Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Something Beautiful, Something Cruel
Chapter 2: A “Burning” Impression
Chapter 3: Touching the Sky
Chapter 4: One Step Away From Paradise
Chapter 5: Paradise Found
Chapter 6: Middle School has all the Letters Needed to Spell Hell
Chapter 7: Learning How to Fly Again
Chapter 8: Crashing into a Car Called Change
Chapter 9: Discovering Someone Named Charissa
Chapter 10: Buckle Down and Hold On Tight, A Storm’s A’ Coming

Chapter Four: One Step Away From Paradise
external image Dream_about_falling_down_by_bucz.jpgWhen it comes to Nevada, there is a common misconception believed by everyone except for the natives. Yes, Nevada is a desert full of sand and dust and sparsely placed trees, but the Spanish word Nevada means snow-covered, and the Spaniards were masters of the obvious. I spent two winters in Nevada, and truth be told, I loved every single mucky, bitterly chilly moment of it. So much in fact, I tried to recreate the winter experience during high summer.

Living on the Boulevard of We’ll-Get-Around-To-Finish-Building-That-House-Eventually meant skeleton houses for exploring, open foundations suddenly appeared like animal pits of the jungle, and there were plenty of huge piles of dirt. Five year olds make excellent storytellers and I was no exception as I explored my winding labyrinth where only I knew the way out. My castle was complete with a fire-breathing dragon, my mountain was so tall that it scraped a hole in heaven and let the sunlight through, and I had my super secret headquarters of villainy. My Mountain, a particularly giant pile of dirt, caused mixed reactions among the rest of my peasants. The biggest eye sore in the grand ole’ state of Nevada or the coolest thing since being able to bike to the end of the street were the two most common responses. Either way, no one could argue that it made the best sledding hill known to man. A straight three to four second drop of exhilarating, heart stopping awesomeness complete with a five second top of the hill recovery time made this hill the envy of all my peers. The summertime, however, closed my slide down as sleds are meant for snow and sliding down on your butt only made Mother Dear mad. It took me nearly six months until an epiphany hit me; who ever said sleds were just meant for snow?

Nevada seeps sand from its very pores, and when there isn’t a water medium introduced, it stays sand with good sized rocks to boot. A sled, a quick word to Mother Dear, and a short, crunching walk across the street set my Master PlanTM into motion. The climb only took a quick three seconds without slippery handholds and everything looked to be perfect. Setting down my sled very carefully to keep it from sliding away, I settled in. I grinned, marveled at how easy this was, and leaned forward ready for that thrilling ride to the bottom. I made it two, maybe three, inches before my sled got caught on a rock and gravity compelled me to do what the natural laws suggest. Five minutes later, I stumbled back into my house covered head to toe in dirt, knees of my pants gone and an array of slightly bleeding scratches striping my face, arms, and everywhere else. The dust cloud emitting from me with every step seemed to be a living entity. Mother Dear looked at me once, twice, sighed, and asked what adventure I acted out this time. An ear-to-ear smile and a simple reply answered her, “I was flying.”

