The other day I decided to take a horror story and make it Disney-ish. I thought and thought about which one to pick, but it didn't take long for me to choose one of my favorites, The Tell-Tale Heart.
This writing exercise was actually really easy. The insane narrator turned into a fun-loving, singing princess. She danced around the old house and cleaned it up quite nicely even though some of the objects in that house could talk AND move. The "vulture-eyed" man turned into a witch and when the Vulture Witch died, it was a victorious thing. Even the floorboards rejoiced! The princess, giggled and sang even louder than the witch's heart which still thudded as wedding bells rang. So, all in all everyone was happy.
Anyway, I giggled as I wrote the thing. (Isn't it dumb I get so much joy from my own writing.) Then I turned on the noise maker my babies love and put them to sleep so I could read Disney's finest to The Scribe and The Hippie.
Now, this is why test readers are such a good idea. After hearing the story, The Hippie turned to me and said, "That princess is creepy. I think she's really the evil witch. The vulture lady didn't do anything wrong."
"What? She tried to kill the princess with her magical vulture eye. And that princess . . . you didn't like her?" The Hippie shook her head. "But she sang and talked to the objects in the house."
"Yeah, she talked to the beating floorboards. That's creepy."
"What about Belle and Snow White?"
"That's different. Belle had Lumiere . . . not beating floorboards."
So, I felt like a failure until The Scribe chimed in. "Well I loved it. In fact it's given me a great idea for my blog."
I smiled. At least one of my children thought the story was silly and not scarier than death.
"I'm going to write a really creepy story! The person will be so freaked out," the Scribe chuckled.
"You still don't have any idea who's locker you're putting these notes in . . . do you?" I asked because she's been "blogging" every day for weeks now.
"Mom--om! They aren't notes, they're my blog letters and if I knew who I was giving them to, then it wouldn't be a real blog!"
Here's the story if you're interested:
The Scribe Started A Blog
Anyway, the Hippie slept by me that night because she didn't want to step on the floor. WOW--that made me feel like an idiot-mother.
I felt bad for her, but didn't think about the story until the end of the next day.
The dog got out AGAIN! So, I called Jill, who brought her children and watched my kids while I went on a dog chase. Before I left, The Scribe had a strange look in her eye. I almost swore she'd mastered the vulture eye.
"What are you up to?" I asked because she'd obviously hidden something under her shirt. "Answer me misses. What are you doing?"
"Well, I want to read something to the little kids. Is . . . that okay?" She had so much longing, so much hope.
I thought of our dog and how every time the animal shelter gets her it costs seventy-five bucks. "Fine. Whatever. Just be good. I have to find that dumb dog before she costs us even more money." I looked at The Scribe's bulging shirt and thought about asking more, but then decided I'd trust her. Plus, I had to find that dog soon anyway. Cade said if she goes to the shelter again, he won't pay the money to bail her out. That dog is such a repeat offender!
A smirk grew on The Scribe's face before she turned. I should have stopped her--should have discovered what she hid in her shirt--instead I went out the door and on a dog hunt.
It wasn't a long hunt. That stupid dog was just a few blocks away, hanging out with some German Shepherds--I swear she has a thing for Germans and who can blame her, they have such nice accents!
She's a nut who's gotten out a lot since I met the Dog Lady. I was still mad, but my heart dropped when my dog got into the van. For the first time I noticed a big--HUGE--lump on her underbelly.
We drove home and I knew my dog should go to the vet. She's had a problem with cysts, but this is something totally different. She's lost over ten pounds in the last while and now weighs less than one-hundred pounds. That's tiny for her . . .
I thought about the lump as I put a new lock on the fence, threw the broken lock away and went into the house. I heard Jill screaming even before I walked inside. "Tell me where it is! The kids are terrified. Tell me where that noise is coming from!"
Little kids screamed like the apocalypse had come. They cried, wailed like they had no mothers. They were so loud I almost didn't hear what had scared them so much. I listened then; It was a horrible, terrible sound, something so reminiscent of the Tell Tale Heart it would have made YOU scream in terror. I suddenly knew what was going on. I knew what The Scribe had hidden under her shirt. She'd hidden the babies' noise maker and set it to the mother's heartbeat sound!
I heard The Scribe yell, "I'm trying to find it, but I'm telling you, maybe we should check the floorboards."
"You don't have any floorboards. You have tile!" Jill turned to me and huffed. "Your child read this . . . to my children!" She shoved a paper at my chest, my own paper, my own Disney story! "Why would you write something like this. It terrified my children! A princess who talks to floorboards!"
I gulped and the beating noise sounded like my own heart. "I'm . . . so sorry. I thought . . . it was funny."
"Well not to me, and not to a four-year-old. Look at him, he's terrified."
I looked at the boy and indeed he was beyond help. He'd curled into a ball on the couch, obviously scared of the floor.
"Help me find where the noise is coming from," Jill screamed. "Do . . . something."
It did take a minute to find the noise machine. The Scribe had hidden the cord under a bunch of fabric and then put the actual machine behind the piano. "No wonder it beat so loud. It was echoing through the piano." I laughed.
"You think this is funny?" Jill sputtered. "You think . . . this . . . is funny?" She pointed to her four-year-old who still cried on the couch. "He's terrified because of your dumb story and that child of yours. Come on kids. We're leaving."
"But I don't want to walk on the floor," her boy said. "You can't make me."
She picked him up and left after that.
I do feel bad because Jill is mad, I wrote an electrifying tale, and my dog has a lump. I know everything will be okay though; Jill and I have been friends forever; she'll get over it even if it does take a few weeks. Heck, I'm not mad about anything she said. I'd rather laugh than cry any day!
That night, I told The Scribe she needs to be a little bit more careful about what she does around little children. "But it was your story, Mama. I thought it was awesome."
"Are you kidding?" The Hippie asked. "It was creepy! That's why everyone cried. No one wants to talk to beating floorboards! Then when she read the story and something actually started beating . . . it was so horrible mom!"
So, as an afterthought, maybe I didn't do a good job of turning Poe into Disney, but I did realize how important it is having your target audience read your stuff. Sometimes it doesn't come off the way it was intended.
What do you think, is a princess talking to floorboards really that creepy? What am I saying . . . I guess it is.