This week you get a bit of my Grand Prize Winning Chapter from the LDStorymakers First Chapter Contest. It's not the whole chapter, but I thought it would be a nice place to start.
“I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but hero was never one of them. Worthless—punk—loser—degenerate—those have followed me around for a long time, but hero? No way. Who would be stupid enough to make me a hero?
“Evidently I did it to myself. I didn’t mean to. I was just looking at the sunset when the fairy bomb turned Newtimber into a ghost town.”
--Sianna Kondō, Newtimber Gazzette, July 31, 2009
“You have got to be kidding me. I’m not wearing that.” I thrust out a hip and pointed my finger at the hideous dress Auntie Chieko held in front of me.
“Yes, you will,” she said without raising her voice. She didn’t have to. Her eyes had needles in them, I swear. Black stretch knit. It was awful, but I knew that look. There would be no getting out of this one. Auntie didn’t often lay it on heavy handed like that, but when she did it was like standing in cement. I knew I’d be stuck so I shut my mouth and had to be satisfied with a glare. When she saw she’d won, she continued. “It is opening night, Sianna. You will be attending and a black dress is required.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled my little black jacket to my sides, the better to show off the leather mini-dress I’d just peeled on. “I’ve got a black dress.”
“No, you’ve got half a black dress.” Auntie Chieko marched to the doorway, her tiny geisha-like feet quiet in the carpet. She stopped in the doorway, her strong fingers gripping the frame like she’d pull it off in pieces if I dared give her any lip. I was surprised when she sighed and turned to face me. “Just put it on, Sianna. This is really important to me and I’d appreciate your support.”
I wanted to say something. I wanted to say it bad, but I had nowhere else to go and Auntie had been nothing but kind to me since Mom kicked me out for throwing away her booze. I owed it to her to be supportive and I knew it, even if it meant wearing fashion decades old. I clenched my teeth, the black knit itching already, but nodded. Maybe I could dress it up a little and make it my own. I could add a belt or a jacket, or just trim it up a bit. I nibbled at my lip, trying to visualize the changes. It seemed like a lost cause, but I’d try. There was no one else in the entire universe who could have gotten me to wear the lousy dress, but I’d do it for Auntie Chieko.
I finally made it out to the car after Auntie Chieko honked three times and called my cell phone. I’d given the dress a few changes that made it more to my liking, but only the slip and a silky black blouse kept the itching at bay. I’d trimmed the sleeves off and cut away the collar to expose a little more of my assets. This, of course made the edges curl, but it had just the effect I was going for. I didn’t think she’d care nearly as much as she did. As soon as I slammed the door I felt the negative vibes shooting from her. She would have called it angry chi. For me it meant I’d done one more thing wrong. Why couldn’t I think before I did stuff?
“Did you have to cut it?” she asked, one eyebrow quirked and her mouth turned down.
“If you expect me to wear it, uh, yeah.” I didn’t mean to say it disrespectfully, but it popped out that way. I was too used to being on my own and having to defend myself from drunk and stoned parents. The changes I’d made in the past few weeks had been hard, but I’d do them for Auntie Chieko. She was everything her brother wasn’t, including out of jail. In her I had a home free of pain and addiction, but I’d traded my freedom and gained a lot of responsibility. I felt bad that I seemed to hurt my aunt every time I turned around, but I couldn’t help it. There’s no filter between my brain and my mouth.
Auntie didn’t say anything more, though I knew it was killing her. It was frustrating that she wouldn’t just tell me what she felt. It had to do with the Japanese culture her parents knew so well, and my dad had never taken the time to teach me. I didn’t understand it and sometimes the frustration made me say things I didn’t mean. “If you didn’t want me to adjust it, you should have said something. You know how I am.”
“All too well.” Auntie threw the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway, the bumper scraping the asphalt as it leapt into the road. She threw it into first, the tires chirping as she surged forward and raced toward Old Newtimber.
Quote of the Day: “Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”
Don Delillo quotes