Intro: I like to write some in my spare time. This is the latest project that I’m in the middle of right now. I think it’s actually coming together (though it still needs a title). Thought I’d share the first chapter.


I broke the TV remote.

It didn’t deserve it. It’s not the remote’s fault that my life is descending into a putrid vat of monkey feces. Dad will be pissed when he sees what happened to his link to mindless oblivion, so I’m going to do my best to fix it before he gets home.

As for the huge dent the remote left in the wall, well. He’ll just have to live with that. He should consider himself lucky that my aim sucks and I didn’t hit the TV.

The cause of my grief is a letter. A real, honest to goodness, comes in the mail, letter. My whole family—or what’s left of it—has been anxiously waiting for that pointless piece of paper for months. Now I have it. They’ll be so pleased when they hear about it.

My life, however, will be over.

Okay, total exaggeration. I’m losing one summer. Possibly the chance for a scholarship to MIT, which means I won’t be going there, which means I’ll be stuck at home—commuting to Medford for community college if I’m lucky—not getting the job of my dreams, and finish my life as a bitter, depressed old woman surrounded by a horde of cats.

It’ll be a terrible life. It won’t be over, though. Dad and I have our arguments, but my death is one thing I could never do to him. He’s had enough of that already.

We both have.

The letter in question had been shoved unceremoniously into our mailbox by the local postal worker, just like all the other mail we get. I haven’t yet figured out if that’s because our local postal worker has a specific vendetta against me and my dad, or if everyone gets that special treatment. The letter was buried deep in a particularly large pile, so finding it was like stumbling on the Cursed Tomb of King Tut’s unpopular cousin Hut, buried under layers of bills, flyer’s, and ads from every national grocery chain with a branch in Rogue Valley.

It wasn’t the first piece of mail I opened. That honor belongs to a letter that I’d been anxiously anticipating for several months. That letter was why I was digging through the mail pile in the first place, my King Tut’s tomb.

Let me set the scene. I’d just pedaled home from Ashland High School—go Grizzlies and all that school spirit crap—as fast as my legs would take me. My heart was pounding, my breath ragged, as I yanked the mail out, charged inside my house and threw the stack on the kitchen table. Today was the day. I knew it, I could feel it.

The envelope I wanted stood out like chocolate on a wedding dress. Brightly colored robots were etched over nearly every square inch. In the corner, I found the name I was searching for, right there in the return address:

Boinga Bots

My fingers couldn’t tear open the seal fast enough. My heart was fluttering out of control, like a million bees were swarming through my ventricles. I even got a small paper cut in my haste. It didn’t matter. I didn’t even feel it until later.
The paper inside was thick and fancy, with robots ringing the outer edges. A bit tacky, but Boinga Bots is the best, so I could forgive them their few oddities. Then, the words. HAND WRITTEN! To me. Text below, with commentary in parenthesis.

[Ed. note: the formatting didn’t come through on the site, but this is supposed to be in a different font]
Dear Sadhbh Farnsworth (THAT’S ME! Pronounced Sive, like five),

E-mails are so impersonal, and your work is so impressive(ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh), I needed to write this out by hand.
We received your application and your sample project, and, needless to say, we loved it (YAY!). That’s why we’ve selected you, out of hundreds of applicants, to be part of our team to prepare for the World Maker Faire in New York (DOUBLE YAY!).

If you accept, send me an e-mail (he included his e-mail address, but I’m not giving it out) as soon as possible.
All the Best

Tom Redding

It was an absolute dream. No, better than a dream. Ever since I my dad told me that Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television, was my great uncle, I wanted to be like him. I had to create, I had to make the next great thing. The making part came easy. Getting any sort of attention in a world of DIYers was nearly impossible.

If I could work with the top Maker group in the country, be in the World Maker Faire, that would do it. That would get me the attention I needed. These guys were awesome, and their annual intern was always given a free pass to the college of their choice.

The only problem was that it was unpaid. I didn’t have the money for it. And Dad hadn’t exactly been rolling in the dough since Mom…

We’d made a deal, though. He really tried hard to be supportive. He would let me go, but only on the condition that I applied for another summer internship he’d been told about and accept that if I get it. It was paid, and paid very well. If I didn’t get that, he’d dig himself into even more debt to send me to my nerdy Maker mecca.

With my heart still doing it’s victory lap, I finished sorting through the mail. Another notice from the hospital. Another envelope that screamed “Final Notice.” A sale on milk and Oreos at the Albertson’s down the street.

Then, the other letter slipped out, crashing onto the floor like debris from a failed rocket launch. My fingers started trembling again. The cut on my hand pulsed with pain. This letter had no cute pictures or fancy stationary to give it away. It was the return address that cued me in.

Vail, Colorado.

Millimeter by millimeter, I picked at the top of the envelope like I was opening a bomb. “Please reject me, please reject me,” I muttered again and again under my breath. I pulled out the paper inside. The response was typed with the default settings of Microsoft Word, printed on discount Office Depot laser jet paper, probably on some low rate office machine. The words were sterile, cut down and sanitized so it had all the personality of a office drone with a stick shoved firmly up the butt.

[Ed. note: again, this is in a different font in the original version]
Sadhbh Farnsworth,

We are pleased to offer you a position for our annual summer internship program. We believe it is important for students worldwide to learn the life skills taught by hard work, and are happy to give you the opportunity to prepare yourself for the real world outside of education.

Attached are the details of the program. Please contact your representative included in that attachment to schedule your transportation to Vail.


Vail Hotel Services

It made me sick. It made me angry. It made me want to take the letter, tear it into a million pieces, feed it to a sleuth of ravenous grizzlies, pick up whatever bits are left undigested in the scat, and burn it in a vat of boiling lava.

I mean, Vail is supposed to be beautiful and all that, but my side of Oregon ain’t half bad. And Vail’s a skiing resort for goodness sake. What am I even supposed to do up there in the summer? Do people even go to Vail in the summer?

Despite the urge to pulverize that letter in every way imaginable, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even hide it and pretend like it hadn’t come. Each time I tried to tear the paper to shreds, my hands would freeze, and an annoying little voice would start whispering in my ear.

“This is better for your dad, Sadhbh. You know he needs the money. Don’t cause him more stress.”

I wanted to scream back, “Shut up Conscience! Why can’t you be a stupid little singing cricket so I can squish you!”

It was right, though. The pile of bills I’d separated out from the ads was enough to confirm that.

I turned on the TV to try to drown my anger—I would have gone for the milk and Oreos on sale down the street, but I had no cash. The program I turned on started well, a Discovery Channel documentary on the history of Maker culture. It just had one problem, which I totally should have seen coming.

Guess who they interviewed about 10 minutes in?

Tom friggin’ Redding.

See where this is going? TV, meet Remote. Remote, meet TV. I know you work together, but I thought you should take things to the next level.

Remote wouldn’t have any of it, though, and decided to have an affair with the wall.

So here I am, picking up the pieces of the remote and taking them to my workshop, also known as my bedroom. The anger’s gone. I don’t really want it to be, since holding onto it was as exhilarating as riding a bucking bull. But without anything else to blame, the ride’s over.

I could blame Mom. It is totally her fault. But so is every other bad thing in my life, so blaming her is hollow now.

Oh well. Back to fixing the remote before Dad gets home.

Good thing I’m such a whiz with electronics. I’m sure my talents will finally be recognized if someone up in Vail decides to see how much force it takes to send their TV remote through the wall.