Saturday Story Starter

Can you believe it’s August already?  Summer is slipping away….

But not before one more Story Starter!

As those of you who have participated before know, Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise! (And if you’d like to read some of the earlier stories that have been shared, click here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here to browse to your heart’s content.)

Before we get started, though, I left you hanging last month with another picture that I promised had a story to go along with it. Here’s the picture:

Mistake House May 2014

And here’s the story:

Many moons ago, I was a student at Principia College. Principia is located in a breathtaking spot, high up on the limestone bluffs of Elsah, Illinois, overlooking the Mississippi River. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark, thanks to Bernard Maybeck, the celebrated American architect who designed it. (Click here if you’d like to watch a short video showing some of his buildings at Principia College.)

Maybeck called the project his “favorite child,” and he designed the campus to look like an English village. (Swoon! Perfect place for Anglophile me!) This little building in the picture above is known as the “Mistake House,” and it was a sample building, enabling him to try out the various materials and techniques he would use in constructing the rest of the campus.

And it was here in the Mistake House that everything changed for me overnight.

I was an English major, set on becoming the next Jane Austen. It was spring quarter my senior year. I needed one more credit to graduate. As I was flipping through the course catalog trying to decide what to take, I spotted a class called “Children’s Literature.” I thought, “That’s sounds fun–and easy.” (Did I mention it was spring? Or that I had senioritis, and was eager to coast through to graduation and the “real life” that beckoned beyond?)

I duly signed up for the class, and on the appointed day I walked through the door of the Mistake House, where it was held. Can you imagine a more perfect setting for a course on children’s books? The teacher was a former children’s librarian named Marjorie Hamlin. She was and still is a force of nature.  Here’s a picture of her taken not so very long ago on a trip she took to Vietnam, when she was in her 80s:

Marjorie Hamlin on an elephant 2011

Isn’t she wonderful?  She just sparkles with vigor, curiosity, and vibrant life. And that’s what she was like as a teacher, too. Everyone should be privileged to have a teacher and mentor like Margie. She made the world of children’s literature come alive to her students, and it’s because of her class that I decided to write for young readers.

Many decades later, I dedicated THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB to her. Here she is the day I brought her a copy:

Margie Hamlin Closeup

You can see why I love her, can’t you?

And you can see why the Mistake House will always be special to me.

OK, onward to our Story Starter.  Here’s this month’s photo:

Magical Staircase

(If you click on it, the photo should enlarge.)

I came across this fabulous staircase on my travels earlier this year. (Some of you who live in the city where it’s located may recognize it–and even walk up and down it regularly!) It was late afternoon, and the setting sun shone on the small pieces of shimmering tile with which the stair risers are decorated, lighting it up with an ethereal glow. Pure loveliness!

Tell us about this staircase. Tell us its story. Perhaps you want to think about where it goes, and who uses it. Or perhaps you want to look at the makers–the artists who conceived and created this beautiful piece of public art. Or were they artists? Perhaps they were fairies or elves or other creatures who chose to grace this corner of the world with their particular magic…

Ready, set, WRITE!




79 thoughts on “Saturday Story Starter”

  1. A staircase is usually just that — a staircase. Steps that people rarely look at unless they lose their footing and stumble. Whether it’s made of wood or marble, a staircase is almost always overlooked. The only ones who may notice the potential of such unimportant an item are the creative.
    There was a young boy who sought to bring beauty to the world in simple ways. One day, he came across a simple flight of stairs in the public gardens. It was just tile — nothing special. But to this boy’s artist’s mind, it was a blank canvas, a small way to catch people’s eye if decorated in a beautiful way and draw their hearts and minds to things of God.
    He brought his sister to the stairs and together they stood there, planning his design aloud. The boy’s sister was his best friend and helped him in all of his works, no matter how odd or ridiculous they seemed.
    The next day, the two once again went to the stairs, but this time with buckets of tiles sorted by color and another bucket of cement. Together, they worked to place the tiles along the fronts of the steps, forming a pattern not noticeable to one looking straight down from their stance on the stairs, but from the front, forming an eye-catching pattern.
    Through the course of the day, and the week, and the months that followed, passerby stopped and laughed at the young boy and girl wearing their knees to the bone, just to paste colored glass onto a flight of stairs. But they kept making their art.
    Winter came. The snow fell in drifts onto the staircase, but that didn’t matter to the siblings. They cleared it away with their bare hands and, though nearly frozen, kept up their work.
    Finally, the last shard was put into place. The siblings wearily went home hand in hand, leaving behind a masterpiece.
    Visitors to the park noticed the next day the change in the steps. They all asked each other, “What happened to those children? Why did they do this?” Isn’t it a bit of a waste of time?” A few days after finishing, the siblings came to visit their staircase. They were flooded with questions, to which the sister raised her hand against.
    “my brother is blind. He wishes to bring the beauty that he cannot see to those who can better appreciate it. I had to help him design it and organize the glass, since he can’t see the colors, but he is the real artist here.”
    That staircase still stands, a monument of simple beauty and art. Many have forgotten the children who decorated it, but they will forever live on through the staircase.

  2. She was afraid to step on it. It was so astonishingly beautiful, too beautiful to sit there and be walked all over. That was the job of a doormat, its occupation was to take her breath away. She stood there in front of it for what seemed like hours, drinking in its glory as people clambered past her. They looked at her like she was crazy; didn’t she know better than to stand statue-still in front of a staircase when they had important places to go, important places to be? Only she knew that the most important place to be was right there, in front of it. So she was. Starting when she was a small girl, only four, she wouldn’t walk on it. Her mother would first scold her, then try to bribe her, then flat-out plead but all she would do was shake her head. “I can’t walk on it,” she insisted. No one ever made her do it, so she didn’t. As she grew older, ten or so, she would do what she did now: stand and gaze at it for hours at a time. Even when a business-case clad man would jostle her or a toddler would run over her toes, she stayed still. Just staring. The older she got, the more she looked at it, and for longer, for she knew that she couldn’t do it forever. There was college, then life beyond college, where she would not be permitted time to soak in the staircase’s beauty. She had never stepped on it. Finally something hit her that never had before: reality. She was going to college. There was only one thing for her to. It was almost autumn when she did it, the bushes’ green leaves were tinged in crisp orange and reds. She stood there and breathed in deeply, closed her eyes, and put her sandaled foot on the first step. It seemed to tingle, like it was alive. Her eyes on the stairs, she descended until she was at the very top. Then she lifted her head and smiled. Why hadn’t anyone ever told her the view was even more beautiful from there?

