The boy scoots inside the rusty recess of a car because Papa has told him to hide. He counts breaths and waits. He waits and sleeps and eventually he wakes. The boy has learned to be a good listener. He lifts the trunk the length of his ear. No pop-popping of a worn-out knee. No wet, phlegm coughs. No hushed murmurs of love and dreams and life and skies.
Where are you, Papa?
The boy hears beyond Papa’s silence. The familiar wind loops around the desert brush. Aimless feet shuffle in the distance. His own heart struggles beneath his breath. He is scared and curious and hungry and alive.
He opens the trunk and scrambles out. The brown sky is pushing into the brown earth. His hand fumbles for the sky-paper and upon contact, comforts him.
“Hey! You there!” A Gatekeeper sees him.
The boy walks faster.
"Hey!" The Gatekeeper's footsteps quickened. "Use of the present tense was restricted in this zone. Have you obtained a permit?"
The boy takes off at full speed.
Faintly he hears the shouts behind him, feels the shots kick up the dust at his feet. He keeps his head down and runs as hard as he can away from the past.
Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Sarah from Hawthorne
The first sentence got me interested. But the information doesn't quite grab me after that during the first paragraph. I think the specifics you give us don't inform the reader about what's going on, and the boy comes across as an emotional null zone.
I like your use of language and I like the tone you set, rather hushed and soft, which goes with the quiet that literally surrounds the kid and is violated by the Gatekeeper's words.
What the kid's supposed to hide from isn't focused upon in the first paragraph by thinking about Papa's knee alone. We need to be cued in to the things the kid's avoiding, too.
I liked this, though.
"Stop!" the Gatekeeper's voice is amplified; the stern command loops around the desert brush and echoes from the loudspeakers.
The boy runs.
The Gatekeeper, along with two soldiers, is suddenly before the boy, and the loudspeakers are blaring Karioke music. The boy stops, bewildered and agog at the sight of the burly men in sequin costumes singing and dancing the moves to an old Motown tune:
Stop, in the name of Love
Before you break my heart,
Think it oh-o-ver!
The boy hates this part of the competition but he hears the phlemy cough behind him so he grabs the mic and croons soulfully:
Pappa was a rolling stone,
wherever he laid his hat was his home. . .
The boy...the boy. Unless you're Cormac McCarthy, give him a name :).
Not to worry, girl.
That first paragraph is a bit of inaction. It's waiting in the trunk, sleeping and listening.
Work on a way to put some tension in that paragraph.
HAHAHAHAH! LOVE that continuation!!
WW, thanks--this is something I may develop later. I don't usually write like this. Like the term null zone. :-)
Buffy, I have no name for him yet. But I'm thinking of BuffyBoy. heheheeh
Cormac!!!! That is too funny! Pull the curtain aside and reveal thyself.
Dave, I was going to make a joke about putting you in a trunk and seeing how tense you become. But then you'd miss being in EE's shorts.
*tickles you under the chin*
Just kidding you!
I read "the boy scoots" as "the boy scouts." Then I spent the rest of the sentence searching for a verb. Eventually, on the third try, I figured out my error, but the distraction could be avoided altogether by choosing a different verb (or using past tense, or calling him something besides 'boy'...)
Chris, I'm claustrophobic in shopping malls at Christmas. I've been known to scream at people in crowded elevators.
A trunk would not be a good place for me to be.
Some sort of danger exists to make his Papa tell him to hide. Let the reader in on what it is...
I did the same thing with boy scouts. Both times.
Unrelated, once I sorted out the boy scoots business, it read like incest to me, so I didn't really want to read on.
I actually had the exact same problem as anonymous about being a boy scoot.
come to think of it, I tripped over boy scoot, too.
Scoots will be stricken. Let it be said. Let it be done.
Okay, enough Yul.
This is from a piece of writing I'll add to little by little, but it's not from my main body of work. So definitely I will tread slowly.
