This is a great activity from Teacher Write.  Phil Bildner recommended using dialogue bubbles and pictures to find character voice and Tamara Letter outlined a plan using Googledocs.

This little guy lives in the creek where it empties into Torch Lake next to our dock.  Can you hear his voice?

 

Dialogue Bubbles for Voice

Oh what a difference a year makes. Today marks what would have been my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary. Sadly, Dad died in February. He is here in spirit and we are loving Mom a little bit extra today.

MacKay-Logue

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Sixty-three years. Sixty –three years of, “Yes, Dear,” and “No, Dear,” and “I’m sorry,” and “I love you.” Sixty-three years of travel, and adventure, and family. Sixty-three years of couplehood, of shared friends, of individual pursuits. Sixty-three years of learning the steps that make up the dance of a successful marriage.

To witness first hand how that dance evolves over time is truly a blessing. Yesterday, I traveled cross-country with my parents to help them get to their summer home on Torch Lake, in Michigan. They no longer travel alone, despite 50+ years of traveling around the world, to places near and far. My sister had made all of the arrangements, which were quite involved, in advance. Wheelchair service had to be set up, in advance, and all paperwork and reservations were printed and tucked carefully into my bag by that sister.

Mom and Dad were ready to go when…

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“Come on!  It’s right up here, past the clay bank,” Tommy shouted over his shoulder as the rest of us scampered behind on the trail.

“Gramma said that her name is Emily,” said Betz.

“I don’t see why we have to go down there.  What if she’s weird.   Then we have to pretend to be friends with a weird girl all summer,” Laura grumbled pulling up the rear.

“I’ll bet she’s nice.  Gramma says she’s our age.  We might really like her,” I chimed in.

“Nice try.  I doubt it.  I’ll bet she’s super weird and she’ll mess everything up.”

“Lighten up, Laura,” Betz said as we entered the clearing past the clay bank. “There’s the house.  Fancy, huh?”

We all looked in wonder at the A-framed structure rising up before us.  It was a far cry from our little cottage and certainly different from the sleeping cabin that Grampa ‘Kay built in 1940. That’s where we kids slept all summer.

“They have carpet!” Betz marveled gesturing toward the remnants left alongside the house.

“Shag,” whispered Tommy. We were accustomed to linoleum flooring.  Practical because of the beach sand and pine needles that hitchhiked on our bare feet to invade the floor of the cottage. Gramma waged a constant battle against the assault.

“OK, let’s get this over with,” Laura said walking up to the side door.  The front of the house was one giant window facing the lake, so the side door seemed like the right place to knock.  And knock, she did, with the rest of us crowding behind her.

A surly teen opened the door.  “Ya?” she said one hand on her hip.

“Can Emily come out and play?” Betz asked.

“There’s no Emily here,” replied the girl, and she abruptly turned and closed the door.  We stood in astonished silence on the porch.  Maybe Gramma was wrong.  Maybe there was no girl our age in the A-frame.

“Well, that’s just great,” Laura said sarcastically.  “Now what?”
“Back to the cottage for lunch, I guess.” I said heading back down the trail.  The others turned to follow me.

“Hey!” We all turned in unison toward the voice.  “I’m Amy.  Where you guys just at my house looking for me?”

Little did we know, that this moment would change our summers at the lake forever.

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The Power of One

The world, it seems broken.  
But what can be done?
Don't underestimate the power of One.

One can acknowledge the problems we see.
They aren't about them,
they're You and they're Me.

One can decide to reach out and connect,
with those who are different
 from what we expect.

By learning from others,
their truths and their tears, 
One can cast away prejudice, judgement, and fears.

One can build bridges between you and I.
It may not be easy,
but shouldn't we try?

It's not about cops
and it's not about color.
It's mostly about us not trusting each other.

Trusting's a risk that we all need to take.
Are you One to take risks
for humanity's sake?

If you are, please come join me.
I'm One, and I'm ready.
To stand for what's right, I'll be strong. I'll be steady.

Your One plus my One, makes two, that's a start.
It may be imperfect 
but it comes from the heart.

Together we'll model how it could be done, 
so don't underestimate
the power of One.



 

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Closing the Books

By Susan MacKay-Logue

 

When all my books are balanced,

And my final ledger’s read,

Please celebrate a life well lived.