Chapter Seven: Learning How to Fly Again
external image 732850-8e9a4786-0045-4067-8b61-1ce3f2dea6c2l.jpgThe group of girls pass by me again, chatting and laughing, but do not notice me. Not that I expected them to see me from my hidden spot in the middle of the bleachers. The aptitude for wallflowering, an ancient art passed down from introvert to introvert, runs strong in my veins and remains my number one defense in the harsh jungle of Middle School. My blessing, my curse, or whatever you call it keeps me frozen stiff and staring at my fidgeting hands. I want to stand and go talk to them, but then again I might stutter, make a mistake, embarrass myself, force them to think less of me. Something could go wrong, and right now sitting on the bleachers by myself really isn’t that bad. It used to be so easy back when all you had to do to make friends amounted to something as small as sharing half of your lunch dessert or a willingness to take turns pushing the swing. Back at my old home, I could walk a few blocks in nearly any direction and find friends who would sneak out to find new deer trails in the forest, or laugh at old, worn out jokes or just talk for hours and hours on end about nothing particularly important. I finally could spread my wings and not be afraid of the next military transfer that would pull me down, chop away at the roots I had established, and force me to leave behind close friends. Moving away after five years really did a number on me. Soaring higher than I had ever gone, happier than I had ever been before, I fell pretty hard. Leaving everything behind again didn’t seem like any other move; it seemed like an amputation, an extraction. When I fell, I managed to grab onto some metaphorical cliffside branch, telling myself that everything was going to be fine; I could just make new friends and a new life. Even now, trying to climb back to the top, I wanted to make new friends. But what if I were to just leave again? What if I couldn’t be good enough or what if I made a fool of myself, and just fell right back down to where I had been? No, clinging to my cliff side wasn’t fun, but I knew it was so much safer than what could be at the mysterious top. The group of girls make another round, and now I feel like some shadow that shouldn’t be looking in. Talking to them wouldn’t be too hard; besides, they probably forget me as soon as I leave like some unpleasant aftertaste. I hesitantly stand up and slowly start to walk over before speeding up my pace to catch up to them. They look at me surprised and I somehow manage to mumble a hello to which they smile and answer. Almost immediately they ask my opinion on an argument they talked about as they passed by me. Something so ridiculous it is quickly forgotten and pushed back for something that just brings more chuckles and giggles. To my astonishment, I join in almost against my will. I glance back at my spot on the bleacher, then turn away to make a witty remark. At the same time, I have let go of my hold on the cliff side and am slowly but steadily spreading my wings with my eyes on the top.

1. You’re on death row and you get to choose your last meal. Describe your choice.
Given the choice, I will always chose my Mom's beefy-vegetable stew with fried bread and cold applesauce. The flavors, all distinct, contribute in such way that never becomes overpowering or chaotic and disgusting. My last night will be a night of good-time memories of family and second helpings.

2. If abandoned in the wilderness, would you survive? Explain.
The Boy Scouts and MacGyver beg to know my surving skills and secrets (Hyperbole). Constructing fires, sleeping outdoors, immunity to poison ivy, fighting off bears are just some of the few talents I exhibit in times of need. Zombie apocalypse, World War III, alien invasion? Bring it on.

3. What kind of vehicle do you drive?
The Hulk, The Tank, The Thing that Just Will Not Die, call It whatever you want, but every nickname that people think up for my massive, green van starts with 'the' and continues with intimidating names starting with capital letters. A long crack across the windshield, a small dent in the bumper, and desperate pleas of help written in dirt on the back windows show that my van is full of 'character' and fightin' power. The Hulk/Tank/Whatever rules the road with a roar (Alliteration), and it's better to just stay out of the way.

4. What noises do you hear right now?
I am the type of person that will have the heat on with the ceiling fan going. You may think me as picky and irrational, but it's nights like this with the fan's rhythmic hum, the soft brush of air across my bare toes, and the spordic clicks of my fingers on the keyboard that make my eyes flutter close despite my laptop's soft, blue light (Imagery).

5. Describe your favorite toy or game you played as a kid.
Make believe is the politically incorrect term to describe the many adventures I had as a kid. I never 'made believe' that I was a warrior princess destined to save her people from tyranny. Nor did I 'imagine' myself an Indian scavenging for food to save her people from starvation, an astronaut exploring farway galaxies and stars, or the many other quest I took. I became that person and that's what made it fun.

6. I can’t live without ___.
I crave information and being one of the first people to know that information remains a definite must. I may not watch that TV show, but I still want to know about it. And with my partner-in-crime, my laptop makes that possible without delays, arguements, or tears from my impatient family. The middle man, the go-to-guy, my laptop keeps me happy and informed (Personification).

