Fighting for others is nice, but if you can not fight for yourself, you have already lost. Let the fire of your life burn brighter than the burning world around you.
Thanks for all the awesome support I got on Chapter One. It really keeps me going.
Again, let me know what you think. Laters!!
For once, I’d actually like to be where I say I am. Like to actually tell the truth about my whereabouts at some point before I’m twenty, would be an achievement.
It’s not like I’m lying about anything huge or groundbreaking. Lord, knows I’m not doing anything cool enough to need an alibi for. I’m just omitting the unnecessary bits.
Oscar drops me off at the school like a sack of garbage.
He grumbles something that sounds like, “See ya,” nudging me none too gently up the stairs. He is gone before I said my own goodbye.
Oscar’s walk is distinguishable, to say the least. The taps of his steps always come in three’s.
I don’t enter the school.
Eleanor Beeze School of Dance is a lovely place, I’m sure. But something tells me it’s not right for me. After my Dad signed me up for classes, without asking, I attempted to attend a few of them. After all, it wasn’t cheap. Beeze is the best school of dance in the city. It’s an interpretive and creative outlet for wayward youth. That’s what the brochure says.
Needless to say, I am not the next big thing in dance. I stumbled, tumbled, and damn near lost an arm trying to do the warm up activities. It is so bad, Beeze sectioned me off in a corner to myself and I still somehow found my way out into the middle of the class. Fifteen other girls trying not to laugh at the poor little blind Orial who doesn’t know right from left, up from down, or her ass from a hole in the ground.
I should say now that I’m not bitter about this. Some people just can’t dance. I happen to be one of them.
There are four steps that lead up to the double doors of the school and I manage to skip the last two with a leap back to the sidewalk. Lucky for me this isn’t one of my white days or that could’ve been tragic.
No, today, I have a nice visible streak going down the very center of my view. It’s actually one of the better days I’ve had. If I tilt my head just right, I can catch just about everything.
Of course none of that matters to everyone else, I’m the same kind of blind everyday.
But to me though, even as small as that break in the light is, it’s like the whole world is open. Everything is so much more rich and lush. Smiles are a little brighter, colors are intensified, and best of all: I don’t need an escort.
I take a left down the breezeway next to the school. I can travel the whole city by alleys and breezeways alone. There are tributaries to every main road and highway in this place.
Plus, for me, the bi-ways cut down on the distraction. They’re not brimming with maddened cars, storefront tables to bump into, and there’s barely any foot traffic. It’s comfortable. I can just walk freely, letting the tips of my fingers drag against the brick of the buildings and skipping over the valleys between the stone pavers of the walkway.
The scratching from my room echoes behind me. My breath catches. At first, it sounds a distance away but as if it teleported, it is right next to me faster than my next breath left my mouth.
I run. I didn’t stop to think for a second. I can hear whatever it was skittering behind me to keep up.
Hitting a solid, broad chest stops me. I bounce back but steady myself.
“Whoa there sweetie.” The man says. I struggle to catch my breath.
“Sorry.” I apologize. The scent of burning wood catches my attention. I lean closer to the stranger and deeply inhale. The smell is intoxicating but tainted. Undertones of burning meat turns my stomach to nausea.
“Ah, it’ll take a lot more than that to hurt ol’ Cedric.” He chuckles, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”
The man, now known as Cedric, has a raspy voice. The kind of voice you’d have if you smoked cigarettes for thirty or so years. The rasp nearly covered his Spanish accent. Not the kind from Mexico but the authentic kind. It’s the kind of accent that rides a Vespa while carrying fresh baguettes.
The accent from those cheesy romantic movies you watch after a bad break up.
I shake my head. “Nowhere in particular.” I listen for the scratching behind me but it’s gone. In fact, I can’t hear anything around us. No city noises at all.
“Nowhere huh?” He asks. “Well then, you wouldn’t mind getting a cup of coffee with me.”
“Uh…” The question caught me off guard. “I don’t really drink coffee.” I try.
“Tea then. Or maybe you’re more of a bagel person.” Cedric presses. I shake my head.
