Developing Characters and Story, Part 1


Sketches & Anecdotes about Me, by Vree Erickson

My Origins & Family

My name is Verawenda Renée Erickson. I have straight, shoulder length blonde hair that I usually part in the middle. Mom won’t let me get a pixie cut like hers, though I’d really like short hair so it’d be easier to dry when I’m in a hurry to be somewhere. Maybe some tease & curls added to the shortness … & dye it auburn like hers & Amy’s hair color. My eyes are listed on my birth announcement & student identification as green, but are actually blue-green & gray with amber flecks in them. Some days they are bluer, some days greener—the blue stands out if I wear white clothing, & the green stands out if I wear dark clothing. I am 5’ 4” tall & weigh around 95-100 pounds.

My nickname Vree comes from my initials VRE. My name is a combination of Vera & Wenda. I was named after my mother’s paternal grandmother Vera Lybrook & maternal grandmother Wenda Walsh. My middle name Renée is my maternal grandmother’s middle name.

According to my mom & 3 birth certificates, I’m the youngest of triplets born 15 years ago @ St. Clair Hospital by natural childbirth to Charles & Karrie Erickson. My brother David is the oldest & older than me by less than an hour, followed by my sister Amy. Dave & Amy were born before midnight, June 18; I was born 9 minutes after midnight, June 19. Though my parents always celebrated my birthday on June 18, Dave reminded me last year of my real birthdate, as if I were committing a crime celebrating my birthday early. So, to make peace with him, I chose to gain some independence by celebrating my birthday on its proper day this year. That proved disastrous when lightning struck me, my father, & our home in Upper St. Clair PA. I awoke from a coma to discover I had developed telepathic powers & that the lightning had killed my dad & burned down our home.

I sometimes have difficulty remembering past events, which started after I awoke from the coma. When I’m tired or really stressed, it’s difficult for me to know if I’m remembering real events, dreams, or plots from TV shows, movies, or books.

Another thing that began after waking from the coma is my body emits white light when I’m anxious or excited. The white crow Enit Huw calls me a Luminary. The book of magic that Lenny Stevens gave me over the summer mentions the word & uses it to describe powerful sorcerers/magicians whose bodies produce light.

Overall, 15 is an awkward age, especially when you feel like you’re responsible for your dad’s death and the loss of your home & most of your possessions. Then your mom moves you to her old childhood hometown & now you have to make new friends & go to a new school. And along with all that, you find out you can see & hear and do paranormal things that most other people cannot, while your body goes through physical changes that make you look less like a teenager & more like a woman. Too many boys—men too—look at you with lust in their eyes. And alcohol, drugs & sex are things to be afraid because they can really screw up your life. So you think about the past when you were innocent of the bad things in life, & dream of a future where everything turns out right.

Dad – My father, Charles Maxwell Erickson, was born 41 years ago on May 11 in Wheeling WV where he lived with his parents, attorney Reginald Keith Erickson (now 70, retired) & school teacher Rachel Louise (McGuire) Erickson (now 67, retired) & older siblings, Leanne Louise Erickson (now 45, graphic designer, married & lives in Cincinnati OH with husband Paul Watson & family) & Alexis Michelle Erickson (now 43, kindergarten teacher, married & lives in Laramie WY with husband Justin Roth & family).

Dad graduated from Wheeling Park High School @ age 18 & then from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pitt Law) @ age 22. He met my mom @ college & married her when he was 25. They lived in Upper St. Clair where he was a lawyer. He died June 19 this year (my 15th birthday) when lightning struck him while he put away his lawnmower that I left in the rain.

He was tall (6’ 3”) & had blonde hair & blue eyes.

Mom – Karrie Renee Lybrook was born 37 years ago on November 19 in Ridgewood PA, the only child [1] of her dairy farmer parents Jonathan “Jack” Edward Lybrook (now 66) & school bus driver/substitute teacher Evelyn “Evie” Renee (Doyle) Lybrook (now 64) on Myers Ridge. She lived a childhood of milking cows, baling hay & harvesting crops when she was home. At high school, she was a 4-year cheerleader for the football team.

[1] (See Balen Renfrew below.)

Mom graduated Ridgewood High School @ age 17 & moved to Pittsburgh where she attended & graduated @ age 21 from University of Pittsburgh School of Education, receiving her teaching degree in secondary education. She lived with her Aunt Helen (Pittsburgh school teacher) & Uncle Ken McCormick (news editor) while attending college, met my dad Charles Erickson while @ college, & married him in a July ceremony in Pittsburgh after a whirlwind relationship. They lived in Upper St. Clair where Mom taught school for 16 years until lightning killed Dad & burned down our home.

Mom is 5’ 4” tall, has thick auburn hair worn in a stylish pixie cut, & green eyes that never look blue like mine do. She drives a silver-colored Kia Sorento SUV that has a transmission that rattles & an AC that stops working during long drives. She was hired to be the seventh grade science teacher @ Ridgewood High School when the school year starts.