  3. WOW. That was awesome, Katy!! I got so engulfed in the short story that I honestly forgot that wasn’t the real story- or as far as I know;). That was so amazing, and the writing was fabulous! It would have been great without the memorable twist of the boy being blind and how he was so selfless and not bitter about his disability, but the plot twist took it to a whole new level!!! BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I wasn’t planning on adding that, but then I was like, “Oh, wait — maybe if I do this, then this will happen, but what if…”. And that right there is the story of my life. 🙂

  4. I skip down my driveway, with my mom following me. “Slow Down Bella!” called my mamma. “But mommy!, It’s such a pretty day!, Doesn’t it make you want to jump or skip??” I ask. “Of course it does, but what will people think if i go down the street jumping and skipping like a 8 year old like you.?” She is clearly getting a little annoyed, she hates to be late and we are going to a birthday party at the park. “They will think you are the Funnest mama in the world!” I answer.” she rolls her eyes but the sides of her mouth quirk up a but.
    We walk down the street and catch a taxi to that park. “Daffodil lane park please.” my mommy tells the taxi driver. “Yes mam’ he says in a thick English accent.
    I love to just stare out the window and dream.
    I dream about lots of things, Sometimes simple things, like if a unicorn will magically appear at my house and take me away to a world of cotton candy, or sometimes Impossible things, like, If mama and papa will ever let me stay up past my bedtime.
    I snap out of my daydream, when i realize my mom is thanking the driver and paying him. “Come on mommy Come on!” I say while i practically drag her to the party. as we go up the steps i see everyday with the pretty broken glass that my mom always tell me not to touch, I notice something at the top of the steps that is fluttering. When i get closer to it I notice it’s a picture. A picture of a boy in jeans a t-shirt with a baseball glove and base ball hat. He is very handsome. I pick it up and show it to my mom. “Look mommy, look!” I show her the picture. Her brow puckers. “who is that sweetie?” she asks. “A Boy!” I answer. “I can see that, but WHO is he?” “I don’t know mommy.” I say. “well, you’ve got no use keeping it so throw it away.” she walks away. I put it in my pocket I dont know why but i just want to keep it. I can pretend he is mine. My first love i think dramatically.
    14 years later

    I’m waiting to be let into the chapel where my fiance is waiting for me. I’m nervous. A sudden wave of questions pop into my head. what if i’m not a good wife? what if i disappoint him!? What if….. before i can finish another horrible thought i am now aware that it is my time to go down the isle, when i see him standing there i feel a wave of relief. How can i possibly think like that? We love each other and we always will. We will both do our best to please each other. And i cant wait to start mu life with him. “Do thou bella……..” The words ring in my ear. “I Do” i promise to him. Thinking of the wonderful life he and i are going to have together makes me giddy. “I do” he says. “You may now kiss the bride…..”
    3 hrs later
    He picks me up and leads me through the door of are hotel room, And sets me on a chair. “Boy am i tired.” i say. while he massages my shoulders. I take out my wallet and get an extra bobby-pin i always keep with me. “Who’s that? asks my husband. He points to the picture i’ve kept since i was 9. I blush and say “My first love” I expect him to tease me and laugh he just smiles and says “That was me when i was 10”



  5. One day little Abby Watson climbed the staircase with her mom. In Abby’s head were thoughts of the movie that they had just seen. A princess movie. And as every little girl Abby desperately wanted to become a princess. Seeing all of the shiny gems on the staircase Abby knew that it must lead to her dream castle and that she really was meant to be a princess. As they started to climb the long staircase Abby told her mom all about what it would be like. Now Abby mom being a great mom, both fun and practical decided to run with this idea.
    “Abby,” she said leaning down and pausing just before they turned the corner and got to the top. “I think that this staircase does lead to the life of your dreams. I think that God put this magic staircase here just for you and once we get to the top your life is going to change. I don’t think that there will be a castle, but here’s what i say we do. Let’s go up there and right when we step off we will know that nothing on that side of the staircase can ever stop us. We can do anything we want to on the other side of the stairs! what do you think? does that sound like a plan?”
    Abby nodded and grabbed her mothers hand. they climbed the last of the steps in silence but before they got to the top they looked at each other and with one last step their lives changed.
    See Abby was old enough to understand what her mom said, but also young enough to believe it. The perfect age.
    About a week later Abby was in her room when her father told her that her mother had just passed away from a heart attach. Remembering the stairs that her mom had reminded her of every day since, Abby knew that she could make it through this.
    Now Abby is 21 and has always known that she can make it through everything because of the magic staircase. Pf course growing up she knew that it really wasn’t the staircase, but her mother, even though she wasnt there in person, that helped her through everything in her life. And she knew with the help of her family, God, and the stairs that she and climbed that she could do anything, and thats just what she did.

      • thanks:) and thank you for doing all the Saturday story starters and all your blog posts! its so fun to get to come read it all the time!! And thanks for taking the time to respond to all of us, it really has been a lot of fun and helped my writing a lot! its really cool to get feedback from one of my favorite authors!! I been reading this blog now for about 2 years and cant wait to keep reading it and practicing my writing!! Thanks!

