My mom used some of her word power when she named me: Millicent. Means ‘brave strength’, although people usually call me Millie, Millie Mahoney. To me that doesn’t sound so much like the name of a brave and strong person as much as a grouchy old lady with huge arthritic knuckles and a perpetual Parkinson’s head shake. Maybe a lion’s head cane to bonk persnickety teens. Ooh, another great word: persnickety. Makes me sound like the old lady Millie, though…
To me, words are power. They can make a person feel a certain way, behave a certain way, or do fantastical or horrific things. I read once that the words of Holden Caulfield, in the novel Catcher in the Rye,were the reason Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” His words inspired a whole group of people to protest against the British Government long before the word ‘protest’ became trendy.
That being said, I sure wish I could use words to bring about world peace. Or maybe to make my Math teacher pull back on the sarcasm she constructs so eloquently when I’m shaking like an Aspen tree in front of the whole tenth grade classroom, trying to answer a word problem. If I could use words to vanquish zits, that’d be way cool too.
All right. Let’s say for a minute that I, Millie Mahoney, all of a sudden and through some amazing supernatural gift, could write my way into anything--or out of it. The first thing I’d do is write myself out of detention. Forever. I’d be able to tell Mrs. Branner the Math teacher that she was a conniving witch out to destroy my life and my GPA, which she is, and she’d be unable to touch me. I’d write myself out of all Birthday parties, not because I don’t want to get older, but because I hate the singing and the candle-blowing and the everyone-is-looking-at-you part. I’d write myself into an invite to one of Kennedy Jackson’s ‘I’m so popular I could puke’ parties—not because I want to be her friend—she is definitely a conniving bitch out to destroy the life of anyone who is not part of her circle--but because I just want to know what they talk about. I mean, do popular girls have conversations about subjects with any meaning or depth, or is it really just the texting Twitterfest of inanity that I hear in classes and hallways all the time? Perpetual boredom on a stick? All sentences begin with ‘like’ and all paths lead to nowhere? Just curious.
I’d also write myself some social lessons. I’d like to automatically know the right thing to say to Derek Samson when he asks for help with his homework. Something other than ‘uh, yeah, stick the comma here’ would be nice.
“Millie! Where are you? Damnit, I hate it when you disappear. You’re like a ghost,” my dad calls from the garage. I’m in the den. Not like he’s Antarctica and I’m Philadelphia, but I guess it is a little difficult to see me because I’m sitting behind the couch.
“Sorry, Dad. I’m contemplating the power of words.”
“You’re what? What?” His voice floats through the hall as he lurches my way. He hits the wall with something, maybe a shoulder or an elbow, then appears in the doorway. I see him from my squatted position by looking in the mirror above the desk. “What did you say?”
My father—Lincoln Mahoney, is holding himself up in the doorway. His brown, wavy hair is getting too long. Random tufts splay from the sides and top of his head. He looks like an old, frayed, mop. He’s also drunk, even though it’s only 11:00 on Saturday morning. “Never mind. I need you to drive me to the store. I’m out of Johnnie Walker.”
Hey, do you think I could write alcohol out of existence? One big scribble in my diary: ’No more booze. Ever, then it would disappear and maybe my dad would turn into a normal human being. Now, that sounds like a bestseller if I ever heard one, although those disappearing wine coolers would seriously steam Kennedy and her ilk. Big time drunkfests are the essence of the aforementioned puke parties. Oh, well.
But seriously. If I could really use the power of words for anything, I would use it to bring my mother back.
Here is a snippet from a YA Paranormal Series called The Foundation. This first book is called Paper Fields
20 years of teaching High School English left me with an acute appreciation for the Teenage Mindset. So I write about them, but fictionally, and with some sort of magic involved. Their world is much more fun this way!
