Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Life's Like A Talent Show

Life's Like A Talent Show
    Shalia waited anxiously behind the drawn curtains. Her palms were sweating, throat dry and heart racing. Fear gripped her like never before. I can't do it, She thought to herself. Shalia glanced to the side of the stage wanting desperately to run, but her legs wouldn't respond to her mind's call.
  She could hear a young man's voice mumbling beyond the curtain. The only words she could make out were her name and the announcement she would be "singing". Her racing heart skipped a beat as she let out a gasp. It was time. She was next on stage.
  The curtain opened to a smattering of applause, spotlights shown in her eyes and music began. Shalia had sung this song confidently in her bedroom a thousand times before, but suddenly that confidence had escaped her. She opened her lips, and forced the first few lines free from her raspy throat.
  Shalia was horrified.

  Last night, I found myself sitting in my oldest daughter's middle school auditarium (part cafeteria-part auditorium) to watch her first foray in a "Talent Show". It was a proud moment, of which I am able to say she has given me and my wife many, yet the experience handed me an insight while watching the nearly twenty students performing to a wide degree of "success" that I had never thought of before...Life's like a talent show.
  The performances were what is to be expected from a young group of middle schoolers; awkward, sometimes uncomfortable, and altogether courageous. It is the epitome of the everyday battles we fight while growing up in the world. Learning everything from walking to talking to school and love. It is what makes our children so vulnerable and resilient at the same time.
  Performers entered the stage, jittery and shaking both with anticipation and fear. Their nerves pushing them into places they had probably not been before in their young lives, yet I found myself oddly envious of them...these young boys and girls pushed through their reservations (each one of them) and performed! Some danced or sang, played music or tested their comedic timing, but everyone of them succeed in finding something tonight on that stage that I could never have found at their age...their courage! A future potential to push through their fear and grasp control of their lives.
  Before the talent show, my daughter had told me that one of the singer's had struggled through her performance in front of the entire school in the morning. That same young girl stood on stage tonight, obviously still fighting her fear and the memories from earlier that day, but found a way to deliver.

  After the show, which my daughter rocked by the way as she performed her own choreographed dance routine to a recording of her own poem played over the loudspeaker, I told my wife about my somewhat ridiculous determination that life's like a talent show. Watching these kids walk out on stage, barely able to contain their fear, looking like they wanted the stage to open up and shallow them whole before anyone started laughing at them was heart-wrenching. Yet, each and everyone of them continued on, gaining confidence with each passing moment. Singers voice's steadied. Their bravado strengthened. Swaggers returned. At the end, I would dare say that each one of those kids would have done their performance again...that very instant. And it would have been even better.

  Life's like a talent show. Take your first day at a new job for example. We can all relate to the nervousness that overwhelms us that moment you walk through the door. Then, time moves on and you become more comfortable with your duties and responsibilities, soon that fear is removed and your signing like you never thought you could...well maybe not signing, but writing, coaching, leading...whatever it may be that you do.

  We even find it in the characters we fall in love with. My 
Land of Mistasia
 youngest daughter loves Phillip Harper from the story Land of Mistasia.He is an uncomfortable teenager who has just entered high school and falls for his best friend's twin sister, Rachel. Phillip finds himself thrust into a situation where he has to find his courage in order to save her from an evil king in the Land of Mistasia. Phillip discovers things he never knew were within himself and finds a way to challenge what he has always felt were his weaknesses. 
  That is exactly what these kids did tonight!
  Life's definitely like a talent show, but unless you stand up tall on the stage of life and bare yourself to the world you'll never know how far you can go.

Christopher M. Purrett

Wednesday, March 13, 2013




I stood impatiently behind my grandpa as he looked out across the frozen river. Drifts of snow swelled on the far side of the river, but there was very little at our feet. Phillip and Whizzy were standing on either side of me as the wind blew at our backs, sweeping the snow across the ice. It slithered along the frozen river top like a snake in the sand. The sun was very low and dim in the sky.

I squinted to see what Grandpa Whizzenmog was doing as he reached into his pocket for something. When he found it, he quickly moved onto the ice.

“What is he waiting for?” Whizzy crassly remarked.

I didn’t have any idea. No one did, because none of us responded.

Phillip, Whizzy and I stayed back on shore.

“Do not follow me, kids. I will make sure it is safe first.” He stopped only a few feet away from us when a strong gust of wind swirled around and engulfed him in snow.

“Grandpa!” Whizzy yelled then started to run on the ice.

I grabbed him by the arm, “Wait! Don’t move!”

The snow blew into the air and Grandpa Whizzenmog reappeared. He had huddled and covered his face.

