Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Beginning 241

Me and my temper didn’t like boys who stood across the street and shot at me with a pea-shooter and hit me on the tender skin between my fingers with a goddamned hard pea.

I didn’t know or care anything about pea velocity, but I did care a lot about pain. When I was in physical pain, I wanted to share it. With the giver of it.

It was a reflex more than a response. I don’t even remember running across the street that day; it was something like magic. I just remember a sudden, stabbing pain between my fingers, a look across the street at the tall skinny asshole who I could see had inflicted my pain, standing there laughing at me, and then there I was, across the street, feeling the hard bone feeling of my knees on the bones of his hips after I jumped on him. Looking at him eye to eye, I felt the hardness of his belt dig into the skin of my thighs and my knees, but I didn’t care. Then there was the feeling of slick, stringy rope in my hand as I reared his head back with his own hair and punched him right in the middle of his long bony face. Hard.

It wasn't long before a noisy circle formed around us, drawn by the wails of this hooligan with the blood and snot pouring out of his broken nose. It was Jimmy Simmons, the scourge of our town. Everyone hated him, and with good reason: it was Jimmy Simmons who farted in the library and cut through people's backyards and sang out of tune in Sunday choir. And now, the pea shooter. The final straw.

I gave the bastard one last hard kick in the ribs, sending him slumping back to the ground with a grunt. He lay there, sobbing. I wiped my hands on his shirt.

An old woman shuffled forward. It was Mrs. Nelson, whose flower garden had been walked through. “Bless you, Sister,” she said.

“Peace be with you,” I replied, and continued on my way to the convent.

Opening: Robin Sinnott.....Continuation: ril


Anonymous said...

And so dawns the era of the Ruthless Vigilante Nun...

Dave Fragments said...

Beating up on the bully, an old theme that is out of favor today. If this is YA, I'm guessing that it's a coming-of-age story on standing up to bullies etc...

It's first person and it reads well. However, I can't tell you if the narrator is a boy or girl, give me a hint. It's a well-written introduction for a character who you keep hidden. That's why RIL can write such a funny continuation.

The first two paragraphs are redundant and do not add to the story. I think they hurt the story. Take "When I was in physical pain, I wanted to share it." That's a sentiment I try not to teach children and youngsters.

Is this story set back in the 50's or early 60's? Ot earlier? It sounds like it. It's unsophisticated relationships between kids harken back to that time or earlier. This isn't kids of the current time. Kids today aren't that provincial.

Bernita said...

Priceless continuation!

Anonymous said...

Start with the third paragraph, the first two are just throat-clearing warm ups.

Anonymous said...

Ouch, your first word is a grammar glitch! I get that it's colloquial, but still, word #1 -- that's going to put someone off. "My temper and I" will do nicely.

Anonymous said...

I liked the first two paragraphs. Less so, the third. I found the repetition of "feeling/felt" distracting in the third paragraph. Also, I think you could cut "With the giver of it"--the sentence that comes before is punchier.

Continuation was great!

none said...

Telling us the protagonist acts on reflex when they've just spent two paragraphs discussing their response doesn't work. The narrative has already shown us their reaction wasn't immediate.

shaded-lily said...

I found this opening interesting. I agree with earlier posts that the first two paragraphs (the second, especially) are not needed. I'd also take out the "it was something like magic" in the third paragraph.

The narrator is somewhat removed in time from the action -- "I don't remember ... that day" -- which makes me wonder where she (I hope it's she!) is standing now.

Hilarious continuation, of course.

Kate Thornton said...

Ril, you're a genius!

Author - I like where this could go, but you could get there faster and smoother. I think I'd start at the third paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't make sense of the position. Knees on hip bones only allows you to feel his belt buckle on your thighs if you're facing his feet, which seems to be the wrong preparation for abusing his head.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Ril, wonderful continuation!

The only way this tired beating up a bully works for me is with that sort of twist - not necessarily a nun, but if it was a small rebellious girl, then I'm interested. I was one of those, once upon a time.

Anonymous said...

You must be joking that kids don't fight like this anymore. Have you been to a high school lately?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant continuation. I laughed out loud.

Robin S. said...

First time since early this morning I've had a minute to breathe and sign in here...

