This is one of my earliest successful speeches. I competed in several High School competitions, often earning a fifth-place certificate. My father helped me with the cadence and rhythm, but the writing and research are all mine. Later, after the Loma Prieta quake (which I got to experience first hand), I updated it and used […]
I have a conflicting relationship with cows. I love them. I love to look at them, touch them and hang out with them. I’ve had the opportunity to feed a cow, see cows mate and give birth, and even once tried my hand at milking a cow (I sucked). I dream of having a pet […]
This morning, I went to the restroom to brush my teeth. I work on a university campus, so it was not strange to see a backpack in one of the stalls. What was strange was the complete lack of any noise. No shuffling. No breathing or sighing. Silence. So, as I’m putting toothpaste (Colgate Total, […]
They say the pen is mightier than the sword … and I do agree that it packs a powerful punch. “With great power comes great responsibility,” and this is so true of writers. Our words are powerful — especially when they appear in headlines. They inspire, inform and change opinions. And, when a writer is […]
One of the causes of a human’s “shortened” life span is the increased risk of infections and certain cancers caused the the reduced effectiveness of the immune system. You see, as we age, the thymus, which produces new T cells (a type of white blood cell that is key to the effectiveness of the immune […]
Radu had the afternoon off. His father was caring for the goats now and he only needed to pick up a few things from the market and deliver some cheese from his mother to Maria.
Radu liked Maria. She seemed more grounded and stable than his parents, despite her habit of talking to her dead and buried husband.
She had great stories to tell. She and her husband had helped many refugees, including his parents, come into Walachia safely when Austrian rule made it difficult for serfs to continue living in Transylvania. He was just a baby then and did not remember any of it. But it seemed clear that the experience left painful scars on his parents’ minds. Maybe that was why they were so daft.
At first he thought to deliver the cheese on the way to market, but then — because he wanted to be free to dawdle at Maria’s — he decided to go to market first. He was glad he did for when he arrived at Maria’s he found she had a lovely guest — the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
He found them working in Maria’s garden. Maria, as usual, was humming and singing away. In fact, she was in unusually good spirits today. Her guest was quietly helping her.
I wanted to have the novel take place in someplace that could be real, so I researched how towns might be named. I eventually chose Liniste Sat, which means quiet village in Romanian. This is a great name because it evokes the feel of a real Romanian name, while having an underlying meaning of what […]
This time, Maria approached Grigor’s grave with excitement and jubilation. The clearing seemed brighter, cheerier since her last visit. The twitter of thrush and tit lent a gaiety to what Maria normally thought of as a somber place. She could barely kneel still as she quickly prayed her thank yous.
“She’s obviously in need of help,” Maria told the tombstone. “She’s confused, wears strange clothes and speaks with an accent. I think she may be in trouble, running away from something. She seems secretive, but not in a sinister way, more like the refugees were before we gained their trust. Helping her will almost be like old times.”
A breeze gently caressed her face and she almost felt Grigor’s warm hand on her shoulder, almost heard his baritone voice say “Dragoste meu,” in her right ear. She felt his love — their love for each other — fill her with warmth, like hot tea on a chilly September night.
She smiled quietly for a moment more and then looked up toward the sun. “Oh my! I must have been here for hours. Arian will be worried.” She got up and hurried back to her cabin.
Arian entered the clearing where Tengali lay waiting. She had forgotten how broken and shattered all the trees and bushes had looked, ripped from their roots by her inexpert landing. Camouflaging this would take some time, unless….
First, they didn’t call them vampires. They were either called moroi, which comes from the Romanian word “mort” meaning “dead” or the Slavic word meaning “nightmare,” or they were called strigoi, which apparently come in both live and dead versions.
Living strigoi were more like witches. They had two hearts, or two souls or both. At night they would send out their souls to visit with other strigoi and, on occasions snack on local livestock and neighbors.
Dead strigoi were reanimated corpses that consumed blood and attacked members of their living family.
Interestingly enough, you could be born with an predilection for becoming a vampire in Romanian lore. If someone was born with a caul, an extra nipple, a tail, or extra hair — no doubt about it, he or she was doomed to vampirism. And, watch out families with lots of children. If the first six were the same gender, the seventh child of the same gender would become a vampire. And poor preemies — they were also doomed.
Maria hummed as she walked into the chicken coop. The hens seemed to cluck in tune with her as she reached beneath them to collect the morning’s harvest of eggs. The chill air didn’t seem to bother her this fine day. She had a bounce in her step and was brimming with joy. She looked forward to whatever the day would bring.
Taking her modest collection of eggs, she walked along the vegetable garden path and in through the kitchen entrance of her cabin home. She put the eggs away and gathered her gardening tools.
Bobbing back out of the house she plunked herself down by the carrots and began digging them up. All the while, her happy tune never faltered. She was so engrossed in her task that she didn’t hear Arian’s footsteps clumping through the fallen leaves in the nearby forest.
It wasn’t until Arian’s approach caused the chiffchaff in the nearby spruce to flutter loudly away that Maria looked up. What she saw made her catch her breath.