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Young Adult Novel (3)

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Mar. 5th, 2012 | 04:44 pm

“Dinosaur.” I squeeze the trigger, slowly, on a breath. A little left of the target.

“I got five. You got six.”

“Why’d I get six? I always get par on the dinosaur.” I line up again, sight just a little low, I’m not strong enough yet to fight the kick. One day I will have to start correcting in the other direction. One day I will pump a shotgun one-handed like Linda Hamilton staggering through smoking rubble in Terminator. One day I will be a badass. Yeah, right.

“Penalty stroke,” Grampa says. “Your first shot went into the waterfall.”

“I did not hit it into the waterfall.” Breath. Squeeze. Closer.

“Suit yourself. That’s what I remember. Hope I’m not getting senile.” Grampa sights next to me, his pink-burned, ropy arms steady but not tight. Squeeze-squeeze-squeeze-squeeze-squeeze. One hole in the center of the target. “Your mother’ll stop letting me take you to the Golf-N-Go-Karts for safe and wholesome outings.”

Fine. Six.”

I line up again.

Grampa sets his Glock down. “Behind you.”

“You’re the only other person here, Grampa.” The shooting range is not so popular on a Monday morning at 9AM, everyone else having used Senior Skip Day to drive to Busch Gardens and spend the day making comments about baboon asses on the fake veldt (veldt: open grassland without trees, characteristic of southern Africa, origin Dutch, another two SAT points for you, you’re welcome).

“Always warn a person with a gun when you’re coming behind them. You never know what their background is, what kind of reflexes they have.”

I hate it when he’s right. He corrects my aim a little and steps aside. I imagine I’m Angelina Jolie plus a few sandwiches. “Eighth hole.”

“Windmill!”

Breathe and squeeze. Breathe and squeeze. Breathe and squeeze. They’re close, to each other and the center circle. We don’t use the paper targets shaped like people, it freaks me out and my ex-Green Beret Grampa gets a little intense. I’m happier when he’s excited about the windmill, our imaginary trips to Golf-N-Go-Karts (“always have a cover story, Aurora, and think it through—will your account agree with everyone else’s?”) mapped out in case my mom asks.

I think she’s just glad I have someone to hang out with.

“Not bad,” Grampa says. Two holes, not three, each side of center. I’m getting better. We reload.

“I got four. You got five.”

“Five? On the windmill? You know I played Pebble Beach in my time.”

Grampa’s ‘time’ was visiting a possible timeshare in Monterey twenty years ago, the last trip before GranGran’s aneurysm (aneurysm: a bulging, weak area in the wall of an artery. Can lead to sudden death and the relocation of your surviving grandparent into your spare room and shared bathroom, where he will pick up your tampon box and announce your incipient ‘womanhood’ to the household at large. Incipient: do I have to look up everything around here?)

“Five on the windmill.” I look him in the eye. “Some snot-nosed kid from the family in front dropped an ice cream cone. Your ball went right through it and slowed down.”

“Goddamn brats.”

“Seriously.”

“We say anything?”

“Only to each other.”

Grampa reels out the target on the wire strung like a clothesline. “Kid’s parents bought him another ice cream.”

“He’ll never learn.”

I line up, lower the sights a little, breathe and squeeze. Five times. Three holes.

“Ninth hole,” I say, looking down after seeing he looks pleased.

“Hole in one,” Grampa says.

“Both of us?”

“Sure.” He takes the .38 out of my hands and swings open the cylinder. I take his Glock and slide out the clip. Always double-check.

“Two free games.”

“We’ll use ‘em next week. Come on, let’s get some coffee.”

* * *

Item.

My Grampa.

Hair: Regulation 1/8 inch snowy white buzz cut, hairline resolutely holding on.

Clothes: Leather jacket with National Rifle Association patch on right shoulder, khakis or slacks, comfortable combat boots because you never know, fanny pack that is actually a quick-draw holster and no, it doesn’t freak me out because it’s always been there.

Has known me since: age minus three months when my dad went to New Zealand with no forwarding address, caught me during a fast back-seat birth en route to St. Anthony’s, which I think should freak my mother out more than it does.

He drinks three cups of coffee before my Rooty-Tooty-Fresh-and-Fruity arrives. Black, naturally. Get used to coffee black in case they don’t have any cream or sugar. Me, I would just have something else. But then I didn’t squat around a fire in the Laotian jungle appreciating black coffee.

“How’s school?”

“Fine.”

“Fine isn’t good.” He signals the waitress for more coffee and she winks at him as she pours. Yeah, he’s pretty sharp for seventy-seven, but still, ick.

“It’s fine. It’s a daily round of delight and joy among my intellectual equals.”

“I can see why you don’t have any friends.”

Normally I would laugh at this, he’s met Samuel and Sarah-Lynne, and really, who needs fifty people stopping by your locker every day to exchange meaningless small talk, or sending you carnations on fund-raiser days, or pinging you on chat all night when you’re trying to do homework, not me. I dig my nails into my palms and look into my plate.

“Aurora Dawn?” he hardly ever says my full name, my dad’s choice, the maybe-he’ll-come-back-someday badge. He keeps his mouth shut for awhile while I get it together.

“I met a guy.”

He keeps his mouth shut.

“And I’m pretty sure he’s not going to like me.”

“How are you going to fix that?”

Fix it? How is that my job? “I dunno.”

Grampa takes a big gulp of coffee and swallows hard. I can see his Adam’s apple bobbing in his skinny throat. “Make a plan. You’ve got a mission. What’s in your corner?”