Dave, I'm also very claustophobic. We were in Egypt two years ago, and DH takes the kids inside the pyramids. The tunnels to do this are narrow, dark, and full of stench and danger. I did NOT go in. Can't imagine having a heart attack in there, with a line of stooped-over tourists in front and behind you. *shudders*
Oh dear, it is NOT a book about incest! Geeshh!
It's the beginnings of a dystopic novel.
Hey Miss Chris, I did not misread 'scoots' as 'scouts' but as I think about it, perhaps it's the Canadian minions having that problem?
I did, however, flash briefly on the sex abuse thing.
I wasn't clear on what His hand fumbles for the sky-paper and upon contact, comforts him means. The syntax is off, and I don't understand "sky-paper" but it could just be that I'm caffeine deprived right now.
In “Hey! You there!” A Gatekeeper sees him, I like that you have the dialog first, but to use that effectively, I think it should be A Gatekeeper has seen him. Otherwise, the logic is off (the Gatekeeper yells first, sees second).
There are some very good bits here, and present tense CAN work, but it's hard, not to everyone's taste, and may be better used in a short story. And third-person present tense is tons harder on both reader and writer than first-person present.
Love, love, love the continuation!
I think it's Brits that mainly would be having scooting issues.
The first time I told JB to scoot, he looked at me like I'd lost it (whatever IT is/was)irrevocably.
Apparently you can have scooters in an island nation, but not have a verb called scoot.
Ha! I say.
Anyway, that didn't trip me up.
I'm on the fence about present tense - I've done it a few times and it can work - but I don't want a load of it.
I like this - just don't know how long it could go, Miss Chris. But as you mentioned flash...
I am another one who read boy scouts. Just shows we read what we think is there.
Grabbed my interest, as you can see: I wrote the "unchosen" cont. Yea, yea, yea, to the woes of present tense but heh heh that flash! :)
I like present tense in some pieces - especially short ones - but it's hard to carry off when so many people don't like it.
You've peeked my interest. Scoots is fine by me. Maybe it's a southern thing? I don't remember it from NJ, but I believe it was used in Louisiana.
Here are my suggestions. Thanks for letting me play in your world.
Papa points at the car’s trunk.
The boy scoots inside the rusty recess. He counts breaths, many breaths, before he falls asleep. Eventually, he wakes and lifts the trunk the length of his ear to listen. No pop-popping of a worn-out knee. No wet, phlegm coughs. No hushed murmurs of love and dreams and life and skies.
Where are you, Papa?
Beyond Papa’s silence, the boy hears the wind loop around the desert brush. Aimless feet shuffle in the distance. His own heart struggles beneath his breath. He is scared and curious and hungry and alive.
He scrambles out of the trunk. The brown sky is pushing into the brown earth. His hand fumbles for the sky-paper and upon contact, it comforts him.
“Hey! You there!” A Gatekeeper sees him.
The boy walks faster.
My only gripe with this one is that most of the sentences are relatively short and it reads kind of choppy. Nothing wrong with that, at all — but I'd be wanting something to break up this rhythm pretty soon.
The trouble with this kind of present tense is you are in real time. That means events and sentences have to sort of run at the same speed.
Your first paragraph tries to condense events like past tense is easily able, and it makes things unreal and odd.
All you can do is throw in time declarations, like, "in a few seconds..." or "after awhile"...
...which makes it all the more awkward.
Try writing the first paragraph in real time, giving up some style and replacing it with details of the moment?
I didn't have any problems at all with scoots/scouts, despite being British.
How'd you know they were British?
I love you guys.
Now, off to writing something humorous that appeals to 10 yr old boys, and doesn't include the words 'fart' and 'boogie.'
I liked it. I didn't get the sky-paper reference, either. I think some hint about what the boy is hiding from, or at least what sort of harm he's avoiding would help. As it is, he may be hiding simply because he was told to, so there's not sense of urgency.
We scoot a lot in the South. "Scoot your butt over here...."
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