Book 1 in ‘The Foundation’ series
A novel by
Kelley Kay Bowles
"Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted
- Denise Levertov
Sept 18, 1138
Somewhere in the Netherworld
William Britlan opened his eyes as if from a pleasant sleep. His body rested, hands to his sides and feet splayed out. He took a deep breath, and it caught and held as memories rushed into his consciousness. He saw his friend Thomas doubled over a sword which had pierced his gut, and he watched another man wield a mace toward Thomas’s head. The mace buried itself brutally into Thomas’s skull, spraying blood over William’s face even as a longsword slashed at his own side. William’s breaths sped up at a remembered awareness of the blade dispatching his chestplate and slicing through his skin, the blade’s movement stopping only when it reached bone.
William scrambled to his feet, long white hair swinging and arms flying at an invisible threat, roaring at an unseen opponent. After several seconds of thrashing and yelling, his vision began to clear. There was nobody there. As his hands traveled over his sides, he could see no wounds, no blood.
“What madness is this?” he murmured. The plate he had on his chest was gone, as were the leathers he had worn as protection in battle. His coverings now were unknown to him, a cloth soft as clouds, which covered but did not bind.
“Ach, I must be slain, then,” he surmised. “Is this heaven? This, what I’m wearing, surely it be heavenly.” He patted the fabric, and looked down at his feet. There was no floor there, and he startled. Indeed, his feet rested on what felt like a smooth floor, but what looked like the air of darkness under his toes. He could see the night sky from every angle, unbroken fields of stars with no moon or horizon to break them.
“Ah, yes, indeed this be heaven,” William said. “What of my wife and children, now? Should not they be here to greet me?” William stepped forward with caution. “Rebekah?”
William felt a rumble in the air. The rumble carried a voice with it, but it wasn’t really a voice, and there was not a person attached to it. It was embedded into the rumble. He tried to listen to the rumble.
IT IS IN THIS PLACE AND IN THIS TIME WE HAVE DECIDED TO BEGIN SOMETHING NEW.
William looked up, and down, but there was only dark and stars. “New? What mean you, new? And what have I to do with it?”
YOU HAVE THE STRENGTH. THE POWER TO SEE WHAT WILL HELP. THE POWER TO COMMAND. THE CHARACTER THAT IS NEEDED. BUT YOU NEED AN ASSEMBLAGE TO GUIDE.
His face constricted. “An assemblage?”
A FACTION. A GROUP.
“And what would be of this group?” William looked at his hands, the ones he had just wielded in battle. “I may lead an assemblage, if this is what I must do in death the same as life. I fought for my Queen.” He looked up at the stars. “Who do I fight for now?”
WE ARE NOT CONCERNED WITH YOUR QUEEN. WE RELY ON WHAT YOU BATTLED FOR RIGHT BEFORE YOU WERE SLAIN.
”And that was?”
PEOPLE. THE WORLD NEEDS AN ASSEMBLAGE TO FIGHT FOR PEOPLE. AND ESPECIALLY YOUNG PEOPLE—THEY NEED THE ASSISTANCE MORE THAN ANYONE. YOU MUST GATHER MORE INTO YOUR GROUP—BUT TAKE CARE. THERE MUST BE A BALANCE.
William was very puzzled now. “A balance? What mean you, a balance?”
YOUR GROUP NEEDS A BALANCE OF LIGHT AND DARK. BUT THE DARK MUST ALWAYS BE STRIVING TOWARD THE LIGHT, OR YOUR GOALS CANNOT BE MET.
“I durst say I understand not one thing of what you tell me,” William sighed. He felt like the stars were closing in, and invisible walls crushed against him. He looked at his hands again, remembering the strength of the fingers, holding the sword. Holding his wife as she died in his arms.
YOU WILL HAVE TIME TO LEARN. BUT THE GROUP MUST BE COMPLETE WITHIN THE NEXT THOUSAND YEARS. THERE SHOULD BE SIX. THREE LIGHT AND THREE DARK. CLOSE YOUR EYES NOW. UNDERSTANDING WILL COME..