Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Beginning 754

When my mother was a kid her older sister used to tell her, “For somebody so smart, you sure are dumb.” My mother would tell me about that at particular times; it wasn’t really like her calling me dumb, but I took the point. She didn’t say that when I told her about that week at summer camp. She didn’t have to; I’d already told myself, when I first realized the difference between what I meant to do about Anna and Sheila and James and what I had actually done.

It’s been five years now, and it’s getting harder to remember what it was like to be that gangly earnest thirteen-year-old, full of ideas about being a hero and without a clue about what that really meant. I don’t feel nearly as angry with her as she was with herself. If I had her here to talk to, like a scrappy younger sister, I don’t know what I could tell her. She’d read books that said all of it better than I could say it now. The rest I guess she had to learn by living through it. Of course, she’d have hated that answer.

But then again, she really did seem overjoyed when I turned up on our doorstep; her "dead" son, miraculously reborn. She made me grilled cheese and PB-n-Js with the crusts cut off. She sat on the sofa with me watching the midnight movie. Things were just peachy . . . until she had to go snooping around the backyard shed.

To say the least she was disappointed in her young man when she found my goalie mask spattered with entrails and the brand new Husqvarna 240e, its blade caked with the congealed blood of Anna and Sheila and James. And I think that’s when she realized I wasn't exactly resurrected with some divine purpose in mind.

At first she was shocked, but then she thought about it, and hugged me and said, "You're kind of smart for someone so dumb." I guess she agreed with me . . . that's what those counselors deserved for playing hide the salami in the cabin instead of manning the lifeguard station at the lake.

Opening: Joanna Hoyt.....Continuation: Angie


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

But this isnt about my mother. This is about me and how I learned to get over the witch that tried to grow me up. How did I do that? I'd watch her fly around the house on her broomstick. Now the stick is mine and my kids laugh when I fly around on it as she did such a long time ago.

What if a much of a witch of wind. Who wrote that? Don't matter. she beat me and I beat them.
Happy Mother?


I hated it too. Especially now that I see it all with the clarity that comes with hindsight. Maybe that’s why my mind still won’t stop assaulting me with what ifs. What if I had gotten help when Anna and James told me they wanted to kill themselves. What if I hadn’t been so sure I had all the answers, so confident in my own ability to pull my friends from the brink that I never even considered that I might fail.


She also would have been totally freaked out since it was her future self talking to her, unless I'm talking about having my mother as my scappy younger sister, but I'm not sure, because I like writing in enigmas. She learned that when she read all of those books. Or maybe I learned it, but I can't remember? What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah. Anna, Sheila and James. The triplets that I had at that pregnant teen camp. What I had done with them, and what I had meant to do with them. But I'll just mention it here again so I remain ambiguous, adding mystery and such.

--Shoshana Beaubahna

What I meant to do to Anna, Sheila and James was impress them with my fire breathing trick. What I did was turn their heads into billiard balls when the down draft picked up velocity. I toasted their marshmellows at the same time but they conveniently forgot that in their rush to jump in the lake.

The book that I kept from Mother's library after she died was "Raising Dummies For Dummies". She was mad when I gave it to her. She got madder as she read it. So I put her down. The rabies test came back positive.


But my mother also hates tomatoes so I guess that point is mute.


But what else could I tell her? Plausible deniability, that's the key. I could have told her that Anna loved wild berries but was a bit dim about which the poisonous ones were, or that Sheila didn't know it was a bad idea to pet a bear cub, or that James loved boats but couldn't swim. I could have told her there were better ways to be a hero to her bullied camp-mate than than bludgeoning those bastards with a tent pole. But if I'd done that, then she might have talked, and I couldn't sit here now, officer, telling you I know nothing about it. I don't recall a thing. It's so easy to forget things in just five years. Ask her, 'cause she isn't me. Not at all. Not any more.


That's how I see it, anyway. What do you think?

"I think you shoulda listened to your mother."


But what she hated more was when I told mother never, ever, ever start your novel with a prologue. No one ever reads those damn things anyway.


Evil Editor said...

The longer this goes on, the more cryptic it becomes. I'd move from the first paragraph into something concrete. I can't tell how the second paragraph is even connected to the first.

John said...

There's some good voice in here, but the first several times I read it I found the last five sentences incomprehensible. Then I realized that in the second sentence of the second para, the narrator imagines talking to her younger self. Now it's just the last three sentences I don't understand.

Anonymous said...

I reread this opening several times and didn't understand paragraph 2 unil John pointed out the narrator was talking about talking to her younger self.

I'm not sure there is a good way to do that not with paragraph 1. I would recommend to the author to either choose one or the other but not both.

Joanna Hoyt said...

Thanks; that helps. I'll mull it over. Maybe keep the first paragraph and go straight into the first chapter (the previous New Beginning) and jsut add age and gender clues there.

_*rachel*_ said...

I'd recommend starting elsewhere. But whatever you do, put a silver bullet in the heart of that second paragraph.