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The Sunday Squirrel: hiding

Whisper’s parents stood next to the stove, her mom stirring a pot of something that smelled like spicy baby diaper. Dad slipped his arm around her waist and nipped her neck with his mouth. Mom giggled and squeezed his ass. Gross.

Trying in vain to get the image out of her head, Whisper moved silently down the stairs to the finished basement that her brother had commandeered. Gavin and his friend, Cord, were huddled around the sliding door passing a cigarette back and forth. They tried so hard to act cool, to be more grown up. Someday they’d grow up like her parents and wish they were young again. Why were boys so stupid?

In spite of the open door, the room still smelled like Camels. Whisper backed away, stifling a sigh. Maybe the dog was doing something interesting.

“So, um, I gotta question for you,” Cord said.

She moved closer again so she could hear.

“About what?” Gavin asked.

“Whisper.”

Her heart thumped in surprise. They actually talked about her when she wasn’t around?

“Dude, hold on.” Gavin blew his smoke into the room and waved it around a bit, squinting as if to see into the shadows.

Whisper stepped into the bathroom doorway and managed not to cough or otherwise give away her presence. She held her breath until Gavin turned back to his friend.

“Okay. What is it?”

Cord cleared his throat and a blush rose on his cheeks. “Would you mind if I asked her to the spring dance?”

Her mouth dropped open and she bit her hand so she wouldn’t make any noise. Oh my God. Oh my God. He wanted to take her to the dance! She couldn’t believe it. She was only a sophomore, and Cord Lawson wanted to take her to the dance. Bailey was not going to believe it.

“Seriously, dude? My sister? She’s like, so…eeuww.”

“Yeah, but she’d blend in with the crowd well, don’t you think?”

Gavin stared at him for a second, and then they broke into laughter. Whisper bit back a sob. Fine. That was how they wanted to play? She marched out into the main room–the two boys oblivious–and slugged Cord in the gut before he knew what was happening.

“Oof.” He dropped the cigarette and grabbed his stomach looking frantically around, like a blind man straining to see. “I’m sorry, Whisper, it was just a joke.” She materialized next to him and he bumped against the wall in surprise. “Crap.”

“Jerks,” she said and stalked away.

Sometimes being invisible sucked.

 

0 Comments

    • Reply

      Yeah. I wasn’t sure it was clear enough, but I’m trying to trust the reader. =) I recently read a book where I didn’t know for the entire first quarter of it that the MC was blind. It blew me away how well the author set it up, and I wanted to try something similar. Thanks!

  1. Curtis

    Reply

    This is a fun piece. The pacing is excellent and pulls the reader in. The first three sentences hooks the reader. As a parent, I have pulled the stunt you describe and heard the “Gross.”

    Did I mention the pacing was excellent?

  2. Curtis

    Reply

    Whisper. I wish I had thought of that name. It just works.

    I read the Squirrel at about 1:00 in the AM so it had to be going some to keep me stuck to it. It did.

    Now I’m wondering if the first chapter of a novel written in the style you used would “stick” the reader to the novel as well. Basically, no more than 3-4 descriptive sentences at a time broken by dialogue. This creates lots of white space. The readers eye is moving like crazy across the page. No dense paragraphs to wade through at first.

    I know this sounds crazy but no more than three to four sentences per paragraph provides a type of instant gratification for the reader. A sense of completion without having to climb a mountain to get there. The reader can literally “see” the end of the paragraph from the start in a way that a 12 sentence paragraph can’t be seen.

    Think about it. What were you thinking when you got to my 4th paragraph? And, how much more of it would you really want to read if the 6th paragraph looked like it was four inches of dense copy? I’m just saying.

    • Reply

      Great observation, Curtis. I’m all about the white space. In fact, sometimes I chop up my paragraphs too much because I don’t like dense writing.

      I could read pages and pages of “snippets” in a magazine, but might balk at a three page article. It’s all perception, but thanks for pointing out the importance of white space in pacing and reader engagement, because I’m not always doing it at a conscious level.

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