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Poem: "Climbing Through the Cracks" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Climbing Through the Cracks"
This poem came out of the April 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] shiori_makiba, [personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] heartsinger. It also fills the "sea serpent" square in my 4-1-17 card for the Month of Rainbows Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] daisiesrockalot.  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains some touchy topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features child abuse, living in the cracks, poverty, scavenging for survival needs, drunken violence, talking about abuse, which just makes it worse, bad advice, flickering, trusting strangers, who are (not known to be) supervillains, running away from home, the kindness of strangers, trying to rescue an abused parent, and possibly setting up the abuser to get the shit kicked out of him by a supervillain, unfamiliar but tasty and uplifting food, traveling to an unknown destination, fear, uncertainty, adult survivor of past abuse, feeling unsafe, and other challenges. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"Climbing Through the Cracks"


Jobina Benton knew
how to live in the cracks.

She searched for clothes
in thrift stores and giveboxes,
went dumpster-diving for
anything still usable.

She knew which stores
offered free samples of food
and filled up as best she could.

She understood that her stepfather
got even meaner when drunk,
and she tried to avoid him
but it was hard to do.

Jobina knew better than
to tell anyone. The one time
she tried that, nobody believed her,
and after they dragged her home,
he beat her senseless.

But she looked.

She was always looking
for some way to escape him.

Most of the stuff she found
was all "be good" shit that
would probably get her killed
if she kept following that advice.

It got harder when Jobina
began flickering, as her body
desperately tried different ways
to survive what was being done to it
and to her mother as well.

Sometimes it was Healing,
other time Regeneration, and
Jobina wasn't even sure
what the others were.

Sooner or later, her stepfather
would notice the bruises fading
too fast -- he was already suspicious.

At the library, Jobina searched online
about "resources for abused teens"
and "stuck with abusive parents"
but found little of practical use.

When she tried "abuse + flickering"
though, the computer blanked out for
a moment, making her worry that she
had broken it or hit some alarm system
that would get her into trouble.

A few seconds later, it came back,
and the first entry caught her eye
because it sounded so odd:

Sint-Holo's Lair:
Guidance for Those
Who Are Getting Hurt.


Curious, Jobina clicked the link.

Sint-Holo's Lair opened with
a logo of a coiled sea serpent
and a menu of resources:

* About Abuse
* Family Services Warning Flags
* What Can Happen If You Tell FS
* Surviving an Abusive Home
* Running Away from an Abusive Home
* Recovering from Abuse
* Legal Issues
* Forums
* Help


Jobina browsed
through the pages,
surprised to see that
they weren't all the same
as the advice everywhere else.

There was an amazing amount of
detail about how to hide from the law
and make a living in the cracks.

Once Jobina realized how good
the site was, she stopped skimming
and went back to the top, then read
everything in order to make sure
she didn't miss anything useful.

The forums were full of stories,
some horrible, but many that improved.

She felt encouraged by how many of
the users had escaped their abuse
and found better lives later.

The Help page covered all of
the usual stuff about searches, FAQs,
and website function -- but at the bottom
it also had a little life preserver
that just said Save Me.

When Jobina clicked that icon,
a form popped up that asked about
what kind of problems she was having
and whether this was an emergency.
It even had a section about superpowers.

Her mouth was dry and her hands were shaking,
but Jobina answered the questions honestly
and then clicked the Send button.

The screen went black and then
turned into some chat function
that Jobina didn't recognize.

Capricorn: Hi, you seem new here.
How are things going for you?


Jobina: Terrible. My stepfather
has been bad for a while, but it's
getting worse and I don't think I can
get by much longer. I tried FS but
they sent me back and all I got
out of it was another beating.


Capricorn: Any idea what changed?

She hesitated, because chatting
with a total stranger online was risky, but
staying at home was downright dangerous.

Besides, there were all those hopeful posts
from people who had already escaped.

Jobina: Me. Sometimes I heal faster
than he likes, and he's getting suspicious.
I'm scared of what he might do to me.


Capricorn: How desperate are you?

Jobina: Really freaking desperate.
Like 95% desperate now. If my stepfather
decides I'm actually a freak, then it'll be 100%.

Capricorn: If you really want out, right now, then
go to the Will Call window at the nearest bus station
and ask for a ticket in the name of Marian Salver.
That will get you somewhere safe, and then
you'll have space to think about plans.


