Juniper’s Journal (StoryADay)

Before the story begins, Juniper writes the following things in her diary…

“I have been obsessed with D. B. Painter’s “The Trees of Light” Trilogy since I was 8 years old. But I’m hardly the only person in the world to be obsessed with those books, as most kids my age loved those books when they were younger. But why is it that when you become a teenager, everyone expects you to read (and like) teen novels?

“That’s not me. That person who reads teen novels will NEVER be me!

“But what most people don’t know is that I am obsessed with “The Trees of Light” for a reason. They don’t know that when I was 8 years old, the school bully savagely beat me up because I was reading books in the library during recess instead of playing on the playground like the other kids, where he could see me and beat me up. I ended up in the hospital for several months; most of them were spent in a coma. The doctors weren’t sure if I was going to live or die.

“Well, I lived, but due to the beating, I suffered some irreversible brain damage. Meaning I couldn’t grow up properly.

“The other kids made fun of me for being childish and not acting or dressing my age. (I’m still wearing pigtails at age 14, mind you!) Plus, the adults, not knowing about my beating or injuries, tried to get me to read more mature books, books I wouldn’t touch with a lighter, or torch with a lighter. Even my foster family tried and failed to get me to “grow up” as it were.

“You may not believe this, but I’m obsessed with “The Trees of Light” because those books were my only solace in a cruel world that demanded normalcy and conformity, not imagination and individuality. I was accused of hiding behind the trees of light and refusing to interact with the real world.

“I know I should get some help for my problems, as what I’m doing is unnatural, but I fear the doctors will say that I was a victim of child abuse. I was, seeing as another kid beat me up, and no one intervened until it was too late.

“So what should I do? I know I can’t keep doing what I’m doing, as the school threatened to call social services and have me removed from my foster parents and sent to a hospital for not acting like a teenager. It’s not my fault, but I don’t want to grow up. But I also can’t stay a kid forever.”

Turning Point (StoryADay)

What was the point where my life changed? What happened to me to make me the way I am? I wasn’t the only person in the world to read D.B. Painter’s “The Trees of Light” trilogy, but something happened to me to make me hold on to the imaginary world I created instead of putting the book away and growing up.

As you may have noticed, Rodney and Sylvia McKenner are NOT my parents. (In fact, I don’t know who my parents are.) All I knew was I was living with them since I was 8 years old. Of course, Bruce, Kelvin, and Lydia McKenner have gone out of their way to make me feel unwelcome, as if I was the unwanted child. That doesn’t surprise me, since that was how I was treated when I lived with the Tannenbay family.

To start, Mr. and Mrs. Tannenbay were middle class and their children went to private schools. Since I was a foster kid, I could only go to public schools. Also, the schools I went to were second and third-rate schools, full of kids who couldn’t function in a decent class setting. I would often retreat to a dark corner of the library to escape from the chaos surrounding me.

But the part that led me to where I am now isn’t pretty.

As you can see, there was a kid who made everyone’s lives a living nightmare. He was cruel beyond all reasoning, punching kids who dared to better themselves. All I know was one day, he caught me trying to go into the library during recess, and let’s say that what happened next was unfit for publication. He had grown angry with me because I had ignored him or refused to interact with him.

Of course, after THAT incident, all I had was my imaginary world, which I created while I was reading “The Silver Tomb“. Most of the other kids shunned me for not talking to them and even the teachers couldn’t get me to yield. Social services was contacted and I was eventually taken out of that terrible school and away from the Tannenbays. (You can guess where I ended up.)

After I went to the McKenners, I withdrew into my imaginary world, reading “The Trees of Light” as a way to deal with the pain I had gotten from the bully. I also pushed away the other kids, fearing that they would be like the bully. No one could talk to me, not even if my life depended on it.

So that’s how I grew addicted to reading “The Trees of Light” and rejecting the other books out there. Plus, I rejected the people who would have become my friends if I put down the book and spoke to an actual person, but that’s a given.

Second Look (StoryADay)

Takes place after Marie discovers Nicholas and Leo planned to hit back at her for attempting to hire a concubine.

(Marie’s POV)

I cannot believe that my son and that Leo Trichenberg have managed to undermine my plans to help provide him with a healthy heir. Not only that, but Alexandra found out what I had planned to do and she sternly lectured me on the duties of a husband to his wife and why no man should stray from the marriage bed, not to get a son. I believed she threw in the Biblical story about Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar to illustrate her point.

It’s not like I was asking my son to commit adultery; I just wanted to hire a concubine for him. Kings used to do that in the old days, so what was the problem with that?

Except that the woman I selected for him grew angry and ran away; she screamed something about morals and what the czar should or shouldn’t do. Plus, with Nicholas and Alexandra being more exposed in public, a concubine would be nothing but trouble.

Of course, I had to hear the last line from Leo himself; I should have remembered that his late wife Slavena had four children, and Leo didn’t hire a concubine to build his family either. And I know his other women would’ve have given me some serious hell if I tried to hire a concubine for him.

As for the woman in question (I think her name was Lana), I saw her talking to Lady Emaria in the gardens. I know they’re plotting to provide me with some form of punishment, as Emaria is at an age with Nicholas and she would not accept any form of wickedness, not even from his own mother.

Nightmare (StoryADay)

I had a nightmare last night. I woke up and started writing, “To whom it may concern,

“I’m writing this letter to inform you all of what I had done during the summer of 1995. I am not proud of what I have done, and what I did was inexcusable. But I must tell you about the summer of 1995 nonetheless.

“I was playing outside my front yard when I saw Diana Kirkland speaking to a person in a black car. I knew that it was never a good idea to talk to strangers, especially if they can grab you and force you inside their cars, but I didn’t do or say anything. I turned away from the scene to talk to one of my friends, who had gotten a new dirtbike from his grandmother. By the time I looked back, Diana was gone.

“I gasped in horror, knowing that she was kidnapped by the person in the black car. Instead of telling my parents what I saw or having someone call the police, I went back to playing and did nothing. Little did I know that that mistake was going to cost me everything.

“When the police came to our house, asking my parents if they had seen Diana, I knew I had one chance to make everything right. I should have told the police that Diana had spoken to a stranger in a black car and was taken by them. But I didn’t do that, as I willfully ignored the crime in favor of seeing my friend’s new bike.

“I should have spoken up that day, but I didn’t.

“Later, the news reported that a 12-year-old girl was found dead next to the Arching River. Many people panicked, knowing that she had been murdered by the stranger who kidnapped her. Because I didn’t speak up or told anyone, Diana was dead. And it was all my fault.

I set the pencil down and thought to myself why did I not speak up when I had the chance? Why did I stay quiet? Diana is dead because of me, and I have helped the strange man kill her with my silence.

The truth is, though, silence has killed more people than wars and diseases combined, and I have added to that number.

What He Said, What I Thought (StoryADay)

He said his brother was disabled.

I wondered what that meant, as I never heard that word before. What is disabled? What did it mean? I had to speak to him, because I didn’t understand the word disabled.

He said his brother was creative, which meant he was very good at creating things. I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the night.

Nor did I speak to him since that day.

The Dreams of a Girl (StoryADay)

I was born with a huge imagination, with dreams of castles and unicorns, butterflies floating over the rainbows and pink ice cream clouds. I dreamed of a perfect world, a world where everything was beautiful all the time, who no one fought and everyone always got along.

But then they called me delusional and out of touch with reality. They put me in a large room with soft walls where I would never be able to escape. They deemed me as a danger to society.

But what of my dreams, the dreams that enabled me to fly? I know I can escape from this place, because I will always have my imagination.