  6. I was never one to drool over something or stare at one. I never cried over a boy or because I didn’t get the purse I wanted. I grew up the 4th oldest out of 9 siblings. When was anything hers? When did her family ever get enough money to take them to see beautiful things? The answer to both of those questions, is never.
    I am Summer Miranda Cadenza. It sounds like the name of a Princess.. Right? Wrong. To anyone who knew me it sounded like dullness. Having 8 siblings you would expect for me to come to school with a new, thrilling story every day. But this isn’t true.

    Until today…..
    — 1 day before —

  7. I’m not quite in th best writing mood, but I have to say the picture is lovly. So I put togather a little somthing:

    I take a step closer to the bottom of the staircase. Its so beautiful. Although I keep admiring this long stair cases beauty, deep down I’m scared. She warned me. The old woman down by the pond told me to watch out. Ordanairly I would ignore an almost perfecly strangers warnings, But this feels so real. I take a deep breath and lift my foot up onto the first step, I close my eyes as I do. And wait. Nothing. I open my eyes and look around me, Shaking my head trying to shake off the warning.
    “Watch your step Clarrisa. I know many have secrets, but for you to fall into this one will be…Will be…” She had warned me earlier, as I walked by The Blue Pond.
    ‘Would be what?” I had asked.
    “Will be, Clarissa. Not would.” She said in her soft, wise, wispy voice.
    “Whats going to happen to me?” I had asked, once again wondering why she was warning me, me of all people.
    “That I cannot say, my dear.”
    “Um, Ok. Bye!” I had called, trying to escape.
    “Watch out for the Blue Stone. It will trap you, Clarissa.”

    I snap back to reality and take a few more steps up. on the fifth step I start to thing about what she had said. And if I should belive her. My mind flashes back to what she had said about the Blue Stone, and as it does, the stair I am on starts to move down.
    “Help!” I scream in terror.
    “Move!” I hear a firm soft voice say behind me.
    She, the women from the pond is here. Standing behind me.
    Somthing in her eyes tells me to trust her.
    “This staircase will lead to your future, and now that I am with you, my death.”