“Thank you but no thank you.” I turn him down and start walking around him. A large hand clasps around my arm.
“Come on, what have you got to lose?” Cedric asks. “It’s not like you’re seeing someone.”
The words make my blood run cold. I toy with possibility that they could be completely innocent. Maybe he meant seeing like dating. But how could he possibly know that?
I snatch my arm back.
“I said no thanks.” I repeat through gritting teeth before walking away. I hear him laugh behind me. The city start sounds fade back in and my ears pop as if I’d been underwater. I rub them soothingly and clear my throat.
“What took you so long?” A familiar voice asks, chewing something sweet and unhealthy as it usually did.
Rulf Platt. My best/only friend. I can only catch a glimpse of his bulging, shirt covered belly and the muffin being suffocated in his puffy hand.
“I was, there was,” I shake my head, deciding nothing that happened before now was worth mentioning. “No reason.” I lie.
“What?” He laughs.
“No reason. ” I lie again and straighten myself. I listen for the scratching but I hear nothing. Just like before. A plastic wrapped circle forces it’s way into my hand. “What’s this?”
“Nothing that’s gonna help you lose weight.” Rulf pats my shoulder. “Good thing you’re already gorgeous.” He stumbles over the last part but I understand him just fine.
Rulf’s affection is no mystery to me. I just never said anything about it. It wasn’t Rulf; I had no interest in anything romantic with anyone. I love him of course, but that’s not really the issue. I love him because he let’s me follow him around like a puppy but still treats me like a person.
Rulf started to walk again heading back towards the way I came. Unwrapping my breakfast, I follow.
“So what’s on the agenda today?” I ask.
“I got a call to pick up some post.” Rulf answers, his cheeks are full again. “Then I gotta swing by the A&E and pick up a new set of tools.”
I say nothing, just following diligently.
We walk to the post office. Most of the talking is on Rulf’s end as usual but I chime in occasionally. I don’t have much input on Junker cars and computer games that make up most of his life but he’s so passionate about it, it’s hard not to listen. On the other end of the spectrum, he’s not much interested in sitting at the pond or listening to the wind.
I think that if I weren’t blind, I’d find it hard to be friends with Rulf. We’re polar opposites in almost every way. If I were normal, we’d be strangers to each other, just two people who went to the same school.
The post office is crowded by the time we get there. I stand by the entrance against the wall and wait for Rulf to collect his things.
People tend to pass me by without a word. I don’t blame them. What’s the point of waving or saying hi to someone who can’t see you?
I feel a small, soft hand wrap around my arm in the same place that the dirty Spanish guy held me earlier. I stiffen, feeling the warmth of a cheek pressing against my own. A soft scent of lilac and wet grass relaxes my tense muscles. If the hand hadn’t been there, I’d have collapsed. It takes all my strength not fall asleep where I stand.
“Uh…” I start to say.
“Listen well.” A female voice swims in my head. “Beware the Crawlers.”
I can’t compose myself before the hand and cheek are gone. I am left feeling weak but slowly drifting back to reality. The warning replaying over and over in my head.
Rulf’s shoes squeak on the tiled floor when he walks over to me.
“Hey, so, this is odd.” He says.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“There’s no mail here for me.” He answers.
“I thought you got a call?” I say, still feeling a bit woozy. I thought of telling him about the strange woman and about the Spanish guy from earlier. Could they be connected or just coincidence? Is anything coincidence?
And what about the scratching noise?
Am I having some kind of mental breakdown?
“Orial?” Rulf nearly shouts.
“Yeah?” I snap back to attention. Deciding straightaway to keep everything myself.
“I said are you ready for the auto store?” Rulf repeats. I pause and think.
If I go to the auto store will a third mysterious thing happen? Maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead.
“Yeah.” I shake the thought from my head for now and follow Rulf out of the Post office. “Yeah, let’s go.”
There’s no way anything else could happen, right?
I’ve changed some things. Not too much. I don’t too much to go now before the book is completely finished and ready for edits. So get ready for that.
Again thanks for reading and thanks for all the support. You guys are awesome.
