Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Jennifer’s Jar – A Short Story

(Photo from The Cary Company, http://www.thecarycompany.com)

Jennifer’s Jar

by Dawn Pisturino

On the morning of her tenth birthday, Jennifer received the strangest gift she had ever seen – a large glass jar.

It looks like a mayonnaise jar, Jennifer thought. But why did someone – or something – send it to her?

When she unscrewed the lid and peered inside, she saw nothing at all. Sniffing it produced no odor. The inside of the jar was perfectly dry. She shook it, rolled it, and turned it upside-down. Nothing happened.

All in all, it was an ordinary glass jar with no label on the front or printing on the lid. So, she decided to use it.

“I’ll fill it with water and add blue food coloring,” Jennifer said. “Some plastic fish would look nice. I’ll make an aquarium!”

But when she tried to pour water into the jar, the water wouldn’t go in! It spilled all over the countertop. She used a whole roll of paper towels cleaning it up. And the jar was still empty.

“I’ll fill it with marbles,” Jennifer decided.

She found her brother’s big bag of marbles and tried to pour them into the jar. But the marbles wouldn’t go in! They scattered all over the kitchen floor. It took twenty minutes to find all those marbles and refill the marble bag. And the jar was still empty.

“Oh, well,” Jennifer sighed. “Bobby would probably be mad anyway.”

Sand! How about sand?

For Christmas, Jennifer had received a craft kit filled with different types of colored sand. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it.

Using one of her mother’s kitchen funnels, she tried to pour pink sand into the jar. But the sand wouldn’t go in! It spilled, like pink sugar, all over the countertop. She cleaned it up with a wet dishcloth. And the jar was still empty.

Frustrated, Jennifer threw the dishcloth into the sink. “What am I going to do with an empty glass jar that won’t fill? I may as well throw it away.”

She tossed it into the trashcan, but lo and behold, here it came, bouncing out of the trashcan and into her hands again!

Terrified, Jennifer threw the jar onto the floor, smashing it into a million pieces.

A loud belching noise filled the air, and a small cloud of stinky black smoke rose up from the pieces of glass. “Ugh! Smells like a big fart!” Jennifer cried, pinching her nose. “Smells like Sissy’s poopy diapers! No wonder the jar wouldn’t fill!” As the cloud rose, it grew larger and larger until it was nearly as big as Jennifer herself.

“I’m out of here!” Jennifer yelled as she ran for the front door. But the big, stinky, black cloud followed her. She raced into the front yard, where a gust of wind caught the big, black cloud and spirited it away.

Relieved, Jennifer returned to the kitchen just in time to hear her mother say, “Jennifer, you’re in big trouble this time!”

Dawn Pisturino

2012; May 4, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Two-Word Story: All Gone

All gone. (Photo from Reuters)

All gone. (Photo from Bright Hope)
All gone. (Photo from Shutterstock)

Two-word story:

All gone.

I’ll let you decide which photo fits best.

Dawn Pisturino

April 28, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

13 Comments »

Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash)

Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

by Dawn Pisturino

Brother Bear groaned. “I don’t wanna baby-sit! Sister Bear always gets me into trouble!”

“Now, now,” said Mama Bear. “I have to take Baby Bear to the doctor. I’m counting on you to take care of Sister Bear.”

“Can we make chocolate chip cookies when you get home?” Brother Bear asked.

Mother Bear laughed. “We’ll see,” she said.

After Mother Bear left with Baby Bear, Brother Bear turned on the TV so Sister Bear could watch her favorite cartoons.

“I’m hungry,” Sister Bear said. “Can I please have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Brother Bear made a face. “Okay – since you said please.”

“You’re the best big brother in the world!” Sister Bear said.

Brother Bear went to the kitchen. He made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and put it on a green plate. He poured a big glass of milk. He carried the green plate and the glass of milk into the living-room for Sister Bear. Sister Bear was gone!

“Sister Bear!” Brother Bear called. But nobody answered.

Brother Bear put the green plate and glass of milk on a table. He ran down the hallway to look for Sister Bear.

First, he looked in Sister Bear’s room. There were lots of dolls on Sister Bear’s pink bed – but no Sister Bear.

Then, he looked in Baby Bear’s room. There were lots of stuffed animals in Baby Bear’s white crib – but no Sister Bear.

Brother Bear knocked on the bathroom door. “Sister Bear, are you in there?”

He heard water running.

Sister Bear squealed with delight. “Wheeeee! I love bubbles! Lots and lots of bubbles!”

Brother Bear groaned. What was he going to do? Mama Bear would be home soon. Brother Bear tried to open the bathroom door. But it was locked.