Don’t cry because I’m dead.

 

St. Peter’s kept a tally

Up on that Pearly Gate,

And found that I’m not wanting.

My goodwill score is great.

 

My debits I gave freely,

In service to mankind.

My altruistic leanings

Were liberal arts aligned.

 

The talents that I shared,

In efforts to give back.

Were clearly well intended.

So this kept me in the black.

 

The life that I created

With the woman that I love

Was a beautiful adventure

That I cherish from above

 

I was always an accountant.

Precise in every way.

But I worked to live,

And that I did, with gusto every day.

 

I’ve friendships in abundance

And a family that I love.

I’ve travelled o’er this glorious world

With grace from God above.

 

The assets that I treasure

live on in you, my friends.

Family, travel, learning,

And a love that has no end.

 

When I’m reconciling my accounts

And I give my life a look,

I intend to thank the Lord above,

When I finally close the books.

 

“Mo!  You better come here!  Looks like another one.”  My footsteps crunch the pine needles, leaves, and twigs beneath them.  My feet move me forward, but my eyes search behind for my sister as I approach the scene.  I sweat, despite the cool breeze, and my mouth goes dry when the buzz of flies and the smell of decay assault my senses.

“Jesus Christ!  Not again?  Why does this shit keep happening?”  Mo is all business.  She gets things done.  She shakes her head as she approaches the scene, hands on her hips, disgusted.  She’s done with this, but that won’t make it stop.  “This has become an epidemic.  Every single time we come here, we have to deal with this crap. When is enough, enough?”

We stare down at the bloody mess, no longer horrified, but annoyed.   Bones, cartilage, and torn flesh blanket a section of the wood’s floor like that spill that happens when old Chinese tumbles out of your too full fridge and the carton busts open right there on the linoleum.  What a freaking mess.

“What do you think happened, Mo?” Mo is short for Maureen, but I dare anyone to call her that.  My eyes search for answers in the crime scene, darting here and there, trying to make sense of the mess.  I wring my hands a bit, knowing that the clean up isn’t going to be pretty.  It never is.  But we can’t just leave it here.  Someone has to do it, and that someone is us.

I’m the nervous sister.  Not quite timid, but definitely more cautious and far less foul-mouthed than Mo.  She swears like a sailor on shore leave.  Nobody seems to mind.  It kind of suits her.  She’s bright red, I’m a dull yellow.  People call me Kit.  My name is Katherine, so it went from Kat, to Kitty Kat, to Kit.  Dad sometimes calls me Kitten, but he’s the only one that can get away with that.  I’m a little nervous, I’m not a doormat.

“How should I know, Kit? It’s the same every time.  Is it man?  Is it nature?  We don’t know, and we probably never will.  All I know is we better go suit up for disposal before Sonny gets here.  You remember what happened last year.”

I think back to last summer and suppress a grimace.  Sonny found last year’s contribution to the Circle of Life before we did.  He carried that spine around like he was leading the band with it.  Not just part of it, either.  The whole dang thing.  Finally, we wrestled it away from him.  Sonny’s not quite right in the head.  Generally sweet, but trying way too hard to be Alpha.

“I’ll go get a bag and some gloves, Kit.  You stay with the body.  This is some bullshit right here.  Damn it.”  Mo trudged off toward the house leaving me alone with the corpse.

“Bambi sleeps with the fishes,” i muttered to no one in particular.

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A friend suggested some changes and I made them. Always working on that “shitty first draft.”

MacKay-Logue

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“Tommy!  Toss me Richie Rich.  I haven’t read that one.”   I reach my grubby, s’more covered fingers toward the comic, but I am too late.

“Forget it, I’m not done with that stack yet.  Read Little Lotta,” Tommy smirked.  “That’s more your speed anyway,” he said twisting away from me using his back as a barrier against my grubby grab.

Laura flipped over in her sleeping bag, so that she was now facing the top of the tent.  Her mouse brown hair poked out of the top of the bag in an any-which-way it wants, no rules, manner that made me wonder how much of it was hair, and how much was pine tar and dirt. “Will you guys shut up?  I’m trying to read, here.”  Betz moved the flashlight so that she could better see her Hot Stuff comic. She was not about to get dragged into…

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