    LALALLAA happy ever after. I’m kidding,

  8. An Emma Mystery: The Secret Passage

    “Emma, are you ready yet?” Jess asked. “Give me a minute,” Emma replied. Ever since Emma entered a fashion essay to her school’s writing competition she has cared more about her appearance. That day, Emma was wearing a bright red sweater with a daisy design and a poufy floral skirt with red shoes. “Okay I am ready,” Emma announced. “Good because we have to get to the library to study,” Jess said hurriedly. “Alright and besides, I have to see if Uncle Tom’s Cabin book is at the library,” Emma continued. When they arrived at the library, Emma noticed a beautiful stair case with colorful tiles that glimmered in the sun. “This must be new because the last time I came here the stair case that led to the library was light brown or gray, not rainbow like!” Emma exclaimed. Emma decided to take a picture of it but the sun was way too bright. “Come on Emma, the library will be closed in an hour and a half,” Jess said. “Fine but did you see the difference between the last time we came here and now?” Emma asked. “Yeah the stair case looks better now since it looks more colorful,” Jess replied. “Exactly but that’s not it, I mean when I walked by it seemed magical somehow,” Emma stated. “I guess so,” Jess said as they walked down the stair case. As they entered the library, Emma walked straight to the librarian’s desk. “Excuse me,” Emma said. “Yes?” the librarian named Ms. Stone replied. “Is my mom here?” Emma asked. “She is on her break at the mall,” Ms. Stone continued. “Oh, well could you tell me about the stair case outside?” Emma asked as she whipped out her note book. “Well it was built last week and it still needs some repairs especially after what happened,” Ms. Stone mentioned. “What happened?” Emma questioned. “I am not supposed to be spreading rumors but I heard that this young woman and her baby walked down the stair case on Thursday, the day the stair case was built, and they disappeared,” Ms. Stone said. Emma wrote all this down as fast as she could but Jess was doubtful. “Look Ms. Stone, there must be a reasonable explanation,” Jess said. “I mean there are no such things as ghosts or magic,” Jess continued. “You must be Emma’s friend, the science whiz,” Ms. Stone stated. “Yes I am and I think that you are making stuff up,” Jess said stubbornly. “Perhaps you have never seen what I have so you don’t believe in magic,” Ms. Stone said. Emma sensed an argument going and she stopped writing. “Well, thank you so much for your help Ms. Stone and we will be over there studying away for now,” Emma said. “Anytime Emma,” Ms. Stone replied and waved at them to go. After about an hour of studying, they decided to leave. Emma checked out several books, classics and nature books. As they were leaving, Ms. Stone called Emma over. “Remember things are not always what they seem,” she advised. Emma just nodded but she looked scared. As they walked outside into the crisp and cold air, Emma observed something. “What are you staring at?” Jess asked her. “Shush, I am looking at that man over there,” Emma whispered. The man she was looking at had a pale green coat with a design that looked like something she had seen before. Emma couldn’t quite describe it but she was certain it looked something like the stair case. The man looked young and he was carrying a dark blue bag. “What’s in that bag?” Emma wondered. “And what was Ms. Stone talking about?” Emma thought. She wrote down those questions in her note book. She remembered how she had solved the mystery of the glamorous model who was actually a spy using a disguise. Emma realized that the best way to solve this mystery was to observe her surroundings and also people. She needed an assistant though. “Jess, I need you to help me with this stair case mystery,” Emma said. “Look Emma, there is no mystery,” Jess replied. “Can you just help me please! I bet Darcy would be really happy if you were helping his beloved sister,” Emma stated with an innocent look on her face. Darcy was Emma’s brother. Jess had a crush on him ever since she was little and he was now her boyfriend and she was in love with him. “Fine, I’ll do it but if it gets too dangerous I’ll back out,” Jess stated. “Okay then,” Emma said. “First, we need to go to my house and gather up my spy tools,” Emma whispered. “Fine but don’t expect me to dress up as Nancy Drew or something like that,” Jess responded. “Whatever,” Emma said and led the way home. When they arrived at Emma’s house, Mr. Hawthorne, Emma’s dad asked her to heat up her dinner. Mr. Hawthorne was a freelance writer and did all the cooking in the house which was a pretty good thing since Emma’s mom couldn’t even boil water. “Okay dad,” Emma said. Emma loved to cook just like her dad but since she had come back late from the library, she had no say in what they would eat for dinner. “Yum that smells good,” Jess said. “Yeah my dad made some lasagna and garlic bread,” Emma informed her. “I am so hungry right now,” Jess said and rubbed her stomach for more emphasis. “Okay here you go but we have to eat fast,” Emma stated. “Alright then we should eat upstairs,” Jess replied. “I would but my room is so neat and I don’t want to make a mess of things,” Emma said. “Fine,” Jess replied and finished eating in less than fifteen minutes. “Okay let’s go upstairs,” Emma announced. Just then Darcy walked in the room from soccer practice. “Ugh Darcy, you smell so bad,” Emma said holding up her nose. “I think he looks great,” Jess said and gave him a kiss. “Okay, look I know you guys are dating, but we are really busy right now,” Emma stated. Jess understood her hint and followed Emma upstairs. When they got upstairs, Emma noticed a beautiful jean hand bag in a corner of her bedroom. “Perfect,” Emma mumbled and looked for her other spy supplies. “Jess, since you are my assistant, you have to take notes,” Emma informed her. Jess wrote a list of Emma’s spy supplies. Emma had a flashlight, a recorder, a camera, her phone, a note book, a spy book, and sunglasses. “Also, I am going to wear black glittery pants, a pink tank top, and black boots when we spy,” Emma announced. “Ugh, and what do I have to wear?” Jess asked. “This,” Emma replied holding up a brown leather jacket, skinny jeans, and a navy blue blouse. “Cute!,” Jess said. “Thank you!,” Emma said. “We have to find a way to sneak out of the house,” Emma stated. “I have it covered,” Jess replied. “We are going to fill Darcy in on our plan right?” Emma asked. “Yes we are,” Jess replied. “Okay, I think we should climb down a rope from your window and then leave on our bikes or cars,” Emma stated. “Perfect plan,” Jess agreed. They managed to climb down the window using ropes successfully. Now, they looked for their bikes in the darkness. “Good thing I brought a flashlight,” Emma said. When they arrived at the scene of the crime, the colorful stair case, Emma made sure she watched her surroundings very closely. Suddenly, she saw the same man she had seen earlier. He was wearing the same pale green coat and he had a blue bag with him. Emma decided to take a picture and since her phone was on silent mode, it wouldn’t make any noise. The man saw a slim figure in the darkness though. Emma noticed it too. Jess was still on her bike and she was super scared. She was not really the spying type. Emma observed very careful and she noticed something strange. The man had disappeared. “Oh man!,” Emma thought. She was almost sure that she had missed the clue but she was wrong. Ms. Stone, the librarian, appeared a few moments later. Emma realized that she was part of the mystery so she took a picture of her as well. Emma realized that Ms. Stone had created a hologram where she could walk in and out of the library as she wished. Emma was wrong though. Ms. Stone had created a hologram but that was not the only purpose she used it for. Emma saw the man come back out. “I have your gold miss,” he said. “Thank you Hendrick,” Ms. Stone replied. Emma had recorded the conversation on her recorder. Then she saw the two of them walk hand in hand back into their hologram. Emma waited a few minutes before she walked inside of it as well. She noticed a cave filled with jewels as she stepped inside. Emma was surprised. She had not expected such beautiful treasures. This was just like the story of Ali Baba and the Cave of Wonders. Emma took a few more pictures but then someone spotted her. Ms. Stone was instantly next to her. “Look Emma I encouraged you to follow the mystery but I didn’t want you to get hurt,” Ms. Stone said. “I should have known that kids are foolish,” Ms. Stone muttered. “This mystery is not like Nancy Drew because if I hurt you there will be no one to hear your screams,” Ms. Stone continued. “Now, you have two choices: either you will stay down here as my slave and help me carry all these jewels back to my car or I will kill you instantly,” Ms. Stone said. “Ah!” Emma exclaimed in a loud voice. Jess heard her. “Have it your way,” Ms. Stone snapped and picked her up. Jess went down the stair case but then she couldn’t find Emma. She had no idea it was all a hologram but she was smart. Jess discovered something. She saw foot prints leading to the library. “There is a way in,” Jess whispered. She saw a note on the ground. It read: “There is another way inside the cave. If you climb the steps of the stair case in the right order, the stair case will reveal a secret passage that will lead you to the inside of a cave.” “Okay,” Jess thought. “But what is the order?” Jess asked herself. She tried a bunch of different ways. She was about to give up and call the police when a bright idea came to her. “Emma gave me her spy book to hold for her and I still have it,” Jess said. Jess skimmed the pages of the book and noticed a story that talked about a secret passage. It stated a series of numbers that would lead to opening of a cave. “Wow, that’s exactly what I need,” Jess thought. She followed the instructions carefully and when she was done, the stair case opened and revealed a secret passage. Jess climbed the wooden steps all the way down and she was instantly inside the cave. She sent a quick text to her mom and to Emma’s mom so they would call the police while she tried to find Emma. She quickly spotted Emma. Emma was all tied up and Ms. Stone was telling Hendrick to carry her all the way to their car. Jess tried to send her a signal but it was no use. Emma couldn’t hear her. Jess decided to call in some back up. Darcy was her back up. He arrived quickly and he told her that he would distract the bad guys while she untied Emma and escaped. “Hey guys, I know all about your plans and I have a camera!” Darcy yelled at the top of his lungs. Hendrick and Ms. Stone went after him. Jess sneaked all the way to where Emma was sitting. “I am here to rescue you,” Jess whispered. “Thank you,” Emma whispered back. “I have enough pictures and information to report,” Emma said. “Me too, but first we have to get you out of here,” Jess replied. They managed to get out of the cave successfully. Since Jess had told her mom where they were, the police came in ten minutes. They arrested Hendrick and Ms. Stone, and the girls were rewarded. The policemen told the girls that what they did was very dangerous but since they had done the right thing and found so much information, they were going to be on the news the next evening. The girls thanked the officers politely, but inside they were screaming from excitement. As they were leaving, Ms. Hawthorne spoke up. “What you girls did was very dangerous and you will have to suffer the consequences, but I am also very proud of both of you,” Ms. Hawthorne said. “I completely agree with her,” Ms. Delaney, Jess’s mom said. “Darcy, don’t think you are walking away from here without being congratulated and punished too,” Ms. Hawthorne said. “Fine,” Darcy replied. Although no one quite knows how these two bad guys, Ms. Stone and Hendrick, managed to pull off this scandal of hidden passages and jewels, we do know that two girls Emma Hawthorne and Jess Delaney with the help of Darcy Hawthorne managed to uncover The Mystery of the Stair Case. As they grew older, they always told their children to be observant because they did not know the day or the hour that they too would become heroes or heroines to their country.
    The End