Please leave me feedback if you do read though, good or bad. :)
My bedside table is a suicide ledge for cups.
They dance to its edge and leap to the wooden floor below, twisting and clattering, forever lost to the darkness under my bed. I hope on the way down, they make peace with their God.
That’s the second cup this week.
Earthquakes are common around here. Well, at least these days. There hasn’t been a day in the last week I hadn’t shaken awake by nature’s alarm clock and shattering glass.
I stretch and yawn, hitting the button on top of my clock and wait for the time.
“Five-forty two a m.” The soothing female voice recites.
“Nice. So that’s three hours of sleep total.” I say aloud into my room, sitting up on my mattress. “That’ll get me through the day.” Sarcasm.
I feel my hair spill out of the top bun I put it into the night before and flood down my back like an angry, river. The curls represent the rolling waves and the wooden beads throughout act as the helpless water creatures along for the wild ride.
I’m not a rough sleeper but I just have poor bun skills.
I take another sigh, standing.
My mornings all start the same. It goes sarcasm, shower, and more sarcasm. As a nineteen-year-old girl, it’s my civic duty to provide as much false emotion as possible. At least, that’s what my Dad tells me.
I make my way to my tub. I feel for the tiny, raised bumps on the steel of the handles. My fingers read ‘hot’ and I turn it on. The water gushes out over my other hand and I feel the warmth almost immediately.
I’ve been mostly blind since birth. I say mostly blind cause sometimes I catch small glimpses. Sometimes I catch the blurry smiles on people faces and see streaks of lightly colored flowers.
Most days are like this but some days are just completely blotted out in a white light.
I call these my white days, fittingly of course, it’s better than calling them my worse days. Which would be truer.
Giving extra attention to my back, I pick at the long time scar on my right shoulder. I don’t know what caused it but it’s been there for as long as I came remember. Every now and again, it’ll start to sting and bleed. A thick scab forms over top.
I pick at the stony scab until it painfully comes off in my hand and I throw it easily into my wastebasket.
My armoire is just outside. I open the doors, running my fingertips over the shirts hanging individually. I touch the cotton of a button down and stop to tug it off its hanger. I search for the tag and read the braille sewn in. Purple.
Behind me, a scratching outside my room pulls my attention out beyond my window. I slip my shirt on slowly, still trying to listen to the new noise. The scratching moves, sounding more as if it was in my room now.
“Hello?” I say softly. “Somebody there?”
I hear the noise move around my room, along my walls and across the room of my floor. I turn wildly in each direction, trying to catch whatever was making the sound in a small sight line. I saw nothing. The scratching was louder now, painful even, feeling as if it’s piercing my eardrums. I cover my ears with my palms involuntarily.
“What is happening?” I yell.
The scratching stops just as abrupt as it started. I drop my arms and sigh, closing my eyes.
A steamy flash of heat hits my right ear with a small growl.
I lose control, giving of a strangled scream and jutting forward to my open armoire. I stumble into my clothes and crash next to the dresser on the wooden floor.
“Dad!” I scream.
Without a pause I hear the heavy boot steps of Dad, rushing towards my room.
“Orial?” His voice is calm despite his movements. He enters without knocking. “Everything okay?”
“I, uh,” I move to get up from the floor. “There was a thing.” I say.
“A thing?” His large hands grab my shoulders and stand me upright safely. I hush him and listen intently.
I hear nothing.
“Ori–, ” He starts.
“There was scratching. Something breathed on me.” I explain.
“There’s nothing here sweetie.” He pauses. “Are you feeling okay?”
His tone of voice says it all. He thinks I’m losing my mind. Blood rushes to my face, warming my cheeks. Now I’m painfully aware that I’m standing pant-less in the middle of my room. I pull at the bottom of my shirt to cover my legs.
“Well,” he starts again. “Whatever it was it’s gone now.” He pats my shoulder and backs away. I scuttle back to my dresser and grab a pair of jeans to slip on. I can hear the smile in his voice.
He clears his throat. “You’re hanging with your brother again today. Morrison wants me at the office.”
