Letting Life Lead
In honor of the near completion of my short story collection, I am launching a new series to embarrass myself or pay homage to my teenage me — I haven’t decided yet.
It would have been nice to start with the very first stories and poems I wrote when I was in seventh grade (thank you Ms. Hutchinson!) and kept for years. Alas, my mom threw away my purple expanding binder in the late 90s — which had the color fading off of it because I used it so much. It contained all of my 7th and 8th grade forays into writing (I was about twelve years old).
Let’s have a moment of silence for all of my lost A’s in double period English class 1985-1987:
I Am a Toy Fox <– a descriptive exercise. A toy fox recalls how it was made, describes itself. It had wooden chips in its ears so they would always stay pert. (Yes, a weirdly specific memory)
Chrysalis <– an exercise in creating mythology. I can no longer remember what her goddess-power was but if I recall it was a cross between Artemis and Aphrodite.
The Wild Horses <– a long form poem. Their “hoofbeats beat with intensity” as they jumped “hedges”and “galloped across the plains”. I wish I could remember the poem. I recalled it for a long time, but never rewrote it.
The Boy and the Man <– a haiku or limerick. (I know right? I can remember the title but not the poem part!)
The earliest stories I do have are mostly from the ’90s, particularly 1990. I was prolific. I rarely let anyone but one or two close friends read anything.
I was also a very lonely, isolated sixteen-year-old with a long of sad thoughts. Looking back, I am pretty sure I was depressed.
I have a collection of a LOT of stories that I started but never finished, and a couple of epic length “almost books”. One story had a map, several had character sketches, and an apparent obsession with super tall people with weird names. The stories are in two main categories: Harlequin meets VC Andrews Style Bad Romances and Stephen King John Saul Robin Cook Style Weird Horror.
No comedy whatsoever.
So many characters. Wow. So…many.
I’ve decided to share an excerpt from a story from 1990 when I was about fifteen or sixteen. It is probably the longest thing I wrote at the time at 194 pages handwritten. I recall carrying the notebook with me everywhere. This incredible volume of unfinished stories followed me to college, back home, to my first apartment, my second apartment, our first house when I got married, and our current house.
Some say that if you are a writer stories stay with you.
Maybe they are right!
Excerpt from “The Brood”
Author: Fifteen/Sixteen-year-old Me
Medium: pencil/pen in a yellow Mead 3-subject notebook
[original misspellings, punctuation, and edits intact; about 3 handwritten pages]
Click thumbnails for picture of page 1 and character sketches:
(23 years later – 1994)
Darkness. Where was she…Why was it so dark? She couldn’t move…too groggy. Was she in a truck or van? The enclosure held a stench of decaying flesh, and was as cold as death. A menecing, deep laugh pierced the silence like a knife…She wasn’t alone.
“Who’s there,” her voice came out in a high pitched squeak that echoed with the confines of the
area enclosure the only answer was a deep chuckle. She tried to move but something held her fast then she heard a hideous, low tone voice. “Your such a naughty girl,” she could feel the hot breath near her cheek and the smell was almost too overpowering. “Good girls don’t run away like that,” she felt a cold hand grab her hair. As it made a fist, she could hear the cracking of the bones and the stretching of tight skin. The figure leaned closer, but she couldn’t see because it was too dark through the blackness. “I’m afraid I’ll have to punish you,” it said. Then the door opened and a flood of bright light streamed in blinding her. When she could see she aw the figure and she stared immobile in sheer horror. It was massive! Half of its face was brown and deformed from a bad burn and it only had a few strands of hair on its bloody, bashed in head. One eye was missing and the other protruded almost out of the socket. The pointed yellow teeth were surrounded by thick dry, black lips curved in a sneer. The hands were crooked, and stuck in a claw-like position. The nails were black and dried blood was visible all on the hand. It was wearing a lab coat caked with layers of stick blood. She tried to worm loose but the things held her tight. It brought her towards the open door and she could see the quickly dissapearing road as the veheicle increased speed. The creature pushed her out and she screamed. She was waiting to hit the cement and, was waiting to hear the snapping of her own bones when she did…..but she didn’t . She was falling…falling…but there was no ground, no sky…nothing. She saw blurred faces…head screams of agony…she couldn’t stop. Then she saw a void, it looked like a fast moving blade. She would be cut to shreds! A hand came reached out from within the void to pull her in…..
“Shaun,” a voice called, “Shaun, wake up!”
She quickly opened her dark eyes. She was perspiring and out of breath, she was shaking, too. She looked up at her brother whose baby blue eyes were full of concern. He always seemed to be there when she needed him most.
“Are you alright Shaun? You look pale,”
“I’m fine, Chris” she lied.
Well it wast really a lie, she was alright now that she was awake.
“Liar,” he scolded. Then he frowned and paused a moment. “It was that dream again wasn’t it?”
Shaun nodded. Sweet Chris, he was alway so concerned about her. She couldn’t lie to him no matter how hard she tried. He always seemed to force the truth out of her with one look from his big blue eyes and his sneaky tacticts. Sometimes she wished he was he real brother.
“Maybe you should tell dad about these dreams, Shaun. I know he could help if you gave him the chance.”
“No, Chris, there’s no sense in it,” Shaun said “It wouldn’t do any good.”
“It can’t hurt ot try ” Chris argued
“I know you mean well Chris, but I’m fine, really”
Chris didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t push the issue any further. Trying to change Shaun’s mind was like trying to move the world. He glanced at her pale face. He was really getting worried, Shaun didn’t look like she was getting much sleep and her dreams were becoming more frequent.
If its the last thing I do, he thought, I’m going to get her to get some help before its to late.
Shaun was worried too, It was getting harder to wake up fro each dream It was as if her dream was warning her. But warning her about what? Sometimes she thought that she would get caught in a dream and never wake up. But that was silly, they were only dreams — weren’t they?
Shaun looked out of the car window and tried to concentrate on the scenery. It had been a long time since she had seen so many trees in one spot.
Where had she been that she had said that? Why had she said that? There had been a woods near their last house. It was an erie feeling not knowing anything about your past. She didn’t even know if her name was really Shaun or not. It was written on the back of her shirt when she had been found but there was no way of knowing if it was her name, after all she could have been wearing someone else’s shirt. She wished that she could remember. There weren’t any trees [teen author note: This is a thought].
Shaun let her mind wander back to four years ago hoping to make sense out of her
life forgotten life:
Feel free to give advice to the teenaged-me 😉
I’ll start: Nice effort with the self-edits and thinking about foreshadowing. Brush up on your dialogue punctuation; watch your POV.
Look out soon for the cover reveal of my short story collection.
writing, traveling, and tap dancing around town.
Leave your fear of the dark at the door, suspend your disbelief and come on in...
Writer and procrastinator
Warden of Words // Shaper of Stories
Bewitching Journey of Words to Meaning
This is the story of building a cottage , the people and the place. Its a reminder of hope and love.
Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV
Pen to paper
Hi Laissez-Faire! Been a long time since we last interacted via WordPress.
You just made me recall I have about 7 books of short stories I wrote when I was 10-11! It definitely had one or two promising premises for a teen fiction too, which I was surprised by when I rediscovered it some time back.
Pretty sure mine would trump yours when it comes to the self embarrassment.. Out of all these short stories from your younger self, are there certain ones which struck you the most?
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Probably the ones with large amounts of detail that I have no recollection of writing. :D. One called Shaharalla was a whole world building exercise and I do remember bits and pieces…culture and a huge name database, too. Like an actual excel type database. Haha! Unfortunately I did lose quite a few, so I don’t have really early stuff anymore, which is a shame. Thanks for reading and commenting!