September 1

The Secret Life of Mark

It was nine o’ clock and I had already drank four cups of black coffee. I looked over at the computer screen and tried to make out the numbers on the screen. Sometimes I wonder why I decided to get out of my line of work. I grimaced as the phone rang. I hope that it is not my boss.
“I know what you did.” The person said and then hung up. My heart began to beat a little bit faster, not even my wife knew what I did before her. I sat back in the desk chair, trying to calculate if I should be worried. It could be a prank call.
“Mark, you got a minute?” My boss walked in and I immediately became aware of a very different problem. James sat down and glared at me. His suit was pressed in pristine condition, as if he just walked out of Vogue.

“Yes,” I downsized my report and turned to face James. Again I wondered why I put myself through the torture of a desk job. James tapped the desk with his fingers before responding. His dark eyes peered at me from above his glasses.

“You have a lot of explaining to do. The totals this month were not good at all. Your sales are down.”

“I know. The market is down, I can’t close any deals.”

“You’ve got a problem then.” James threw papers on the desk. “I need you to be on your game this month. If you can’t sale anything this month, then you are fired. Got it?”

I gulped. I needed a way to buy more time. His eyes showed that he wasn’t going allow any arguments. I knew better than to bring in the fact that my wife was battling cancer at the moment. “Got it,” I said. He smiled and left the door open on his way out. A sign that he was expecting me not to last. He hadn’t expected me to last one month, that was two years ago. I sighed. Jerry, the owner, hired me without the permission of James…I’ve been paying for it ever since. I looked at the phone in my hand. I needed to do some serious reconsidering on what I was getting into.

***

I was talking a mile-a-minute on the phone trying to sell a person about vacation homes. “Yes, ma’am…yes, we can do that too. hmmmm…”

James walked in without knocking. He sat down and raised his eyebrows at me. I ended the call with the sweet lady who told me that she would tell me her answer tomorrow. It was another dead-end. I looked over at James who was smirking at me.

“Yes,” I asked. He laughed a short laugh before relaxing in the leather chair. “I just came in here to see you burn.”

I curled my lips. “I have another week.”

“And you haven’t sold a thing this month…again.” He got up smoothly. “This company is for sellers and you obviously are not one.”

I glared at his back as he left. The phone rang and I glanced at the clock. It was nine o’clock. I sighed. I answered and heard for the twentieth time the same message. My mind whirled and I felt the uselessness of my existence. I dropped the phone back on the hook and remembered why I kept my secret hidden. The reason I lived in a lie…

August 25

True Love?

Like any girl, I want to fall in love. But things like that doesn’t happen to me. I’m at the bottom rung at my master’s house. Love is forbidden for the household maids and I’m lower scum than that–I’m the cook’s help. However, even with this complication I still dream of that love, the love that the master has for his wife.

“Marge, stop ‘er dreaming and get on over here and stir this pot. The master won’t appreciate his stew burned.”  The cook, a red-faced, round woman yelled at me from across the room. I started from my daydream and shuffled across the room. The stifling heat of the stove blasted me and I nearly recoiled. I go\t a box on the ears from the cook. “Move faster you dimwit,” she shrieked. I nodded my head and began stirring the stew pot. The delicious smell of stew made my stomach growl. “You best be not eating any of that there stew, Marge. I won’t be giving you any supper if ya do.” The cook eyed my stirring for a minute before leaving.

I sighed and began that daydream about falling in love. I did have one person that I found the most handsome and the most out of my reach. The master had a son and every maid had fallen in love with him one time or another. I had only seen him from a distance, but he did look handsome with his raven black hair and green eyes. I wished that he would come down to the kitchen. I just knew that if he took one look at me that he would fall madly in love with me. Yeah, right. I smirked at my daydream. I needed to get into reality. Mr. James Zander would not look at me any other way than contempt, just like all the other help looked at me. I swiped a tear away from my face before the cook could see it. She would just box me on the ears for spoiling the stew.

“Are done with the stew, cook?” A woman appeared at my side and gave me a cursory glance. That is all that she could afford a person in my position. Her dark purple gown and the fat keys around her waist showed her as the housekeeper. She was in charge of all of us.

“Madame, it’s here and ready. The master will love it there stew.” The cook was flustered that Mrs. Green was down here. She never came down.