“Sister Bear, open the door!” Brother Bear yelled.

“I’m taking a bubble bath all by myself,” Sister Bear said. “Wheeeee!”

Brother Bear heard Sister Bear splashing in the water. He heard the water running in the bathtub.

I have to get in there and turn off the water, Brother Bear thought. But how?

The window. Could he climb through the bathroom window? He decided to try.

Brother Bear ran outside and found the bathroom window. It was open. But Brother Bear was not tall enough to climb through the window.

He found an old wooden chair. He placed it under the bathroom window. He stood on top of the chair. Now, he was tall enough to climb through the window.

Sister Bear laughed when she saw Brother Bear climb through the window. She blew bubbles at him with her bubble wand.

The water in the bathtub was beginning to run on the floor. Bubbles floated everywhere!

Brother Bear turned off the water in the bathtub. He was mad.

“Look at the mess you made!” Brother Bear shouted. “Mama Bear’s gonna be mad!”

Sister Bear began to cry.

Brother Bear opened the bathroom door. He heard a noise in the kitchen. Mama Bear was home.

What should he do?

Brother Bear grabbed some towels from the linen closet and threw them on the bathroom floor. He cleaned up all the water with the towels. Then he pulled the plug in the bathtub.

Sister Bear laughed as the water went gurgle-gurgle down the drain. She climbed out of the bathtub. Brother Bear dried her with a towel. He helped her to get dressed.

Brother Bear took Sister Bear to the living-room and put her in a chair.

“Here’s your peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Brother Bear said.

Mama Bear came into the living-room. “How did it go?” she asked.

Sister Bear became excited. “Brother Bear let me take a bubble bath all by myself. And he made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world. I love Brother Bear!”

Mama Bear looked happy. “You did a good job, Brother Bear. Let’s go make chocolate chip cookies.”

Dawn Pisturino

May 2008; March 31, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Rite of Passage

(Photo by Gil Ribeiro, Unsplash)

I wrote this for the Binnacle 2008 Ultra-Short Writing Challenge, which asked for a 150-word story:

As the train pulled away from the station, Carrie looked through the window at her father standing lost and forlorn on the wooden platform. “I’ll be back,” she had said, hugging him tightly and kissing him warmly on the cheek. But as the train chugged slowly down the track, she knew in her heart that she would never come back. With tears in her eyes, she waved at him one last time, painfully aware of the worried expression in his tired blue eyes, the stooped shoulders, the crumpled old sweater. Who will take care of him now, she wondered. But as the train moved faster down the track, so did her thoughts, leaping ahead to the eager young man waiting anxiously for her at the end of the line and the new life they would begin together. She closed her eyes, remembering his gentle words of love, and cried. (149 words)

Dawn Pisturino

January 2008; March 29, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

23 Comments »

Microfiction: This One’s for You

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

I wrote this for an Underneath the Juniper Tree writing challenge, August 29, 2011:

I love you, Lizzie Borden . . .

As she crept up the stairs, fondling the wooden axe in her hands . . .

“This one’s for you, Lizzie!”

Dawn Pisturino

March 25, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

12 Comments »

Eleven-Word Story

(Photo from Raiders of the Lost Ark,1981)

An eleven-word story that I wrote for an Underneath the Juniper Tree Writing Challenge, August 10, 2011:

“Hideously white and deformed, the face at the window slowly decomposed.”

Dawn Pisturino

March 24, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Bullying Based on a Cuban Folktale

by Dawn Pisturino

A long time ago, Sun and Moon lived in a deep, dark cave on an island in the Caribbean Sea. 

Sun could not bear to live in such claustrophobic quarters. Day and night he paced the floor, grumbling and complaining, until one morning he said to Moon: “Sister, this cave is too small, and our light is too bright. It’s blinding both of us! You’re smaller and weaker than I am. You must leave and find a new home.”

“Me!” Moon retorted, stamping her tiny silver feet. “This cave belongs to both of us. Since you’re so unhappy, you move out!”

Sun said no more. He paced back and forth, wringing his hands until they were raw. Glimpsing his reflection in the mirror he shrieked, “Look what you’ve done to me! My face is breaking out with sunspots!”

“What do I care,” Moon responded. “I’m not leaving, and that’s final.”

Enraged, Sun loomed over Moon, his face growing redder and hotter until bright orange flames shot from his fingers and toes and the ends of his hair.

“Stop it, Sun!” Moon cried, shielding her face with her arms. “You’re scorching me with your hot flares!”

Moon waxed and waned with terror, moaning in pain, until Sun grabbed her silver locks and threw her out of the cave. “And never come back again!” he roared.

