We insecure writers have to stick together.
I know insecure: my latest book is thick with cyber-cobwebs!
It's cheap, ah, inexpensive, with 13 interior pictures and everything! :-)
The IWSG helps all of us to persevere.
So I am shouting out the WEP February writing challenge in which the IWSG is participating.
Letting you guys see my own WEP post a bit early to whet your interest to join in.
So meet Hazy:
High School is a spork.
It's a crappy spoon and a crappy fork. In the end, it’s only an exercise in keeping your temper while what you want slips away.
Most people call me Hazy as if it were original with them. Mother never has, not even in her worst “Dirty Thirties.”
What are those? I wish I didn’t know myself. I’ll tell you later.
Mother always calls me “Hon.” Unless she’s sizzling furious, then she calls me …
“Hazel Lee Hunnicutt!”
Jeez, the feces just kamikazed into the fan … again.
I eased into the front room to face the lioness without one chair or whip. Not that it would have mattered.
When the caveman looked up at the lightning in the skies and thought MOTHER Nature, he must have had a mother like mine.
But the only home I’ve ever known is Mother. I would deal with it.
She was in this alone, too. I bet I came with no book of instructions.
Father left the day I was born. He must have used up all his cojones with the sperm deposit that sparked me.
Mother was shaking her cell phone in a fist.
“I’ve just had to beg … beg! … Dean Reynolds of Laughton Academy to accept you back!”
What she said in one of her “Dirty Thirties” and decided not to say was:
“After I had to sell my wedding ring to pay for your tuition!”
That stung. I didn’t know that when I smarted off to the school counselor.
Her voice sank to that whisper I dreaded. “What did you say to the counselor?”
“S-She asked me what I made at my last school.”
Mother groaned, “Oh, God.”
“I told her: ‘mostly mistakes and inappropriate comments.’”
She lunged at me. I didn’t move.
You see, I’m a freak … not in body but in mind. I see ahead in time 30 seconds. Think that’s cool?
Time isn’t a river.
It flows into a thousand tributaries all shaped by the erratic decisions of unfocused minds. I see 30 variations of the same springboard moment.
No cell phones for me: I hear 30 different replies. There’s no way for me to know which one to answer.
I know what I must look like. I’m keeping track of what’s happening, what’s likely to happen, deciding what isn’t likely to happen, all in a window of a few seconds.
I stiffened as Mother’s knuckles rapped the top of my head. “Oh, Hon, I know you put up a wall of snark to keep sane.”
She sighed, “But tomorrow is my first day teaching at the university. I have to impress my Dean just as much as you need to impress yours.”
She said, “People make up their minds about us after the first 28 days of interaction …”
(Mother’s a psychologist so she uses words like that with a straight face.)
“We have under a month to win over those who could make life … hard for us. You understand?”
Mother patted my cheek, murmuring,
“This is it for us, Hon. I spent the last penny of … our savings on your school uniform. I could only afford the one. Take care of it. Play it safe, hear?”
I swear at the time I meant it.
The next day I trudged into school with all the joy of going to my execution.
No matter the high school, your status depends on who you’re able to persecute.
I was usually the first rung on everyone’s ladder.
Walking into a crowded hallway was true hell what with thirty different views of each moment to
Oh, God, let me not walk into anybody important or worse into …
God must hate me.
The Elite Petites from junior high: Beverly and her two cohorts, Stacy and Ciss.
What sneezing was to surgeons, Beverly Philips was to me: not life-threatening but extremely annoying.
Beware girls in threes. They were all so tanned they looked like 3 Rotisserie chickens in pleated skirts.
Beverly gave me a glare that would have cowed lesser girls … much lesser … like 3rd graders.
“Oh, Hazy, what an almost adequate uniform your mother could barely afford.”
“Bev, can you die of constipation? I ask because I’m worried about how full of shit you are.”
In a “Dirty Thirty,” I saw her lunge, ripping my jacket. I twisted aside, thumping into a tall man. I looked up.
Dean Reynolds. He undressed me with a disapproving eye-caress. Obviously, I wasn’t his type. I was so disappointed.
“Honeycutt, you’re late for Gym. A bad start.”
In another “Dirty Thirty,” I heard Bev say,
“That’s right, Old Man. You better back me up. In my locker I have copies of your trophy photos of our intimate consultation as you called it. I bet your wife would just love to receive those in the mail.”
Even Bev wasn’t stupid enough to choose to say it. What she did say as she started to unlock her locker was to me:
“I’ll see you in Gym class. Too bad your uniform won’t survive it.”
I lost it, starting for her throat. I pulled up short, “seeing” Dean Reynolds expelling me for attacking a fellow student … just like Bev planned.
Bev winked, confident that she would get rid of me yet. The eddies of students rushing to classes swirled about me. What to do?
I smiled wide.
I’d seen the combination to Bev’s locker in that last “Dirty Thirty.” I let the hall go empty. I walked to Bev’s locker.
With the photographs in my inside jacket pocket, I turned to go see the Nurse.
Female trouble I would say. It would be … for Bev and the Dean … after I did a little Show and Tell for Mother when she picked me up.
Twenty-eight days to make a lasting impression? I’d do it in the next twenty-eight minutes.
Want more of Hazy?
$2.99 Kindle; $7.97 Paperback
In the lagniappe short story at the end of RAZOR VALENTINE is a 6,000 word adventure from her sophomore year:
One by one the girls of Laughton Academy are disappearing without a trace
and Hazy’s mother fears her daughter will be next.
The bad news: her mother is right.