She weighed the potential risk of trust
against the certainty of getting smacked
in her other eye when she went home.

Jobina: I'll take it.

Hastily she shut down
the library computer and
slipped away unnoticed.

Jobina only had to walk
a few blocks to the bus station,
and the center of town was busy
with other people on a pretty day,
the fine weather incongruous against
the churning uncertainty of her mood.

She strode into the building, determined
to look like she belonged there, and
asked for her ticket at the window.

The bored man straightened at
the sound of her name, but he said,
"I'm sorry, we don't have anything
by that name. Might someone else
have picked it up for you?"

Panic rushed through her,
but Jobina refused to give way.
Maybe she had been stupid to trust
a stranger on the internet, but then,
maybe this was some kind of code.

"Um, well ..." she hedged,
uncertain of the right answer.

"Marian?" called a voice.

"Um, yes?" Jobina said
as she turned around and
stepped away from the window.

"Wow, you look pretty rough,"
said a tall strong woman wearing
a fashionable pink athletic outfit.
"Did you run into a door?"

"A door named Donald,"
Jobina muttered darkly.

Something sparked inside
the woman's warm brown eyes,
like a candle behind a beer bottle.

"Well, maybe something will happen
to that mean old door," she said.

"I was, um, coming to pick up
a bus ticket like I'm supposed to
only it's not there," Jobina said.
"Now I don't know what to do."

"It's okay, I picked up our tickets,"
said the woman. "I'm your Aunt June --
you probably don't recognize me because it's
been so long since we've seen each other."

"Seems like forever," Jobina said.

"Well, we can catch up on the way
to Westbord," said Aunt June.

Westbord! That was clear on
the other side of the country,
a long safe way from Tennessee.

It seemed almost too good to be true,
but after all the crap raining down on her,
Jobina decided that she deserved
something good for a change.

"That sounds great. The boarding area
is over here," Aunt June said, leading
the way. "Do you have your suitcase?"

Jobina winced. "I've got my backpack,
because I was studying in the library after
high school, but I ... forgot my suitcase, and
I really don't want to go home for it."

"No problem," Aunt June said.
"Your Uncle Bob can drop by
and pick it up for you."

"Could he give my love to
my mom too?" Jobina whispered.
"I worry about her sometimes."

"Living in a house with a bum door
can be rough on anyone," said Aunt June.
"I'll make sure that Uncle Bob knows
to watch out for that, and of course
he can stop to talk with his sister."

Aunt June was really good at hearing
what Jobina didn't dare say out loud
and feeding her information without
being too obvious about it.

"Okay," said Jobina. "Will he
get here before our train leaves?"

"No, he's coming a different way,
but don't worry -- he'll catch up to us
soon enough," Aunt June said.

"Five o'clock straightaway
from Memphis to Westbord,
now boarding!" the announcer said.

"That's us," Aunt June said,
holding out a hand. "Let's go."

Jobina tried to be brave,
but she was shaking a little
as she reached out and then felt
the strong fingers close over her own.

Aunt June led her onto the train
and chose seats near the dining car.

"We can relax here for a little while,
then eat supper," she said. "After that,
we have space in a sleeper car."

"Okay," Jobina said, although she felt
far too nervous to eat anything.

After the train pulled out of Memphis
and crossed the border into Arkansas
though, she began to unwind a little,
wishing for food and something to do.

Jobina tried doing her homework,
but really, what was the point?
She wasn't going back to that school.

When the overhead clock flipped to 6 PM,
Aunt June said, "Let's go get supper."

The diner turned out to be some kind of
weird Euro-Asian fusion thing, and Jobina
didn't recognize much on the menu.
"What even is this stuff?" she asked.

"Here, try these," said Aunt June.
"You can put any toppings you want
in the walnut-miso noodle bowl."

Jobina covered the noodles with
the cheerful colors of chopped chard,
green onions, asparagus tips, and walnuts.
At least those were things she liked, even if
they were on a pile of unfamiliar noodles.

"Don't forget dessert," Aunt June said,
offering Jobina a generous cup full
of chocolate chia seed pudding.

Jobina hadn't tried that before, either,
but she loved chocolate. "What's with
all the weird food?" she wondered.

