Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Beginning 995

I’ve been at this school so long that nobody notices me anymore. But the new kid did. She came into the classroom, smiling at the staring faces, and did a double take when her eyes brushed past me. Which means looking, realizing something was different, and turning to look again, only harder. Then remembering it was rude to stare and pretending she wasn’t looking.

I gave her a sneaky rude sign when Miss Gordon was busy arranging a place for her next to me.

Her jaw dropped, but I knew she wouldn’t tell. One of the bad things about nobody noticing I was different anymore was I got into trouble just like everybody else. At the start, I got away with anything, because kids were too embarrassed to say anything, and the teachers didn’t know how to respond. Like they thought I couldn't possibly have known what was right or wrong, and I might melt into a puddle of tears if they stopped speaking to me like I was a deaf two year old. Which means talking, realizing that the person is deaf, and repeating what you said really loud and slow as if the reason the deaf can't hear is because people don't talk loud and slow enough.

Later I caught the new kid looking down her nose at me. Which means acting all superior, like humans are better than us sheep. So I gave her a dirty look. Which means I looked daggers at her, which means...

Opening: Jo Antareau.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Not anymore, however, and I can't say I didn't see it coming. I mean, really, how long would society decide to ignore the long cape, the bow tie. My school mates had long since tired of asking me to pull a rabbit from my top hat, only to be rebuffed.

The new kid was gawking yet again. I shined my monical and gave her the most frigid of my cool stares until she turned her eyes away. And right she should.

--Veronica Rundell

I've often wondered if the kids on the schools on the planet have the same issues as we have out here on the Colony. I've been told they have lots of new arrivals. They even get to take summer vacations.

--John C. Updike

But they don't notice me anymore. Not even at lunch, when the monitors tell them to leave me alone. I hate being the only human kid at a vampire school.


Evil Editor said...

If you believe your readers don't know what a double take is, don't use the term. Or trust them to look it up.

The 3rd paragraph is wordy. You can make the same point with:

Her jaw dropped, but I knew she wouldn’t tell. New kids were always too embarrassed to tattle, like they thought a walrus couldn't possibly know right from wrong.

Unknown said...

I would have liked a cue as to the narrator's age. It felt middle grade and I wasn't sure if this was right.

Also, why does the narrator assume the new girl 'won't tell'? I don't know what 'a sneaky rude sign' is, but some are "offensive" and might provoke a tattler... And, that would actually play in to how the narrator is now immune to the 'odd child' defense and gets into trouble just like everybody else.

[I'm assuming a human narrator throughout this comment. My own prejudice, perhaps.]

Could be good!

Dave Fragments said...

I must have work up in a fog this morning. I missed the ASL reference and got all puzzled. It's a good tone and comfortable writing. Just some days the reader is a dummy. (that's before sugar and caffeine)

I did some work with disabled HS kids and you can't pull the "disability" cards on the kids that know you. They don't see the disability any more. They see the person and HS kids call BS down on you real fast.

Trim a few words here and there and tighten it up.

150 said...

I'm not a fan of concealing information, so I'd be more likely to keep reading if that first "eyes brushed past me" was "eyes brushed past [my hearing aid] [my wings] [whatever]". Otherwise, I'm on board for now.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The voice on this totally works for middle grade. (And it's obviously middle grade, so don't bother telling us the protag's age, pace Veronica.)

While I'm no fan of concealing information either--usual maximum for doing so is about two sentences-- in this instance I think you can get away with it because of the first-person narration and the voice. The narrator is far more interested in the new girl, who is new, than in his/her own problem/difference/gift/whatever, which is old. However, you'd better reveal pretty darn soon.

Especially since it seems highly likely that whatever you're trying to conceal will be mentioned in the jacket copy and quite possibly shown in the cover illustration.

I think it might be more interesting to have the third paragraph continue to focus on the protag's thoughts about the new girl rather than on the protag's own role in the class. You want to keep the action moving forward.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I liked this. I don't really have anything critical to add (sorry!)

I found this enjoyable and would read on :)

Jo-Ann S said...

Thanks for the input and hilarious continuations.

It's a short story, and the MC is based on a child I knew some time ago. He's aged ten.

In the next few paragraphs I drop some hints about his differences, and how people responded to him. For example, hewill recount how he rammed his head into a kid's stomach for singing the 'hi-ho, hi-ho' song at him. Yep, he has dwarfism (it's not an offensive term - but midget is!). In addition, the boy has mild hemiplegia and some other dysmorphic features, so his face, gait and posture are also unusual. Hence the double take.

The boy it's based on was always feisty and quick witted. Sadly, he also had some cardiac difficulties, and passed suddenly in his sleep during early adolescence. But I will always remember his attitude. He could sniff out a do-gooder from miles away. When an adult was clearly embarassed around him, he had a habit of smiling innocently at them and dropping the foulest language into innocuous conversation ("how are you going?") and watching the incredulous look on their faces ("did he just say...").

I hope my story is worthy of him. Now I need to figure out how specific I should be in my description of him. Always difficult in first person.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I do think it's too slow a start and too slow a reveal for a short story, but then I've never been a fan of short stories, perhaps because they almost always rely on a Twist. If the Twist is just revealing info you've been withholding...meh.

150 said...

Precious few Twists make it through the slush these days, AK. It's Nebula season, so more short stories than usual are available for free reading: if you're interested, now'd be a good time to check them out.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Ah! Okay. I confess I stopped reading short stories circa 1988, when I realized how much I didn't like 'em.

(I don't write 'em either. Mind you: there are only a handful of paying markets for short middle grade fiction in the US anyway. It may be different in the UK, where Jo lives IIRC.)