In The Works
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I am in the process of significant edits and rewrites to Waves Crashing. The point of view is now first person from Riley's perspective with more internal dialogue. Once the revisions are complete I will submit the manuscript to agents to find a different publisher. Read below for the revised first chapter!
“Get out! I gotta go.”
“Quit banging on the door,” I say to Jessica from the not-so-private privacy of our bathroom. “There are two other bathrooms in this house. Why do you always have to bother me?”
“Because you’ve been in there forever, I want to use my own bathroom and I have to go bad! I don’t want to be late for school. Get out. Pleeeaase?”
“I have not been in here forever. Fine. I’m done anyway.” I open the door and see Jessica with crazy bed head and adorable pajamas that make we want to gag.
“God, you are so melodramatic for a fourth grader. Where do you learn this? Your life can’t really this unbearable.”
“I learned it from you,” Jessica says. She sticks her tongue out at me and sprays me with spit.
“Disgusting,” I say.
She slams the bathroom door shut and I pull a muscle rolling my eyes. I often count the days until graduation. It’s only October of Freshman year. I’ve got a long way to go. It feels like forever-away from today. My own space. I can’t wait.
I walk downstairs for breakfast and it sounds like a circus. A trash truck beeps, mom empties the dishwasher, dad yells to mom from the top of the stairs to ask if his tie matches his suit, and our neighbors’ dog barks at anything that moves.
“Move quickly this morning, Riley. We’re running late today,” mom says. She smiles at me but I can see the stress in her eyes. It must be one of those days – those days that start off shaky and get worse as the day goes on. I hate those days. They suck. It feels like you can never do anything about them no matter how hard you try. Mom juggles two plates and catches one before it falls.
“Nice save, Mom.”
“Thanks. Please eat. We need to get going.”
“I have plenty of time. I’m practically all ready for school already. Looks like it’s the rest of you who are behind today.”
The moment I say it, I can see I’m not helping. Mom’s wearing the yoga pants and t-shirt she had on last night. Her hair is thrown up in a ponytail. No make-up on yet.
“Great, then you can help. I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done today. I’m going to the grocery store this afternoon. What do you want me to pick up?”
Thinking about groceries is not on my list of things I care about this morning. But I play along and offer a suggestion.
“Yeah, how about some more yogurt smoothies- the berry kind though, not banana or kiwi ones.”
“Berry smoothies.” Mom writes it on the grocery list she has buried somewhere under piles of coupons.
“Hold – the – kiwi – and – nanas. Got it.” Mom’s smile has a forced calmness about it, but I can see the stress behind her eyes.
“Hey mom, I have an extra rehearsal today after school. Can you pick Sam and me up at five?”
“Oh, right. Your rehearsal. Uh – yes. I can get you both. I might be a few minutes late. I have to get Jessica from her soccer game, but I should be able to get to you shortly after five o’clock. Dad’s working late tonight. What do you say we order some pizzas for dinner? You can invite Sam to come over for dinner if you’d like. Jessica’s inviting Amanda.”
“That sounds like fun. I’ll ask her this morning before school.”
Sam and I have been best friend since preschool. Through the years, we’ve had our ups-and-downs and plenty of differences, but we always manage to come out of them with giggles and freshly painted toe nails. In first grade Sam and I both had a crush on Joey Sullivan. Joey, however, was clueless about the crushes and we competed over who he talked to more on a particular day or to whom he gave more M & Ms out of his lunch as a measure of which one of us he liked more.
In fifth grade it became clear that I was terrible at softball and that Sam was a rising star. For the life of me, I could not throw the ball straight, let alone catch it, especially when the sun beat down on the field and shined right in my eyes. I wanted to quit softball, but Sam loved it. I wandered through childhood trying to find something I was good at until I discovered the piano. It came surprisingly easy to me. I enjoyed piano lessons most of the time, and found a serene pleasure in composing music, too. Like putting sound to whatever emotion I’m feeling.
In seventh grade, Sam and I both auditioned for the school play, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Sam was a natural for the role of Lucy, and I was told I effortlessly brought Snoopy to life. From that day on, we have been in every school play together and are currently in the drama club. Grande Falls High School has a great drama club. It’s a lot of fun and I love going there after school. It postpones the inevitable of dealing with Jessica again after school.
