I'm going to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit tonight, so I promise I'll have something interesting to write about tomorrow. But for now, here's an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. A little backstory: Charming heroine, Mia, is distraught after a falling-out with her two sort-of friends at Homecoming so she decides to ditch with the school's new student/hipster, Audrey. The two of them take off into the city and subconsciously, Mia has led them to a park she used to play at when she was a kid. Hope you enjoy it despite the obvious NaNo suck-age:
The park looked different at night. I'd only ever been here at this time of night (whatever the hell time it was) once before. The playground was on the right. It was one of those ones shaped like a pirate ship with a steering wheel and a big, flowing flag with the skull and crossbones. The swing set was so old and shaky it could've fallen apart at any moment. Out past the jungle gym was a grassy field that kids used for mostly for tag and grown-ups used for croquet and more mature lawn games. That's what I used to like about this park so much—that it was a space that everyone, young and old, could use for fun. (That was about as philosophical as I got as a 9 year old.) "Home away from home," I said heading towards the playground.
Audrey ran out in front of me and found one of those metal stands with a cone around the top that kids talk into and then a kid on the other side of the playground can hear them and they can talk to each other without actually having to stand next to each other. She stuck her face directly in the cone and yelled at the top of her lungs, "IS THIS REAL LIFE? OR IS THIS JUST FANTASY?"
"What are you doing!" I screamed, running to her side and smacking her on the back. I couldn't see her face because she was grasping onto the cone and it was still stuck in there, but I could hear her laugh and her body shook while hanging onto the child's toy. "It's late. People will complain and then they'll send the cops out after us and we'll have to explain how two teenage girls managed to wander all the way from their homecoming dance to a city park while remaining sober the entire time."
She continued to recite Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of her lungs. "CAUGHT IN A LANDSLIDE, NO ESCAPE FROM REALI-TAY!" She shook her butt to the beat of the imaginary instruments playing in her head.
Screw it, I thought, and ran past the pirate ship to the other talking tube. "OPEN YOUR EYES! LOOK UP TO THE SKIES AND SEE!"
Audrey popped up from her position crouched in front of the post. She held up her hand and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up, shouting, "THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT, MIA!"
We continued to sing/scream the next 5 minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody and by the time we came near the end with our "Nothing really matters..." our voices had been rubbed raw.
Audrey and I climbed up to the top of the pirates ship and sat on the brown plastic circle that kids called the Crow's Nest that oversaw most of the park. It was fairly clean as far as public parks go. No trash on the ground but I wouldn't trust the water fountain with its chipped copper paint. Our feet hung over the edge, our toes almost touching the plastic of the play ship below us.
"You know I used to come to this park as I kid," I told her.
"I figured," she said.
"I've only ever been here at night once before." I'd never told this story to anyone before. I didn't even talk about it with my mother. It just came spilling out of me with no thought whatsoever. "I was twelve and I had just had my first day of junior high."
"Haha, yeah," Audrey chuckled. "I remember what that's like."
"It was like suddenly all anyone cared about was clothes and having a boyfriend. Girls weren't close friends anymore, just objects standing in the way of this or that cute boy's attention. There was this unspoken hostility and competition. I was lying in my bed that night and all of these insecurities came flowing out of me. I felt like I was going to throw up. It was late and my parents were asleep and I just felt so crappy I didn't know what to do. So I grabbed my jacket and yanked my Hello Kitty rain boots on over my pajama pants and started walking. This park wasn’t that far from my house, but it was a long way to walk when it's midnight and you're twelve years old and haven't started your period yet. Looking back on it, maybe that night was just me PMS-ing like a maniac and I didn't even know it yet." Audrey laughed.
"Keep talking," she said. And I felt like I could around her. I continued.
"When I finally got here, I was freezing. My nose felt chilly and warm at the same time and the playground equipment was frozen. I climbed up to the top of the Crow's Nest and sat here for a while. I thought about when I was younger and I would come here and join in on games of tag with kids I didn't even know. It didn't matter who I was or that I didn't know anybody. It didn't matter that I bought my shoes on sale at PayLess or that my braces bands were green when all the other girls’ had pink. There, you were just a part of the game. I liked that feeling—that feeling of being apart of something. Because no matter how hard you try, tag is not a single-player game. You need other people. And other people need you. We depended on each other so we could all play this game and have fun. After a while, it started getting really cold and I decided it was time to walk back. The weird thing was, I wasn't even freaked out. I mean, what I did was stupid and dangerous. I knew better than to wander around the city at night with rapists and murders crawling the streets. But I wasn’t affected by the lateness in of the hour in the slightest. All I thought about the whole way home were those games of tag.”
"That's amazing," Audrey said, kicking her feet. She still had on her Toms underneath her dress.
"What do you mean it's amazing? It wasn't amazing. All I did was walk 7 blocks in my pajamas in the middle of the night to a park where I sat on a playground for five minutes then walked back. That's not amazing. That's not a grand adventure. Indiana Jones never walked to a park, sat on a bench and then walked back to whatever university he taught archeology at. He fought bad guys and solved mysteries. He had a plot, you know? I didn't accomplish anything that night." And I really believed that. Here was this girl whose every day of her life must have been an adventure. I had never done anything. Hell, I had only kissed one boy and even that wasn't all that great. I wanted to do something bigger. But I wasn't a "big" person. Do you know what I mean? Like in life, there are big people and little people. The big people are the ones who do extraordinary things all the time, or even just one extraordinary feat. Their lives are large and exotic and adventurous. Then there are the little people—people who grow up in small towns in Iowa or Minnesota or Ohio. People who study for twelve years of their life so they can study for four more years of their lives so they can work at a job for the rest of their lives. They might get married or raise a kid or win a radio contest, but never anything bigger. The biggest thing they'll ever do is go to London their junior year only to spend seventy-five percent of it inside their hotel room with a sinus infection. I was the little person. And I didn't have to guess what kind of person Audrey was.
"It's still amazing."
I looked at her. "How? How could that possibly have been amazing? Nothing happened!"
"That's not true!" She screamed and stood up. "That's bullshit. Because something did happen, it just didn't happen around you. It happened inside you. You remembered. You learned. You felt something. And feelings aren't nothing. Hell, feelings are the whole reason anybody ever does anything." She was walking in circles around the crow's nest, getting herself really worked up now. "Do you want to know why people sky dive? Or go white water rafting or get their tongues pierced? They do it to feel something. Whether it's the sight of the ground rushing towards them or the freezing water splashing in their faces until they can't see two feet in front of them or that sharp pain and the taste of metal shooting through your tongue. Those people want to feel things. And the reason they have to do all this crazy shit to feel it is because they can't find it in anything else. Not in people at least, so they turn to objects and activities. But you, Mia, you found it in yourself. It's like the freaking Matrix! Don't you see? You don't have to do something large and showy and important to get the world's attention. You can do that on your own. And if you still think that's nothing, I swear I'll push you off this plastic pirate ship right now. Because you have something that I know people would kill to have. And that's not nothing."
So that was an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my NaNoWriMo novel. It's not my best work, but it was good enough. Happy Hobbiton!
Tonight's ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas Feature: The Polar Express (SHEILD YOUR EYES.)
Christmas-tastic Thing of the Day: Did you know that Santa only had eight reindeer last Christmas? Yeah, Comet stayed home to clean the sink.