    • Wow, Mireya, you managed to weave the staircase into a MDBC story! And I love it that the stairs lead to a LIBRARY. Ha! Great mystery…

  9. Sora stared numbly at her feet, letting the blended adult voices wash over her. She never knew what to say in the best of times, and now she was even more lost.
    A hand fell onto her head, tapping it gently. She looked up to where Stephanie hung out of the car window, smiling like nothing was wrong.
    “Don’t you want to say good bye?” Stephanie asked, her hair swaying in the breeze.
    “We’ve already said good bye.” Sora responded, letting her eyes scan over the rosebushes, the black chain link fence anything but Stephanie’s eyes. “Saying anything more will make it feel like you’re not leaving.”
    Stephanie was Sora’s friend, but not her best friend, because those words combined felt like a mouthful of fake frosting- the cheap kind. Best friends moved and then became friends, acquaintances, total strangers. You could vow and pinky-swear all you wanted, but as Sora had observed, it usually had little effect. When the lines blurred it was easier to refer to everyone as friends. So that’s what Stephanie was. Her friend.
    Her friend that was leaving.
    “You’ll write, right?” Sora blurted out, a sudden panic rising in her chest. “Or text, or-”
    “Sora.” Stephanie cut her off. The sound of her car door slamming from the other side blasted in Sora’s ear. “Just remember me, okay?”
    “I will-” the car moved up the driveway and Sora stepped out of the way, trying not to get run over. Everything was happening too fast, and she stared after the car, a silent cry rising in her throat.
    “How couldn’t I?”

    There was a stairway leading to nowhere. Well, it had to lead to somewhere, but between the emanating light and the way it continually spiraled upward, Sora had no way of telling.
    She had to get to the top, though. That much she knew.
    With a tentative step, she mounted the staircase. It looked like glass and mirror shards, fragile but able to hold the world in their view. She studied it, the tiles winding their way in different patterns, a harmony of colors before her eyes. Magic. It was a magic staircase. Sora smiled and began to climb.
    Out of nowhere a hand swung and knocked her off the staircase. Her eyes flew open to a plaster ceiling and her mother’s eyes, narrowed in frustration.
    “That’s the third time I’ve called you, Sora! Get moving or you’ll miss the bus!”
    Making use of her talent for getting ready in extremely short timeframes, Sora dashed from her house and down the street to her bus stop. She paused while heading up a flight of stairs.
    Stairs again. Just like in the dream.
    But these were dull gray stone, worn down by sneakers such as hers. There was none of the beauty or the grandeur of the dream stairs. That was to be expected. Dreams were fantastical, reality was far more simplistic. And yet these were the stairs she and Stephanie would climb on their way to the park, so they held some sentimentality.
    Now she continued her walk up the stairs alone. Maybe Stephanie would remember to contact her this month.
    “I didn’t forget you, so why don’t you remember me?”

    The house was dark and silent, and Sora was pressed against the wall, school shoes still on and her backpack clutched to her chest.
    She couldn’t remember Stephanie’s last name.
    It’d been a sudden thing, but at school she realized that she didn’t remember Stephanie’s last name.
    It’d been two years since Stephanie moved and not a word of contact. The phone calls went to a number that didn’t exist (as the operator had remind her every time she called) the emails and texts went unanswered, and the mail was returned back to her house every time.
    So she’d asked around school, talking to the people who’d gone to their middle school if they remembered a Stephanie. Nobody did. And since she didn’t have any more information to provide them, it was yet another dead end.
    It was depressing. In fact, when her mother bothered to talk to Sora, that was the bulk of what she said: “You’re always so depressed.”
    Before, she dreamt often of the beautiful, mystical staircase. It appeared in her dreams nearly every night and in the mornings that followed she woke with a single thought: I have somewhere to be. That in itself was hopeful. There was something she needed to do, somewhere she needed to be.
    But the dreams faded, and so did that hope.
    Nadir. That described her situation. Sora dropped her head into her knees.
    “All you asked was that I remember you… and I tried but… I’ve forgotten because you… because…” she mumbled the words as sleep claimed her, the kindest thing shed experienced all day.
    When she opened her eyes, there were clouds. Wisps of mist floated past Sora, gently brushing her face. And beyond that…
    It was the staircase. A gasp escaped her lips and Sora rushed forward, leaping onto the first stair. Sparks exploded where her feet touched, sending a ripple of color up the rest of the staircase.
    It was just as she remembered, glowing different colors and winding its way further in the sky. Sora followed it with her eyes as she climbed. After all these years it was back.
    Farther up, where the ground disappeared down below, Sora paused. The clouds surrounding her were no longer mere wisps but swirling storm clouds, and the climb seemed daunting rather than invigorating. She stepped carefully onto the next step.
    It shattered mosaic shards flying everywhere, and the staircase opened up beneath her, throwing Sora into open air.
    Her own screams mingled with the whistling wind. And then in her ear came a sharp cry. “Don’t go!”
    Sora glanced around wildly, her hair whipping her face and getting caught in her mouth, searching for the voice. But there were only clouds and wind and her own, panicked heart.
    “Help…me…” Sora choked out before falling right through the staircase to heaven.