Brother – David Charles Erickson was born @ 11:46pm on June 18. He has hazel eyes, is 5’ 11” tall & lean like Dad was, & has blonde hair kept short in an Ivy League crew cut—a style worn by Dad most of his life, except that one time when he was a law student @ the University of Pittsburgh—an incident Mom refers to as The Lost Bet of Haircuts.

Dave is sports active, outdoorsy & loves playing football, basketball, & baseball. He enjoys bicycling & riding motorcycles & 4-wheelers. He is mechanically inclined & is handy @ fixing small engines, which has endeared him to Grandpa Jack Lybrook. Since he is the only boy in the family, he seeks out other boys with similar interests.

Sister – Amy Louise Erickson was born @ 11:57pm on June 18. She is 5’ 5” tall, has brown eyes, & straight, shoulder-length auburn hair. She is musically inclined & likes to write & play songs on Grandma Evelyn’s piano & on her own Gibson acoustic guitar. She sings with a beautiful soprano voice. She had a trio “rock band” in Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh) called The Amys (all the girls were named Amy—she & Amy Schweitzer are best friends, but the move has changed their relationship to an online one when she can go somewhere that has a working internet/wi-fi service).

Maternal Grandfather – My grandfather Jonathan “Jack” Edward Lybrook is 66 years old, tall & thin @ 6’ 2”, has bushy but well-groomed gray hair, frowning brown eyebrows, serious looking brown eyes, & an upturned nose above a pinched mouth on a clean-shaven face.

Grandpa often wears brown coveralls & spends a lot of time mowing the yard & fixing things in the 2-car garage @ his newly purchased foursquare farmhouse on Myers Ridge @ 31619 Ridge Road, Ridgewood PA, built around 1890 by sheepherder & farmer Ludwik Dekownik, grandfather of Margga Dekownik, a witch who created havoc on Myers Ridge for too many years. The house is white trimmed in blue & has a long, stone paved driveway on the right that leads to the garage painted to match the house. Inside are 4 boxy rooms on the ground floor: the living & dining rooms have wall-to-wall plush cream carpets, plush furniture, velvety drapes, animal & pastoral prints & paintings on white walls, a glass chandelier in the dining room, & a large kitchen next to a laundry room & a small bathroom. Upstairs are 4 more boxy rooms: 3 bedrooms, including the master bedroom where Grandma & Grandpa sleep, & a large bathroom. The attic is now a bedroom where my sister Amy & I sleep. Downstairs in the basement, the low-ceiling with copper pipes everywhere make going there a headache for anyone who is taller than 5’ 10” & forgets to duck their head. Still, Grandma & Grandpa keep it clean, the lighting is adequate, & the cement floor has good drainage, so it’s good place for storage.

Grandpa grew up in nearby New Cambridge where his father & his brother Paul & sister Janet Baker live. His brother Jerry lives in Albany NY with his wife Alice & family. His mother is deceased & his 91-year-old father lives @ New Cambridge Retirement & Health Center, a senior care home.

Grandpa had to move from his dairy farm on the other end of Myers Ridge because the ground has collapsed, creating a large sinkhole in the cornfield next to the house. The sinkhole emits a strange buzzing sound that only Enit Huw (the white crow) & I can hear. I thought the sound came from generators pumping gas to keep alive the Roualens (travelers from another planet residing there), but they left with their machinery & the buzzing continues. The sinkhole also emits green light caused by crystals glowing underground. I think the buzzing & light are connected & needs to be investigated.

Overall, Myers Ridge is old farmland with few farms in operation—where farming is almost a vanished way of life. Second growth woods surround the house, and are quiet and peaceful now that the Roualens have left, flying back to their own planet, & Margga’s spirit isn’t around anymore. This is country life where lawnmowers are large, tractors are used to plow fields & harvest crops, barbeques & lemonade are part of backyard activity, as well as gardening small flower & vegetable plots, swimming in aboveground pools, camping, hiking in woods, & riding horses in summer. In winter, there is deer hunting, plowing & shoveling snow, sled riding, & snowmobiles.

Maternal Grandmother – My 64-year-old grandmother Evelyn Renée Lybrook is short @ 5’. She is plump but fit & strong from living on a farm. She has short, red hair & green eyes. She drives school bus & is a substitute teacher for the Ridgewood school district.

Grandma grew up the youngest of 4 @ nearby Alice Lake where her father (now 89) was a Presbyterian minister & school bus driver & her mother (now 87) was a housewife; both live @ Alice Lake’s Lakeview Living Center. Grandma’s oldest sister Vera Ziegler & husband Kurt live 10 miles south of Alice Lake in a small community called Blooming Valley where their son John Luke is a Presbyterian minister. Her older brother Matthew & family, & her sister Sara Davies & husband Nathan live north of Ridgewood in Brookside & Bakers View, respectively.

