Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Beginning 1032

After my sixteenth birthday, I learned three life lessons: 1.) Buckle your seatbelt. 2.) Karma sucks. 3.) I am NOT adopted.

Don’t get me wrong: my parents did an outstanding job raising a stubborn, aggravating, whimsical little girl from teeny to teens. I had a happy life with my family, and by ‘happy’, I mean no one was trying to kill me. Especially not my boyfriends.

My Dad left my sixteenth-birthday gift parked on the street outside of my apartment, its copper sheen glistening in the sun and causing our neighbors to scrunch their noses in jealousy. My car was the best new thing in our apartment complex. My parents must have been planning this for months, because I’m not sure how they could afford it.

“I can’t believe he’s agreed,” Joe said when he saw my car parked along the street outside of the apartment complex. Joe was my nerdy next-door neighbor; he had been my best friend since middle-school. He was exceptionally smart, wore glasses, sweaters, and his eyes shined like diamonds in a tunnel, and I liked him but since we were friends I would never tell him.

"Let's go for a ride!" I said, and me and Joe jumped into the car.

Moments after I turned the ignition on, the ground shook like the world was ending. I glanced in the side mirror and saw what looked like a giant squid barreling toward us, using four of its tentacles as legs.

"Jesus," I shouted. "We've got to get out of here." But I was strapped in and in my panic, I couldn't work the catch on the seat belt. Suddenly the squid creature breathed in then blew out a blast of air that shattered the car's windows.

"What the fuck is that!" Joe shouted, totally out of character.

“I— I don’t—“ I stuttered, as a tentacle reached in and attached itself to me.

"My name is Karma!" the vile creature screeched in a harridan's voice, pulling me from the car. "I am your natural mother, and I have come to take you home."

Opening: Brittney Brown.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Itching to try out my new Saturn, I offered Joe a ride home. We got in the car, buckled up of course, and I gingerly pulled out into the road. It was the best birthday ever: a new car, and Joe there by my side, all to myself.

"Watch that bump!" Joe warned me, and I steered around the pothole. Then we rode on in silence, just enjoying the freedom.

"So..." Joe said, after while. "I, uh, wanted to ask you something... It's a bit awkward. I guess. On your sixteenth birthday."

My heart fluttered a bit and the car drifted toward the center line.

"No, go ahead." I gripped the wheel hard so my hands wouldn't shake.

"Well, uh, I was like wondering... Could you introduce me to that new friend of yours, Karma Jones?"


A smirk split the side of my face. "Oh, I can. See, I've just completed an online correspondence course in hypnotism, and as part of my final exam I had to persuade a loved one to do something far out."

"Gee! That's cool." Joe cupped his chin in his hand. "Maybe you can help me with something. I've been studying too."

"Sure. Shoot. Whatever."

"I got a plan to rob the bank in town." He takes a bunch of maps from his rucksack. "Alarms, duty rosters, door and locks — you name it, I've researched it. And I've watched Tom Cruise in all the Mission Impossible films like a zillion times."

"So whaddya need me for?"

"There's a guard in the vault. I could club him with a wrench but that would be messy. Maybe if we dropped into the vault together you could put him to sleep while I cracked the safe."

I narrow my eyes, train 'em on Joe's baby baby blues. "Or maybe you should just give me the plans and go watch some porn while I get rich."

Joe's face goes all mushy. He stumbles across his yard, zombed out.

Like I said, karma sucks.


Dave Fragments said...

I'd start the story with the Third Paragrap:
My Dad left my 16th birthday gift parked. . . "

Three "rules" of life are not interesting at all. Especially uninteresting after the info dump of 16th birthday.
My three rules are a) not red, b) no mayonnaise, and c) never appear in front of a camera naked. Which I'm sure interests me but probably bores the crap out of everyone when I say it. It's a tedious list without mystery and statements like that are easy to snark.

As for the self-revelatory second paragraph,my personal opinion is that it is trying too hard. The hinted at story - her upbringing, her "happy family", her lack of stalkers and murderers, their lack of previous wrongdoings that might put them in jeopardy, her teenage taste in boyfriends. All of that in my opinion is tedious stuff that is best left to the inner parts of the story. It doesn't need revealed now.

And in that fourth paragraph, reveal Joe first as her friend from Middle School and then Nerdy neighbor. In fact "nerdy neighbor" and "exceptionally smart with glasses" are the same mental image. i would drop "nerdy neighbor" and let him reveal that part of his character through the later parts of the story.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The neighbors scrunching their noses with envy made me dislike the character. If that's the goal, fine; that seems to be a thing in YA. Just be sure you're doing it with intention.

Evil Editor said...

P1: I don't see lesson 3 as a life lesson. Or any lesson at all. And she should have learned to buckle her seatbelt long before her 16th birthday.

P2: According to the query letter posted yesterday, she had no boyfriends in the years she's talking about here, so why say especially not my boyfriends. Also, when one says, "I had a happy life, by which I mean no one was trying to kill me," they generally mean they had an overall unhappy life. I don't think that's the point you're trying to make.

P3: I never thought of scrunching one's nose as a sign of jealousy. Also, it might require years rather than months of planning to buy a new car if you can't afford one, and very little planning if you get a loan. I'd change months to years even if it's an exaggeration. You could even say a decade, as the bigger exaggeration adds voice.

P4. Are we supposed to know what "I can't believe he's agreed" means? Unless that's revealed in the next couple lines, I'm assuming it means "I can't believe your father agreed to get you the car you asked him for." Why not "I can't believe they agreed"? She did say her parents were planning it, not just her father. In any case, seems Joe would more likely say I can't believe they got it for you," than "I can't believe they agreed." Even more likely: "Wow! What a fantastic ride!"

Anonymous said...

Paragraphs 1 & 2 feel disconnected from paras 3 & 4.

When I've seen lists work in the first paragraph of a book, it's usually because the next bit is an intense action sequence with the list being the only lead in to what's happening and therefore somewhat necessary. That isn't happening here.

'shined like diamonds' gives me a mental image of diamonds trying to polish something. I would suggest 'shone', but that could just be me

Anonymous said...

I stumbled over the concept of a 16 year old living in her own apartment. I wonder if it was a typo and the writer meant "our" apartment - as in, somewhere she lives with a responsible adult or guardian or parent.

Unless she's 18 and it's a really, really, really late 16th birthday gift.