    It was winter, but not the one after Sora woke up in an empty house, heart racing and tears tracked on her face. Nor was it the winter after that. It was many winters and summers and springs and autumns past.
    Sora stood, bundled in a thick coat and scarf, hands shoved deep into her pockets. Snow drifted around her, fairy like and freezing.
    She was back in her hometown.
    It had been years, and she had grown up, gone to college, and now had her own house thousands of miles away. She had not dreamt of the staircase, and had felt Stephanie slowly disappearing from her mind.
    But a few weeks earlier the staircase had returned to her, and with it, the voice. The voice she had realized was Stephanie’s.
    “Come home.”
    Against all logic, Sora was back. Back to her real home, the stairs she had climbed every day to get to her bus stop, and then run to whenever the house was too empty and the silence too loud. That was Stephanie’s home too, the one where she had told Sora she was leaving.
    Where they had truly said good bye.
    “Where are you going?”
    “Far, far away.”
    “How far?”
    “Don’t worry. We’ll find our way back here.”
    Sora stared up the stairs. They were no longer gray and cracked, but tiled and shining like they had in her dream. People darted past her, climbing the stairs and not noticing anything.
    But to Sora, everything was different.
    At the top of the stairs, Stephanie stood there. Sora felt her heart crack. Was it like in karate, where you created a bunch of tiny fissures that healed over time and made the bones stronger? Even though her heart was a muscle, Sora hoped so. It’d never been that strong.
    Stephanie smiled, that same gentle but mildly infuriating smile. She wasn’t dressed at all for the cold, instead wearing light summer clothes. Sora began to climb the steps, slowly at first and then quicker and quicker.
    When she reached Stephanie, Sora took a deep breath and closed her eyes, beginning to speak.
    “I kept my promise…”
    When she opened them again, the staircase, the winter, and Stephanie were all gone. Instead she was in the dreamscape from before. It was summery; all golden sunlight and warm breezes, and it was real. Sora was sure of that, at least.
    She stared at the staircase, winding to the sky, and for the first time in years, felt a true, full-on grin spread across her face. She knew what was at the top, the culmination of all these years of dreaming and despondency.
    And so she began her ascension.

    I really love Saturday Story Starters because it’s a nice prompt for a self-contained story. Most of the stuff I write gets really long so I like doing one-shots! (Even though mine end up depressing.)
    Btw, that was a cool story about the house ^_^

  10. One day i was listening to music in my earbuds and walking along the sidewalk when i saw the new tree house my brother Eddie was building for me was finished. So i quickly ran back to my house to see it.I droped my earbuds on the run. Most tree houses have ladders , but this one had a staircase. The most beitiful staircase i have ever seen. But, there was nothing at the top exept Eddie. “so, how do you like it” he says. ” uhh,” i start” Where’s the rest of it?” ” oh yea he says” down this hole. So, i go down the hole. It has a waterbed mattress at the bottom, one where i could fall on when i come in here, and when i sleep in here. It was medium. Straight across from the bed, there was a small table with two chairs. across from that, there was one of those long couches with a bed area and a tv. And finally across from that was a window, and in the window were the earbuds i droped.

  11. “Stop it cath!” I growl as my little sister pulls my braid, she’s knows I’m nervous. She’s driving me to our local outdoor theatre. “You should really have both hands on the wheel” Oh no, my paranoia has set in. Performing for all of Mount Lincon park to see, you could see why I’d be nervous.
    As we get out of our little blue punch buggy and head up to the theatre I feel the hurricanes in my stomach. I stare to the sky as I try to recall my opening line.
    “Clove! Watch out!” Cath screeches as I trip over the old grimy well known set of steps leading up to the outdoor performance.
    Only the stairs aren’t the old grimy steps I remember; it’s a new set of stairs. They’re absolutely beautiful! The colour and technique put on the mosaic that looks just set. I gasp in awe, I’m not sure why this mosaic in particular seems so important though. It just seemed as if I couldn’t leave without hurt reaching out and touching the beautiful blue tile stream and decor.
    The panic and hurricanes become obliviated as I climb the gorgeous steps into my new career as not just an actress, but an artist like the creator of the mosaic.

    (Sorry this isn’t very good, I’m really tired)

  12. Hi heather. I just wanted to share with you something that happened to me, I was feeling a little homesick for my friends and old house. and i went to my shelf in my closet and i saw the “home for the holidays” cover and its familiar cover put me at ease, and i opened to a random page and started to read and i felt a whole lot better. 🙂

    ps did you cry when you wrote mrs bergesons death? cause i cried like a baby and my mom walked in on me and saw me crying while reading and she thought there was something wrong!

    • Awwwww! Love to hear this. I’m sure your new adventure in a new home will be a happy one, but the transition isn’t always easy, I know. As for Mrs. Bergson? Yes! I cried buckets. I was totally not expecting that to happen, but sometimes scenes in books seem to write themselves…

      • I know exactly how you feel, Daisy. It’s been three yrs since we moved from Kalamazoo, and sometimes…. I still miss it.

  13. Hey Mrs.Fredrick! I wanted to ask a question. For one of the books I’m writing, I wanted to use the name Legolas.Is that bad if I do? I mean I don’t want to act like I’m copying off of Tolkien. Am I allowed to???? Because I don’t want to look like a copy cat….. 🙂


    • You can do anything you want if it’s just for fun. If it’s something for publication, I’d think twice… 😉

    • Also, would it be okay if I did it kind of Like Flynn Rider? That is not his real name, but he changed it thinking that maybe if he did, he would turn out to be not the person he was meant to be and instead be a powerful, cool person?

