Wow, what a day of writing. I began National Novel Writers Month at exactly 12:01 AM and wrote for roughly an hour and a half before sleep overcame me. I was really antsy and nervous, and even as I started writing, I felt like I was taking a test or something. I finally relaxed , and things came out smoother, but for awhile I had the proverbial butterflies in my stomach.
I picked up writing again when I woke up , trying to keep the flow going in my initial first chapter. My inner editor was screaming at me to stop and look over what I’d written, and for the most part I fought it. I know in my first drafts my manuscript usually gets wordy. I overuse words, especially adverbs, and long run off sentences seem to dot the landscape. Punctuation and grammar suffer as well, as I’m just trying to get the story itself down in its original state. Of course, when I take a second look, I see a lot of the shortcomings, and set out trying to fix them. For NaNoWriMo however, there is no time for this, and what you get is what you first put to paper. I guess I’m apologizing beforehand, because as I share what I write in this endeavor, I’m sure we’ll both see our share of flaws. Hopefully it will not be too confusing to read, and my ideas will come across okay.
Today for day 1 I wrote 2,736 words. I thought that was a pretty good start for the limited time I devoted to the task. It was my day off of work, and as such I wanted to spend it with my family, so my total writing time in the past twenty four hours was probably two and a half hours. I’m not going to share everything I wrote out today, but I do want to pass my first chapter by you, and see what you think.
So here we go with the unedited first draft chapter of my project this month, Time Of Our Death. It’s genre is young adult paranormal. Hope you enjoy 🙂
Time Of Our Death
“Fatal school bus crash claims five.”
I can imagine the headline. I didn’t see it myself , mind you, as I was too busy trying to climb out of the freezing river. I didn’t realize what I had gotten in the school bus that morning that it could be the last time I ever saw my friends again, or even breathed the cold morning air. I used to complain of the cold during these months, standing on the corner waiting for Mr. Mills to pull that yellow bus up to the curb to let us on. It all seems so trivial now. It just the cold, but everything. The way it used to bug me that mom just had to kiss me every time I walked out the door, even though I was now sixteen years old. The way Mr Harmon, our math teacher, would literally breathe down our necks during his surprise tests. The way I swore one day I would tell Abby Hayes what a bitch she was for breaking my heart in front of everyone. These things seem silly now, but on the day of the crash they all weighed heavy on my mind.
It started out as a normal day, if you can call it as such. I stood at the bus stop with my best friend Donald Smalls. Donald was the kind of boy everyone else called fat, while his few friends thought of him as just being big boned. He had a big heart too, much bigger than anyone else I knew. Even after I ditched the bowl cut nerd crowd last year to join the long hair rocker clique, he still treated me the same. We’d been best friends since elementary school, graduating from jacks and crayons to homework and detention. I’m just kidding. Neither Donald nor myself ever got into that kind of trouble. All our troubles came after the accident. In fact, if we had been the only fatalities that day I wouldn’t even be telling this story, but the presence of other schoolmates made us question our predicament and react differently to what came after.
Also standing on the corner waiting for the bus that morning was Lori O’ Donnell, a dark haired girl with pale skin, who was nearly invisible to everyone around her. Every school has someone like this who blends in so perfectly they go unnoticed and are often considered as a ‘nobody’, if they are even considered at all. It’s not that she wasn’t pretty; it’s just that any natural beauty she may have possessed was hidden by her punker attire, safety pin through the eyebrow, and black mascara. Not to mention every week she drew the logo of a favorite goth band on her cheek with an eyeliner pencil and streaked her hair with a different neon color.The week of the accident the streak was purple. Taking all that into consideration now, its hard to believe she went so unnoticed, but the fact she didn’t fit in with anybody else guaranteed her anonymity.
Someone who could never be anonymous also stood with us at the corner. If there ever was a girl who was the exact opposite of Lori O’ Donnell, it had to be Kelly Bowers. Honor roll student, aspiring model, cheerleader, most likely the next homecoming queen, she had always been absolutely gorgeous. Even those who could never reach her heights of popularity couldn’t deny her stunning allure, with her perfect cheekbones, long golden hair, and curving figure. Boys wanted to be with her, girls wanted to be like her, and for the most part no one came close to achieving either. No one except Brian Anders, that is.
Brian was not only Kelly’s shadow and boyfriend, but he was also our school’s star running back. Why is it that the jock always gets the cheerleader? Is there some rule written down somewhere that says this is the way it’s supposed to be? I used to dream Kelly would be the girl to break that mold, that she would rise above what was expected and do something truly different. But sadly, she never did. She remained a textbook example of the all star perfect girl about campus, even though I often wondered if her home life was just as pristine as her school image.
Her boy toy, Brian, had somehow graduated from Junior High bully to Senior High yearbook star, but that mean streak never quite left him. He was always quick to let other guys know they were beneath him. Personally, I think in Brian’s mind Kelly was merely another trophy more than anything, but she seemed oblivious to it all, so lost she was in her circle of one. Then again, maybe I’m just saying that in her defense, so smitten I had been with her since seventh grade.