“This isn’t the spelling bee.”

“We won the spelling bee.”

Then he keeps his mouth shut awhile longer. I hate that.

“OK. I have nice hair.”

“And you’re smart.”

“That’s not a positive.”

“You don’t have to show it. But I won’t think as much of him if that’s a negative. You two got anything in common?”

I replay flood day in my head, waking up in the library to Tyler’s face in front of mine. “He has a sense of humor.”

“That’s a good start.”

I think through Jessica/Ashley/Hannah, their even teeth and glossy lip gloss and team of social helpers to pass notes and start rumors and find out if someone likes them. “I feel like I’m bringing a knife to a gun fight.”

“Good.”

“What?”

“Always have a backup plan.”

“I don’t even have a first plan.”

“Better get started.”

The waitress comes back and sets down the check, bending over more than is really necessary.

What the heck. It can’t be any worse than losing without trying.







whipchick enjoyed conversing with gun shops, mini-golf course owners, and the lovely people in Public Relations at International House of Pancakes during fact-checking, and begs to note that any remaining errors are her own. Parts of this story are also here and here

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Comments {40}

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(no subject)

from: iamthesea
date: Mar. 5th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Love it :D

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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Mars Tokyo

(no subject)

from: marstokyo
date: Mar. 6th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Good use of the prompt, I really liked it.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
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Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed!

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dblicher

(no subject)

from: dblicher
date: Mar. 6th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Just delicious! I like the details you give about Grampa. They describe him just enough AND make me want to meet him. I still like your main character. Love the SAT vocabulary hints. Maybe you could write me in as a music-geek friend??

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:38 am (UTC)
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Totally. Actually, pretty soon Samuel-not-Sam Lowy, don't forget the umlaut, it's a kippah not a yamulke, is going to make an appearance, and he plays the marimba...

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A Karmic Sandbox

(no subject)

from: karmasoup
date: Mar. 6th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
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Enjoying this continuation. The faux "war stories" of the mythical mini golf trip are priceless. I LOVE Grampa. Seriously... I could take a whole story about just him. But I do understand how he's just part of AD's development.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:39 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I knew it was going to be Grampa and the shooting range but I didn't know how toe start and then minigolf happened in my head. He's a major character, I'm pretty sure :) Glad you like him!

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
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This is wonderful. I really love your characterization. :)

And I'm glad she has someone she can trust to talk to -- that can make all the difference. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:39 am (UTC)
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Thanks, and I'm glad you see him like that! It will be important later...:)

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Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"

(no subject)

from: roina_arwen
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 06:06 am (UTC)
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I don't always get around to commenting, but I really like this character. She reminds me just a bit of Tessa on Suburgatory. I also love all the little SAT vocab asides, LOL.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks, I appreciate it! Now I have to look up Suburgatory - the title alone is awesome.

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Holly

(no subject)

from: minnesattva
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 07:16 am (UTC)
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I have the worst LJ-crush on you :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
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I am so flattered :) I love reading your work, too!

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basric

(no subject)

from: basric
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 08:16 am (UTC)
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As usual its an excellent piece of writing, I like your characters.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I'm enjoying working on a Young Adult piece!

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when all you know seems so far away

(no subject)

from: poppetawoppet
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
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:D

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
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Thanks :)

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Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
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A charming complement to the others. I love that Aurora spends time learning from her grandfather. He is a fabulous character and I'm sure she is gaining wisdom that will come in handy one day. I love YA fiction and my granddaughter and I read the same things then discuss. I am still learning too!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I love YA, too, which is why I want to write it! My work team right now is reading The Hunger Games together, aloud, which I'm loving - I've already read it but it's great to hear it and to bond.

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lawchicky

(no subject)

from: lawchicky
date: Mar. 7th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
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Love this- I Have a great relationship with my grandfather, and it's nice to read about a character who loves and admires her own grandfather.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:42 am (UTC)
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Thanks, and so glad to hear that!

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:18 am (UTC)
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I like this series as a whole, and this chapter-- with the target practice and Grandpa-- was really unexpected in the context of the larger novel. Very rich, though-- conspiratorial, too. I liked it!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:42 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I knew I needed to justify "good with guns", so this is my set-up attempt.

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copyright1983

(no subject)

from: copyright1983
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 06:48 am (UTC)
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*peeks at the vote totals* Quit wrecking the curve!

(Kidding, of course. Every vote is well-deserved.)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 04:23 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seen the totals yet! Some weeks I vote for one and then go back and do all my votes so I can watch the totals, but this week I haven't. I worry that I'm setting myself up for "Oh, God, I can't wait for that bitch to be voted out!" :) Augh!!!!!!!! LJIDOL WHY CAN'T I QUIT YOU????

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Jessica Ariel

(no subject)

from: liret
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)
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I think I would have liked having a Grandpa like this one.

Though I am spectacularly awful at mini-golf.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
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Me, too! But I figure it's like bowling or squaredancing - totally lame unless you're with a group of awesome friends, and then it's awesome :)

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(no subject)

from: whirlgig
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
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When do we get to read this? fabulous, as usual. Your characters are real, warm, living, breathing people. Is there anything you can't do?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 8th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!

I so far have not attempted fantasy or sci-fi, and I'm actually debating whether to take a stab at those for future prompts!

This is my big writing project for this year - I have a deal with my boyfriend that we're each doing three pages a week, and if one of us misses they owe the other one $100 :) So I'm hoping to finish it this year! Right now I have 15 pages of opening, the ending, and a line that says REST OF BOOK GOES HERE in the middle...

A

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