Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Beginning 740

My grandmother, Sophia Gorman, met me at the baggage claim in San Francisco.

She wore a 49ners' cap over her curly gray hair, and she waved at me like I was a celebrity or something. I guess I was – sort of. My mom had just married Justin McGraff, the famous fashion consultant to the stars.

Long story.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. Mom met Justin when he hired her to defend him in a lawsuit. The next thing I knew, the two of them were going out for sushi. When Mom invited him home for a sleepover, I knew Justin was a keeper. I didn't care, 'cause Justin made Mom happy.

"Autumn," Grams says, hugging me. Her 49ners' cap falls to the floor. The both of us try to pick it up at the same time and our heads collide.

Grandmother reacts first. "I've got it," she says. She smiles. "So, my daughter is off to Europe on her honeymoon?"

"Paris," I say. "And then Venice."

"Very nice," she says. "I always knew she'd find a man with money. But," she adds, "she's done very well on her own as a defense attorney."

"Yeah. You're right, grandma. She has."

"It wasn't easy for her," Granny continues, "raising you and studying late into the night. But it paid off. Marrying Justin McGraff! He's fashion consultant to the stars, you know."

I nod. "And now he's taken her to Europe. And I'm staying with you, my Oma."

"That's right, Autumn," Grand-mere replies. "Shall we go over it once more, or do you think the readers have it now?"

"Let's do another pratfall," I suggest. "Just to break up the exposition."

Opening: Irene.....Continuation: Batgirl


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Long story.

Anyway, Mom didn't really need to marry a rich man, not after defending Andre "the 'illbilly" Sunders. She wins enough from that case to support herself for a long time. I'm glad for her.

Gram smiled and twisted her 49ers' hat over her curly, white hair. She manages to twist her wig instead. She had just lost most of her hair in a tragic football accident.

Long story.


"Didn't help your Grampa, though..."

My heart sunk as the air chilled. "She's an attorney, not a miracle worker."

Gran straightened her cap. "Well, she'd better try practising her miracles if you're gonna have a sister."

I glared at the old woman. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, come on. Justin McGraff? Fashion consultant? Paris? Sushi?"


She shrugged. "He's gay."

"He is not gay. Why would my mother marry him if he was gay?"

"Well... Your mother's always been a bit of fag hag. I blame your grandfather."

I rolled my eyes. "Grandmother! Do you even know what you're talking about?"

"Thirty-four years with the King of Bingo, listening to Liza Minelli on Thursday afternoons, you betcha I know what I'm talking about. Just sayin': If your mom had her priorities straight, Grampa would be here picking you up and it would be that Justin McGraff taking it up the ass in Cell Block 4, that's all."

"Jesus, Grandma. Are you serious?"

Grandmother stared off into the distance for a few moments. "No, you're right. That's the plot of Days of Our Lives. Grampa is out in the car. Anyone for ice cream?"


"Do you think she'll come back with him?" Grandmother says.

I shrug like I don't know Mom is going to push husband number twelve off a water taxi with heroine in his system.

I sigh. This is going to be a long week. I grandma, but I also happen to know she's wearing a wire.


Grams smiles at me. We both know about Brandon Gillespie, the actor Mom married right before he died. And then there was Jerome Chevalier, the French singer who Mom married the year he was murdered. Corky McCurdle, the pitcher for the Giants, dead at 31. He was my favorite--that's where my little brother came from. I still get choked up thinking about that car crash.

And now they were going to Venice! I wonder--can Justin even swim?


"Who was trying to sue Justin, anyway?"

"Lady Gaga."

Grandmother thought for a moment, absently watching luggage go past on the carousel. "You know," she said, "I've always kind of questioned your mother's judgment."


Evil Editor said...

More unchosen continuations:

"Almost as well as your aunt has done as a divorce attorney." Grams checks her watch and nods briskly. "So it's...let's see, about 10:30 pm Paris time. The actress we hired to make a scene about Justin abandoning her and their baby should just be accosting them in their hotel lobby, right?"

"That was the plan," I agree.

"Of course it is. Well, your aunt Kate will take him to the cleaners, and then we can all take our own trip to Paris. Right, honey?"

"You betcha, grandma."

--Marissa Doyle

She flicks another nervous glance at my stomach. "Of course, they make a lovely couple."

"Yes, Grandma, they do."

We walk out of the airport and cross toward the parking garage. A policeman gives us a friendly wave. Grandma grabs my arm and drags me forward. "And their house, so lovely," she babbles. "What is it, six bedrooms?"

"Grandma!" I yank my arm away and sigh. "I'm fine. Can we just go home and have some milk and cookies? Find a nice Guideposts for me to read in the can? Please." I shake my head. "Like this is the first time I've ever been your drug mule."


The days flashed by. It didn't seem like three weeks had passed when we were hugging again, this time just before the security check. Grams held on to her hat, this time!

"Well, your mother and Justin are home now."

"Got home yesterday," I said.

"Bet you can't wait to see them. Wonder if they had as exciting a time as we did! Fine art smugglers, eh? Who'd of thought?"

"And I was expecting just a quiet time with my grandparents for a change..."

"It was lucky you decoded that message hidden on the back of the Picasso."

"Well, if you hadn't told Grandpa to hide the turpentine, we might not be here now."

"His hair will grow back. And he can borrow my 49ners' cap until it does!"

We both burst out laughing.

Sometimes, I swear, life moves so fast we just have to keep reminding each other it happened at all.


Evil Editor said...


Usually when someone says "Long story," they mean they aren't going to tell the story because it's not worth the time. Not that they're going to launch right into the story. Which is what I recommend here. Cut it off at Long story and move on to the meat of the story. You can work in the background later if necessary.

fairyhedgehog said...

There was a sudden change of tense in the fourth paragraph, which threw me. (And I don't know what a 49er's cap is, but then I'm British.)

_*rachel*_ said...

The 49ers are some team or other in California, named after the 49ers who came in the Gold Rush of 1849. And since I went through a historical fiction phase and not a sports fiction phase, you can guess which one I remember more.

Take out the Mom & Justin paragraph, because it pulls you out of the action. You can keep the last sentence in paragraph 2, though; it's part of the narrator's voice.

When Grandmother starts talking about Mom instead of saying, "How are you?" it throws me off a bit. I'd think she'd talk to and about the narrator first. Also, instead of that As You Know Bob after it, you could try, "So, your mom and Justin left you here?"

"Yeah; I guess they don't want me on their honeymoon."

"What a surprise!"

batgirl said...

word ver is 'redue', which seems like sound advice, if poorly spelled.

The good stuff is that your narrator has a distinctive voice, and that the grandmother is easily visualised, with some nice touches.
The not-so-good stuff is the repetition, the constant changing of the way the grandmother is referred to, and the somewhat stilted 'Grandmother reacts first' - not by any physical sign that she's clunked her head, but by saying 'I've got it' - why even tell us she reacts first when her speech and the absence of any other reaction demonstrates it?

By the way, the last unchosen continuation isn't mine, although I like it a lot and am quite tempted to claim it.

Evil Editor said...

Oops, the last one is by anon.

Ashley Girardi said...

Holy infodumps, Batman!

The continuation sums it up pretty well, actually. Backstory should come gently and I felt like I was being whacked over the head with it.

The paragraph about the Mom and boyfriend really threw me out of the narrative. It didn't really add much and the description of the grandmother was way more evocative.

Until you start in with the "As you know, Autumn..." dialogue. I suggest rewriting and inserting a little bit of conflict.

150 said...

The continuation is right-on, but I was generally interested until the "she's always done very well on her own as a defense attorney" line. Good luck!