Tag: story

Caroline’s Curiosities

Hello! I have something for my blog today that’s a bit different from what I usually post. I recently wrote a short sci-fi/horror story. I like stories that create a vast world of their own, yet are short and to the point and can stand on their own. Some of my favorite short stories are The Veldt, The Landlady, and The Tell-Tale Heart, and they were some of the inspirations for this story.

In the following story, there are several gore/blood mentions, so if you would be grossed out by that, this may not be for you. If you’re alright with reading something a little creepy, then without further ado, I present…


• Caroline’s Curiosities •
a short story by Lillian Maggio

He didn’t ever think he would find himself taking advantage of Caroline’s services, but due to unforeseen circumstances, he came to desire a new eye. Since then, he had saved up all of his points for this occasion, even skipping meals to ensure that he had enough for her best. After all, he wasn’t too fond of the idea of making a second trip to her establishment if he were to become dissatisfied with his purchase.

With an intense feeling of hunger gnawing at him, he made his way to Caroline’s Curiosities, a little store in a strip mall. Once he stepped inside and the doorbells gave a welcoming jingle, his hunger was replaced with a thankfulness that he had not eaten earlier in the day. Smells of blood and isopropyl alcohol overwhelmed his senses, complementing the sight of several jars of various body parts preserved in a glowing, viscous liquid. Behind the counter, Caroline stood on a stool with her back to him, placing a jar on the top shelf of her display case. A hand, presumably fresh.

“I’ll be with you in just one moment, hon,” she said as she nudged the jar ever-so-slightly to the left. Caroline was proud of how neat and clean she kept her collection, and she wouldn’t have it any less than perfectly arranged. She carefully shut the glass cabinet door and hopped down off of her stool, turning to face him with a friendly smile.

“Ah, it’s you,” Caroline remarked in a friendly tone. “I wondered when you’d be back. If I remember correctly, you made quite the mess for me to clean when you first stopped in for a tour, what with your…” She struggled to find the right phrase, her fingers tapping rhythmically on the countertop as she thought. “Your ‘throwing up,’ I believe you call it. Not the strongest stomach you’ve got there. But all the same, I knew you’d be back.”

Every second she continued to speak, he grew more and more unsettled by her casual manner, and how she acted as if she knew so much about him when they had only met once before. And her remark about his stomach wasn’t exactly comforting, considering her line of work, and her… hobbies.

He shook off these thoughts as best he could and got to the point. “I’d like to purchase a mechanical eye, please. The best one you have. I should have enough,” he said, voice quivering slightly He was suddenly aware that he was trembling. He felt as if every part of his body was screaming in protest to what he was about to go through with.

Caroline noticed his behavior and chuckled. “Are you sure about that?” she teased. “You don’t exactly sound enthusiastic about all this.”

He nodded.

“I’ll take your word for it, then.” She turned her back to him once again and began rummaging through drawers to find what she was looking for. When she did, she held up to him a small gray sphere. A darker gray circle marked the “iris” of the mechanical eye and in the center of a yellow rectangle within it was what appeared to be a small camera aperture.

“This is my best and most recent work when it comes to eyes,” she informed him. “I’d wager that it’s better than the real deal. Resolution so high you couldn’t see the pixels if you tried, and certain signals make it switch to a night-vision mode. Isn’t too easily damaged, either. Waterproof, of course — it’d have to be. And if you like what you see, it’ll be three hundred points.” She pulled up his balance on a holographic screen and whistled. “You’re a lucky man. You’ve got three hundred and four! Just barely enough.”

Lucky. Was he really? “I’ll take it,” he said with feigned certainty.

Caroline motioned for him to follow, and led him into the back room where the operation table lay. He had almost gotten used to the smells in the front, but the odors were even more pungent in this room. He winced, and his eyes began to water, but he didn’t make a sound. He took some minimal amount of comfort in the silence, in the moments without Caroline’s sweet yet bitter voice, in the seconds without the audible crying, in the minutes before the pain. But the silence was all too quickly broken.

“Before we do this,” Caroline began, in a much more serious tone than she’d had previously, “I want you to really think about it. Giving up a part of yourself, however small, is irreversible. Irrevocable. You can’t take it back once it’s gone. And once you’ve given up a little bit, you may find it all too easy to let other parts of you slip away, slowly but surely, until one day, you have nothing left to give.” She paused, letting the words sink in. “Just know what may come of this if you allow me to proceed.”

Her words felt like a knife being twisted deep in his gut as their truth sank in ever further, and he felt the worst pain right then, before he even sat on the table, as he swore to himself that this would be it, that all he needed was an eye, that he would never come back for more, but deep down suspecting, no, knowing, that he would be back, that one day she would be right, that he wouldn’t have anything left to give and every little piece of what used to be him would be another jar in her collection, on display for all to see, a cautionary tale, a warning to never, ever say yes to Caroline and her bitter yet sweet voice and her all-too-tempting offers of perfect vision and perfect hands and a perfect mind and a perfect everything.

“I understand. I’m ready.”

•     •     

It was an eye, but it was not his. It was foreign. It was cold. His body accepted it, but he did not.

“This one’s on me,” Caroline said, brushing her hands on her stained apron. “Don’t worry about payment.”

“But you said –”

“I know what I said. Three hundred points is nothing to me. I probably earn ten times that in average day,” she said with a sigh and a smile. “It’s alright. I do my best to provide good customer service. It’s what turns first-timers into repeat customers. Besides…” She held up his eye just inches in front of her own. “I think blue will look good on me.”


House Full of Hope — Craftie Beaver

House Full of Hope is a play written by my mom, Crafty B. She just published it on Amazon and, I had the honor of drawing the picture for the cover. HFoF is about victims of domestic abuse telling their stories, and it’s very powerful. You can read more about it in her original post.

My daughter, Pencil Princess, drew this awesome chair for me. Read the play to find out why the chair has wings. 🙂 Thank you, my Love. You’re my angel. I absolutely adore it. My play is available on Amazon! It’s $9.99, but I’ll tell you why I did that. I had no other way of […]

via House Full of Hope — Craftie Beaver

Also, once you find out the reason that the chair has wings, it will blow your mind! And your tear ducts. ;m;

I’m Not Your (Stereo)type

I’m Not Your (Stereo)type

A while ago, I wrote an autobiographical piece which I submitted to a writing contest. I just heard back from them and I was not picked as a finalist, so I am now allowed to post the piece to my blog. Half-yay! *apathetic kazoo toot*

This piece is based on personal experiences that I have had during my time in middle school. Everything is based on true events from my life! Just wanted to put that out there. None of this is made up. Even though I wish some of it was. Sigh. Anyhoo, enjoy my account of what it’s really like to be a middle school student.

“I’m Not Your (Stereo)type” by Lillian Maggio (a.k.a. PenPrin)

Since I’m going into high school soon, I figured I might as well make my contribution to the “Life of a Middle School Student” genre while I still can. Middle school isn’t at all what children’s books would lead you to believe. In my experience as a dorky teen girl, I’ve found that not all people who wear nice clothes are rude. Not all parents are idiots who do nothing but ruin your life. It’s impossible to actually keep a journal without forgetting about it in a few weeks, and there isn’t a perfect boy. Oh, and not every geek is this kind, accepting person. Don’t believe me? I have five prime examples of how life is not like a book.

Trust me, I love a good story. I just wish that someone had explained to me the difference between stories and truth before I was tossed headfirst into a pile of tall, stinky children who refused to be called children anymore.

Example number one: Just this year in science class I was paired up with two girls who my past self might have labeled “popular.” They both had long, blonde hair. Before I got to know them, I probably thought they looked exactly alike, but now I can easily tell them apart. I was dreading having to work with them because I assumed they would be total divas. But guess what? They were actually really cool and fun to hang out with. They were kind to me and loved to crack jokes. I felt included, not isolated by them. I learned that a girl’s IQ can be greater than the length of her ridiculously short shorts. That would have been good to know three years ago.