Leaning against a banana tree, Moon wept until her full, shiny face shrank to a thin silver crescent.

Air, grieved by Moon’s distress, wrapped the pale, weak maiden in her arms and carried her into the sky above. “You’ll be safe here,” she reassured Moon. “The stars won’t mind sharing a little space with you.”

But Moon, ashamed of her scorched face, hid behind a passing cloud.

The stars welcomed Moon and tried to make friends with her. Gradually, Moon’s scorched face healed, and she peered out from behind the cloud. She revealed more and more of her radiant face until it lit up the sky with soft, silvery light.

Sun burned with jealousy when he heard about his sister’s spacious new home. “I’ll show her!” he fumed; and leaped into the air. 

Blanching with fear, Moon shielded her face from Sun’s blazing wrath and raced across the sky until she disappeared from view.

Sun proudly took her place, filling the sky with so much brilliant fire the stars covered their eyes and ran away.

One evening, feeling bereft, Sun left the sky to search the cave where he and Moon had once lived together. As he approached the entrance, Moon suddenly appeared. Overcome by remorse, Sun pleaded with her to return with him to the sky. “There’s plenty of room for both of us,” he said.

But Moon could not forget her brother’s bad behavior. “I hate you!” she shouted. “You’re nothing but a big bully! I could never live with you again!” And so saying, she leaped into the air, leaving Sun standing all alone at the mouth of the cave.

Dawn Pisturino

2012; March 22, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.      





18 Comments »

The Magical World of Lord Dunsany

The King of Elfland’s Daughter is one of Lord Dunsany’s most popular books. Written in 1924, the book is a clear forerunner of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy fiction.

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (try saying that real fast three times) was an Irish aristocrat who inherited the title of 18th Baron Dunsany in 1899. He lived in Dunsany Castle in County Meath, Northern Ireland and married the daughter of the 7th Earl of Jersey, Lady Beatrice Child-Villiers. The couple had one son who went on to inherit the title and the castle.

A close friend of William Butler Yeats and Rudyard Kipling, Dunsany became a prolific writer, producing a large opus of poetry, plays, short stories, and novels based on Irish folklore and mythology. He was part of the late 19th century “Celtic Revival” started by Yeats. Other influential contemporaries included Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows).

In America, he was dubbed “America’s Favorite Peer” because his plays were in great demand in New York City. At one point, he allegedly had five plays running simultaneously on Broadway.

Dunsany was a soldier who fought in the Boer War, World War I, and the 1916 Irish uprising. During World War II, he served in the Home Guard.

Although J.R.R. Tolkien is regarded as the father of fantasy fiction, Dunsany’s style and imagination had a profound effect on all the prominent fantasy writers of his day, including Tolkien, Lewis, and H.P. Lovecraft. His influence has extended to modern fantasy writers such as British author Neil Gaiman.

Dunsany’s stories have been described by other writers as magical, ethereal, dream-like, and surreal. Writing in long-hand with a feathered quill pen, his intuitive imagination wandered beyond the boundaries of intellect to produce stories in magical and poetic prose which capture the heart and imagination of discerning readers.

As the world evolved technologically around him, one of Lord Dunsany’s favorite themes was the threat of science to the Other World. He ventured into sci fi with The Last Revolution, which explored what would happen if machines turned against their human inventors (foreshadowing The Terminator).

Lord Dunsany died of appendicitis on October 25, 1957.

A Poem to Lord Dunsany

By Irish Poet Francis Ledwidge

TO LORD DUNSANY

(ON HIS RETURN FROM EAST AFRICA)


For you I knit these lines, and on their ends
Hang little tossing bells to ring you home.
The music is all cracked, and Poesy tends
To richer blooms than mine; but you who roam
Thro’ coloured gardens of the highest muse,
And leave the door ajar sometimes that we
May steal small breathing things of reds and blues
And things of white sucked empty by the bee,
Will listen to this bunch of bells from me.

My cowslips ring you welcome to the land
Your muse brings honour to in many a tongue,
Not only that I long to clasp your hand,
But that you’re missed by poets who have sung
And viewed with doubt the music of their verse
All the long winter, for you love to bring
The true note in and say the wise thing terse,
And show what birds go lame upon a wing,
And where the weeds among the flowers do spring.

(Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Northern Ireland. Photo by Tim Wilson. http://www.dunsany.com)

Dawn Pisturino

March 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Rainbows: A Sweet Vignette

Dedicated to my Husband and Daughter

It was early in the morning, and a young woman and her husband were driving to the train station. Temporarily, at least, the rain had stopped. The air was pleasantly fresh and clear, though oh! so cold, and here and there a patch of blue showed through the thick November clouds. Pale sunlight shone thinly against the grey morning dampness, brightening just a little the depressing aspect of the city.