“We need to get the stew on the table now. The master received news of unexpected guest. His son has returned.” Ms. Green gave a cursory glance over her spectacles at the kitchen with distinct disdain. Her overdone makeup made her look clownish.

The cooks eyes got real big and she bustled around. “I need to make a pie for master James. Marge, get ‘on over here and find me a’ pie. I obediently found where the pies were and brought one out. I always made a few pies just in case. In fact, I cooked most of the food because the cook was never inclined to cook much. The cook eyed the freshly made pie, “That’ll have to do.”

I nodded and started to put it on the counter. Someone jostled me and I toppled over and the pie fell right on my head. “Look what er done!” Shrieked the cook. “All mine hard work squandered.” She hit me across the face.

“Someone jostled me,” I cried out.

The cook gave me a mean look. She didn’t like me talking too much. She said that I had too civil of a tongue for her. My parents had forced me to learn to speak properly before they died. They both had been quit wealthy at one time. She hit me again.

“Don’t talk to er elders like that. Stop blamin’ others and get ‘in up.” I staggered up just to be knocked down again by the cook. She glowered at me and started pounding her meaty fists into me. “I told you good-fer-nothing to get up!” she was yelling at me. I cringed and shrank back, trying to get away from her flailing arms. “I took ye in and this is how ye act?” She hit me again. Blood was spewing from my mouth. “You wanna make me look bad?” She raised her fists–

“Stop!” A man’s voice broke through the kitchen. Mrs. Green, who had been watching the fighting, stiffened and curtsied to the shadowy figure in the doorway. The cooks red face turned abruptly and her jaw dropped. She curtsied. The cook kicked me when I made no move to get up from her pommeling. I couldn’t get up even if I wanted to. I saw two polished shoes stop in front of me. “Miss, are you all right?” I glanced up into the face of Mr. James Zander. It was my turn to fumble and try to bow before him. “You needn’t do that,” he whispered. He gave a stern look at the cook and Mrs. Green. “What happened here?”

“She dropped the pie,” stated Mrs. Green. She gave me a cruel look. “She’s just a lazy girl, sir. I wouldn’t trouble yourself with her.”

“Hmmm..” He turned back to me. “Bring her up to my father’s study.” I felt the dread curling inside of me. Nobody goes up to the study unless they were being dismissed. The cook dragged me across the kitchen floor and up the flight of steps. I tried not to cry out in pain at every jostle. Tears came unbidden to my eyes. The cook paid no mind to me as she unceremoniously dropped me in the study. “You may leave.” The cook gave me one more look and then left. I tried to stand up in front of Mr. Zander. He was looking at me curiously. “You didn’t stand up for yourself down there. Why?”

“I felt no need to. I am the lowest in the kitchen. Whatever I say is of no importance.” I swayed on my feet. He gestured to the chair and told me to sit. I sat hard and glanced up again.

“You speak very well for the kitchen help,” commented the master’s son.

I lowered my eyes as the moisture came to them. “My mother taught me before she died, sir.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” James Zander shifted. “When I came down, I was shocked to see you in the kitchen.” He fingered the books that were near him. “I remember your mother quit well. I’m not sure you would remember me.” He hesitated. I looked at him confused.

“Sir, I’ve never seen you, but from a distance.”

“Not true.” He gestured to a letter that he placed on the study desk. “I didn’t know that you were working here or else I would have had you come up earlier.”

I looked at the letter. My mother’s beautiful handwriting was on the letter. It read:

Dear Mr. James Zander Sr.,

I am very ill. I don’t think that I will make it through this illness. You were always so nice to me and my husband, especially when we fell on hard times. I am sorry to ask this, but will you please take my daughter Margaret Robert in and treat her like your own. Please tell my daughter that I am so sorry that I let her down.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Robert

I blinked at the letter. “Your family knew my family?”

“Yes,” James Zander smiled.

“Ten years have gone by. Why didn’t you keep your promise?”

James frowned. “We looked everywhere for you, but couldn’t find you. Your mother’s sister refused to tell us where you had gone.”

I sat back into the chair in wonder. James looked at me with uncertainly in his gaze. “As I said, we knew each other as kids.” He looked away embarrassed. “I told you something once.” He cleared his throat.”I love you.” He raked his hand through his hair and sighed. I sat dumfounded. James was in love with me.

“How?”

