to know what she was supposed to do with the rest of her life when she was focused on passing her Geometry final. She didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career, but she knew it wasn’t going to have anything to do with Geometry. She also knew that she wasn’t going to do anything with Earth Science, either.

“In a few months, you’ll all be adults.” Mr. Coughlin announced.

Emma had already turned 18. According to society, she was already an adult. Yet, she was still stuck in this building for seven hours a day having to raise her hand to ask for permission to go to the bathroom.

Graduation day wasn’t going to be anything exciting. It was going to be her teachers throwing her to the wolves with a salute and a “good luck!”

“Now is the prime time to start thinking about what kind of difference you want to make on this world. What mark do you want to leave behind when you go?”

That piqued Emma’s attention. Was he referring to them all inevitably dying?

“Teaching is a great legacy to leave behind.” He continued.

Emma rolled her eyes. Why would she want to teach children to learn things they were never going to use in their lifetime? She didn’t know what she would use geometry for other than being an architect. And she knew that she wasn’t going to be doing that for a living.

“Or you could build homes for people,”

Emma blinked. Was he reading her thoughts?

“A doctor, dentistry, the possibilities are endless! Before everyone leaves here today, I want you all to come up with three career ideas for yourselves. Think about what you like, what you enjoy doing. Think about your talents, what you think you’d excel at.” Mr. Coughlin declared as a few teachers handed out pieces of paper to all the students in the rows.

Emma sighed. This was going to take a while. She was just going to do whatever everyone else was going to do: pick three random careers and write it down just to please the teachers.

That was something she was good at: pretending to care.

Words: 641

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Short Story Sunday 202: Where Were You?

Short Story: "Where were you?" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

            “Where were you?” Ashley asked looking up from the book she was reading. She was perched up on her bed, her legs stretched out in front of her and her back leaning up against the bed frame propped up by a bunch of pillows. She put a scrap of paper into her book to mark her place and then closed the book resting it gently on her lap.

Amanda had entered the room just moments before. She closed the door behind her and kicked off her flip-flops, one sandal flipping in the air before it finally fell to the ground. Amanda looked at her sister and shrugged her shoulders at the question.

“Didn’t we agree that you’d be back here an hour ago?” Ashley said folding her arms across her chest.

“Yeah,” Amanda shrugged her shoulders again. “I was having fun though. I didn’t want to just leave so unexpectedly. I had only been there for an hour before it was time for me to come back home.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “You’re lucky that mom and dad didn’t come up here for anything. I don’t know what I would have done or said to cover for you.”

“I know, I’m sorry,”

“And you could have at least texted me to let me know that you were going to be late. I mean, that party was practically a rave. For all I knew, you could have been drunk or arrested or something.”

“I know, I’m sorry,”

“Is there anything else you can say other than that?”

Amanda shrugged with a sheepish grin. Ashley rolled her eyes. Then she paused and raised a suspicious eyebrow at her sister.

“Wait a minute… What do you mean that you weren’t at the party for very long? You left five hours ago.” Ashley wondered.

Amanda strolled across the room and sat down at the foot of Ashley’s bed. “Josh and I were having a good time together. We almost didn’t even go to the party.”

Ashley pursed her lips together and slowly nodded her head.

“We didn’t do anything!” Amanda quickly said defensively.

“Really…?” Ashley deadpanned.

“Really, I promise.” Amanda drew an X over her heart with her finger. “When I got to Josh’s house, I was all set to go. He was ready too, but then we got to talking. He said that talking to me at his house was going to be a lot quieter and peaceful than trying to yell at each other at some party. So we stayed and hung out for a bit. We even watched a movie.”

Ashley sat up and smiled. Josh was a kid at their high school who Amanda had been crushing on for quite some time. She had finally mustered up enough courage to ask him out. When Josh mentioned the party, Amanda didn’t really want to go, but she didn’t feel as though she was in any position to decline. She just wanted to hang out with him and try to get closer hoping that they could be more than friends.

“What movie did you watch?” Ashley asked.

“Some sci-fi thing,” Amanda shrugged. “I guess Josh is really into that kind of stuff, but I didn’t understand the movie at all.”

“Oh…”

“But then we talked for a little while. I got to know him a little better and he got to know me a little better. There were never any lulls in the conversation… it was nice.” Amanda smiled at the ground in remembrance of a few hours ago.

“So how come you guys ended up going to the party? It seems like you guys had just as much fun just being together.” Ashley asked.

“We weren’t going to, but I guess Josh had told his football buddies that he would try to go. So we went a few hours after the party started.” Amanda chuckled. “Josh said that it’s cool to arrive late because then everyone makes a big deal about your presence when you finally get there.”

Ashley shrugged. He had a point on that one. It wasn’t a very good one, unless you wanted everyone to notice you coming in, but it was a point. Still, if people wanted them to go to the party, then they should have noticed them arriving no matter what time they got there.