“Oh look, a rainbow!” the young woman cried, pointing out the window.

Her husband, who was driving, looked up into the distant sky. Sure enough, half of a large rainbow emerged from a thick grey cloud.

The woman’s face beamed with happiness. “Isn’t that lovely?” she said. “It makes the whole morning beautiful.”

As they drove down the muddy narrow road which ran alongside the railroad tracks, the rainbow seemed to grow more distinct. Soon they could see each end of the rainbow, though the middle was still hidden by clouds.

“Now you can see both ends,” the woman cried eagerly.

“See where it goes,” her husband said. “Maybe I can find my pot of gold.”

The woman searched the sky, trying to determine beginning and end.

“It seems to stretch between the hills over there” — (she pointed left) — “and downtown over there” — (she pointed right.)

“Where does that story come from, anyways?” her husband asked.

“The Irish, I think. You know, leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

“Yeah,” said her husband, a greedy grin on his youthful face. “I’d like to find a pot of gold at the end of it.”

The young woman frowned. “Oh, Jim, that’s all you care about is money. Can’t you think of anything else?”

“Not when we don’t have any,” he answered.

The woman said nothing more, and they drove along in silence until they arrived at the station. But when Jim was helping her out of the car, she suddenly noticed the other rainbow.

“Now look,” she said triumphantly, pointing at the sky. “There are two rainbows!”

Above the first rainbow, which was growing brighter by the minute, half of a second rainbow could be seen. 

“That’s unusual to see two rainbows,” she said thoughtfully. While the young couple watched together, the first rainbow grew stronger and more distinct as the sunlight shifted.

“Now you can see the whole arch!” the woman exclaimed. Truly, it was lovely. The rainbow colors stood clear and vivid against the somber grey sky. “That’s rare to see such a rainbow,” she said, grabbing her husband’s hand and squeezing it tightly. Indeed, the colors seemed almost unnatural.

“And remember, Sharon, there are two,” Jim reminded her gently. “Perhaps they’re man and wife — like us.”

Sharon giggled. “Which one is the man?” she asked playfully.

“The one on the bottom is the strongest.” Jim put his arm around his wife’s ample waist and hugged her close.

“On the bottom, right where he belongs,” Sharon teased.

Her husband laughed. “Actually, I rather like it when you’re on top.”

Sharon pounded him lightly in the stomach. “You’re incorrigible, you beast!”

The young man patted his wife’s swollen belly, feeling the unborn child move inside. “When rainbows make love, do they make little rainbows?” he whispered in her ear.

“How else could there be rainbows,” she whispered back.

“Actually, there are rainbows all the time. We just don’t see them.”

“My husband, the brilliant scientist!”

Suddenly the skies opened up, and a great rain began to fall. The wind whipped up, chilling them to the bone. Laughing wildly, the young couple ran onto the covered platform.

“I love rain like this!'” shouted the young woman over the roar of the downpour.

“I don’t like getting wet all the time,” shouted her husband, who was more practical. “Here comes the train!”

Down the track, the two bright headlights pierced the misty, watery veil of rain, and in a few moments, the train pulled into the station. The woman hugged her husband tightly and kissed him passionately on his warm lips. “You smell so good,” she murmured, snuggling close to his big, warm body.

“I have to go,” he said, disentangling himself from her clinging embrace. “Have a good day. Rest!”

“I will,” she promised, smiling. “Have a good day!”

She waited until he was safely on the train, waved good-bye, then ran into the rain. Behind her, the train began to move slowly down the track. She couldn’t help herself. She stopped and watched as the train gathered speed and chugged out of sight. She pulled her drenched jacket closer around her bulging body. Rain poured down her face and hair. In a moment, she heard the train whistle blasting farther down the track. “I love you,” she whispered, and a lump formed in her throat. Tears watered her eyes, spilled over, and ran down her cheeks, mingling with the rain. She turned and ran as fast as she could to the car.

She climbed into the car and turned the key. The engine sputtered, died, then caught again. She pulled out of the parking space and followed once more the primitive road which ran beside the railroad tracks. She was wet and cold and eager to get home to a hot shower. Her husband was gone to work, the babe was safe and warm inside her. The day would be long and lonely. The rain would carry on, darkening their small apartment. Still, she was happy and content. She had followed her rainbow long ago. She had found her pot of gold.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

November 1983

Copyright 1983-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: