My Writing Playground

a personal and inspirational blog, full of my creations and others' creations

Category: My personal writings

The Mystery of the Missing Carbon

aka The Carbon Cycle

My name is Bennett. Sami Bennett.

I was in my office one night later than usual, working on a difficult case. Suddenly, in came a suspicious-looking molecule. He reminded me of my friend’s dog, who had mysteriously acquired a lame leg. I had served him, looking for clues, and finally accused the neighbor of doing the mischief. I was right, as I usually am, and the dog has been on my case ever since.

This molecule asked me if I was busy. I told him I was, but if he wanted a detective, he was looking in the right place. He took a seat and wouldn’t speak for minutes. I was about to ask him out right when he began.

I’m looking for Carbon.”

I blinked. Had I heard correctly? “Say that again, please,” I said slowly.

Carbon. I need to find Carbon.” He shifted in his seat nervously.

I gulped. I thought to myself, “Bennett, you’ve had tough cases before and you’ll have tough cases again.” Once I had gathered my courage I told the molecule, “I’ll find your Carbon. I’ve seen him before. There’s only one small difficulty.”

What’s that?” he cut in hastily.

I looked sharply at him. “Carbon… is everywhere.”

The molecule jumped, looked startled, and grabbed the armrests of his chair. I could barely make out his works. “Where?”

To help my client calm his nerves and break our scene’s tension, I casually looked around the room. I had some wood near the fireplace ready for burning. I took a break and thought hard.

I’m afraid,” I said, “you won’t like to hear this, sir, but if you look behind you, I can show you where your Carbon may have gone.”

My client (with an edgy personality, I decided) spared a glace first at me, then followed my gaze. “The firewood?” he asked softly.

I nodded my head. “Cellulose, actually. The basic chemical formula, you must know, is C6H10O5.”

C six?”

Again, I nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

My client shivered. I rose and, with my matchbox, descended to the fireplace, where I expertly set the wood on fire. “Now, sir, I’ll have you know, this Carbon of yours is being released out through my chimney.”

He was still shivering as he looked up towards the ceiling.

Try to stay calm. This won’t be easy.” I came back and sat down next to the molecule, who looked rather taken aback. “I added the amount of energy from my matches needed to start the combustion reaction, properly stated as C6H10O5 + 6O2 coverted into 6CO2 + 5H2O. The water vapor, that’s the H2O, and the carbon dioxide, that’s the CO2, the one we’re interested in, are not making their escape into… the atmosphere.”

Th-this all came from the wood?” asked my client.

I nodded. “And the oxygen in the air.”

And where will it go now?”

I took a moment, got up, and walked to the window, unsure how to break the news. The moon, full and shining, lit up the countryside outside my window, and I could see the vineyard that was stationed just outside our curious city. The molecule got up and followed me.

What is it?” he asked quietly.

I pointed to the grapevines outside. “You see those plants. They are made of glucose, a carbohydrate—a sugar, rather. You know the formula, I suppose?”

My client nodded to me knowingly. “Yes. C6H12O6.”

That’s right. The plants get the carbon, and the oxygen, from the carbon dioxide… in the air now around us.”

I knew he couldn’t take this lightly. As he looked faint, I helped him to his seat. “It’s called photoshynthesis,” I said, trying to calm him. “Without it, we would have no fuel, no food to eat. The exact process is 6CO2 + 6H2O converted into C6H12O6 + 6O2. Plants release the oxygen, somehting humans and other animals take in.” The talking seemed to do my client good. I was comfortable enough to leave him and get some wine. I poured him a glass and me one as well. He looked grateful for the treat. As I sipped mine I side, “Carbon is in this too, I’ll have you know. Wine comes from the fermentation of grapes, which makes ethanol, the ‘drinking alcohol’.”

Ah, yes, I’ve heard of that,” he told me. “Isn’t the chemical formula for ethanol C2H5OH?”

Yes.” I concurred. “The precise reaction is C6H12O6 converted to 2CO2 + C2H5OH. But I haven’t told you everything yet.”

My client was anxiously watching me. “What is it?”

I got up from my seat, bracing myself should he feel faint again. “There’s also cellular respiration.” The room was as silent as the night outdoors. I took a deep breath. “Animals are made of glucose, among other things. We get it by consuming grapes and other foods. It’s the reverse of photosynthesis, and it keeps us connected to our green, leafy friends. The process is C6H12O6 + 6O2 converted to 6CO2 + 6H2O.

So now you see, Carbon is everywhere, sir. I hope I have helped you. Now sir, if you please, I have some work to which I must attend.”

The molecule gradually got up from his seat and started to leave. At the door he stopped and said quietly over his shoulder, “I should thank you, Bennett.”

Thank Carbon, sir. Thank Carbon.”

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My Fantasy Novel

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted on this writing blog. The main reason is that I am working really hard on my first novel, Her Sister’s Dragon. It is a young adult fantasy novel about a cursed girl named Malaka trying to rescue her sister from a dragon with the help of her best friend Anaïs, a deaf foreign girl on the run. I just made a new website, so you can learn about it here: http://hersistersdragon.wordpress.com

hersisdrag_sitecover2

I hope to post more on this blog, but it might not be until after I have finished this novel (which I hope to finish in the next year).

Thank you for your interest in my writing blog, and happy new year!

– Sami Bennett

Feathers Inn

a short story

My clock has no hands and my body no heart.
I sleep in the day and come out in the dark.
I breathe no warmth, no kindness I pay,
for I never come out in the heat of the day.

Doubt nothing that’s said. Be silent in wonder.
Hope for the rain and listen for thunder.
Remember not me when the sun shines through.
Remember not me. I shall not think of you.

Come inside.

I’ll make you a cup of tea.

Yes, I lost the hands to that clock years ago. Looked everywhere and finally gave it up for lost or stolen. The clock still tells me the time, though. Perhaps it is magic. Things tend to be magic in this house. Or were once. But secrets and spells have come to bore me now that I am old and have no one to share things with.

Those trees out there, do you see them? They were once the glory of the forest. If you came within a hundred yards of their branches and lay down to sleep, you would be sucked into a world unknown and utterly lost. You would stay there till the end of your days, drinking from lemonade streams and sucking sugar grass. You forget who you are and what you’ve always dreamed to be. You become one with the people there, the Nobodies. But no one goes there nowadays. The trees are too old for that sort of thing, and all the young heroes they might intimidate are far gone, off in distant lands far more interesting than here.

Do not look for skeleton bones or dead snakes in the cabinets. They were all taken by my sister when she eloped with a young doctor fresh from medical school. She said she wanted to live the life of the ordinary for a while, but she needed a few souvenirs of home, in case a demon or wizard tried to take her memory away. I don’t think she knows what it’s like to be ordinary.

Not that I am one to talk. Nor should you. We neither of us are used to ordinary.

You hear something from above? Yes, don’t worry. That’s just my aunt sleeping. She’s a bear at this time of year, but perfectly harmless, I assure you. Back in the day, she would come out and drag off children from innocent villages and eat then for supper. And if anyone in the family told her to stop, she would eat them up, too, quick as a wink, for she was cursed by a sorcerer who had saved her life.

She had been in great peril, locked in a deep dungeon whilst above a villainous king plotted her murder, for she had attempted to steal the blessed water of the gods to use on the poor and helpless people of a nearby island. There had been a plague on the island for many years, and she was destined to stop it. In the dungeon, at her last thread of hope, there came the young sorcerer, Macedion. He had fallen in love with my aunt at first sight, and after hearing the harm intended towards her, he determined to free her. She vowed him eternal love, and the sorcerer broke her free and told her how to get the blessed water from the gargoyle who guarded it. He told her to set all the king’s ships on fire while he lured the sailors away. Then they made off for the island. There on the island they were to marry, but my aunt fell deeply in love with one of the island villagers named Gesstol. When the sorcerer heard this, he cursed my aunt, making her bear and beast for the rest of her days.

She lives with us now, and has grown quite calm and tame. After she knew she did not love the sorcerer, there was no way for her to be completely happy, but at least she talks to me a bit now. She tells me that she’s happy she didn’t marry the sorcerer. She’s glad to live in my attic like a bear. She only eats honey and fruit off of trees now. She never asks for more.

Do not be afraid of the mice that run around. They have always roamed free after my cat was kidnapped by a wicked fairy who sought for gold and riches, and got a pet instead.

Have you never heard the tale? She always had a wicked heart, that fairy. She clung to the idea that she was great, majestic, that she should be queen of the world. And the way to do that, in her eyes, was to become the richest fairy in all the world. You must not blame her. Fairies will think silly thoughts like that sometimes. Humans, too, if you’re not careful.

My brother lived in this house at that time. He had a whole treasure box full of gold in the cellar. He always kept it hidden, but word got around. It always does in fairy tales, because fairies are the best at knowing secrets. She demanded every coin. My brother, who always tried to follow in my wise uncle’s footsteps, said that the fairy could have all the gold and riches that she pleased, it was nothing to him, but he begged her not to take the cat. That cat, I will just mention, was always mine. I had asked him to care for it as a favor until I returned from a quest. I was to kill a raging dragon—but that is another tale. My brother was very bad at keeping promises. He convinced the fairy that the cat was the most valuable thing in the whole world.

I wonder what become of Feathers, my cat. I like to think he was a magic cat that made a kind spot in that fairy’s dark heart that grew and grew until she was no longer wicked but the most benevolent fairy ever heard of. I like to think that. Don’t you? At least I’ve never heard of her wicked doings again.