“I’m fine. Please, stay there,” He commanded while wiping snow from his eyes and beard.

The winds had caught us by surprise. Phillip was cuddling Aevion to his chest and I knelt down and huddled around Princess Merran. Snow was flying around like we were in a winter tornado. It was somewhat difficult to see until my grandpa pulled something from his pocket.

A bright green light made the fluffy white snow seem to disappear. It shot rays of dark green light into the river.

“What is that?” Phillip croaked. He seemed very nervous. I didn’t like it when he was nervous…I liked him better when he was confident.

My grandpa raised his arm into the air. He was chanting something, although I couldn’t hear him, I could see his lips moving. The light from the object in his hands grew brighter and brighter just before he slammed it onto the frozen river with a loud grunt. A circle of green light rippled out from the object, shaking the ground like a tremor when it passed us by.

“That was wicked!” Whizzy shouted.

Grandpa stood up and backed away with his wand still in his left hand. He eagerly studied the small green object now sticking out from the ice.

“It’s the emerald!” I shouted above the rushing winds.

“What?” Phillip asked.

Whizzy and Phillip each listened intently, “A green emerald. I saw it in Grandpa’s room last night,” I explained as my hair whipped against the increasing winds. “I asked if it belonged to Grandmother, but he didn’t say.”

Small cracks began to splinter in the ice. They stretched out from the center where the emerald had pierced the ice. The river began to change colors like it was melting rapidly. A large circle formed near where my grandpa now stood.

“Hurry!” Grandpa Whizzenmog shouted as he emphatically waved us toward him.

We dashed onto the icy river and slid to a stop next to the only person who seemed to have any idea what was happening beneath us.

I saw the water bubbling and swirling under our feet. It changed colors directly below us, from a white to clear like the sliding glass door in our basement.

“Hold on!” I heard my grandpa’s voice shout, as he firmly grabbed a hold of my arm.

A sinking feeling came over me. Now I knew how Phillip felt almost every single day in school. My stomach flipped and I suddenly felt sick when I watched the icy river-top disintegrate under my boots.

I screamed as I fell into the river, which now swirled like a whirlpool. The water was all around me, yet I wasn’t wet or cold. We were in a portal. Grandpa had done it…he had opened the portal to Mistasia.

An orange fish flew past my face. I screamed and then covered my mouth for fear of drowning, but I could breath.

I watched as Whizzy flipped around doing somersaults. He smiled so widely that I almost didn’t recognize him. Phillip, however, looked terrified.

Colors began to fade. My brother and Phillip grew smaller until I could no longer see them. Then everything went dark.


Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

Find More of this and other stories at the links above!




I looked into the bathroom mirror.

I look awful. I thought to myself.

My eyes were red like I had been crying for days and my hair was a complete mess. Grabbing the nearest hairbrush from the drawer I started to tame my hair. Suddenly, I caught a frightening scent. My clothes were damp and smelled like Whizzy’s sweaty gym socks. Yikes!

I need to take a shower before Phillip thinks I’m some wild animal. I told myself. That was probably the best idea I’d had in some time. I needed to relax and unwind. The tension in my neck was causing me to hunch over. I just kept thinking about the poor helpless creatures of Mistasia and the awful things that King Cragon was doing to punish them now that he was back in power. Princess Merran was correct…we needed to get back right away. Every hour we waited here in Greenville, another day passed in Mistasia. Cragon wouldn’t wait very long to take his revenge.

The hot water from the shower felt great. It was definitely much better than the cold air in Mistasia. Stepping from the shower, I reached for my towel and quickly wrapped it around me.

I heard a creaking noise while I was drying my hair and quickly stopped. The door was slightly open.

“Whizzy!” I yelled, thinking my stupid brother had opened the door to let in a cool draft. He was always doing dumb things like that to make me mad. I made sure the towel was wrapped around me tightly and stuck my head out into the hallway to yell at him, but there was no one there.

I scoffed. Maybe I just hadn’t closed the door tightly enough. This was a very old house and the doors would sometimes creak open. Whizzy used to think it was haunted when we were kids. Pushing against the door harder, I heard it click. Then, I locked it…just to be sure.

When I turned around, I screamed. Standing in the middle of the floor was a small black mouse.

“Aevion! I’m naked,” I shouted angrily while pulling my towel close between my legs and crossing my knees.

The small black mouse was the same vampire bat that had taken us to Mistasia the day before. He had been sent back to Greenville with us when his parents, Goren and Vella, the leaders of the vampire bats, betrayed us. Sorcerer LaCroiux kept them under his control, which basically made Phillip, Whizzy and me Aevion’s parents now.

