My college classes started today. Unbeknownst to me, I had to complete a five-hour-long orientation that included a mandatory hour-long video about sexual assault. So, needless to say, I don't have it in me to write a coherent short story.
However, I was cleaning my room yesterday and found a folder containing the rough draft of Where the Clouds Catch Fire. I'm making the decision--a horrible decision, probably--to share with you how Where the Clouds Catch Fire almost started.
Please, for the love of God, remember that I was thirteen when I wrote this. So don't judge. For my reputation's sake, I'm changing some names and spellings, and also the dialect. (My thirteen-year-old self had never heard an actual Irish person talk and just winged it.)
So, without further ado...
"Lynder! Lynder, wake up! Come play with me!"
The thirteen-year-old girl opened her eyes, brushing her red-blonde hair out of her face, and looked at her brother. "Tarin, please don't call me Lynder," she sighed.
"Fine then, Alynn. Will you play with me?" the boy asked.
"No. I'm tired."
"You wouldn't be tired if you had slept last night," the boy countered.
"And I would have slept fine last night if a certain seven-year-old hadn't been flopping like a dead fish next to me!" the girl snapped. "I can't wait to get to Scotland and off this silly ship. Now please, leave me alone."
"Aw, fine," Tarin sighed. Alynn rolled over in the tiny bed she had made out of furs and blankets, with sailcloth being used as a tent. Alynn fell half asleep. Five minutes later, the tent's door was thrown wide open.
Alynn sleepily rolled over. She didn't need to look to know who was speaking to her. "Father, my name is Alynn."
"You're being lazy, girl! Get out there while there's light to see by!"
Alynn looked up at her father, Rowan McNeil by name, and his broad-shouldered silhouette. As her eyes adjusted to the bright light, his features filled themselves in: sharp blue eyes, red hair, large mustache. She dared not disobey him. "Yes, Father."
Alynn crawled out of the tent and was quickly greeted by Tarin. "Alynn! Will you play with me?"
"Sure," Alynn yawned. She walked over to where Tarin had built a fort by leaning shields and oars against a rowing bench. The crew paid no attention to them as they sat rowing, or talking direction on the high deck.
The Darting Swallow was a Viking's cargo ship, also called a Knarr. It had two covered areas, one on each end, that were stocked with provisions for the journey. The ship rode high in the water, and the sides were just high enough to keep the waves out.
"Look, Lynder!" Tarin cried, waving a sword in the air. "I'm a pirate!"
"Put that down before you kill someone," Alynn hissed. "Namely yerself. And my name's Alynn, not Lynder."
"Aw, Lynder. The sword's got a cover on it," Tarin sighed. "I have an idea! You can be in the fort, and I can protect you from Vikings!"
"That is the best idea you've ever had," Alynn smiled. She curled up in the fort and promptly fell asleep.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.