"First, this is what the diner has,"
said Aunt June. "Second, these items
all have mood-boosting benefits, so
they're good for stressed travelers."

"I guess that makes sense to serve on
a train," Jobina said, although privately
she wished for a plain old hamburger.

"Would you like something to keep you
entertained on the trip?" Aunt June asked,
pointing to a nearby spinner rack that held
an assortment of novels and activity books.

"Yeah," Jobina said, perking up a little.
She came over to look at the rack.

One side held books that featured trains,
the next classics, some grippers, and finally
the puzzles, brain teasers, and other such.

Aunt June quickly picked up a copy of
Murder on the Orient Express for herself
while Jobina paged past volumes of
The Count of Monte Cristo and
The Complete Sherlock Holmes.

The Vorrh and The People of the Trees
both had supernatural elements, which
appealed to Jobina in general but
not to the mood of the moment.

She finally settled on Middlesex,
which was a coming-of-age story.

When Aunt June also selected
The Adult Activity Book, Jobina
shyly added 1,000 Playthinks
for its appealing pictures.

"All right, that should hold us
for now," said Aunt June, and
went to the checkout line.

Jobina found her supper
full of unexpected flavors and
contrasts, but not bad. In fact,
the noodles grew on her as she
worked her way through the bowl.

The pudding tasted terrific,
but the texture was bizarre.

"This is like the weird love-child
of tapioca and chocolate pudding,"
she said, poking it with her spoon.

"Do you not like it?" Aunt June said.

"I don't know," said Jobina. "I think
the flavor is nice and chocolatey, but
the lumps make it pretty strange."

"Try another bite," Aunt June said.
"Sometimes it takes a while to get
used to a new food. If the menu had
been more varied, I'd have suggested
one new dish and one familiar dish."

"That would be easier," Jobina said.
Then she sighed. "Nothing in
my life is ever easy, though."

"Maybe that will change,"
Aunt June said with a smile.

"What's that mean?" Jobina said,
uncomfortably reminded that she didn't
know anything about this woman.

"Oh, traveling offers all kinds of
new opportunities," Aunt June said.
"We can talk more in the sleeper car."

They finished their supper in peace,
and then went back to their seats.

They worked through the activity books
for a while, which was fun, if Jobina didn't
let herself think too much about her situation.

Only when they retired to the sleeper car
did Jobina reopen the topic of her future.

"Where are we going, really?" she asked.
"I figured out that it's probably not Westbord,
but I hope it's a long way from Memphis."

"It's better if you don't know until we
get there," Aunt June said. "I promise
that it's very far from Memphis, though."

"I'm scared," Jobina said. "I've lost ...
everything, and I don't know what's going on."

"Running away from an abusive home is scary,
but you've been very brave," said Aunt June.

"I don't feel brave," Jobina said.

"That's okay too," said Aunt June.
"Think about this, though: do you
feel safer here, or at home?"

"Definitely here," Jobina said,
shuddering under the memories.

"Once, my husband tried to blind me
by pouring harsh chemicals into my eyes.
It went wrong and he died," said Aunt June.

"Wow," said Jobina. "That's awful."

"Yes, it was," said Aunt June.
"Even though I had to leave my home
after that, it frightened me. I felt like I was
climbing through the cracks just to survive."

Maybe there were some worse people
in the world than Donald after all.
Jobina hadn't expect that.

"I'm sorry to hear that," she said.
"I'm glad that you got away."

"It was a long time ago, and your grief
is still fresh," said Aunt June. "I just
wanted you to know that you're
not alone, and that I understand
some of what you're going through."

"That helps, a little," said Jobina. "When I
tried telling people before, nobody listened,
and it just made everything worse. But now,
not knowing what will happen is hard too."

"I can tell you this much," said Aunt June.
"We won't bail off the train until after you
fall asleep. A teleporter will come for us, and
when you wake up, you'll be somewhere safe."

"Safe," Jobina said. "I'm not sure if I
even remember what that feels like."

"That's okay," said Aunt June.
"When we get where we're going,
then I'll help you remember."

"Yes," said Jobina. "I'd like that."