“We were betrothed as children.” James explained. “When you disappeared it became my obsession to try and find you. That is why I left for so long. If I had just gone into the kitchen, I would have seen you.”

He grabbed my hand. “I know that it is a lot to think about, but I still am in love with you. I am more in love with you than ten years ago when we were children.”

“That is not possible.” I took my hand from his. “I don’t even know you or remember you from before. How can we talk of marriage?” His face fell. “I know that in your mind that we are in love, but I’m just the kitchen help, I’m not the girl that I was ten years ago.” I looked down at the letter that was between us. Tears blurred my vision. If only things had been different.

“I’m not going to give up on you. Not when I just found you again.” James whispered. “I wasn’t planning on this. Falling in love with you was the last thing I wanted. Because I know our time would have to come to end. Yet, here I am, begging you not to turn the page.” I looked away flustered. “Will you at least give me a chance to win your heart?”

“Yes.”

He grinned and scooped me up and twirled me around.

 

 

August 18

What to Do with a Crazed Fan

Writing prompt from Writer’s Digest: (http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/crazed-fan)

“You’re sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking at the top news stories while drinking your coffee. The top story this morning is a crazy fan who was arrested for breaking into a local bookstore and stealing all of YOUR books! He’s quoted as saying “I just want to be their best friend!” Your first crazed fan. What do you do?”–Writer’s Digest

 

I pulled open the newspaper. I sniffed long and hard at the ink on the page before turning my attention to the header. I nearly spewed out the coffee on the counter when I read the headline: “Crazed Fan Loves Tina Brown.” My heart hitched a little when I read the next lines. “Man was caught breaking and entering into a local bookstore and stealing all of Tina Brown’s newest release, The Lady in Time.” He was caught in the bookstore at ten o’ clock. He’s quoted for saying. ‘I just want to be their best friend!’ The police have taken this man into custody for questioning. Author has not made any comment.”

I opened the paper further to get a glimpse of the man that had wanted my books. I gasped. A man about six feet tall with dark wavy hair and dark eyes stared back. I knew him!  I shut the newspaper. How could he have found me? I rushed into the other room and pulled out my cell phone. I dialed hastily the witness protection program.

“Carl, he’s found me,” I blurted into the phone.

“Hello Elizabeth.” I nearly dropped the phone in shock. Phil was on the other line, not Carl.

“What did you do to Carl?” I whispered into the phone.

He ignored my question. “It took me forever to find you, Elizabeth,” he continued. “You made a mess of things when you went to the authorities about me and the gang. You didn’t think you could get away that easily, did you?”

“Phil, you know it was the right thing to do. You killed an innocent man.” I breathed in deeply. “You knew what I was going to do.”

Phil chuckled into the phone. “And you knew that I was going to go after you for it. If you don’t play my way, then you are dead. You better run Elizabeth, the cat has got your scent.”

He hung up and my heart started to pound. It had been three years since I had heard Phil’s voice. The last time I had heard his voice was when he had just shot someone in the back for backing out of a drug deal. The bloody corpse and Phil’s face haunted me in my dreams. I ran to the nearest police station and soon found myself deep in the protection program. Carl was now the only one who knew the true story. All my friends assumed that my name was Tina Brown. I closed my eyes. I had refused to have my picture be put on the cover and refused to do any press conferences. I was the mystery writer that nobody knew existed. I shoved clothes into my bag. I needed to get away before Phil came and killed me. He gave me a warning which showed that he still had some feelings for me.

I zipped up the suitcase and tried to remember what Carl had told me to do if I was being chased. I grabbed my suitcase and called the airline and booked a ticket to England. I needed to get out of United States as fast as possible.

My phone rang and I froze. It was my editor’s name that flashed onto the screen.

“Yes,” I answered.”

“Did you read the papers?” Rachel screamed over the phone. “This is good press for your book. Now, I need you to give me a comment to say to the newspaper.”

“I don’t need to say anything.”  I pulled my suitcase around the apartment, grabbing any last minute things. I rushed out of the apartment.

“Of course you do,” Rachel stated. “Just think…”

I disconnected the phone and hailed a cab. I dialed a special number into my phone and it rang.

“Hello.” A deep voice answered.

“I’ve been compromised. Carl is dead.”

“OK, we’ll have agents with you in a minute.”

“I’m heading to the airport. Going to England.”

“We’ll meet you at the airport.” The voice said.

