Sunday, July 12, 2015
First 5 Pages July Workshop - Wheeler Rev 1
Name: Eric Wheeler
Genre: Middle Grade
Title: Olivia Boogieman
My stomach turns summersaults as the cursive letters on the white board taunt me. The words “Family day” appear to pirouette behind Ms. Santiago. My family tends to be scatterbrained at times so I hope they forgot about today even though I saw it at home this morning on our calendar, written clearly in red ink, circled, underlined, and in hieroglyphics.
Hanging from the ceiling are paper mache planets circling an orange Sun. The tiny chairs with desks coming off the side are in a row. I sit in my desk just as the other kids file into the room, laughing and having a good time. They make their ways to their desks and continue to talk with each other, but nobody talks to me. Gordon is big boned and squeezes into his desk, his belly squishes against the wood top. The desks are becoming too small for all us now that we are in the fifth grade but Gordon looks like he’s about to burst.
“Just sit at the art supply table.” Ms. Santiago directs Gordon with her hand. Gordon squeezes out of the seat with a popping sound and lumbers to the art supply table where he sits in an adult chair amongst the paintbrushes and crayons.
“Quiet down students,” Ms. Santiago says once everyone takes their seats. She opens the door and the parents parade in. Most of the students brought their mothers but a few single dads shuffle into the room. Gordon’s parents are the last to come through the door and I sigh with relief when my parents are not here. Maybe they forgot.
A woman pulls a chair next to me. She has short brown hair that matches her eyes. “Hello, you must be Olivia Boogieman, I heard about you. I’m Tessa’s mom.” She pushes her chair so uncomfortably close I smell the coffee on her breath and see her tongue stained white from the excessive cream. Scooting back in my chair, I give myself room. Of course, Tattletale Tessa Thompson told her about me, she can’t keep her big mouth shut.
“What a peculiar surname you have.” Mrs. Thompson lifts her nose in the air as if she’s sniffing out my pedigree. If she wants to see peculiar, she should meet my family.
It’s like she wants to keep the conversation going because she keeps talking to me, leaning in closer with each word she speaks. “I’m a social worker. What do your parents do?”
“Um,” I stammer. The blush rises in my cheeks. What do I say? Mom is a stay at home mummy and Dad works nights?
“Why don’t we get started?” Miss Santiago says as she leans against her desk. The words “Family Day,” appear to dance behind her on the whiteboard.
“Olivia, are you with us,” Ms. Santiago snaps her fingers in front of my face. My cheeks turn pink from the attention; I hate when people draw attention to me, but Ms. Santiago isn’t all-bad though. This is her first year at the school. She’s young, fun and best of all; she’s never had my brother in any of her classes.
Tessa’s mom leans into her daughter, brushes back the hair away from her ear, and whispers. “It’s a shame when a child’s parents don’t care enough to come to family day.” I hear her and she knows it.
As the door opens, Daisy gasps, Emily weeps, and Mrs. Thompson covers Tessa’s eyes, which can mean only one thing. My parents are here.
Dad’s hairy frame takes up most of the doorway, he is big, but most werewolves are, with hair from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, he looks scarier than he really is. Mom stands behind Dad popping her head in the little space between him and the doorframe. She’s a mummy from ancient Egypt and covered in dingy wrappings with eyeholes and nose holes so she can see and breathe. Dad holds my sister’s boney hand, but in her defense, she’s a skeleton so her whole body is boney. The only person I don’t see is my brother, Vinnie. He’s a shape shifter so he can be anyone or anything. Maybe Ms. Santiago is really my brother or the glossy red apple on the desk could be him, or maybe he didn’t come at all. It’s for the best that he is not here because he’s a troublemaker. Sometimes being part of the Boogieman family is too big of a burden for a normal girl like me. I sink into my chair--why couldn’t I have been born invisible.
“It is very nice that you could join us.” Miss Santiago’s eyes dart from my parents to me probably wondering how a family of monsters are raising a normal girl like me. “If you’d like to stand next to your student we can begin again.”
The paper mache moon dangling from the ceiling catches my father’s eye. He turns up his nose towards the moon, closes his eyes, and howls. Daisy covers her lip glossed stained mouth and giggles while I cringe. Mom quickly taps Dad lightly in the ribs with her elbow. Mom stands behind me while my dad flops on the ground and scratches the fur on his neck with his rear leg. “Fleas.” Dad looks up at Mrs. Thompson, whose lips turn down into a frown.
“Dad, please stop,” I plead.
He climbs back on two feet; his claws scrape across the floor causing goose bumps on my arm.
“I’m pleased so many parents could be here today.” Ms. Santiago says. “You will follow your student throughout the day so you can get a sense of what a typical day at Middlebury Middle School is like.”
My school has a panther for a mascot, and is home to a large population of feral cats. As my father raises his nose and sniffs the air, a low growl escapes his throat. I grasp at his collar before I see the orange, black, and white calico pass the doorway. Dad jerks against my hold, drops to all four paws, and gives chase. Desks fall over; making a loud noise, Tessa screams, and Gordon’s father covers his son as Dad bolts towards the door.
“No bad boy,” Mom scolds Dad as he shoots out the door with me attached to his collar. I jerk forward with his momentum and he drags me across the playground. The cat jumps onto a picnic table and my dad runs under the bench chasing it across the playground. Holding tight, he drags me through the dew stained grass drenching me to the bone. The cat stretches its claws and digs into the bark of a nearby tree, climbing with little effort. Dad stands at the trunk howling as I yank his collar. He digs his feet into the bark as he tries to climb. The cat smiles down at Dad with a big, white toothy grin, like that cat from Alice in Wonderland. “Cats don’t smile,” I mutter. The cat turns into a blob and then into my brother, Vinnie, who is laughing.
“Not funny, Vinnie,” I say.
After a tug on Dad’s collar, he slumps on all four paws and reluctantly follows me back to the classroom.
“You’re not supposed to do that in public,” Mom scolds. She grabs a newspaper from our current events pile, rolls it up, and smacks Dad on the nose.