“I’m sorry, Rachel. The princess has requested to see you,” he spoke while staring at the floor and rubbing his tiny paws together nervously.

“This couldn’t wait until I was dressed?” I quickly reached back, unlocked the door and pushed him outside with my hand. He covered his eyes as I slid him across the tile floor and onto the carpeted hallway. “Give me five minutes,” I barked and then slammed the door.

I could hear him whimper and then scurry down the hallway towards my bedroom where Princess Merran was hiding.

Standing back in front of the mirror, I wiped away the condensation from the glass. My wet hair clung to my face, and my eyes were still red. There was a knock at the door.

“I said five minutes!” I snapped thinking Aevion had returned.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Rachel,” Phillip’s muffled voice replied through the door. “But I really need to go to the bathroom.”

My heart started to flutter when I heard his voice. It was very strange. Only a year ago I wouldn’t have cared if Phillip were here, but now things were different. He made me feel weird and I sort of liked it.

I took a deep breath, “Can’t you go downstairs?”

He didn’t respond immediately. “Ah…well. I’m not quite comfortable with that, Rachel,” He replied. “I had to borrow Whizzy’s clothes and they’re…well, a little small.”

I watched in the mirror as a smile crept across my face. I couldn’t help it. I had to see this. Phillip was over six feet tall and Whizzy was shorter than me. Reaching out for the door handle I could feel myself begin to giggle. I stopped to gather myself and then grabbed hold of my towel across my chest and cracked the door open slightly to peer out. Catching a glimpse of Phillip standing there with an orange t-shirt that looked more like a tube top, I burst into laughter. His belly button was staring at me like a creepy eyeball. He also wore Christmas-themed pajama pants with Rudolph and Santa faces all over them. These were also too short and barely covered his knobby knees. He stood with his hands and arms covering his body as if he were naked. It was the strangest and funniest thing I had ever seen. It was kind of cute.

“Oh my gosh, Phillip. What did my brother do to you?” I was laughing pretty hard now and his face began to turn bright red. “Phillip…you look ridiculous.”

“Can I go…please?” He begged as he danced on the carpet in his bare feet. “I’d go downstairs, but I can’t let everyone see me like this.”

“I’ll hurry; just wait right there.” I rushed back into the bathroom, finished drying off and hurriedly pulled on my night clothes…just an old t-shirt and sweatpants since I had long out grown the little girl night gowns. I didn’t even dry my hair, but pulled it back in a ponytail.

Phillip was still hopping around like a frog in the hallway when I opened the door. His dance was quite silly, and it added to how goofy he looked in my brother’s clothes. I so wished I had my phone to get video. The door slammed behind me, almost hitting my rear when I heard Phillip yell, “Thanks!”

In my bedroom, Princess Merran waited impatiently for my return. It was just like my mom would have done. Merran, a white cat, was curled up on my pillow with Aevion at the foot of the bed. She gracefully rose when I entered. The banished ex-queen was anxiously awaiting our return to Mistasia.

“Sorry I took so long…I was delayed, Princess,” I started to bow then felt silly, so I stopped and then stumbled. It was really awkward which I am definitely glad Phillip didn’t see…or my brother. Whizzy would have definitely made some joke about it. “What is it that you wanted to talk to me about?”

“Why does your grandpa wait to take us back to Mistasia, Rachel?” She was very forceful in her tone.

I was shocked to hear her so rude. That was not something she had ever done to me before.

“We need to return immediately!” She continued before I could answer.

“I know, Princess Merran. I want to go back too, but he said he wanted to wait until the morning when my parents are gone,” I replied.

The cat tilted her head in a peculiar way. I instantly knew that she didn’t understand why that was important.

“I fear that your grandpa has lost his courage, Rachel Whizzenmog.”

“No…no, Princess. We can’t just leave with my parents here. They will realize that we are missing. With my grandpa here, things are different. When it’s just Whizzy and me, we have the freedom to…go play. So our parents expect us to be missing for some time. It is normal. They believe that we are just playing with friends. If my grandpa is missing, that would worry them.” I wasn’t sure if that even made sense to me so I was pretty sure that Princess Merran would probably be confused.

“It’s like the difference between Grace and your servants at Cadieux Castle.”

Her ears perked up.

“When Grace isn’t at the castle you believe her to be off protecting it. When your servants are gone, you notice that there isn’t someone taking care of your needs.”

“Ah…I think I understand.” She paused for a moment. “Does that mean your grandpa is your parents’ servant?”

