Monday, May 20, 2013

1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Lambert Rev 2

Jeannie Lambert
Young Adult

Chapter 1

And five-thousand. KaBOOM! Lightning is one mile too close. “Missed
me.” Rolling my eyes and waggling my tongue is a bold move, habit,
considering I’m a teenager caught on top of Devil’s Cellar. This craggy
cliff has a hole reputed for consuming anyone close to the edge. I could
almost hear God say, “This time.”

Before today my biggest hike was cutting across the empty lot. Getting
away was my purpose, but I didn’t have a destination. Running away was
the easy part. But I lacked an exit strategy leaving everyone behind who
could tell me what to do next. I purposely punish myself by hiking up,
scrambling, falling and here I am with yoda versions of spindly pines.
The weathered, scrappy trees were clinging to any crevice. I too
continued to cling, hoping for a do over. My parents will go orbital
over seeing my picture in the dollar publication, Slammer. It is
inevitable after the hit and run. I had to get away before they came and
locked me up. My parents will never understand. They take everything so
seriously, family monopoly night isn’t complete until someone cries.

Circling the drain, cloud vapors funnel around that hungry, gaping hole.
Surrounding me, that last strike came from the ground up. Dense fog has
come in magician style and temporarily erased my legs from view.

Flash – a light casts its spider-fine net across the infinity-edged sky
drawing back a catch of cumulus clouds. The light is strangely soothing.
But I could do without the _ BOOM! Hearing is the last thing to go.
Must not be dead yet, no such luck. Running away is a rush. No one knows
I’m here, yet I feel as if I’m being chased. Now a few hours later, my
heart is slower. Inversely my thoughts are racing. Wishing to die is
taking too long, I’m bored.

Thunder is scary especially when it is so close while I am far away from
home. Curled up around a rusty old rhododendron root is my new worst
day. Lightning used to be my heebie-jeebie. Not anymore, facing certain
death from a lightning bolt is better than parents. Impulsive me left
everything behind except for my favorite white powdered doughnut. The
doughnut, my life, everything disintegrated into a gooey pocket mess.

Too quiet, even the drips of rain amplify with each splat. The distant
muffled sound of thunder don’t disturb a spider rush hour darting along
my sit spot. Blowing them off me only creates a temporary spider free
zone. Sensing something, I look up. Surprised to see the towering shape
of a boy in the clothes of a hefty man backlit from the lightning. All
muscles contract, I’m unsure what to do. He stumbles, buts gets back up.
Through the patchy fog he heads straight for me. Head down he picks his
way over the roots. Watching him, holding my breath, I expect him to
find me in less than nine more steps. He stops at two. I don’t want to
give up and come willingly out from behind, not yet. Drawing his head up
he looks directly at me, through me, before he turns away and simply
starts peeing.

Peeking through the gaps in my fingers, I channeled my inner safety
patrol and yelled, “that’s not a toilet don’t you know.”

Jumping back as if snake bit, the lanky boy pinched off the stream and
zipped up the offending source. “I know, but I thought this is in the
middle of nowhere.” He shuffles quickly behind the closest tree.
Moments later he emerges from behind the tree, presentable, “you startled
me,” he accuses.

“Well I didn’t want you to point that thing at me,” avoiding an imagined
downhill stream of yellow, I uncoiled from my fetal position.

“What are you…?”

“I’m a girl, stupid.”

“I know you are a girl, but what are you doing here?”

“I ran away. You found me. But, I’m not going back with you.” My eye
twitched defiantly. This internal lie detector tried to give me away.

“I found a place to pee, not you. You don’t look much like you’re running.”

This apathetic male form did anything but discourage me. Who does he
think he is? Angry with him, a piece of me came back, more alive.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m here?”

“Nope, I’m not interested.” He pulled out a canteen of water drinking in
gulps, spilling most of it.

“I need to tell you why I ran away,” tugging on a vine, my voice cracked
and the vine tumbled down.

“I couldn’t care less. Shush.” His head bobbed from side to side. “I have
enough to worry about.”

And I thought I was the only one so tortured and misunderstood. “I guess
I’ll come with you.”

“I’m not asking. Yeah, I think they are getting closer. You must be their


“Yeah, it is short for Be On the Lookout. You must be their subject. I
heard a pack of yelping dogs a bit back. They can be a little slow, but
their steady once they get your scent. Save your story for the Boiling
Springs Rescue Squad, maybe they care enough to hear why. Stay here and
they’ll find you.”

“What’s your name?”

Darting away he called, “Runaway.”

“Wait.” Take me with you. I thought but did not say. Hiking in the
Appalachian Mountains is like spinning in a Maytag washer with undulating
hills snarled by rhododendron. He slipped around, between to the beyond.
Leaving me, I felt more than alone, lonely.

I wanted to tell him that I’m not the only one, everyone lies. So easy
and it beats getting into trouble.

Only now, perched on this ledge with lightning flashing around me, makes
me change my mind. I’m fixing to be a human spark plug. This wasn’t part
of the plan. Flash! Crash! That one was closer. My hair is standing on
end and that freaky blue glow is coming out of my electrified fingers.
God, please don’t give up on me. Don’t strike me down, not now. I’ll
fix it. BOOM! Blackness splashes over me and I sense someone near.

