Caitlin Jill Anders
Full-time writer with anxiety just figuring it out.
The Owls Are Guarding Paradise
Scottie remembered the first night he was around when the owl told them it was time. There had been many nights before he was born, of course, but the first one he was alive for was when he was five. As soon as the sun began to set the owl started to croon, which wasn't unusual — but it was the way he did it. Hoot, hooooot, hoot. Hoot, hooooot, hoot. Hoot, hooooot, hoot. Some people who had been there for nights past recognized the tune. Scottie's mother quickly grabbed him by the hand and they all rushed to gather at the mouth of the barn, right under the great owl's perch. His coloring was unusual for a barn owl, or so people said. It was one of those things that had been said and passed down for ages. Who knew if it was actually true.
The New Years Anti-Resolutions
It doesn't take a lot of digging to figure out that the whole New Years resolution thing is a flawed system. Most people decide they're going to do things they've never even attempted before, go all in and start out really determined, then quickly burn out and abandon their efforts a few weeks later. That's just not how goal-setting works. You shouldn't be setting wildly unrealistic standards for yourself. If you have something you want to achieve, you have to work up to it. You have to take steps to get there. You have to be gentle with yourself as you navigate the process. All or nothing isn't the way to do it.
Mom’s thick, boisterous curls almost caught fire when she leaned down to blow out her candles, and my dad leaped forward and pulled them back into his hands so she could take her time and make a wish without burning down the house. I’d never heard of anyone else’s mom blowing out candles on a Mother’s Day cake, but my mom did it every year. "It’s my day," she would say, "So I should get to celebrate however I want. I’ve earned it."
JJ Wears Red
JJ was in the fourth grade at Johnson Grey Elementary, and she could only wear red. She owned seven red dresses, four pairs of red pants, two red skirts, three red tank tops, 12 red shirts, two red sweatshirts, a pair of red shorts, and one red jacket. All of her socks were white. According to JJ, socks had to be white. They didn’t really count as clothes. Those had to be red.
Tics and All
When I was in the third grade, my teacher called my mom to talk. She told her that I was making weird movements in class and asked her if she could get me to stop. She didn't want the other kids to think I was weird. When my mom asked me about it, I told her doing the movements made me feel good, and I couldn't wait until later to do them because I didn't know when I was going to need to feel good. My mom told the teacher I couldn't stop, and that was that. It was just who I was. If that made me weird, so be it. My mom didn't care, and neither did I.
A Dog Named Sherlock
For the past six years, my work has been all about animals. I write for an animal news website, and for a little while, I also worked with animals directly at a local dog rescue. I love writing and telling stories about dogs, cats, frogs, bees, monkeys, and the like. Working directly with dogs who needed homes hit a little bit differently though.
How to Save a Child From Drowning
You never saw it coming. The kids had been skating on the pond at Chapman Park every Saturday since it froze over mid-November. It's only February, and Minnesota is still a frozen hell. It wasn’t supposed to be even close to thawing yet. You never saw it coming because it wasn’t supposed to happen. It just wasn’t supposed to happen.
Green-Light Means Go
She met him at a red light. He pulled up after her, and it took her maybe 10 seconds to realize he was watching her dancing to the radio. She smiled politely and then smiled genuinely when she got a good look at him. His hair was soft and his eyes were bright. There wasn’t anything mysterious about him, which she liked. She was sick of mystery. It never got her anywhere.
The Fortress of the Purple Bull
The chapter started with a ceramic bull. Tommy almost stepped on it when they arrived to tour the apartment. It was lying in front of the little sliver of wall between the heavy metal door and the steel grate pulled down in front of the store next door. “See, I knew this place was gonna be bullshit,” Tommy said as he picked it up. It fit in the palm of his hand. The bull had little purple swirls painted on it, and it was missing a horn. He seemed a little grimy, but Tommy pocketed it anyway. He did things like that. He smiled as it clinked down into his tie-dyed drawstring bag. “This bull isn’t bullshit, but this apartment will be. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.”