“No! No, I mean that he is someone that is expected to be around the castle and easily found when needed.” I responded.

“Oh…I see.”
“Princess, please. You must understand my grandpa will take us to Mistasia. I promise you that. He hasn’t lost his courage,” I added.

Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

Find More of this and other stories at the links above!




Later that night, I stood outside the door to the room where my grandpa slept. Whizzy and I had always known him as Grandpa, but he was the original Michael Whizzenmog. His middle name was Rainer. My dad is Michael Whizzenmog, junior, and my brother is the third.

There was a pounding in my chest as I stood, hesitantly, outside the door. I could feel my heart pumping blood through my body like a speeding roller coaster. It was something I had never noticed before our trips to Mistasia. Now everything seemed clearer…more noticeable. My senses were so focused. I wished I could be this focused in math class…maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a “C” on my first semester exam.

It was 10:15 pm. Grandpa Whizzenmog was surely asleep, but I needed to know that he was still going. Something in my gut told me something was wrong. I could hear the sound of music from Whizzy’s video game in the distance. I scanned the hallway before knocking. No one was around.

My body moved in slow motion. I softly tapped my knuckles on the door as if it was made of glass and afraid it would shatter.

“Why am I so nervous?” I muttered to myself. My hands felt sweaty.This is ridiculous.”

I felt like a criminal. All I wanted to do was talk with my grandpa about a secret magical world where an evil king has taken over and we are trying to overthrow him.

“Oh that’s why I’m nervous…I sound crazy!” I answered my own question, which now I realize doesn’t make me seem very sane in the first place.

The door opened.

I gasped.

“Rachel?” my grandpa questioned, sounding as surprised as I was to find me standing outside his door this late at night.

“Grandpa,” I replied.

“Are you all right?”

I nodded, “Sorry to bother you. I’ll go back to bed.”

“My dear, come in.” He placed his large hand on my shoulder. It seemed so light and delicate for something that resembled a bear claw in size.

He walked me to a single wooden chair at the desk along the wall. Then he sat on the bed. We remained quiet for a moment. I avoided his eyes, but I knew he was looking right at me. Instead I stared at a picture of our family sitting on the nightstand. It was my grandpa’s. He had brought it with him on his trip. That is when I noticed this room looked like my grandpa had lived in it for years. The covers on the bed and curtains on the wall were the same, a dark orange like the leaves in fall. Yet, on the nightstand were his reading glasses and chrome-colored watch. His jacket was wrapped around the chair I sat in. I could smell his aftershave on its collar. He had made this room his home. That was when I saw a strange object sitting next to his glasses that I had never seen before. It was small and dark green, yet it glowed like a flame inside lighted it.

“Grandpa, what is that?”

“Ah…that is an emerald. It is a very rare gemstone.”

“Did it belong to Grandmother?” I questioned. I couldn’t remember her ever talking about it, but she had died nearly five years ago. Maybe I had just forgotten.

My grandpa changed the subject. “Rachel, what brings you to my door at this hour?” He raised his eyebrow.

I still couldn’t look in his eyes. This whole situation was making me very uncomfortable. Was I really about to ask my grandpa, a man I loved and admired, if he was a coward? I must be insane to even believe Princess Merran for a second.

The emerald glimmered in the corner of my eye. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was mesmerizing.

“Rachel!” My grandpa sternly called. “You are acting strangely…like your brother.”

I laughed. I was acting very strangely, but lately everything in my life was strange. “Grandpa, why didn’t you return to Mistasia?”

“Love,” he answered without hesitation. “My priorities changed. I met your grandmother, had a family and moved far away from that life.” He didn’t appear to have any regrets, but tears formed in his aged eyes.

I didn’t know if he was thinking about Grandma or Mistasia.

“Didn’t you ever wonder what had happened in Mistasia?” I wanted to know how he left it behind so easily. I had been a wreck since we left and it had only been a few hours!

“I always knew it would find me.”

“Find you?” I asked. “Why were you hiding?”

“Mistasia had changed. Everything had changed, my dear.” He rubbed the back of his neck.

“How had Mistasia changed? What made you leave?” I needed to know. Mistasia was dangerous now, but only because my grandpa had left it unprotected.

“Sometimes one choice is all it takes to alter the course of everything, Rachel. Just one.” Then he stopped explaining. He seemed very upset.

We sat together silently for a few moments as my grandpa struggled to regain his composure. He rubbed his hand over his mouth and took a deep breath.

Finally, I spoke out, “It is time to return, Grandpa.”

He nodded. “Off to bed now. We have quite a journey ahead of us tomorrow.”

Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

Find More of this and other stories at the links above!