Dave, Theo and Maggie- This is narration from a woman who was a
ten year old girl when she beat the crap out of a twelve year old boy. In the mid-60s. You find out this is a girl in the next paragraph. Dave, you were right with the time frame guess.

Gotta stick with the purposefully placed grammar glitch, guys. It goes with the territory here, in this place and time.

The first two paragraphs are the result of the bravado, sometimes false, but there, nonetheless, of the narrator as a child. I don't think they need to make absolute sense- they are the inner thougts of a person, and what she thinks about herself, which may not necessarily be accurate.

Thanks for all of the input!

ril- I loved your continuation. having gone to Catholic schools, and having had principals named Sister Conrad and Sister Thecla. The entire school had a 1960s version of "time out" - silence in the halls and cafeteria for two days - when one of them found out we were calling her Sister Tickle-Bee behind her back. And that was one BIG back. So - I loved your nun story - it made me laugh. Thanks!

Robin S. said...

Forgot to say- the kid wasn't a bully. The kid is a wimp.

The narrator is the bully.

Dave Fragments said...

Interesting, Robin, interesting.

You could add a couple words or three to make the first two paragraphs refer to the past.

Possibly start out: Years ago, When I was in physical pain, I wanted to share it. With the giver of it.
and then go to "Me and my temper"

That's only a suggestion, it might not be the way to go. It might be too obvious, where now the words "years ago" are inferred. Your choice. It depends on the rest of the story.

Kanani said...

First of all, I like the use of idioms here, to an extent.

"Me and my temper" does set the tone for the character, but it's a rough first line for a book.

It made me do a double take: was this a mistake? Does the narrator have a second head on his shoulder?

And with first lines, you just can't afford making anyone do a double take.

Break up that first sentence. You've got a lot of images you're trying to get across. I can see them, but they'll be stronger if you break them up.

Also, go through and look for word repetitions and actions or movements that might be redundant.

Overall, I'd say you have an interesting story, and you're not afraid of action or to let your characters think. Keep going!

Robin S. said...

Hi kanani-

i think I know what you mean about the redundant word usage in the third paragraph- once I saw this online -I saw that I'd overdone the "felt" bit. I like it- but it's too much.


Anonymous said...

"feeling the hard bone feeling" is too hard to make sense of; it stopped me in my tracks. Sorry to beat a dead horse, you've heard it already. I do like the voice of it, though, it just needs some tightening.

Anonymous said...

First two paragraphs are captivating--or, as they say in book review land, compelling. Very nice. Then the third flattens out. The voice changes entirely from kid telling the truth to adult rationalizing her/his emotions and actions.

I beg you not to believe those who say to use the third and ditch the first two! However, the two segments are parts of a different story, or at least have a different narrator, so they aren't compatible. Probably some of us think the narrator is akid, so the second segment is wrong, and the other half think the narrator is an adult, so the first segment is wrong.

Robin S. said...

Thanks, stick and move - I can definitely see the need for tightening in that third paragraph.
I appreciate your comment on the voice of the narrator.

Hi anon 8:29 - Thanks for what you said on the first two paragraphs. They are the voice of the ten year old coming through - I hadn't thought about that being the difference between the first two and third paragraphs- thanks for pointing that out to me. Not sure quite where to take this knowledge now - I'll have to think about how to use it- this is the woman thinking back about incidents long ago that ended up being important later - maybe she will have to vacillate between the adult and childlike (honest) voices, to tell the story - anyway- I appreciate you taking the time to tell me.

McKoala said...

Sorry to say this, but 'me and my temper' leapt out at me too. If it's a deliberate stylistic use, then you might want to throw in a few other glitches pretty quick to make it clear that this is your character's voice. Your call, though.

Great continuation!

Kanani said...

Hey Robin,
Thanks for taking this so graciously.

Try this:
Print up your scene using an entirely different font. If you're using Times, use Arial. Whatever.
Once you have it in hand, you'll read it a different way.

Get your marker out and start moving things around, eliminating, adding. For some reason our eyes just skim over the 'same old font' and often we just miss things.

I am in the final draft of my novel. Boy, is this painful stuff.

I can't wait to do travel writing again.

Bernita said...

I rather liked "Me and my temper"!
But the specific of "tender skin between my fingers" seems a trivial place to launch that temper across the street.

Anonymous said...

The continuation rolled along well, but the unexpected twist was priceless, and made me burst out laughing. Very well done!