All boys carry this curse it seems, to dream of the girl they know they can never have. I don’t know why we admire the unattainable; it’s just the way things are. Eventually we come to our senses, but until then we are hopeless with our delirious little blinders on. And though other kids stood on this corner with us as we waited to go to school, they are almost like shadows to me now, as if with time their memory fades, having never shared the mysterious and often confusing events the way we did.
I sat at the front of the bus that morning as I always did. This seems to be another one of those unwritten rules: cool kids sit in the back, geeks sit up front. But I wasn’t your classic geek anymore. No black plastic frame glasses or pen in my breast pocket. Since switching teams and joining the rocker crowd, I’d grown my hair out long, and should have owned stock in the Aqua Net hairspray company. I smoked cigarettes sometimes now, and was even learning to play guitar from listening to the Cinderella album, Night Songs. But still, despite those things, I wasn’t one of the cool kids of 1987, no matter how much I had changed. See, in high school, once you’re branded, that’s it. And at River High, you were either extremely cool or fatally mediocre. There was no in between. But at least I wasn’t alone in my social standing.
Donald sat next to me, reading the latest Watchmen comic a little too loudly, but that was okay. It covered up all the mocking, obnoxious conversation coming from the back row where Kelly, Brian, and all their hangers on sat.
I don’t know why there are people in this world, and possibly the next, who think the must be louder than everybody else. Do they have this need to be heard above everyone else, or do they just love the sound of their own voice? From the back of the bus, the ‘coolies’, as we of the absolute loser variety called them, always made sure the whole bus knew exactly what or who they were talking about. On this particular day, the subject of their conversation was next week’s game against our neighboring rival , The Falcons.
“We’re going to tear this falcons right out of the sky,” promised Brian. The reply from his clique was nothing but catcalls and shouts of our team, The Cougars, being the best in the planet. Our team was good, but I think that was stretching it a little bit. Kelly herself began to lead her squad in a cheer designed to tell everybody who wasn’t a cougar that they were impotent losers. Of course, Brian being who he was, shot a rubber band at the back of Donald’s head to let us know we were included in the latter category. Donald helped and grabbed his fleshy neck where a red mark was showing evidence of the rubberband’s sting.
I turned in my seat, glaring at Brian and his friends. The running back grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “Oops,”, he laughed, to which everyone on the back seat snickered.
This was not a remarkable event, I want you to know. It actually seemed to be the normal routine. Whenever Brian got bored it was time to pick on someone and assert his superiority. I didn’t stare at the coolies for long, For to do so would invite further confrontations, so I turned back to Donald, who seemed to be fighting the urge to cry.
“Don’t you do it, “ I whispered, and he regained whatever composure he had previously possessed. Resuming his comic reading, I was proud of my friend and resilience. It does take a special kind of person to put with being picked on every day.
On the days it wasn’t him, then it was I who played the victim. I usually let it wash off of me though, having grown accustomed to the antics of Brian and his crew. Something told me that today would be different though. And then the paper airplane landed in my lap. There was no question where it came from. Paper airplanes were the specialty of Derek Houseman, Brian’s friend and linebacker for our team. I looked at the airplane in my lap and silently told myself to just shove it on the floor and consider it no further. But some stupid curiosity told me to examine it. Of course, the words ‘Open Me’ that were scrawled on one crumpled wing was invitation enough.
Unfolding the airplane, I knew everyone’s eyes were on me. Even the kids who barely paid attention to the taunts of the coolies. I turned in my seat to glance at them. They all waited in the back row in grinning rapt attention. Halfway up the aisle, even Lori, the invisible goth, was watching. I looked down at the unfolded airplane and saw the words ‘For a good time, call Chris Deckard’s mom’ hastily scrawled across the paper. The whole back row erupted in riotous laughter. If we’d been anywhere else, I would have got up and left. But this was the bus.
I wanted to disappear. If there ever was a moment I wished I were a ghost, this was it. As the coolies laughed even louder, it seemed to compel others to join right in. Without looking, I imagined even Lori and Donald were laughing at me. Of course, I knew this wasn’t true. It’s just suddenly I felt utterly alone. Lucky for me, Mr. Mills told everybody to quiet down, and soon the bus reached the halfway point to school. We’d be getting off this hell shortly, I told myself. All this would be over soon.
As the bus crossed Bay’s Bridge high above The Murray River, I wished to just jump in and drown. I really wish I could take back such thoughts now because in some small way I think I may have willed what happened next upon all of us.
The bus was traveling along , about halfway across the old bridge, when it happened. Maybe Mr. Mills didn’t see the broken down truck blocking the other side when we started across, but when it finally registered with him he slammed on the brakes. They grabbed for a second and then gave out. Perhaps it was ice on the bridge from the chilly October morning, but whatever the cause I could see him frantically putting foot to the brake to no avail. I heard him shout, “Hold on,” but the incident with the paper plane still had everyone laughing. Donald and I both heard him though, and I thought I heard Lori scream as the bus went into a slide, hitting the ancient guardrail. There was a cracking sound as the bus crashed through the old railing. That finally got everyone’s attention.
I braced myself the best I could. Everyone began to scream as the front end tipped. We were going over. Through the front windshield, I could see the river in front of us, it’s icy embrace awaiting us below.
Okay, so Day 2 is underway as I write this, so I better get cracking. See you soon 🙂