“We only stayed for about two hours, though. After an hour, I knew I was supposed to come home, but Josh and I were having fun. Around the time I was going to duck out,” Amanda explained, “Josh pulled me to the side and we stepped outside. Everyone else was inside and we ended up talking again. We had a really nice time.”

Ashley nodded her head. “Well, I’m glad you had a good time.”

Amanda frowned. “I wish you could have been there.”

Ashley snorted. “You know a high school party isn’t my scene. I would much rather be home reading by book. And I had a great time tonight. I read two books while you were out.”

“Two books?” Amanda rolled her eyes. “My, you are a wild child, aren’t you?”

Both of the girls laughed. Then Ashley sat up and asked for more details about Josh. Before long, it was so late at night that both girls passed out in Ashley’s bed like two best friends gossiping at a sleepover until exhaustion took over.

Words: 897

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How To Create A Map For Your Fantasy World [World Building]

Map making is an art in itself. It’s fun, yes, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Creating a map is like writing the first draft of a novel. You’ll most likely have to do it over a couple of times until you get this right and every place has a special spot.

Mapping Your Fictional World | World Building | Fantasy | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Do You Need A Map?

Depending on your story, you may not need a map. If your story remains in one location, maybe two or three, then you most likely don’t need a map.

However, if you’re writing a series, if your characters are traveling a lot throughout the world, or even if you just mention a lot of names and certain characters live in different areas, then you may need a map.

How To Create A Map

1. Make a list of people and places.

Think about the countries, the cities inside them, and the people who reside in each city. If you have different races of people, like Lord of the Rings, for example, they may live in certain areas of the world.

2. Create a general shape and size of your world.

Draw an outline of the world and then you can start forming smaller shapes on the inside. Then you plug in the names of the countries and cities.

3. Think of the terrain.

Where are the oceans, rivers, and lakes? What about the mountains? Are there any rainforests or deserts? Draw those in. Keep in mind the weather and the seasons.

Tips For Creating Your Map

1. Decide what kind of map you want.

There are different kinds of maps such as physical maps (the one you’d most likely use), topographic maps, road maps, climate maps, and a lot more. What information do you want your readers to get out of looking at the map?

2. Study geography

There are plenty of map making tools on the internet, but if you draw your map, you want it to look as realistic as possible. Take a look at real maps and get a feel for how they show mountains and more.

How do you create maps for your worlds? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat! If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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Writing The History Of Your World [World Building]

We all have a history, a background story. Every character has a background story, whether your readers discover it all or not. This goes for your fictional world as well.

We all have history classes in our school learning about our country, world, and its geography. Whether your characters attend school or not, there should be a few history lessons poking through your words for both them and your readers.

Writing The History of Your World | Creative Writing | World Building | Fantasy | RachelPoli.com

History Questions

  • Have there been any wars in the past? Who fought, who won, and why were they fighting?
  • Have there been any significant natural disasters? Have they changed certain areas of the world, is it a big part of a character’s past?
  • Are there any rulers? Is there a government? How did they come to be and what’s their purpose?
  • How were certain areas of your world built? Who built them and why?
  • Are there different countries? Are there borders? Why were they put up?
  • Are there any myths or legends that float around in your world?
  • How did your world come to be in the first place? (For example, do your characters believe a God create it?) Do they all believe the same religion? Maybe no one knows how the world came to be.

The Big Question

Ask yourself:

What would my characters learn in a history class?

The questions listed above should be in your answer. I’m sure there are other questions I’ve missed.

How do you create a history for your world? What are some other things you think about? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat! If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 195: Anticipation

Short Story Sunday: "Anticipation" | Short Story | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

            Brenda paced her gaze focused on the ground. The white tiled flooring was shiny and clear, clear enough that she could see her reflection. Her worried expression seemed to be plastered in every clean tile on the floor. A couple of times, as people passed by, she wondered if they would see it too. She wondered if they knew.

There was nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to freak out over. Still, being in a hospital waiting room made her nervous.

Brenda’s legs were growing tired. They were beginning to ache. The bottoms of her feet were stinging and she was pretty sure blisters were forming on the heels from the straps of her sandals.

Every once in a while, she’d hear a beeping sound. She’d freeze in her pacing and listen. Her mouth gaped open, her eyes wide. People would walk this way and that way passed her, but no one seemed to pay her any attention.

Didn’t they see her standing out there? Didn’t they sense she was worried? Didn’t they want to help her?

No, she didn’t need help. There was nothing wrong. Everything was going to be fine.

Brenda began to pace again.

One, two, three, four… She found herself counting the tiles on the floor. Before she knew it, she was at the end of the hall. She turned around and started counting all over again.

Brenda had done this more times than she could count. What was taking so long?

Yet, no matter how hard her feet hurt, how dizzy her head got from staring down at the ground, or how heavy her eyelids become, she kept pacing. She kept counting the tiles. She kept staring at her reflection in the floor. Her heart raced, her breathing had become jagged. If someone didn’t come and tell her something soon, she was going to have to be admitted to the hospital herself.

