Sooner Than Expected: Measure 1 of Floating to the Ground


This update was ready sooner than I expected; my projection was next week. I’ve had some ideas percolating about how I wanted to expand Measure 1 of Floating to the Ground, and while I was needing to take a grading break, I wrote. As I was writing, I kept thinking to myself, “What if I need to go back and revise something I’ve previously posted here?” I guess when that happens, I’ll re-post the section with the same name and add “Revised” to it. I think this whole writing-a-story-in-public thing is like birthing a child in public: the story means a lot to me personally, but if feels incredibly embarrassing, even though yes, I’m choosing to put this story out there (I probably feel this way because I’m an introvert). #joysofbloggingastoryinprogress

Measure 1 (Note: previous part of story is Prelude)

Assignments are a function of the military under our Confederation, Confederation Number Seven, to be exact. The Dominion requires each Confederation to write its own regulations regarding military service. Some Confederations mandate military service; some offer choice, depending on age and health status; some have a lottery—if you’re called you serve, and if you’re not called by a certain age, then you never serve. Confed. 7, as I affectionately call ours, requires that all males under 40 serve in the military. We, or should I say they, are supposed to feel free because they are given windows of choice about when they will serve: 18-22 years old, 23-26, 27-30, 31-35, or 36-39. Norman wanted to get it over with early, so he chose the first window. Most guys choose one of the second through forth windows because they want to party with no responsibilities while they can; not Norman—he likes to think ahead, and he thinks he’ll want to settle down sooner rather than later.  When they serve in the military, they can go to college or trade school afterward, if they choose to go. Some guys choose to stay in the military for life because of job security and decent wages. Females are completely free to choose to serve or not. If we choose to serve, there aren’t any stipulations, such as which age window we’ll serve within—we just have to be under 40 and healthy enough to serve. I chose not to serve. I’m not against the military; military’s just not my thing.

Right when he turned eighteen, which was a couple months after graduation, Norman signed up to serve in the first window. Once you sign up for your window, you don’t know when The Assignment will come; all that you know is that it will fall within your age window. Norman got chosen for The Assignment twenty-eight days ago. I was mentally prepared for The Assignment to happen, but I still didn’t know how I’d feel when it came.

Twenty-eight days ago was like a death blow in a fight that I didn’t even know I was in. He came by to tell me in person.

“Can we talk?”

“What’s this about?” I started to panic inside. Norman never said it like that before.

“The Assignment came, and I have to leave Ethereal in thirty-five days. They’re sending me to a land state. A land state! I won’t even get to see you for at least a year.”

“Who else have you told, besides your mom?” My voice was getting a bit shaky at this point. I never expected him to have to go so far away. It didn’t seem real, like it was some kind of weird dream that you know you’re in, and it’s just a matter of waking yourself up.  I kept thinking to myself, “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up!” But it didn’t work. The weird dream just continued.

Norman replied, “My sister, and that’s it. I’ve gotta still tell Steve, Derrick, and the other guys. Jon’s coming too. Same assignment.”

“Oh…” I couldn’t find more words. I’m sure my silence felt like carelessness, perhaps even coldness, but hearing, ‘I have to leave Ethereal in thirty-five days,’ stole every thought from my mind. I was knocked down and robbed blind. My eyes were quickly and uncontrollably filling, and the hot tears started falling like a sudden storm outside Ethereal. Why was I freaking out? We were just good friends, close friends. But I felt like my heart was about to get ripped from my still living body.  I wasn’t supposed to feel…like this.

And then it happened. I glanced up, and he was looking right at me. It’s like we were gazing into each other’s souls. Silent and knowing. I don’t know how long it lasted; I just lost myself there. Thirty seconds, maybe a minute. Then Norman softly mouthed the words, “Me too.” It was almost unnecessary because I could feel him feeling the same way as me. There was nothing else to say then. It was like someone just delivered news of a death in the family. What else can you say in that moment when all you can do is feel? You’re just there: present, longing, and loving. And that was us in that moment. He took the edge of my right hand in his and pulled me in, placing my hand on his back. Then I wrapped my other arm around him. We held each other. My crying was like the drizzle that turned into a steady rain; he squeezed tighter. I have never felt safer, and I have never felt more broken.



About Moi


I’ve loved the sounds of words since I was a child, and I have nostalgic memories of looking at and reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I discovered that I enjoyed writing when I was in sixth grade, but the problem at the time was that I hated reading. The irony (now) is that I’m an English teacher! I feel for my students who hate reading because I understand that hatred; the difference between me then and me now is that I know my interests, and I have more persistence when I’m made to read something that makes me want to hit my head against a wall.