You needn’t worry where you place your feet or in which chair you sit. All the trap doors were sealed up after my father took a fall in one of them and broke his head. He died that day. My mother insisted that it would never happen to anyone again.

It was quite hard to get any builder to come to the house. We had quite a few more bats back then, and spider webs as well. Whenever we finally got someone to show up on our doorstep, they often ran away before they ever stepped inside. In the end my brother patched the doors himself. But he did a fine job. They won’t open again.

I think it was after my mother died that the magic really started the fade. She was so vibrant, so full of magic herself that it was hard to do anything without her. She was killed by some accident over a mess of a spell. Something of cockroaches and porcupine needles. Not sure exactly. I wasn’t there.

A sign hangs on my door, if you look closely. My mother wanted it thrown out, but I carefully took it down and saved it until after she was gone. It’s worn in places, but you can still read it if you truly wish to. It was my father’s.

My clock has no hands and my body no heart.
I sleep in the day and come out in the dark.
I breathe no warmth, no kindness I pay,
for I never come out in the heat of the day.

Doubt nothing that’s said. Be silent in wonder.
Hope for the rain and listen for thunder.
Remember not me when the sun shines through.
Remember not me. I shall not think of you.

 

Prison Stories

a poem

1.
I found you, you glistening
jewel of story, accidentally
while I was clearing away a path
in this dark prison with my pen
nothing to sense but the gray
silence and the echoing
darkness that embraces me. I write to free
the observer inside of me
that wants to go out on an African safari
or eat Italian-spiced salami
or watch that violent movie
everyone seemed to like.

2.
I’m wary. Emptiness
can suck away your consciousness,
says my empty prison walls.
I stop listening and focus on telling my
observing mind my story. I explore
the hidden depths of my memory
conversations I had, or I wish I had,
or that I regret, with loved ones and hated
ones and ones I never really
noticed until now. This is the time
for attention to intricacies, to the small
characters that played a part in my life, now
that I am off stage mumbling
lines to myself, hoping
someday I will say them on stage
without falter

Water Vapor Spirits

a poem

mouth

I use
to breathe in,
the bus stop stooping
lonely, lumps of snow weighing it down,
and I play with science to pass the time.
The night sky provides an excellent
background for my experiments.
I heat the cold with clouds of
carbon dioxide and I watch
transparent water vapor spirits
pour out of my lungs, forms betrayed
by incandescent bulbs,
varying in shape and speed,
as they race, frost-colored,
into the nothing air and disappear.
I sip another cup of

sky

My Old Friend

a poem

You were with me as I drove away from home
You were with me the day he asked me out
You were with me as I paved my way
through empty dorm hallways looking for friends
as I showed silly videos and stood on my head
in hopes that someone would scoop me up and whisper in my ear
“You belong here.”

You were still with me, old friend,
even as your gaze drifted away
You have become a part of me,
giving me advice,
kicking me when I say something stupid
reminding me of loss and hurt when I am overconfident
You are with me as I explore the lost corners of the world
while America plays with the same TV show, but now in a different shade of fear
Old friend, I cannot go back
this was one thing I could not agree with you on
I loved you, old friend,
and put up with your sharp words when you were hurt
until I noticed we were no longer friends

but two people trying to hold on to a fraying past
But even past all that
You are still with me
the bright lion that bit my hand but also taught me how to roar
“You deserve this,” you said to me
squealing with glee
when I told you
about my third kiss
the first one that stuck
while the knots in my stomach untied
loosened by your encouragement
You deserve this, too, old friend.

East

a poem

I apologize

but the light between here and there in the sky
is trapped in my eyes

and I must repeat the exploration, though it is unwise
in thick rain-gray skies

the bright orange glows on the dramatized city skyline
before the lights homogenize

before I wasn’t sure it was over, but my doubt subsides
as the fiery mess is ostracized,

traumatized from the other side. How often he heard lies
I cannot quantify

but the crying light bursts forth with a thousand pint-sized paint supplies
splashed in the shape of a snake eye

it is wise to fly so high above where people kill and die
and trap light in their eyes

Take Heed

a poem

My poetry is a diary
It sounds quaint and fantastic
but really
they are simply notes to myself
to remember, to honor
and eventually
to let go
and forget

but please
don’t think of my poems
as dropping hints
some of the hints are false and some
allude only to dreams

it is my labyrinth to which there is no map
and never can be
for it grew beyond control
of its maker

take heed and enjoy
the simple pleasures
of sound and melody

Don’t scrape the surface for meaning
for poems are incredibly fragile—
more so than music CDs,
easily scratched
and impossible to mend

like fungus,
you might destroy them
before discovering what they are

so listen slowly
and take the meaning you find for granted

Not All Women Wear Make-Up

a poem

Does it annoy you ever
that women are often defined
by consumer goods?
Make-up, tight pretty clothing, and shoes.

