Arts & Culture

Wanderer – Chapter √(-1)

~ Letter ~

 

   Maia threw herself face first on her bed. What a day. Would it ever end? Would spring vacation ever arrive? With a groan, she opened her eyes. Her enormous chemistry textbook glared back at her. She groaned again. At least it was finally April. Only a few more weeks before summer. Freedom. 

   Sighing, she sat up and reached for her literature book. “The Importance of Being Earnest,” she read aloud, in a sarcastic British accent. Rolling her eyes, she flipped open the tattered pages to her bookmarked page. Only… her bookmark wasn’t there. In its place was a neatly folded note. Curious, she opened it.

   My dear Maia,

   Please pardon me for interrupting your reading – this is important. I fear I must apologize. That said… I have no regrets. I hope you have an awesome day.

                     Your loving brother,

                                 Daniel

   “What in the world…?” she muttered. This boded ill. 

   She darted into the hallway, nearly smashing into her mother.

   “Have you seen Daniel?” Maia asked.

   “Your shoe’s untied,” her mother interjected.

   Maia reached down to tie it, but found herself staring at her sock. “Um, Mom, I’m not wearing shoes.”

   “I know,” her mother chuckled. “April Fools.”

   “April Fools?” Maia repeated, looking down at the note in her hand. Her apprehension grew. “Where did you say Dan is?”

   “He’s at the Petersons’ for the day. Why?”

   “Nothing,” Maia murmured, staring at the note. April Fools’ Day… and Daniel was gone… No regrets. She gulped. It was going to be a long day.

   “Don’t forget to feed the chickens,” Mrs. Booker reminded her, walking away.

   Maia winced. She had forgotten. Remorse welling in her soul for the poor, shriveled hens waiting wearily for their belated breakfast, she scurried downstairs. The fact that under-fed chickens make poor roasts sped her along a bit, too. 

   She grabbed her boots and stuffed her feet inside. Something… squished. She felt cool mush spread over the underside of her foot. “Ow!” she howled, yanking them off again. Plastered over her sock was a dingy slush of dirty applesauce. She groaned, peeling off her sock. She might as well go barefoot. 

   But she had barely stepped outside when she heard her mother call, “Maia? Where are your shoes? Don’t go back to the chicken coop without shoes on. It’s all muddy back there.”

   Maia sighed and bolted up the stairs to her room. She needed new socks. Yet, when she pulled open her sock drawer, she found it… empty.  “Daniel!” she yelled, more annoyed at his absence than the absence of her socks. It is hard to vent feelings when the person responsible for them has – perhaps wisely – made himself scarce.

   With groans of annoyance and semi-good-natured threats, Maia returned to her boots and gingerly inserted her feet. She hated wearing shoes without socks, and the sticky goop of mashed fruit only made matters less appealing. 

   With giggled mutterings and several eye-rollings, she made her way to the chicken coop. She was met by the frustrated chastisement of hungry fowls. “I know, just gimme a sec,” she returned, grabbing the feed sack from the nearby shed. It was nearly empty, but it would be enough for this last feeding. 

   “There you go, girls,” she said, pouring it out. Feathers and beaks surged towards the feed bowl as the pellets poured out of the bag.

   Yet, as Maia looked closer, she realized that it wasn’t chicken feed pouring out of the sack. Rather, it was… cereal. Cheerios, to be exact. “No, wait!” she cried, as the excited hens consumed the tiny donuts of processed grain. But it was no use. There was no way to clean it up before they ate it. 

   Maia groaned again, stuffing the empty sack back in the shed. “I hope you don’t kill them, Dan,” she muttered, lifting the hinged lid to the nesting boxes. 

   A single, brown egg rested alone on a nest of straw. She reached for it. It was… oddly heavy. And… rubbery. 

   She held the rubber egg in her fist and glared at it with all the strength she could muster. She wished it was Daniel. Rolling her eyes, she returned to the house.

   “Hey Mum,” she said, as she entered the kitchen. “Catch!” 

   Mrs. Booker gasped as the very real-looking egg plummeted towards the tile floor… only to bounce back up, unharmed. Maia cackled victoriously as her mother tried to scowl around a grin. 

   “Daniel’s been having some fun with you, then?”

   “Yeah,” Maia admitted.  Then, a brilliant idea came to her. “But I think I know how to get him back!”

   Bubbling with excitement, she rushed up to the bathroom. She grabbed Daniel’s toothbrush and plunged it bristles-down into a cup of water. Then she trotted down to the kitchen and placed it in the freezer. 

   She smirked in self-congratulation. Now all she had to do was wait for him to get home.

   Hours later, she heard the garage door grumbling up, and Daniel trudged in, dirty and tired. 

   He grinned at Maia as he sat down to dinner. “Did you have a good day?”

   “Eventful,” she answered, rolling her eyes.

   A while after dinner, she glanced at the clock. 10:06. Daniel was chatting excitedly with their father, but she could see that he was tired. It wouldn’t be long now!