Example number two: I once tried to keep a diary. My parents and I were at a convenience store and I spotted a tiny spiral notebook with a golden retriever photo on the front. I begged like the puppy on the cover for them to let me get it, and they did. As soon as I got home, I got out a pen and wrote “NO SNOOPING” with ten exclamation marks on the inside cover. I even journaled in it almost every day for a little while. Most of it was just me talking about video games I really didn’t know that much about and gushing over boys. I would draw in it, too, although my “style” of art wasn’t much to look at. It was a combination of me attempting to mimic Japanese cartoons and then just giving up and drawing stick figures. Eventually, though, the entries consisted of less talk about my life and more random ideas I had jotted down in boredom. After a while, I tore out a bunch of the pages and stopped writing in it. Commitment is way harder than “realistic fiction” books make it seem!

Example number three: From the time I was born, my parents have been there for me. My mom and dad didn’t look like your typical reality TV show parents. They’ve been struggling with being overweight for as long as I have known them, and they tend to be older than a lot of my friends’ parents. My mom usually had blonde hair, and recently she shaved the sides of her head. I think it makes her look really cool. My dad has gray hair, a beard, a mustache, and thick eyebrows like mine. Even though they fought a lot sometimes, they never got separated or divorced. They always entertained my endless stream of what-if questions until I had depleted their energy with my curiosity. They were the first ones to teach me how to read, and they actually cared about my education instead of just waiting for the day they could send me off to preschool. Even now, they let me talk to them about my problems and struggles during the time when I’m outside of their reach. Most other kids, real and otherwise, seem to despise the people who brought them into the world. For me, though, they’re my best friends, and almost always have been.

Example number four: In the sixth and seventh grade, I had a nerdy boyfriend. I did have a boyfriend before him, but this is a story about middle school, so I won’t count my fifth grade “relationship.” Anyway, in case you don’t know, a boyfriend or girlfriend in the sixth and seventh grade just means somebody of the opposite gender with whom you’re obligated to see every movie. He had short, almost-black hair and a freckled face. I think he was taller than me, but not by very much. He wasn’t the Prince Charming that overdramatic books had taught me that I deserved, and his normalness confused me. I felt like even though we said that our relationship was special, we just acted like friends. I came to the realization that, despite what the diary of a fictional teenage girl told me, I didn’t need a boy to feel good about myself. I broke up with him, and I haven’t dated anyone since.

I’m sure that you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for my final example, and I promise not to disappoint. It’s packed full of powerful experiences, controversial opinions, and pessimistic sarcasm. Plus, it’s longer than my four other examples, so you know it has to be good. Prepare yourself for the one and only example number five.

I’ve rejected people and been rejected by people. I’m not exactly a perfect protagonist, but I’ve come up against my fair share of bad guys. Not in the form that I expected (makeup-wearing divas dishing out weak insults), but antagonistic nonetheless. One girl had long, dirty-blonde hair and glasses. She was always extremely tall. Her parents were bikers, and she wanted to be one, too. She was just as wrapped up in her fantasy world as I was in mine, and because of it we fell apart in reality. Another had straight, dark brown hair that she usually wore up in a ponytail. This girl also wore glasses. She constantly acted like she was better than everyone else, but in reality she wasn’t actually all that smart. She clung to me and made me feel special for half a year, then left me in the dust when a new girl came along. Most recently, I found myself attached to a girl so desperately confused that she thought to be happy, she had to confuse me, too. Only the last of these three ever wore makeup as long as I knew them, but they all hurt me equally as bad.