Lightning struck Grandma when she was 4 years old while she was fishing with her father @ the backside of Alice Lake; the strike left her with low-grade psychic ability, which she kept hidden from others & secret from us until the day doctors found a tumor pressing against my brain. Her psychic ability allows her to see ghosts & other creatures invisible to everyone but me.

Another secret Grandma revealed to us is she has a son (Balen Renfrew) from a relationship with a young man she met while @ college. She befriended a wizard named Trevor Renfrew while attending college @ New Cambridge University. Trevor saw potential in her of developing her magic to greatness, but she feared possessing a power her father called Satanic. (Grandma had a strict religious upbringing that kept her from talking about her ability to her parents. This made her seem shy & awkward around them & others who poked fun @ her. Trevor made her feel better about herself & helped her develop confidence while @ college.)

Grandma lived off campus with Trevor @ their apartment above an occult bookstore that he owned. Though Trevor supported her financially, Grandma worked as a waitress @ a nearby Pizza Hut after classes. During her third year, she dropped out of school when she became pregnant. She gave her son Balen the last name Renfrew, though she & Trevor never married.

Her parents refused to support her financially or emotionally, so Trevor paid off her student loan & helped raise their child for 3 years. Grandma returned working as a waitress part-time.

One day when Balen levitated a lamp & broke it, he struck back with magic that almost killed Grandma when she scolded him. She left the child with his father & sat @ the local bus station deciding where to go. That’s when she met Jack Lybrook, a business classmate from college who had majored in agriculture & owned a small dairy farm on Myers Ridge in Ridgewood. His car was in the shop, so he had taken the bus to visit his parents in New Cambridge. He invited her to a cup of coffee & lunch @ his parents’ place. She accepted.

Later, with nowhere to go because of the friction between her & her parents, Grandma told Jack her predicament of being homeless, though she omitted having a son & psychic abilities. Jack took her in & she worked @ his farm. He convinced her to return to college. They married after she graduated with a degree in business, whereupon she ran the business end of the farm. She & her parents reconciled their relationship & she never saw Balen & his father again until this year when the dragon woman came & took her psychic powers.

Mysterious Uncle – Balen James Renfrew is my maternal grandmother’s 45-year-old son. He has thick, somewhat curly dark brown hair, short facial hair (he always looks like he needs to shave), bright blue eyes, thick eyebrows & lashes, olive skin, stocky build & muscular chest & arms, & walks with a small limp—he favors his right leg. He always wears a black short sleeve, buttoned-to-the-collar cotton shirt, black cotton trousers, & dark brown leather oxford shoes.

Balen is a wizard with limited magic. He can move small objects with his mind, see an hour into the future (in short flashes & not always clearly), communicate/converse aloud & silently with animals, see auras (energy fields), hover up to 3’ off the ground for almost 5 minutes, leave his body & travel in spirit to locations less than a mile away, sense psychic impressions (vibrations) left on an object by someone connected with it, & sense the needs, drives, & emotions of people nearby. Really weird & unsettling is how well he can communicate mind-to-mind with me, read my thoughts & hear me when we’re miles apart, & how quick he can start fires with his mind.

Although he is 45 years old by mortal standards, his wizard blood has slowed his aging & he looks half his age. Since wizards can live to be 800+ years old—Balen is a child @ 45. By comparison, his father Trevor Renfrew is in his “senior citizen” years @ 693. Like many wizards, Trevor Renfrew has the unique ability to appear a tenth his age for every 100 years. During the time my grandmother lived with him, she discovered his true age after Balen’s birth & felt deceived by his dishonesty. When she left Balen in his care, he raised the boy in Paris, France. Balen returned to his birthplace three years ago & moved to Myers Ridge three months later, secretly watching over his birth mother. Since our move to Myers Ridge, he now watches over his half-sister Karrie, & me.

Balen has 2 stepsisters & a stepbrother sired by Trevor: Phoebe is 516, birthed by Trevor’s first wife Bianca (who died from complications while giving birth), Dextra is 475 & Julius is 401—both birthed by Trevor’s second wife Floris (who presides over the Council of Magic).

Balen lives in a double-wide trailer on a tiny parcel of property along Russell Road on Myers Ridge, though he is wealthy beyond belief, with 90 million dollars in various banks, local & abroad—wealth given him by his father & earned & stolen over the years. His father & stepmother belong to the Council of Magic that executed a witch named Margga & imprisoned her ghost/spirit to Tartarus. Margga’s spirit was allowed to return to Myers Ridge once a year to apologize & seek forgiveness from those she killed. Instead, she tormented & killed members of a local family named Stevens before she destroyed herself while fighting me for my psychic powers.

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