   As discreetly as she could, she slipped to the freezer and pulled out the shivering little toothbrush. In a moment, it was sitting beside the bathroom sink. She looked at it critically. Obviously, Daniel would see in a moment what she had done. But at least he’d have to go to the trouble of thawing it out!

   Still, for even that to work, she’d have to get him up soon, before it melted. She stared at herself in the mirror and experimented to see what expression made her look the most tired.

   Stretching it across her face, she slowly walked down into the living room and announced, with the best yawn she could muster, that she was going to bed.

   “Yeah, me too,” Daniel said, yawning for real.

   It was all Maia could do to keep her composure as he followed her upstairs. 

   He reached for his toothbrush, and then stopped. She couldn’t conceal her grin as he slowly turned to look at her. 

   “Froze the toothbrush, I see,” he said. “An oldie, but a classic.”

   “Well,” she teased, “You went to so much trouble. I figured it was the least I could do.”

   He nodded thoughtfully. “Only,” he said at last, his eyes twinkling, “I’m afraid there’s something you didn’t notice.” Deliberately, he picked up the frozen toothbrush and put it into her hands. Then, reaching behind her, he plucked the other toothbrush out of the jar on her side of the sink.  She watched in horror as he squirted it with toothpaste and stuck it in his mouth.

   “Daniel!”

   “Ye olde switcheroo,” he said with a triumphant gleam in his eyes. “Another classic.”

   She blinked, and, looking down at the frozen toothbrush, she recognized… her own. “I guess this is how the Trojans must’ve felt.”

   Daniel’s face was split wide with a grin. “I have no regrets.”

36 Comments

  1. Haha this is funny

  2. Is this the last chapter of the wander?
    It was just such a great story.

    • I am so glad that you enjoyed this chapter, and the story.
      No, there is one more real chapter, which I expect will come out sometime in May. 🙂

  3. This really funny

  4. I love it. It’s so funny!
    Hey, Emmeline, I was going to ask, do you have any tips for developing your characters? I’m actually writing my own book, and my characters just don’t seem… as real… as yours do. Can you give me some pointers? Thank you!

    • Thank you, Mayzie!
      You’re writing a book, too? How fun!
      Well, the trick that I have developed after much trial and error is to sort of sit inside my main character’s head, and just write what they are thinking simply, in a way that makes the reader unconsciously think it, too. Basically, I try to avoid “she thought” sort of sentences. Instead, just write the thoughts as an unbroken part of the narrative. I’ve found that that can help make the story feel more emotional and immediate. Also, taking the time to develop my characters and keep notes on them has helped me keep them consistent.
      I hope this helps! 🙂

  5. LOL THIS IS HYSTERICAL XD

    • Hahaha! Thanks! It was a lot of fun to play around with the Booker family for a bit, lol!

  6. Naomi Hochstedler

    This was hilariously relatable…. specifically the part about forgetting to feed the chickens xD

    • Lol. I find the funniest stuff is often things that have happened to us in real life. xD

  7. Haha…. this was awesome! Literally laughing out loud when I read this… 🙂

  8. This was really good! 🙂 Looking forward to the next chapter.

  9. I heartily approve of this story roflol!

  10. I aproove of this, but how many chapters are left?

    • Thanks, Lilia!
      There is one final chapter remaining. 🙂 I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by…!

  11. @Emmeline, do you have any tips on what to do with writer’s block? I am kind of stuck at the moment and it is really annoying lol. 😁

    • Oof, that’s a really tough place to be in. I get writer’s block all the time. Recently, I have found that it helps to jump ahead to scenes that I already know super well, even if I’m not yet sure how to get all of the characters there. That’s actually how I ended up having to deal with this chapter, actually. The first bit, with the letter, and the toothbrush ending came weeks before the body of the chapter. So, basically, I suggest you try jotting down scenes and bits of dialogue that you’ve already dreamed up, and then see how you can fit the pieces together later. Just working on the story often helps get that creativity flowing gorgeously, and, before you know it, you know how to fix it! 🙂

  12. This was so good!! Love it so much. Reminds me of me and my brother haha! For april fools this year though we decided to do a “coach roach” in the lamp. LOL silhouettes of cockroaches works so well. Keep on writing!
    -Hannah 😀

    • Oh. Hannah. That is so hilariously terrifying! Remind me never to spend April 1st at your house. xD

  13. I loved this sooo much!!! Ye olde switcheroo! I may hafta try to prank my brothers GOOOOOOD next year…. you’ve given me so many ideas….

    • Haha thanks Eleanor! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I apologize in advance to your brothers, though…!

  14. er maybe I read the title wrong but I don’t think negative numbers can be square rooted

  15. omssss this is the best chapter ever jk but it reaally is soo good!

  16. I have actually did some research and learned that in limited quantities, chickens can eat cheerios. 😉

    • lol Eli! I actually research that a smidge, too, just to make sure Daniel and I weren’t killing the Booker’s chickens. xD