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Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered in Fourth Period (Young Adult Novel (2))

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Feb. 10th, 2012 | 12:47 am

Junior year actually started pretty promisingly.

Peter Markowitz moved to town over the summer, and he was a hunchback, so some of the heat was off.

They made me editor of the literary magazine, mostly because no-one else wanted to be in charge of a club that still owed $688.47 on last year’s issue. This is because last year’s editor, Heather Morgan wanted the cover in color on glossy stock. Because she painted an owl in watercolors. Now she’s a Journalism major at the junior college, everyone calls last year The Owl Year, and we get to car wash our way to zero.

And it rained the first day of the second week of school. I know you are thinking, oh, rain, maybe some popular kid who richly deserved it got their hair wet, big deal, but no, our school is in Florida, which means low elevation and an outdoor plan, and it was built by the lowest bidder eight years ago which means six inches of flooding everywhere except Building 17, Science, the only building with steps up to an indoor hallway. Everyone takes their shoes off, cheerleaders piggyback on football players, geeks like me roll up their jeans, and even the teachers resign themselves to damp, runny homework drying on the A/C units.

First library pass of the year. I dried my feet on the pile of shop rags inside the glass doors and put my shoes back on. Ms. Pinckney knows I will spend most of Latin and all of Algebra II in here this year, no reason to push it on the first visit. There are bean bags in the back; someone’s misguided attempt to make reading cool—let’s face it, as long as there’s Gossip Girl and Dean Koontz, you don’t need any more fiction and we all do our research on the internet anyway, citing Wiki links like we looked up the books. But the bean bags are great for people who have maybe not had enough sleep this week and can’t nap on the bus in case they wake up with gum in their hair. I shoved a big blue beanie into the back corner behind Fiction P-Z and curled up with a book on my chest.

“You’re snoring.”

Someone’s talking to me. I look around my dream. My mother is lecturing me about how I must be imagining it, I can’t possibly have no friends, and she wasn’t popular in high school because her family moved so much due to my grandfather being in the military, and, based on casual family stories, abusive enough that these days we would call DCF and let the embarrassing questions to the neighbors begin. She says it again.

“You’re snoring.”

And I realize that I am, indeed, snoring, my mouth half open and my head back, at the same time that I see who’s telling me. It’s not good. It’s not Ms. Pinckney (or Dream Mom). It’s worse.

It’s a boy.

A cute boy.

A new boy. Which means he’s only half a week away from knowing every reason not to talk to me or pass me a note or maybe ask me to the Fall Ball (hur hur) or Homecoming which I probably wouldn’t go to on principle but it’d be nice to have that be a choice.

Drool, check. Sleeping in public, check. Clothes not super-well-arranged, check. Looks like I just burned through that half-week. I wipe my mouth quickly, but we both know.

“Briar Rose,” he says.

“Actually, I’m Aurora. Hippie parents.”

“Even better.”

I get it. “Sleeping Beauty?”

“Yep. Quick.”

When your parents name you Aurora Dawn, you have only two choices:

1) Embrace a career as a country-and-western prodigy, making your way through a series of honky-tonks, small concert theatres, big concert theatres, Grammys, rehab, and a Lifetime Movie of the Week;

or

2) Learn everything you can about Sleeping Beauty, most of which is not in the Disney version. (And let me say, Anne Rice’s version? Just gross.)

I don’t sing. Or play the guitar, steel or otherwise. In fact, I am unmusical enough that I was asked to please leave 8th-grade band, dragging my clarinet behind me.

Fairy tales it is.

“I’m Tyler.”

“Nice to meet you.” I stick out my hand. He shakes. We both realize it’s my drool-hand. “You can wipe,” I say.

“Are you kidding? I’m never going to wash this hand again.”

“Just wipe.”

He grins and rubs his palm on his jeans.  They look slightly off – like, nice color, they fit well, but they aren’t Levi’s or Guess or any of the brands everyone else is wearing. There’s an extra stud on the pockets and they are maybe just a bit too tight for a guy.

“Nice jeans.”

He ducks his head and his eyes get squinty. “My mom makes them.”

I realize that if he was white, he’d be blushing, but he’s actually sort of a dark beige, maybe Latino or half-black. He’s got smooth black hair cut very short. Brown eyes.

“Jeans? Your mom makes jeans?” My mom sews and knits, but that’s a lot of seams.

“Yeah, she’s a designer.”

“Wow.” Not my most scintillating comment ever (scintillating: brilliant and excitingly clever or skillful, two more SAT points for you, you’re welcome), but hey, he’s cute, I’m still partly asleep, cut me some slack.

“Hey, nice to meet you, but I’m on a fifteen-minute pass.” To save valuable pass-writing time, our school decided that students only needed five minutes to pee and fifteen to choose a book. Pink passes take you to the bathroom, yellow to the library, blue to the office. To maximize the Stalinist Gulag feel, they’re laminated to blocks of wood and get worn around your neck. If you’re a squatter, they bump into your knees. Anything longer and you have to explain what you want with varying degrees of publicity, depending on the personal level of sadism of the teacher. Most of them know me by now, they know I can spend a whole semester in the library and still pass the final. Fairy tale birds sing in my head and I realize he’s—Tyler’s—talking again.

“Where’s yours?”

