top of page
  • Writer's pictureHelene Montalvo

Writing Challenge #3

I’m sitting here, in my living room, and I’m thinking about all of the amazing writers in the world: William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily & Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, and the list goes on and on.

How did they do it?

Publishing isn’t easy. In fact, most writers have struggled at some point in their publishing careers. There are many (more than you can imagine) that have received countless rejection letters from agents and publishers before their books got published (if they didn’t end up self-publishing).

Just remember this: a rejection from an agent or publisher isn’t an outright rejection of YOU. Either your writing doesn’t suit them, or it isn’t up to their standards. Lucky for you, we all (writers) have potential for growth. I’m growing day by day, and I hope that someday (hopefully while I’m still living) I will live up to the potential of those famous writers I look up to.

So, here I am, completing this writing challenge…working on potential (however big or small it may be). Here's to potential. *holding up wine glass*


A child separated from her family by war.

I was standing in my back yard, only I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t because I didn’t have a volcano in my yard, in fact, I didn’t have a yard at all. I lived on the top floor of a fifteen story apartment complex. Our apartment was in the upper right corner, and from every window we could see the sprawling city below. But I digress.

So I was standing in this imaginary yard looking up at the smoke that rose from the top of the volcano, wondering why no one seemed to notice. I glanced around at my neighbors who were barbecuing in their yards, laughing and playing Frisbee with their dogs, when the ground started to tremble. Without warning, the volcano opened up its mouth and vomited its insides down on us all. The ground seemed to explode and swallow the house next door. That’s the last I can recall of my dream.

When I opened my eyes, my mother was screaming at me to get up. Somehow I thought I was late for school. I jumped out of bed and moved to the closet where I hung my school uniform, a plaid skirt and white blouse, but instead found that my closet was gone. A gaping hole took its place, along with the view of the apartment building next door, or what was left of it.

A brief memory of the nightly news flickered within my mind – news of a possible attack. I was twelve years old, so I was only vaguely aware of the fact that our district was at war with another. My father had joined the ranks a year prior. He’d joined to fight for our district. He’d promised to keep us safe. Never had I imagined he would fail. Never had I dreamed the war would reach our home.

“Ally!” my mother screamed again.

I turned to see her standing in the doorway. She already had my baby sister in her arms and my brother by his hand. “Come. Quick!” She reached her hand out for mine, and I rushed to her. “Let’s go!”

The ground shook as we moved through the apartment. I hadn’t realized I wasn’t wearing any shoes until we walked out the door and I stepped on a piece of wood in the hallway. Debris covered everything, and I was afraid I’d cut my foot on something if I continued any further.

I turned and rushed back to my room to pull on my tennis shoes.

“Ally!” my mother called, but I was already in my room, shoving my shoes onto my feet.

When I stepped out of my room and turned to head back to my family, I saw my mom’s horror-stricken face from the doorway. I couldn’t understand why she’d look at me like that. I looked down at my shoes just as a deafening crack filled my ears. I covered them to relieve them of the sound, when the floor dropped and our apartment fell away.

The last thing I remember is the sound of my mother’s screams as I tumbled into darkness.

Time seemed non-existent. There was peace. No dreams, no screaming, just...quiet.

Then came the beeping. It was constant, rhythmic, and annoying. In fact, it was the beeping that tore me from the darkness, took me from peace and back to reality.

I woke to find myself strapped to a bed with wires and tubes connecting my body to machines.

The room was so white it was blinding. I blinked and blinked until I could keep my eyes open long enough to see that I was in a hospital room.

“Momma?” I croaked, and my raw throat protested. I grabbed my neck with my hands. Not that it would ease the pain.

“What's your name?” A soft voice asked.

I turned to see a woman with light brown hair offering me a sweet smile. She wore a white coat and held a clipboard.

“Ally,” I managed.

“Ally,” she said, and her eyes sang. “That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.” She looked down at her clipboard and made some notes.

“Where’s…” I swallowed saliva to moisten my throat, “my momma?”

Her smile fell away, dropped like a popped balloon. “I’m sorry, sweetheart,” she said, “but when we found you, you were alone.”


The word echoed in my mind, bounced around like a rubber ball I couldn't catch. And though I tried, it eluded me.


Even on my tongue the word was foreign.

I was twelve years old, and my world was at war with another.

It would take time to adjust, and I would have to grow up fast, because when I fell away from my mother, I fell away from everyone and everything that ever mattered.

Yes, I was alone, but I was strong.

#helenemontalvo #writing

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page