I Am Isabel the Storyteller

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Month: January, 2019

Interlude, or an after-thought, but not quite a chapter

Hi Readers. I just thought of this after I hit the “PUBLISH” button.

A week before he got killed, Dad was learning Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” on his guitar. First he listened to the song a lot. Then he learned the guitar part. Then he played it while he deliberately talked to me or Mom. Then he listened again.  Then he wrote the lyrics and read them while he brushed his teeth. Then he sang along with Bob Dylan on his iPod figuring out which words and syllables had chord changes. Then he sang and strummed and finally said, Listen up, Izzy.

One of the lyrics went like this:

“…something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is…”

That is exactly what it’s like for me now.  But, Dad? It seems maybe you know. How else to understand why I’m hearing “Thin Man” in my mind’s ear? And Listen up, Izzy?

—Isabel Scheherazade (who’s trying to keep it all together by writing it down in this blog)

Interlude (or Alternate Chapter One?) Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe Confrontation: I. Scheherazade confront the Killer.

Interlude (or Alternate Chapter One maybe?) Wherein I (Isabel Scheherazade) Confront the Killer in Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe.  (My hands are white-knuckled while I write this.) It’s scary, what just happened, very scary.


The guy takes his head out of his hands and looks at me, blinking, like I’d blown smoke in his eyes. He picks up his coffee. Yes? he asks. Can I help you?

I take a big breath. You killed my Mom and Dad.

Ever wonder if your words have an impact? Mine punched him.  His hands trembled. His coffee splashed onto the checkered tablecloth.

I  wonder if he’s scalded his fingers. I hope yes, but then I think ouch.

His eyes dart back and forth like he’s hunting for an escape route.

And see those kids there? I point back at my table without looking. Those are my brothers. You killed their Mom and Dad, too.

 I stop. I don’t know what else to say.

We stare at each other. His face collapses, tears spill over his bleary eyes and into his whiskers. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, he says in a whisper. Sorry. He pushes away from the table, up-ends the chair, rushes Into the innocent outside, and leaves his coffee.

I watch the door ease shut after him, the bird and viney window curtains whiffing carelessly. (Makes sense: how many “cares” could cheerful gauzey curtains in a cute coffee shop have?)

I’m in shock. I didn’t know I had BOLD in me. Like a robot, I pick up his chair, push it back to the table, blot the coffee spills with my sleeve, place the coffee cup in the wash bin, and walk back to my table.

Mimi skewers me over the heads of the twins. She’s horrified.

Not me. I’m hate-i-fied.



(sketches by my friend Ryan, BTW)

PS   Is this a cliff hanger? Maybe not quite; but I was thinking I should start with the elephant in the room that nobody (meaning Pop and Mimi, my grandparents) is talking about.

Back to the nature of cliff hangers, just to get off vile and evil for a minute:

I can tolerate cliff hangers just so long as I can keep reading, or know that the next book in the series is within my reach. I just finished Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” When I started with the first book, all the rest of the series had been written and was either in paperback or in the library; so, as soon as I finished “The Lightning Thief,” I could start on “The Sea of Monsters!” Then the library had “The Titan’s Curse” lined up and waiting for me as soon as I finished Monsters.

Otherwise I don’t think I could have stood it…you know, all that hopping from foot to foot to see what was going to happen. Get it? Stood it? Hopping from foot to foot? I love puns; Mom said the two of us have the pun “gene.” She was a scientist with a sense of humor.  Every time I build a pun I think of her; so, that’s good, at least.

Come to think of it, my life right now is a series of cliff hangers. I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THIS WAY UNTIL THIS VERY SECOND. Writing brought the idea up. It’s like the idea was swimming in a lagoon and the writing was the hook that reeled it in.

end of PS

Another Chapter One Of “Isabel Scheherazade Writes to Save Her Life” (experimenting with alternate blog titles here)

Preface (or would this be an Introduction or Forward?) (I prefer “Interlude” but is it possible to be interluding so soon?)


I, Isabel Scheherazade, am 12-years old. Still a kid, technically. But this story is not-just-for-kids. It’s a memoir.

My dad was writing a memoir with his high school Freshmen. (He’ll never finish it, BTW.) I ask him, “How do you decide which stories?”

“It’s the ones that’ll ring a bell in my heart when I’m 99,” he says.

How’s that for a not-really-an-answer answer? But now that I’ll never see him again I get it. My mind and heart throb with my stories. The movie rating for this memoir of mine wouldn’t be G or even PG. The reviewers would say it’s “edgy.” Maybe it will get one of those parental warnings for violence and death. (I read a lot about censorship; that’s how I know about this stuff.)


Chapter One

Mom and Dad were killed.

A guy in a truck ran a red light; my parents swerved to avoid him and rolled over and over down this steep hill.

They wouldn’t let us see Mom and Dad after the accident. This means that the last time I saw them was about 5 PM. Mimi and Pop (my grandparents) had come over to babysit for date night. I was on our front porch in my PJ’s. Toothpaste and timer-controlled electric toothbrush competed with words in my mouth. I was telling Dad that Pop and I were going to play Settlers of Catan.

So, didn’t even give them a good night kiss.

Since that night, me, Clyde, Sam (they’re twins) and Mimi and Pop sip and gulp from a Huge Cup of Sorrow.

I notice, though, even on the worst days I see OVER the lip of the cup a tiny bit. It’s because I’m trying to write.

Stories jump up and down to get my attention.

I’m like this lady Pop told me about. She thinks someone is trying to poison her, so pretty soon, since she expects it, all her food begins to taste funny. Because I’m hunting for stories, I find them.  All around me.  Just waiting for me to pick them up.

My memories are organized like our minivan (the one that rolled down the embankment.) Before it got squashed, it had three rows of seats.

I’ve got stories about what’s happening Right This Minute: The Front Seat memories. They’re full of our life With Mimi and Pop, school, neighbors, every day kinds of stuff. Some big. Some little.

I’ve got stories of Mom and Dad’s car crash: That’s the Middle Row of Seats. But most times it’s like that row is turned down for storage.  (In our family we used that middle section for storage because the huge double stroller didn’t fit in the usual back door storage area.  So us three kids sat in the third row of seats, me in between two car seats full of noisy boys. Tight.) Back to the middle row. You know how you can press a lever to fold and turn the seat cushions so they’re out of sight? That’s how it is with the crash day memories. Out of sight. Usually.

Then there’s our whole life with Mom and Dad.  Before. It’s like they’re just sitting in the Way Back Seat of my memory, waiting for me to notice them.

So, here goes.  This is the story of our first few months–After.  You’ll see how memories and stories jump out of the Way Back and into the Front.

Sometimes plunk right into the Middle.


PS (DO blogs have PS’s, I wonder?) But anyways:

PPS  Since this IS my BLOG, feel free to make comments. I’m going to reply to everyone. Hey. Why not.

PPPS  Scheherazade is my middle name.  When my parents gave it to me it was like a good fairy godmother gift. I mean they were hoping I’d become a storyteller. Why else name me after the narrator of a 1001 Tales!! I wonder if my parents could have anticipated that my stories would help keep me alive? (See the comment section for more about Scheherazade.)

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