Trigger Warning: Violence
Taking a break from working on a new author’s feature, I decided to look over what I’d planned for chapter one of the new book I’m working on. I truly believe Katie and Ellie’s story will be worth telling over the course of two books, but I was having a hard time just getting started with just the first one.
Like any new author, I found myself terribly excited at the story line I could see in my head, yet getting it down on paper in a coherent and cohesive way was proving difficult.
It still is.
Which is why I’m asking for reviews on a small rough draft portion that I’ve worked of Chapter one. For the sake of those upset by violence, I repeat the trigger warning stated above.
Chapter One Draft
“Happy birthday to yoo-ou!”
The song’s last notes are sung real loud with happy cheers and applause from the whole family. Everyone is outside around the picnic table and everyone is smiling and laughing and cutting the cake.
But not me.
All because stinky cousin Boonie was invited. Ugh. I hate him. I really hate him. I asked Katie not to invite him, but Mommy made her. Now he keeps trying to get me to go in the play house with him. I’m not allowed in the play house without Mommy or Daddy or Katie and I don’t want to do anything with Boonie. He has cooties. So I just keep running away from him and hiding. I hid under the table, behind the tree, by the side of the house and he found me every time! But this is my best hiding spot ever.
I don’t want him seeing me watching out the window, so I drop the edge of the curtain and sit down. My head thumps the wall under the window sill, but it doesn’t hurt. I’m so mad. He’s making me miss the cake. I really wanted a piece of that cake. Mommy made it special for Katie’s birthday.
The back of the yellow chair in front of me is pretty, but there’s a string hanging on it. I reach out and pull it. I pull it as hard as I would pull Stinky Boonie’s nose off his face. But it wouldn’t come off.
“What are you doing, Ellie?” Mommy must have seen me looking out the window. “Are you still playing hide and seek with Boonie?”
“I wasn’t playing hide and seek with Boonie.” I look at Mommy. She has a big tray full of dirty cups and bowls from outside. Her eyes look sad, but she smiles at me anyway.
“Ellie, he asked me to help find you because you were hiding so well from him. He said you win and can come out now.”
“But I wasn’t playing with him! I don’t like Boonie! He..” the door slams and the other kids come running in from the back yard. Everyone is laughing and talking so noisily that mommy can’t hear me. They must be following Katie to look at her new Easy Bake Oven in the kitchen.
“Did you find her, Aunt Sarah? I’ve looked everywhere.” My eyes squeeze shut.
A sound like breaking glass comes from the kitchen and a few girls scream and laugh. “Ellie, you need to come out and go play with Boonie and the others,” she said as she turned toward the kitchen. I peeked around the chair. “Just go on. Go play.” She disappeared around the corner, her tray rattling loudly.
“Come on, Ellie. You heard your mom. I’m playing in that house out back and you havta come play with me.” Boonie reached around the back of the chair and grabbed my arm with his dirty fingers, still sticky with cake. “Let’s go.”
I don’t want to go with him. I really don’t. “Stop it! You’re hurting me!” I slip out of his grip and run as fast as I can to the back door, but he runs faster than me ‘cause I’m only five and he’s… well, he’s just a really big kid. Boonie opens the door and I run outside. “Daddy!” The screen door slams behind me and I notice the yard is empty.
“Uncle Rusty went to the front yard, dummy.” Slimy fingers grab my arm again and Boonie jerks me toward the wooden play house. “But that’s okay. We’ll play house and I’ll be the daddy for you. You can be the mom. But you still have to do what I say because mom’s have to do what dad’s say. It won’t matter if you’re a dummy then. That’s how it works.”
“I’m not a dummy! I don’t have to listen to you! Let me go!” He’s dragging me past the picnic table and I grab at it. The plastic table cloth rips and what’s left of the cake flops to the ground. My face feels hot and my eyes are burning. My arm hurts where Boonie keeps squeezing it to pull me. He made me ruin Katie’s birthday cake. He won’t let me go and I’m scared, but I don’t want to cry like a baby. I’m not a baby.
“Yeah, you gotta listen ‘cause your mom told you so,” he says. He looks at me with his muddy brown eyes. “Now look, moms don’t cry, babies cry. If I’m the dad, you have to be the mom. You can’t be the baby, so stop it.”
“I’m not a baby! Let go!” I try to pull away from him and his fingers slip from my arm to my wrist. He tightens his grip and jerks. Something pops in my wrist and I scream. “Let go! Let go! Letgo-letgo-letgo!”
“Let her GO!”
All I see is a blur of curly black hair and pink tulle as Boonie shoves me backwards. Teeth snap together, then my chin hits my chest as something slams into the back of my head. I must have thrown my hands behind me to catch my fall because when I land in cake and half under the picnic table, fire shoots up my arm. I can’t stop crying. I lay down in the grass, using my legs to scoot backwards under the table to hide behind the curtain of torn plastic. Lying on my side, I hold my hurt arm close. My hand won’t move and it looks like it’s growing bigger, like a balloon. My ears are ringing and I can’t breathe right so I close my eyes.
In just moments, everything is going numb and the ringing is going away, but it’s replaced by the sounds of screeching and yelling. I pry open my eyes and around the tablecloth, I can see Katie sitting on top of Boonie, punching him about the face and head over and over again. His arms are flailing at her, but she doesn’t seem to be hurt. I hear the screen door slamming and more yelling. Mommy’s coming. I can see her shoes under the bench as she runs past.
Things are getting fuzzy again as I watch Mommy lift Katie from Boonie and kind of throw her away from him. Her party dress is ripped and dirty, the make-up that Mommy put on her is all runny on her face and she’s got a bloody nose. She looks right at me as my eyes close again.
“Ellie! Ellie, wake up. I’m here.” There’s screaming and yelling still going on, but it sounds like it’s coming from grown-ups now. “Let me see, Ellie.”
“Sa-uhhhhhh….” I can’t say what I want to say, that I’m sorry for messing up her birthday cake and that I feel sick. Before I can turn away, I’m throwing up in her lap.
“It’s ok, Ellie. It’ll be ok.” She reaches for my arm and the fire comes rushing back along with the darkness.
“But what about your parents? How long until they came looking for you under the table? I mean, wow. If I was a parent…” I struggled to put my feelings into words.
“Oh honey, it wasn’t long at all. It all happened in mere moments. My mother came barreling out of the house about the same time the other adults came from the front yard.” The kettle on the stove whistled and Ms. Ellie rose from her seat. “Cousin Boonie’s father had trouble controlling his temper back then and coming ‘round the corner to see his son being beat on by a girl triggered quite the fit from him.”
As Ms. Ellie shuffled slowly into the kitchen to make tea, the ending to her story played through my head. But what did she mean by his father having a fit?
“So when your mom pulled her off of Boonie, she didn’t ask Katie why she was beating on him?”
“No, Katie came directly to me as soon as she was pulled off of him.” Her back towards me as she puttered around the far cabinets in the kitchen, she continued, “Boonie’s dad was trying to get at Katie because Boonie was pretty messed up. He was twelve or so at the time and twice her size. Katie had just turned eight, but she still nearly broke his face open.”
Thank you for reading! As always, feel free to leave a comment below, shoot me an email, catch me on Twitter, or Facebook me. I’d really appreciate any and all honest constructive criticism. 🙂