Dedicated to Anne, from On The Outward Appearance
I watch the van pull away. An eager voice from behind me sings, “Can I have your autograph?” I’m about to refuse when I feel a prick in my neck. I collapse into a heap of striped spandex and leather onto the cold sidewalk.
I hear and see everything around me, but I’m paralyzed.
“Let me tell you about another loser God used—his name was David. He was young and scrawny and musical. In fact, this artsy dude was one of the first true singer/songwriters. Of course, his biggest fans were sheep.”—eyeroll—“No one thought he was anything special, even his own family. He was a loser in the world’s eyes. But God used that loser to slay a giant. God can use you, too!”
“Dude, I don’t even own a slingshot,” I joke under my breath to Kayla.
Dedicated to Li from Days of the Guardian.
Listen to more music from fabulous British musician, Alexi Murdoch
I would rather be with Shu Rui than anyone in the world. She makes me laugh with her funny words and silly smiles. No one in my family listens to me, but Shu Rui does. And she never ignores me or tells me I talk too much.
Discover the musical wonders of Agnes Obel.
“Dr. Griffin, do you understand the importance of impressing Commander Chen?”
The dark-haired neurosurgeon scoffed at his short, scowling companion.
“Before this meeting is over, Comrade Chen will be eating out of my palm.”
This time, it was Dr. Feng who scoffed.
“You are a fool. Chen Changxing is a Chinese soldier—not a naive teenage girl.”
“Oh, I’m a fool, am I? Then maybe you should try and perform this surgery without my guidance. I’m sure you’re talented enough to figure it out on your own. Wait—weren’t you the one who spent years trying to figure out the error in my father’s formula without ever coming close to the answer? Who was the only one able to succeed? Me!”
-The Red Knot, Prologue
Braydon burst into laughter. Today was his tenth birthday. He couldn’t stop smiling. Memories of his last birthday party had faded a long time ago. He had been four years old. He’d loved dinosaurs and was an only child then.
Every year he was given a different, yet equally lame, excuse. His parents claimed they were too poor, too busy, or too something. Brayden knew the truth—all they cared about was Katie.
Brayden’s little sister, Katie, was five years old and had Down syndrome. His parents’ lives revolved around Katie. Last year, they actually forgot it was his birthday, until he reminded them at bedtime. They promised to make it up to him.
-Excerpt from Monster-Shark, my contribution to the Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs by Inklings Publishing, a collection of stories for educators, teachers, and students that include characters with special needs.
I’m honored to be included in this anthology. Growing up with a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome (years before this form of autism had an official name), I wanted to write a story representing kids who feel unnoticed because the special needs of their brother or sister take up much of their parents’ attention, time, and money.
I also interviewed a friend of mine, the mother of a sweet boy named Enzo, who has Cri du Chat syndrome and she told me, with tears in her eyes, about what often happens when Enzo plays with other children in restaurant play areas. They always make him “it” and run away from him, screaming. He has fun, but it breaks her heart. Then I interviewed some kids under twelve and asked them about what games they could think of to play that would include kids with special conditions like Enzo’s.
Monster-Shark was the result.
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