* * *

Notes:

Jobina Benton -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and straight brown hair that falls just past her shoulders. She is 15 years old. Tough and determined, she has survived difficult circumstances. She knows how to get by with what she can scrounge up. However, her unpredictable superpowers are more than she can handle.
Origin: When Jobina's mother remarried, her stepfather began abusing both of them. This pushed Jobina's body into flickering through a variety of mostly physical superpowers.
Uniform: Whatever she can find in a thriftstore, givebox, or dumpster.
Qualities: Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Poorskills, Good (+2) Predicting People's Behavior, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Severely Abused
Powers: (flickering) Healing, Regeneration, Super-Constitution, Super-Resilience
Motivation: To escape her abusive stepfather.

Captain Left (Marko Agüero) -- He has tinted skin and brown eyes. His hair was blond but is now mostly white and receding. His body is still trim and fit. Marko speaks Argentinian Spanish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, German, Hindi, and Italian. He enjoys Kraken's exercise facilities even though he's not much of a fighter or an athlete.
Marko often finds face-to-face interaction confusing and stressful, but he does great with online interactions. He keeps an eye on BlackSheep (as Capricorn) for young soups in trouble and follows world politics through the nets. He takes an especially dim view of mad scientists, but he likes ethical zeteticists just fine. His personal assistant is a cyborg Super-Gizmologist.
Origin: Marko came out of a secret lab. Genetic engineering gave him Super-Intellect from birth. Further modifications from neurosurgery and super-gizmology made him a Telepath and Technopath. Much of his scalp is netted with tiny scars, and thicker ones trail down his spine.
Uniform: Sometimes Marko wears plain men's street clothes to blend in with local populations. On duty as a Kraken executive, he wears standard business attire. On field duty, he wears a Kraken uniform of dexflan and capery; the jumpsuit is sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. It provides Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turns garish neon colors. The utility belt contains a multitude of small gizmos and other tools. When appearing in his titular role, he wears his uniform of state, which is inspired by United States and German naval flag-rank officers' uniforms of the World War I era. The plain dark uniform is largely American, the heavy overcoat and elaborate hat German. Kraken members love The Hat: it makes them feel part of something shiny and important.
Qualities: Master (+6) Kraken Captain, Expert (+4) Stealth, Expert (+4) Friends in Cyberspace, Good (+2) Computer Games, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Strategy
Poor (-2) Reading Emotion
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Intellect, Good (+2) Technopath, Good (+2) Telepathy
Limitation: His telepathy comes from super-gizmology, so it lacks the hint of emotion that often comes with organic telepathy even for someone not counted as a telempath. It's the equivalent of talking on a telephone. Because Marko was raised in artificial conditions, he didn't get a lot of human contact early on, and he's used to thinking of people as flat mechanical voices. Combined, these factors make it hard for him to identify other people's emotions.
Motivation: To spark connections.

Kraken ship captains, base captains, and other commanding officers wear a round white hat like this. It marks the top of the local chain of command. Most Kraken officers wear a round black hat like this. If the senior officer usually in charge of a location is wearing a black hat, that means Captain Left and/or Captain Right is onsite. Only Captain Left and Captain Right (or more typically, their stunt doubles) wear these magnificent gold-crested hats.