Men can wear make-up too
— and I mean,
people who call themselves men
not just people with penises
And besides,
not all women wear make-up.

Women do not have to wear make-up.
Women do not have to be fashionable
or knowledgeable about fashion.

Women do not have to be nurses
or hairdressers

Women do not have to have vaginas.
Women do not have to be fertile.
Women do not have to want babies.

Women do not have to be mothers
or wives
or girlfriends
Women’s most important relationship does not have to be with a man

Women do not have to be submissive
or needy
or controlling
or the bitch

Women do not have to be weak

Women do not have to be annoying
or compassionate.
Women do not have to be responsible
or strict

Women do not have to have the perfect breasts
or any breasts at all

Women do not have to be objectified
or oppressed
or uneducated

Women do not have to have soft voices
or silent ones
Women do not have to have good gossipers

Women do not have to have hair
or shave their legs
or armpits
or pubes

Women do not have to be first
or last

Women do not have to be beautiful or hot
to be talented

Women do not have to be graceful
or virgins
or sluts
or whores

Women do not have to be rape victims

Women do not have to be damsels in distress

But if none of these are requirements
for being a woman,
then what makes a woman?

Who is a woman?

Oh, right.
Of course.
I am.

Musings on Autism

Autism is weird, and it’s a weird thing for me to think about. I don’t want to consider it as completely tragic, where my brother is the victim and we mourn for him. It’s not like he’s dead or anything like that. On the other hand, I don’t want to consider it as completely beneficial, because it’s not. Autism is a great burden on my whole family, largely because so many people in this world are unable to connect to our struggle. Everyone in my family has believed at one point or another (including myself) that our struggles of dealing with autism are insignificant, because no one else is pointing out just how hard it is.

Not only do we struggle with the autism in my brother, but we struggle with the autism inside of each of us. Socializing is a great challenge. Understanding the mainstream sometimes feels impossible. We are an intellectual bunch and yet have a hard time connecting with the typical “nerdy” community.

It is hard to explain how difficult autism is to deal with. Sometimes my brother acts like a very spoiled child, yelling for things that he wants. If I get angry at him for it, sometimes he will get extremely upset and start hitting himself, and suddenly I realized for the millionth time that he is not a spoiled child. He has autism and whatever that autism is doing to him, it is making him act in a way that he does not want to act. I know he wants to be kind to all of us—and a lot of the time, he is kind to us. I remember precious moments when he would walk into my room and kiss me on the cheek, just like that, just out of the blue. Sometimes, though, something sets of an alarm inside his head, and he gets upset. Sometimes he can be calmed down with talking, writing things out, or if we help him say what he wants to say to us, but it is hard, and doesn’t always work. Sometimes he just has to be angry. There are lots of times when he gets angry at night. My parents get about as much sleep as they would if they had a perpetual two-year-old running around.

I don’t have many early memories of my brother or his autism, to be honest. Autism was never something new or different, never something to be remembered as distinct from other things. He was just my brother. He always has been.

My brother cannot take a shower by himself. If we told him to go get a shower, got him in the bathroom and heard the water running, he probably would not be able to turn the shower off himself. Even if you left him there overnight, in the morning you would wake up to find him still in the shower, unable to initiate turning off the shower, getting out, and putting clothes on.

Traveling can be a nightmare. My brother is extremely picky about what he eats, and he cannot change that. If he was not given the food that he liked, he wouldn’t eat anything. He would simply starve. If he gets angry during a car ride, then he screams in the car, and there isn’t much we can do about it. If we yell at him to stop, he hits himself, probably hating himself because he knows he cannot stop, even though he wants to.

Autism is a very hard thing to understand without living with it.

Autism can be funny, too. My family laughs a lot.

My sister took my brother to the bookstore once, even though she was nervous about it, and he yelled really loudly, “Funny!” in the store, drawing everyone’s attention and making my sister feel embarrassed. Then she realized that he wanted her to relax, to laugh, to not feel so nervous.
My brother says some really funny things sometimes. When my mom watched a documentary with him about autistic people learning to communicate through typing on the computer, she told him he was going to do that someday. He said back to her, “You got it, baby.”

Everyone wants to be normal, despite the fact that normal doesn’t exist and it is a terrible thing to want. If we did not have autism in our family, we would probably have a different, also very challenging problem. I have learned from my experience with autism that everyone has their own battle they are fighting, even when appearances seem to say otherwise. For this reason, it is important to be patient and understanding of others. Sometimes on the outside people can lash out and seem really mean when inside all they are is scared and hurt and frustrated.

I have a really, really hard time writing about autism, because no one really knows why or how autism happens, and also dealing with it is an experience that very few people I know are able to relate to. I think if I read more books about autism, like Strange Son or The Reason I Jump, I’ll get some more ideas of how to write about it.