Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New Beginning 1043

The last day I saw my sister alive, I lost my position. It hadn’t been much of a job, just sweeping out our landlady’s flower shop, but it had paid part of my school fees, and I didn’t look forward to telling Edwina.

“I’ll not have the likes of you working here,” Mrs. Hudson had said loudly, to impress her Protestant customers.

I dawdled on the way home, trying not to drag my foot, stopping to check the names on the neighborhood’s makeshift war memorial. No new names, but I crossed myself, just a quick wave of the hand.

As I turned to cross the street, someone shouted, “Look out!” and I stumbled back to let three students rush by on their bicycles. One of them lost his hat, and I grabbed it up and sailed it after him. The grocer’s horse shied, and the old man shouted at me.

Two years into the war, the university had a dearth of students, only ashamed young men not suited for service and arrogant future officers waiting to be called and sent to the trenches. They were all just as cheeky as ever.

The hat missed its mark, and slicing neatly through the war memorial flew towards Mrs. Hudson's flower shop. It shattered the glass, and cleanly decapitated the old Protestant and her customers. Finally it embedded itself in the grocer's horse, and I retrieved it from the frightened animal.

It seemed I would have to return it to its craven owner myself. Turning it over, I read the name of the cheeky student who so carelessly lost it:

Odd Job.

Opening: Susan Hall-Balduf .....Continuation: khazarkhum


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Many times they'd jog down the street in groups of twenty or so just in thongs and sneakers. The old ladies on the porches along the sidewalk would whistle through their toothless mouths.

I would smack a few butts when no one was looking. Gee, I miss those days. Once I found a thong in a bush. I wear it sometimes and gyrate in front of the mirror.


Which was sehr gute. Because if Sie knew Wir already lived among them, dann Mein Fuhrer’s plan to overtake zem would be über before it begann.


Evil Editor said...

After reading the first sentence, I find myself more interested in knowing what happened to your sister than in how you lost your job. Maybe if it read:

The day I lost my job was the worst day of my life. Not because I lost my job--it wasn't much of a job, after all, just sweeping out our landlady’s flower shop--but because it was the last day I saw my sister alive.

Now it feels like the sister is more important than the job.

It's strange that Mrs. Hudson won't have the likes of you working in her shop, but still tolerates you as a tenant.

Can Mrs. Hudson tell her customers are Protestant because she knows all of them?

Speaking of Mrs. Hudson, you've given your landlady the same name as the most famous landlady in literature. It's like naming your valet Jeeves or naming your spy James Bond.

I'd get rid of "trying not to drag my foot,"

If the university has a dearth of students, why are you so certain the bicyclists are students? Do they look ashamed and unsuited for service?

Maybe the bicyclist should stop before you sail his hat toward him. Otherwise he'll be long out of range of a thrown hat.

I suppose you'd have said "an" old man if the grocer and the old man were two different people, but it still sounds that way. I'd just say "he" instead of "the old man." Actually, I'd probably get rid of the sentence. Someone shouts in the previous sentence. That's enough shouting. Besides, three rushing bicyclists are more likely to cause a horse to shy than one tossed hat.

Not clear that the last paragraph belongs here. There's been no mention of a university; you're just walking home after losing your job (You mention bicycling students, but the students could be in high school or even younger). Plus, when you've nearly been run down by university students, your first thought isn't that there aren't any students at the university. It's: Those damn students, I wish they'd all go off to war and leave us in peace.

PicardyRose said...

khazarkhum -- ha-ha-ha!

Thanks, others.

EE, sir, the toughest thing about the start of this novel is establishing the time and place without the main character blurting out, "Since I live in Cambridge, England, and it's 1916, and my sister beats me ... blah, blah, blah."

Also, re Mrs. Hduson, I know, right? But it's a first draft, had to call her something.

khazarkhum said...

PicardyRose--what about this style for opening?

"March 12, 1916, was the last day I saw my sister alive.

We lived in Cambridge, England, where I worked at Mrs Hudson's flower shop while she attended University. My tasks were simple: sweep out the shop, deliver the occasional bouquet, that sort of thing. But that morning, Mrs Hudson fired me for the crime of being Zoroastran in a Protestant land...."

And so forth.