I hung up as the cab driver drove up. I would miss NY and the friends that I had acquired here. We pulled out of the driveway. I could see tomorrows headlines: “Tina Brown has Gone Missing”

Tina Brown was gone. I smiled grimly, my life was definitely interesting.

 

August 11

5 Reasons You Should Read

1. Reading Helps improve Vocabulary

I have always loved to read and have realized that through reading I have had a bigger vocabulary than others my age. I attribute it to my love of reading and how many books I have read in my life time.

2. Reading improves Imagination

Unlike movies, reading requires you to imagine the world that the author is creating. Authors such as Christopher Paolini and J.R.R Tolkien describe the fantasy world and you build it in your mind, Many times I have been disappointed in the movie adaption after reading a book because it is so different than what I have pictured it.

3. Reading makes you Smarter

Most of the knowledge I have obtained has been through reading, not from formal education. You don’t need to limit yourself by reading non-fiction, but also reading fiction allows you to learn. I have learned so much about history and other countries through reading books.

4. Reading improves your Focus

Reading books are harder to read than comic books, blog posts, and novella. They usually require more time to read and to comprehend. Books that are classics require more focus than most contemporary books. I find that reading bigger and harder books have improved my focus. I now can read in a crowded room without a problem because of my years of reading various books.

5. Reading is Entertainment

This is my favorite point about reading. After a long day of work or school, I like to kick back and read just for pleasure. Reading has become a prize that I give myself at the end of the day for a job well done. We don’t need to always have to rely on the TV.

August 4

Disney World–A Wild Ride

Andrea, Morgan, Connor, and Alex at Disney World

If you have never been to Disney World, it is definitely a different place. It is hard to explain in one post how different it is to any other amusement park. First of all, there are freeways that dump you right into the four different parks. Miles around is property owned by Disney. Outside of the Disney property are tourist traps with signs that state that they have Disney wear and that they are willing to buy park passes from you. The buildings around the outskirts of Disney are dilapidated with gaudy colors that are unnatural and faded through time. They desperately cling to the tourists and at the same time hate Disney. It is a love-hate relationship.

The hotels also are trying to compete with Disney. They try to give you the biggest deal and list all the amenities including multiple swimming pools, putt-putt golf, and other stuff that you have no need for because Disney has it all. Most of the hotels were hastily put up and therefore poorly designed. The true dream started with Disney and the businesses tried to piggy-back that dream. They failed miserably.

Disney carefully designed each park. Each park is innovative and different than the other three parks. In Magic Kingdom, you can ride all your favorite rides that are also at Disneyland and try the new rides that are being “tested” at Magic Kingdom. The park is never finished redesigning and making new, more exciting magical things.

Hollywood Studios takes you back to the time when Hollywood was grander than it is today. Billboards are portraying brands that have long been out of business. Each shop has a theme of one of the major shops in Hollywood. I can’t help but wish that Disney’s portrayal could be the actual Hollywood Studio, instead of the crummy and overpriced place it is now. In Hollywood Studios, you can learn about movie making, stunts, and other cool stuff about Hollywood. Again, it is a magical place that allows you to step back in time with Disney and see Hollywood through his eyes.

EPCOT allows a person to see into the future through Disney’s eyes. Whereas, Hollywood gives you a blast from the past, EPCOT celebrates the future. In many ways, EPCOT is the most humanistic of all the parks. The parks amusement is based upon what man can do with technology and life in general. The park is based on the celebration of the world. There are seven different countries represented throughout the park, sharing the culture through food, architecture, and talent. This is my favorite park because of the hope of the future and because I love all the food.

Animal kingdom shows the different animals. We did not visit the park because we tended not to like this park the first time I went to Disney World. To me, it is a glorified zoo with no incentive to return to the park. However, they do have great shows (if you are in to that).

Disney is an experience like no other. I love how innovative and imaginative Disney was in creating such a park. There are no other parks that compare to the massive size and revenue that Disney World churns out. One man had a dream and was able to build on it to create something that the whole family could enjoy. That is the great thing about America–we can dream and make our dreams a reality. Walt Disney started as a poor boy with a father that tried to squash the dreams of Disney, but Disney was able to build an empire bigger and better than what he imagined. We should learn from Disney that our dreams can come into reality with a little bit of hard work. What dreams do you want to build upon?

Stay tuned in next week for another adventure in the USA!