Next Monday, I want to do a post about what it’s like to write literary short stories vs. genre novel-length fiction. But, I worked at Phoenix Comicon for the last three days and am too exhausted to put that whole thing up for today. Instead, I’m going to share two brief excerpts so that I can reference them next week.
The first is from Meaningful Loss, a lit fic short story I submitted to Glimmer Train and Ploughshares. The second is part of the opening scene from my first novel (very much genre fic, a YA fantasy story), currently with the working title of Something Awesome and Also Fire. Or SAAF. For clarity, while Meaningful Loss is told in third person, SAAF is told in first person with a switching POV. The first chapter is told entirely from DawnFire’s, our protagonist, point of view.
Gracie Grayson, age 11, recipient of the Perfect Attendance Award two years in a row, sat in the waiting room surrounded by people yet inescapably alone. The dull ache in the back of her head intensified in the stark hospital lighting, but she just pulled her hood close so no one would notice her.
Gracie’s father, Senior Director of Marketing and Sales at a company based on the other side of the country, sat next to his daughter. He was trying to finalize his notes for the early morning meeting he had tomorrow in L.A. and not to let the rainy New York weather outside distract him. To people who didn’t know them, Gracie and her father looked like strangers who had accidentally sat next to each other.
The registration desk, staffed by two overworked nurses, sat off to the side and right in front of the entrance. For the visitors, gray and inoffensive chairs formed three sides of a rectangle, opening to the wide hallway that ended in the double doors to the emergency room and trauma ward. That way, no one really had to look at anyone else.
Gracie sat in the back, staring at the doors, stuck in the middle of the row. She had pulled her knees to her chest, almost roasting in her winter jacket—a Christmas gift from her mother, it was stylized to look like a black dragon from one of her favorite movies. Gracie hadn’t realized how much her life would change in just three months, but the jacket had been with her the whole way. It wrapped her in warmth and her mother’s love, shielding her from the sadness and apprehension that gave a tangible weight to the air.
After six trying weeks of keeping my grades up, my temper under control, and the orphanage keeper happy, I was all out of mercy for Adam, even if he was the only human in a shelter for non-Earth individuals.
“This isn’t going to end well for you,” I said. My voice echoed around the long nightroom and 2 of the twin-sized beds shifted with an angry sound. I heard whispers from the four onlookers out in the hall.
“You want to get that telekinesis under wraps?” Adam said. He readjusted the cuff on his list that housed his telekinesis simulator and gave me a mocking smile.
“Oh, are you planning to tell on me again? I got detention for that stunt you pulled. You know how that looks on my record.” I stepped close to him so our noses almost touched—not that either of us cared to touch the other.
“You’re not supposed to use maja in class,” he said. While he referred to the innate power of every majafai to manipulate elements, kinetic forces, or another person’s mind or body, he looked pointedly at his simulator. It was a confession if I’d ever seen one.
“I wasn’t!” I yelled, “You were using your sim and then said I was the one nudging Deki’s desk forward.”
“Be quiet,” Adam said softly—almost a whisper, ““You want Mriah to hear you?”
“Maybe I do, maybe you’d actually learn a lesson without me having to use force.” I was only a year younger, I was confident I could teach him a lesson with or without Orphanage Keeper Mriah’s help. Besides, she would probably take his side, anyway.
“I don’t need a lesson.”
“My permanent record, Adam. That goes on my permanent record. Third strike this semester. You’re lucky if Sky doesn’t find you later and incinerate a finger off.”
See you next week for Part 2!
See you on Thursday for Thursday Thoughts.