“Did somebody say pizza?” Jessica says. Her enthusiastic question floats in the air as she bounces down the stairs into the kitchen, like Tigger through the Hundred Acre Wood.
“Good morning, Jessica. I love your outfit. What style! Do you want me to help put your hair up?”
Apparently mom’s stress is taking a break. Jessica eats her breakfast while mom brushes her hair until it is pulled back into a perfect pony tail. Mom and Dad think Jessica is cute and innocent. I wish they could see more of what I see. I’ve heard that scientists say that birth order has something to do with how we act and perceive things. Maybe my irritation is just because I’m the older sister.
“Yes, you heard right. Pizza for dinner tonight. Pepperoni and black olives for you, right?”
“With extra cheese pleeeaase!”
There she goes again begging in her cute little voice. Does she think that will always work?
“I could go for Hawaiian tonight,” I say “Ham and pineapple sounds good.”
“You got it. Sam likes veggie, right?”
“And then we’ll have a bunch left over for dad when he gets home from work,” Jessica said.
Mom goes back to her grocery list and appears to organize her coupons. She’s now only partially listening to the conversation.
“Good morning lovely ladies!” Dad loves to make a dramatic entrance. “What’s this I hear about pizza?”
“Good morning to you too, Jake” Mom says. “I was just taking orders for your dinner of left-overs tonight. The girls have voted on a variety platter of pepperoni and black olive, Hawaiian and veggie.”
“Sounds scrumptious. You girls sure do take care of your old man.” His smile is tender and happy. I love watching him pour his cup of coffee in the morning. He is a man of control and confidence. I should start drinking coffee.
“Hey Jessica, what time is your soccer game this afternoon? I might be able to catch the first half before my client meeting tonight at five.”
“The game starts at 3:30 at Grover Park”.
“Great, I’ll be there for the first half. The firm is pitching a big ad campaign for a new client. I should be home some time before you girls are asleep – hopefully,” dad says. He sighs in a way that tells me otherwise.
“Who has meetings at dinner time? That seems like a really strange thing to do,” Jessica says.
“Unfortunately, the client is in town this week and that is when he can meet. Our company really wants to land this account.”
“Why don’t you just invite him over here for pizza and then at least we can still eat dinner together?” Jessica asked. She sounds sincere. OK, maybe she’s more innocent than I give her credit for – maybe.
“That’s a great idea, Sweetheart. I’ll see what I can do.” He pats Jessica on the head and scans the local newspaper. “Rye, when is opening night?”
“Next Friday. I can’t believe it’s almost here.”
“Can’t wait to see this show. I’m so proud of you”.
“OK, enough of this chit-chat. What’s with you all this morning? I see no sense of urgency. It’s time to go. Grab your stuff. The car is leaving in five minutes. With or without you.” I can see mom holding back her frustration. And a tear?
Last minute wardrobe adjustments are necessary. I hold up three belts and opt to go belt-less. I toss all three onto my bed. I wonder why I try sometimes. My favorite jeans, layers of long sleeve shirt, comfy green fleece sweater and long winter coat are sufficient. I am definitely not a fashionista. That’s Jessica.
In the next bedroom, Jessica quickly and seemingly haphazardly grabs a pink hooded zip-up sweatshirt jacket out of her closet and a fuzzy pink scarf off of the hook on the back of her door, both of which matched her outfit and sneakers perfectly.
“Come on, girls. Let’s go!”
Jessica hurries out of her room almost runs into me. “Bye, Dad,” Jessica says.
“Bye girls!” Dad waves from the kitchen, still holding his cup of coffee. I wave back.
Mom makes her daily check of all things we should remember on our own. At least I should remember by now. I probably didn’t remember all this stuff in fourth grade on my own either.
“Yes,” Jessica and I say in unison.
“Come on Mom. We’re late. Let’s go or we’ll hit bad traffic, right?” I say. I smile at her and feel an unusual compulsion to hug her. I feel bad for her. Mom has a lot on her plate. She always tries hard to keep things running as smoothly as possible. But something seems different today.