“Brenda?”

She paused. Her eyes grew wide upon hearing her name. She slowly turned around and came face to face with a nurse. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed between her getting that phone call up until now. Her throat suddenly felt dry, probably from the continuous counting.

“Y-Yes…?” she answered quietly.

The nurse smiled sweetly. “Your sister and brother-in-law are doing just fine. They’re the proud parents of a healthy baby boy.”

Brenda put a hand over her heart, her vision becoming blurry as tears sat in her eyelids. “You mean…” she breathed heavily, “I’m an aunt?”

The nurse chuckled. “Yes, Brenda. You’re an aunt.”

“For real…?”

The nurse let out another chuckle. “Everyone is doing well, but we just need to give them another few minutes. I’ll come back in a bit to bring you to the room, okay?”

Brenda nodded.

The nurse walked away.

Brenda pressed her back against the wall. She bent her knees, sliding down to the floor. She looked over at her purse, which had been sitting in the middle of the hall the entire time. As she wiped some tears away, she wondered why no one had taken it. She had forgotten she even had it with her.

Opening her purse, Brenda reached her hand in. Once she felt something soft she smiled and pulled it out.

She placed a small teddy bear with a blue bowtie in her lap. She couldn’t wait to meet her nephew.

Words: 563

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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Short Story Sunday 137: The Girl Next Door

           

“I trusted you.”

“Well, then that was your mistake.”

Eric opened his mouth to retaliate, but closed it almost immediately. He shook his head and threw his hands up in defeat. He didn’t know what else to say even though he wanted so badly to come up with something witty. He turned his back on his friend—no, his ex-friend now—and left the dorm room.

He and Cole had been best friends since middle school. They knew everything about each other. They had been there for each other for all the ups and downs of life and growing up. Eric knew all of Cole’s deep dark secrets and Cole knew his. The only difference was that Eric had kept all of Cole’s secrets secret.

After all these years, he never thought that he would be betrayed by his best friend.

Eric exited the boys’ dorm building and walked across campus. It was the beginning of the fall semester. The season was still technically summer, but the mornings and evenings were beginning to feel a lot like fall.

As Eric walked across the campus, he stuffed both hands in his pockets. He wished he had brought a sweatshirt, but there was no way he was going to go back into Cole’s room and get it. He would have to take it back another time.

“Eric?”

Eric stopped walking and sighed. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. He didn’t even want to see anyone. He knew he was bound to run into someone if he was walking through the open campus, but he had hoped no one would try to stop and mingle with him.

He turned around anyway to see what the voice wanted. Ironically enough, it wasn’t anyone he recognized.

“Yes?” he raised an eyebrow looking the young lady up and down.

The woman tucked some strands of her long black hair behind her ear. Another cool breeze blew by making her hair jump out in front of her face again. “It’s Erika. Remember me?”

Eric narrowed his eyes. Erika? The name did ring a bell. He was pretty sure that he knew an Erika way back when he was just a kid. He had just moved to the neighborhood and there was a little girl his age who lived next door.

If he remembered correctly, her name was Erika.

“We used to be neighbors?” she read his mind.

Well, that answered that question.

“It’s coming back to me, yes.” Eric couldn’t help but smile.

They had been best friends up until the start of middle school. Erika had to move away because her father got transferred at work. It was a tough time for Eric. He remembered being so upset that she had to leave. He tried following her, if he remembered correctly. But his mother had caught him the moment he grabbed her car keys out of her purse.

“It’s crazy to see you here!” Erika laughed. “I never thought I was ever going to see you again. I’m surprised you remember me.”

“I’m surprised you remember me,” Eric commented with a chuckle. “I tried driving my mom’s car to follow you to your new house.”

“Eric, I moved a few states away. And we were only 10.” Erika frowned.

“I know. My mom caught me the moment I grabbed her car keys. But I didn’t have any sense of direction or time.” Eric shrugged his shoulders.

He remembered being so worried about starting middle school. He wasn’t going to know anyone because Erika wasn’t going to be there with him.

Then, like a miracle, on the first day of school he met Cole. And they had been peanut butter and jelly ever since.

Well, up until now.

“Please tell me that you’re attending this school and you’re not just visiting or something.” Erika pleaded.

“I live right over there.” Eric pointed to the boys’ dorm building a few feet away from them.

“Well, I live right over there.” Erika pointed to the girls’ dormitory in the opposite direction.

“Great!” Eric grinned. “We’ll have to get together and catch up soon.”

“Well, what are you doing right now?”

“Blowing off steam.” He shrugged hating to admit that.

“So why can’t we catch up now?” Erika took his hand in hers and looked him in the eye.

What could he say in return? Eric had been waiting for so long to see Erika again to the point where he almost completely forgot who she was. He wrapped his fingers around hers and nodded his head.

It was a perfect time to catch up with an old friend.

Words: 770

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