Steven paced in the middle of his room and tried to figure out how to stay home from school. The only surefire excuse he knew was I feel sick, but Mom was wise to that one. He sighed and slumped down onto his bed. "There's gotta be a way," he whispered. But he had thought all night and thought all morning and he still couldn't think of anything. He was pretty sure he could stay home if he told what had happened, but he wasn't going to do that. Ever.
With a shrug of frustration, Steven slid down onto the floor and scraped his fourth grade books together in a heap. What a mess, he thought. As he reached out to straighten some papers, his hand trembled. He stopped and shook both hands hard in the air. If he was going to keep this thing a secret, he couldn't go around acting all scared.
Act normal. That was the thing to do. Mom could read him like a book; he had to act like nothing happened.
He gathered up his books and papers and stuffed them into his school bag, then pulled on his sneakers. OK, this is it.
Before padding downstairs, he took one last look in the closet and checked the ropes that bound Mrs. Ellison's hands and feet. "Looks like we're going to have a substitute today," he told her. "When I get home from school you can tell me how you liked spending an entire day in Time Out."
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous
The morning light filtered through the closed curtains, but didn't seem to have the energy to reach where he was slumped beside his bed. Steven reached out and turned on the bedside light.
Shadows danced across the periphery of his vision as he held his trembling hands up in front of his face. Yes, squinting, he could see coarse, black hairs already starting to poke out from his skin. What had he done?
Dammit, if only Colin Ferris hadn't lent him his collection of Hustler magazine.
Then, he had an idea. He sneaked into the bathroom and then back out, and poked the thermometer into his light. When his mom saw his temperature, she let him stay home.
Thank God it was a Friday and she would be gone for the weekend. He managed to get E.T. home one day, and the script written the next.
"Fine! I'll be brave," Steven said as he pushed his new arm into his Northface jacket. So I grew a third arm, he thought. It might come in handy one day. After all, I sure can pick up these papers faster.
He quit being frustrated when he thought about those fifth grade bullies who always call him ugly. "Boy are they in for a surprise! They don't know how ugly I can be with a bop, bop, bop, three punch knock out!"
--friendship puzzle author
The thing that bothers me most is the cliche actions: paced, sighed, slumped, whispered- which turn the entire scene into a cliche.The dilemma scene.
I didn't think the scene was bad, but it wasn't terribly interesting either. Probably because, as bernita points out, it's got a lot of cliched actions.
You might want to consider reducing the action to a couple of things, or have the pov character doing something which help explain the dilemma. You'd get more immediacy that way.
I'd have kept reading, though.
Making the thoughts more direct sometimes helps e.g.
Steven paced in the middle of his room. How can I stay home from school? Saying I feel sick usually works, but Mom is wise to that one.
I think the problem with this start though, is trying to keep whatever it is from the reader when the character with the point of view obviously knows what it is. When we need specifics, we're getting vagueness.
I think a more compelling voice would help with the hook so we await the revelation with anticipation rather than frustration. As written it's all rather flat: kind of like Steven rushed it out for his fourth grade composition class.
word veri: kaampyr -- Liberace rises and walks the earth again.
Author here. I've been away from computers for a week, so I just read the comments. The continuation was great and I appreciate everyone's comments. You noted all the areas I thought might be weak. Now I know they are. Thanks.
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