The confused girl was short—shorter than me, and I’m only five feet tall. She went through a variety of hair colors. When I met her, it was faded green. Then black. Then teal on the bottom with pink on the top. I thought it was so cool, so I did weird stuff with my hair, too. It started out brown, my natural color. I convinced my mom to help me dye it purple, but the bleach made it light and we didn’t have enough dye, so it became orange and pink. Then I dyed it bright red to cover up the mistake, but it faded quickly, going back to pink and orange in a matter of weeks. Then I cut it short. Then I shaved the sides and left the top long. Then I think I tried purple again, but that faded, too. Then I dyed it bright red again. Finally, after my friendship with the confused girl had ended, I went back to brown and tried to grow it out. That’s where I am today, in the awkward trying-to-grow-it-out stage.

One day, after only a short time of us knowing each other, she told me that she was bisexual. Later in the year, she said that she was a lesbian and not bisexual. I didn’t question her at the time, but now I wonder why she had told a near-complete stranger such a personal thing about her as her sexuality. Maybe I’m just a massive prude and everyone else wears their sexuality on their sleeve, but I never thought it was the kind of thing you brought up in casual conversation with someone you just met. To me, sexuality is private; a personal thing. I wouldn’t go up to someone and proclaim my straightness at full voice. But maybe I don’t have to because people assume I’m straight. Just to be clear, I completely support people being whoever and whatever they are. It’s not that I don’t like people who are bisexual! I’m just uncomfortable that the confused girl was sharing such personal deets with me.

She asked me what I was, and I told her that I was straight, but didn’t like anyone at the time.

“So you’re asexual?”

“No!” I swear to God, confused girl!

Later in the year, sexuality came up again. This time, another girl was part of the conversation. She was tall, wore glasses, and had a whiny voice. Fun fact: tall girl is the same person my previous best friend left me for. I was trying not to hold a grudge, but it was hard because she’s kinda mean.

The friend-stealer walked up to the confused girl and me. “Hey, I heard you talking about being a lesbian,” she said to Confused. (By now, Confused was a lesbian and not bisexual anymore. I know, it’s hard to keep up.) “It’s okay, I’m bisexual.” (Seriously. Is everyone bisexual now and I just didn’t get the memo? How long has this been going on?) She looked at me. “Um, what are you?”

Now, I didn’t want to offend anyone, so I responded with the most politically-correct sentence I believe I have ever uttered. “Personally, I’m heterosexual and cisgendered, but I respect everyone whose preferences are different.”

“Then just say you’re straight. Otherwise you sound like a jerk.”

Well, shoot!

I’d like to reiterate that I’m totally okay with whatever anyone is, gender- or sexuality-wise. I just don’t want other people to make me feel like a bigot for being who I am, and that’s what the tall, friend-stealing girl was doing.

Anyway, the thing that confused me most about Confused wasn’t that she was almost-bisexual. It was that the things she liked changed on an almost-biweekly basis. At the beginning of the year, we bonded over a popular simulator game where you played as a Japanese schoolgirl murdering other Japanese schoolgirls. Then she introduced me to a game where, instead of defeating monsters, your goal was to befriend them. After that, I quickly lost track of what things she was infatuated with. I’m pretty sure that the list contained a relatively-old movie, a TV show about boys on a swim team in love, and a creepy-as-heck video game or two. I couldn’t keep up, and at the end of the year when I still liked the friendly monster game, she had probably been through at least ten other obsessions which she tried to force upon me.

After the school year had ended, Confused moved back to her home state, and I haven’t seen or talked to her since. She took me—an outgoing, innocent teen girl—and introduced me to things like yaoi (stories about guys in love), Tumblr (the website where teen girls post stories about guys in love), and ruining my hair beyond all recognition to attract people who liked the same things. Through the course of our friendship, I learned to shun everyone who didn’t act like me, including “jocks” and “popular girls.” The hardest part about being her friend was un-learning everything she had taught me once she was gone.

The world today usually doesn’t match up with the tropes and stereotypes of modern literature. The big problem is the people who think it does, and live their life as if they’re the main character in the story. Truthfully, we’re all supporting characters, and this story is about something much bigger than any one of us. Most of the time, you don’t actually get the “happily ever after” you’re expecting.