“Is it cause of the quake?” My Dad works as a geologist at GeoThermics downtown. He works closely with the CEO Alfrand Morrison and has been called in everyday this week. He won’t say but I know it’s because of all the quakes we’re having.
“They say it’s the biggest quake yet.” He tries to justify.
“It didn’t feel any bigger.” I pout dramatically. “What about chicken Friday?”
We eat chicken on Fridays.
“I know Princess.” Dad runs his fingers across my forehead and catches a few of my knotted braids of hair.
He wasn’t always a Geo-nerd. He says before I was born, he worked in construction, building the houses in this very city. He worked by the sweat of his brow and the grease in his elbows. I’d love to see what these walls turned out to look like at the hands of my father. I bet they’re as beautiful as the bedtime stories he spun me when I was smaller.
The stories where he so conveniently left out any mention of Mama.
“How about, if I get done early, we get ice cream from Norma’s and sit at the pond? Deal?” Dad says. He knows how to sway me. Just the mention of the pond brings up the vividly beautiful smell of fresh water. Cool with just enough mystery to keep me coming back. All the ice cream in the world can’t compare.
I nod at him. “Deal.”
“Alright. Be good for Oscar and I’ll see you a little later.” I immediately miss him and he wasn’t even gone yet. “Bye Orial.”
“Bye Dad.” I wave.
Oz is waiting for me downstairs. I know because I can smell his coconut hair oil all through the house. He’s been using it so long I can pick him out of a crowd.
It doesn’t take long before I navigate my way down to him. I can feel his eyes staring holes through me. Oscar’s not a talker, to me anyway. He thinks just because I can’t see him very well that he can just fade away but there’s more than one way to be present.
The entire room tenses whenever he’s around. The air is still and I can swear even the temperature drops. That says more than his words ever can.
“Got a problem?” I say.
“Not at all.” He answers low. “It’s just, I got better things to do than to lead around one of the blind mice.” I imagine his wrinkled brow and permanently clinched jaw. The sharp lines of his face match the daggers in his voice. At only twenty-two years old, Oscar had aged his face by ten years from frowning alone.
I smile. “Right. I’d hate to keep you from…what is it? Brownies and NPR?” My reply is a little meaner than intended but argument trumps the silence.
“Whatever. Just get your crap so we can leave.” He snorts and walks away. The room can finally relax.
I love my brother, I do. But I can’t help but feel it’s one sided. Or maybe it’s side-less all together.
I meet him at the front door; my bag is on a hook just next to it. I slip it on over my head and rest its strap across my chest. I slide on my loafer shoes.
I pause at the door, taking a deep breath.
This is it. This is the point where the world opens its huge jowls and swallows me whole. All the sounds and smells assault my senses and I try my best not to go insane.
“Come on.” Oscar grabs my hand and pulls me down the front steps. I yank my hand back. I may be impaired but I’m not five.
I put my shades on. They help with what little I can see by blocking the glare from the sun. Although they do dim some of the colors I may catch, it’s better than not seeing them at all.
The city of Jefferson, my hometown, isn’t exactly what I’d call crowded but it’s definitely not a small town. There are tons shops, people, and cars. Did I mention the cars? They’re the bane of my existence. They’re loud, nauseously fume-y, and worst of all, they are fast.
Weaving in and out of the foot traffic is easy. Most people have an atmosphere about them. Tall, short, fat, or thin. I can feel them coming before they get close enough to bump my shoulder and we have to have that awkward interaction.
But cars? They’re large, steel contraptions that just race by or through me with no regard. They’re unpredictable.
And when they hit each other, there is no uncomfortable excuse me’s or fumbling phones, there’s only the horrible sound of crumbling metal and the devastation of fracturing glass. Screaming and police sirens. Ambulances and handcuffs.
I am not a fan.
Oscar and I wait at the edge of the sidewalk, letting the cars whip by in their ever-hurried states. There’s a machine that tells us when it’s safe to cross. Oscar is pressing the button over and over again.
“Fifth and Grand. Cross now.” The speaker blares.