      • I think as long as it’s not exactly Flynn Rider you could use that same idea 🙂
        Also, for finding names, there’s a name generator out there where you have options such as Russian, Italian, Celtic, etc. to create a name. It’s really helpful and I use it a lot! Other than that, though, I just use whatever name pops into my head first, or that sounds most natural.There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from already-used names, so maybe you could use some of Tolkien’s Elvish to create a name with the same feel as Legolas?
        Hope I helped.

    • Also…. How do we make up names? Like… Tolkien and C.S. Lewis did a GREAT job, but when I try…. my characters sound….. Listless. Not real.

      • I would suggest brainstorming lists. Don’t edit yourself, just pour them out on paper, no matter how stupid they might seem. Keep doing this until something *pings* and you say, “now THAT one might work.” then tweak it until it does. 😉

  14. Hello everyone!– i am going to be writing rooooopert loomis’s POV for this story and how he felt under the mistle toe and when he relized he liked emma and how he felt when emma told him lucy liked him! Enjoy!

    Walking down to lucy’s house is always a plesent walk, the fresh air is very refreshing. “Would you like to go for a walk to “sally lunes?” I ask lucy when she answers the door. “Why thank you rupert. I would love to.- just let me grab my coat” “Lets invite emma” lucy says once we are out. As we walk up to emma’s house, We make conversation by talking about Jane Austen. Just as i’m about to open my mouth to say something, we have all ready reached the front door. When emma answers the door, i make a weired noise in the back of my throat, but i dont think they noticed. For the first time i am taking notice as to how pretty she is. She is wearing a pink hoodie, grey sweats that hug her figure but are loose at the bottom and nude colored flats. A gentel breeze ruffels her loose relaxed curls, and her eyes seem to be shining as bright as stars. “Wanna walk to sally lunes with us emma?” Asks lucy. I am utterly grateful she asked because i feel like i have sand in my mouth. “I would love to!- but i am wicked busy with homework.” Wicked busy? I think to myself. Must be an american thing. “Oh that’s quite alright- would you like us to bring you some bath buns?” I ask i do hear my voice crack at the end, i wince with embarassment. “How can i resist bath buns!?- thank you!” “No problem” says lucy. “Farewell emma i do hope to see you on our route to school” i say as swave as i can. She gives me a funny look, says goodbye and closes the door.
    She stays in my mind the rest of the evening. I even had a dream about her, i dreamt that she was knoking on my door and when i opened it she held mistletoe over my head and gave me a kiss. When i woke up and relized it was only a dream it felt like all the happiness was sucked out of me. And it was then i relized i was drooling on my pillow.
    -christmas party-
    I greet all my gusets at the door hoping to see emma. Lucy arrives and greets me with a quick hug. When she lets go i see her cheeks a shade of pink, before i can think about it any longer i see emma’s brother, then father and mother, when i see emma i feel buffalo start to thunder in my body. She looks beautiful. I cant keep my eyes off her. My god she is really something tonite.
    Her brother greets me with what the americans call a “man hug” mr and mrs hawthorne shake my hands and emma just waves.
    Emma and annabell are having a heated conversation about something i cant hear, as i turn back to my conversation with lucy i see annabell push emma, she goes flying over to me and i catch her in my arms. Its like a dream and i really hope i dont wake up. “Well look at what we have here!” She says “2 lovebirds under some mistletoe” “no way” emma says taking a step back. I feel as though i have been slapped, those months i spent building up hope that maybe she does like me too, go shattering down like a tower of blocks made by a toddler. Annabell laughs softly. “A little christmas kiss under the mistletoe?- i guess your just one of those rude americans” “FINE!” Snaps emma. She leans in with her mouth scrunched up and her eyes shut tight. Not the most romantic kiss i dreamed about but definitly a good one. As soon as we break apart i lean in for one more before she can leave. As we break away for the second time she runs out of the room her face a thunder cloud. So much for christmas miricals, i thought i would get what i wanted most this year,……emma.
    Chawrlton ball—-
    I am leaning on the wall on the 2nd floor of the ballroom, looking at the sea of ruffles and lace and tight pants beneath me. Just as im about to go back to the ballroom jess- emma’s friends, greets me with a boy by her side. “Hi rupert, this is stewart, emma’s boyfriend.” She says confidently. When she says the boyfriend part stewarts head swivels in her dirention. But she ignores him. “Hello stewart, its quite delightful to meet you” i give a quick bow. “Ya you to man” he says a bit distracted. Once he finishes his sentence he turns and power walks downstairs. “Goodbye jess” i say and turn to go to to the hall with the portraites of famous women writers. “Just for the recored your a much better kisser than rupert” i hear emma say. sheesh i think am i really that bad? “Whew that’s a relief” says stewart. And he kisses her again. I leave quietly. I may have not gotten emma, but i will get a girl some day.

    As im dancing with emma i say “I hope you have a good trip back” “thank you” she says politely. I dance with a few other people, then come back to emma. What she said next surprised me. “You know rupert, i think lucy likes you” “LuuCY!?” I ask my voice cracks. But i dont care i am to amazed to speak. I stubble my way out of the room. Lucy likes me……
    Maybe there is a girl out there for me after all…

    Well, i hope you all liked it! Sorry for any typo’s typing this out on a teeny little keypad! Please let me know what you think!

  15. arg, I’m still trying to figure out how to write the story the way I like it, I’ve got loads of ideas, putting them into a story is whats complicated

    • Hi! I love your blog, and especially the name! 🙂 I started a blog with a friend in January. It started out as a fashion blog, then it kind of became a mix of everything. Here’s the link to my blog: (The earlier posts have more fashion.) If you want there’s the link to a Back to School Fashion Presentation on the side of my blog. I made it, but I didn’t make the outfits in the pics. If you have any tips, please tell me! After all, you’re the fashion expert!

      • Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. I really love your blog. It’s so cute!

        (By the way, I’m glad you guys like my blog! There’s an ask section where you can request me to make an outfit for you. Feel free to use it)

  16. Hi mrs. frederick,
    just a quick question,
    Do u have any idea on what book th girls r gonna be reading this year?

    (i just hope it wont be the hunger games or twighlight!) 😛

    • I do know what they’ll be reading — it’s not Hunger Games or Twilight. More information coming soon! 😉

      • Oh im happy it isnt those books! Is it a modern book or will cassidy be dissapointed again with another musty dusty old book? Haha 🙂
        Oh and i have a question,
        When you write megans POV and she is talking about her experiance at fashion week, how did you research for that? Did you get to go to fashion week or did you look up “latest fashions” online?

        • It will be another musty dusty old book ha ha! It wouldn’t be MDBC without the musty dusty, would it? 😉 As for the Fashion Week experience, alas that did not grow out of first-hand research. Just a great deal of online and magazine research. I would have loved to go to Paris and New York, though!

          • YES!!!
            I love musty dusty books! What Katy Did is one of my absolute favorites, along with Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. 😀

  17. That’s good, cause that would mean I wouldn’t be able to read it for a few more years, I don’t know what that would do to me and hiw on earth would I handle it

  18. Heather, is it ever to later to write a story, I mean like post one? and still get some, emphasis, well, tips is more like it

  19. The staircase was hidden from the sight of all human eyes, but all the mystical creatures lurking in the woods could see it. Yes, they saw it alright, but they had no idea what this beautiful staircase was doing in the middle of their precious land. Many people didn’t know it, but behind the towns creek was home to hundreds of mystical creatures, all waiting for a unsuspecting prey to wander in, so they could pounce. But one little creature by the name of Dappine never wanted to do anyone harm. Not even to those awful humans who took over their world. Dappine felt as if she was an outsider, for everyone took her as a weak, cowardly Phoenix. No one offered to share her company, and she was left out of any plans or discussions. So while everyone was angry about this sudden disturbance of a staircase in their woods, Dappine decided she would climb up to the top. Once she made it up, she felt herself drop, and plunged into terrifying darkness. That only lasted for a second though, because she soon found herself in another forest, full of welcoming, friendly creatures. They gathered around to see this new visitor, and suddenly started chatting at once. But instead at being mad at this intruder, they were happy. Dappine was so overwhelmed with joy, that she burst into flames, and was reborn into her ashes for the first time. Reborn to a new life, where she had friends, and happiness. Where there were more creatures like her.

    • This is great, Zoie! I love the mental image of Dappine being so happy that she bursts into flames! 🙂

      • Thanks so much Heather! It means so much to have you reply. I just finished the series and I loved it so much, and I think you’re an amazing author!! Your blog is really fun aswell 🙂

  20. I start to feel the lights fade. The wind just got busted out of me and I can’t regain it. The air that is supposed to circulate to my heart is only blowing past my face. I can’t breathe. I see a staircase in the distance though, its unlike any other stairwell I’ve ever seen. It glistens in the sun, it is like there is tons of glass shattered then melted onto it. I take one step closer to the stairs, then they disapear. I feel cold hands on my cheeks. I reach up and touch them. My eyes flicker back open.
    “Tara, Tara, wake up babe,” my mom says. I gasp in as I feel the air flow back into my lungs. I feel the sheets on my bare legs. I realize that my mom must have taken me home after I got the cuncussion, or I would asume that is what happened. One minute I was playing “football”(the British version) the next minute I was on the stairs and now I’m here, lying in my bed. My teammates are gathered around the end of my bed. Mindi’s eyes are glazed over like she is about to cry. I reach for her hand and she grasps it reall tightly. The tears spring to her eyes,
    “I thought you were going to let me get that goal,” she pouts fakely.

    To be continued…………………….

  21. Sorry, I’m late. I was just trying to find the time! Here’agos! :

    There it is. The winding golden and rainbow staircase.
    I know I’m dreaming. But for some reason, I feel it is there. It seems so real, for it stretches up and reaches the sky. It makes me gasp every-time I see it. I turn my face towards the heavens,and try to see where the stair leads. I can not see where it leads.A big star blocks the end, and I can not see the destination.
    The wailing of sirens bring me to full wakefulness. Suddenly, I remember what happened. The horse accident. The mountain ridge, the bear. My horse, Dixy, had bucked when a bear had come into view, I had flown forward, and I don’t remember what happened after that.
    Deric, my friend is knelt beside me and I finally manage to bring my eyes into focus. His eyes are wet and he is looking down at me with concerned eyes. The ambulance has also come into view. Medics instantly jump out and I try to sit up.
    Deric pushes me back down onto the ground. “Rest.” He whispers. “You’ve injured your neck. You need to rest.”
    One head nurse comes up beside me and takes my pulse. “What is your name?” She asks.
    I open my mouth to answer, but no answer comes out. I can not speak.
    “Leslie.” Deric answers for me. “Leslie Lucas.”
    I nod my head and the head nurse smiles.”Alright, well, Leslie, we need you to be very still, and we are going to get you on the stretcher.
    I nod as some strong brawny men pick me up and tie me onto the stretcher.
    I can barley realize what was happening, and I am not sure what I can do to help. All I know, is that I have a feeling the staircase is real, and I have to find it.
    The only problem is, I’m hurt. I’m injured. I might die, and yet I am trying to find a treasure! Mom will never allow it. But I have to find it. I have to know what it is. And I will………


  22. I know this is super late but u better thank you’re teacher for me since I atsolutly love the mother daughter book club. And u said she’s the reason you became a writer. Oh by the way this is not a story just a comment.

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