I’ve been a bit of an oddball my entire life. I remember when I was a child I would sit in front of the sliding glass door and watch the dust in the air: in the sunlight I could see the dust, and in the shade, it seemed to disappear. Then I would think to myself, “I wish I was dust so I could disappear.” I wasn’t morbidly wishing to be dead; I was just contemplating powers of invisibility while watching dust and then envying that dust–seriously how many kids contemplate dust?! When I was in college, I enjoyed comparing myself to Marilyn from The Munsters because on the outside I look quite “normal,” but I’ve always felt a strong connection to others who don’t seem to fit in. I can always tell if people are starting to see what I’m like when they start calling me “unique,” “different,” or any other comparable I’m-not-trying-to-be-a-jerk-while-calling-you-weird descriptors. There’s been an advantage to all this, I have a colorful imagination!

I hope you enjoy this blog! It’s just me trying to get my ideas out of my head in ways that make sense, communicate, and entertain you.

Why, hello there!


It’s time to start writing creatively here because I’ve been writing most of my life, favoring poetry since childhood and excelling in academic writing since high school. I was tinkering with the idea of doing a blog–it’s a great place to put my experiments on display, which is a bit daunting because I like to mess up in private (even if only a few people read this stuff–probably my parents and about three students). However, I’ve read enough from leaders in business to know that we learn and grow through failure. So, here goes nothing, you seven people out there!

I’m a teacher, and for the past two years I’ve had the privilege of teaching high school creative writing. A couple months ago my creative writing students came up with some parameters for a story. Usually I would have them collaborate on a group story that had to include the details they decided upon, but during this one particular week, I allowed them to each write their own interpretation of a story that contained peer generated and peer agreed upon elements. Then, a couple students yelled out, “You should write one too!” Hmmm… I had always wanted to write what my creative writing students were writing (though I never told them that), but as an English teacher and mother of a young child, I’m not exactly swimming in free time. In spite of my saner judgement, I agreed to do it. The parameters they came up with were as follows: science fiction with romance (genre), a floating city, main characters to be Marcia & Norman who are in love, but don’t know of the other’s love (either ever or until later)… “skinny love”–and the main characters can’t be killed off. I would have never in my life attempted any writing that would be labeled romantic. All I could think of is “cheesy” and “I hate romance novels.” I’d like this to be neither cheesy or romance novel-ish.  Hopefully I can avoid the cheese. #failinginpublic

I started writing this story then, and my students collectively told me, “You HAVE to finish this!” I envision this as a short story, because I can’t imagine coming up with enough details, especially dialogue, to fill a novel. Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to define “short;” I guess I’ll know when the story feels done. I’ve also read from experienced writers that it’s good to start  with small writing goals, but I realize that it’s just an opinion. Since I’m great at being a little over-ambitious, I’ll go with the judgment of others until I decide to do otherwise. I’ve written a little (Prelude and Measure 1), and I already see where I need to expand within Measure 1. Prelude is my version of a prologue, and I’m going to call my chapters “Measure __.”  Since I plan on expanding what I’ve already written in Measure 1, I’ll only show Prelude, for now. My story is called Floating to the Ground, and the main characters are Marcia Newquest and Norman Pierce. Enjoy.


I’m stuck here in this city in the sky – it’s my inescapable prison.  I am here, and he’s deploying to land in three days. There’s nothing I can do about it, and it sucks. This place is called Ethereal; it’s really quite beautiful, even garden-like. Everything here considered flora was planted because this city is really a livable, hovering craft of sorts, enough to fairly comfortably hold about one-and-a-half million people. The city itself is open air; it kind of reminds me of a giant convertible. There are vines growing on trees, and the trees are everywhere, even inside some of our buildings. It feels tropical, but not excessively hot. A lot of people wish they lived here, but it’s not our choice where we get to live. When or if we ever move is up to officials in The Tower.  The way The Tower system works is this: each city is connected to a metropolis, and each metropolis has a local government housed in its largest building called The Tower.  The floating cities are not a part of any state, but instead are functions of the larger government called The Confederation. Any land states are also assigned to a Confederation. Each country has its own Confederation that answers to Earth’s government, The Dominion. We’re all used to this system because it’s all we’ve ever known, but sometimes life gives us a curveball—and when we want to leave, we can’t.

Norman Pierce and I met four years ago in high school; we were just seventeen—it feels so long ago. Norman came to school as a new student on a Friday in April. Kind of weird, huh?  He came from a place called Nevada, which is on the land, nowhere near here. The Tower in his Confederation did what’s called Reassignment, and because his family’s names were on the list, they were forced to move. There doesn’t have to be a specific reason for being chosen for Reassignment, and Reassignment doesn’t have any regularity. The motto of Reassignment is “For the greater good.”

Reassignment feels like punishment when you enjoy your life, but it can also bring an unexpected joy when your new life brings you people you come to love. That’s what happened with us. Our love was kept a secret from us, by us, until The Assignment was delivered about a month ago.

~Marcia Newquest