Young Writers Hit the Books for Inspiration

Wonder, Daylight, Life and Death, and a Princess, Too

This Week: Excerpt (Open a book and include a line in a story or poem.)

It is alright to wonder

why apples are red, water is blue.

It is alright to wonder

why the sun is big, ants are small.

It is alright to wonder

why the lake sparkles silver with the moonlight.

It is alright to wonder about wondering.

“He’s comin’ to now, sah.”

“Well, get him up. It’s almost time.”

“OK, sah, I’ll fix ’im up fo’ ya.”

 I was still groggy. The guard had done a serious number on my head. Rough, strong hands grabbed me under the arms and dragged me across a rough dirt floor. It smelled of wood smoke and cold iron. The hands lay me down gently on the floor. In the distance, I could hear the roars of a crowd gathering. I must be somewhere in the town. My thoughts were interrupted by my captor’s voice.

“Oi, can ya sit up for me?”

I tried to reply but all that came out was a mumble.

“Righty then, I’ll have ta’ do it meself.”

The hands returned and pulled and pushed me into a sitting position. A damp cloth was wiped against my face, and I began to see spots of daylight as the dried blood was wiped from my eyes. After he was done cleaning my eyes, he began to dress me in a robe made of rough material.  Then he stood me up and placed my arm around his shoulders. I still couldn’t see who it was, I could only see pinpricks of light. I managed to mumble a question I had been long waiting to ask in his ear, “Are we going to the daylight?”

He chuckled and replied in a cold voice, “It ain’t daylight where you’re going, pal. Where you’re going, it ain’t anything.”

The roar of the crowd grew louder and louder as we moved through several doorways and finally, into what I assumed was an outdoor courtyard or square. The crowd was deafening. I half walked, half stumbled as the man led me forward. Before I knew it, I was in a set of stocks. Suddenly, I realized where I was. The air smelled of blood and the head hole of the stocks was damp and sticky. A guillotine. A man was saying something, and before I could protest or even cry out, the blade fell.

It ain’t anything.

What is life, but a big book of mistakes?

Why do we live and why do we die?

Are there any breaks?

Life is a book with an ending that we never see coming.

It could be tomorrow or it could be today.

We all think we are clever by living like there is no tomorrow,

but what if there is?

Life is a book with an eerie feeling of death.

Most want to live, but some want to die.

Others want to use their last breath to wish for

something greater than death itself.

“In order to be safe from death, you have to experience death first.”

To live is to die.

Trapped in the pages of a book, resting on a shelf, is the damsel in distress. She is beautiful. She is fragile. She is perfect. The product of a broken home.

A deceased father.

A spiteful step-mother.

Or perhaps, the recipient of a malevolent spell. She cries from her window,

carrying out a lullaby to the woodland creatures,

beckoning a savior.

She seeks refuge in her dreams;

he told her to close her eyes, and she fell asleep to the sound of the hum of the spinning wheel, the rhythmic pattern taking her away to deep contentment. Falling for a prince is a predictable outcome.

The knight in white shining armor has come to take her away.

Surely, there are exceptional things beyond the sunset. Her beauty fuels her rescue,

her appearance radiating outward, alluring to her hero. The truth dawns that without beauty, Ariel would still be a mermaid, Sleeping Beauty would still be comatose in her castle, and Snow White would be dead. All she has to offer are her looks.

Her ending is as simple as “Happily ever after.”

(Excerpt from Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty.)

Support: YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to donate to YWP, go to