“My—oh, yeah. I’m on a paper pass.”

“Special.”

“What can I say, my bookworm tendencies are known and tolerated.”

“Nothing like tolerance to make you feel welcome.”

“We tolerate everything at Ronald Reagan High. Welcome.”

“You can tell I’m new, huh?”

“It’s the jeans.”

“Yeah.” He looks unhappy for a minute. Then he smiles. “Catch you later.”

He steps around the corner of P-Z and vanishes, not even footsteps on the industrial carpet. I realize I’m at least lying on the blue bean bag, makes my eyes pop, then think, Who are you kidding?

Half a week to go.

Did that just happen?





This piece will be part of the same book as this one.  whipchick was totally responsible for her high school literary magazine's version of The Owl Year.

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Comments {77}

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similiesslip

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from: similiesslip
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 06:09 am (UTC)
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I love it. So what was the picture you wanted published in color?:)

Your book is going to be great, I can tell.

I really liked the line: "“We tolerate everything at Ronald Reagan High" LOL!

Its the kind of thing I used to wish was true for me..that I could look cute enough sleeping one day I could wake up and find a cute guy was interested in me. Things seem so possible when you are young.

Definitely let me know when the book comes out!

I love how you write..a good mix of her internal thoughts and all the sensory details and colors.

Aurora is very likeable and this entry makes me want to read more!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - I'm glad it's clicking for you!! Now I just have to write the rest of the book :)

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ecosopher

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from: ecosopher
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 06:09 am (UTC)
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This is just so lovely. It had me smiling right to the end.

(BTW I've been rubbish at commenting lately, and I've missed some of your entries, but I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy this story, and several of the others you've done this season. You have a great writing voice).

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - I'm so pleased you liked this one and others, and believe me, I understand about life getting in the way :) Thank you!

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Jess

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from: mymisguided
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
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Awww. I really liked this. It had a very realistic YA feel to it from the structure and the word choice, and it was fun to read. I must say, though, that I liked this section much more than the other same-verse entry, but if you write more entries for them, I'll be interested in reading how it all connects! =) Good work on this. And lol @ The Owl Year xD

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! Something I realized from both beta comments and comments from that week (on the other piece) is that in order for the end to work (gun in the cafeteria) there had better be something so big in the middle that we're still on her side when we get to that point. So yeah, connecting is going to be a big job. Glad you liked the Owl Year!

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yuniebaby

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from: yuniebaby
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 07:34 am (UTC)
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I really love the voice of the main character in this piece. This is a wonderfully sweet (with just enough snark) entry and hope to see more from the book. ^_^

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! The responses I'm getting here and on the other entry about this character make me eager to write the rest of the book for sure :) I like spending time in her voice, and I'm glad you like reading it!

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dblicher

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from: dblicher
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Hey! This was MY life! :-) The lit mag in debt, the geekiness, the permanent pass to the library....Except for the cute boy. *sigh* </p>

Love the voice here & the main character's spunk. I'd befriend her any day, and would have when I was her age.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Oh God, me too. We'd have sat at the same lunch table, I know it.

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baxaphobia

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from: baxaphobia
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Loved this! I want to read the novel! Grin!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!!!

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Tara

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from: nannerz2cool
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
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I enjoyed reading this! Good job!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - so glad you read it!

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ArmagedDan

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from: hosticle_fifer
date: Feb. 10th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
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My favorite use of the word 'scintillating' is as a flat, deadpan comment after someone tells you something you only marginally care about. Typically said after a beat passes and in a nasal voice if possible. :D

Great story! I was drawn into the characters and setting, it was well written and flowed easily.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
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You know, just based on your writing voice and your icon, I can absolutely see you saying that :) Thanks, glad you liked it!

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Shadow Wolf Byrd

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from: shadowwolf13
date: Feb. 11th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
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Aw, awkward crush. :D It's very cute. :)

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) I think we've all lived it, too!

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imafarmgirl

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from: imafarmgirl
date: Feb. 11th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
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I like this. The dialogue definitely fits the teen brain as well.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I work with a fair number of kids, so I try to keep my ears open :)

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Myrna

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from: myrna_bird
date: Feb. 11th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
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So cute. I enjoyed reading this very credible sounding fiction!

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm hoping to make it a whole book--gotta keep grinding out words!

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The fucking YARN FAIRY!

(no subject)

from: mac_arthur_park
date: Feb. 11th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
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This sounds like the start to the perfect YA novel. I want to be the protagonist's friend. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Thank you - that's a marvelous compliment--I think that's one of the keys to good YA is that we have to want to be their friend. So pleased this hit for you!

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jacq22

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from: jacq22
date: Feb. 11th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
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Lovely the dialogue and 'feel' which is so right, especially for the young adult. The word used here deadpan, is 'whatever'!!.More please?

Edited at 2012-02-11 11:55 pm (UTC)

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!! I'll give it a couple weeks (if I get to stay in) and probably bring in another section--I looooove getting feedback here.

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(Deleted comment)

whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
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Thank you -- first I have to write it...O, Words, why do you stand between me and greatness?

So glad you enjoyed :)

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Mars Tokyo

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from: marstokyo
date: Feb. 12th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
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Really nicely told. I felt I was right there.

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whipchick

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from: whipchick
date: Feb. 14th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!

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