“Promise?” asked God.

“Pinky-swear promise,” I answered.

Chapter 2

Something was different.

The earth crested, forcing a pulse into my chest rippling with a breath.
Air inflated my lungs once again. My soggy, zippered eye lashes obscured
someone leaning over me, shaking my shoulder.

“_” that boy lip-synced, but nothing came out.

I shook my head and said, “I can’t hear you.”

He pointed to the sky then to me.

“Was I hit by lightning?”

He nodded his head. He pointed to where I had been before waking up – 20
feet away.

“I am alive?” Convulsing with shivers, unable to stop, I felt grateful
drops of tears puddle.

His hand fumbled to grasp mine. He gave me a squeeze, a lifeline pulling
me back in the present. He gestured charade-like that he was going to
get someone to help.

“Do you want me to stay here?”

Nodding, he got up, picking his way around the dense branches. Lumbering
down the mountain, he set out.

This time when he left I didn’t feel lonely. Exuberance percolated
through me. God didn’t, so I wouldn’t, give up on me. Now I have a
chance to fix it. The right side of the truth is not to tell a lie. The
left side is what I will tell you now.

Chapter 3

A thunderstorm will more than likely hover at noon throughout the summer
in Boiling Springs. Just take a pitcher of water and pour it down the
nape of my neck. A raincoat is useless. I’ll either get soaked from the
shower or pour the sweat in the 100% humidity. It begins in April and
ends in August a long five months. Call me Madame Jesse because all I
have to say is “it is fixing to rain,” and it will at some time each day.
Everyone obsesses about the weather – anNoying. Can’t anyone find
something more important to talk about?

“Jesse do you have your raingear with you?”

“Of course mother, whatever, I’ve got to get to school,” I said.

Her questions are more than what they seem. A simple, “How much homework
do you have?” on Friday sets my destiny. “A lot” gets me a pass from
pulling weeds but I best not ask to go to the movies. “Not much” means I
get to go to the movies, but I’m also expected to help until the
housework and gardening are finished.

“It is only 645. Don’t you have plenty of time?” asked mom. See what I mean.

“Melanie’s meeting me early.”

“And why do I see your rain coat hanging up in the mud room,” said mom
nonchalantly ignoring my little white lie.

“I don’t need it.” See I’m a normal teenager with a healthy disrespect.

“Be careful, a storm is coming. Fred from the Weather Channel said we’ve
already had 30 inches of rain this month. It is a little known fact that
we live in a virtual rain forest. In fact Vietnam and Boiling Springs are
similar because,” shouted dad shrouded in his den.

“We share the same weather,” I said simultaneously with dad. How couldn’t
I know that? Surprise – he’s only told me that a million times.

My dad is a weather geek. The Weather Channel is the white noise that
fills up the house. He calls it resting; I call it sleep. Pasty white,
ozone-y smelling dad is winding down after his night shift at the nuclear
plant. He is an isolation experiment; once a year he goes outside during
vacation even if he doesn’t have to. He is all about the weather as long
as he doesn’t have to feel it.

“You don’t have wear it, but you must take it because I said so,” said
mom. “Remember I’m out of town starting next week. I won’t be here to
remind you.”

“Mom …” We were back on the raincoat. She is always telling me what to
do. Nagging is her specialty; she goes orbital over the smallest things.
I’ll get a reprieve while she finishes her thesis. She has to go to some
island and study the local people. I’ll bet she nags them too. I’ll miss
her, but at least I get a break. There was nothing left to say. No one
wins an argument with my mom.

Every day I have to audition to be a member of my family and friends. I
only get to stay if I do what they say. When will I ever get to do what I


  1. The description of Devil's Cellar has improved. So has the intro of the Runaway boy.

    A few past-present inconsistencies throughout, and the beginning is still a little unclear, but you're getting there. As others have stated before, as the chapters go on, the narration becomes clearer.

    Really like the parts about lying and nagging.

  2. You have some great lines,like: 'family monopoly night isn’t complete until someone cries', and 'Every day I have to audition to be a member of my family and friends.'

    But the bigger picture isn't coming together for me. The first chapter still confuses me about the main character -- she's described variously as: bold, scared, bored, wishing to die. She switches from defiant (in speaking to pee-boy), to trying to confess to him and wanting to go with him. I just can't get connected with her.

  3. I do like the monopoly line as well. But I feel like in the first chapter we're stuck in the Maytag washer whirlwind of her mind. It feels like you're just throwing facts about her at us, through her thoughts but nothing is becoming clear or coming together. I still don't feel like I get a sense of who she is.

    And when she interacts with that boy she still seems to change quickly- she doesn't want to be around him and then she wants to go with him. It's hard to get a handle on her and who she is, she's such a whirlwind all the time, which makes it hard to connect to her.

  4. Hi Jeannie,

    As others have said, you've got a lot of good things going on here. Your humor is the biggest factor for me, and clearly you've got a great setup to an exciting story. That said, I don't feel as though you've really addressed the issues that have been pointed out in the previous revisions. It might help to go through the comments on the previous postings and see what you can do to simplify, clarify, and streamline.

    Best of luck. You've got a solid story. It's just a matter of coaxing it out in the right way. The opening is always the hardest part. :)