Kraken -- a supervillain organization consisting of two commanders (Master level), eight generals (Expert level), one hundred lieutenants (Good level), all superpowered; along with thousands of faceless followers, mostly ordinary but some with minor powers (Average). What makes this organization dangerous is that they select for intelligence and stealth, rather than dumb thugs. They recruit primarily from vulnerable young adults, especially those who have been harassed or violated or kicked out of home, but also disgruntled soldiers or veterans. They pass time with strategy games including chess, backgammon, mah jongg, and go; plus they actually invented Negotiation, and Kaverns & Krakens, (the local versions of Diplomacy, and Dungeons & Dragons).
Unlike most evil organizations, Kraken does not have a single charistic leader and a bunch of minions. Instead it has two leaders who work in tandem. Kraken sends out teams to accomplish missions, but the bulk of its personnel and resources always remain hidden. Their motto is, "You can cut off an arm, but you can never reach the body."
They have thirteen major lairs scattered around the world in America, Antarctica, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, Argentina, Egypt, and Australia among others. There are also safe houses and minor lairs elsewhere. Missions traditionally involve forces from two different lairs and leaders. Kraken is not so much diabolical as ruthless. They believe that people left to rule themselves at whim have nearly destroyed the world. (Well, they're not wrong.) So they're trying to take control, quietly, to keep it from running off the rails. They go to extreme lengths to gain power, and they don't care much about personal freedoms. That tends to get them classified as supervillains, although saving the world is a laudable end. They have a whole stack of contingency plans for various situations. Contingency X is from Hans, the German leader during WWII, about a nation making it possible for soups to integrate fully into society -- which is what happens with the Maldives, and eventually causes Kraken to contact them.
Origin: Kraken was founded during World War I by a German U-boat captain and the captain of a U.S. submarine. Their two ships were the only survivors out of a devastating battle which left them beached and dependent on each other for their continued survival. They learned to cooperate, they commiserated on how people in power were destroying the world, and decided that it really needed to be ruled from beneath. They expanded to include recruits from other nations. Kraken always had some Super-Intellects and gizmologists, although not recognized as such at first. When superpowers became more widely known in World War II, Kraken began quietly recruiting them on purpose.
Uniform: The standard uniform consists of dexflan and capery for superpowered members, or chameleon cloth for ordinary members. Jumpsuits are sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. They provide Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turn garish neon colors. An assortment of zap guns and other gizmological or Super-Gizmological equipment vary based on an individual's assignment. Most Kraken officers wear a simple black hat in the German style. Ship captains, base captains, and other commanding officers wear a white hat; but if Captain Left and/or Captain Right are present, the local CO switches down to black. Uniforms of State for Captain Left and Captain Right are based on U.S. and German naval uniforms from World War I. The plain black uniform is primarily American, the heavy overcoat and elaborate gold-trimmed German hat. Kraken members love The Hat: it makes them feel like they belong to something shiny and important.
Qualities: Master (+6) Stealth, Master (+6) Strategy, Expert (+4) Cooperation, Expert (+4) Wealth, Good (+2) Combat, Good (+2) Patience
Poor (-2) Working Alone
Powers: Kraken favors subtle abilities such as Super-Intellect, Super-Gizmology, Chameleon Powers, Shapeshifting, Invisibility, Illusion, Precognition, Phase, Luck Control, and Telepathy. However, they accept people with other talents too.
Motivation: To control the surface from the abyss.

Charope (Andronika Dunn) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy brown hair. She is tall and strong. Her heritage includes English, Greek, and Irish. She speaks Arabic, French, English, Esperanto, Greek, Hindustani, and Spanish. A valiant fighter, Andronika practices pankration, a Greek martial art. As a hobby, she enjoys making ceramics such as plates and vases, which she paints with dramatic scenes.
After the traumatic manifestation of her superpowers, Andronika fled to a women's shelter, but they weren't very helpful. For weeks she wandered from one place to another, never feeling safe, which made it difficult to control her superpowers. Then a Kraken operative found and recruited her. Now Charope works for Kraken, rescuing both criminals and abuse survivors on the run. Her emotional intelligence makes it easy for her to form a fast rapport with the people she rescues. Because the legal system failed to protect her, she despises it and rarely misses a chance to violate it. While often useful in her profession as a supervillain, sometimes it gets in the way and makes trouble from scratch.
Origin: Abused by her husband, she tried to escape. He poured chemicals into her eyes in an attempt to blind her so that she would always be dependent upon him. Instead, the assault triggered the manifestation of superpowers. When she glared at her husband, he burst into flames and died.
Uniform: Unlike most Kraken members, Charope has no uniform. She wears whatever necessary to fit into her current mission. However, her favorite color is pink. She has a particular fondness for kicking the shit out of men while wearing such a feminine color.
Qualities: Master (+6) Valiant, Expert (+4) Pankration, Good (+2) Ceramics, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Rapport
Poor (-2) View of Legal System
Powers: Expert (+4) Gaze Attack, Average (0) Regeneration
Her visual superpower is variable but customarily includes Flame Ray, Freeze Ray, Pain Ray, and Laser Eyes.
Limitation: As standard for gaze attacks, Charope must be able to see her target.
Motivation: To do what the law won't.