7. What’s your biggest flaw?
Worry-wart is considered my second name, and when it comes to fretting and overcomplicating things, I take home the prize. Give me an easy assignment, and I will find some way to make it hard and nerve-racking for me. I do not know whether to place the blame on my perfectionist tendencies, overwhelming need to be one of the best at what I am good at, wanting to make everyone happy, or a weird combination of all three. Some might call it (overly) cautious and other might call it ridiculous and annoying, but that It-Really-Wasn't-as-Bad-as-I-Thought feeling at the end of a challenge well done makes up for all the heartache along the way.

8. Describe your best friend.
Having a smile for everything and a kind word to everyone, Tori manages to find an almost annoying way to make anyone around her happy. As optimistic and grateful as a modern day Pollyanna (Simile), she makes it a habit to know people's names, their likes and dislikes, and the things that are important to them. Considered naive and too innocent at times, Tori certainly has a better, brighter view of the world than most people, but that might be why people always take the time to say hello and goodbye to her and defend her against the darker spots of society.

9. Who is the cartoon character that you most resemble? Explain the similarities.
I have never uttered nor plan on saying the word "Jinkies!" in the percievable future, but Velma and I are sisters for life. Bookworms eat our brains, and we would walk repeatedly into the walls of hallways if it weren't for the eyewear we wear. I annoy my friends by telling them the entire plot and ending fifteen minutes into the film, and she solves the mysteries that her team stumbles upon. People come to me if they have a question of what to do, and people look to Velma to do the grand unveiling and explaining that will lock up the bad guys proving that being smart can be cool, too.

10. How do you feel right now?
Pulling words out of your head that just simply do not exist can prove a futile effort no matter how much you wish it to be so. The last question, foolishly pushed off till after a long day at work, mocks and taunts me to come up with something that will answer it. The fact my brain has let out a 'big one', and the Writer's concrete block just landed on my big toe does not help me in this losing battle. Sometimes it's better to throw your hands up in the air and take the easy way out.

NAME: Diantha Dantes or Dia to family and the select few
BIOGRAPHY: Diantha grew up in the family business with her father and older brother, and learned the trade of blockade- running very early in life. Living in an apocalyptic world with a near- omnipotent corrupt ruling power, she helped her small family get supplies to rebel forces and the ‘small people’. However after her brother volunteered for a rebel mission ending with the rebels leaving him behind when he got injured, she and her father refused to do business with the rebellion. Her father retired early from ‘the work’ leaving her in charge. She quickly and methodically expanded the business to create a market of her own. After what happened to her brother, she is distrustful and thinks that as long as it benefits a person, they will betray her.
AGE: Early-to-mid-twenties
HEIGHT: 5’2’’
WEIGHT: 120-130 pounds
BODY TYPE: Small in stature, slightly big-boned with broader shoulders but very fit
FACE TYPE: An aquiline, crooked nose with finer features
COMPLEXION: Normally pale but tan during the summertime
EYES: Very light brown, almost a hard gold color
HAIR: Short and simple for convenience and safety. Dark brown on the verge of being black.
CLOTHING STYLE: Plain clothing not likely to be remembered or draw attention, faded t-shirts and jeans
SPEAKING STYLE: Calm voice and a little authoritative in her speech. Orders are given in a level, direct, and clear tone and she has little reason to speak other than that.
GENERAL DEMEANOR: People are put off by her no-nonsense, direct way of speaking and doing things. Close associates and friends, however, are grateful and admiring of the amount of work she does and the way she protects them.
CAREER: The ‘Middle Man’, trafficker for necessities to those in need, information gatherer and informant, vender on the black market
PREJUDICES: People who make stupid mistakes that could compromise them and those around them.
BEST QUALITIES: Very dedicated, resourceful, clever, and observant, she makes a very good leader. Good at recognizing a person’s strengths and weaknesses
WORST QUALITIES: A machiavellian, she believes the means justify the end, she will do more than trod on toes to get a job done. Distrustful and distant of others, she often views less than exceptional people as just tools and pawns and almost expects people to turn against her.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t rely on others and gets overwhelmed
HOBBIES: Collecting
TALENTS: An experienced pilot and navigator, an adept accountant and businesswoman, capable of defending herself