The Wonders in the Shadows

J. R. Valdez

The sky was still a bit gray from the drizzling rain that stained the car windows with the sky’s tears, racing each other down the glass as they collected and dried at the bottom. My surroundings were dreary and provided me no joy. Why would there be a need for such weather? In the absence of the sun’s rays, the temperature lowered and the atmosphere felt bitter. Why should I look up to admire such a grayness? The world felt mirthless, melancholy, and monotone. It should be no different than my phone screen, black text against an undeniably impure white. They both lack the color everyone yearns to obtain at least once in the day.

“Come on, Jules,” my younger sister whined, “you’re always on your phone! Talk to me!”
Perhaps that was true. I was on my phone constantly. But, unlike most teenagers, I was not playing a game or on social media, pretending that those people are actually my friends. I was writing books. I was being productive. I believed that because I was doing something that could be beneficial in the long run, career-wise, that it excused me from being social with my family. Writing also always gave me relief from stress and social anxiety. And on days like this where there is no laughter and a cloud of toxic nothingness suffocating the air, I let my head fill itself with color and creativity instead of relying on my surroundings to do so. Writing always lifted my spirit and numbed the lingering pain to which I now carry for inspiration.

“I’m writing, Selene. Cut it out,” I told her, not even removing my eyes from the screen. “Chapter twenty-two! Let’s do this!”

The sassy seven-year-old rolled her eyes back into her skull and slapped her curls into my face to which I completely ignored and continued tapping at my screen. She huffed exaggeratedly and rammed her head into the black leather seat behind her, folding her arms over her chest in annoyance.

Upon hearing no response, Adrien allowed tears to leave his eyes, cursing the stars that marked the day he’d lost his mother. A loud clap of thunder startled the boy to the ground, sobbing hysterically as he was now holding his knees to his chest in the fetal position.


Gabriel rushed out and scooped his son into his arms, holding him closely. “Adrien…”

“W-Why…” Adrien sobbed, “why didn’t you tell me that mom was dead?”

“We don’t know that, son.” Gabriel brought him inside and wrapped him in a towel, drying him from the rain. “She’s just… disappeared.”

Now, what? That explains more about Adrien’s past, but how do I transition out of the nightmare? Should this be the end of the twenty first chapter instead of the beginning of the twenty second? No, the last chapter is already published and is long enough as it is. Why is this so difficult? Well, I guess, even writing can be stressful if you’re stumped and you haven’t updated in six days. I shall feel the wrath of eighty thousand Miraculers (members of the Miraculous Ladybug fandom) with pitchforks and torches if I don’t publish another chapter of Emotional Support soon. I threw myself back into the world of imagination, trying to grasp any ideas for my current chapter—nada. Okay, I give up.

I tore my eyes from my phone and fixed outside the car window. It had seemingly stopped raining and the darkened clouds seemed to slowly diminish. My anime-faced phone dropped onto my lap as I seemed to catch the colorful sight of the remaining water reflecting the peeking sun’s light.

“Wow.” I gaped. “A rainbow!”

“A rainbow?”

“Where? Juliette, where?”

“I want to see it!”

My three sisters went wild, their voices merging in their excitement as they all searched for the same sight. I said nothing as I only raised my index finger to point in the correct direction. As soon as they had seen it, they fell silent, and once we hit a stoplight, my parents took the opportunity to admire it as well. It wasn’t a full, vivid rainbow that you’d find in a cartoon or something. But, it was a short string, this small burst of color and hope, kindling out from within the clouds.

However, it wasn’t long before the rainbow disappeared, without leaving a kind trace. My eyelids dropped halfway as my mesmerization was disrupted with the once again dark colors that surrounded me. However, this time, it was not caused by clouds, aggravated by one another, but by the clustered ravens ripping through the air and over our car. They flew with such togetherness and determination to which I had felt honored to have witnessed it. Everyone within the vehicle was silent as the scene unfolded before them.

Who knew that there was even beauty within the darkness? That inspiration could fester beneath black wings? It is not only the color or sight in which creativity blossoms, it is also the feelings it evokes, and the memories you cherish.

I looked at my sisters with stars in my eyes. “Woah, those birds were gorgeous, weren’t they?”

The second youngest, Ella, raised her head from her view fixed on her iPad, tucking her blonde strands behind her ears. “What birds?”

“The black birds!” Aliyah, the second oldest, answered, pointing out the rear window as the ravens shrank in the distance. “You totally just missed them!”

In the last mere two minutes of my life of fifteen years, I sat in a car with the people I love, and witnessed two of nature’s natural beauties. All of a sudden, I felt a surge of energy, a willingness to write the next scene of chapter twenty-two. I can’t let the darkness just devour Adrien; I’ll use it to our advantage instead. This won’t be a scene of dread and depression; it will be of comfort and love. Perfect.

I do know one thing for certain: If I hadn’t put my phone down when I had, I might have missed a chance to witness the wonder in the shadows.

Juliette Valdez is a sophomore at Adelphi University. As a writer, she goes by J.R. Valdez. At age twelve, Juliette discovered writing was her passion and that she was going to become a famous novelist and poet. By age thirteen, she sent her first book, Behind the Mask to an editor and proceeded to get it self-published on Amazon Kindle. In tenth grade, she had a poem published in Jericho Senior High School’s 2019 Pegasus, book of poetry. The poem was titled “Pain Marks My Existence” on page 101. To this day, Juliette has continued to write novels, short stories, and poetry, some of which are published on Wattpad. One of the more popular books is titled, “Feels Like Home.” Juliette will continue to write with a true love for the craft as long as she lives.

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