This is "Uncle Bob." Jobina's stepfather Donald probably has an "accident" in his future.
Kemp (Nelson Peyton) -- He has ruddy skin, hazel eyes, and receding brown hair buzzed short. He works as muscle for Kraken, and enjoys his job. He's also smarter than he looks. The picture shows him immediately after being hit by that crumpled car in the background. He has poor manual dexterity, though.
Origin: A new type of bodybuilding supplements left him with vicious muscle cramps for months, but eventually they faded and left him with superpowers.
Uniform: He rarely wears a suit or Kraken uniform, preferring street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Hand-to-Hand Combat, Expert (+4) Krakenguard, Good (+2) Guy Friends, Good (+2) Steady, Good (+2) Stragegy & Tactics
Poor (-2) Fine Dexterity
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Strength, Good (+2) Tough
Motivation: To protect the vulnerable and the troubled. Particularly if it means beating the shit out of bullies.

* * *

Poorskills are techniques for surviving poverty. One of these is frugality, sometimes expressed as "Eat it all, use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without." T-America has retained more of these frugal skills, partly thanks to Granny Whammy, and Jobina excels at them. Here are some ideas for making do.

Flickering is one form of superpower development, most often seen in young people, involving manifestations that appear and then disappear quickly. Different episodes may display the same ability consistently, related abilities within a field, or wildly diverse ones. None of this means that the person will "keep" any particular ability, although the more often one appears, the more likely it will become permanent. The intermittent pattern makes it difficult to identify and control any ability. Usually one or more abilities will stretch out for longer periods of time until the final manifestation becomes clear.

Sint-Holo is a serpent associated with of inspiration, language, and writing for the Cherokee among other tribes. Sint-Holo's Lair is a website run by Kraken which provides information for abused youth. Thanks to super-code, it can be push-served in response to certain searches, or seem to disappear if someone is trying to trace and close it.

(These links are awful.)
Child abuse is a serious problem. Know the warning signs. Unfortunately, all the official advice is to "tell someone." This works if and only if the victim is immediately believed and protected from their abuser -- which often fails to happen, in which case the victim usually gets punished and occasionally killed. The only people who acknowledge the necessity of conducting a risk-benefit analysis before opening your mouth are the survivors themselves, and they have articulated many prudent reasons why they have chosen to conceal abuse in pursuit of survival. So if you are being abused, don't take advice from strangers who've never faced that; think carefully about which actions will help you survive and escape. It helps to document the abuse if you can.

(So is this one.)
Some abused children try to help an abused parent.

(More horrible links here.)
Many victims feel trapped, and in fact, often are when the legal system fails them. There are some legal options but they're patchy at best. Even Terramagne-America drops the ball sometimes. Victims may need to know how to escape an abusive parent and run away from a dangerous home. Abuse is a leading reason why young people run away from home.

The original Underground Railroad carried runaway slaves. Now there are ones for abused children and their parents, or forced marriage in America and other countries.

T-America understands more about foods that can improve mood. Examples include walnut-miso noodles and chocolate chia seed pudding. which can be made from organic dark cacao powder. It can take many tries before someone likes a new food, so don't put too much pressure on yourself or anyone else -- just explore. Of course, if you're on a train, you're stuck with what's available until you get off. Sometimes a restaurant owner's brilliant idea of "the best train food" isn't to everyone else's taste.

Mass transit in Terramagne-America tends to come with opportunities for education and entertainment. Jobina and Aunt June happen to be browsing a rack of paper books, but there are electronic text and audio options too. There's usually a mix of thematic and general materials. Trains have inspired some awesome fiction and nonfiction. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is a famous example. Classics offer many benefits. Among the best are gems like The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Grippers are books that captivate readers by stirring intense emotions. Some good examples include The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara, The Vorrh by Brian Catling, and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. In addition to the premium items available for purchase, there's typically something complimentary that comes with your ticket, such as a local newspaper or travel magazine. Some services buy from local authors and artists so you can buy, for example, short stories and comics from Memphis and Westbord to enjoy on your handheld device. This is an example of T-America's enthusiastic support of literacy.

T-America has a much wider variety, challenge span, and age range of activity books and puzzle books compared to L-America. You can also find individual worksheets or looseleaf packets meant for assembly into a customized activity book using a folder or binder. Electronic versions are available too. These are ubiquitous offerings in mass transit, waiting rooms, and quiet rooms. It helps buffer mood to keep people relaxed, and provides mental stimulation to keep them alert. Options include things like Adult Activity Book: An Adult Activity Book Featuring Coloring, Sudoku, Word Search And Dot-To-Dot and 1,000 Playthinks: Puzzles, Paradoxes, Illusions & Games.

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