I immediately look for Oscar’s hand and without fail; it’s there for me to cling to.
We may not be best friends but some things are just more important.
We start across slowly.
Before we’re even halfway, the machine starts counting down from fifteen seconds. It’s like the countdown to a bomb exploding in a movie. My palms start to sweat on cue.
“Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen…”
Oscar keeps ahold to my hand; I know he can feel how nervous I am. It’s like electricity coursing through me. You’d have to be dead not to feel it.
“Ten, nine, eight…”
He squeezes tighter for reassurance.
“Five, four, three…”
“Oscar?” My voice squeaks accidentally.
“One more big leap.” Oscar pulls my hand up and I jump as if I’m jumping across the Grand Canyon and land firmly on the sidewalk. I hear Oscar step on the curb beside me, chuckling. He let’s go of my hand and the traffic floods behind us. I have to take a deep breath to slow my heart rate.
“You’re ridiculous.” He jabs but keeps walking.
“Oh shut up.” I collect myself and keep pace.
And just like that, he’s back to being an asshole.
If life give you lemons, make lemonade…without sugar. Then serve it to your enemies.
Hotdogs are not sandwiches. There is no such thing as a ‘hotdog sandwich’. Just FYI.
I celebrate unusual things.
It’s true. I seldom wait for when the thing is actually finished or for the proper time to come to get excited about it.
I celebrate whenever I get happy, when I have a new thought, when the first bite of my food is good, or most relevant to you, when I get new followers.
Most find it annoying. Why do you celebrate such small victories? They ask.
But is there really such thing as a small victory? Are not all victories a huge thing?
Why do I have to wait for my follower count to reach 50 when I’m filled with joy at 42? Or 72? Or 99?
Who imposed these rules?
Well all I can say is, celebrate the little things. Life is short and there is no such thing as a small victory. Each moment is what you make it and when it’s gone…it’s gone. So appreciate it. Give more than a bit of yourself. Give yourself permission to love life as it is and not for what it will be. You’ll be better off in the long run.
So, we meet again.
There’s something to be said for the second act of a three act story. In fact, there’s everything to be said…or is it that it says everything.
Since I started writing at the age of seven, act two has the bane of my writing existence. The first act flew by but the second was a giant boulder in my path. It took so much of my creative strength just to move it aside, that when I finally got past it, I had nothing left to start writing.
Act two holds all the meat of the story. Romances bloom, danger rises, and moralities are challenged. Everything changes. It only makes sense that it would be the hardest to write.
I’ve tried all different ways. Pantsing it, outlining it, and, most tedious of all, handwriting it. None has proven the easiest way to start act two. I can’t say with confidence that any of those way are most effective.
So what are some ways to prepare yourself for such a task? All of the above.
1. Outline, outline, and outline some more. There’s nothing better than a good outline. Yum. Just remember, an outline is a minimal description, or just the major key points, of each chapter. It tells the goals of the chapter, not how you’re gonna get there.
2. By the seat of your britches. It’s always good to leave some stuff to the whim of imagination. Don’t trouble yourself to plan every detail or your story will be rigid and lack that organic feel.
3. Don’t discount paper and pencil. Some my best ideas came from scribbling in a ten cents Wal-Mart spiral notebook. The free-ness that the pencil gives is more invaluable to writers and artists than anything else. This is where I like to write down the little things in each chapter. Pieces of dialogue, the color of walls and floors, and bonding moments go here. Also floor plans, city layouts, and character sketches. Fun!
4. Avoid editing. I repeat, DO NOT EDIT. It will eat your soul. There is a time for writing and a time for editing. Give each their due respect.
These are just a couple of ways you can make act two bearable. It’s never gonna be snap-your-fingers easy but it should still be fun.
Writing should always be fun. If not, you’re doing it wrong.
Guys! I’m super excited. 71 followers? I can’t comprehend it. I just want to thank all you for the support.
I can’t even right now. I’m just all smiles.
This further proves my theory that if you do the thing you love, everything will turn out just fine.
Thanks for letting me do the thing that makes my everyday worth living.